Get to Know Our Fresh Crop Costa Ricans with Marianela

Our fresh crop Costa Ricans have landed in our warehouse in New Jersey. 🙌 Whether you are looking for honeys that pop or a Geisha that stuns, we got you covered.  View our North American Offer List here.


We all know there’s a lot to love about Costa Rica.  Whether it’s the lush mountains from a picture or the promise of adventure in a tourism catalog, we already feel close ties to this coffee origin.  We may even have been fortunate enough to experience these things first hand.

But as coffee connoisseurs, makers and sourcers we have come to love Costa Rica for one thing – it’s generosity in complex and mouth-watering coffees.

Just ask Marianela, or Nela, our Costa Rican product coordinator.  She is constantly impressed by her own neighbors that have been willing to push boundaries in coffee processing and bring the absolute best crops to the table.


Get to know Nela

Born in: Cartago, Costa Rica
Currently living in:  Costa Rica
Favorite coffee brew method: V60
Favorite coffee shop in Costa Rica: Kawah Cafe
Favorite city to visit in the States: San Francisco


 

“What I love the most about Costa Rican coffees,” says Nela, “is that you can find a good variety for different taste preferences that are really amazing: clean, sweet, fruity, floral and bright, balanced acidity coffees.”

The exceptionally sorted and processed coffees of today enjoy breaking the perception of Costa Rican coffees to the masses.  But for Nela it’s also the ease of traceability that makes these coffees so rewarding.

“It’s easier to have all of the traceability and information about these coffees today,” she says.  “Costa Rica is probably one of the most developed origin countries in the world and people can have access to the story behind each coffee which makes it all so unique and interesting.”

Coffee cherries photographed in La Pastora, Don Eli Coffee in Costa Rica

Stories like the women of La Angostura are within reach for the importers, roasters and ultimately consumers.  While access to producer stories are increasingly more common across all origins, few factors help it make it even easier in Costa Rica such as geographical location, ease of languages, and the safety of travel.

Better quality coffees are also the result of better infrastructure within the industry and education amongst producers says Nela.  It’s what allows producers to be more progressive in their approach to coffee.  But this  was not always the case.

“Around ten years ago farmers weren’t sure about preparing micro-lots,” explains Nela. “They were scared and didn’t know if it was a good idea to make the change and start to process their own coffee.”

Don Eli Micromill in Costa Rica

“But it was around five years ago when the oldest micro-mills were becoming successful and farmers began to realize it was a good decision for those who want to do coffee differently.  More producing families are taking that step and even more than that they are starting to specialize, experiment and be creative on preparing unique micro and nano lots.”

Out of all of the crops from this past harvest, Nela is excited for people to try “every single one” of these coffees.  But If she had to chose (under pressure of the author) she would say: El Congo and Hondura from Santa Teresa, Santa Rosa Don Eli White Honey and the double washed trials Don Eli (her family’s farm) made, and the Coffee Diversa coffees.

These Coffee Diversa coffees are special in that they are from non-common varieties in Costa Rica and are from the largest private garden with the most varieties in the world (You can learn more about these unique coffees on our Cropster Hub  store – one for our U.S. available coffees and one for our European available coffees –  under Costa Rican coffees .)

Challenges From the Harvest

This harvest Nela’s challenge was a good problem to have.

“There are always challenges and that’s what exciting for me otherwise, it would be boring.”

When first initiating the partnership between her family’s farm, her community, and Nordic Approach a year ago she had no idea how it would be received.

“This is the second year we are doing this [sourcing coffees collectively] so it’s a pretty new project,” she says.

“I wasn’t expecting to receive so much acceptance and interest from producers to negotiate and start a relationship with us [Nordic Approach]. I was expecting something similar to last year or a little bit more – but no, it was three times more.”

“Sometimes I want more sleep.  But it’s okay – I love what I do!”

This harvest demanded a lot from Nela.  When she wasn’t cupping coffees from farms throughout the region, she was visiting the farms and looking over the processing.  And if she wasn’t physically on a neighbor’s farm, she was collecting the coffee’s information, preparing shipment and sending hundreds of samples to Oslo for quality control.

“We ended up purchasing around 70 micro and nano lots,” she says.

“Therefore for me  [the increase in volumes and coffees] was a big change. I needed better organization, stronger communication among the farmers, the logistics company and with the dry milling.”

“In the end, it’s been definitively a learning process for me and everybody involved in this project.”

Honeys

“People ask me mostly about the honey-processed Costa Rican coffees,” says Nela.

The honey process is one of the latest and most popular processing methods in the region due to its fruit-forward and unique flavor characteristics in the coffee.  And many inquire about the different honey processes – red, white, yellow, and black (and potentially more colors in between.)

“They want to know the differences between the different type of honeys.  And it’s always funny because there is really not a formula or a recipe to how the different honeys are processed.  It depends on each producer and his or her conditions in the mill.”

“Basically, some farmers call it “white” honey when they remove almost all mucilage from parchment or they call “black” honey when they don’t remove any mucilage. And when they mechanically de-pulp, they can adjust the levels of mucilage removed but it varies on the machine.”

“When the parchment dries, it turns into different colors (yellow, orange, red, black), because of the sun hitting the mucilage at different layers. And so they also sometimes name it a type of honey depending on how the color turned out. Some people think this is not very accurate and it’s not the correct way to name the type of honey.”

Producer Highlights
Producer Mario and his daughters, Maria (left) Arleen (right) from La Angostura in Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Nela would like to highlight some of the female producers like La Angostura who has three amazing hard working girls: Arleen, Maria (Mario Jimenez’ daughters) and Ana Lidey (Mario’s wife).  Since they started their relationship with Nordic Approach they are motivated to work harder at developing their coffees, says Nela.

“It’s not easy to find women doing what they are doing and I really admire them. I hope I can support them and motivate them to keep doing what they are doing.”

“They did more separation of the lots and experiments with the double washed process just for us,” she says.  “We have seen great results from what they have done and we really like to support the courage girls like they have. It’s not easy to find women doing what they are doing and I really admire them. I hope I can support them and motivate them to keep doing what they are doing.””

Also, we purchased some lots for the first time from Daniela Gutierrez from La Montana-Bajo del Rio micro-mill. This is another great example of young ladies making the difference in our communities.”


Featured Coffees:

For North American Buyers: 🇺🇸 🇨🇦

Adrian Hernandez Libertad Natural (US)

Notes: Fruity, Cinnamon, Blueberry
Bold in fruits, excellent body.
Score: 88

Santa Teresa Geisha White Honey (US)

Notes: Tropical Fruit, Strawberry, Floral, Passion Fruit
Bright, tropical fruit, passion fruit, high sweetness, clean and elegant. Great funk, strawberry jam and florals.
Score: 88.5

Vista del Lago white Honey (US) 

Notes: Citrus, Floral, Pear, Apple
Fizzi, almost sparkling and very refreshing. Citrus, apples, and jasmine. Super bright and crisp.
Score: 88

 El Balar Double Washed (US)

Notes: Chocolate, Mild Cocoa, Sweet Milk, Red Fruit, Honey and Toffee.
Fruit driven, but very clean and bright with a sweet finish.
Score: 87

For European Buyers:  🌍

Santa Rosa Don Eli White Honey

Notes:   Fresh Citrus, Fruit Citrus, Lemon, Papaya,
Peach juice, fresh and citrus fruit, structured, great clarity.
Score: 88

Don Moncho

Notes: Sweet Berry, White Grape, Nectarine.
Sweet and juicy with a delightful aftertaste that lingers
Score: 87

Libertad

Notes:   Chocolate Stone Fruit Dried Fruit Milk Chocolate
Score: 86

 

First shipment of current crop Ethiopia has arrived!

A lot has been happening in Ethiopia last year, for us, and in politics. Politically, the turmoil has caused some concerns and insecurity across the coffee industry about effects on availability of coffee and access to coffees from Ethiopia.

In our own news we have an established office and lab space that has been fully operational throughout this season, this has given us an ability to function on a much broader scale in our efforts to find coffees that are cupping great and show a good range of what can be produced in Ethiopia. It has also facilitated building relationships with new suppliers and stronger relationships with our existing partners.

Morten and Seife cupping naturals in our Addis office Morten and Seife cupping naturals in our Addis office

We are happy to report that there are both fantastic coffees available and accessible this year, the cup quality in the South has been consistently high. Our first container has arrived and the coffees have already been running out of the warehouse!

Developments in Ethiopia

We cannot speak in detail about the past years political unfolding within Ethiopia, but we were concerned that there could be difficulties in production that could have affected the quality or the volume that Ethiopia could produce. Fortunately this is not the case. It is very clear at this stage in the harvest where we have cupped through much of the coffees and made selections, that the volume of production is high and the level of cup quality we are seeing is unaffected by the events of last year.

There have been some political changes, the Ethiopian cabinet has undergone some changes and this has lead to a new minister of Agriculture. It has been a stated that there will be major reform in the coffee industry and have proclaimed new laws will be implemented, the most notable for us is that suppliers will be allowed to export the bean directly to the international market rather than being confined to the trade floor.

You can read more about the specifics here

This will have a positive impact on the relationships we have already been developing, and will affect change in the production of coffee. Previously privately owned washing stations had no other market for their coffee but the ECX, so they had no benefit of investing in the quality of their production, only in volume to see direct returns on their investment. Under the new stated laws an investment in processing coffee to a high standard can be realised directly by the washing station making the investment.

The changes also suggest that there will be limitations on issuing of licences, and stricter applications of the laws required to maintain one’s licence to export coffee. This will serve to ensure that the industry maintains some standards of operating.

Developments in our sourcing

The production forecast for Ethiopia this season is 390,500 tons or 6.508 million bags. Although our volumes cannot be compared, Ethiopia is the country we buy the most coffee from and gaining a broad perspective of the whole production for each season is what enables us to make better, more informed buying decisions on the volumes of coffee we do buy.

