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A small post on some big work at El Limon
Monday, March 02, 2015 - 09:13 AM - 10 hours, 12 minutes ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
So this is a small post about the huge work Beto is undertaking at the farm El Limon in Palencia located to the east of Guatemala city. Beto is one of the most amazing producers we buy from as he really reacts to feedback from us. A conversation a couple of years ago about his… Continue Reading

SSSSS Last chance
Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 09:57 AM - 2 days, 9 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
ver the past few months I’ve had many many emails about my Super Secret Stash subscription, most about how amazing the coffee was but also a fair chunk from people who were sad that they’d missed the boat and wanted to join. Now I never like to make people sad or upset so I put on… Continue Reading

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 09:16 AM - 5 days, 10 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
What’s a Shakespeare quote got to do with coffee? Well to be honest nothing much really but it involves the word March and that’s the key. Every week throughout March I’m going to be releasing a new blend! I can tell you now that 1 will be an old favourite and the other 3 are… Continue Reading

Make Or Steal
Monday, February 23, 2015 - 01:00 PM - 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Make Or Steal
Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of people who’ve opened cafes. One of the key ideas I’ve brought up early on is that for a new cafe, every single one of your customers currently buys their coffee from someone else. If you subscribe to Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans idea 1 , then you need to find around 1,000 people to become your regular customers. They won’t come everyday necessarily, but if you’ve got a 1,000 loyal customers then I think your coffee business will be fine. An important thing to think about is this: Changing where you buy coffee is changing the very routine of your life. It might affect your route to work, which public transport stop you get off at, or even what time you wake up in the morning. People are generally slow to change their lives. Owners of new cafes often get frustrated that in the first weeks of opening people come and say the drink they just had was, perhaps, the best coffee of their lives. Then you don’t see them for another week. Why haven’t they immediately made the switch, given that this is the best coffee they’ve ever tasted!? As I said, it takes time to change someone’s life. This isn’t really what I want to write about now, but something related. What I want to talk about is what I see as a change in the dynamics of the coffee market in London, that raises a new question for me. Over the last seven or so years the market in London has changed dramatically. There has been a huge boom in the number of cafes trying to compete on the quality of their coffee. What has changed more recently is that the rate of new cafes opening has outstripped the growth in consumers for higher quality coffee. The market is becoming more competitive and cafes are beginning to actively engage in doing their best to capture and retain as many existing quality focused consumers. However, this means every new opening increases the competitive pressure on the market and the challenge of being successful is harder for each new cafe than for the last. I’m not saying for a minute that it was ever easy, but I do think that the attitude was a little different in the past than in the marketplace now. All this does presume a fixed pool of consumers to draw from. Which, while technically true, is the wrong way to look at it. I think more effort needs to be made on creating more customers who would value better coffee. Looking back, perhaps through rose tinted glasses, it seemed like there was a coherent movement in London to market the idea of better coffee. Not to market individual businesses, though that’s always going to be important, but to collectively promote and celebrate all that is good in delicious coffee – right through the value chain. Be it community events, coherent messages in the media, things like the Disloyalty Card – all of these contributed to the idea that better coffee was a good thing for everyone. I don’t see that coherent drive now, and I believe it is needed now more than ever. Creating our customers, and not just stealing them from competitors, is vital for our industry’s longevity. I think many of the coffee roasting companies I respect are good at this. Taking the business of supply from another quality focused roaster does little to develop a marketplace, but working with new businesses to help them do more definitely does. I think this is worth considering in marketing strategy regardless of where in the coffee supply chain you lie. This isn’t written as criticism of the way coffee businesses are marketing now. I want to highlight that there can be another message, or approach that could be more valuable to both businesses and the industry in reaching these new customers and a wider market. It is something I will be thinking more about, and trying to incorporate into the work that I do. I know I’ve linked here several times before… ↩︎ I know I’ve linked here several times before…

