Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Barista of the Year!!!

So this year it was Guatemala's turn!!! Raul Rodas, known as "El Tigre" is the new 2012 World Barista Champion!! Congratulations to this young lad who proved himself in Vienna, Austria, in a very tough competition. Raul is the second competitor from a producing country to win the World Barista Championship, making his victory the second consecutive such win, following Alejandro Mendez’ title in 2011.

Mr. Rodas competed with pulp natural processed coffee from where else – Guatemala – hailing from Finca Soledad, in the Acatenango region, a farm I had the opportunity to visit earlier this year. Coffee was experimentally dry fermented for 14 hours, then dried for 15 days on raised African-style processing beds.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Single Origin Cocoa?

Single Origin Cocoa? I came across a great article in the March issue of Fresh Cup magazine. It talked about how important it is becoming for coffee shops to also know where their chocolate is from. Customers are increasingly interested in knowing more about chocolate, and what better place to tell them about it than their favorite specialty coffee shop. I discovered a little of this growing trend on my visit to Jamaica, where some of the finest cocoa in the Caribbean is grown.

Small coffee farmers in Brazil

On a recent trip to Brazil, I met some amazing small coffee farmers. There appears to be a growing trend to source coffee from small producer associations, who can provide quality coffee for the specialty market. Many of these have amazing farms like the one I visited in Southern Minas Gerais. Look out for these origins. Check with importers and coffee roasters and ask if they carry coffee from Brazilian small coffee farmers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Small Coffee Farmers from Colombia

COLOMBIA Asociación Los Naranjos

A big part of preserving quality in coffee is proper drying, and just like roasting there is no single perfect drying curve. There are many variables involved in drying which makes it complicated to standardize; humidity, temperature, coffee density, among others all play a role in the drying process. In order for coffees to be accepted into Asociacion Los Naranjos its moisture content has to be between 10 and 11.5%. Traditionally, coffee producers have determined if the coffee is ready to be taken off the patio visually and/or by touch. Many claim to accurately determine the moisture content through this method but there is a great deal of room for error.

Over the years, the members of Asociacion Los Naranjos did not know the moisture content until they delivered the coffee to the purchasing point in the town of San Agustin. Recently, Cafe Imports supplied Los Naranjos with a moisture meter. This has been of great benefit to the Association and will help them to continue providing top quality Specialty Coffee.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another article on the Single Cup Machines

The real price of Single Cup coffee?

This article is an interesting read on the real price of the single cup coffee. Are there articles out there about the environmental cost of these pods?

The Price of Convenience

SOMETIMES it’s hard to tell how much coffee costs, even if you know what you spent. At least that’s the case with many of the single-serve brewing machines that are soaring in popularity.
For example, the Nespresso Arpeggio costs $5.70 for 10 espresso capsules, while the Folgers Black Silk blend for a K-Cup brewed-coffee machine is $10.69 for 12 pods. But that Nespresso capsule contains 5 grams of coffee, so it costs about $51 a pound. And the Folgers, with 8 grams per capsule, works out to more than $50 a pound.
That’s even more expensive than all but the priciest coffees sold by artisanal roasters, the stuff of coffee snobs.
An exclusive single-origin espresso like the Ethiopia, Gedeo Single Origin Espresso from Sightglass Coffee costs $19 for a 12-ounce bag, or about $25 a pound. La Cima beans for brewed coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Grand Cru selection grown at Finca el Injerto, a renowned farm in Guatemala, is $28.50 for a 12-ounce bag, or $38 a pound.
In fact, most high-end coffees cost less than $20 a pound, and the coffees you find on supermarket shelves are substantially cheaper. A bag of Dark Espresso Roast beans at Starbucks is $12.95 a pound, and a bag of Eight O’Clock beans for brewed coffee at the Food Emporium is $10.72 a pound.
How much of that coffee goes into a cup varies according to who (or what) controls the machine. For instance, a Lavazza Gran Crema espresso capsule has 7 grams of coffee, the standard for most chain coffee stores. But independent coffee shops regularly pack 14 to 22 grams into an espresso shot.
When it comes to single-serve systems, you’re not just paying for coffee, you’re paying for convenience and the technology that makes it possible to brew a single cup in seconds. Pop in the pod, push the button: it’s a sure thing every time. Supermarkets and specialty stores are filled with items that make it easier on you, and it’s up to the shopper to determine if it’s worth it.
Some decisions are easy (rendered pork fat, fresh pasta); others are a toss-up depending on who’s in the kitchen (chicken stock, salad dressing). Where single-serve coffee falls on that spectrum depends on whether you regard coffee as something you make or something you drink.
“Americans under the age of 40 are thinking about coffee pricing in cups,” said Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. “If you asked my mother how much coffee cost, she would have told you that the red can was $5.25 a pound and the blue can was $4.25. If you ask people in their 20s and 30s, they’ll say coffee is $1.75 to $3.75 a cup.”
This generational shift helps explain why single-serve coffee is the fastest-growing sector of the home market. According to a study from the National Coffee Association, single-serve coffee is now the second most popular method of preparation after conventional drip brewers, by far the dominant method. In 2011, 7 percent of the cups of coffee consumed in the United States were made with a single-serve brewer, up from 4 percent in 2010.
The premium that single-serve coffee commands makes it especially lucrative. Julian Liew, a spokesman for Nespresso, said single-serve coffee is 8 percent of the global market, but accounts for 25 percent of its value. It’s likely that the number will continue to climb.
According to Keurig, 4 million of the company’s K-Cup brewers, for regular drip coffee, were sold in the 13-week run-up to Christmas 2011. During that same period, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters sold more than $715 million in K-Cup packs. The pods and brewers are now front and center at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and Staples. Keurig licenses its technology to other companies, and last year, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks started making K-Cup pods. Keurig even sells a refillable filter that you can pack with your own coffee.
Nespresso has sold more than 27 billion capsules worldwide since it was introduced in 1986. Later this year Ethical Coffee Company plans to sell Nespresso-compatible capsules for around 20 percent less on Amazon.com. So the United States might see something novel for single-serve coffee: a price war.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Will the K-Cup kill specialty coffee?

