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  • 27 Feb 2018

    Album: Paraíso 2017

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Coffee Buyer

    During our 2017 visit to the Huila province of Colombia, we stopped by Tarquí to see our partners at Asociación El Paraíso. Their brightly colored warehouse lies at the base of a mountain ridge. We then trekked up to the high-altitude farm of one of Asociación El Paraíso's newer contributors, where he welcomed us into his home and introduced us to his family. At such high altitudes (~1900 m) coffee dries very slowly and pests are less prevalent.

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  • 27 Dec 2017

    Christmas Gift Drives

    posted by Paige Geffken

    We partnered with two organizations during the Christmas season to help provide some holiday cheer to those in need. "The Elf Louise Project" is based on hope, faith and a belief in the goodness of people, they have delivered over one million gifts to children all over San Antonio since 1969. "Gift of Christmas," is a gift collection for families who participate with the House of Neighborly Service, who just celebrated 100 years of service in San Antonio and provides support in many capacities including parenting classes, financial assistance, food distribution, day care and senior activities.

    We asked our customers to bring in gifts intended for families and children connected with these organizations, we were truly blown away by the generosity of our "Locals" this holiday season. We are grateful for such a supportive community that desires to make a difference in San Antonio. 

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  • 13 Nov 2017

    Enrique Lopez Select: 2017

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Coffee Buyer

    Enrique López of Finca Chelin is one of the most interesting producers we have ever worked with. This month, we’ll share a tiny lot that redefines coffee processing. See an album of photos from this harvest's visit here.

    A little background: Finca Chelin is a farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, just an hour or so away from the Pacific Ocean. Leave the beach by car and you’re suddenly struck with a massive rise in altitude as you climb thousands of meters to reach the estate. Enrique, the producer, is a life-long learner who questions everything about the coffee process. He loves to roast and brew, and works closely with the Mexican barista community. But his true love in coffee is processing: the magic that happens between the picking of the cherry and removal of the parchment from around the green bean.

    Enrique indulges in a fascination with beer. This passion inspired him to experiment with adding yeast and other substances to the fermentation of washed coffee. In the Chelin Gold, López pulps the coffee, then adds yeast and vitamins to the fermentation tank before washing off the mucilage. This riff on the washed process jumps off the cupping table with crazy citrus fruits like bergamot, meyer lemon, kefir lime---or just a really amazing grapefruit.

    This coffee really changes as you play with the brew parameters. Play with your normal recipe to accentuate flavors of tropical fruit, baking spices, or zesty citrus. We’ll only have this coffee on our offering list for a few short weeks, so enjoy it while you can!

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  • 26 Oct 2017

    Santa Teresa Micromill and the White Honey Process

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    With the beginning of the holiday season, we welcome a process we’ve never served before: a White Honey from Roger Ureña’s Santa Teresa Micromill.This coffee comes from Santa Maria de Dota in the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica.

    For decades, coffee from Tarrazú was dominated by cooperatives. However, many producers in Costa Rica have more resources than the average farmer in, say, Colombia or Honduras. Cost of living has skyrocketed in Costa Rica since it’s become a tourist destination. For many farmers, there came a moment of realization that the prices they received as part of a cooperative would not sustain them. This spurred what’s been called Costa Rica’s “micro-mill revolution”: farmers built their own small wet mills and began marketing their own coffee.

    Having more agency in processing had another effect: Producers began experimenting. Costa Rica is now famous for its plethora of honey process coffees, where varying levels of pulp are left on during drying. The more fruit left on (and the darker the color in the name), the more the profile will resemble a natural process.

    One such shade is the “White Honey.” In this process, only a tiny bit of fruit is left on after pulping. The profile is very similar to a washed coffee in that it’s clean, citric, and showcases delicate floral and milky flavors. Leaving that extra fruit on adds more body and extra sweetness. The result is a super-balanced, very sweet coffee. This won’t ever be an acid-bomb: it’s all about the sugar. This profile makes the Teresa White Honey a total sweetheart that will please connoisseurs and novices alike.

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  • 19 Oct 2017

    Santa Isabel: Decades of Problem-Solving

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    Our partners at Mercanta provide a well-written explanation of some of the things that make the Guatemala Santa Isabel a unique find.


    Located near the town of San Cristóbal Verapaz in the cool, rainy reaches of Cobán, Guatemala, Finca San Isabel is situated on 300 acres of high, but relatively level, fertile land.

    Finca San Isabel was first acquired by Luis Valdes II’s great-grandfather in 1875, when the land was granted to the Valdés family by Guatemala's President; however, the farm was passed out of the hands of the family when it was inherited by a nephew who sold it to a third party.It took time for the farm to return to the Valdés family, who took charge again in 1960 when Luis Valdes I purchased it, bringing it back into the family. He started the coffee plantation in 1965. Don Luis and his son -also named Luis (nicknamed ‘Wicho’) -manage the farm as general and agricultural manager, respectively. Now Luis IV (5 years old), Wicho’s son and Luis’ grandchild, spends his school holidays at the farm, much as his father did when he was young.

    When Don Luis first planted the farm out in Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai, Cobán didn’t necessarily have a reputation for high-quality coffee, due in part to the fact that coffee from the region must often be mechanically dried because of the humid climate. Don Luis and Wicho, however, knew that the region had more to offer. By placing their attention on improved cultivation techniques and perfecting their drying practices, they succeeded transforming the quality of their coffee over the course of the last decade, even succeeding in placing Guatemala’s Cup of Excellence twice!


    Wicho’s background in agronomy, combined with his passion for coffee farming, has led him to implement experimental practices that are paying off, as well, in the battle against coffee leaf rust. The farm’s innovative pruning schedule, which took some 15 years of experimentation to develop, has succeeded in greatly reducing the severity of rust’s impact on the plantation. Plants are pruned according to a five row/five year cycle that is further fine-tuned according to each plant’s need for aeration and light. This helps to minimize applications of chemical fertilizers and pest control–in some cases, reduced by half of what their neighbours have to apply -by reducing excess humidity and fungal diseases. Furthermore, frequent application of lombricompost (mostly the by-products of wet-processing) has enabled them to reduce their applications of chemical fertilizers by more than 15%. Although almost 80% of the farm is planted out in Caturra, the farm is also experimenting with new varieties, such as Pache.

    Currently, Santa Isabel plants their nursery under shade using polyurethane bags starting in May and continuing through August. Young plants are planted 15 months later.

    Soil test analyses are completed throughout the farm to promote effective fertilization and pest control. Santa Isabel also has a weather station (funded by ANACAFE) on the farm, which helps to effectively schedule the application of fertilizers and, in general, helps Wicho manage the farm more efficiently. The annual precipitation at Santa Isabel is around 3,500mm, with regular rainfall between nine and ten months of the year. Constant rain (much of it gentle drizzle) means that flowering is very staggered, with 8-9 flowerings per year. Due to this prolonged flowering season, coffee ripens at different stages, which means that up to 10 passes (with breaks of up to 14 days between passes) are needed to ensure that only the very ripest cherries are selected.


    After harvesting, the red cherries are taken to the farm’s receiving tanks by truck or-if at walking distance -by foot. They are then mechanically pulped. Coffee is fermented for up to 48 hours and is covered at night to maintain constant temperatures. After fermentation, the coffee is washed and then soaked in clean water for 24 hours to remove any traces of mucilage before being dried.

