Photo: The view from Quilanga. Photo provided by Virmax.La Libertad
is our first offering from Ecuador, an equatorial country located in the north-western nook of South America, bordering coffee powerhouse Colombia. Grown by 18 different small-holder producers from the tiny village of La Libertad in the southern province of Loja, this lot is just 2,250 lbs (15 export bags) of Organic, shade-grown, and bird-friendly coffee whose quality far exceeds the Gimme standard.
On November 12th we participated in a tasting workshop for the Good Food Awards Roadshow.
We received a Good Food Award in 2011 for our Colombia Finca San Luis, and our commitment to producing delicious, transparent and responsibly grown food. This year we are (again) honored to be considered a finalist in the 2012 competition! Fingers crossed!
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For the past many months, we've been working hard to form new relationships with growers in Central America, and this month we are releasing 2 new beautiful relationship coffees
from Guatemala. These coffees come to us from our ongoing work with Virmax Café, our exporting partners in Colombia, who have recently expanded their work north to Guatemala. One important bit of information to note about these coffees is that they come from farms with the same name, though are completely different!
The farms are in different regions, owned by different producers and have different flavor profiles.
Ken David's Coffee Review
is, as their web header indicates, "The world's leading coffee buying guide." Ken, and his employees, solicit samples from various roasters around the world and offer both quantitative and qualitative data for consumers looking to get a sense of what to buy and from whom.
Honduras Las Peñitas
is back! In fact, we have 2 small lots from this farm that we will be releasing consecutively, both of which have slight differences, but nonetheless exemplify the silky bodied and clean fruit characteristics that took 3rd place in the United States Barista Competition Brewer's Cup (by the skilled hand of NYC Regional Trainer, Erin McCarthy) in May. This year we were able to work more directly with Jorge Benitez
, the 22-year-old farmer of Las Peñitas, and Beneficio San Vicente
, the mill that is responsible for over 60% of the 2011 Honduras Cup of Excellence winners, to bring in this coffee at fair price, and establish a long-term partnership.
La Primavera is the new name of our new crop decaf
from Colombia and the DESCAFECOL plant in Manizales, Colombia. If you've
been enjoying the La Serrania Decaf for the past year, then you can
expect to be just as satisfied by the Colombia La Primavera Decaf,
which is very similar in flavor profile to La Serrania. In fact, almost everything about the Colombia La
Primavera Decaf is the same as La Serrania, except for the raw green
coffee. This means that we went through the same sourcing and approval
process, using stringent grading protocols, and the coffee went through
the same decaffeination process. The green coffee that we approved was
sweet and clean, and carefully selected to undergo decaffeination at the
DESCAFECOL plant. If you aren't familiar with the process, here's how
Congratulations to Erin McCarthy for taking 1st Place in the NorthEast Regional Barista Competition Brewers Cup! Erin is our NYC Regional Trainer, though you might remember him from years back boppin' around Ithaca as our Upstate Regional Trainer, as well as Cayuga St. barista.
March saw a handful of our favorite coffees go out-of-stock. While I always feel a certain amount of sadness from saying good-bye to coffees that I have spent the past many months roasting, cupping, and enjoying, I like to approach the reality of out-of-stock coffees with one eye crying and one eye smiling.
2010 brought sad news to specialty coffee producers in Bolivia. At the end of July, the announcement came that Bolivia would have to withdraw from the Cup of Excellence program. The news came as Bolivia was quickly approaching peak harvest time, and specialty coffee producers had already known which selections from their crop they would set aside for the international competition. The cancellation was heartbreaking to say the least, as the Cup of Excellence program was instrumental in creating a stable and financially rewarding specialty coffee sector, and coffee quality had been steadily improving since its implementation. CoE provided a global market for the production of unique, beautiful coffees. As such, the fear now is that as the country determines the priorities of its coffee sector, the opportunity cost is the degradation of years worth of advancement, development and international aid.
It is widely accepted that Specialty coffee has no single definition, though there is one explanation that I believe truly represents and captures the concept. In 2009, the Commercial Director of the Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) defined a Specialty coffee as one that is "perceived and valued by consumers, one that is of character that people are willing to pay for, one that has potential." Though this definition may be broad, it also needs to be broad, as it has to satisfy the concept of something as dynamic as the global markets in which it is sold. Specialty coffees themselves are complex, and the value chain even more so. What we have to do, then, is simplify the product without underplaying this complexity. In other words, we want to highlight the various reasons that make a coffee valuable, but ultimately revel in the simplistic pleasures of taste and aroma perception.
After 3 years of working with the coffee from Fazenda Santo André, it was time to make the trek out to western Minas Gerais, on the cusp of Cerrado, to meet the skilled hands that grow and process the coffee.
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If you've browsed our offering list in any capacity, you've no doubt noticed the emblems that we assign to different coffee. Some of these icons, such as Rainforest Alliance and Organic, are general third party certifications for commodity products, such as coffee, cocoa, etc. Some others, such as Relationship Coffee
, are representative of specific purchasing practices at Gimme that add value to the coffee you're buying.