The lab in Addis and having permanent staff in Addis is a major part of this, we are able to do work at the beginning of the season to cup through early samples taken when we are visiting private washing stations, farms and Co-operatives that we work with. Cupping through these samples, when we know the cup qualities are not as well developed as they will be later on in the peak of the season, will give us insight into what’s to come.

We will also start to be able to gauge what kind of volume is being processed at the various stages of the season, and so can estimate what kind of production year it will be.

We have also found huge value in being face to face with our partners in Ethiopia throughout the entire season. This has meant we get to have very honest conversations about what’s working and what’s not when we are perusing different projects, and how to better support the needs of suppliers.

This year, as our first fully operational year we already see the value that has been added and we are sure you will too when you taste the coffees we have coming in!

When to Expect Our Ethiopians to Land

They are already here! At the time of writing we have three lots available on our offer-list.

We have a stream of coffees coming, the first of which landed the first week of April. At the moment the landed coffees are all washed but we have some great naturals that will start arriving in May/June.

Please feel free to email us at coffee@nordicapproac.no with any questions about our Ethiopian coffees.

…And if you’re looking for an absolute bargain, we reduced all of our remaining last year’s Ethiopians to ridiculously low prices.

Kenya 2017 Preview

Update: Our first container of Kenyans have arrived in the UK and are available on the offer list

Kenyan coffees are important to us. We love both the big classic fruit profiles as well as the subtle, herbal-like Kenyans. And while it has taken a little more cupping work this year to find the coffees we love, we have been selective in only purchasing coffees that are tasting exceptional.

That being said, we wanted to clarify some talk going around the rumor mill in regards to Kenyans lacking quality this year.  Good news is that it isn’t necessarily true – and while the prices may be higher, they are certainly worth it.

What Drove Up Prices This Year in Kenya

Every new season brings a different set of challenges in coffee producing.  This year was no exception. And while there are many elements that play a role in pricing, we can look at three main causes for higher prices this year; weather, production and auction prices.

We are still seeing strange weather patterns after El Niño. It created unusually warm water in the Pacific that caused unseasonal, heavy rainfall in Kenya as well as its surrounding countries. This uncharacteristic rainfall delayed the flowering process for the coffee plants, disrupted the cherry maturation process, and disrupted the drying process as well.

As a result, we saw a 50% decrease in production in comparison to last year.  However, it’s important to note that last year’s harvest was exceptionally high.  If we look at the average year for Kenya, last year was down by a not-so-stark 20% in production volume.

And to top it off, the auction this year set the stage for unusually high prices.  These high numbers set the expectations for farmers and what they should be selling their coffees for.  For example, some of the highest prices AA’s (known as the most high quality sorted coffee green) hit around $15.00/kg ($6.80/lb) at auction – this is not taking into account post-processing costs such as: Grainpro or vacuum packing, PSS sample drawing, loading containers for shipment, the actual shipment costs and clearance upon arrivals.

This kind of extreme variations in pricing, although great when the farmer gets more money, and even greater when he or she is investing in better production, can also obscure the market and cause issues that can negatively affect farmers income and even the demand for coffee.

How We Aim to Keep Things as Affordable as Possible

In our efforts to get these coffees to you as affordably as possible, we have reduced our normal margin on these coffees and cut it by half.  We believe great coffees are worth great prices, even when they push our business to uncomfortable places.

When to Expect Our Kenyans to Land

We are expecting our first container to arrive in early April and get you samples by mid to late April.  Remember, you can always e-mail us at coffee@nordicapproach.no with any questions about all of our tasty Kenyans coming in.

El Salvador update 2017

The first El Salvadors from Las Cruces are shipped and on the way. Los Pirineos just ended the harvest and we are currently making our selection. Quality this year looks great. Compared to last year’s cupping, at this stage the coffees seems to be more intense and fruit driven, with a lot of structure and body to it. We spent days in different periods both in the fields and at the cupping table and we have high hopes for both quality and new interesting profiles.  We will as always buy a big range of different types of washed & soaked coffee and “white honey” coffee, but will also increase the amount of full honeys and naturals.

Besides being a great Central American coffee, the El Salvadorian coffee we are buying is some of the most consistent, reliable, solid and and versatile coffees we are carrying. This is a result of many years of cooperation with producers interested in developing their products and adapt to requirements from us and our clients that are often forefronting quality coffee in Europe.

Las Cruces

Andres and Jose Antonio with their dad Andres and Jose Antonio with their dad

The brothers Andres and Jose Antonio took over the operations from their father some years ago. Jose Antonio manages the fields and the agronomical part, and Andres is managing the different processes at the mill. It’s always inspiring to spend time with them at the farms and the mill, and always a lot to learn.  They have so many interesting projects right now that involves replanting old blocks in the highest altitudes, experimenting with new cultivars, pruning techniques etc. As we have worked with them for so long I feel they give great priority to us. If there are new farms I want to buy from we can plan ahead of the season what farms we should do with different processing. Every year they try to develop new products, they are investing in shade drying, and are reconstructing their mill to meet our requests.

Our kenya SL28 trees at El Martillo are starting to grow up, they were ruling the blind cupping. Our kenya SL28 trees at El Martillo are starting to grow up, they were ruling the blind cupping.

We have also cooperated on planting new cultivars, like SL 28 from Kenya among others, and  we have the priority on these. We did a blind cupping with them now with cultivars from their experimental plots. There were Geishas, Ethiopians, different bourbons, Kenyans and many other new and old cultivars. The Kenyan SL28 was definitely the standout.

The last years they have worked a lot on Honey and Natural processing. We do buy way more different processes from them now than before, but washed/white honey still counts for the majority of our Las Cruces selection. We are also pre-contracting volumes with them on a three years basis, so they can budget and finance production and innovation, and we are at the same time securing our supply.

Nordic Approach visits Las Cruces, Santa Ana, El Salvador from Nordic Approach.

 

Los Pirineos

Gilberto in his nursery. A lot of cultivars for his seed bank. Gilberto in his nursery. A lot of cultivars for his seed bank.

Los Pirineos is a farm in another region called Usulatan. The altitudes are slightly lower than Santa Ana, but the climate is different and cooler. The owner Gilberto Baraona is always doing something new on the farm. The development never stops and if he is not building new drying tables etc, he is replanting the farm with different cultivars or constructing a new dry mill. Last year he built an insane amount of drying beds. Besides his washed white honeys and washed and soaked coffees, he is now doing a lot of full honey coffees and naturals. He is currently replanting big parts of his farm with new and different cultivars. We were just there, and there is a lot of new Pacamara planted in the medium altitudes that will start producing coffees in two years time.

He is doing drying both in shade and in sun. We generally buy washed bourbons and pacamaras from him, all dried on tables both in shade and sun. Here as well we are trying to increase the diversity with different processed coffees. Coffees from his higher altitudes always come in later, and many of them are not yet harvested. Gilberto is also processing coffees from some of his neighbors that have been really good the last few years. He has also invested in a fully operational dry mill at his farm, meaning he can do coffees more or less end to end and control the whole supply chain.

We are expecting the first Las Cruces coffee to arrive in May and Los Pirineos in June. You will have an opportunity to cup them at our upcoming event in Oslo in April.

La Angostura; A Glimpse of the Future Generations of Coffee Producers

Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Producers shift their weight in the darkened room….

They’ve been cupping for nearly four hours inside a kitchen at one of the producer’s homes.  Windows creek and tree branches sway as the winds from the Tarrazu mountains in Costa Rica swirl around the home.  It’s dark outside but one bright lamp shines in the room. The buyer from Colombia has lost energy but continues on to the next coffee.  As he reads the coffees tasting notes there is a bit of anticipation in the room.

He then reads the score, the highest of the evening, following it with its farm name, “La Angostura….”

Two women exchange a small glance and timid smiles.

Their coffees performing so well is a relief — but by no means is a coincidence.

Producers cup their own coffees in Tarrazu, Costa Rica, 2016 Producers cup their own coffees in Tarrazu, Costa Rica, 2016

Arleen and Maria aren’t your typical 20-somethings.

Left to right: Maria Jimenez, 21 years old, Mario Jimenez (father to Maria and Arleen and producer at La Angostura), and Arleen Jimenez 28 years old  Left to right: Maria Jimenez, 21 years old, Mario Jimenez (father to Maria and Arleen and producer at La Angostura), and Arleen Jimenez 28 years old

When most of their peers are hanging out in the city, the two sisters are managing the drying patios, overseeing pruning or meticulously measuring their precious beans’ moisture levels.

Arleen, 28 had studied tourism at her university and spends most of her time managing the processing and drying stages of the coffee cherries. And when it’s off season, she has her hands plenty full with assisting her father with on-going farm duties.  Her 21-year-old sister, Maria, also takes on a leadership role on the farm, ensuring the proper weighing and delivery of the coffee cherries.  And when she isn’t at the farm, she is at the university studying to become a Special Educations teacher.

Their approach to coffee is everything their father has taught them and it has certainly reflected in their coffees over the past years.

Going the Extra Mile: From Harvest to Processing

They are extremely organized in their operations at La Angostura; from the day a coffee is picked to the day it is stored in the warehouse, everything is well tracked. They also understand the importance of communication across their facility and they invest as much as possible by attending industry-related educational events and talks within the community.

The Ecopulper has been a vital tool in allowing micro mills like La Angostura to adjust the amount of mucilage removed before drying or fermenting the cherries.  In the case of the coffees we currently have available from them (also listed below), the “white honey” consists of removing around 70-80% mucilage and then taking it directly to the drying African beds.

