EL SALVADOR: Days 4-6

Jack (CEO) and Dismas (Head Roaster) are on a coffee buying trip to Central America. These are notes from their journey.

Sorting Coffee Cherries.

Sorting Coffee Cherries.

Feb 12, 2015

The alarm rings all too early but about 5 cups of AeroPress coffee get us to our flight on time. We arrive in El Salvador very early and Juan Luis, the Ortiz family driver for the last 42 years, meets us. He doesn’t speak much, but his welcoming eyes and smile are the perfect greeting. We hop in the car and drive to Talnamica, two hours away. El Salvador is beautiful with many volcanos that scatter the horizon.

Farmer with his coffee cherries.

Farmer with his coffee cherries.

About 10:45am, we arrive at Finca Talnamica, where the Ortiz family home is located. Nena and Hermann, husband and wife who represent the family in all decisions, greet us with big hugs! We have been working with them for over 4 years and have become very close. After catching up, we go inside for lunch. Sadly, our usual caretaker, Tita, is home recovering from surgery. Nena informs us Tita was incredibly upset she couldn’t be there for us and apologized. She is simply the sweetest! So, without Tita, we have lunch and head out to the farm. Miguel Angel is the manager of the farm and is essentially the Michelangelo of Talnamica. His attention to detail is completely amazing and has become the standard for all the Ortiz family farms. We see the harvest in full swing, with the patio full of people delivering cherry, sorting, and weighing their day’s pick. It is a wonderful time and kids are playing and eating ice cream. It’s getting late so we decide to visit Tita. We gently and happily give her a little hug and share some photos. Now our stay at Talnamica is complete. After dinner, we sit on the porch and drink some Flor de Cana rum, discussing the incredible day. It’s breezy and cool. We all sleep like babies.

Boy with ice cream at the harvest.

Boy with ice cream at the harvest.

Feb 13, 2015

Jack and Dismas cupping.

Jack and Dismas cupping.

We wake up and have a typical breakfast of huevos, beans, and tortillas. We talk of getting to Natamaya, but it isn’t likely we’ll have time. I brought another nice check to present to the remote village Canton Ojo de Agua above Natamaya. We raised almost $2,000 dollars this year! Nena promises to give them the check and to get pictures of the soccer field they built with last year’s donation. We pack up and wave goodbye to Talnamica.

Our next destination is CuatroM, the best mill in El Salvador, where the Ortiz family has its coffee prepared. Dana Foster, an old friend, is now the head of quality control and does all the cupping and scoring of coffees. During the harvest, she works 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 3 1/2 months! We arrive about 10:30am and Emilio Lopez Diaz, the owner of the mill, greets us. He’s also under a tremendous work load during this time. Not only does he run a very busy mill, but he has Finca El Manzano and is on the executive council of Roasters Guild.

We’re cupping the Ortiz coffees so we have ten to consider. We’re looking for a blender coffee for our Queen Anne and Espresso blends and we hope to find some micro lots for our Daring single origin line. The table is very strong, with coffee scoring a full point higher than last year. The micro lots are cupping 86.5 and our blender is a solid 85. The Ortiz family is doing an impressive job! We were their first specialty buyers and now they have many direct trade customers. They used to sell coffee cherry to mills that put all the coffee together and paid a price based on the C market. This year, they would have received approximately $1.25/lb. By selling specialty coffee, they will earn between $2.70 and $4.00/lb. That remarkable increase is allowing them to put more money back into the farms.

CuatroM drying patios.

CuatroM drying patios.

We enjoy a nice lunch next to the drying patios. It’s an amazing view and if you look at any Caffe Ladro store menu you’ll see it in the background. Next, we tour the Beneficio and walk Finca El Manzano. It’s rewarding and humbling to be this close to the coffee and involved in this amazing process. It’s 6:30pm when we get back to the house for an awesome night with plenty of grilled meats, ron (rum), Cervezas, and—most importantly—lots of coffee stories. Dismas was holding court for sure but I managed a few lies too. Bed came very late!

Feb 14, 2015: Dia de los Enamorados.

We wake with a start. Bang, bang, bang on the door: “Get up, you’re late! Malacara B is here to pick you up.” It’s 7:20am and we’re supposed to be ready to go in ten minutes! Roberto Dumont picks us up and we head for Beneficio Bourbollon. Roberto is very easy to like: he’s tall, gracious, and doesn’t show his 60-plus years. We drive about 1 1/2 hours to the mill. When we arrive, we greet Roberto’s son, Rodrigo. We’re friends from last year’s trip and he came to the SCAA conference in Seattle last April.