Brazil 2014: Part 2
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 12:26 PM - 1 week, 4 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Brazil 2014: Part 2
The other exporter I wanted to catch up with was Bourbon Coffee in Pocos de Caldas, a group I’ve known from back in my Mercanta days. With the owners also in Japan at the SCAJ show, hosting and ensuring I had plenty of coffees to cup was Thiago Trovo. The beautiful Bourbon cupping lab is set up over two rooms, one for visitors like me and one for the in-house cuppings. Being allowed to pop back and forth between them was great, as cupping lower grades and commodity market lots is something I don’t get to do much. When you work in specialty it’s really useful, vital even, to not lose sight of how good the coffees you get to work with really are. And there is nothing like cupping some lower grade coffee to remind you how lucky you are to have the privilige to work with the top few percent of coffees grown in the world. Thiago in the Bourbon cupping lab The Bourbon Innovation packaging, which our Recreio lot will be shipped in Bourbon HQ Really enjoying the water guns! FAZENDA RECREIO While I was in Belo Horizonte I met Diogo Dias Teixeira de Macedo, the son of the owners of Recreio farm in São Sebastião da Grama. His mother Maria and her husband Homero are from a long line of coffee producers in the Grama Valley, Marias grandmother Mathilde having inherited a large farm from her grandmother. As per tradition, farms get divided up between children, and Dona Mathilde had 11 of them. Neighbouring farms such as Rainha, Santa Alina and Cachoeira da Grama have also been parceled out between the family. Now in its 5th generation of care, Recreio has proven to be one of the most successful farms in the area, with numerous awards in the Cup of Excellence. Diogo is an agricultural engineer and runs most of the production, while his brother is in charge of their own brand of roasted coffee, named after their great grandmother. In honour of great grandma Mathilde Maria and Diogo Dona Mathilde Recreio is an impressive farm, with about 45 full time staff and another 100 people who work during harvest. On the farm there is a school, a church and a clinic, as well as a computer lab and a football field for the use of the employees. As well as caring for the needs of the employees, the owners care greatly about the environment. Preserving the natural flora and fauna and protecting local water sources is a large part of the the family’s mission. The Recreio school house Post harvest farm maintenance underway Harvest at Recreio is done by hand, and throughout the journey to the wet mill, onto the patios and to the dry mill, all the coffees are tracked and managed with great attention to detail. Quality is at the forefront at all times, which led Diogo to build a cupping lab in his grandfather’s old garage. This way, the family is able to sample roast and taste all their lots and experiments themselves, constantly learning and improving on what they do. We’re really pleased to have chosen a great lot from Recreio this year, and it will be going into our Red Brick espresso this week! Cupping setup at Recreio Loving the oldschool kettles! Patios cleaned and ready for next year New drying beds under construction The mill structure Fazenda Recreio Some very tail end of the harvest naturals still drying Diogo screening a sample While the wetmills were quiet after harvest, the drymills were in full swing so I got the chance to head to the Bourbon mill and see it all in operation. Colour sorters Gravity beds separating the beans by density A lot of heavy lifting goes on in coffee The Bourbon mill, bright and yellow! LARANJAL One of the coffees I cupped a lot of was from Fazenda Laranjal. Even if the farm was done with harvest, we swung by for a visit. Laranjal is such a beautiful spot, with ivy growing everywhere and friendly dogs running around, it really felt like a bit of an oasis. While I didn’t pick up any lots from them this year, I’m looking forward to revisiting next year and hopefully finding some tasty treats for our customers! Breathing in the fresh air The greenest farm I’ve been to in a while The little wetmill, covered in ivy Sweet little dog at Laranjal View of the patios and buildings of Laranjal Going for a walk with the farm dog New plantings. In a few years they’ll start to flower and bear fruit. Thanks for looking after me, Thiago! Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll enjoy the coffees we’ll release over the next few months! Anette

2015 Aeropress Championship of England
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 10:08 AM - 1 week, 4 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
2015 Aeropress Championship of England
We’re very pleased to host the 2015 English Aeropress Championships on March 7, along with Workshop Coffee. 27 competitors have already secured all the available spots, and will battle it out for the crown. The winner of the English heat will go on to represent at the World Aeropress Championships in Seattle. With support from our lovely sponsors The Kernel Brewery and TKC Sales, and food from Miss P’s Barbecue, it’s going to be a good time and we hope to see a full house of spectators cheering on the competitors! The competition will take place here at our roastery at 8 Pritchards road, E2 9AP. Entry to watch, cheer and drink lots of coffee is free, doors will open at 4pm and the competition should kick off at 5pm. See you then!

