I just uploaded over 180 high-resolution, colorful photos from my most recent trip to Ethiopia. You can see the batch on < ahre="http://www.flickr.com/photos/7591145@N02/sets/72157623133036298/" target='_new'>my flickr page.
You have to see this place. It's lined wall to wall with coffee equipment and knowledge. Plus they let you just pick stuff off the tables and pop it in your mouth. You know... if you're into that kind of thing.
I had an exchange with a friend over on Coffee Geek (and if you don't know Coffee Geek, really, what kind of coffee geek are you?) that made me smile. He was checking out coffee in Hackettstown, New Jersey, but then had to adjust everything really fast because of a change of travel plans. I'll let his words tell the rest:
Agreed. Especially for a newb like me.
Something cool: I decided to order from Clive Coffee because I wont be going to Hackettstown to Greene Brothers for New Years as I thought (hopefully soon though, and I'll let you know how it is).
But apparently the owner of Clive Coffee had spotted one of my posts about his company and offered to send me some free samples.
Then he noticed I had ordered a couple bags only 30 mins before, so he is giving me one bag on the house and free shipping!
I thought that was really cool of him, and thought I'd share.
Happy New Year.
I know it's possible to write this off as plain old good business sense (which it certainly is). But it's also just nice. In my experience this is the rule rather than the exception in the coffee world, and that makes me happy to do the work I do. Question: is there something about coffee that attracts cool people? Or is there some chemical in coffee that makes you totally awesome by drinking it? My theory is a little from column A, a little from column B. Anyway... check out Clive Coffee if you're curious. They certainly seem like nice people. And thanks to my new Coffee Geek/Facebook friend.
(Don't go begging them for free coffee now, everybody)
I went on and on about pacamara coffee yesterday, and included some links to places you can buy some. One of those places was Plowshares Coffee in New York State.
A good buddy of Coffee Scholars, coffee expert-roaster and all-around good person Anthony Kurutz, founder of Plowshares, dropped me the following notice on Twitter:
Plowshares_@CoffeeScholar I sold out of Pacamara for the year just before you posted this! Thanks for the shoutout anyway. btw it was delish.
I can vouch for the delish-ness. I had some of this coffee back in — July, I think? — and it was a classic pacamara, and expertly-roasted. Anyway, if you are looking for pacamaras, don't go to Plowshares.
But, ironically, that's a good sign that if you are looking for good coffee, you should go to Plowshares. Anybody who has perfect coffee from every world origin in stock at all times of the year is either lying to you or clairvoyant. Either they are selling you old-crop coffee, or they somehow, magically, sold out of the last bean of one year's coffee on the same day they received their shipment of the next year's coffee.
I'm sure Anthony doesn't enjoy running out of a great coffee like his pacamara. But the very fact he did is a good sign that you should feel good about buying whatever else he has on the shelf. And try the pacamara next year! They usually hit the shores of North America right around June 1st.
Although most of my visits to coops in Sidama, Yirgacheffe, and Harar involved a lot of indoor meetings, explaining our quality improvement and marketing project to the committee members, there were some amazing moments like this one. This is the Bele Kara cooperative in the Wenago district of the Yirgacheffe region.
I actually shot a much longer video of these women singing, but I've edited it down here for size. Part way through you can see the men in the upper areas of the facility, carrying coffee and helping with the washing of the coffee. The women do most of the work of sorting and turning the coffee in the sun. At the end of the video you can see what a beautiful setting this is.
Since a couple people have asked me, yes, I get permission from people before taking pictures and videos. These people understood I was not a tourist, and that this video would ultimately go toward the promotion of their coffee in the United States. (I will be editing together a video of this trip to show when I host cuppings around the US featuring this coffee in 2010.)
I am back in Addis Ababa, with decent internet connections. On Monday I will be heading south to Yirgacheffe and the rest of Sidamo. Here are some pictures I snapped while traveling in the highlands of Eastern and Western Hararge.