But what Mario and his daughters are particular about is moving the coffee in baskets one by one.  During the first day, they spread out the coffees in a thin layer.  After keeping a watchful eye, they pile up the coffee in a thicker layer – usually around day three – which forces the drying process to slow down.  This carefully draws out other properties within the coffee bean.  They then move the coffee every hour until the sun begins to set.  However, during the hottest time of the day, they cover the coffee from the piercing sunlight.

Generally speaking, it takes them around 12-14 days for the coffee to reach an acceptable moisture level for storage (roughly 10% – 10.5%).

La Angostura, Costa Rica La Angostura, Costa Rica


What Arleen and Maria Wish Coffee Consumers Knew

Last harvest we asked Arleen and Maria what they wish people understood about coffee.  Their answer? They wish people understood that when they consider the price for a cup of coffee that they understand it’s much more than a simple cup of coffee.

It’s their entire family working all day on the farm.  It’s the mom who is endlessly in the kitchen making sure everyone is fed when they need a break from the sun. And it’s their other siblings who go to school but are still supporting the work they do at the farm.

It’s also how they reinforce their strict rules across everyone working on the farm.  They make sure their harvesters aren’t smoking or that people aren’t wearing strong perfumes and deodorants because coffee absorbs everything.

For them, it’s much more than a cup of coffee.

The two girls also go on to explain how many of their peers are going to school and getting jobs in offices in the city.  But that’s not what they wanted.  They believe that if they do it right, coffee can bring them and others around them a good life; that is does bring them a good life.


The Coffees

Los Manzanos White Honey
Cupping Score: 87  

Citrus Raspberry Vanilla Jasmine Honeysuckle
Super delicate flavors of florals, vanilla and red berries. Complex, bright and transparent coffee still with good richness and body. Medium intense, well structured and refined

Rasberry Vanilla Jasmine HoneysuckleCitrus

La Montana White Honey
Cupping Score: 86.5
Delicate, lactic, mellow and juicy. Medium intensity, elegant and lingering. There is complex subtle fruit notes of stone fruit, melon, berries and orange.

 

Cantaloupe Milk Chocolate Berry Melon

 


Marianela Montero, Nordic Approach Product Coordinator, family member of Don Eli Micromill in Tarrazu, Costa Rica Marianela Montero, Nordic Approach Product Coordinator, family member of Don Eli Micromill in Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Q&A with Marianela, N.A. Product Coordinator

We asked Marianela, our product coordinator and family member at Don Eli Micromill, a few questions about her neighbors and their coffee. Here are her answers:

Q: How has their (the Jiminez family’s) approach changed or improved the overall quality of their coffees?

Marianela: I think this harvest their coffees are tasting better than last year. They must have done something right this harvest and better. They are working so hard trying to apply less and less chemicals and more organic and natural products and they have seen great results. This can be one of the things that is helping them to improve their quality but it is also because of how they select and sort the cherries.

Q: What does this say about the future generation of coffee producers in Tarrazú?

Marianela:  I think Tarrazu is pretty unique about their young farmers’ population and you see many young producers starting to get more interested in coffee and everything around this. I think Nordic Approach can help us motivate farmers by giving them the opportunity to learn more about the different markets we work with, perhaps the way we are already doing, by giving them the opportunity to spend some time with us in our central offices in Oslo. I think this can make a big difference.

Another way to help young farmers and motivate them could be to stay in touch and follow up with our farmers, give them feedback and show them how important they are for us and to teach them that they can be professionals and experts in coffee like any other professional. So I think if our markets keep the farmers motivated and give them fair prices, young producers in Tarrazu will keep doing coffee farming. This is all we need to keep the coffee agriculture in countries like Costa Rica. I think over time, more farmers value the coffee farming and the ability to work in the beautiful places where coffee grows.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Arleen and Maria.

Marianela: Maria and Arlene wake up every single day during the harvest at 6 am. They go with their enthusiasm to the farms to watch and take care of the pickers, then when the sun starts to rise they go to the mill to process and to take care of the drying. I have to say they really enjoy what they do just by looking at their smiles.

We love the java jive – our new origin: Indonesia

As some of you have noticed (and already ordered!), we just started selling coffee from Indonesia, and we want to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about the project. This story has everything, an underdog entrepreneur trying to win over the villagers, fighting climate change, building communities, and of course, delicious coffee for you.

Indonesia is a unique country that lies on the equator and spread across 17,500 islands with more than 300 ethnic groups and 700 living languages spoken throughout the whole archipelago.

It sits on the notorious Pacific Ring of Fire with the largest number of highly active volcanoes in the world. Despite natural disasters that happens every year, this also brings a great blessing to the fertility of Indonesian soil. They say coffee can be grown elsewhere, but the best coffee is grown on high altitude and rich volcanic soils.

However as many Asian countries, Indonesia faces a big challenge in deforestation due to the high population density and rapid industrialisation. Massive floods and landslides are a common problem during Indonesia’s rainy season, where deforestation has left hilly areas vulnerable to erosion during destructive tropical rainfall.

The government sees that coffee farming can be a smart option for reforestation. Through many NGOs, the authorities tried to encourage land use change from vegetables farming to coffee projects. This effort was not successful as the villagers wanted to see the proven result before they dare to make changes.

Wildan Mustofa saw natural disasters happen year after year in his neighbourhood. The farmer always suffers the most. Previously a potato breeder and farmer himself, Wildan found his calling to help the other farmers.

Wildan Mustofa Wildan Mustofa

He started his first coffee project at Sindangkerta, Weninggalih area in 2010. This later became his main growing area in Java Frinsa Estate. Since the first year of production, Wildan has aimed to focus on quality which requires meticulous attention and processes.

His idea was not instantly accepted by the locals. Producing palm sugar was the main source of living, but this was not enough to feed the whole family. Forcing the men to go to the cities to work as cheap construction workers earning less than USD 8 per day, while the women preferred to be migrant workers in foreign countries. Thus leaving the children “parentless” at home without proper adult supervision.

In early days, Wildan needed to “import” coffee pickers from a nearby area, Pengalengan, as the people in Sindangkerta were sceptical and reluctant to join the project. After a while they began to learn and understand how growing coffee could help them to improve their livelihoods and ensure their household needs. Slowly but surely mothers and fathers are returning back to the village and their children.

There is also a reason why Frinsa is using the white cotton bags instead of importing jute bags from India or Bangladesh. When the cherry-picking season ends, the women pickers can continue sewing the cotton bags and still earn a living.

Frinsa also focus on education. They donated a portion of their land in Mekarwangi village to build a high school for the community. Before when the children finished their elementary school, they had to walk around 10 km (one way) every day just to reach the nearest high school. Now they can continue their education in a much easier way.

Besides the social and economic impact, we believe the coffee project also have long term benefits for water conservation and reforestation.

Here are the first three coffees from Frinsa Estate that we have carefully selected for you and available in stock now:

Sigarar Utang Fully washed: Complex, layered, sweet, caramel, herbal, tropical fruits

Weninggalih Fully washed: Sweet, tropical fruit, milk chocolate, caramel, herbal, figs, prunes, dried fruit

Frinsa #1 Fully washed: chocolate, sweet tobacco, red berries, herbal (there’s only 2 bags left of this one, so hurry if you want to try it!).

We love the java jive and hope you will too 🙂

Samples

Samples are a big part of the daily routine here in the Lab and our main way of selling coffee to our customers. As the lab manager, samples are kinda my life.

On average, we roast 3 hours daily, to prepare for cupping or to send out to you guys and gals:

  • In our Lab, we roast on a 4 barrel Probat BRZ.
  • 100 grams in each barrel.
  • Our sample roast profile is simple, yet bulletproof.
  • The total roasting time is 6-8 minutes, depending on the cultivar and processing.
  • Development time lasts from 45 – 75 seconds.

When a sample is roasted, we divide the remaining 88 grams into 3 sample bags. That we send out to three different customers. This way we can make the most out of all the coffee we roast.

Every day, we send out samples. Both roasted and green. Based on requests by you, we roast, pack and send about 30 samples a day.

We…

  • Weigh them
  • Read moisture
  • Roast them
  • Weigh them again
  • Pack them
  • Create labels for them
  • Seal them
  • And send them to you

In the Nordic Approach lab, where I, Kaya has been since May 2015, we have tons of samples.

In 2015 we bought approximately 800 different lots.

Where of 380 of these different lots where stored in our lab.

That´s 1-ton of samples.

And here is a 1-ton burger, just to give you an idea of how much green coffee that really is.

(Samples sent May 2015- February 6th 2017) (Samples sent May 2015- February 6th 2017)

Since May 2015, we have sent 11883 samples

to 592 different customers and prospects

THAT´S 13000 DOYPACKS IN 1 YEAR!

That´s how much NOK we have used on FedEx in 1 year (21517.25 USD)

And what kind of samples do we send out really? What origins is more popular?

And who is our receivers?

Go on, click the button^^

Preview of the 2017 harvest in Costa Rica

Last year was a pretty productive harvest for Costa Rica. In the history of the country there hadn’t been so much volume like the 2015-2016 harvest. Which was good but at the same time tough for farmers to sell their coffees because of the high offer in the market. Despite the harvest was massive for Costa Rica, the good quality was there and we found great coffees among a small group of 6 farmers, with whom we decided to start to work for many years.

Compared to last year, this harvest seems to be lower. I have been visiting different farms and have been asking about how the harvest is looking and most of the farmers seemed to agree that there will be lower production and that the harvest will be earlier than last year. Some people think that during the pick of harvest the cherries will get ripe evenly and that quality will be better than last harvest because of better weather conditions (good rain when the plants needed), farm management and practices. The weather has been very rainy this year. It’s been raining more than last harvest. This has helped a lot to the nutrition of the plants. You can see the size of the cherries and the amount of mucilage in the cherries is looking really good this year.

