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Costa Rica, February 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 04:43 PM - 3 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Costa Rica, February 2014
Each year I travel to Costa Rica to cup with our exporting partners and visit the farms that we buy from, a trip that this spring resulted in a full container of delicious coffee which just landed in our roastery. Across the next few months we’ll be releasing one coffee after the other, some as filters, some as espressos, and some as components in Red Brick. Never ending samples to evaluate Piles of bags ready to process and export Hand sorting at Exclusive As well as revisiting old friends, this year we discovered some new gems on the cupping table, and we’re really excited to introduce you to them. While waiting to taste, here are some photos from my trip to show you some of the people we are working with this year! STA ROSA 1900 Micromill, Finca Macho Macho the dog! LOLA Micromill Don Danilo Vega Cupping with Don Danilo and JJ GRANITOS DE ALTURA DEL ORTIZ Micromill, Finca Ortiz 2000 The girls running Granitos; Johana, Diana, Joice, (me), Dona Yorleni, Jocksi and baby Jocksi! Coffee in the kitchen with Dona Yorleni JUANACHUTE Micromill, Finca Higueron LA LIA Micromill, Finca El Dragon El Dragon in the distance Test plots at La Lia Luis raking the patios HELSAR DE ZARCERO Micomill, Finca Magdalena PUENTE TARRAZU Micromill, La Pena

Finca Filadelfia
Friday, June 20, 2014 - 02:58 PM - 3 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Finca Filadelfia
This year I went to Guatemala to participate in the annual Cup of Excellence that was held at Anacafe in Guatemala city. This was great fun and we tasted loads of tasty coffee, it’s always interesting to taste so many coffees from the same country side by side. After the competition I had the chance to go to Antigua with our friend Marta Dalton from Coffee Bird and visit her family farm, a farm that we have been buying from for a couple of years now – Finca Filadelfia. Finca Filidefia is just a little north of Antigua and takes about 10 minutes to drive there from Antigua. Warning – Short post, I took most of these photos on the back of a horse and hence this prevented me from taking too many notes! Bosques de san Francisco comes from the plot on the right. Finca Filadelfia is owned by the Dalton family and has been in the family for generations. Great great grandfather Manuel Matheu was one of the first coffee farmers in Antigua, and started farming on the estate 148 years ago. Manuel Matheu is the man in the image in this picture. After a trip to London, Manuel Matheu was commissioned by the President to show small farmers in the area how to grow coffee on their land. This passion for coffee has been passed down 6 generations. Francis Dalton with his siblings took over running the farm from their mother Elisa, who ran it until she was 94 years old! Today Francis runs the farm with his brother Bobby and sisters Marjorie and Jean. View from the hill on Finca Filadelfia overlooking the farm. With Volcano Agua hiding in the clouds. Bosques de san Francisco on the left with Acatenango Volcano on the horizon. Nursery at Finca Filadelfia. Collection point where fresh picked cherries are delivered to, they are then weighed and sent to be processed and dried. The images on top are the processing facilities and the drying patios are below, the entire production is dried on these patios over the harvest season. More of our coffee next to sorting tables where zero defect coffee like ours is sorted to assure it’s free from defects. That’s our future coffee in the back ground waiting for us to approve the pre-shipment samples before it’s loaded into a container to be shipped. Bosques de san Francisco is on the left of the driveway and the farm on the right is Monte Maria, which last year was almost completely wiped out by rust, all the trees had to be cut down to ensure the rust didn’t spread. This year we will have all the coffee this farm produced which is 5 bags in total! Monte Maria trees making a come back after last years rust attack. Marta from Coffee Bird surveying Bosques de San Francisco. Since I came back our samples were approved and the container has been loaded up ready for shipping. I’m excited to taste the coffee from this farm and the other farms around Guatemala that Coffee bird have sourced for us.

El Salvador Cup of Excellence cupping
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 04:20 PM - 3 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
At the end of April John went to El Salvador to participate in his first Cup of Excellence as an observer. We have managed to get all 30 coffees that went to auction last week and will run a cupping of all of these in the same way the Cup of Excellence is run. We will set all this coffee over three rounds with optional scoring and a quick discussion afterwards. This will run on Saturday the 28th of June from 11:30 Tickets are £15 and there will be limited numbers, they are available here to purchase.