Brazil 2014: Part 1
Friday, February 13, 2015 - 01:18 PM - 2 weeks, 3 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Brazil 2014: Part 1
Our Brazil container lands in the UK today, so since the coffees that I selected in October are now here, I thought it’d be a good time to get the blogpost out about my trip! The largest coffee producing country in the world, you really need more than a couple of weeks on the ground as a buyer to even get to know one state of Brazil’s coffee growing area. But when you’re on a whirlwind schedule you just try to focus in and cram as much as you can into what little time you have. This year I thought I’d start in Belo Horizonte, at the International Coffee Week expo, where exhibitors from all over Minas Gerais would get together to show off their coffee, machinery and equipment, and share their thoughts on the state of the industry. Mechanical Harvester The great thing about coffee shows is that you always run into familiar faces even half way around the world. Such as the lovely Marcos and Felipe Croce of FAF, Stephen Vick from Blue Bottle, and fellow Norwegian Eystein Veflingstad who now lives and works in coffee in Bahia. A couple of days were spent at the show cupping coffees not just from our friends at FAF but from producers and exporters all over Minas, showcasing a wider array of profiles than I had expected and surprising me in the best way. Cupping next to the likes of Bruno Souza, Isabela Raposeiras and Byron Holcomb was great for delving deeper into the nuances of coffees that they cup year round, but I tend to focus on mostly around buying time. The show in Belo Horizonte provided me with a good overview of the coffees I’d encounter on the rest of my trip, but the bulk of it was to be spent visiting exporters and farms so I travelled on to Carmo de Minas where I’d be spending a few days with Carmo Coffees. We have bought a lot of coffee from them in the last few years but this was the first time I had a chance to visit and cup with them, so I prepared for a caffeinated few days. Carmo de Minas is a tiny town so I stayed in nearby Sao Lourenco, enjoying the peaceful pace, friendly street dogs and morning coffees at Jacques Periera Carneiro’s Unique Cafe. Jacques founded Carmo Coffee together with Luiz Paulo Pereira Dias Filho in 2005, and have tirelessly been promoting and raising the profile of Carmo coffees ever since. As they were both in Japan, I was looked after by Gabriel and Calixto who put me straight to work on a table of naturals, from a mix of familiar and new farms. Cupping setup at Carmo I got pretty good with the water guns at Carmo! After two days of cupping I had narrowed it down to a few farms I knew I wanted to bring in, so it was time to drive further into the countryside, have a closer look at their setups and learn more about how they run. IRMAS PEREIRAS First up was the farm nicknamed Irmas Pereiras, owned by sisters Maria Valeria and Maria Rogeria Pereira. They took over the farm after their parents retired, and ventured into specialty coffee by investing in new equipment and exploring new processing methods. One of the machines that have proven particularly useful is their cherry colour sorter, which separates the freshly picked cherries into red, yellow, green and pasa cherries. The more controlled sorting increased their production of high quality naturals from 20% to 40%. Irmas Pereiras is also a working stud ranch The mill at Irmas Pereiras Patios at Irmas Pereiras Some of the horses that are kept on the farm On the way to Sertao we had to navigate some local traffic A common sight in the area, mahogany trees used as shade for the coffee. Safrazero, Zero Harvest Driving up to our next stop, I got an explanation of the safrazero system of pruning coffee that is becoming popular in the area. Brazil has biannual crop cycle, with low yields one year and higher yields the second. It can be very unpredictable, and makes it difficult to manage labour, fertilising plans, picking schedules and pruning patterns. Farms fertilise and harvest their whole farms every year, which in a country like Brazil can be costly. The safrazero pruning and harvesting system, especially useful in mountainous regions, allows more structured and controlled plan for fertilising and harvesting, saving both time and money. Farmers will divide the farms into two areas, let’s call them plot A and plot B. Plot A will be pruned right back, vertical and lateral branches alike. It looks almost as if only the trunks themselves are left standing. The plants of plot A won’t bear fruit that next year, but will be allowed to regenerate, being supplied with the fertilisers needed to stimulate leaf and branch regrowth. The other area, plot B, is allowed to flower and bear fruit for harvest, and is fertilised with the supplements needed for healthy fruit growth. So even if plot A won’t bear fruit that first year, plot B will give a higher yield, making up for the loss of the other. Once harvest is over, plot B gets pruned right back to the trunk, while plot A goes on to flower and bear fruit, having ‘skipped’ a year of producing cherries, but now growing near twice as many of them on the new, young shoots that have emerged. Some farmers even combine the pruning with the harvest, cutting the branches off with the cherries on them, the removing the cherries afterwards. And so the cycle continues, half the farm resting one year