Musasa, Rwanda

 

The drive to Musasa is a long, slow climb from the rolling hills and valleys surrounding Kigali. After three hours of travel, I arrived at the headquarters of Dukunde Kawa Cooperative along with Ben Schmerler and Christine Condo of TransfairUSA’s Global Producer Services program. I was thankful for Ben and Christine’s company as the cooperative had recently elected a new board of directors and a new general manager. Change—transitions of these kind—are often a good thing in young, growing cooperatives. But of course, there’s a lot of unknowns when the people you’ve been working with for the past three years are no longer in place; they’ve been replaced by who?

That question was foremost in my mind as we passed through the town of Ruli and pulled into the Dukunde Kawa driveway. A few minutes later after hugs and hellos and how is your father and how is your mother we got down to business.

Members of the new Board of Directors during our meeting

Members of the new Board of Directors during our meeting

 

 

 

There, seated in a circle, I watched my uncertainty dissolve into the realization that we were on solid ground, and that the cooperative was moving forward into the next stage of its growth. Here we were looking together at our sixth season, another container of beautifully prepared coffee, our total purchases crossing the 250,000 lb mark, closing in on half a million US dollars from our community to theirs…

In the two hours that followed we confirmed our contract for the upcoming 2010 harvest, agreed to the particulars of pre-harvest financing, shipping dates, and the specific microlots we’ll be choosing from out of the co-op’s top grades to create our container. I had with me a copy of an exciting work-in-progress—a climate change adaptation project funding proposal—and wasn’t sure if it was even of interest to the new leadership. Ah, not so. The new board of directors beat me to the punch. When can we start? Why is it taking so long to find a partner to fund this project? Do you have the most recent version? Sweet. That’s green light on the project—three years of on farm reforestation, watershed protection, and income diversification with a really interesting methodology that essentially creates a competition among farmers for the best demonstration of ecosystem strengthening. Imagine a shade grown/topsoil conservation/watershed protection race to the top, if that makes any sense.

Then suddenly, it was time to go. Short but very sweet, another small step forward in the quest to match great coffee with healthy, thriving, self-sustaining communities. As our jeep bounced along the road back to Kigali I thought about the past and the future, where we came from and where we are going, and was thankful for another generation of leadership at the cooperative and the opportunity to take those small—sometimes invisible—important steps forward.

Mr. Donatien, new Chairman of the Board, with Christine Condo in the background

Mr. Donatien, new Chairman of the Board, with Christine Condo in the background

 

Click here to read past blog posts on our partnership with this inspiring Rwandan cooperative.

A Visit to Peace Kawomera (Uganda)

Construction is two-thirds complete. Below the ground floor sits a strong foundation firmly grounded in the fertile red earth. Above it, a cool storeroom for bulking coffee. Another storeroom one floor above will alternately double as a utility space, a vanilla, cardamom, and fruit processing facility. Above that pilings reach to the sky, awaiting the final construction push: offices, a meeting hall, and a roof to protect from the equatorial sun and rain…

As you can see from the photos, I’m speaking of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative’s new headquarters—their first office, warehouse, and operations center. Of course, this new construction is also a metaphor for the tremendous growth of the past 5 years and the inspiring hope for the future. Now, after literally dreaming it into being, working with hearts and hands, and thanks to our effort at Thanksgiving Coffee and our customers committed support, this young cooperative has moved into place as one of Uganda’s finest coffee producers, highest price earners, and most innovative social entrepreneurs.

I visited for three short days, but shared many beautiful moments…

…Truckloads of fresh picked coffee brought to the cooperative by farmers who have been carefully trained in the highest quality procedures, happy with the knowledge that they would receive the highest price on the entire Mt. Elgon, home to over 100,000 coffee farmers.

…Attending an exciting meeting of one of Peace Kawomera’s 25 new farmer groups, well attended and representing more women than men in a localized grouping for future farmer training programs, coffee collection, and our upcoming reforestation initiative.

…Sharing a good laugh with my old friends Elias Hasalube and Nakidoto Alisati in front of the shop outside their homes.

…The Peace Kawomera central washing station up and running, carefully selecting only the best ripe coffee cherries. Double sorting the cherries, then depulping, cleaning, and washing the cherries before preparing them for drying and carefully constructed drying tables. Fully integrating the best practices from the world’s most advanced coffee washing stations with a careful eye to efficient and economical operation, treating the sugar contaminated water before allowing it to return to the water table, and hand sorting dried coffee, this new washing station simultaneously hits the three interconnected goals of improving quality, decreasing production costs, and reducing environmental damage.