    All coffee at Finca Isabel is dried for at least one day on the patios –though full patio drying is only possible towards the end of the harvest, when the risk of rain is reduced. Usually, after spending one day on the patio, the coffee is stored overnight in wooden boxes before being moved to the greenhouses to dry between 15 and 30 days, or until a minimum of 30% humidity is reached. Much of the coffee is then finished in guardiolas according to a very strict and controlled drying schedule. Coffee is rotated in these mechanical driers at no more than 40°C and is rested between dryings to stabilize humidity. Once the parchment coffee reaches a constant 15% humidity, it is rested for at least 21 days in the warehouse before being delivered to the dry mill for milling.


    Santa Isabel trains and employees 40 permanent workers year-around; up to 500 seasonal laborers are brought in for the coffee harvest. Wicho has commented that although many farms in the region find it increasingly difficult to secure labor for the entirety of the harvest, Santa Isabel has a stable and reliable work force, despite their reputation for being very demanding with regards to selective picking. In addition to paying fairly, a picker at Santa Isabel can harvest up to 160 pounds of cherry a day, which means many of the same workers come back year after year!

    Image captions:

    1. Wicho (Luis Valdes III) and father Luis Valdes II.

    2. Coffee Cherries.

    3. From seed to cup.

    4. Wicho in the warehouse.

    5. Pictures feature a rare sunny day on the farm.

    6. Don Luis surveys the wet mill.

    7. A worker sweeps parchment in the fermentation tanks.

    8. Santa Isabel uses several different types of drying: open patio, covered greenhouse beds, and guardiolas.

    9. Cherries on the tree.

    10. Workers pick out defects as the coffee dries.

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  • 12 Oct 2017

    TNT Anniversary at the Pearl Brewery

    posted by Paige Geffken

    Local Coffee proudly presented, alongside some amazing partnerships and sponsorships, the second anniversary celebration of TNT in SATX  at The Historic Pearl Brewery. In addition to the main event, an afternoon of festivities kept out-of-town guests, as well as local competitors and spectators intrigued. Workshops including a cupping by Olam Coffee, presentations by ModBar, and classes on pressure profiling and palate building played host to over 70 all leading up to the head-to-head latte art tournament. Musical entertainment was provided by The Texases, beer from Southerleigh and raffle prizes provided by Gold’s Gym, Epoch Coffee (Austin, Tx), Cat and Cloud (Santa Cruz, CA), AeroPress (Palo Alto, CA), Shings Food Truck, The Good Kind and Frank.

    60 competitors filled the bracket and over 250 total were in attendance hailing from all over Texas. Collectively we raised $1000 to be donated to Burundi Friends International via raffle tickets and entry buy-in's. The top three spots were awarded to three of Local Coffee's very own, Kate Schriver, Skylar Altman, and Katie Wells, respectively.

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  • 27 Sep 2017

    Fall Guest Tea: Iron Goddess Black

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Coffee Buyer

    We at Merit and Local are thrilled to introduce this fall guest offering from our partner Spirit Tea, the Iron Goddess Black. We are the only place in Texas and the South to offer this tea. We purchased 20% of the stock for the entire world, and we’ll also offer this as a retail boxes, cobranded as Merit + Spirit.

    Iron Goddess Black is all about a change of context. Decorated Taiwanese tea master Ah Fung was sent to the misty Yunnan province of China on a state-sponsored visit. Here, he planted some of his own stock of the cultivar “Tieguanyin”.

    Guanyin is the Chinese-Buddhist Goddess of Compassion, leading to its western name, “Iron Goddess of Mercy”. See the Iron Goddess cultivar on the left, and another tea cultivar on the right in the second picture.

    The garden for this tea is at a very high altitude of 2200 meters. Like with coffee, this helps the plants mature more slowly, intensifying the tea’s sweetness. After five years of growing, this is the very first lot that the garden has produced.

    Tieguanyin is usually processed as an oolong tea. Here, it is processed as a black tea, fully oxidized. Producer Ah Fung has taken this storied varietal into a new growing region and an unusual process. By changing the context, he has turned a time-honored favorite into something new and exciting. Look for juicy flavors of tropical fruit like guava, starfruit, and passionfruit.

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  • 31 Aug 2017

    San Vicente Series: Seeing Honduras Through BSV

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Coffee Buyer

    Over the next six months, we’ll be exploring a brand new partnership with a series of coffees from Beneficio San Vicente of Honduras. “Beneficio” means mill; in this case, it refers to the dry mill, where the outer shell is removed from coffee parchment to transform it into the lovely green beans that we roast and eventually, brew. But Beneficio San Vicente (or BSV for short) does MUCH more than simply process coffee.

    Our connection to BSV really boils down to two people: Benjamin Paz and Todd Mackey.

    Benjamin’s father Fidel Paz founded dry-miller and export company Beneficio San Vicente after a long history of working in the Honduran coffee trade. Ben, along brother Fidel and cousin Arturo, came to play a key part in the family-run business. Focusing on the surrounding area of Santa Barbara, the Paz family was one of the first groups that paired roasters and producers to provide price incentives for quality coffee. BSV acts as a “hub” where roasters and producers connect with the goal of developing a year-on-year relationship. Many of my favorite coffee producing projects around the world cite Beneficio San Vicente as an inspiration.

    San Vicente also provides financing, agronomic advice, and really top-notch consultation on how even a beginning farmer can produce boutique-level quality. In fact, their project is almost synonymous with Cup of Excellence in Honduras. Farmers in their network place in this competition every year. Benjamin Paz has come to represent BSV on a global stage, working at the farm level and traveling the globe to interact with roasters.

    We knew Ben and BSV were doing something great. So great that we couldn’t get a hold of any the coffee! It’s very competitive to buy coffee from this program since most farmers pair with a specific roaster. That’s where Todd came in. Todd Mackey currently serves as Training Manager and out main contact for importer Olam Specialty, but he’s been an educator, roaster and star cupper in all levels of the coffee industry. He also founded and owns a pretty great collection of multi-roaster cafes in Providence called Bolt Coffee. Todd and I sought out coffee from BSV for several years before Todd connected with Benjamin this season. With new roasters working with Todd through Olam, and new or growing farmers working with Ben, they both had more room for connections. Thanks to Todd, Merit was one of the first names that came up. Todd personally helped me select the BSV lots we bought this season, offering his personal observations on the farmers’ potential.

    Beneficio San Vicente is FAMOUS for their lot separation, meticulously keeping farmers’ coffee separated by varietal, picking day, and lot. This is going to allow us to offer some really cool comparisons, like

    - Two lots from the same farmer that were picked on different days (Nelson Ramirez)

    - Two varietals from the same farmer (Nahun Fernandez)

    - Two very different farmers from the same micro-region (Miguel Guzman and Allan Erazo)

    - A broad range of farms, from first-year specialty coffee producers to Cup of Excellence winners

    The best part? These lots are late harvest, meaning they were harvested in March-April rather than December to February, like many central American coffees. With the excellent care that they receive at BSV, these coffees can last well into the late winter on our offering list. We’ll see the first coffees in September, and slowly introduce more throughout the season.

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  • 14 Aug 2017


    posted by Paige Geffken

    For the second year, Local Coffee and Merit Roasting Co. brought to life BGA's "Bloom" event, hosting the only satellite in Texas at the Pearl Studios. Throughout the evening 70 attendees engaged in conversation revolving around the theme of Evolution to San Antonio's service industry. A unique panel proposed questions and ideas to further thinking and discussion, the panel included:

    Skylar Altman- Local Coffee Trainer

    Brian LaBarbera- founder of Estate Coffee

    Olaf Hammel- Bartender and Entrepreneur

    Charlie Bieber- Owner of Bakery Lorraine

    Scott Ota- Wine Sommelier for High Street Wine

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  • 14 Aug 2017

    AeroPress Competition

    posted by Paige Geffken

    We were excited to act in sponsorship for the AeroPress Competition by providing swag bags to the 27 competitors. The coffee scene in DFW is rapidly growing and we are always eager to develop relationships with those in the Texas specialty coffee community. This July 21st event was held at Communion Neighborhood Cafe in Richardson, TX.