and producing the next, the other half doing the same but on the opposite cycle. Safrazero’ed trees, pruned of both vertical and lateral branches SERTAO We have bought a fair bit of coffee from Sertao for the last few years, so I was really looking forward to visiting. The Sertao group owns and manages farms that combined count some 860.000 trees. It’s a family owned group, run by the children of Jose Isidro and Nazareth Pereira. Their four kids, Francisco, Luiz Paulo, Glycia and Sandra, all work for Sertao, as do two of Francisco’s four children, while a third, a daughter, is learning to cup. Driving into Sertao Once we got into the Sertao grounds we met with Franciso at a beautiful lookout they had built in a huge Jacaranda tree, with viewing platforms and little plackets saying welcome in different languages. The Welcome Tree From the tree you could see the Sertao mill and the small Santa Ines plot of 100 year old trees that almost got torn out of the ground, until they produced the cherries that won the 2005 COE with 95.85 points. Last year they did the safrazero pruning on this plot, so there hasn’t been a harvest to speak of, however they’re excited to see how this method will affect trees of this age for next year. View of the 100 year old Santa Ines plot They family have continued to plant more trees in time with market demand, and are favouring planting new land at higher altitudes rather than refreshing ageing, lower altitude plots. The trees are very densely planted and look more like rows of coffee hedges than the more individually spaced trees I see in Central America. Dense rows of coffee View of Sertao Mill Francisco Pereira After admiring the view for a bit I was lucky enough to get a tour of the old farm house at Sertao, where lots of the family’s memorabilia is kept. Sertao house Nazareth, the woman who started it all. Also a passionate and very successful cattle breeder! A sign over the front door View of the mill from the house The farm dog taking a cooling stroll along the water channels The old stables at Sertao SANTA LUCIA As we drove on to to check out the Santa Lucia mill, a tiny bit of rain finally fell, giving much needed water to the fields of coffee on either side of the road. The differences in pruning was evident, on one side you’d see the trees that had been safrazero’ed last year (to be the 2015 crop) and this year (to be the 2016 crop). The difference a year makes: on the left hand side of the road are trees that were safrazeroed in 2014 year and won’t bear fruit till 2016, and on the left hand side are trees that were safrazeroed in 2013 and will bear fruit in 2015. The Santa Lucia mill lies at lower altitude and in a valley, and has little coffee in its immediate proximity. They use a Penagos mill, preserving water, and another of their interesting machines is the Centriflux- a pulp centrifuge of sorts. After pulping, running the parchment through the centriflux reduces the mucilage to 30-40% moisture, saving 3-4 days off the patio drying time. Instead of subjecting the coffee to the heat of the guardiolas, this dries the coffee in a more efficient manner without making the quality suffer. Santa Lucia mill Centriflux Penagos pulper Outside of harvest, when there is no cherries on the patio, it is taken over by the neighbours! Just passing over the patios to the next pasture! Cows in sunset Instead of turning the parchment by walking through with rakes, these guys found a motorised option. Coffee elevator conveyors PEDRALVA We also had the chance to stop by a mill owned by Carmo themselves, purchased 5 years ago from the Furnas Farm. Under the new name of Pedralva, they now process 10-15.000 bags from several farms in the area, using both patio and guardiola drying. Wood from the pruning at farms fuel the guardiolas, and a couple of the patios were covered in a greenhouse structure. A few raised beds were also under construction. Pedralva mill and patios Raised drying beds under construction Guardiolas, big ‘tumble driers’ for parchment coffee Pedralva offices with new greenhouse covered drying patio next door. SITIO SAO JOAQUIM One farm that I didn’t have the chance to cup coffees from, but had a great opportunity to visit, was Sitio Sao Joaquim. We met up with Jesimar de Oliveira Sandi, one of the 3rd generation of the Oliveira Sandi family of coffee growers who have had great success in the COE with their family farms. At 1380masl, the farm only produces microlots, and Jesimar attributes the quality of the coffee to their healthy yellow catuai stock, good altitude and north east facing aspect. His pride and a bit of friendly competition was evident as he pointed out a higher lying but south west facing farm on the other side of the valley, which had placed behind them in the COE. In addition to a drive around the fields that were first planted in 1953, I also got a tour of the beautiful farm house where I got to play with 2 of the gorgeous rescue dogs that Jacimar had adopted, finally a chance to get some quality dog time! Jesimar and his awesome car! I wouldn’t have thought it, but it actually made a really great farm vehicle! An example of how uneven rain, flowering and ripening presents a challenge for pickers Pasa drying on the branches The old bread oven at Sao Joaquim. I want one at the roastery! Sao Joaquim farm house View at entrance to farm Some of the residents Selfie with dog. You know me, it’s gotta be done!