This is all good news, however farmers are facing a harsh reality. The cherries got ripe in the lower-middle elevations and the past few days it’s been rainy, when it should be nice and sunny, as usual during this time. Unfortunately because of this phenomenon a lot of cherries fell down to the ground and farmers lost around 30%-50% of their production. Because of this, producers and their workers had to start to pick up cherries right away although the plantations weren’t evenly ripe enough.  This is serious and some growing coffee areas in Tarrazu are in state of emergency. Tarrazu depends 100% on the coffee production, farmers are really concern because this year the main Coops are paying them for 46 kg cherries around $160 US. Farmers in Costa Rica can barely cover their production costs with these prices. We at Nordic Approach are hoping to pay for the coffees we source in this region double the price Coops are paying this harvest for good quality.

But not all is bad news and we need to stay positive and keep up our work, I have been visiting the farmers we worked with last year and they are happy with the results of last harvest working together with Nordic Approach for the first time. I also have been looking for new farmers with interesting projects. Last week I visited two different Geisha Projects, both farms located in Copey de Dota in Tarrazu region at 1800-2000 masl. The first family project has a very healthy and established farm with different vegetables, fruits and agriculture activities. It’s interesting to see that in a region like Tarrazu where most of the farmers plant coffee, this family just started to grow coffee, last year they sold for the first time their 3 year old Geisha coffee. The farm has planted 22 000 Geisha plants, 1200 SL-28 plants and 800 of an African unknown varietal. From the first time I visited this farm I could see the great potential this farm has. They are just starting to plant coffee and still have more land to plant coffee with great potential. I can’t wait to cup these varietals that aren’t as usual in Costa Rica. The second farm has an area of 15 hectares planted with 5 years old Geisha plants and still can grow more Geisha. They also grow Catuai, Costa Rica 95, Villa Sarchi varietals in this farm. It was great to see how healthy both plantation in these 2 farms look and how much Geisha likes to grow surrounded by vegetation and forest. We will see how this coffee will taste. By looking I can see amazing coffee coming out of this micro region in Copey.

This week I visited Coopedota, one of the main Cooperatives in Tarrazu. The Coop has supported 800 families for 56 years and in the past years they started a micro-lot project. One of the Coop representative visited us last year in our Lab and we cup some samples with good potential. This year we are looking to see if we can start to work with Coopedota and help support and motivate these families to grow better coffee by paying a premium directly to farmers for the micro-lots we find good for our customers.

I went for the first time in some years to the West Valley, another different region in Costa Rica. I visited 4 different farms and mills and introduced our company to these farmers, explained how we work and so on. The harvest will start in the next few days in this region and we will keep in touch with these producers and visit them again when they are harvesting and processing. It will be great to cup new coffee regions and to support some of these families in West Valley. We know they like the idea to see companies like Nordic Approach interested to improve the coffee situation in Costa Rica, most of them agree that there has to be healthy competition among the different exporters and importers that come to Costa Rica to source and purchase coffee. The options to sell more direct coffee and to have more and better options for farmers have been changing in the past years and farmers are happy to see that there aren’t anymore a couple companies willing to purchase specialty coffee, there are every time more specialty coffee traders and buyers, this means that the options for growers are more. Also the communication in between buyers and farmers is changing and we are very happy to be part of this transition in coffee and to be able to establish long term relationships with these coffee families.

Are you interested to visit some of these projects?

As some of you might heard we are planning an origin trip to Central America. We want to immerse you in the coffee farms for some days for you to fully understand the work we are developing in countries like Costa Rica. We are planning to take you to some of these mills and farms we just explained. Please contact our team to let us know if you are interested to join us to see further details.

Colombia, fall 2016

2016 has been an unusually tough year for most coffee farmers in most parts of Colombia because of El Niño – a complex weather pattern resulting from variations in ocean temperatures, that can lead to extreme weather conditions. Because of drought this year harvests have either been delayed, very small, or in some cases even non-existing. A severe lack of rain in many coffee growing regions has affected the quality of the coffee in a negative way, and thus there has been an increase in the number of hollow beans, leaf rust, and broca (coffee berry borer). The premium producers we’re working with will have about 50% of their profit this year, and normal growers will be lucky if they break even. The manager of Coocentral in Huila saying it is the worst conditions he has seen in his whole career.

So, in general in Colombia this year, it has been much harder than usual to find the extra special, amazingly good lots. But we are very happy to say we managed to do so, and these rare and exquisite lots have now arrived to our UK warehouse!

We are also introducing Peaberry from Colombia for the first time this year. Our microlots and micro blends will always be separated by screen size 15 and up during milling. But because of the challenging growing conditions this year the beans are generally smaller, and keeping the screen 15 separation would make the coffee much more expensive. However, we didn’t want to compromise on quality, so instead of including the screen 14 in our screen 15+ microlots, we separated these and made regional PB blends instead. We haven’t done this before in Colombia, but have great experiences with PBs from Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya, so we thought it could work well. And luckily, by arrival, our first Colombian PBs are tasting really good!

2nd Tarqui micro lot competition

In August, we held a micro lot competition for the farmers we are working with in Tarqui in Central Huila. It was the second time we did this, repeating the success from December 2015. Basically, we announce the competition for the farmers in advance, so that they can be extra careful when picking and processing the coffee. We set certain parameters that the farmers should fulfil (moisture content, yield factor, lot size, and so on). Then, when all the entered lots have been approved, we gather a panel of professionals and cup and score the coffee blindly. This year we had 50 coffees submitted, and 36 of them approved. We cupped the 36 coffees, and selected 12 finalists. Then cupped the 12, and ended up with a top 10.

We have set fixed prizes for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd-5th, and 6th to 10th place, and commit to buying these. The standard price in Colombia was in August approx. 800.000 pesos per 125 kg of parchment coffee. For the 1st prize we paid more than three times that. And this year the high premiums were especially appreciated. Both the winner (Nemesio Ramos) and the runner up (Jaime Alzate) were planning to do soca (cutting the trees) this year, so the prizes came at a very good time for them.

A competition like this is a way of incentivising farmers and paying them great premiums for great coffees. It also gives us the opportunity to meet and get to know the farmers in that specific area, and explore the true potential there. Several of these lots was featured in the Nordic Roaster Forum competition in October, placing 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th, and 9th in the Colombia category. We still have three of the competition lots available!

Here’s a short film with interviews with some the farmers in Tarqui that participated in the competition.

Tolima

Tolima is one of the coffee growing regions that has been hit hardest by El Niño this year. It has been the toughest harvest in 10 years according to the cooperative and the growers themselves.

But thanks to the cooperative we are working with there – Cafisur – it has been possible to get some good coffee from Tolima this year as well, although in limited amounts. We have two lots from Hernando Gomez, one of the most consistent farmers we are working with, as well as a lot from Astrid Medina and from Alfredo Leyton. We also have a PB lot from Tolima.

Cafisur were celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. They have been working for 15 years during the conflict (FARC), providing sustainability for the farmers in this area. There are about 2300 farmers connected to the coop. And for the last 7 years they have been working with micro lots and securing higher quality. We initiated the quality program “Programa Café de Finca” three years ago, identifying the best regions and reaching out to the best farmers.

Nariño

Buesaco in Nariño has also been extremely dry this year. Luis Fernando Benavides has installed a sprinkler system for watering his Geisha, so we have 7 boxes of that available. But apart from that there was not much coming out of Buesaco this season.

Luckily, in the northern part of Nariño, the weather was better, and we have a couple of micro lots and some of our El Desvelado and El Soñador artisan blends available. There’s also more coming in right after New Year’s. The Nariño PB is also tasting great, and we’re very happy with that and will continue offering this in the coming seasons.

Rwanda update and incoming coffee

This year’s production volumes in Rwanda have returned to a more normal level after last year’s huge harvest. As a whole the production volume appears to be average, though some rule changes in how cherries are delivered has caused some regions to drop in volume more than others. Overall we have less coffee available than last year but the quality of the coffees is generally improved.

In the West the volume of cherry processed by the washing stations we have been working with for some years has been dramatically affected by the new rules. Although we have a little less Gitesi and Mahembe than we would like to this year, these coffees have been cupping with great structure and complexity. We have started this year to work with a new washing station in the West called Gatare. this is one of the oldest washing stations in Rwanda and has capacity for processing large volumes. It is under new ownership, and is showing great potential!

We will also have a number of different Peaberry (PB) lots this year, after the success of the separation of the PB beans in the milling that we have seen in the cup over the last two years we have looked to develop this further. We will now offer some blends of PB production due to them being in small volumes, and some lots of PB from specific washing stations. Keep an eye out for these guys!

We are continuing to work with Furaha, who has three farms (Jarama, Kamajumba, and Nyaruzina) that are on the side of Lake Kivu in the West. These coffees are being processed at Muhundo washing station which was purchased by Furaha recently.

In the South we have focused more on the Shade dried lots being produced, as we have seen the consistency and structure of these coffees really hold together and develop in complexity over time. We have a selection of lots processed at Remera washing station that are from cherries collected in specific surrounding areas. Look for names like Remera, Cyanika, Kabeza, etc.

There have been some delays on shipping our Rwandan coffees this year, this is due to a new system in place for obtaining export clearance from NAEB. They have converted to an online system for export documentation, this system apart from newly being online also requires a number of different people to approve different aspects of the export documents and has so far proved to be a time-consuming process.

The first of these coffees are expected to arrive in the second week of November.

What’s cooking?

We are at the time of year when many roasters are thinking: what’s next? We’re talking about fresh greens, of course. We’ll try to give you an overview of our current and upcoming purchasing so you can plan the next 6 months or more. There are lots of fresh crop goodies on the way from Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia and Brazil. And if all goes well we’ll launch a new origin, Indonesia.

In stock

Of the earlier purchases from current crop we still have a good selection of great tasting Ethiopians, some solid El Salvadors both in medium and micro volumes (that are still performing well) as well as small amounts of Kenya, Costa Rica and Colombia. Fore value for money you should check out our special offer section in our offer list.

