What No Kenya?

We have had quite a few emails asking why we don’t have a Kenyan on the range at the moment. Last year was disappointing for us when firstly the Gethumbiwini wasn’t up to standard, and then all the ones we enjoyed ran out. We have been offered other Kenyans but none to the standard we think is acceptable to the standards set by these awesome coffees. I’ve heard different things about why quality dropped, but I don’t think the drought around harvest time last year helped, and is one of the primary reasons for this noticeable drop.

But the good news is our importers have said that this years Gethumbwini is awesome and should be returning in the next six weeks. So rather than fill a stop gap coffee that isn’t as good we are going to wait a few weeks to cup it, and hopefully stock it. Sorry if you missing it but good things come to those who wait.

So if you’re looking for something to fill that gap, the new Rwandans are just the job. With the Rwanda Musasa Cooperative that has a floral bright and light cup profile and the Rwanda Nyakizu Cooperative that has a blackcurrant and creamy cup. Both coffees from the PEARL project, are not anly great coffees but also have a wonderful story behind them. Its going to be to much to long term stock them both, so we are leaving it up to you, whichever sells out first becomes our staple coffee (I actually like them both and whichever goes I may bring back before the end of the season as a guest coffee too).

Its going to be to much to long term stock them both, so we are leaveing it up to you, whichever sells out first becomes our staple coffee (I actually like them both and whichever goes I maybreing back before the end of the season as a guest coffee too).

I’ve got a new toy

New hottop

I’ve got a new toy and I want to show off. Before I got into this lark I was a home roaster, always been interested in roasting, and I guess my main motivation to do what I do. So when you get one of the first in the world of a new roasting toy, you can see why I want to show off.

This is the new interactive super dooper shinny variable profile home roasting machine. I’ve done nothing but take it out of the box and turn it on but hope to tell you more about it soon.

Answers to some questions

1 How much?
price around £620 plus delivery

2. WHEN, WHEN !!!

Soon (next few weeks as long as testing goes well)

3. Can I upgrade my current hottop?

Yes there is an upgrade kit, its not easy to fit so you need some experience of electronics or someone you can rely on for support (also these will be sold on an as seen and we cant upgrade it for you and its at your own risk). Details of the upgrade can be found at the link below

4. How much for the upgrade kit.

£420 (sorry these are costing an arm and a leg).

Adios Guatemala

The final day and today we take the relatively short journey (just a couple of hours this one) to visit Finca San francisco Tecuamburro and the perfect host Sergio. You can always tell its going to be a party day when at 10 o’clock in the morning your sitting in the back of a pickup truck drinking ice cold beer from a draft tap that’s been fitted especially for your visit. The journey is not so long but twice as rough. I didn’t realise 4×4 ‘s could go up such slopes.

We arrive to a big welcome of some friends we met at dinner the previous evening. We wind up Sergio about his Germany football baseball hat to chants of “Mexico Mexico”. I managed to collect some really “bad” hats (read bad as sooo bad they become good) and we swap (until I feel bad for Sergio wearing a woolly hat in the hot sun).

The farm is so beautiful and a real culture shock from the El Bosque farm yesterday. Both produce awesome coffee (it’s a big favourite of Monmouth if its need any bigger accolade), because of the people involved in producing it. This week has taught me this is one of the most important factors in producing special coffee special people. I’m questioning everything I’ve ever thought about coffee this is a real education in ethical buying.

We go to the main heat of the Finca, where the coffee is growing and again we get a chance to pick. This time it’s on our own. Green bean Richard wins the day again but on the quantity  I get in a zone where I just keep going and going I really enjoy it shut out the rest of the world just me and the plant that has taken over my life and defines who I am. One of my best moments of a entire trip.

We then return to the house to yet another big feed (they like their food) and just sit and relax. This is great lovely weather and great company.

The journey back to the farm I get some time to think and evaluate the trip. Truly life changing Such nice people and I bet behind each other bean we sell someone just as nice (and lots we don’t). The decisions we make are vitally important. There will be some changes over the coming months which I feel will be for the best.