El Salvador is nestled just south of Guatemala and west of Honduras. It is the smallest country in Central America. You could take an afternoon drive from the western most municipality of Ahuachapán to the eastern most of La Unión in 4 hours, or visit the Pacific Coast from San Salvador in just about 45 minutes.
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Guatemalan coffees have long been some of the most favored offerings in our Upstate, NY retail stores. Maybe this is because our environmentally conscious consumers know that an estimated 98% of all Guatemalan coffee is shade grown, making the country a refuge for biodiversity. Or, perhaps, customers just know that they can find exceptional value in a strictly high grown, washed Arabica from Central America's leading coffee export country. Whatever the rationale, there is no wrong reason to love a Guatemalan coffee.
Brazil is the world leader in coffee production, and Minas
Gerais is the largest producing region in Brazil. Coffee grown in this region
is typically known for mild fruit acidity, chocolate, nut and brown sugar flavors,
and big body. That is just what you get from our two new Brazil offerings: Brazil Santo Andre
and Brazil Santa Clara
Each coffee produces a cup that stays
true to the regional character, but they also hold their own ground
as distinct and unique specialty coffees. This is our second year offering both coffees, and
I anticipate they will be as popular this year as they were in 2009.
Guatemala has been in the news a lot these past few weeks. First there
was the continuous eruption of Volcán de Pacaya to the south west of
Guatamala City that covered the streets in up to 8 inches of ash. Then
Tropical Storm Agatha bombarded the western coast
of the country, causing vast devastation to properties, infrastructure,
and even caused a sinkhole in the middle of the city. Meanwhile, an
of about 25 professional coffee cuppers withstood the environmental
conditions to classify the top 28 coffees of this year's Guatemalan Cup
of Excellence. Ok, so the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence may not have been
interesting story to come out of Central America in May, but let me
tell you more about it anyway.
is the owner of Finca San Luis
a 42-hectare farm in El Libano, in the department of Tolima, Colombia.
Finca San Luis is organic and Rainforest Alliance certified, and
located at an altitude of 1600 meters. Predominantly producing coffee
of the caturra varietal, Omar creates a cup profile that has well
structured acidity, and rich flavors that range from ripe stone fruit
to mild, sweet tobacco. While Omar often sells this coffee with the
producer group Cafinorté Orgánico, this year we are working with him to
separate some of his higher quality coffee in order to sell directly to
us as Finca San Luis.
We are proud to offer two Las Mingas
lots this year, one from the Department of Cauca and the other from the Department of Huila. Las Mingas Cauca
is an organic lot that has bright citrus in the aroma and flavor, and is balanced by a juicy but mellow acidity. Think of it as vibrant yet easy. Las Mingas Huila
is incredibly creamy and comforting, like a sweet milk candy that has some ripe cherry smack in the middle.
For a limited time only, you can try our favorite lot from Las Mingas as pourover coffee at any of our espresso bars! Grown by Leonardo Bados as part of the Las Mingas project, the entire lot is a mere 225 pounds of coffee, and we will definitely run out fast. It's a creamy big coffee with multiple layers of deep orange zest, sweet spice, and muscular fruit.
By November El Salvador is already past bloom, the coffee cherries are a few months shy of peak ripeness and Marco Batres is preparing both his wet and dry mill for production. These mills will process the sizable harvests of Sr. Batres's family of estates; the 15 estates in total can be found scattered around the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range. They are all organic, all Rainforest Alliance certified, and the coffees produced therein are known for having some of the highest quality in all of El Salvador. The quality of the coffee produced by Marco Batres is exemplified by 4 of his lots taking top honors in this year's El Salvador Cup of Excellence competition. We were able to secure a small 5 bag lot of one such winner, the best of group in my opinion, from a 40 hectare estate called Altamira I.
This past September I joined a group of roasters and green coffee buyers from the United States and attended the 2nd annual Expo Especiales, a national conference funded by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC). It's taken me some time to reflect on the conference, a venue that through discussing the current trends in production and consumption in one of the world's leading coffee exporting countries, essentially sets the stage for determining coffee futures globally. Here are some of my thoughts...
From time to time some very unique and beautiful coffees slip through the cracks of a competition as large as Cup of Excellence
(CoE) because of variance in roast degree or other such factors. Finca Trinidad
is one such coffee that did not make the final jury selection for the Guatemalan CoE auction this past July. The first axiom of sensory analysis (taste, smell, etc.) is that it is subjective and highly influenced by environmental conditions. Even as trained and calibrated coffee tasters, there is no certainty that compelling coffees will not be glanced over and forgotten. Luckily, we were able to restore Finca Trinidad
from anonymity and, hopefully, create a legacy.
September's secret password is Amaro
. However, we will also accept: "WOW! It's like blueberry donuts
" and "Yum Yum Yum
In September of 2008, I traveled to Colombia in order to congratulate the coffee growers involved in the Las Mingas program.