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  • 03 Aug 2017

    Album: Colombia Paraiso

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    We just returned from visiting partner producers in Huila, Colombia. Here, a look at the group and one of the high-altitude farmers within it: Miguel Oscar Palma, and his young family. 


    1. Tarqui, at the foot of the Andes.

    2. The collection point for the El Paraíso association in Tarqui, Huila.

    3. The view at 1900 meters. Finca El Triunfo, Tarqui, Huila.

    4. The Palma family. Oscar is only in his second harvest of processing his coffee to dry parchment, but avoided many bad habits by beginning with quality measures and is already seeing a huge increase in the price he receives for his coffee.

    5. Caravela agronomist Marisela and farmer Miguel Oscar Palma assess the quality of Palma’s drying. At such a high altitude, his coffee dries slowly and carefully. Finca El Triunfo, Tarqui, Huila.

    6. A church in construction up the hill from the Palma family’s home.

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  • 03 Aug 2017

    Album: Colombia Monjes

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    We just returned from visiting partner farms in Huila, Colombia. The Trujillo and Rojas families (who are related and live beside each other) hosted us on their farms in Oporapa. Both of these families are major contributors to Monjes, a coffee sourced from several independent producers in this town. 


    1. At Finca Las Aguilas, one of the contributing farms to Los Monjes, the Trujillo family has beautified their cherry funnel with a fresh coat of paint and some native plants.

    2. Finca Las Aguilas. vewed from the other side of the valley

    3. Peaking through the trees.

    4. The mist rolls in.

    5. Alban Trujillo, Finca Las Aguilas.

    6. Trujillo’s drying area. Parchment here is going through a pre-drying stage with more shade, and then is moved to a slightly less shady area to finish.

    7. The Rojas family; William Rojas is brother-in-law to Alban Trujillo. Their farm is right next door to Las Aguilas and is named after William’s wife, Ceneida (pictured at far right).

    8. An incredible view framed by the cherry funnel. Finca Ceneida, Oporapa, Huila.

    9. Coffee lands.

    10. William Rojas built a staircase up the mountain to make picking and maintenance easier on the steep slope. Here, a picturesque part of the trail.

    11. Robby in between some really tall coffee plants.

    12. The view over this valley of Monjes farms.

    13. Rojas shows off his wood-fire coffee roaster. Few farmers actually roast and drink their own coffee.

    14. Heavy rains left many rivers impassable except by improvised bridges like this one.

    15. Home of Alonzo Burban, another Monjes producer. El Roble, Oporapa, Huila

    16. Alonzo Burban’s one hectare farm, “La Loma.” This small lot of only Caturra was exceptionally well-cared for, even though Burban is new to coffee farming.

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  • 03 Aug 2017

    Album: Colombia Andino

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    We just completed our visit with our partners in Huila, Colombia! This album highlights our visit to some of the contributing farmers for Andino, our milk base espresso.

    Andino comes from a collection of independent producers in Bruselas, Huila, Colombia.


    1. Workers load bags of parchment out to the Caravela warehouse in Pitalito, Huila.

    2. Early pickings are dry fermented at Finca La Florida, one of the contributors to Andino.

    3. At Finca La Florida, Plinio Paz has built a covered drying patio on top of his home.

    4. This drying bed features doors that can be opened to allow airflow, crucial when drying parchment this way. These doors were designed by Plinio himself.

    5. These covered dryers prevent rain from saturating the parchment and messing up the drying process.

    6. Farmer Plinio Paz, contributor to Andino.

    7. Coming full circle.

    8. Pickers collecting cherries are all geared up for the intermittent rain and mud.

    9. Carlos Ansancoy, contributor to Andino, surveys his plot as he explains this dual floating and funneling tank. The tank can be plugged up to “float” cherries; dead or underripe cherries will float to the top, making them easy to skim off. Then, the plug can be removed, allowing gravity to carry the cherries through the pulper below.

    10. Triumphant looks after sliding down the muddy trail. On the left, Salome Puentes, our liaison for our partnerships in Colombia.

    11. Larger than life elephant ears. This plant was almost twice as tall as me!

    12. Ansancoy uses these flowing tanks and a type of algae to purify water from the pulping process. It is critical that water used during the pulping process be purified before releasing it back into the ecosystem.

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  • 19 Jul 2017

    Giakanja: A Nyeri Case Study

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    Kenya is known for its organization when it comes to coffee production. Despite this, it can be surprisingly difficult to identify those mills that are pushing for even better coffee quality. Giakanja Farmer’s Coop Society (FCS) shows real potential for difficult-to-execute projects like cherry premiums and lot separation in the future. They display sophistication in their management and use technology to track their information, maps, and registrations. The cooperative has a demonstration plot to educate farmers on agricultural management, as well as operating a field advisory committee to offer additional support.

    In processing, the mill uses longer fermentation periods since it is located at such a high altitude. Pulped coffee is fermented for a whopping 72 hours before being washed and finally soaked for another 16 hours. The parchment then dries on tables in the morning over the course of three weeks, with coverage during the scorching sun of midday hours.

    Especially in East Africa, we rely heavily on our partners in the supply chain. Here, our liaison at Crop to Cup shares a trip report from Giakanja FCS this year:

    “Our visit to Giakanja this year was nothing if not efficient. Peter, their Chairman for the last 4 years, greeted us with a smile that only broadened as we shared the arrival report from his last import. It was a firm pat on the back - Giakanja's coffee arrived on spec and on time last year. It's a pleasant trip when the main message is 'keep it up'.

    But this message was important as it came during a time of drought - Kenya's #1 enemy this year where harvests are roughly 30% down.

    We were able to validate that Giakanja is paying members the best rate for cherry in the area, despite the dry spell. They say that this is because of the premium they receive from selling more directly to international buyers. And we can't tell you how happy that makes us. All of this is to say that the state of the core is strong at Giakanja; membership and morale are on the up.

    Peter is looking to take the coop organic for the 2017-2018 harvest. For those who pay attention, Organic Kenyans are rare, especially those of quality. But whether or not that happens, Giakanja remains a Nyeri County powerhouse for exceptional effervescent coffees with big phosphoric acid and tropical fruits in the cup.”

    If it's this delicious now, we can't wait for this cooperative to progress even further in their methodology.

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  • 12 Jul 2017

    Daliensis Silver Needles : Summer Tea Time

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    This summer we’ll have a limited offering White Tea to add to our existing tea lineup: The Daliensis Silver Needle from our partners at Spirit Tea. The name of this tea conceals a lot of information. First, what is a Silver Needle Tea? Let’s examine two important determinants of tea style: pluck and process.

    Let’s start with the pluck. For silver needles, the pickers of the tea only pick the unopened leaf buds at the very beginning of the harvest. Since no leaves have been picked from the plant since the last harvest, the buds and leaves of the plant contain the maximum nutrients of any picking. This also makes them especially flavorful. Notice the white hairs on these buds. These are only present on the first pick of the season. The shape of the buds and the shiny effect of the hairs gives them the name of Silver Needle.