Jack cup-fainting.

Jack cup-fainting.

We tour the Beneficio and observe evidence of great sorting and quality control, then we sit down to cup Malacara B’s coffees. We’re there to explore their micro lots. From the big table, I choose two standouts that both show astonishing sweetness and balanced acidity. I’m happy to learn the coffees are the orange Bourbon we bought last year and its sister coffee, a yellow Bourbon. These coffees are still being harvested, so quantities aren’t available yet. Hopefully we can get some! We thank Jorge, the manager of Bourbollon, then we jump in the trucks and head for Finca Malacara B. Malacara has a rich history in El Salvador. Rodrigo is a fifth generation coffee farmer. His great grandfather famously led El Salvador into the world coffee market, making the Malacara brand synonymous with El Salvadoran coffee. When Roberto’s father passed away, his mother split the farm into three separate farms, Malacara A, B, and C, giving one to each son.

Yellow Bourbon.

Yellow Bourbon.

When we arrive, we see a lot of the pickers delivering their cherry to be weighed. While touring the farm, we discuss their pruning and fertilization strategies. New trees take three years to produce cherry. They explain how replanting 15-20% of the land each year is very important since new plants fight the Roya (Rust). Though replanting isn’t cheap, old plants are more susceptible to this fungus.

We go for a drive and look at the housing and soccer field they provide for all their pickers. They also provide three meals a day and have a clinic and school for the families. Their workers return year after year. We stop at the original house where Roberto was born and enjoy some delicious soup and pupusas on the porch for lunch.

Dismas helping out.

Dismas helping out.

The next part of our journey is a wonderful surprise. Roberto takes us to his house on Lake Coatepeque, in the middle of a volcanic caldera. Eruptions 72,000 years ago left a huge basin in the mountain that’s now a stunning lake encircled with mountains. He treats us to an amazing meal of seafood paella and banana cream pie. While so thankful for the nice break, we must say goodbye and drive back to the hotel. Morning—and our trip to Costa Rica—will come quickly.

- Jack

NICARAGUA: Days 1-3

Jack (CEO) and Dismas (Head Roaster) are on a coffee buying trip to Central America. These are notes from their journey.

Feb 9, 2015

Coffee cherries at Mama Mina.

Coffee cherries at Mama Mina.

This day started just like every coffee buying trip: early! We woke at 4:00am, went straight to the airport and, after a long day of travel, we finally arrived in Managua at 10:00pm. We grabbed our bags and jumped into a shuttle, which literally drove across the street to our hotel. Dismas and I headed to the bar for the customary piña colada, then were off to bed.

Feb 10, 2015

We got up early with a nice breakfast and jumped into the Mierisch shuttle, which drove us to Beneficio Don Esteban. This is where all Fincas Mierisch farms deliver their coffee for dry processing. Eleane, the daughter of Dr. Erwin Mierisch, is head of operations. It’s her dedication and attention to detail which keeps the farms performing year after year. She greets me with a big hug and smile: “Long time no see!” Then her brother, Erwin, and father, Dr. Erwin, come out and say hello. I know them well and hugs are passed around. This is our fourth year working with them. They take Dismas and me on a tour of the Beneficio as we discuss advancements and challenges.

Dismas, cupping at Beneficio.

Dismas, cupping at Beneficio.

At 2:30pm, we returned to cup coffees. The first table had 10 coffees (40 cups to taste). This is what it’s all about and the table didn’t disappoint! The best coffee was a sweet, tropical Javanica pulp natural that scored 89 points. Another coffee we’re thrilled with is Ethiosar, a hybrid varietal the family created from an Ethiopian, Sarchimore, and Villasarchi. It was amazing. We also bought a natural Pacamara that will be one of the most exciting coffees of the season. The next table came and although it didn’t have as many great coffees, it showed wonderful range and I purchased two more micro-lots. At 6:15pm, we headed back into Matagalpa for dinner, then hit the bed at 10:30pm. A fun but long day for sure.

Drying racks at Beneficio.

Drying racks at Beneficio.

Feb 11, 2015

Truck ride through Mama Mina.

Truck ride through Mama Mina.

Another early start sees us spending most of the day bouncing around terrible roads, but touring the most amazing coffee farms. We visited Fincas Los Altos, Mama Mina, and Limoncillo. Mama Mina and Limoncillo are strikingly beautiful. The minute we hit the off-road sections, we jumped in the back to stand. It’s much more comfortable and we can see so much more. It’s really fun!

