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Ethiopia and Kenya Coffee Sourcing 2014

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UPDATE:  ETHIOPIA – GUJI ZONE COFFEE The first of the fresh-crop Ethiopia coffees are starting to roll in. Here we have a dry-processed micro-lot from the village of Shakiso. Grown at over 1800 meters, this coffee leans towards exotic. Allowed to open up, the coffee blooms with fresh guava and black raspberry; luscious tropical fruit and some spice, clove perhaps, balances well with subtle nectarine. We are proud to announce that Coffee Review scored this coffee an astounding 95. Here is what Ken Davids had to say: Blind Assessment: Crisply lush, extravagant. Dark chocolate, jasmine-like flowers, brandy, honey, layered fruit notes: kiwi, mango, banana. Sweetly tart, vivacious acidity; syrupy but lively mouthfeel. Long, resonant, flavor-saturated finish. –4/14/14 For our third African sourcing trip, we partnered with our friends at Temple, Klatch and Portola for a trip to Ethiopia and Kenya, two coffee origins that we count on for a lot …

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What is Direct Trade?

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The other day I saw another roaster post something on their Facebook about their new “direct trade” coffee from Ethiopia.  Knowing the roaster, and, actually, the original source (green buyer) for this coffee, I knew this was not what we – or many other roasters that source at origin — would call “Direct Trade.” This particular coffee was purchased in a way that was transparent and at a price that was well-above commodity coffee pricing, but, the coffee was not sourced by the roaster. It was sourced by a green bean buyer who is known for outstanding quality and responsible sourcing, but it could hardly be called a “Direct Trade” relationship for this roaster.   The roaster had nothing to do with finding this coffee at origin; they never met any of the growers; they never negotiated a green bean price, nor did they arrange for export/import.  They simply bought coffee …

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Jocylynn to Judge at COE in January 2014

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Bird Rock Coffee Roasters’ Jocylynn Breeland has been selected to be part of the international judging team for Brazil’s Cup of Excellence this January 2014. The Late Harvest competition is one of two Brazil events on the Cup of Excellence calendar that select top coffee micro-lots from Brazil. Jocylynn Breeland has already successfully participated in the Cup of Excellence program inMexico earlier this year, and the Brazil competition represents Bird Rock Coffee Roasters’ continual commitment to sourcing the world’s best coffee. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is the first San Diego roastery to be invited to judge at a Cup of Excellence event. Brazil’s Late Harvest competition is devoted to the discovery of Brazil’s best naturals, which are very clean coffees with a wide range of flavor profiles, sweetness and fruit. The Brazil national jury will have already scored and selected their favorite coffees prior to the arrival of the International judges.

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Sourcing Green Coffee vs Buying Green Coffee

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Colombia – Second Colombia Origin Trip of 2013 There are easier ways to buy coffee than to make a trip to origin to source green beans.  The older I get, the more difficult these trips are.  Air travel is, simply, not pleasant.  While several airports have been stepping up their game with better amenities, a long flight is a long flight no matter how you look at it.  Even if I get a lucky upgrade to business class, the air in a plane cabin is always stale, the food always sub-par, the cabin over-crowded with rather un-happy travelers.  A hotel room in a major city is pretty much exactly like any hotel room, a “hotel room” in a rural area of a developing country can be much less exotic than camping with a lumpy (at best) dank mattress, bedbugs, and a cold-water shower first thing in the morning. Getting to …

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Colombia’s National Coffee Federation

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Is the FNC Working for the Best Interest of Colombian Coffee Farmers? I have been traveling to Colombia since 2008.   Each time I am there, I am amazed at how big and influential the FNC actually is.  Colombia is one of the few coffee-growing countries with a massive NGO that is working to promote coffee as a viable export.  Created in 1927, the National Coffee Federation (FNC) was developed to help small farmers get a fair price for their coffee.  The FNC not only promotes fair pricing but also guarantees member farms that they will be able to sell their coffee and offers financing and agricultural assistance to all 563,000 members. The FNC is also in charge of marketing Colombian coffee to the world.  Juan Valdez is the FNC’s trademarked mascot.  For those that remember, Juan Valdez was everywhere in the early 80s and is/was perhaps one of the most …

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Cup of Excellence Mexico 2013

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It was pretty much a dream to be able to represent Bird Rock Coffee Roasters internationally for my first project back. by Jocylynn Breeland, General Manager at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.  This is Jocylynn’s third trip to origin and this trip was our first participating in the Cup of Excellence. Cup of Excellence (COE) is likely the most prestigious award that a coffee could receive and currently ten coffee growing countries participate in the event. The Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) is a non-profit American company that works with the hosting place of origin to provide a country wide competition for the best coffees each year. The goal of COE and ACE is to advance coffee excellence worldwide. After rigorous evaluations and analyzing 1000′s of cups of coffee the winners in each country are announced. This competition allows the winning farmers to receive the highest premiums for their crop as the …

Peru-Bolivia-Colombia 2013

Sourcing Trip South America

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Peru to Bolivia to Colombia Collaboration can lead to great things. In this case, we worked with Portola and Klatch to plan a three-country South American sourcing trip, with each of us using our connections and leads in the countries. We started off in Peru, a country that is struggling mightily with the Roya epidemic. In central Peru, almost 60% of this year’s harvest has been lost. Jeff at Portola organized this part of this trip. We were using this trip as a starting point for the future as we did not meet producers here but met with exporters and mill operators to get a better feel for what is happening in Peru. HVC was a big mill located outside of Lima. We cupped several nice coffees here so we will hopefully have some nice lots in the Fall. That evening, we met up with our friend Graciano again from …

Coffee Sourcing in Central America 2013

Origin Trip: Guatemala and El Salvador

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After lunch at the farm and a look at incoming cherries, we headed back to Guatemala City for cupping at the Servex mill.  We were met there by Gabriella Cordon who is a long-time friend our ours, and Guillermo Juarez who runs his family’s farm Finca El Guatalon, also in the Santa Rosa region.  Guatalon was selected as one of last year’s Cup of Excellence coffees with their Pacamara varietal.  On this day, we cupped several coffees from their farm with the favorite being their Pacamara that we did buy.   We are always excited to work with new farms and establish new Direct Trade relationships so we are looking forward to introducing you to their fine coffee. We also cupped coffee from a few other farms, in addition to multiple lots from Finca Santa Ana. The next day, I was off to El Salvador.  I landed at 8am and met …

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