Probably not. I like this article by Pan Demetrakakes, editor of Specialty Coffee magazine. The link to the article is not working, so I am attaching the article here. Enjoy.

By Pan Demetrakakes

The Pod People are coming.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has become the biggest roaster in America largely on the strength of its Keurig pod brewing system. Keurig, which Green Mountain acquired in 2006, is the developer of single-serve K-Cup pods.

The K-Cup fits my personal criterion for a truly dynamic innovation: It looks painfully obvious, but only in retrospect. It’s a simple plastic cup filled with ground coffee and topped with induction-seal foil. A Keurig brewer pierces the pod and brews a perfect cup of coffee—or at least, one that’s a lot better than the alternative, which is often the dregs of a pot that’s been sitting on a burner for heaven knows how long. It makes the K-Cup an attractive alternative for offices (including my own), as well as gas stations, waiting rooms and any other location where coffee of indifferent quality is often consumed.

That includes home kitchens. Green Mountain is counting on home sales of the K-Cup brewer to push sales even higher. And they’ve already had dizzying success. Green Mountain now is the leading roaster/packager of single-serve coffee. Its sales have multiplied by five in the last three years, and its stock reached an all-time high in September (although it’s dropped sharply since then).

Green Mountain succeeded in large part because of a smart basic decision: making K-Cup technology freely available. Coffee roasters who want to use the Keurig system need only license it from Green Mountain. Major retailers who have taken advantage include Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, both of whom are planning to use K-Cup pods to expand the already substantial grocery sales for their branded coffee.

Contrast with Nestlé, which has a similar pierce-the-pod system in Nespresso. Since introducing Nespresso in 1986, Nestlé has tried to control it down to the last coffee bean. It markets both the machines and the pods that go into them, and allows no one else to do so.

This business model worked great for Apple Computers. But ground coffee, however complex and subtle it may be, is not software. And while Nespresso has consistently been lucrative for Nestlé, the company is now embroiled in lawsuits in France, Switzerland and Holland over pirated Nespresso capsules, while the Keurig system soars past.

What does this all mean for the specialty coffee retailer?

Movie buffs will recognize this column’s headline as a play on “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” a sci-fi classic from 1956 (there have been a couple of remakes) about an alien invasion of human lookalikes. They start out as pods that bloom into identical replicas of whichever human is unfortunate enough to be nearby.

Is that destined to be the fate of specialty coffee? Will the K-Cup pod become the incubus for mechanically brewed coffee that smells and tastes so much like the good stuff that it will confuse consumers?

I don’t think so. In fact, the K-Cup could be a net positive for the specialty coffee industry by raising consumers’ expectations. The more people are exposed to good coffee, the more likely they are to seek it out, in whatever form.

Your competitor can sometimes be your ally. That’s true for Starbucks, which raised the general consciousness about good coffee enormously, and it may very well hold true for the K-Cup.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cupping the Nicaraguan coffee from Esteli

Cupping this Nicaraguan coffee was a great way to start our day! This coffee which came from the region of Esteli, has an amazing aroma when roasted light. We received samples from this coffee a week ago and decided to wait for a bright morning to give it a shot. We so much prefer sunlight rather than artificial light, to analyze the roast. All in all, the cup presented an amazing nutty aroma and made the whole room smell like we had just baked chocolate peanut butter cookies. The flavor was full and a great aftertaste.