…Trading happy smiles with happy kids and their parents, proud members of Peace Kawomera.

…Cupping the (really really good) new crop Peace Kawomera with Lydia Nabalubi and her new protégé Christian, two powerful and committed young Ugandan women who are leading the charge towards quality improvement forward.

Now as I write this from the airport in Entebbe, ready to board my short connection to Kigali and looking forward to visiting our partners at the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, I’m thinking about the friends I’m leaving behind, the work we’ve done, this strong, inspiring, and growing cooperative, and the hope and strength we have for the future.

Moment in time: Rwanda 2005

STC_0555Rwanda, 2004

One of my favorite ways to photograph a group is to catch the group posing for a photo being taken by someone else. Here, Alan Odom poses with a group of coffee farmers after a successful first meeting with their cooperative members. Alan works for a coffee importing company, InterAmerican Commodities that we use to help us bring the coffee from there to here. In the coffee industry these importing companies provide services in areas such as contracts, financing, customs, insurance, and storage once the coffee lands in the USA. Alan was with me on this trip because it an opportunity he could not miss for his company.

The Genocide in 1994 had wiped out the coffee production in Rwanda. To help rebuild it, USAID funded a development project (2002) led by Michigan State University and Texas A & M. Tim Schilling; an Agronomist professor at A&M was hired to lead the rebuilding. In 2004 Thanksgiving Coffee Company was asked to send a representative to Rwanda to help develop a market plan for Rwanda’s reentry into the coffee trade, this time, not as a commodity with no identity, but as a Specialty Coffee with a real story to tell. Joan Katzeff volunteered to be part of the all expenses paid trip (Paid for by U.S. Taxpayers).  Thanksgiving Coffee was one of just four companies singled out to help this ravaged but resurgent coffee Rwandan coffee industry.

Joan’s first trip to Africa connected Thanksgiving Coffee with The Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund, which was headquartered in Rwanda where the last remaining Mountain Gorillas (380) live on the edge of extinction. Within six months our GORILLA FUND coffee was the first Rwanda Coffee to be sold in the United States and Thanksgiving Coffee received the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s first Sustainability Award in 2004 for our creative efforts to introduce the Rwanda Coffee Story to American coffee lovers.

When Alan Odom and I returned to Rwanda the following year to cement the relationships Joan had forged the year before and to introduce the idea of cupping labs to the USAID development project as a further way to improve quality and increase the value of the crop, we met with many cooperatives and tasted coffees from all over the country’s coffee growing region. Being among the first coffee roasters to visit Rwanda, we were able to find the best coffee and sign a three-year purchase agreement with the cooperative. I negotiated the price with the farmers ($2.04/lb for one container of 37,500 lbs.) and InterAmerican did the importing for us. This photo, taken after the deal was signed, conveys everyone’s mood at the time. You can purchase this coffee and taste one of Africa’s great coffees at on our webstore. It was a fine coffee in 2004 but today our Gorilla Fund Coffee is one of the best tasting coffees in the world.

New Crop Sidama Natural, Ethiopia

Late last week we had a chance to cup the first roast of the recently arrived “Sidama Natural”, our fruit-laden wildly characteristic single-origin Ethiopian. This is the last of our new crop coffees to arrive, and it’s been the most difficult. Yes, it is late, for starters. But it’s actually one of the first Ethiopian coffees to arrive in the US. When I look a lot of the green brokers offering sheets I see that they don’t have a single Ethiopian container scheduled to land for at least another two weeks. This is a testament to the hard work of Menno Simmons, our exporter, and partner with the Sidama Farmers Cooperative Union (SFCU), the producer of this fine coffee.

 

Also, everything in Ethiopia is a little up in the air this year. The government let out a lot of line in the past five years, and allowed for a good deal of liberalization in the coffee market. The opening this created made way for a lot of exciting coffees. This year, the government reeled it back in. It seems as if we are watching the growing pains of a 30-year marxist-inspired regime coming to terms with reality. The bummer is that a lot of great coffees are lost, and those that we can get out are held back by a lot of the strong-arm tactics of the government. The Misty Valley, for example, that turned a lot of heads last year is simply not available. The legendary Bagresh family that produced it is along with all other coffee producers and exporters mandated to sell their coffee into a new government run auction. There, coffees will be graded (by region, and then by quality) and 70 bag lots will be created by blending coffees graded by the same region and quality. It’s kind of like California telling Anderson Valley that they can’t grow grapes and then make wine out of them. You can grow grapes, but then you’ve got to sell them into the state-wide auction. Pinot Noir will be graded by quality by a government taster, and then lots will be created by blending the grapes with Pinot from around the state. The winery can then buy grapes out of the auction and make wine. Bummer if you’re Navarro or Lazy Creek or Goldeneye (a few of our many great local wineries). All that work you did to produce those distinctive grapes with exactly that character you’re looking for is all for naught….