This evening we go for a meal with some of the people we met and some people who’s famr we couldn’t get too. I got to meet the Entri Rios lady who was delightful. Readers of the blog know my love for El Salvador, so when I got to meet the owner of La Fany and El Bourbollon. One would have been enough but two, I was like and exited school boy I don’t think they knew what hit them. Luckily there English was better than my Spanish. We socialised to the point they had to force us to sit down and eat something.

I hope you have enjoyed the posts, boy I need a blogging break, but the photos are on there way soon to share, so that will be my next post.

Adios Guatemala

As if by Magic

From the last post I talked about Costa Rica, and as if by Magic, the following press release came from Cup of Excellence


MISSOULA, MT (January 19, 2007) – The Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc. (ACE) is pleased to announced the addition of Costa Rica to its prestigious Cup of Excellence® competition line up for 2007. The Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica (SCACR) recently announced its plans to hold the international cupping week during May 14th to 18th and the auction June 21st. Cup of Excellence supporters are already signing up to be included on the jury and to bid at the auction.

“With the new joint venture between COE and the Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica we are looking forward to motivate the Costa Rica coffee producers to continue improving their agricultural coffee practices and milling, that as a result will turn into exceptional coffee quality lots,” explained Gema Siri the SCACR Executive Director. “Through the COE Program we hope more international roasters fall in love with the quality we are producing and also open new opportunities for specialty coffees of Costa Rica to be known worldwide as one of the best coffees of the world,” she continued.

Five Central American countries are now part of the Cup of Excellence program which manages the selection of the country’s finest coffees during a very stringent 3 week process involving 2 different juries. “Costa Rican coffees are known world wide for their quality and are an important part of any specialty coffee company”, explained Susie Spindler, Executive director of ACE. “These coffees will be an exciting addition to our exemplary coffee line up and will bring many buyers to the auction”.

The winning farmers will be presented their Cup of Excellence award during an emotional awards ceremony on the evening of May 18, 2007 when farmers, press, dignitaries and the international jury anxiously will await the winners’ names to be announced.

The Costa Rican program will mark the thirty-third competition for the Cup of Excellence program since it’s beginnings in 1999. Other current countries to host the program include Brazil, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia. The Cup of Excellence program is managed by the non-profit Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc, The state of the art Cup of Excellence auction has been managed in partnership with CommoditiesOne, a leading software development firm since 2002. For more information about the Cup of Excellence program, to become a member and to learn more about Costa Rica’s finest coffees log on to www.scacr.com and www.cupofexcellence.org.

Today I get to go to El Bosque

So today is the day I get to go to El Bosque. This is the one Guatemalan that for me has improved so much. Our importers Mercanta have had a relationship with these guys for a while but last years (which is current crop) was fantastic.

This is the Journey from hell, over 5 hours on a bus to get to mill. Add to this we get stuck in a huge traffic jam. I’m not a patient traveller but manage to get through without throwing the dolly out of the pram or biting anyone’s head off. The traffic jam just grinds to a halt, so Christian says it’s within walking distance. You couldn’t get more urban if you tried so I thought this was another its only a “Guatemalan hour” “its only just down the Guatemalan road”. But sure enough by the main road, behind a petrol station there was this wet mill.

Here I meet Julio, Mario and Giancarlo (I think so any way, I’m so rubbish at names), all brothers that own the farm mill and the petrol station . We were shown around the mill, then we then all piled into the back of a pick up, to brave the traffic jam. I’m not sure if the locals have seen to many ginger headed pale white skinned English man with a bright green t shirt on before, but they certainly kept double taking and having another look.  I smile wave and nod.

The farm is in the mountain overlooking the built up urban city, but it couldn’t be further away in terms of quietness, beauty. You could have been transported to another world.

Because we had been travelling for so long, time was not on our side, so the brothers arranged for us to have some food up on the plantation a picnic you could say, but with some beautiful chicken and awesome steak it was a feast more than a picnic.