Rwanda/Burundi

Burundi and Rwanda have a relatively small crop this year, but flavor-wise it’s better than last year. Our favorite Burundian producer Salum was really putting in a lot of effort this year. The coffees have probably never tasted better, and the first container of Burundi have just arrived. And the next container is about to land. This means that we will have good amounts of several small to medium sized lots available from Buziraguhindwa and Mbirizi washing stations in the weeks to come.

Rwandans should have been in stock too, but NAEB, which is the governmental organization monitoring all shipments, have changed their system… :O Related to that it’s been a backlog on documentation and approval of shipments. Still, the coffees are on the move now and we have different coffees from Mahembe, Gatare, Nyaruziza, Shade dried, Pea berries etc available soon. First ones should arrive early November. There is plenty of stuff to choose from, and we should have good amounts of PSS samples to present in short.

Tanzania

We started last year with some really nice Tanzanians. This year we are increasing our selection, and the coffees from the new sites are so far tasting above our expectations, with good amounts of fruits, florals, and are generally complex and delicate. All our coffees are from relatively small CPUs (washing stations) in the south of Tanzania. Producing quality on this level is a new thing for many of them, and we definitely see tons of potential for the future. These farmers definitely need the support, and we hope you’ll have room for them and see the potential too. This year as last year we’ll have ”Ilomba” as well as the newbee ”Lyela”. Both CPU’s presented by different lots and grades. They are mainly harvested July/August and should be shipped by end October. PSS samples hopefully available in 3-4 weeks.

Colombia

As always his time of year we have a good range of Colombians on the way. We planned to buy earlier, but there was a transport strike in Colombia all summer and impossible to get things out. We cancelled our purchases from this spring as the coffees would have gotten old. But we were back there end of August and have coffees from that trip on the way now. They should arrive the next 3-6 weeks. Colombia has also struggled with the climate, meaning it has been dry, and there is a general lack of coffees. We can’t really find as much as we want of the really good ones, but what we have bought is totally up to standard, and some even more flavor intense than before. The two shipments soon to arrive will have coffees from both Huila, Tolima and Nariño. Mainly micro lots from single producers, but a few medium sized once. We will also go down there at the end of November/December to buy more coffees that will hopefully land in Europe end January.

Brazil

Joanne just spent two weeks in Brazil, and even if it’s relatively early she came home with a good stack of samples to be approved for shipment. There is both very interesting micro lots from Minas and Bahia, as well as some bigger chunks of very nice coffees at affordable prices. Still trace-able with a way beyond ”average-good-brazil” flavors to it. Should be very suitable for an improved espresso etc. Some naturals and some pulped naturals. If all goes well we should have the first ones in early December. We might also continue to buy the next month or two as a lot of producers are still sitting on parchment that will be presented to the market soon.

Indonesia

This is a new origin we have started to explore. Morten was just there to check out some projects with a lot of potential. We are not too much interested in the traditional ”wet hulled” Indonesian coffees. Even if they can have great complex flavors they tend to be a little rugged and earthy. We are now exploring producers doing fully washed and improved drying. Not too many are doing it at this point, but there is a few. And we believe there will be more in the next few years. We were in Java, at good altitudes, with producers willing to make a change. We have also seen good coffees in Sumatra and Sulawesi. They are harvesting at different times. Java is just finished and other regions are starting. We are waiting for confirmation samples after the trip. If all goes well, we will try to buy some limited volumes in the next month. If anything we hope to get them in before Christmas.

Israel Degfa – moving from quantity to quality in Ethiopia

Israel Degfa is a young business man in Ethiopia with a sure and steady focus. He owns thirteen washing stations and a farm, across the South and South West of Ethiopia. In previous years the production at these washing stations has been focused on volume but over the last two or so years Israel has shifted his focus, and is now working on the quality of processing across his washing stations as priority.

It was this shift in focus that caused Israel to look for different ways to market his coffees, ways that would facilitate and value his new emphasis on quality. It was from this point that we began to work with Israel, visiting his washing stations and learning about his business, we also began to know him through this process.

Through this relationship we have been able to cup through coffees processed by Israel’s washing stations with him at the Nordic Approach lab in Addis, and with the team back here in Oslo and share what we value in the cup and the kind of profiles we are looking for. He has also given us a lot of scope to access his coffees and take sample material for assessment, as well as permitting our specific instructions on milling prep for the lots we purchased from him.

We have seen these coffees arrive, and cup great. And we know the potential to find consistently great coffees with a supplier like Israel. Here are some of the coffees we have this year from him that there are still available!

Dhiilgee Lot 1 (Sidama): Bright, red cherry, raspberry, herbal, delicate profile, floral and well structured

Burtukaana Natural Lot 1 (Guji): Delicate, structured, clean, yellow fruit, orange citrus fruit, mild florals

Burtukaana Natural Lot 2 (Guji): Tropical like fruit, round, fudge like sweetness, structured

Israel is really keen on meeting roasters and understand what they expect of quality. He’s ready to take the necessary steps and move in to more special preps and a «perfect» process.

We will have two one-day events this week. One in Gothenburg at the DaMatteo Roastery (Wednesday 14th September), and one in our office in Oslo (Friday 16th Septmeber).

If your able to join us please do!


Cupping event DaMatteo, Wednesday 14th September:

10:00-11:30 – General offerings + sneak peek on Rwanda/Burundi/Colombia new offers and PSS samples. Coffees due to arrive September-November
12:00-12:30 – Presentation of Costa Rica by Marianela
12:30-14:00 – Costa Rica cupping: some of the later harvested coffees from the higher altitudes have just arrived.
14:00-15.30 – Ethiopia with Israel and Seife. Great washed and naturals from Guji and Sidama produced by Israel will be showcased.

Beers and fingerfood!

Cupping event Nordic Approach HQ, Friday 16th September:

10:00-11:30 – General offerings + sneak peek on Rwanda/Burundi/Colombia new offers and PSS samples. Coffees due to arrive September-November
12:00-12:30 – Presentation of Costa Rica by Marianela
12:30-14:00 – Costa Rica cupping: some of the later harvested coffees from the higher altitudes have just arrived.
14:00-15.30 – Ethiopia with Israel and Seife. Great washed and naturals from Guji and Sidama produced by Israel will be showcased.

Beers and fingerfood!

Lalo – an Ethiopian single farm project

We are introducing a selection of coffees for the first time, through a new project were we are working with a single farm. The farm is able to produce lot separation according to different parts of the farm and by varietal, with complete traceability. This is the first opportunity these coffees are being exposed to the market in this way. We have been working with Mohammed Lalo over the four or so months I travelled to and from, as well as around Ethiopia. The anticipation of the final results from our investment and the investment from our new partner has been mounting.

We met Mohammed and Mehbuba Lalo back in November last year, we sat down together at a hotel lobby in Addis to talk about who we were and what each of us did and how we might be able to work together. It is always hard for both parties to know at this stage what the outcome really will be. While for us pursuing the possibility of a new supplier and fantastic coffee is always a part of what we do and investing in that is not particularly difficult, it is our business. For the Lalo’s I can imagine we were in some ways a form of branching out.

I travelled to Jimma for the first time with Mohammed in December 2015, Mohammed has previously worked for the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. We flew into Jimma and their farm is a further 3hr or so 120km drive North West towards Atnago. It is here where Mohammed and his family have 230 hectares of farm land with a processing station.

The farm manager Mohammed Museyen walked us through the farm and I saw red, ripe cherries like I have barely seen before never mind in Ethiopia. The farm was immaculately kept and the 33 blocks clearly defined, Mohammed Museyen constantly reaching for any small piece of debris to remove or when we stopped at a tree and he answered my question his hands would be busy pruning.

When I visited their dry mill in Atnago Mohammed Lalo gladly showed us the mills equipment and along with the mill manager, explained how they have been milling their coffees. We sat down together to discuss the possibilities of lot separation throughout the milling process and how the integrity of this could be maintained.

We talked about why this is important to us, that once a lot of x number of bags has been marked and sampled and we have done so for many different lots. We would cup through these to make a selection of those showing the most potential, hence we needed this lot separation to be maintained and the coffee to be milled accordingly. That this was both for us to have a representative sample to make decisions on but also because the coffees we would choose would establish the farm in a new market.

When we are working with a new supplier there are key parts of the selection process and production that we can quite often have very specific requirements from, and that can be different from how a supplier has been working in the past. This can range from the above mentioned lot separation, to also advocating for the use of specific dry mills that we know have good equipment and procedures. In many instances in the initial phases of investment in a new relationship many of these requirements are additional to how people are accustomed to working, so it can take a season or so to clearly identify and get these operating at an optimum.

You can usually expect that not everything will be perfect the first time around!

We have been able to work together throughout the 2015/16 season and the entire process of assessing and selecting coffees, to milling and bagging, and eventually shipping these coffees with a transparency and a willingness from the Lalo’s which we believe will be reflected in the coffees we have now but even more so in the quality of coffee we believe we can achieve in the future.

The Lalo coffees, both washed and natural are now in stock and available!

Our Costa Rica Coffee Project

We started a very interesting and challenging project in Costa Rica this year (harvest 2015/2016) along with Marianela Montero, a coffee producer and now our product manager for Costa Rica. Marianela is 22 years old, born and raised at her family’s farm, Don Eli, and have just decided to stay in coffee and try to make a difference. She will work on the ground with producers throughout the season, and follow up on everything from what’s going on on production and processing at the farms, chasing quality, collect stock lots from the producers, cup and do pre-screening and follow up on milling shipment. Marianela and her family visited us last year at our Lab in Norway. Since then we established a good relationship.

The most fascinating thing with Costa Rica is the awareness of lot separation and different processing and preparation methods. You’ll find great representative coffees of everything from fully washed, different levels of honeys as well as super clean naturals. Even if the coffees can be expensive due to cost of production we totally find it worth it.