    Now, for the process. Silver Needles is a white tea. This means that it is only lightly oxidized. Remember, oxidation means exposing the tea leaves or buds to air. The process can be stopped by adding heat. White tea is clean and refreshing, and is traditionally consumed in the summer in China. Silver Needles historically has come from the Fujian province.

    The other part of the name is Daliensis. Most tea is of the species Camellia Sinensis. Our tea was harvested from a related, rare wild species called Camellia Daliensis. This Daliensis comes from the Yunnan province—-not typical for Silver Needles. Look for creamy mouthfeel and gentle flavors of vanilla and cinnamon sugar.

    Daliensis Silver Needles is a rare twist on a classic tea. Enjoy its cooling effect during the dog days of summer.

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  • 28 Jun 2017

    Origin Story: Mr. Girma Eshetu

    posted by Jamie Isetts - Green Buyer

    We value the experience of working with a single farmer whenever possible because it allows for the unique expression of one person’s vision in the product we serve every day. Tracing to one or a handful of people also allows for better accountability and collaboration on agricultural and processing practices.

    Single farmer Ethiopian coffees are extremely difficult to come by due to the low production volume of the average farm. Through the hard work of our supply chain partner, Taylor Mork of Crop to Cup coffee, we are thrilled to showcase the work of a medium-scale producer, Girma Eshetu.

    Taylor related this story from Girma, recounted over a campfire on his last visit.

    Over warm beers and lamb at his farm one night, Eshetu proceeded to tell us his lifelong story, which led him to discover his real family (he only knew his mother, but no father or relatives), birthplace, etc. just within the last few years. Girma - or Girm, if you're on that basis with him - was moved at a young age by his mother to Yirgacheffe from his birthplace, the location of which he had never known. His father was missing after being conscripted as a soldier in the army to a war at the Kenyan border.

    When they arrived, they found out he had been killed, so the government gave his mother a home and a small parcel of land in a village in Yirgacheffe. That's just where the government happened to have open land to give out at the time. Real basic - he remembers her running a little village kiosk selling soap, foodstuffs, etc. He also, oddly, remembers himself always toying around with metals. He did some rudimentary welding of metals when he was a little kid, just tinkering around with soldering, alongside the dusty road behind the kiosk. It was as if he had some innate connection to metal works. Yet, his mother never told him much about where they were originally from, to which tribe or village they were native.

    Fast forward, Girma studied hard in the village schools and received a placement at a technical college in Addis. He moved into mechanical engineering, then became the lead engineer at the St. George Beer factory in Addis for 20 years, and eventually started his own coffee wet mill production house. He produced roughly 200 around the country. Now we're up to just a few years ago. He's attending some engineering/manufacturing expo in Addis and he goes to check out some unique metal he has heard about. The metal is produced and sourced in a small area out in western Ethiopia, by chance not too far from where he had recently leased some land for his coffee farm.

    He's at the booth and realizes, gee, this rep looks a lot like me. So they get to talking and he thinks they might be from the same small tribe out west, since the look is so particular. Soon enough he's visiting the village and, behold, he finds his family! Extended, that is. The people there remember his mother setting off to find the father who hadn't returned from army service, and of course, little Girm. He looks around, and the tribe and region's specialty is—what else--highly skilled metalworking. They even produce this amazing metal sourced in the nearby hills.

    Girma is a man in his fifties, so, having lived so long alone without any family connection undoubtedly made his telling of the relatively recent story quite animated. The guy is pretty excited to finally know his tribe and home village!

    The estate that this coffee comes from is the farm that Girma Eshetu started in the area that he later discovered belonged to his ancestral tribe. We’re lucky to showcase his delicious coffee and incredible story this season.

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  • 20 Jun 2017

    Coffee Fermentation: How and Why

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    As you sample Deri Kochoha, you’ll immediately notice its juicy, sugary-citric flavor and complex acidity. This profile comes directly from the traditional fermentation practices in this part of Ethiopia and the extra use of water to clean off the fruit.

    Deri Kochoha washing station uses the washed process for this coffee, meaning all fruit is removed from the seed before drying. At this washing station, this happens in six key steps.

    Select ripe cherries

    Use a pulper to remove the skin

    Ferment to get the fruit off and improve flavor

    Wash the remaining fruit off

    Soak in water for consistency

    Dry the coffee

    Deri Kochoha’s unique fruit-forward profile shows off the benefits of longer fermentation times. Fermentation dictates much of the profile for washed coffees. The most common type of coffee fermentation in Ethiopia is wet fermentation, which means that the pulped coffee seeds (or “parchment”, in this stage) are covered in clean water for an extended period of time.

    For this tutorial, we’ll focus on this style and delve deeper into the how and why of coffee fermentation.

    First Goal of Fermentation: Get the fruit off the seed so we can have cleaner coffee.

    Once farmers pick ripe coffee cherries, they bring it to the Deri Kochoha washing station.

    Now, the work of the station begins with a step called pulping.  Cherries are dropped through a funnel to a pulper. This machine uses rotating disks to squeeze the skin and fruit off the seed inside while water runs through to lubricate the process. However, a lot of fruit sticks to the seed. To get the rest of it off without extra expensive equipment, fermentation is necessary to break down the fruit around the seed.

    Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a carbohydrates by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, creating alcohol or organic acids as a byproduct.

    A famous product of fermentation is beer. In beer, the carbs are usually barley malt. Yeasts are selected and added to the malt with water and hops to produce alcohol.

    With coffee, the leftover fruit on the parchment provides the carbohydrates that fuel the reaction. Wild yeasts and bacteria present in the air break down the fruit, producing organic acids that we can taste in the final cup.

    How it’s Done:

    Step One: The pulped parchment flows from the pulper to concrete or tiled tanks.

    Step Two: The water from pulping is completely drained out. New, fresh water is used to fill the tank.

    Step 3: Where the magic happens. We wait while the microbes in the environment do their thing. Based on their local climate, most washing stations allow the coffee to sit until the parchment has a certain texture that signifies the degree of fermentation that they want. More modern farmers may use a pH reading to determine when it’s done.

    Finally, Step 4: The tank is drained and the parchment goes to the next step, washing.

    Mills can also repeat step 3, draining the water intermittently and re-starting the reaction with fresh water. This is a common way to prolong fermentation without overdoing it and producing defects.

    Second Goal of Coffee Fermentation: Improve Flavor

    The degree of fermentation has a huge effect on the coffee’s flavor. You can get more fermentation by increasing the activity of the microorganisms. There are two main ways to do this:

    1.   Increasing temperature within a range that doesn’t kill the microbes.

    In a warmer climate, fermentation will happen faster. High-altitude fermentation in a cool climate will happen much slower.

    2.    Increasing the time of the reaction.

    Millers accomplish this by letting the coffee sit for longer in the tank. Mills can also drain the water intermittently and re-start the reaction with fresh water. This is a common way to prolong fermentation without overdoing it and producing defects.

    What flavors do you get at different degrees of fermentation?

    Under-fermented coffee often has cereal notes, lacks complexity, and tastes chalky and green.

    Short fermentation, as usually seen in Central American coffees, offers a clean cup, and clear but one-dimensional acidity (mostly just citric).

    Long fermentation gives us a more complex acidity. You’ll taste citric but also more malic, phosphoric, and tartaric. This gives you flavors like peach, blueberry, and tropical fruit. You’ll also get a richer body.

    Over-fermented coffee tastes dirty, and often has a note of alcohol or vinegar.