Coffee Brewing Class from ChefSteps
Thursday, February 05, 2015 - 11:38 PM - 3 weeks, 3 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Coffee Brewing Class from ChefSteps
I am excited about the launch of a new coffee class from ChefSteps. If you follow me on twitter or elsewhere then you’ve likely noticed how much of a fan I am of what ChefSteps are doing. I genuinely think they’re one of the most innovative and interesting companies in food, and I can’t think of anyone else pushing out as much information for free. Their videos have made techniques that I had previously thought too difficult, or intimidating, seem approachable – and cooking from their recipes has resulted in some of the best meals of my life. Hopefully you’ve already enrolled in the ChefSteps espresso class – if you haven’t you should do so now because it is free and because it is incredibly good. I’d been talking to the team at ChefSteps for a little while about a coffee brewing class. I think their approach and style would be a great way to communicate both the techniques and the knowledge required to brew delicious coffee. While in Seattle last year, with Ben Kaminsky, we shot some videos covering techniques and discussion, and since then the class has been built up to be exhaustive and I think genuinely innovative. That class goes live today: ChefSteps Coffee Class ($14) So what’s included in the class? For the beginner: There’s a great, thorough introduction to brewing better coffee covering buying coffee, getting the right equipment, an overview of dialling in, a guide to tasting and then techniques videos and guides covering French Press, Aeropress, and pour over. We cover what extraction is, why it matters and how to control it. Aeropress brewing For the knowledgeable coffee brewer: You might think that if you’re already brewing tasty coffee at home then there’d be nothing for you here. I would disagree. There’s plenty of stuff in the course that I think would appeal to readers of this blog: rapid cold brew, Liars Latte (everything people like about milk drinks without any milk of any kind) and also some useful techniques to improve the quality of the ground coffee you brew with – regardless of the grinder you are using. There’s also a technique involving rinsing for french press brewing that had me utterly intrigued when they first sent through a little phone video of them doing it, and is the result of what happens when very smart food people start looking at coffee seriously. Easily the cleanest cup of french press you’ve ever had – completely sludge free. The not-chocolate chocolate They also get into that difficult realm: coffee as a culinary ingredient. There are several recipes here, some simple and useful, through to a whole new thing that is chocolate made without cacao and is my favourite thing on the whole course. I’m sure that if you work in coffee and watch this technique you’re going to get pretty excited too. If you’ve bought a ChefSteps class before, or enrolled in one before, then you’ll have noticed that classes continue to be developed after launch – recipes get added, techniques further explored. I love that they do this, so it is worth returning to the class after finishing it. There’s a great community around ChefSteps online – and I’d recommend getting involved there too, especially if you have any interest in cooking better, and understanding the theory behind the techniques in the kitchen. It is one of better discussion forums out there, and I suspect a lot of coffee people have a strong culinary interest too. I hope you check out the class, it’s about the same price as a bag of coffee ($14), and I think that it’s a worthwhile investment. ChefSteps Coffee Brewing Class

An Interview With Brian and Peter from Kenya Kariga pt 2
Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - 04:32 AM - 3 weeks, 5 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
As part of my traveling I meet some interesting people, non more so than Peter (farm manager of Kariga) and Brian estate owner. I walked with them for many hours and recorded some of our conversations I hope you enjoy them listen to ‘Kenya Kariga pt2’ on audioBoom

An Interview With Brian and Peter from Kenya Kariga
Monday, January 26, 2015 - 12:59 PM - 1 month ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
As part of my traveling I meet some interesting people, non more so than Peter (farm manager of Kariga) and Brian estate owner. I walked with them for many hours and recorded some of our conversations I hope you enjoy them

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