 

Also, because there is no way to trace a bag of coffee through the auction, there is no way to keep the trail that’s required for organic or fair trade certification. Bummer again.

 

Luckily for us, there are three cooperatives who were able to get a “second window” exception that allows them to export directly what they produce. And even more luckily, Hache, the producer of our “Sidama Natural” is one of them. So though it’s been a roller coaster of a ride, we were able to maintain one of the few channels available for the procurement of Organic and Fair Trade coffee.

 

By now you’re probably ready for a cup of coffee, so I’ll get straight to it.

 

I was hopeful when I first cupped the pre-shipment sample in April. Though the coffee might have suffered at the hands of the many obstacles lining its way to us, it was still shining. Lots of honey, sweet pithy citrus, and hints of fruit—not as intensely strawberry-toned as before, but more filled out in other ways. The shots I pulled really registered—while they weren’t winey like last year’s Hache, but they were really, really sweet and caramelly, with really good depth, dimension, and crema. Not precisely a repeat performance but an impressive performance nonetheless. Then I made a decision that is probably fairly rare in the coffee world. Instead of looking at a coffee that had changed, and pushing aside in search of something more like the previous year’s, I booked another container of coffee from the farmers of the Hache cooperative.

 

After considering the options I decided that this was a time for us to stick with the farmers. Their coffee had showed us its potential, and though I was hoping for even better than last year, it’s still really good. If this is what an off year looks like, then this is a good place to be. If I’ve learned anything from watching Paul and tasting coffee alongside him it’s that when it comes to coffee, you’ve got to focus on people and the long term—when you find potential and invest in it, and keep your commitments, the good that comes later on down the road is well worth the wait.

 

All that said, I’m looking forward to sharing this coffee with you. We’re up and running in production, and if you order a package right now you’ll probably have it by the end of the week. At the end of the day, the Ethiopian government can do whatever it wants and we’ll keep coming back. The small-scale farmers of Ethiopia grow the world’s most unique coffees. This year is bright, deeply sweet, and full of nuance and character ranging from grapefruit to honeycomb. It’s heavy bodied, round, and smooth. Their coffee is simply too good to live without.

 

I’ll be working hard to get back to the quality of last year, maybe even surpass it. For now, we’ve got something really nice. I was talking with a friend yesterday who’s a winemaker in the Anderson Valley and she was lamenting the smoke damage caused by last summer’s wildfires. I asked her how this would affect her sales. She told me simply that the she would do everything she could do make the best wine possible. And that she expected that her customers would understand. She said that the real thrill is in riding out the hard times, making the best wine possible, and making it to those magical years when everything comes together, and each sip is almost magical. I nodded, and told her that I understood.

 

Thanks for reading, for supporting our search for the great coffees of the world, and for supporting us and our commitments to the farmers far away in the mountains of the coffeelands.

BCM

“Delicious Peace” Moves Forward

Exciting news from Uganda this morning: after nearly 2 years of project development, The Peace Kawomera Cooperative is about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Agency for International Development (the development wing of the State Department) for a $250,000 infrastructure development project.

Just writing those words is a little surreal. It’s been a long time coming, three trips to Uganda, countless hours meeting, emailing, listening to each other on scratchy internet and cell phones. Most of all, it’s been a tireless effort led by JJ Keki and Muhammed Kakaire Hatibu, Peace Kawomera’s Chairman and Secretary Manager, respectively.

 

The project will finance the construction of a world-class coffee processing and storage facility, which will avail the farmers with the best tools of the coffee trade. Now, for the first time in the history of coffee cultivation in Uganda, farmers will be able to bring out the full potential of their heirloom Bugisu Arabica varietals. The Cooperative will collect freshly picked, ripe cherries, and then control the process of depulping, fermenting, washing, and drying in a centralized facility. Based on the development of similar processing techniques in neighboring Kenya and Rwanda (where PKC recently visited our partner cooperative there to study the operation of a central washing station, read more), we expect the washing station to dramatically improve the quality of the farmers’ coffee. And we’re looking forward to paying more for each pound of coffee we buy.

