Sunday, May 1, 2011
Sometimes a cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee -- or so I've heard. Most days around here it isn't. It's brightness or earthy notes, hints of citrus or sweet cedar; it's Fondo Paez or Chajul, Yirgacheffe or Sidama; new harvest or last year's crop, but never just a cup of joe.
Because of our commitment to having our staff travel to origin, most tend to be partial to the beans grown by the groups that they've visited. When Derek's not waxing ecstatic about the latest harvest that's arrived in the roastery, he'll likely return to recommending that you try the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, fruit of his friends at the YCFCU co-op that he visited a few years back. I, meanwhile, am a stalwart defender of the Sumatran Full City. Suggest that it's too earthy for your taste and I'll probably let you know that those aren't just any earthy notes; they are the rich, cinnamon spicy aromas of the coarse orange-y dirt of the slopes of Aceh where the coffee grew.
In short, we get attached to our beans. Instead of scouring importer's cupping tables each season for the flashiest, most noteworthy beans, we choose our producer partners deliberately, not just for that single exceptional cup, but for their potential to continue to grow together, develop, and continue to deliver outstanding coffee year after year. Over the years, we've taken chances on new producer groups from time to time, co-operatives who may have more promise than renown, and we think that those risks have paid off. In 2002, as members of Cooperative Coffees we were the first to import directly from the co-op OCFCU, now known as a source of exceptional coffee and an established player in the Ethiopian coffee world. Similarly when we met representatives of Fondo Paez, we had an inkling that, despite their lack of a track record exporting coffee, their organization and their beans were worth the risk. Seven years later, we continue to be impressed each fall when the rich cherry and cocoa notes of their coffee arrive in the roastery.
And so several years ago, when Ryan (who at that time was a roaster and can now be found manning the espresso bar at the coffee shop traveled to the Dominican Republic, we were impressed with the determination and vision of the co-op FEDECARES, as well as the mild loveliness of their coffee. Several years later, despite a few ups and downs in the interim, we're pleased to welcome the coffee back to our mugs. Our optimism has paid off: the first few lots of Dominican coffee were exemplary of island coffees -- smooth and mild, with hints of orange (at the time, I think I compared it to a fluffy orange kitten: soft, sweet and cuddly, or, the coffee equivalent, sippable) -- the sort of cup one can enjoy all day long. This spring's lot takes all the attributes that so pleased us and kept us coming back for more and adds to them: hints of ginger and chocolate complement a pleasing nuttiness, creating a well-balanced, sweet cup that's delightful in its complexity.
We've pulled a few bags aside for a limited run as a single origin and we hope you'll join us in celebrating an investment that continues to pay off. Drink a mug and plan what you're going to take a chance on!