They then arranged for us to have a picking competition, to see who could get the most cherry’s in a basket in ten minutes. We broke into three teams but I think the others teams must have not been buying this coffee. Richard in particular now known as “mr green unripe bean” seemed to have the philosophy “never mind the quality look at the width”. On a more serious note it made me realise how much work and how difficult selective picking is. It also made me realise how therapeutic it can be in our mad world of rush, rush, busy, busy just being out there with nothing but the sun and your own thoughts.

The three brothers were awesome and so friendly, there keen for me to send them our customer comments about the coffee and they were so pleased to hear how much the coffee is appreciated. So if you have treid this coffee and want me to pass on any comments let me know.

The great news is this year they have broken down the picking into area’s so this year we expect some special boutique lots from them, which will make it even better.

From here, back onto the bus to Anacafe’s offices in Guatemala city, and when I saw this on the program, I wasn’t how sure what kind of place it would be, small, large, modern, old, plush, run down. Well the offices were huge, and very plush, the training facilities were some of the most advanced I’ve seen. And a cupping room that I’d be very proud to have at the roastery.

We were greeted by the Chairman of Anacafe Billy ahhh surname (sorry told you I was rubbish with names). We were taken to the boardroom for a very informative presentation about the work they are doing. Long time readers will know I’ve been very impressed with the work that El Salvador has been doing to raise their game. Well I left the boardroom with the same warm feelings for Guatemala. For years they have sold coffee on their Hue Hue’s and their Antiguas and have sat there saying our coffees good. On the whole they were but its not enough in the modern market you need more.  You can see this very clearly in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican model for me has meant they have dropped down the specialty pecking order to the poitn I rarely get exited and it has become very one dimensional. Guatemalan coffee has a lot more to offer in terms of Varity of tastes and I think they are building on that.

In fact after this presentation we were given a chance to taste the different regions at the cupping table. And I’d say the variety we saw there was ahead of anywhere outside of Ethiopia. Some stunningly different tastes and a very interesting exercise.  I applaud Anacafes efforts and wish other countries would approach their coffee in the same way.

The evening we rushed back 20 minutes to get ready then out the door for another meal with some producers. Here we got to meet our guests for tomorrows visit to San Francisco Teckonbourogh (sorry if that’s spelt wrong it’s a guess) and also Mario came along from El Bosque.

Tomorrows meal we have the owners of El Salvador La Fany (a big favourite of ours) and El Borboullon a coffee we adore and hope to do a lot more with this coming crop. Also we have the farmer from Guatemala Entre Rios organic. I guess I’m going to have to visit the gym when I get back Guatemalans love their food (and if I’m honest I love their food too much)

Anyone who tells me these trips are a holiday are wrong, I don’t mean they’re not fun, because trust me I’m in heaven, but the schedule is punishing, and the pace is 100 miles an hour. Any one who knows me knows I like a party, but this night after the meal its an early night for me I’m a spent fource.

Unfortunately I have a bad mix of over excitement (as I say I’m in heaven) and a brain full of ideas and developments for has bean, I sleep for around two hours after a lot of reading and thinking and a bit of CNN.

Part of my reading was Barista Magazine, something I’ve really got into of late. For me Baristas are the cool guys of the industry, and the ones with the greatest power to empower consumers with knowledge and expertise. Luckily they also seem to be some of the most passionate people about specialty coffee. Anyway I’m off track I was reading the magazine and what do I see but this very blog getting a mention from the dwell time boys. Big shout out love and respect to you I’m pleased I have at least one reader who’s kind enough to own up in a publication : )

One last thing before I go, I’m very sorry about the spelling in these postings. I’m not the greatest speller at the best of times but a lot of these “reports” have been written in the back of a bus over some of the worst maintained roads I’ve experienced so its quite difficult to write and to proof read. So sorry and I hope it hasn’t spoilt your enjoyment too much.

The final day is upon us tomorrow I fly home Saturday (arrive Sunday), sad and happy at the same time.

El Bosque
El Bosque 2

el Bosque

El Bosque

El Bosque

El Bosque

El Bosque