 

None of this would be possible if it were not for the support of our loyal customers, who not only lined up to build a market for this young cooperative’s coffee, but also enlisted the power of their coffee buying dollars, through our profit sharing partnership, and over the past 5 years, raised over $100,000 which bought the land and building materials that gave USAID the confidence they needed to invest further in this remarkable endeavor.

 

Recently, we made some big changes in our project, and transitioned into a new phase of our partnership with the farmers. Instead of $1.00 per pound or package sold going back to Uganda, we dropped the rebate to $.25. At the same time, we increased the price to the farmers by $.20/lb. We hope to completely phase out the profit-sharing overtime, and replace it with ever increasing prices to the farmers. Please also note that we expect volumes to increase (because of clear price incentives and actual investment in increasing yields through better organic farming practices, pruning, and planting techniques). Instead of creating a continuing subsidy, we created a kind of front-loaded capital fund. This money sustained the rapid growth of a young cooperative, and got them to solid ground. Now they are up and running, and ready to grow.

 

It’s almost too sweet to believe…but then it gets even better. Two days ago, arrival samples from our two incoming containers (75,000 lbs) arrived. I roasted them immediately, and cupped them yesterday. They are great. Sweeter than ever before, with more clarity and complexity, and a fuller expression of their unique character. All of this was made possible by better management of coffee buying, which the cooperative initiated themselves. And this was using their old machinery and processing methods…if the coffee is already improving this much, imagine how it will taste next year!

 

Many thanks to Laura Wetzler and Kulanu.org for their tireless work and for forging the initial connection with the Uganda-based USAID office. As with everything we’ve been able to do in Uganda, none of this would be possible without your contribution.

 

You+coffee you love+farmers who love their coffee+a roasting company who loves farmers+4 years of hard work=

 

Good coffee getting better+Farmers working smarter not harder+Incomes increasing+An interfaith peace-making initiative moving forward.

 

That’s an equation we’re really proud of. Not just a cup, but a just cup.    

-BCM  

A Visit to Brazil

I mostly enjoy the thrill of an uphill battle, especially when it’s for a good cause. But I have to tell you, it’s nice to have it be easy every once in awhile.

I’m just back from Brazil, after a week-long trip to firm-up our relationship with an amazing group of farmers producing (against all odds and my many preconceived notions) fantastically distinctive and organically grown Brazilian coffee. A little background: I studied the coffee trade pretty intensely as an undergrad, and the many different market-regulating schemes that were developed over the years. Brazil always featured prominently in these experiments with the gas, clutch and break pedals of the coffee economy, and I’d read a lot about the Brazilian market. Fast forward 8 years and here I am at the front line representing one of the most demanding and well-respected coffee roasting companies in the country, and I’m packing my bags for a trip to…of all places, Brazil? Really?

It started a long time ago, in early 1993, when Luis Adauto de la Oliviera and his neighbors formed an association of small scale family farmers in the hills and valleys above the town of Poço Fundo (Deep Spring) in the southern part of Minas Gerais, some 300 km north of Sao Paulo. The association, a loose alliance of farmers, was formed with an eye towards better prices for its members, and hope for an environmentally sustainable future.

 

Aduato and the view from his farm. Across the valley is the house where he was born, now home to his brother Jose.

Aduato and the view from his farm. Across the valley is the house where he was born, now home to his brother Jose.

 

8 years later, the farmers formed a cooperative, and began to push for a viable transition to organically grown coffee. They saw immediately that this meant quality, and breaking down a lot of the prejudices that kept specialty buyers away from Brazil. The list of challenges was familiar to me, they are pervasive in the literature and culture of the coffee trade: Brazil is a commodity producer, their coffee trades at a negative differential off the futures market, they produce for volume and don’t care about quality, farmers don’t have any incentive to take care of their land or their trees, and worst of all…the coffee is no good.

Well, a few years ago, I tasted a coffee that was strikingly different. It was lush, velvety, and sweet. It had body, it had flavor, and best of all it had character. Sweet dark chocolate, tangerine, and a sweet floral perfume and flavor that reminded me of our local blackberry blossom honey. This is Brazilian coffee? It’s from small-scale farmers? It’s organic? It’s from a Fair Trade Cooperative? What is going on here?