Bienvenidos A Limoncillo.

Bienvenidos A Limoncillo.

Waterfall at Limoncillo.

Waterfall at Limoncillo.

After a late lunch, we head back to the Beneficio to cup some more coffees. We sampled a few coffees from a Honduras farm Erwin purchased a couple of years ago. They were early harvest, but showed very well so we are looking at getting some of those in a couple of months.

It’s late again and we have a two hour drive back to the hotel. The truck is full of people, so I hop in the back of the pickup and cuddle the luggage. We get there about 7:00pm. A quick shower and out for dinner. In bed about 11:30pm. Tomorrow we have an early flight to El Salvador, alarm set for 4:30am. (Yikes!)

- Jack

Mama Mina.

Mama Mina.

Making Your Home Brewing Easy

Aeropress - edit - Lg

Coffee lovers need easy, quality brewing methods to get them out the door in the morning.

We’re sharing our favorite methods and recipes for your morning cup. To brew at home, ideally, you will want whole bean coffee (we recommend all our Ladro Roasting Classic blends and Daring single origins), a grinder, a brewer, and a scale, in addition to a teapot or sauce pan for heating water. All the recipes below require that you brew on a scale, with the exception of the 8 Cup Brewer.

With so many options, home brewing can seem overwhelming. Hopefully, our recommendations will guide you to a method you like and coffee you enjoy! All the brewers we mentioned are available at CaffeLadro.com, as are scales, filters and kettles should you want to set up or expand your home coffee bar.

AeroPress

Are you a coffee drinker who brews one or two cups each morning? The AeroPress is a great way to brew at home because of how quick and easy it is to use. To make a great cup of coffee with this brewer, follow the steps below.

  • Bring your water to a boil and set it aside for 30 seconds; it will cool to 200 degrees
  • Place a rinsed filter in the cap and twist into the chamber (rinsing the paper filters will  remove any sort of papery taste)
  • Finely grind coffee and add 25 grams to the chamber
  • Set your timer for 2 minutes and add hot water
  • Once you’ve added 150 grams give it a few stirs using the plastic stirrer provided
  • Add another 100 grams of water and give it a few more stirs
  • Use the plunger to create a vacuum seal and let it brew for two minutes.
  • At the two minute mark begin to press the coffee into your cup (pressing should take around 20 seconds)
  • Add 80 grams of water to the brewed concentrate.
  • Press the puck of used coffee into compost, give everything a quick rinse and enjoy your coffee

Clever Dripper

Another single cup brewing option is the Clever Dripper. This brew method combines a filtered drip cone with a stopper, allowing control over the coffee’s brew time. The light-weight design makes it perfect for those on the move. We recommend the Clever for beginning and advanced home coffee brewers. The instructions for how we would brew it follow.

  • Boil your water and set it aside for 30 seconds; it will cool to 200 degrees
  • Grind 25 grams of coffee (ground for drip) and place wet #4 filter into the dripper
  • Set your timer for 2 minutes
  • Add 100 grams of water and let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds
  • Add 300 grams of water and stir
  • At 2 minutes, open the value
  • Draw lasts about 1-2 minutes making this brew take a total of 4 minutes

Immersion Dripper

The final single cup brewer we recommend is BonaVita’s Immersion Dripper which makes excellent coffee or tea. Porcelain sides keep your water hot as you brew and the adjustable stopper allows you to control the level of extraction. The design brews up to 16 ounces at a time while retaining the full flavors of a single-cup brew.

  • Place a #4 filter in the immersion dripper, close the stopper and fill the dripper with hot water (This preheats the brewer and removes any papery taste from the filter)
  • Pour out the pre-heat water and keep the filter in place
  • Add 25 grams of coffee (ground for drip)
  • Making sure the valve is closed, add 60 grams of water and wait 30 seconds
  • At the 30 second mark add 350 grams of water
  • Open valve at 3.5 minutes
  • The draw down should take about 30 seconds, making this a 4 minute brew time

If the brew takes longer than 30 seconds to draw down your grind may be too fine. If the brew draws down quicker than 30 seconds your grind may be too coarse.

When brewing coffee for two or more people, you might find the following methods become your favorites.

Chemex

With a wooden collar to make holding the sleek glass brewer comfortable and safe, the Chemex Brewer makes up to eight 5-ounce cups of coffee. Couples, families, and offices find this coffee brewer a beautiful addition to any coffee bar. The functional and modern design places the Chemex brewer in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY. The following recipe will provide you with a perfect brew.