    Remember, the “right amount of time” for each of these degrees of fermentation really depends on the local climate where the process is occurring.

    With Deri Kochoha, this fermentation stage goes on for a whopping 72 hours, imparting the coffee with complex acidity and bright yet fruity flavors.

    This extra-long wet fermentation, coupled with great growing conditions to start, creates a coffee with mind-bending tamarind, berry, and floral flavors. Enjoy Deri Kochoha as slow pour and solo espresso this season.

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  • 01 Jun 2017

    Album: Burundi 2017

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    In May 2017, we had the opportunity to tour, comprehensively, the unique origin of Burundi. Close to our hearts, Burundi is an East African country with massive potential for specialty coffee and a few illustrious producers who are blazing the trail. Much of our trip involved the International Women's Coffee Association (IWCA), whose chapter in Burundi is one of the most effective in the world.

    Burundi has no shortage of memorable experiences awaiting the traveler: we were greeted with a parade of women producers carrying a banner with our name, and saw hippos while eating breakfast. And we visited 10 washing stations, reinforcing older relationships and beginning exciting new ones. Enjoy the captions below for the album, and look forward to these coffees at the beginning of 2018.

    1.  A still morning on Lake Tanganyika, which runs across most of the Western border.

    2.  Welcome to Burundi. A license plate with the country’s flag.

    3.  On the street in the capitol city, Bujumbura.

    4.  Two schoolgirls on their lunch break stopped to pose.

    5.  Incredible cherry selection: consistently ripe and red. Proper cherry selection makes for a better cup quality.

    6.  A farmer waits to receive partial payment for her cherry at Kinyovu washing station, Kayanza Province.

    7.  Kinyovu washing station, Kayanza Province.

    8.  These two women at SIVCA dry mill were killing it on the color coordination.

    9.  SIVCA dry mill, Kayanza.

    10. Old Chinese scales used to weigh parchment, SIVCA dry mill, Kayanza.

    11. A steep drop makes for an excellent view of parchment drying on raised beds at Kirema washing station, Kayanza.

    12. Kirema washing station, one of several wet mills under the umbrella of Sogestal Kayanza.

    13. Each farmer’s delivery of cherry is meticulously recorded, affording excellent traceability for those who are willing to sift through the records. Maruri washing station, Coop Dusangirijambo, Kayanza.

    14. The entrance to the royal palace of Mwami Ntare Rugamba at Gishora field. The structure is composed of tightly woven fibers, like a basket.

    15. The inimitable Gishora drummers performing traditional Burundian drum dance at the birthplace of the ceremony.

    16. Aesthetically pleasing graffiti and prep notes at Mutanga washing station, Gitega Province.

    17. Pyramid drying helps the parchment dry at a slower pace in areas with intense sun, protecting it from cracking.

    18. Wooden fishing boats on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Mountains of the Congo lie on the other side, shrouded in clouds.

    19. Dukorere Ikawa Cooperative, Rmonge province. The climate here is much more tropical and humid, different from the intense sun and dry air of Kayanza.

    20. Members sort parchment at Dukorere Ikawa Cooperative’s washing station.

    21. A candid shot of the organizer of the trip and a key Merit partner, Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian of JNP Coffee.

    22. Seedlings in a nursery at Dukorere Ikawa.

    23. A parting view of the lake on a sunny day.

    24. Mpanga Washing Station: Farmers select out only red cherries on tables provided for this purpose.

    25. Mpanga Washing Station: They then float the cherry in small cement pools. They skim the under-ripe cherries (called “floaters” because they float to the surface) off the top, and then take the sorted cherries out in a mesh container to the wet mill to be processed.

    26. Mpanga Washing Station: After weighing and payment, the cherries are fed through a funnel to the pulper below.

    27. Mpanga Washing Station: The pulper at Mpanga. It is cleaned very thoroughly every day after all cherries are pulped.

    28. Mpanga Washing Station: Parchment flows down a channel based on its density.

    29. Mpanga Washing Station: The mill’s fermentation tanks. Painted blue in the Rwandan style, they are smaller than the average for Burundi, offering more control.

    30. Mpanga Washing Station: A worker turns parchment for an experimental honey process lot.

    31. Mpanga Washing Station: Cherries drying to create the Mpanga Natural.

    32. Mpanga Washing Station: Mpanga built a dry mill last year, meaning they can hull the parchment off the green beans on site. This gives them more control of when their coffee is available to ship to the customer.

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  • 08 May 2017

    Team Outing at TopGolf

    posted by Paige Geffken

    May 8th, 2017.

    From left to right,

    Kaite Well

    Alissa Garcia

    Justin Frey

    Vincent Luna

    Andrew Schulz

    Dave Vela

    Karissa Pletta

    Emily Cote

    Jamie Isetts

    Bill Ellis

    Neesha Grubbs

    Robby Grubbs

    Harmony Choi

    Tim Wallace

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  • 03 May 2017

    Green Space Alliance

    posted by Paige Geffken

    This year, during the season of Fiesta, Local was excited to share the spotlight with Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas.

    We shared 50% of our proceeds from our fiesta medal sales with GSA and sold out! We are so grateful to have an amazing community of guest who were eager to help support Green Space Alliance. As part of our collaboration, employees and owners of Local Coffee and Merit traveled to Cielo Community garden to get their hands dirty by helping local families build fences out of bamboo. 

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  • 02 May 2017

    Local + Fleet

    posted by Paige Geffken

    With SCA congregating in Seattle, our friends at Fleet Coffee in Austin asked us to help "run shop" while they took their staff of four to the PNW. Our longtime relationship with the owners of Fleet, Lorenzo and Patrick, has been cultivated through a mutual love of specialty coffee and exceptional customer service. This was an incredible opportunity for us to get to know the community as we will soon be opening our first Austin location.

    Our baristas were met with amazing customer interactions, and much like the feel of our own shops, Fleet Coffee has an environment that facilitates even first-timers feeling like "regulars." We brought Merit Roasting Co.'s Paraiso, Ayala, and Gatare with us to prepare as batch brew, espresso and slow-pour respectively. We were rewarded with the customers really digging our coffees and being excited for Local + Merit to lay permanent roots in Austin!

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  • 28 Apr 2017

    Alambi: Unusual Varieties & an Exploration of Flavor

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    Just as the Ayala Castillo leaves our shelves, we’re launching an intriguing new Ecuador option for pour over: Alambi.

    From the Imbabura province where the Ayala Castillo grew, we venture just south in the Pichincha region to the town of Nanegal. This lot is produced by a group of six farmers that work collaboratively. Farms in the North are bigger, at 15 hectares or more. They have more resources and are generally more like small estates, which means they make smart investments into the health of their plants and the quality of their coffee.

    Alambi is the name of a nearby lodge where visitors can observe the famously beautiful hummingbird species of Ecuador’s Bella Vista Nature Reserve. Over 30 unique species populate the area around this lodge—a testament to the biodiversity of the region.

    The thing that made me take note as a buyer is Alambi’s interesting range of varietals. In this region, an experimental coffee variety farm run by Nestle has created myriad cultivars that are almost only found in Ecuador. Sidra, for example, is a cross of Typica and Red Bourbon that was discovered in 2012.  The Alambi farmers have more agency to choose the varietals that they plant. When they have enough resources, farmers actively select the types of coffee that they grow based on the pest resistance, climate, and cup quality. Scroll through the pictures on the left to see the various varieties and the percentage present in this lot.

    In Alambi, we get to enjoy the new flavor expressions that these varietals present.  In the cup, look for an unusual combination of floral, botanical, and citrus flavors over a sweet backdrop. Ecuadorian coffees are nothing if not unique, and Alambi is no exception.