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Two East African coffees, and two Centrals. We've been working since February to bring in these
coffees, which means the producers have been working for many months prior to
that. The process can be cumbersome, but the effort can yield unimagined results. This month's arrivals are proof that coffee is personal, coffee is political, and best of all, coffee tastes darn good.
Mid summer marks the arrivals of new crop coffees from Central and
South America and Africa. If you don't see your favorite coffees on our
offering sheet this month, keep in mind that there are plenty more on
their way to the Gimme Roastery - like the Costa Rica Las Lajas
organic, Ethiopia Amaro and Honduras Linda Vista Cup of Excellence
lot! But that's getting ahead of the game... this month we're releasing
two new Colombian coffees, and giving a little extra attention to some
Just outside of Volcan, Panama is Finca Hartmann
, a beautiful 90 hectare (220 acre) estate, in which 12 of those hecares are set aside for coffee cultivation, and the remainder are dedicated to old-growth rainforest. Alex Hartmann
is one of five Hartmann siblings who work together to run the family estate. Alex is the manager of the coffee nursery, and assists in the management of all coffee harvesting between the months of September and February. When I visited Finca Hartmann in late May, I met with Alex in the nursery and got a glimpse into his philosophy of producing and selling coffee, that is, why it is so important for coffee producers and consumers to communicate with one another.
... there is so much going on behind the scenes!
So... there are no new coffees this month, but
it's prime time for approving samples from some of our favorite Central and South American coffee producing countries. We have many lots of new Colombia Las Mingas
in the sample roasting queue, along with new Panama Hartmann Honey
and a whole slew of Cup of Excellence
auctions just around the corner. Tomorrow is the El Salvador CoE auction, and I can't wait to see how some of my favorites do! The CoE Costa Rica auction will take place next Thursday, and while we haven't even roasted these samples yet, I know there are going to be some beautiful mild coffees in that group. In any case, visit the blog on Friday to see if we bid on any El Salvs!
Later this month we will also begin to see arrival samples of some of the coffees we've purchased earlier this spring. We've got two (that's 2) east African coffees that are going to hit American soil in late June / early July. Kenya Gatomboya
is first on my 'Eagerly Awaiting' list. The Kenyan lots that we've purchased in March are really killer, and I really can't wait to see them on our offering list. The second coffee on its way is our new crop Ethiopia Amaro
. This will be the first of hopefully many years we will be offering this solid fruit bomb Ethiopian. Much more to come on the new release tip in July!
Tiborcito is a third generation Ratibor Hartmann. He is 4 years old and has won at least 3 trophies in Moto riding. On my first day on Finca Hartmann, Tiborcito led his mother, sister, uncle, and two visitors on an hour long tour through the nearly 30
acres coffee fields and 150 acres of lush virgin rainforest. Watch the video and read on for more of the story!
Gabe, Janet, Anne-Marie and I are on our merry way to Atlanta for the annual Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition.
Right now we are just outside of Blacksburgh, VA and I need a little pick-me-up.
Yesterday we unveiled the new labels for our coffees! All of
the coffee labels have been updated with accurate data, and we have
tweaked the label design to represent that new data. We've worked in-house to develop a solution to provide specific information about our unique coffees. It's been a long time coming!
From time to time I am forwarded emails from the feedback
page of our website. I mainly receive inquiries from the 'Our Coffee Beans' option on that page, though I sometimes get 'Other' responses involving general roasting or greens buying practices. Basically, all questions with the common denominator of Greens and Roasting
get fielded by my department. Pretty nice, huh? Chat it up with the minds behind the beans.
Don't let the end of winter get you down. Lift that shroud of cold and gray with a fresh spot of Rwanda
This is not the Rwanda of old. Indeed, it's fresher than fresh
and ready to raise your spirits. This year's crop is now replete with honey and floral aromatics
, with wonderfully puzzling middle eastern spices
that are heightened by a blackcurrant sweetness
It's a veritable bargain buying bonanza! All you have to do is:
1.) Head on down to State St. Gimme! Coffee
2.) Buy a cup of coffee*
3.) Choose the Daily Roast**
4.) Chat with Devorah about the Panama Hartmann Honey
5.) Brag to your friends about your daily accomplishments
Q : What's fresher than fresh?
A : Colombia Las Mingas, Rwanda and Panama Hartmann Honey!!! Today we're releasing the newest crop from each of these origins.
The Las Mingas Program is one of the most responsible and direct source models available to specialty coffee roasters throughout the world.
Still, it only represents 0.025% of Colombia's annual coffee production.
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We can't wait to roast your coffee.
I am the official Gimme! cupping spoon. I am instrumental in the daily decisions that are made at the Gimme! roasting headquarters. Let me take you through my typical routine.
I like to wake nice and early.
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Shootin' hoops at an organic coffee finca in Cauca, Colombia. When you are 1,600 ft. above sea level on the cordillera central
, you really
don't want to be the one to chase the ball down the hill. Hence, the only shot I took... was with this camera.