So we started buying it, and bringing it little by little into our espresso blends. And it was good. Really good.

So, fast forward to this year’s SCAA show in Atlanta, and my chance to meet Luis Adauto in person, finally. Happily, we discovered that he understood my Spanish, and I understood his Portuguese. A few months of planning by email, some logistical juggling, a 20-hour plane ride, and voila, I’m walking down the streets of Poço Fundo to meet Luis Adauto, learn more about his cooperative’s operation, visit farms, and yes, taste some coffee.

 

I spent the next three days doing pretty much just that. There was an occasional break for good food, jokes about the American soccer team (we beat Spain, they were totally impressed and pretty surprised) and more than a few small, hot, and very, very sweet Brazilian-style cafezhinos. By the end of the visit, I’d seen some beautiful farms, and met a handful of the cooperative’s members, and begun the process of outlining a contract for a significant amount of Poço Fundo’s coffee, differentiated by altitude, varietal, and processing technique per our needs (mostly for espresso, you don’t want to miss it…coming to a coffee shop near you—also good brewed strong through a drip-style cone filter, or your French press).

It was a remarkably easy trip, the coffee is already great, the farmers are already committed to organic farming and productively so, and the cooperative is well-managed and resting on strong foundations. Totally amazing, fun, and yes, remarkably easy.

I’m just stoked to have had a chance to meet the farmers in person, and open the door to what I hope is a long and fruitful partnership. Already I know that I can’t wait to share their coffee with you. It’s going to be October before we have the new crop in, so don’t get too excited just yet. I’m also looking forward to deepening our relationship, and pushing for even better quality, rewarding it with better prices, and engaging as partners with the cooperative on a variety of projects ranging from improving quality and organic production to confronting climate change and its looming impacts. I’m thrilled that we are a part of a new beginning for Brazilian coffee, and am looking forward to supporting the growth of a new kind of coffee market, with better quality, more sustainable farming practices, and more benefits to family farmers. So much for all those old books, eh? Stay tuned for more, and if you want to learn a little bit more, visit the cooperative’s website.  

Humble thanks to those who came before me, and made this cooperative what it is. It’s an honor and a joy to walk in your footsteps…I hope I get to meet you one day.  

-BCM

 

Fair Trade Retail Prices : How they are derived

Fair Trade Retail Pricing

Posted: 06 May 2009 02:11 PM PDT

I recently received this question from a coffee lover in Oakland California.      

 

 

“A friend recently commented that “fair trade” growers are still underpaid, with growers paid less than a dollar a pound for a product that retails for $12.   of course there are many cost involved in getting product to people, but can you confirm or comment on the compensation for Fair trade coffee? “

My reply :

Dear Nancy,      Your friend is correct if you want to compare coffee farmers in Peru with a coffee farmer in Hawaii(USA) . Hawiian coffee costs $14.00 a pound green in 100 lb sacks. Why ? Because the Hawaii  farmer is paid at least minimum wage ($ 7.50/hour.) So you , the consumer will pay $24.00 per pound in the grocery. The Fair Trade Peruvian Farmer sells his coffee to a his producer cooperative of which he is a member with one vote. The coop gets  about $2.00 per pound for its certified organic coffee from roasters in the USA . The coop keeps about .50 cents (it varies from co-op to co-op) so the farmer is getting $1.50 per pound. That is hard to translate into wages per hour but it is allot less then the Hawiian coffee farmer. You can tell because one is poor and the other is middle class. One has electricity and a life in the fast lane, the other has a horse and a quiet village with only a small school and a church.  However, Fair Trade farmers are not as vulnerable as their brothers and sisters who are not co-op members. There is strength in numbers and there is commeraderie as well. Coops build their communities socially and economically so they are a further benefit to people and communities. Only cooperatives can be certified to be Fair Trade sellers. Individuals and Plantations are not eligable for the Fair Trade Certification.

As for the economics of coffee. Here is how it works on a per pound basis :.

$2.00……….Green Coffee

     .50 ……..20% shrinkage in roasting

     .50……… roasting costs for gas and labor  

   1.00………Packaging materials and production labor

   3.50 …….operating expenses (for the coffee roaster/distributor)

       .50 ……gross profit to roaster before taxes

   $7.50 wholesale price

   3.50     retailers gross profit

$ 10.99 shelf price.

