This business requires patience. From the time we taste a coffee sample to the time that coffee arrives at our door ready to be roasted can take several months. It’s especially difficult to be patient when the samples are really really really good.
This past Thursday was a big day for us here at Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Just after 8:00am a truck backed up to our loading dock full of sacks of new crop Nicaraguan coffee. These coffees are particularly special for us because our relationships in Nicaragua go back so many years. We don’t just buy from one cooperative there, we buy from three: Solidaridad de Aranjuez (our Joya de Aranjuez coffees), SOPPEXCCA (our Flor de Jinotega), PRODOCOOP (Dipilto coffee which serves as a backbone to many of our favorite blends and will be featured this year as a special single origin). We also buy from one small scale family farm owned by the Corrales family (Byron’s Maracaturra – a perennial favorite). The arrival of these coffees is thrilling because coffee, like many crops, is seasonal. We buy limited quantities of the highest quality each year and when these coffees run out, we have to wait for the next year’s harvest to arrive. We were all eagerly anticipating this delivery; especially our roasting team who was chomping at the bit to get these beans fired up and out the door to our loyal customers who, like us, know that the exceptional quality, complexity, and character of these distinct coffees are worth waiting for.
Towards the end of July, we’ll be celebrating the arrival of these Nicaraguan coffees as well as the balance of our Northern Hemisphere coffees (like Musasa, Rwanda) that are also recent arrivals to our dock. Keep an eye out for your invitation to party with us here at the warehouse.
Here are some pictures of how the day went: the arrival, unloading, sample roasting, staff cupping, and finally the beginning of production roasts.
Some of you may have noticed that a few of our all-time favorite coffees have been made unavailable recently, namely Byron’s Maracaturra and Sidama Natural, Ethiopia. Indeed, we have roasted our last pounds of Byron’s, and in the case of our jammy wonderkid from Ethiopia, we’re tightening the belt and saving the last dozen or so bags for our espresso blends.
The bad news: you can’t get this great coffee right now.
The good news: these are great coffees (at least in our minds!) and they are rare, limited, and super special. These aren’t the kinds of coffees you can just order up from a broker, no, you’ve got to slog a lot of miles (and or a lot of frequent flier miles as the case may be) to find coffees of this caliber, and of course, the farmers who grow them. And though we’re out right now, new crop coffees are en route and should be here soon.
In the case of Byron’s Maracaturra, the 2009/2010 crop is on the water and should be here in our warehouse in the next few weeks. This year’s crop is more fruit-forward than ever, still with a delicate jasmine/darjeeling complexity. As for the new crop Sidama Natural, it’s a big fruit bomb again this year. We’re stoked on the pre-shipment sample and looking forward to the coffee’s arrival. It’s due to ship from Ethiopia next week, and we should see its arrival sometime in late July/early August.
We hope you’re enjoying the slightly wild ride of great coffee. Like a lot of the finest crafted foods in the world, there’s no mass-produced version. We always try to buy as much as we can, but in the case of some of the most unique coffees in our roster, there’s only so much of the great stuff out there. Please let us know if we’ve left you in the lurch…we’ve got a lot of other great coffee in stock at the moment, and we’d be happy to help you find a great coffee to hold you over until the arrival of your favorites.
The anti-gay legislation being promoted in Uganda is hateful and deplorable. We have publicly denounced it since we first learned about it. However, there are more
direct and appropriate ways to condemn this legislation than going after Fair Trade farmers. We work in partnership with the Peace Kawomera Cooperative, a group of 1,000 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim farmers working together under a conscious initiative for peace. This is an incredible collaboration given the recent historical landscape of brutality instigated by Idi Amin. These farmers have chosen tolerance as a guiding force for economic development and this is a remarkable example that the world should recognize and applaud not shun and condemn on account of misguided and hate-filled choices by their government.
I understand the perspective of advocating an across the board boycott to induce economic hardship in a country that depends on money from exports as a means to send a strong “message” about this homophobic and hateful legislation. But not all trade in Uganda can be considered on the same plane. The economic reality in Uganda today is deeply rooted in a history of exploitative trade by multinational corporations. Fair Trade seeks to help support producers to overcome that history and in so doing, encourages community led development initiatives that promote education, health care, and access to better infrastructure. This type of bottom up growth and development positions communities to better respond to the kind of legislation we are seeing in Uganda today. Meanwhile, it should not go without mentioning that much of the support of this bill has been driven by organizations in the United States. It is not the Fair Trade farmers in Peace Kawomera that are the voices on this issue.
Our stance with respect to your suggestion of boycotting this coffee and cutting off this community that we have worked so closely with for five years is that we don’t believe that is the best way to combat the current anti-gay bill being discussed. In fact, we would even more emphatically support the critical work, message, and example that the Peace Kawomera Cooperative is setting. Each day these farmers choose tolerance as their way forward. The children of farmers are seeing that peace is a solution and a path to a brighter future. Supporting this Cooperative promotes the growth of a strong base of citizenship that can see beyond differences (whether that be based in cultural, ethnic, racial, gender or sexual preference diversity) and is successfully collaborating for real economic development.
Please consider the implications of what “direct action” in this case looks like. Going after a group laying the foundation for a more tolerant Uganda won’t solve the problem on the table. However, we encourage everyone to speak out against this proposed bill.
You can sign a petition here: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5712/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1309