  • Heat your water to a boil and let it sit for 30 seconds and cool to 200 degrees
  • Wet the Chemex filter and place it in the Chemex vessel
  • Grind fresh beans for drip and weigh out 50 grams of coffee
  • Use a timer or watch a clock as you proceed
  • Pour 800 grams of water over grounds slowly in a circular motion over 3.5 minutes
  • Draw down should finish at between 4 – 5 minutes
  • Remove the filter and pour from the vessel into your cup

BonaVita 8 Cup Brewer

The BonaVita 8 Cup Brewer is extremely easy to use! The glass-lined thermal carafe will take your home brewing to the next level. The heater raises water to the ideal brewing temperature. The brewer’s shower head completely saturates coffee grounds for the perfect extraction every time. If you want easy and perfection in every cup of coffee, we think this brewer will make your morning!

  • Add filtered cold or room temperature water to the reservoir
  • Place a Melitta #4 filter in the brew basket
  • Add 65 grams of coffee ground for drip
  • Place the carafe and cone with the coffee grounds into position
  • Push the switch to the on position and the brewer will do all of the work

Brewing Tea at Home

If you prefer tea, brewing tea is super easy with the BonaVita Immersion Dripper! One of the most important variables with brewing teas is matching the water temperature to the tea you’ve selected.

White and green teas have delicate leaves, and therefore require below boiling water temperatures between 160 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit (71 – 77 degrees Celsius). Temperatures higher than those will cook the leaves and ruin their delicate flavors.

Oolong teas should be brewed at temperatures between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit (82 – 88 degrees Celsius) for best results.

Black and Herbal teas brew best at full boil temperatures between 208 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit (97 – 100 degrees Celsius).

  • 8oz – 2 grams
  • 12oz – 3 grams
  • 16oz – 4 grams
  • 20oz – 5 grams

With your tea matched to a recommended brewing temperature, follow the ratios above and the steps below to make your tea.

  • Place a #4 filter in the immersion dripper, close the stopper and fill the dripper with hot water (This preheats the brewer and removes any papery taste from the filter)
  • Pour out the pre-heat water and keep the filter in place
  • Add loose tea
  • Making sure the valve is closed, add the appropriate ounces of water for the grams of tea you’ve chosen
  • Open valve at the proper time depending upon the type of tea you’ve selected (most green, white and black teas steep for 2 – 3 minutes, other more delicate teas may steep for 1 – 2 minutes)
  • The draw down should take about 30 seconds, making your tea in just under 5 minutes

Enjoy!

Happy Holidays from Caffe Ladro!

Ladro Roaster's Reserve

Ladro Roaster’s Reserve

The finest collection of quality coffees.

Roasted only once a week to ensure freshness, this incredible collection of coffees is only available through the end of December. Order online today and choose your preferred roast date. Need a gift for the coffee drinker who has everything? They don’t have these coffees. Boom!


Pie Time!Pecan Pie

The holiday season is in full swing and our bakery’s ovens seldom cool down. Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie are available now in stores as well as for wholesale orders. Pecan Pies are available for wholesale orders only. Our Pecan Pie is the perfect, delectably gooey addition to any celebration’s table! Available as a deep dish pie, it’s studded with whole pecans and stuffed with flavor.

Ingredients: whole pecans, brown sugar, egg, corn syrup, corn starch, salt, butter; (crust) butter, flour, salt, sugar.

Call our bakery (206.938.2271) today and let us know what we can get started for you! We request at least 48 hour advance notice for orders. Please note: cutoff times for orders before Christmas are 12pm noon Monday to pick up pies in stores that Wednesday and 12pm noon Tuesday to pick up pies in stores on Christmas Day. Please see our website for holiday hours.


El Salvador Natamaya

Fireside Tin

A blend of Fair Trade Organic Central and South American coffees, darkly roasted to warm you during the cold winter months. Packaged in a reusable tin, this is a great gift for any coffee drinker!

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November at Caffe Ladro

Fireside

Fireside is Here!

We chose two coffees for this year’s Fireside blend.

Peru Norandino is a full-bodied coffee with notes of pepper and cinnamon. Nicaragua Segovia is a lively, sweet coffee with distinct vanilla bean. Together in a darker roast, these two coffees make up what we think is the best Fireside yet. Smooth, creamy, and with a warming spicy note that is perfect for those short autumn and winter days.

Peru Norandino is sourced from Cooperativa Agrícola de Servicios Múltiples Norandino. Coffee producers receive training and technical assistance in land management, irrigation, organic farming, productivity, quality control, and reforestation programs. Norandino also seeks to improve the quality of life for coffee producers and their families through projects promoting commercial diversification. Nicaragua Segovia is shade grown in the Segovia region of Nicaragua by members of PRODECOOP, a cooperative of over 2000 families.

We hope you enjoy this year’s holiday roast as much as we do!


It’s Pie Season!

Apple PieOur bakers are ordering more flour and sugar these days as they gear up for some truly delectable holiday pies! Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie are available now in stores as well as for wholesale orders. Planning a party, need a dessert for your table, or just want something a little extra special this weekend? We’ve got you covered!

Our Pumpkin Pie’s rich, creamy filling is the best sort of autumn cheesecake. Available in either 10-inch or deep dish. Ingredients: pumpkin, sugar, egg, cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, vanilla; (crust) butter, flour, salt, sugar.

Our Dutch Apple Pie features Washington grown apples. Available as both a 10-inch galette and a deep dish, the galette crust is sprinkled in demerara sugar for extra crunch. Ingredients: apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg; (crust) butter, flour, salt, sugar; (streusel topping) flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter.Pumpkin Pie

Call our bakery today and let us know what we can get started for you! We request at least 48 hour advance notice for orders.
206.938.2271

Please note: cutoff times for orders before both Thanksgiving and Christmas are 12pm noon Monday to pick up pies in stores that Wednesday. To pick up a pie on Thanksgiving (Thursday), the cutoff is 12pm noon Tuesday.


Both Contigo mugsWhen you need your coffee to go, our stainless steel mugs andM970 Travel Mug tumblers are your solution. The Ladro Contigo travel mugs with push-button open and release auto-seal keep your coffee so secure, you’ll never worry about spilling again.

Our stainless flip-top, double wall tumblers are incredibly leak-proof and available in a variety of sizes to suit your short, tall, or grande order. All our travel mugs do an excellent job of keeping your beverage hot or cold, whichever you prefer. They also make thoughtful gifts for commuters and travelers!

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Fireside is Here!

Fireside

Our excellent seasonal blend of Central and South American coffees is darkly roasted to warm you during the cold winter months.

Taste Notes: Molasses, Allspice, and Roasted Chestnut.

Stop by one of our stores or order online today! We’re offering FREE SHIPPING on 2 or more items through our online store, so go ahead—pick up a gift for yourself too. (We won’t tell.)

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October at Caffe Ladro

 

Sustain Your Coffee Habit

What can you do with $2?

Sustain Cup

How about purchasing a Sustain Cup and reusing it for your daily coffee, reducing waste, and saving a few trees? That’s truly a noble purpose for your bucks.

We’re excited to offer our customers $2 Sustain Cups, in stores now. Not only are these supremely affordable—and attractive—reusable cups; they are recyclable when they reach the end of their long and laudable lives.

Did we mention you receive 25¢ off your coffee beverage when you forgo a paper cup?

Save a Tree. Save a Quarter.


Maple GibraltarMaple Gibraltar: Looks Delicious, Doesn't It?

The best espresso drinks are more than the sum of their parts. Real maple syrup, cinnamon, whole milk, and our superb espresso unite in the Maple Gibraltar that will warm you through and through.

Taste the holiday cheer in stores now!


Limoncillo JavanicaLimoncillo Javanica

DIRECT TRADE

Country: Nicaragua
Region: Matagalpa
Farm: Limoncillo
Elevation: 1200m
Taste Notes: Orange Blossom, Delicate Peach, Creamy, and Smooth

Javanica is a rare low-yield varietal we are honored to bring you this season. Drink this delicate coffee slowly and let its subtle peach and orange blossom whisper to you. We think you’ll like what it has to say.


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While selecting the perfect coffee gifts for your friends and family this year, snag yourself a little somethin’ somethin’ too.

In Stores: earn a FREE DRINK when you buy one or more travel mugs or two or more 12oz bags of whole bean coffee. Fireside for Aunt Em. Diablo for Uncle Henry. A Maple Gibraltar for you.

Online: FREE SHIPPING on your purchase of two or more items all holiday season! George needs an AeroPress. Grab him a bag of Limoncillo Javanica too. You’ve been wanting that Clever Dripper and now you’re saving on shipping… go ahead. It’s a special time of year.

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