The Fair Trade price is set at $1.51 per pound FOB country of origin. This is the lowest price one can offer for Organic Fair Trade coffee.  Most often, a premium above the FT minimum is paid for quality so the price is often about $2.00 per pound. The price is paid to the cooperative , not the individual farmer. The farmer gets a percentage of that price depending on how well the cooperative is run, what social benefit programs they sponsor, and how good their financial situation is. In reality, this persntage averages around 70 % . The cooperatives organizational structure and their financial records are monitored yearly by The Fair Trade Labeling  Organization  (FLO) and cooperatives that do not meet open and transparent standards are “decertified” . This is obviously a major simplification so for a greater ,in depth look at Fair Trade you can check out  www.FairTradeCertified.org.

 

One of my favorite Fair Trade Coffees comes from our partner in Rwanda , the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative. Their coffee has been described as “delicious” by some and having hints of dark cherry and chocolate by others. I enjoy it because it makes my mouth water, and has a  beautifully  round acidity that is mellow and soft .  

Paul Katzeff

Salt Sellers in the Market                     SALT SELLERS IN THE MARKET ; RWANDA 2007

2 Zakies of Great Coffee

 

 

2 zakies of great coffee, carefully protected by secret coffeeman code.

2 zakies of great coffee, carefully protected by secret coffeeman code.

We got a long-awaited package in the mail a few days ago, from Amsterdam. Labeled “2 zakies groene koffie bonen” (and although I don’t speak dutch) this was no mystery: this was the much anticipated, occasionally fretted over, often nagged at pre-shipment sample of this year’s Sidama Natural from the Hache Cooperative, part of the Sidama Farmers Cooperative Union.

 

 

This is a coffee I fell in love with last year during my first trip to Ethiopia. I actually fell in love with it from across the room at first (smell) sight. I was cupping a selection of the best washed coffees of the year and the next table over samples of the washed sun-dried naturals were being prepared…suddenly, deep in my cuppers trance, I smelled sweet sweet strawberry. I stopped, interrupted everyone else, and made a fool of myself hopping around on my two overcaffeinated feet asking about that sweet smelling coffee that had just been ground. Later, after I’d settled down, had an amazing lunch of Injera and Doro Wat (Ethiopian food is as great as their coffee, if you ask me), I found the same coffee, this time hidden as sample number 17 or whatever it was.

 

We bought a whole container of it, and over the past year it’s become a stand-out favorite among staff, long-time customers, and new friends alike. It’s the backbone of our espresso, and a couple other signature blends. Its jammy sweetness, deep heavy body, and sweet berry aroma are unique. These flavors are the result of a graceful coincidence of dozens of critical variables, and hundreds of other weighty factors as well. Ripe, sweet cherries produced by antique coffee varietals, slowly ripened thanks to high altitude, the gentle stress of good contrasting diurnal temperatures, just the right amount of rain to encourage the coffee to blossom and then a dry period long enough to encourage good pollination, followed by enough rain to allow the coffee trees to produce full, juicy fruit…and that’s all before the coffee has even been picked!

 

After that it’s selection, and careful drying on raised bends with plenty of airflow and a drying period long enough to allow for some sweet wine-like flavors to emerge through light fermentation, but not so long that sour or dry flavors develop. There is certainly a lot of science going on here, but its at least as much if not more art…and the result last year was thrilling. This year it is too!

 

The pre-shipment sample shows that same unique jammy strawberry character. It’s becoming clear that this is the hallmark of natural coffees from Sidama, as contrasted with the distinctive blueberry sweetness of natural coffees from Harrar. Only in Ethiopia, with such elegant and intense coffees, could we get away with waxing this poetic on coffee from specific micro-climates and appellations. But it’s there, in the cup, I’m sure a lot of you have tasted these flavors yourselves. In addition to that syrupy strawberry, there are a host of flavors in this year’s Hache much more characteristic of the washed coffees from Sidama: sweet citrus pith, and heavy jasmine blossom perfume-like elegance. At a darker roast, these flavors will hold and convert to heavy chocolate notes. At a lighter roast, the acidity will shed light on the full dimension of this coffee’s character.

 

What changed this year is a question burning a small hole in my head at the moment. I’ve already sent out a blitzkrieg of emails, and started comparing plane tickets on Ethiopian Airlines versus KLM. I’m thrilled, and pleasantly surprised. The farmers are happy. And I can’t wait to share this coffee with you. Last year’s Hache is still standing up nicely; if you want to get a final taste of it order soon. And stay tuned for notice of this coffees arrival sometime towards the end of June.  

 

How do you take your coffee?

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