It's almost impossible to believe that September is just around the corner. It has been far too long since we have posted, and for that, you have our apologies. However, we want to assure you that since our last blog, we have been completely occupied in all things coffee; production, milling, exports, barista competitions, client visits, renewals, re-plantings and more. We even helped make a beer for crying out loud. To properly sum up the harvest and post-harvest, I'd like to give a semi-quick and dirty review in numbers:
Farm, Mill and Exports:
The 2014/15 harvest started off with a bang. We began receiving our first coffees from lower elevation (HG) farms on September 29, 2014. On March 17, 2015, we received our last coffee cherry delivery, which came from Finca Santa Julia, a high elevation (SHG) farm. 5,167,540 pounds of coffee cherry passed through our wet and dry mill comprising 11 different varieties from 17 farms. In our QC Lab, a total of 591 first quality samples were analyzed in cherry, parchment and green, and finally cupped. We also cupped 188 yield samples, and 17 sub-product samples (because as we know, not all coffees are perfect. If it comes through our mill, we cup it. And sometimes that means we are cupping under-ripes, over-ripes and floaters, etc). We hosted 96 visitors from 34 roasting companies representing 14 countries. We set up 127 separate internal production cuppings, and 67 client cuppings. Throughout the harvest, we roasted 1,116 samples. Some days we received coffees from over 10 farms, all of which were analyzed and processed separately. On some nights, we didn't sleep. To keep energized, our full time mill staff of 24 consumed an estimated 1,348 pupusas. By the end of the harvest, 916,200 pounds of green coffee was packed into 6,108 jute bags and loaded into 31 containers, containing 96 individual lots and micro-lots.
Barista and Brewers Cup Competitions:
This harvest, we had the pleasure of working with 3 incredible baristas. Rubens Gardelli used a natural lot from Finca El Manzano and won 1st place at the 2015 Italian Brewer's Cup. Angelo Segoni, also from Italy, used coffee from Finca El Manazano and took 2nd place in the Italian Barista Competition. Charlotte Malaval, an independent barista from France, took 1st place in the French Barista Competition, and went on to place 6th at the World Barista Competition in Seattle using a Pulp Natural Yellow Bourbon from Finca El Naranjo. We feel honored to have supplied the coffee, as well as worked closely with these 3 amazing competitors. We look forward to supporting and collaborating with baristas during the upcoming competition season.
95% of our clients come to the farm every year to cup coffee, see processing, tour farms, select lots and learn about what is new since their last visit. What most people don't know, is that we also travel every year to visit our clients, see their roasting facilities, cup landed coffees and strengthen our relationship. During the months of June and July, our team visited 14 roasters across 6 U.S. states, and 8 countries. We traveled on 16 planes, 7 trains, 14 subways, 5 buses and countless car rides. It was a tiring and challenging few weeks for sure, but also incredibly fun and enlightening. We truly believe that our visits to client facilities are just as useful, informative and important as their visits to our farm and mill.
Renewals and Re-plantings on the Farm:
We receive coffees from 17 farms, 2 of which are proprietary, El Manzano and Ayutepeque. Over the past 3 months, we have been very busy with renewal projects. At El Manzano, we cleared out 11 manzanas of adult red bourbon, to make room for new young varieties. In 6 different areas of the farm, we planted the following: 3,971 Pacas Injerto, 10,958 Caturra, 21,754 Pacas, 1,285 Pacamara and an experimental lot of 36 Typica Verde. Although we care for our plants as if they were human children, they don't always survive their first year out alone on the farm. So, we often have to replant failed individual plants the following year, and we call these "resiembras". This year 2,867 trees were re-planted consisting of the following varieties: Pacas, Caturra, Gesha, Pacas Injerto, and Orange Bourbon. We also purchased a third farm called San Gabriel, just down the road from Beneficio El Manzano. San Gabriel is situated at 1100 meters and is 17 manzanas. We will begin replanting this farm after the upcoming harvest, so stay tuned for updates!
And then...we drank beer:
For the past year, we have been working on a beer collaboration with Blue Bottle Coffee and Brooklyn Brewery, who are neighbors in Brooklyn, NY. On July 29th, we flew to NYC to attend the release party of "Intensified". For this project, we supplied a washed red bourbon lot from El Manzano that went into a cold brew coffee infused porter aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels. I know, it's a lot. It was smooth. It was boozy. It was delicious. Although it had an ABV of 11.8, the rich flavors of malted vanilla, milk chocolate and of course coffee were all present in their own right. To read more about the project, check out this article in Brooklyn Magazine: