Monthly Archives: March 2015

COSTA RICA: Days 9-10

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

At one of the micro-mills.

At one of the micro-mills.

Feb 17, 2015

We get to the lab about 9:00am. We have a lot of cupping to do. With so many farms and lots to choose from, it’s a bit daunting. Each table has 48 cups and we cup 4 tables. This is not easy cupping, as there are so many similarities. We have to be watchful of palate fatigue or we’ll make mistakes. At 2:00pm, we wrap up and I hope we are done for the day. Not at all. We jump back in the van and are off to visit more micro-mills. Our guide asks if we want lunch now or when we get closer to our destination: we all say now. Ninety-five minutes later I ask, “lunch soon?” “Well, I decided to go to a better place.” Hah! If there’s anything I always take away from these trips, it’s to stay loose & enjoy the ride.

The family of Granitas de Alturra micro-mill.

The family of Granitas de Alturra micro-mill.

After a lunch with the most stunning view ever (worth the wait), we were back in the van for Granitas de Alturra Micro-mill. This mill is operated by four sisters and was one of my very favorite coffees last year. They greet us with gifts and smiles. After a nice tour, one of the younger women says, “Thanks for buying our coffee, see you next harvest.” Wow. So cool. We visit two more mills and drive back to town. Francisco hosts a big dinner and we eat amazing fish sitting next to the Toby’s Estate buyer (Brooklyn) and the Campos Coffee buyer (Australia). We had a great time chatting about our favorite coffees and of course drinking. It’s another late night, but we go home tomorrow and savor every last moment.

Feb 18, 2015

Jack inspecting the coffee on a raised drying bed.

Jack inspecting the coffee on a raised drying bed.

We get up, pack, grab breakfast, and head to the lab. We’ll be making all final decisions this morning before heading to the airport about 1:00pm. We get there and discuss the things we are deciding on. Fortunately, we only have two tables to cup. After a couple hours, we’ve made our decisions. Watch for Herbazu SL 28 (Kenya varietal), with a cup score of 90; Los Brusmas Geisha natural, with a cup score of 92; El Pilon natural, with a cup score of 88.5; and Granitas de Ortiz, with a cup score of 89. These are the best of the best and I’m so excited to offer them to you, our customers.

Dismas and I had an amazing journey. Thank you all for making it possible!

– Jack

COSTA RICA: Days 7-8

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

Dismas and Jack in downtown San Jose.

Dismas and Jack in downtown San Jose.

Feb 15, 2015

We arrive in Costa Rica and head to our hotel. Upstairs, we drop off our things and send a few emails. It’s Sunday, so after lunch we have an afternoon free to ourselves. We grab a cab into downtown San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city. It’s modern and we enjoy walking the city, looking at churches and the unique European-influenced architecture. The day passes all too quickly and we all agree we’d love more time to explore San Jose.

Feb 16, 2015

Cupping at Exclusive Coffees.

Cupping at Exclusive Coffees.

After breakfast, Exclusive Coffees picks us up and we head to their dry mill and lab. Exclusive Coffees is owned and operated by Francisco Mena. He is one of the most passionate and charismatic gentlemen I’ve ever met. We’ve been buying coffee through Francisco for 4 years and we’re happy to see him and his amazing staff again.

At its core, Exclusive Coffees is a dry mill; but Francisco has fostered a movement called the “Micro-mill Revolution.” This is when small farms add a wet processing station, making them capable of lot-sorting and drying, two of the most significant steps in achieving the high quality beans the specialty market is looking for. After this processing, Francisco collects, cups, and categorizes all these micro-lots for the farms, then brings in the roasters to taste and buy the coffee. It’s an amazing operation that allows roasters and farmers unprecedented exposure to one another. He is currently partnered with over 90 micro-mills!

Jack and one of the farmers.

Jack and one of the farmers.

After a few stories and amazing coffee from a Chemex, we plan our day of farm visits. Our first stop is Santa Rosa 1900. This small farm and mill is situated on a high promontory overlooking Terrazu Valley. With excellent elevation and 100% African drying beds, their quality is always stellar. Next up is the famous Don Mayo Micro-mill. This is where we bought our Geisha last year and we are excited to see the farms. We continue this process of micro mill tours late into the evening. After our sixth mill and last stop our host jokes: “How about one more?” Not as funny as it should be. We are beaten down, tired, and a long way from the hotel. Finally back at 9:00pm, we have a bite and drinks and get to bed.

– Jack