We visited Marianela and Don Eli in Terrazu for the the first time in January 2016, and later on in March. At that point we started to discuss the idea of a more sustainable purchasing and quality program in Costa Rica. It’s a about getting closer to the producers and focus on quality, transparency and improved quality control. This should be followed up before, under and after the preparation and processing. During our first visit in January we cupped some great coffees, that Marianela collected from producers in her surroundings, and started to identify coffees and meet growers. The potential we found was great and at that point we started to discuss and look in to how to systematically work over time and get closer to the local producers. We decided to get Marianela onboard full time as part of the Nordic Approach team.

The harvest 2015-2016 was delayed for Costa Rica. Usually the harvest in the region we are currently working in, Tarrazu, begins mid December and finishes mid March, this harvest lasted until mid April. Many of the high altitude coffees weren’t ready to cup before late April and May and at that point they were still very fresh. We have our shipments sorted and on the way right now. About 350 bags from different producers and preparations going to Europe, and about 150 bags of various micro lots to the US. 

Most of the producers we are working with are small farmers (average 5 hectares per producer) all of them have been working in coffee farming for almost all of their life, which means this activity is a legacy.

These producers own their own farms and most of them have their own washing station (micro mill). The micro-mills in Costa Rica have become a family business and are based on family work. Usually producer families are relatively big, and they all help out during the harvesting season with the mill and farm work.  Some of these producers have around 8 years experience processing their own coffees at their micro mills. Some other farmers are very new and have in between 1 and 3 years experience processing their own coffee.

We would like to work together for many years with these producers if/when they have the mindset and ability to be consistent and hopefully improve year by year. The importance is to get the growers to increase the quality and to think of this partnership as a mid-long term project. We know in coffee we need to be patient and besides getting great coffees out of it, we want to help these producers to maximise the potential, get better premiums through cup quality and consistency.  By adding on Marianela to the team, we believe we can work together with producers and “guide” them to get a more customised product. One of the keys to make this project successful is to work as transparent as we can. We want our customers and everyone to know how much it actually takes to produce a great cup of coffee and how much every part of the supply chain is earning.  Costa Rica is kind of a high cost country these days, and to make it sustainable we believe it’s important to pay fair and good prices to the producers as they have to make a living out of this. We need to motivate them to keep up the good work. The good thing is that the coffees can be amazingly good when grown and prepared well.


We would like to introduce you to some of our producers:

The Montero family

Don Eli Coffee

For over three generations the Montero family has been producing coffee in the stunning mountains of Tarrazú, Costa Rica.  Sitting at an altitude of 1,800 masl “La Pastora” micro region is rich in volcanic soil and known to offer some of the best Costa Rican coffee.

Eli, the grandfather, worked throughout his childhood in coffee, and so did his son, Carlos Montero.  Their passion for coffee coursed in their veins, but it was impossible to ignore the hardships in the coffee business.  And while Carlos watched his father struggle, he set out to create opportunities for himself and ultimately he took over the farm.

Today, Carlos and his entire family are deeply involved at Don Eli Coffee farm and micro mill. But in the harvest year of 2014 to 2015, Carlos and his family took their biggest risk yet. It was their first year as specialty coffee producers. But Carlos explains that this way they can regulate their coffee business, focus on innovative processing methods and ensure quality in each coffee bean.  They were leaving the mass production concept behind to uphold the “quality over quantity” mindset. Carlos is aware and is working to get certifications for his farms like NAMA Café, he knows how important it is to have a great soil without chemicals, so he is working on sustainable practices in his farms, and as an example of that he has a nano lot where he hasn’t used any chemicals for many years and want to keep this nano-lot named “Chamaco” as an experiment for the future. Every year Don Eli Coffee is focused on delivering the best of what Costa Rican soils have to offer.

“The NAMA-Café is an initiative aimed at mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the coffee sector, promotes low emissions of greenhouse gases, aims to reduce environmental damage caused in coffee production by encouraging the adoption of new technologies, and improved production practices, aims to increase the efficiency of small farmers in Costa Rica. It contributes to improving the quality of life of producers and their families across the competitiveness of the coffee sector. ” According to this in 2020 all the countries willing to sell coffee to Europe will need this certification.

Carlos Montero is “El Jefe”. From properly treating the farm’s soil, to overseeing coffee pickers, to ensuring the best coffee cherries get delivered to the mill, Carlos is the boss while Lucia, his wife, fuels to the coffee family.  From preparing her famous empanadas and tomato soup to running the household, Lucia doesn’t know the definition of rest and embodies “mi casa es su casa.” Carlos kids: Marianela, Jacob and Mariajose work in the family business too.

Jacob is 21 years old, slap on some rain boots when you are visiting Jacob at work.  He oversees the wet-mill processing. From counting the “cajuelas” or crates of coffee cherries, to manning the machinery and the depulping process, Jacob is key to coffee preparation. He is also currently studying economics at his school, which comes useful in helping the family business with the accounts.

Mariajose is 17 years old, no one toughs it out like Maria does in the harvest season.  She oversees the African drying beds, which call for extreme attention to detail inside greenhouse-like tents. In addition to measuring the moisture, she also battles the elements, and rakes the beans every hour.  The drying process is one of the steps that heavily impact the coffee quality.  Good thing Maria can handle the pressure, as she hopes to become a pilot one-day.

Micro-mill: Don Eli

Producer: Carlos Montero

Farm name or/ Lot name: La Pastora, Pastora- Canet and Canet

Location: Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Altitude: 1800-1900 masl

Variety: Caturra/ Catuai

Process: Semi-Washed or White Honey

Soil:volcanic, ultisols,high acidity and low base.


La Cruz

La Cruz micro-mill is a family project located in Alto Canet in Tarrazu with an average annual rainfall of 2400 ml and temperatures oscillating the 24°C till 12°C. The coffee production has been a legacy in the Zamora family, don Egidio Zamora and dona Ligia Picado have been working in coffee since 1970 and they taught and transmit their 3 kids: Jacob, Esteban and Felipe their passion to grow coffee. Nowadays Egidio’s kids have taken over the family business and they started the micro-mill project to process their own coffee. The engineer Esteban Zamora knows their soils and plantations well and works the farms according with his experience and knowledge he has learned for so many years. For them it is crucial to apply sustainable practices in their farms and they are working in two different programs: “Bandera Azul Ecologica”, which is an award that rewards effort to the protection of natural resources, the implementation of actions to address climate change.

For more information: http://banderaazulecologica.org/

Another program they are working now for the future is the NAMA CAFÉ (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions):

“The NAMA-Café is an initiative aimed at mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the coffee sector, promotes low emissions of greenhouse gases, aims to reduce environmental damage caused in coffee production by encouraging the adoption of new technologies, and improved production practices, aims to increase the efficiency of small farmers in Costa Rica. It contributes to improving the quality of life of producers and their families across the competitiveness of the coffee sector. ” According to this in 2020 all the countries willing to sell coffee to Europe will need this certification.

Micro-mill: La Cruz

Producer: Esteban Zamora

Farm name or/and Lot name: Crestones and El Olivo

Location: Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Altitude: 1800-1900 masl

Variety: Caturra/ Catuai

Process: Double washed and red honey

Soil: volcanic, ultisols,high acidity and low base.


La Angostura

La Angostura is a micro-mill and a family business located in La Angostura, Leon Cortez at 1600 masl. Mario and his two daughters: Arleen and Maria work hard to make sure every step in their farm is done well. Arleen and Maria are a clear example of professional young ladies, working in the farms and helping their parents with the family business.  They are hard working women and do everything in the farms from growing coffee to drying coffee. La Angostura is one of the first micro-mills who started operations in Tarrazu.

Mario and his 5 family members own around 6 coffee hectares and they’ve separated this land in different micro-lots planted mostly with Caturra and Catuai. They tried to apply as much sustainable practices in their farms as they can, it’s very important for them to plant different kind of fruit trees for shade and to prune every year and renew plantations. We really like Mario’s mind set. We believe they are doing a great job and they will work hard to improve and to maintain the quality over the years along with us.

Micro-mill: La Angostura

Producer: Mario Jimenez

Farm name or/and Lot name: Los Manzanos, La Bonita, La Montana, Belen, and Evelin

Location: Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Altitude: 1600 masl

Variety: Caturra/ Catuai

Process: Semi-washed

Soil: volcanic, ultisols,high acidity and low base,with steep slopes.


Montañas del Diamante

Along with 4 brothers Martin started Montañas del Diamante mill in 1999. They are one of the pioneer mills for specialty coffee in Costa Rica and have good experience in processing coffee. Martins biggest farm name is “Gamboa” located in Las Nubes in Santa Maria de Dota at 1700-1800 masl. The micro climate is great for coffee in the Las Nubes micro-region. The average annual temperature in Santa María de Dota is 17.9°C and the rainfall is 2647 mm per year, together with the soil and altitude these conditions seems to be  ideal and gives the coffee amazing potential.

All the different micro-lots we are buying from Martin comes from the “Gamboa” farm and this year they processed 650 quintales (46 kg/bag) in total for micro lots. He is looking forward to provide us with all these amazing micro lots for the coming years.

Micro-mill: Montañas del Diamante

Producer: Martin Gutierrez

Farm name or/and Lot name: La Orquidea, El Relojero, El Liano and Bandera Brizuela

Location: Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Altitude: 1700-1800 masl

Variety: Caturra/ Catuai

Process: Washed (8 hours fermentation)

Crop year: 2015-2016

Soil: volcanic, ultisols,high acidity and low base,with steep slopes.


Vista Valle using El Trébol mill

Mauricio Jimenez project is in an early phase. He still doesn’t have his own wet mill and are currently using one of his neighbours’ micro mills. The coffees are de-pulped and washed at the mill and then he dries it at he’s own place on African beds where he can be fully on top of the quality.