Barista Guild of Europe – Camp 2014
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 02:16 PM - 3 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Barista Guild of Europe – Camp 2014
Today was the day the Barista Guild of Europe launched, at the SCAE show in Rimini, and they started selling tickets to the first event organised under the BGE banner: Barista Camp in Greece. I’ve been a fan of barista camps since I got to attend one in the USA a couple of years ago, organised by the Barista Guild of America. While I’m obviously a fan of barista competitions, they are expensive affairs that don’t necessarily have an even distribution of value to all involved (this is the nature of competition of course!). Barista Camps are interesting to me because everyone who attends can have an amazing experience, you can’t really “win” a barista camp… I’m a little bit involved in this event, I’m the chair of a working committee, but I’m not for a second claiming any credit for making it happen. Isa Verschraegen is doing all the very hard work, with great support from people like Dale Harris, Kalle Freese, Andrew Tolley and others from the working group. You can read a bit more about the camp on the website here: www.baristaguildofeurope.com (You can buy tickets there too!) I just wanted to post a few things about the ideas behind the camp: - We wanted it to be as accessibly priced as possible. For food, drink, accommodation and education (with certification too) it starts at €400 right now. I think that is great value, and I hope this price point encourages some cafes to buy a ticket for a staff member – or at least support them financially if they want to go. - There are three different education tracks available, but also group lectures for everyone. I think it is going to be great to mix up more specialised education with moments where everyone comes together to learn and taste things. - There are opportunities to volunteer. You can offer to volunteer on the website. You’ll need to get yourself there (which isn’t too expensive at that time of year), but otherwise you won’t pay anything. We expect to get more offers than we can accommodate, so don’t be afraid to sell yourself a little bit if you’re applying. - The full program isn’t published yet, so keep an eye out as we announce various speakers and other fun stuff! I hope I’ll see a lot of people there. The opportunity to get together always results in great things. I like the idea of 150 baristas going back to 150 shops afterwards, and then making better drinks and giving better experiences to hundreds of thousands of people across Europe. Grab your ticket here! Tickets with more info about each track here .

Drowning, not waving.
Friday, June 06, 2014 - 01:09 AM - 3 months, 4 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Simon James' SdotJames
Drowning, not waving.
I’ve recently read 2 pieces that, to me, were unintentionally related. James Hoffman’s “Hipsters, Coffee And Authenticity”, questions the perceived aloof Baristas & customers associated with a “Modern” coffee culture, whilst Alan Frew’s April 2014 newsletter questions “Solutions in search of problems”. Like others in the coffee industry, I’ve also been well and truly guilty of focusing on […]

Video: Back to the Moka Pot
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 02:15 PM - 4 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Video: Back to the Moka Pot
This video was uploaded a few days ago, and is worth watching if you use a Moka pot (or have customers who do). I appreciate the tiny little hat tip at the start, and who doesn’t love modding coffee brewing kit to have 4 thermocouples in it for logging data…? I also learned a few interesting things! Worth just under 8 minutes of your time:

Introducing Longberry Magazine
Monday, May 19, 2014 - 10:22 AM - 4 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Introducing Longberry Magazine
Today I’m proud to announce that a project ,that has been in the works for some times, has come to fruition – Longberry Magazine. A small group (myself, Ben Szobody and Jacob Forrest ) felt that coffee was fascinating, but that most publications were more focused on the trade side of things rather than trying to tell the stories we have to the interested members of the coffee drinking public. We decided we’d try our hand at creating a magazine and I’m excited to say that we’re now taking pre-orders. The magazine has actually been printed but we’re splitting the distribution between the US and the UK, so right now half of the (very small) print run is on its way to the USA – having been printed here in the UK. Philosophy There were a few key ideas behind the magazine that I’d like to share: - No advertising. We know that this is how the magazine business actually makes money, but we didn’t want that to be part of what we did. We intend to remain ad free. If it stops being financially viable then we will stop printing magazines. - We will pay authors. We will pay authors a share of the revenue from each edition (physical or digital) sold. The initial print run is very small, so we hope people will also embrace the digital editions. - We want to tell stories you haven’t heard. We hope to find authors new to much of the speciality coffee world, who aren’t writing for most magazines out there. We’re challenging ourselves to find the best stories we can, to share with an interested audience. - It should be a beautiful thing. We’ve produced a pretty limited run of physical magazines, printed on high quality stock and they’re lovely things to own. These two things mean that we have to charge a fair price for the magazine. We believe £7 plus shipping is a fair price and good value. The digital version is priced at £2.50 or an additional £1 if you buy the physical copy. We hope to publish more in the future, though we aren’t going to promise to release a magazine per quarter. We’re calling it “an occasional journal of coffee”… Where can I get it? If you are in North America then we’d recommend buying it from the Longberry Website , as that will be distributed from the USA and the cheapest. If you are in Europe, or the rest of the world, then we’d probably recommend buying it from the Square Mile Webshop . (Square Mile are helping with distribution – but this is not a Square Mile Coffee project). If you’re buying just digital then please buy direct from the Longberry site. Both websites are charging in GBP, because the company (and its bank account) are based in the UK – but you can buy it with any credit card, and Stripe’s conversion into other currencies isn’t painful. Can I write for Longberry? You can! You can email a pitch to Longberry at editors@longberrypress.com (though I would kindly request that you read the magazine and have an idea of the kind of stories we want to publish before getting in touch).