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  • 25 Apr 2017

    Album - Seattle, SCA 2017

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    Last week our team traveled northwest for the annual Specialty Coffee Association expo. This is by far the world's biggest event in our industry. We spend a few busy days and nights meeting with coffee farmers and importers, testing out cutting edge equipment, and brainstorming projects for the future. By participating in a global network, we are able to create a better product and experience for you. The SCA conference has been held in Seattle for the past several years--definitely a picturesque background for inspiring situations. Enjoy a few scenes from our trip.

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  • 23 Apr 2017

    Timanco: Diving Deeper into Huila

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    As a group, we love the reliable greatness of Paraíso for a batch coffee. We were inspired to see what else was available in this corner of Huila, and our new house filter coffee, Timanco, was an excellent find.

    The town of Timaná is at the historical meeting point for three major tribes: Paez, Pijao, and Yalcon. In particular, Timaná is home to Gaitana, the 16th century Yalcon woman who led a powerful armed resistance against the Spanish conquistadors.

    The town lies at the convergence of the Magdalena and Golden Rivers. Abundant, flowing water is always good to have around when you’re producing washed coffee: you need it to fill the fermentation tanks, move coffee cherries from point A to point B, and wash off the fermented fruit before drying.

    The collection of farmers in the Orocafe group chose to call upon their storied municipality when naming this coffee.

    Timanco reminds me of a lot of the things I love about Paraíso, and gives us an opportunity to explore the nearby communities. However, it has a vibrancy that makes it a bit more summer than winter. Perfect timing, Timanco.

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  • 10 Apr 2017

    Gatare: Or, How We Find New Coffees

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    Our new slow pour offering, Rwanda Gatare, is an insight into our process for finding new coffees. For more origin info about Gatare, check out the info sheet.

    How do we come across new coffees for our lineup?

    First, we find people. Producers or other parts of our supply chain will reach out to us about the work they’re doing. Other times, Merit will seek out producers whose coffee we have tried and liked. We also meet people while traveling at origin, during coffee auctions, or through mutual friends in the industry. We participate in a global network, and doing so allows us to get better coffee.

    In this case, we had an existing relationship with Red Fox Coffee Merchants. They work extensively in Rwanda, so they were my first choice in exploring producers in this country.

    Next, we taste. These folks send us small green coffee samples from their farms and mills. We are constantly cupping samples from crazy origins—like Nepal, for example—that never make it to our lineup. We exchange notes, scores, and feedback. Then, we log all of that in our Merit Cupping Database, which stores cupping scores and origin info about every coffee we’ve ever cupped at Merit. This helps us compare coffees from one harvest to the next and remember samples that might not have been what we wanted at the time, but now fit a slot in our line up.

    With Gatare, we cupped a wide selection of lots from various mills in the Nyamasheke region in Rwanda, which were vetted by Red Fox. I reviewed their notes first to choose the samples I thought could be a hit. While all had rich fruit notes, Gatare stood out with a distinct flavor of sweet cream from start to finish, literally like drinking milk.

    After that, we think about preparation. Having high-scoring coffee is just the first step. How would this coffee be best prepared? We wouldn’t want 10 amazing coffees that only work well for batch, but none that work well for espresso. When possible, we even purchase a small quantity simply for testing on the target brew method. Sometimes this doesn’t even make it to our cafes!

    For Gatare, we loved its rich body and dessert-like notes. However, all Rwandan coffees carry at least some potato defect. Since this is our first time working with them, we don’t know how prevalent the potato defect will be and chose to keep it as slow pour, where baristas have a lot of contact with the wet grounds and can smell the defect.

    Finally, we buy the coffee using a contract. With each offering, we aim to have everything lined up for a multi-year relationship. But sometimes, the quality or the people are, in practice, not quite right. We will always have space on our lineup for experimentation and new coffees!

    We typically contract 4-6 months before we even offer a coffee in stores. Most of the time, the beans themselves are at origin while all of this is going on. Think about this process as you enjoy the Gatare in stores this spring.

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  • 01 Apr 2017

    Album - Mexico, Finca Chelín

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    After buying a small, experimental black honey lot from Finca Chelín last year, we began a dialogue that resulted in a trip to the farm in Oaxaca. 

    Enrique Lopez does a lot of things that other specialty producers might not. He loves to experiment with mixes, both of varietals and maturities of cherry. He leaves cherries in bags or tanks for several days before depulping. He uses cement patios for most of his drying, rather than raised beds. He adds yeast strains and panela (sugar) to the fermentation process. His entire farm is not only organic, but also carbon-neutral. 

    But not one of these nonconformities is ever done without scientific method and utmost care. The most incredible part? He shares his knowledge with the small farmers that neighbor him. Merit can't wait to share coffees from this producer with you in 2017.

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  • 08 Mar 2017

    Album - Guatemala, Julio Olayo

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    A snippet of our visit to Julio Olayo's farm and home in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala. 

    After seeing his incredible work this year, we're pumped feature his coffee as a huge part of our late summer-early fall lineup. Julio's farm, La Corona, experience a horrible drought this year. In order to keep his plants healthy, he trucked tank after tank of water from his home to the farm in a flat bed truck. You wouldn't know it to look at the plants! Now, that's commitment.

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  • 25 Feb 2017

    Album - Nicaragua, Estrella and Brisas del Mogotón

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    Some visuals from our most recent trip to Nicaragua. 

    We visited partners at Beneficio La Estrella and Finca Brisas del Mogotón, as well as a new partner mill in the Jinotega region. Look out for beautiful coffees from this region in our mid-fall lineup. 

    Check out our friend Alejandro Valiente posing for the camera at the Jinotega mill. 

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  • 29 Dec 2016

    The Gift of Christmas

    posted by Paige Geffken

    Having now participated in the Gift of Christmas with House of Neighborly Service for three years running, we were able to adopt 10 families this holiday season. With the help of our very generous customers, our staff was able to gather over 200 gifts to deliver to our adopted families days before Christmas. We were excited to present them with various gifts and necessities such as beds, tricycles, clothing, appliances and housewares. In addition to these gifts, a meal was delivered to each family on Christmas Eve by Santa and one of his elves from Zula Foods!

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  • 26 Dec 2016

    Merit x Mpanga

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    Merit is thrilled to revisit our partnership with the Mpanga washing station this year! We’ll offer three diverse, candy-like coffees from this singular mill, along with a special box set just in time for Valentine’s Day. This award winning mill owes its prestige to the hard work of owner and manager Jean-Clement Birabereye, who focuses almost exclusively on high-quality micro lots and unique experiments.Despite myriad inherent challenges, “JC” produces some of the most pristine coffees we receive all year.

    Burundi is a small, landlocked country in East-Central Africa. High altitude, volcanic soils, and ample water supply make it prime real estate for producing specialty coffee. However, the lack of a port creates delays as trucks transport the coffee over long backroads and the cargo goes through labyrinthine customs regulations. The antesia bug, found only in Central Africa, creates a defect that makes coffee taste like a freshly cut potato. Political unrest exacerbates every hold-up. So many things must go perfectly right for us to receive beautiful coffees from this nation on the other side of the world.

    Farmers in Burundi typically have very small plots. After picking cherry, they bring it on foot or bike to a washing station or wet mill, which purchases the cherry from them on site. Washing stations perform all processing, from pulping and fermenting the cherry to drying the remaining parchment. They then contract a dry mill to remove the parchment layer and sort the green coffee into different qualities. In this system, the washing station is the key player in defining quality and traceability.

