How do coffee buyers decide which coffees they will carry? They taste them. In this video you can get an inside look at this process.
We put over 60 fresh-crop lots of Ethiopian coffees, each with a different flavor profile, in front of coffee buyers all over the United States this past spring. I posted about this project in the spring, here, here, and here. This video explains the outcome.
I shot these videos in Ethiopia last spring. Just some nice local color, including Danish barista champion Søren Stiller Markussen showing the staff at our hotel how to make a proper cappuccino. Also: the monkey that stole someone's passport (for real).
The woman feeding the monkey is named Montserrat Olivier. I didn't know she was such a big star when I met her. You can see the segment they made in Harar for Mexican television below. I saw the hyena-feeding when I was in Harar in 2008; on this last trip I skipped it. But if you like seeing monkeys get fed, seeing hyenas get fed is pretty cool too:
I was in Guatemala twice recently, at the end of July and again at the end of August. Here is some nice footage I shot while visiting Finca Santa Isabel in southern Guatemala. This is a 100% organic farm, a fairly large one, family-owned and -operated.
I must have seen about 50 different species of butterflies here in one morning, and some truly beautiful tropical birds. You can't see any on this video, but you can hear all the insects happily chirping away in the morning sun. Guatemala had one of its rainiest years on record so far this year; my host at Santa Isabel told me he had never seen the farm so muddy (he grew up there). But I was very lucky and, aside from one nighttime downpour, things were sunny and beautiful while I was there, as you can see in this video.
I'm in California to teach a roasting course and host a cupping. But in the meantime here's a little video from my trip last week to Portland with Sarah Dooley. We were putting on a cupping of Ethiopian coffees for the local specialty coffee roasters. Jeremy Adams of Cellar Door Coffee Roasters was kind enough to let us use his space. After the cupping he showed us his new baby, a Diedrich IR-12 roaster. To cut down on smoke without installing an expensive and carbon-hungry afterburner, Jeremy installed this cool scrubbing system instead.
Check it out... the videos a little shaky, but if you stick around till I get my camera in the right spot, you can see the super-fine particulate mist he's talking about.
I brought my little mini french press to Ethiopia with me, which is standard operating procedure. Also took along some whole bean roasted coffee, and just enough ground coffee to (I hoped) last me till I got to a grinder.
At breakfast the first day our whole group was together in Addis Ababa, one fellow broke out a funny looking paper pouch. That fellow turned out to be the since-crowned Danish Barista Champion, Søren Stiller Markussen. And that paper pouchy thing was THIS THING:
(Keep watching till he gets to the pouch!)
The Coffeebrewer. And it was awesome. Søren's company, Grower's Cup in Denmark, makes these little beauties. This is not product placement. This is just acknowledging the fact that this little pouchy thing that Søren brought saved our butts each and every morning of that trip. Sure we had french presses, and we even made a few. But so much easier to just let Søren break out the Coffeebrewers and pass around the goodness.
Cup quality, you ask? Perfectly good. Way, way better than anything you can get at the hotel in Dire Dawa, I will tell you that.
Of course we asked: Do you have a US distributor yet? Well... stay tuned. I'll let you know as soon as I do.
A couple weeks back in Brooklyn, I sat down with journalist Benjamin Wallace to eat some coffee beans. He wrote an article for Business Week about "alternative" ways to get your coffee fix, including a cool new coffee-inhaler type device that I got to try. You can read the article here.
Benjamin Wallace was also the writer who, when working on a story for GQ, tasted kopi luwak with me. Here's Ben giving an interesting talk at the TED conference, based on the article he wrote and the research he did for it.
Hello from Marin County, California. Yesterday we roasted over 40 samples of fresh crop El Salvador coffees and weighed out cups. This morning we got up extra early to do a preliminary selection cupping of the 40+ samples. We picked out 16 exemplary lots, bourbons and pacamaras, washed and honey process. Some friends at Bay Area super specialty roasters came over and cupped them more fully with us.
These are very young, very fresh coffees. All micro-lots, specially selected in El Salvador by Graciano Cruz. 30 bags maximum exist of each of these coffees. They are super high-grade coffees that in the past were getting mixed together and lost at the exporter level. We're doing some really exciting work to keep them separated out and offered to roasters like these folks who will give them the TLC they deserve. There are a ton more honey process coffees on the way too, but they are still being processed at this point.
Thanks to everyone who came by.
Tomorrow morning I'm off to Ethiopia for the Cupping Caravan in Harar. More on that to come!
This is the project I have been working on for the last couple of months. I helped organize two of these "Cupping Caravans." The first one was just completed! In Yirgacheffe and Sidama. I'm really proud and pleased to see that it went off well.
The second one is in two weeks, in Harar. I will be there to lead that group. I'm really excited.