The Failure of First
Monday, May 12, 2014 - 04:00 PM - 4 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
The Failure of First
There is an obsession with being first in our culture that I find increasingly troubling and frustrating. This isn’t just coffee specifically, I find it throughout various industries and professions. Journalism has long chased the scoop – the story that no one else has. In the past a scoop wasn’t simply a story that no one else had – it was also revelatory, bringing something hidden to light. Today it is mostly just saying something (or posting a photo of something, or claiming something) before anyone else does. Journalism has undeniably changed because of the internet. The frustration with the internet is its revenue model – we’re all eyeballs to advertisers. It’s not that we were in some golden age of journalism before, tabloid journalism has always been a horrible thing – and certainly no better than Gawker. The incentives in journalism have changed to writing something that gets as many eyeballs as possible, skewed through a world of analytics of page views and headline optimisation. Nothing gets eyeballs like a “first”, and as a result (and I’m not talking about coffee specifically here) accuracy and truthfulness have gone out of the window. Poorly researched inaccuracies, or salacious claims, can be retracted quietly on the same webpage once the wave of traffic dies back. It isn’t damaging because those eyeballs have moved on, and only the very few that care will revisit the story to see if it has been updated. There was a period of time where you’d often see people try to comment “first” first on a particular article, contributing nothing – simply attempting to claim some non-existent internet points. We all hoped it would go away, but I don’t think anyone wanted it to drift from the comments section up into the content itself. Linkbait , the now omnipresent listicles , compendia of Buzzfeed-esque gifs, it’s all very…. amusing, but I miss being treated like an adult who might actually want to do some thinking. More information, less titillation. Sadly, there’s a reason why the Daily Mail’s website (which I will not link to) is so appalling well trafficked. I am aware I have crossed the line into “shut up old man” territory. I’m aware that things change, that newspapers are dying, and there is no moral obligation to save them. I’m aware that the profession of journalism now exists in large part to see how far it can get away with stealing from those who still want practice it, or at least try to get them to work for free. You can argue that if people really wanted great journalism then they’d support it and champion it. The fetishization of longform writing is perhaps a counter to this, but that isn’t really what I’m talking about either. Enough about writing though… Typically in coffee, we love a “first” when it comes to equipment, something I’ve never really understood. Being the first one in a town, state or country to carry a certain new piece of equipment seems to have gained a perceived value that I don’t believe is being realised or returned. I don’t believe that paying a premium in cash (or time without a fully functioning machine if you bought in beta) generates matching revenues. I don’t think enough people buy coffee because of the machine’s novelty to cover its costs. The difference with technology is that there is a long precedent of “first” not really winning. This doesn’t stop technology companies launching very average products, barely out of beta, in an effort to be first to market. (I’m not talking about coffee specifically – just technology generally) Being first may give you something of an opportunity, but there is a better opportunity if you enter with a superior product later. The same is true of ideas. We all want to be able to claim we were the first to do something, though in truth almost every interesting idea in coffee is derivative in some way (this is no bad thing) of another. There is no real ownership of a great idea, but there are definite advantages to executing a good idea well. In coffee it isn’t unusual to see an older generation roll its eyes (in either frustration, exasperation or amusement) as the younger generation “discovers” something or “invents” something that they’ve seen or done long before. My biggest worry is that the world of the “first” is very shallow indeed. Ideas aren’t really dug down into because everyone just wants to move onto a new one, rather than work towards a better iteration of an existing one. That is perhaps cultural, and on the upside I believe it leaves enormous opportunities for anyone willing to stick with something to really explore it. This isn’t a universal problem – some of the most interesting businesses and people to me in coffee are doing this: digging down, exploring and taking their time to work something through. I believe they’ll see continued success from this approach, and I look forward to seeing what they learn and where they end up. I’m not really sure I’m going to make a definitive point here, it is just something that my brain has been chewing for a little while and writing for here is as good a way of any to start to process it a little more. I’ve missed writing on here recently, as most of my creative energy had to end up somewhere else for a while. I’ll share more about that in the not too distant future…

Tamper Tantrum Talk: Bourbon
Friday, May 09, 2014 - 03:03 PM - 4 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Tamper Tantrum Talk: Bourbon
I was asked by Colin Harmon to give a talk at the Tamper Tantrum event at the UK Barista Championship. He gave me a one word topic, so I thought I’d have a little fun with it. I hope you enjoy the talk, I’m sure there are a few factual holes that people will pick up on. (I really struggled with the pain from a back injury that day, so it isn’t quite as coherent as I’d like – but no excuses!) If you haven’t explored the amazing library of talks that they’ve built up so far – then this is what you should do with your weekend! You can subscribe in iTunes too.

Ethiopians
Wednesday, May 07, 2014 - 11:39 AM - 4 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Ethiopians
The first couple of Ethiopians are available in the webshop now, both very different but equally great examples of their regions! First up is the Reko from the Yirgacheffe region, with plenty of sweetness and florals reminding us of honeysuckle. It is a very well balanced and complex coffee with a citrus acidity and silky mouthfeel. We will be using this in our next Red Brick blend, but felt it was too good not to share as a filter first! Grab a bag here! Secondly we have the Ayichesh from the Oromia region, which is quite different, with delicate notes of pistachios and lemon drops. It has a single cream like mouthfeel and red grape or strawberry acidity to it. Available here. Both of these also make up the components of our newest Sweetshop blend, one of our sweetest versions yet! Also available here.

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