    So why do we specifically love Mpanga washing station?

    Flavor and Consistency These sweet coffees are accessible AND complex, year after year. Flavors like orange marmalade, dried cranberries, and banana cross our minds when we think of Mpanga.

    Farmer Equity Jean-Clement prides himself on offering price incentives for farmers who bring meticulously picked coffee cherries, as well as a premium to farmers whose coffees place in international competition.

    Traceability and Terroir Since most of the farms that sell cherry to Mpanga mill are too small to produce a specialty lot on their own, JC organizes them into micro-terroirs based on the hill where their farm is located. We will offer washed coffees from Murago Hill and Shimu Hill to showcase these differences.

    Experimentation Drying coffee in the sun is particularly difficult in Burundi since the main harvest falls during the rainy season. The extra moisture in the air creates a breeding ground for bacteria, meaning that any coffee with fruit left on it after fermentation takes a Herculean amount of attention to execute well. For this reason, the majority of coffee is washed using a two-step fermentation process similar to that found in Kenya.

    Jean Clement and team have defied the odds by experimenting with natural and honey process coffees, which leave fruit on after fermentation. These coffees must be attended to literally minute to minute as they dry. We’re happy to be one of just a few roasters to offer the result of these efforts in the Mpanga Natural.

    Take advantage of these three coffees while they last. They flew of the shelves in 2016, and we expect nothing less this year!

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  • 14 Dec 2016

    Local and Merit Holiday Celebration

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    On December 11th, the staff of all 5 Local Coffee cafés and the team at Merit Roasting put down their aprons and dressed to the nines to celebrate the holiday season. The crew gathered at Hotel Emma for good wishes and a few in-house awards. 2016 has been an incredible year for us, with the opening of two new Local Coffee locations in the Medical Center and Leon Springs, and a new roaster for Merit! Next year proves to be just as exciting, with our next location in Shavano Park slated for an early spring opening. Before the hard work resumes, we took this night to kick back.

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  • 16 Oct 2016

    Merit TNT In Partnership With Big Brothers Big Sisters

    posted by Paige Geffken

    The one year anniversary party of TNT SATX was a success in more ways than one. Most notably, our coffee community raisedover $1000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas. Of the 400 attendees, 64 baristas competed in a head-to-head latte art competition with one of our very own coming out on top! The event was made possible with the help of many sponsors, helpful hands, and people who are passionate about BBBS. We are proud to announce that we had 18 people sign up to receive more information about becoming a "Big" after hearing the testimony of a local "Little." 

    Event held in partnership with sponsors: Hilmy ProductionsMill- King Market and CreameryJôntMod Bar and The Historic Pearl. Musical entertainment from DJ JJ Lopez sponsored by La Marzocco, special guest speaker from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ten Thousand Villages, located at The Historic Pearl, sponsored "Shop For A Cause" from 3pm-6pm before the event in their store. 15% of all purchases during this time were gifted to Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, resulting in a $150 gift to the organization. 

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  • 07 Oct 2016

    TNT- Oct 13

    posted by Paige Geffken

    In celebration of the one-year-mark of bringing the notorious "TNT" or "Thursday Night  Throwdown" monthly latte art competitions back to SA, TX, Local Coffee and Merit Roasting Co. are proud to host the October competition and anniversary party.

    Event being held on October 13th from 6 to 9pm at Merit Roasting Co., 2001 S Presa, SATX 78210. $5 buy-in for all contestants, and requesting a donation from all spectators/ those not competing. Proceeds from the event will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas. Raffle tickets available for $1 and $2, with nearly $1000 worth of prizes. Competition winners will take home a first place prize of a one night stay at the coveted The Hotel Emma located at The Historic Pearl, second place will win a wine education party for 10 donated by High Street Wine. (Third place gift TBD.) A food truck will be parked on site, beer to be donated by Ranger Creek.

    Event held in partnership with sponsors: Hilmy Productions, Mill- King Market and Creamery, Jônt, Mod Bar and The Historic Pearl. Musical entertainment from DJ JJ Lopez sponsored by La Marzocco, special guest speaker from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ten Thousand Villages, located at The Historic Pearl, will be sponsoring "Shop For A Cause" from 3pm-6pmbefore the event in their store. 15% of all purchases during this time will be gifted to Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas. 

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  • 01 Oct 2016

    Uncharted Territory, Guatemala 2016

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    View at Cortinas

    At Merit, we’re lucky to work with many producers whose reputations speaks for themselves. But for me as a buyer, the most exhilarating thing is covering uncharted territory: finding a delicious coffee that has never been isolated by its producer. Guatemala boasts dozens of well-networked, sophisticated estates that can offer the best quality in world. Robby and I made an extended trip to Guate this year with hopes of digging beyond the self-evident choices to find a brand new project with whom we could grow. This yielded Olayo and Colibrí, two coffees that showcase the contrast available in just one country. 

    Our key to finding these gems lies in our exporters. Specialty exporters are our “eyes on the ground.” They navigate the social and agricultural landscape of their origin every day, providing us with invaluable context. The exporter also plays a crucial role in the logistics of getting our purchases to us on time so that Merit can serve the coffee at its peak of flavor. We vetted several exporters during our trip. The winners not only gave us confidence, they led us to motivated farmers who have never had a direct roaster-producer relationship.

    Drying at Cortinas

    Hector Gonzalez – Caravela

    Caravela is a trusted import-export partner of ours across Latin America. Hector Gonzalez, an industry veteran in Guatemala and two-time World Cup Taster’s Champion, initiated the Caravela branch in Guatemala just weeks before our visit. Hector is hands on—he’s one part advisor, one part quality control. Most of the farms he works with are new to producing high-end specialty coffee, so obvious changes like building raised drying beds can take a farm’s coffee from great to amazing. He has the ability to sift out those farmers who welcome adaptation for the long-term reward. Through Hector, Merit will offer a lusciously fruity slow pour feature from Julio Olayo, a farmer in Sacatepequez who has never had the chance to export coffee under his own name.

    Great coffee folks at origin see the drink behind the bean. Hector takes this one step further: last fall, he opened roaster-retailer Café Divino in Guatemala City with former Guatemalan barista champion Teco Echeverria. Hector keeps a small QC lab in the back of the shop for Caravela. It’s extremely rare to see the full life cycle of specialty coffee acted out in one room: one employee milling parchment off of farm samples, Hector roasting and setting up cuppings, and Teco pulling espresso up to the standards of a US café. And we won’t lie, we loved having a great morning coffee before heading out to farm visits!

    Hector and Robby Cupping

    Paul Starry and Olga Ayau – Kofei
    The story of Kofei ties to the beginnings of Cup of Excellence in Guatemala. As an organizer for the first Guatemala CoE, Olga Ayau found that many winning farmers had no export outlet for their coffee. She teamed up with fourth generation coffee producer Paul Starry to create an export company known for its focus. Though Kofei mostly works with roasters in Japan and Korea, I had the pleasure of meeting with them to discuss a partnership with Merit. Paul and Olga were thrilled to show me their new milling operations with Beneficio Las Cruces, who had completely retrofitted their dry mill to Kofei’s specifications. Since micro lots require special equipment and extra time, only several mills in Guatemala City can process these small yields. This creates a bottleneck where every exporter of specialty coffee jockeys for a place in the milling schedule, sometimes delaying shipping by months. Las Cruces will mill exclusively coffee from Kofei and their on-site farm, meaning better quality and faster turnaround. Paul and Olga helped us find an outstanding offering from Finca El Colibrí in HueHueTenango. Our whole team is excited about this dual espresso-slow pour coffee with notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and milk chocolate.  