Mauricio picked up coffee during his childhood and he´s dream since he was a child was to buy some land and to have he’s own farm. He migrated to the States to work than, after many years, he could come back to his motherland Costa Rica and make his dream come true. Despite Mauricio doesn’t come from a coffee producing family he is very passionate about what he does. He worked very hard to buy the farm and now the next goal is to have he’s own wet mill to process the coffee and to motivate the 3 kids and wife to like enjoy it as much as he does so they can all work together in this family business.

The farms are located between 1800-2000 masl in a rich and productive are with good and fertile soil. San Martin farm produces around 80 fanegas (each fanegas is around 46 kg) per harvest. But since Mauricio still doesn’t have he’s own wet mill he only processed 12 fanegas of specialty to experiment and get to know the potential San Martin has.

It’s been a learning process, to teach the pickers that they have to pick just ripe cherries. It’s challenging he says. Mauricio is aware that quality on a larger scale is not going to happen overnight and he could see the progress the pickers did during this harvest.

Micro-mill: Vista Valle —> El Trebol

Producer: Mauricio Jimenez

Farm name or/and Lot name: El Llano and San Martin

Location: Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Altitude: 1800 – 2000 masl

Variety: Caturra/ Catuai

Process: Washed and Honeys

Soil: volcanic, ultisols,high acidity and low base,with steep slopes


Palmichal

Palmichal Micro-Mill is a new project that started this harvest 2015-2016 with 30 small farmers. Located in Palmichal and processes coffees from: Palmichal, Puriscal, Tarrazu, Frailes. Palmichal’s goal is to find famers with unique coffees, perform a flawless milling process, and deliver impeccable coffee to quality-conscious micro roasters. Their model enables them to match coffees from smallholder farmers with specific quality and process requirements from discerning buyers all with full economic and physical traceability as well as timely services.

This project allows to process small batches by using different drying methods such as honeys and naturals. The coffees they process here comes from individual small farmers and the premiums that the coffee receives goes entirely back to the farmer. There is an overall pre-financing of the farmers for the annual crop.

This year Palmichal Mill installed the first 23 solar panels for a total power of 5.0 kWp. This project is set up in a modular way in order to continue growing every year.

Palmichal Mill has the biggest nursery in one single block in the country, a total of 330,000 plants and looking to grow next year. Majority of plants are “Obata” varietal, which is very resistant to rust, has very high yields and potentially a good cup profile. The plants are sold to producers at cost, with the opportunity of financing against future crop.

Long time ago the Mill donated 42 hectares of land to re-forestation project the neighborhood (http://www.nacientespalmichal.com/en/about-us ).

Costa Rica’s legislation regarding water treatment is very strict. Having everything run according by legislation doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. All the water they use during processing have to treated and cleaned. The organic residues are transported and donated to a company that makes organic fertilizers. 

Micro-mill: Palmichal

Producer: Don Orlando

Farm name or/and Lot name: La Cuesta

Location: Tarrazu

Altitude: 1700 masl

Variety: Caturra-Catuai

Process:  Black Honey

Soil: volcanic, ultisols,high acidity and low base,with steep slopes.

Ethiopia – ECX colour wheel

We believe that we are valuable to any customer through the coffees we have to offer from Ethiopia, because of our selection process and what we value in the cup and because of the relationships we are always working on with the different types of suppliers we work with. The way our coffees have been displayed until now hasn’t communicated this to you in a way that can aid your decision making on the types of coffees you want to buy and have representing you.

We both want to maintain transparency in what we do and communicate why we chose any one of the coffees we sell over the many others we cup through. So we have looked at the kind of profiles we work with from Ethiopia, we have associated these flavor profiles to colors that make sense to us and we have created a color wheel of Ethiopian coffee profiles.

Currently we recognize six different washed profiles and two different natural profiles that we find exciting and want to share when we are selecting coffees. Where the coffees we buy fit into these recognized categories we will label them accordingly, so it will be clear what you can expect in the cup. The coffees themselves will be different, from various suppliers and even different regions. You will still have access to all of this information with the added value of some insight into what that coffee will taste like.

Ethiopia is a complicated place to buy coffee. There are (currently) three ways to buy coffee:

  1. from a cooperative through a Union (for instance, Hunkute cooperative from Sidamo Union)
  2. from an individual farm (for instance, Lalo farm)
  3. from a private washing station through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) (for instance, Kochere / Chelelectu / Guji / etc etc etc)

#3 is the complicated one. There are many private washing stations throughout Ethiopia, and since the start of the ECX, they must sell their exportable grades of coffee through the exchange. The ECX reduces the traceability to the sub-region, like Kochere, Guji, etc. Have fun with this PDF with different contract types!

In many cases we are able to have good idea from which private washing station a coffee is from, but that will not be part of any formal contract as it is sold as a Kochere grade 1, Werka grade 2 etc.

The ECX does a lot of good things for price transparency for your average farmer. But as of now it’s not specifically set up for the same standards of traceability that the specialty industry is used to in other origin countries. The result has been a lot of confusion — there are loads of Guji, Kochere, Konga and a bunch of other known coffees on the market, with various prices, flavor profiles, qualities, etc.

All the coffees we select to import meet our quality standards, and we buy them for a reason — in the case of ECX coffees, that is 100% flavor, since we don’t always have a 100% traceability back to the individual washing station. So, we finally decided: why don’t we just name these coffees based on the main criteria, flavour?

It is to this end that we created our flavor wheel however we are still giving you the maximum transparency based on the info we can get on these coffees, so each has the region included in the name of the coffee. If you’ve been using Kochere coffee in the past, and want to continue using the name, that is 100% reasonable and honest.

In some cases, where we are working with producers directly and are able to show a greater level of traceability that is not made possible through the coffees purchased in the auction system in Ethiopia, we will not use our profile wheel. As we both want to recognise these individuals and the effects of their hard work on the cup profile of their coffees. We are also excited to think about the possibility that these coffees have unlimited potential in their cup profiles.

The aim here is to better identify the kinds of coffee’s you can find from Ethiopia through working with us.

Ethiopia 2016 – Part 1

Working in coffee in any producing country is like working in a shifting landscape, and for me no landscape shifts quite so much as Ethiopia. Still a magnificent landscape all the same.

This 2015/2016 season has been really exciting for us because of developments in our own business which have lent us far greater scope to explore and uncover the coffees of Ethiopia.

This year we have formally established NA Ethiopia as part of Nordic Approach, which encompasses our cupping lab and offices and two additional staff members along with Seife. The physical space and new team members give us the ability to gather far more samples without losing track of coffees becoming available, while responding quickly to suppliers to confirm interest in these coffees. So as coffees are delivered to the ECX or to the Unions we are able to access samples, roast and cup them ourselves and contract those we are interested in without losing out on them to others.

It also means we have a space to meet current and new producing partners, to cup their coffees with them the way we would cup in our lab in Oslo in terms of roast profile and water composition. So we can talk about what we value in the cup, and what we are tasting in their coffees. For me this is really important to bring the producers and suppliers of coffee into our dialogue about what is interesting and what we prefer in the coffee we buy over the coffee we don’t.

With this and the additional manpower we are now much better equipped to manage the outgoing logistics, meaning while we can continue to buy great coffee for our SPOT market and work on increasing our volumes without losing control of the initial quality or the timely arrival of these coffees. We can also offer coffees on a FOB basis (direct shipments from Ethiopia) to a far greater extent — if you’re able to take lots of 100 or more bags at a time, you can select your coffee, and we will manage the logistics of sending them directly to your nearest port.

This season in Ethiopia has also been exciting on a quality level, compared to last season, with an abundance of great coffees from every region. This year has seen a real comeback from the Southern (Yirgacheffe/Sidamo) coffees, which has been such a great source of excitement for me! The best of these coffees, with white florals and high notes popping out at you, and what I find to be like the structure of a great white Burgundy, are just incredible. We have also found great, juicy, fruit driven, cherry-blossom-like profiles with all their layers and complexity.

This means that choosing our Ethiopians was not a matter of choosing between good and bad cup quality but rather finding specific profiles within what has been available. This means that we have a wider range of profiles this year, and the different regions have been more on par with each other than last year. We have returning favorites from cooperatives in the West like Nano Challa, from long-time favorites like Hunkute and Bokasso in Sidamo, and new names and projects from Yirgacheffe and surrounding areas.

In addition, we have started this year to work with a family owned farm in the West, out past Djimma and through Limma Kossa. The farm is producing washed and natural coffees across a number of separated plots, which are varietal specific. The care with which they are maintaining their farm is so fantastic, I have barely seen cherries like these before. The profiles being produced are also very different. So look out for our “Lalo” lots and a soon to come blog profile on these coffees and their makers!

Our Brazilian coffees 2016

I guess many are thinking of Brazil as an origin with huge mechanized farms selling relatively cheap coffees by the container. But this is really not always the case.

We bought about 10 different lots, from three different regions. South of Minas, Cerrado, and Chapada Diamantina in Bahia. They are all from small to medium farms of everything from 6 -70 hactares. The farmers are putting a lot of pride and effort in to their production to have great qualities with distinct cup characters. We are not generally buying Brazils to have a wide selection of the classic sweet, chocolaty and heavy coffees, and for our spot offerings we are trying to avoid the most common profiles with too much pulp and nuts.

When we buy naturals from e.g. Minas Gerais or Cerrado we are looking for fruit driven, clean and sweet coffees, still with a flavor element from the natural process and they generally have a good amount of acidity to back it up.

From Chapada Diamantina in Bahia we are looking for the opposite, as they generally have more altitude and different growing conditions. We generally buy washed or pulped naturals from there that tends to be brighter and more delicate than most other Brazils, even with floral notes and citrus. These coffees are hard to come across and the production is limited. 10 years ago the region was relatively unknown, but after having great success in competitions like Cup of Excellence they are now some of the more attractive coffees in Brazil.

Brazil is known for a big production of mediocre qualities. Of course we all know there is some very interesting stuff there as well, but it can be a challenge to find and get hold of those rare gems. Not because the coffees don’t exist, but often because the coffees are mixed in to bigger chunks of average qualities. First of all, there are tons of small to medium farmers around that have amazing potential, but without even knowing it. Unless they are very lucky to be discovered, there is not necessarily an exporter around to cup their coffees to analyse them for that kind of attributes. In many cases the cuppers wouldn’t even know what to look for and what our part of the coffee industry will appreciate. As a matter of fact there are experienced cuppers in Brazil who sees a fruit driven high acidity and complex coffee as a problem rather than a unique product. Even if Brazil started to do so called specialty coffee more than a decade ago the industry is generally focusing on commercial commodities. And thousands of the small producers are generally suffering from the low coffee prices these days, as very few are getting their premiums. According to our exporters and partners in Brazil about 95% of the farmers don’t have any idea of what kind of coffees they are producing, and the premium potential of their coffee.

The way we currently work in Brazil is to establish some programs through a few exporters that are helping the smaller farmers to improve quality, analyse and cup their coffees, as well as helping them to invest in their farms through our premiums.

Our Minas coffees (including Cerrado)

We have started a program with an exporter, Cafebras, in Brazil. They are in dialogue with a lot of small producers trying to convince them that they are able to produce “specialty”, and if they succeed they will get their premiums and be connected to international buyers that can work with them directly.

So far so good, and we have seen a lot of rare and interesting coffees and taste profiles. The goal is to establish some strong relations to a handful of producers willing to invests and make a difference through better preparations and quality control.

On top of the normal premiums we pay for quality an additional premium of the price we are paying the exporter is donated to the producer for investment in quality. This can be things as constructing buildings for warehousing and conditioning of coffees, building drying tables like African beds for better drying and flavor development for naturals, or other necessary improvements. Some are producing pulped naturals, but many are currently doing naturals only. Which actually suites us well as for this regions in Brazil we find them more unique when they are done well than the pulped naturals.

Chapada Diamantina – Bahia

Most of the producers we buy from in this region is located around the small town Piata. This area is widely different from other places in Brazils in terms of climate and ecotypes. It looks different, and the flavor spectrum is also speaking for it self.

The farms are on the slopes of the Chapada Diamantina Mountain range, and altitudes can be up to 1400 masl, which is very high for Brazil. Many of the producers are doing a so called washed process, or a mix of semi washed and some fermentation before they put the coffees on the patio. This, together with the climate, soil and growing conditions seems to create a very bright, transparent and complex cup profile that is pretty rare for Brazil.

Current offer list walk-through

Happy new year!

If your ready for some new fresh coffees this is the time to check out our offer list and request samples.

2015 was a great year for us at Nordic thanks to all of you that’s supporting us as producers, exporters and clients. We know that many of you have great sales before Christmas and we would like to give you an update on fresh available and incoming coffees, as well as some good offers. Hopefully this will help you plan the purchase for the next months.

We currently have fresh Colombians, Brazils and Rwandans in stock, as well as a few Ethiopians that’s been holding up well.  This is the perfect time to take decisions on those.

There will still be 4-5 months before the majority of the new Kenyan, Ethiopian and Central American coffee will start to arrive.

Colombia

We have a bunch of single producer lots that arrived just before Christmas. Most of them in our new 24kg vacuum packs. They are all cupping very well, and should be able to fill your needs for great filters as well as SO Espressos. Most of the coffees are from producers that are part of our quality programs that always performing well.

They are mainly from our projects in Central Huila with Coocentral, some from Nariño, and a few from Cafisur Cooperative in Tolima.

Among others we have coffee from the Cup of Excellence winner in 2015 from Tolima, Astrid Medina. We have an agreement with her, and will do a lot of development at their farm over the next few years.

We also want to highlight the El Desvelado coffees that are slightly bigger lots at a very reasonable price level. These coffees are from the Cooperative Café Occidente in Nariño. The quality and consistency has proven to be very high, and the coffees have out cupped many of the single producer lots from that same cooperative.  And even if the price is reasonable the producers are still getting very good premiums. This is part of a new concept where we will try to service those of you that want a very good consistent Colombian in bigger chunks. We normally buy these in 80 – 100 bag lots. They work well as espressos and filters, alone or in blends.

Yisela Piso's farm Finca La Victoria in Huila. Yisela Piso’s farm Finca La Victoria in Huila.

Rwanda

We have a broad selection of fresh coffees with very different flavor profiles and on different price levels. It’s been a significant increase in sales the last couple of years on coffees from this African region. They seem to be filling a gap between the very bright and acidity driven Ethiopian and Kenyans, and the more balanced Central Americans. They are complex and full of flavors, but still sweet and rounded. Many are replacing their Centrals with Rwandans, specially for espressos and in blends. It’s harvested in the summer and are coming in at the opposite time of year compared to Centrals and Ethiopia/Kenya.

They are all from different private washing stations in different parts of the country. And they will have very different flavor attributes. Many of them are separated by daily lots and micro regions.

What we are currently offering is a mix of smaller to medium sized lots from 5 different washing stations in the south and western Rwanda. They are all in altitudes from 1700 – 2000 MASL, and from producers who take extra measures and efforts to improve the preparation.

We have a great selection of different lots from Rwanda that have just arrived.  We have a great selection of different lots from Rwanda that have just arrived.

Brazil

We are continuing to work with coffees and producers from the borders of Cerrado, Minas and Espirito Santo as well as producers in Bahia.

The coffees from Cerrado and Minas is more heavy, fruit driven and rich coffees. We have bought a few larger lot’s at a good price level for blends etc, and some smaller lots from small producers that is more unique and complex. All these coffees are naturals.

From Bahia we are continuously buying coffees from farms like Sao Judas and Santa Barbara that are producing brighter, lighter and more complex micro lots for those who want something different. The coffees are washed or pulped naturals, and the climate and soil in the region makes them totally unique.

We also have a good selection of smaller and bigger lots from Brazil. Here's the storage at Fazenda Santa Barbara. We also have a good selection of smaller and bigger lots from Brazil. Here’s the storage at Fazenda Santa Barbara.

Special offers (selected lots)

This is coffees on a slightly lover price level that we think are of great value. They can be scoring and performing very well, are still clean and sweet with good flavors, and are always way above the level for standard commercial coffees. A lot of our clients typically use them as espresso blenders or when they just want a “normal” good coffee.

Sometimes it’s also coffee that was initially great, but lands at an average scoring level between 84-85 at arrival.

Samples

We have good amounts of samples to distribute, and we are happy to send out roasted or greens to all of you. Please send your contact person an email with a request.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombia movie

We have made a new film! This time from Colombia, showing some of the various farms, environments, production facilities, surroundings, and daily life of the farmers we are working with in Colombia. We wanted to give you a glimpse of what a vast and beautiful coffee origin Colombia is, and all the labor and people that are involved in the production process – from planting and growing trees, to picking and processing, to getting the dried parchment delivered to the nearest bodega (which can be very far away).

In this film we are visiting these farmers:

Sandra Milena Mora, Finca El Porvenir, Palestina, Huila.
Alfredo Baos, Finca Peñitas, Palestina, Huila.
Gustavo Sorio, Finca La Ramada, Tarqui, Huila.
Patricia Falla, Finca La Miredya, Tarqui, Huila.
Fernando Trujillo, Finca Los Altares, Tarqui, Huila.
Fabio Escobar, Finca La Punta, Tarqui, Huila.
Juan Saldarriaga, Finca El Encanto, Hispania, Antioquia.
Juan Saldarriaga, Finca La Claudina, Ciudad Bolivar, Antioquia.
Daniel Restrepo, Finca La Virgen, Concordia, Antioquia.
Sergio Tobon, Finca Vuelta Bonita, Ciudad Bolivar, Antioquia.
Astrid Medina, Finca Buena Vista, Gaitania, Tolima.
Didier Gomez, Finca Buenos Aires, Gaitania, Tolima.
Hernando Gomez, Finca Bella Vista, Planadas, Tolima.

Colombia update, fall 2015

We have been focusing a lot on Colombia over the last two years, putting a lot of time and work in developing the projects we have started with our exporter and the cooperatives Coocentral in Huila, Cafisur in Tolima, and Buesaco in Nariño. The focus for this trip, in July, was on Hulia and Tolima.

For a general introduction to our work in Colombia, please read this blog post from 2014.

HUILA

We were expecting it to be at the peak of the mitaka, or fly-crop, when we arrived, but soon realized that this would not be the case. It had been raining continuously for the last four weeks in many parts of Huila, delaying the mitaka harvest with a couple of months. This creates several problems for the farmers, both financially and in terms of production. Drying is already one of the bigger challenges for the producers, and now with this weather it would in worst cases almost impossible to get proper drying. In spite of this, there are some great lots coming through from the areas where the weather has been less harsh. The volumes are still smaller than what we normally would have expected, though.

The general impression is that we are really beginning to see results of the Premium program that we are running – aka El Divino Niño. It’s been just over a year since we started actively reaching out to a selection of farmers, and using Finca Tamana as a model for picking, processing and drying. Sharing the knowledge and experiences from Tamana with other farmers in the region has proved rewarding for all parties.

The first container, ETA early October, will have these producers: Ernedys Rodriguez, Ananias Perez, Fray Berneth Oritz, Jaiber Joven, and a blended lot with farmers that delivered great coffee but in smaller quantities, which will be called El Divino Niño #1.

Tarqui – El Triunfo

Together with our exporter we have committed to a group of farmers in Tarqui. We have bought coffees from here earlier, but this area in Huila, southwest of Garzón, is relatively undiscovered. Tarqui was suffering from the heav