    — Jamie Isetts, Director of Green Coffee

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  • 23 Aug 2016

    Together We Are Greater

    posted by PAIGE GEFFKEN

    Over the past ten years San Antonio's coffee community has grown, not only in the number of cafés but in the connections built between shops. We have grown from a community divided by espresso machines and counters to a community connected by relationships and experiences.

    In preparation for the fall 2016 school year, Local + Merit joined forces with the San Antonio Food Bank and 12 other coffee shops in San Antonio. Over one month's time, with the help of all of our patrons, we collected backpacks and school supplies. The response from customers and employees alike was overwhelming! Over 30 backpacks filled to the brim with classroom items were collected. The last week of the drive, we all came together to share our experiences and the significance of what we accomplished together. We were able to help support San Antonio's youth in one of the best investments of their lives: their educations. This was an amazing project and just the beginning of many accomplishments the SA coffee community can achieve through coming together.

    Special thanks to:

    San Antonio Food Bank

    Bakery Lorraine

    Barrio Barista

    Brown Coffee Co.

    Common Wealth

    Estate Coffee

    Mila Coffee

    Press Coffee


    The Fairview

    Theory Coffee

    White Elephant

    5 Points Local

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  • 01 Aug 2016

    How It’s Made: Chelín Black Honey

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    We love the complex influence of the producer on the flavors in the cup. Enrique López Aguilar and his farm, Finca Chelín, are a great example. Finca Chelín is truly a leader in the specialty coffee scene in Mexico. López makes deliberate choices on the farm and at the mill to affect the profile of his coffee. He finds particular joy in experimenting with processing: everything that happens to the cherry between picking and removing the parchment layer to get to the green bean.

    Here’s Enrique’s step-by-step guide for making our delicious Black Honey process lot, an extremely limited offering that we’ll have for just a few weeks this August.

    1. Pick Ripe Cherries

    For everything picked at Finca Chelín, López uses a Brix meter (a tool from the wine world) to measure the sugar content based on the cherry color. López directed his pickers to choose especially ripe coffee cherries at a 25/26 Brix measure, close to the color of a red grape. Check out how even the color of the cherries are in the picture.

    2. Let Them Rest

    López allows the cherries to rest for two nights rather than depulping them immediately. This enhances the development of organic acids that we normally associate with red wine:

    Tartaric acid – Mainly tasted in grapes, but also found in tamarind, cranberries, and prickly pear

    Malic acid – Gives Granny Smith apples their “green,” sour-sweet flavor

    Oxalic acid – Crisp and clean. Found in high amounts in rhubarb.

    3. Remove the Skin

    In the honey process, cherries are pulped and dried with some of the sticky, honey-like fruit still remaining on the bean. Producers or millers can choose to leave more or less fruit on, creating myriad flavor profiles and many different types of fermentation.

    For the black honey process, the blades of the depulper are calibrated so that they only skim off the skin of the cherry, leaving the maximum amount of fruit.

    4. Dry With Care

    Stage One

    After depulping, López moves the juicy mass of seeds and fruit directly to a cement patio for the first segment of drying. In this stage, López exposes the coffee to full sunlight. The coffee is not moved at all the first day, creating what’s known as embryogenic fermentation. Because the seed is protected by the remaining mucilage, the embryo does not die. 

    Stage Two

    After 24 hours, workers begin regularly moving and rotating the drying mass. Once the majority of the moisture has evaporated from the mucilage, Enrique applies partial shade (Malla Sombra) to lower the rate of exposure to heat.

    Stage Three

    After 72 hours have passed from the initial depulping, the coffee is moved to raised beds for 23 more days of drying. Raised mesh beds, originally popularized in Africa, allow for even airflow on all sides of the drying bean. This increases the shelf life of the coffee and has a very positive effect on consistency of the end product. Workers continue to move the coffee around throughout the process.

    After this meticulous venture, the parchment layer is removed and the coffee is sorted. This entire endeavor only yields a tiny amount (about 150 lbs), which we are proud to offer this August. Thanks to López and his team for bringing us this amazing offering! Buy here for a limited time. 

    --Jamie Isetts, Green Coffee Buyer

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  • 14 Jun 2016

    Roasting, Development, and Color: A Cupping Experiment

    posted by Joe Garlitz

    Our goal at Merit is simple: provide an incredible product for our customers. For our QC team, this means turning green coffee brown and making the next batch of coffee taste better than the last. Achieving that goal is much easier said than done. So much deliberate attention and hard work is invested to bring the coffee from a seed to our roaster. We want to taste those specific origin and processing notes. This means roasting to the coffee versus trying to fit the coffee into a predetermined box. I like to describe my job as a coffee roaster as “staying out of the way as much as I can.”

    It would be easy to roast every coffee the same way. However, roasting coffee like that means we could be missing out on so much flavor potential. If you had to give a name to our “style” of roasting, I would call it profile roasting: every coffee gets a unique profile to best bring out what it has to offer. A “roasting recipe,” if you will.

    So how do we go about doing this? Green coffee density, moisture content, and size are just a few parts we think about when building a roast profile-recipe. In an effort to avoid this sounding like a technical dissertation, I won’t be giving an in-depth explanation of our roasting technique. The basic principle is a carefully monitored combination of temperature and time. We use multiple precise thermocouples to monitor temperature. As time progresses during the roast, temperature is plotted on a graph. Having these “profile lines” gives us a way to be very consistent. It also allows us to compare and contrast any differing attributes we find from batch to batch.

    After that every batch is tasted by our QC team at Merit before it goes out the door. We then analyze our roast and try to improve. This is a never ending process for us. Even after tens of thousands of pounds of green coffee roasted, we still cup every production batch. For our customers, this means an ever-improving product. For us, it’s an ever-humbling exercise that keeps us striving to do better.

    Part of what makes working for Local/Merit so great is the culture of learning. We have an open door to our café staff to come see what we do every day. They learn basically what I have explained above about how we roast within their first few days. However, they wanted more. So we put together a unique cupping for them. We wanted them to see, small, and taste why we don’t roast certain ways, specifically focusing on color (or drop temp). We used our Honduras Capucas, a coffee are very familiar with since it’s featured as our milk base espresso in all Local Coffee shops. We roasted one “darker” (much more developed) than our usual range, one “lighter” (with much less developed), and one as normal. You can see how the colors of the beans change in the picture below; the green coffee was set up on the top for a visual comparison.

    Tasting notes from the light roasted coffee: grass, spice, bread, toast.

    Tasting notes from our normal roast: sweet, complex, fig, balanced.

    Tasting notes from the dark roast: Smoke, ash, cigarette water, death.

    Doing this turned out to be a tangible example of where our roasting sits on the spectrum of roast development. It’s this constant experimentation that helps us serve our best work to our favorite audience: our awesome customers.

    Much love,

    Joe Garlitz, Lead Roaster || Merit Roasting Co. 

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  • 14 Jun 2016

    Tracing La Roca

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    Real traceability is all about the quality of information. In practice, this manifests into a lot of spreadsheets. The massive Excel file I use to manage our green coffee information is the butt of lots of jokes here at the roastery. Jokes aside, communicating the story behind this data is challenging, but not impossible. We can map some of the hard work that makes our coffee great through a few columns and rows.

    For example, our La Roca comes from a small collection of farmers in Dipilto, Nicaragua. But how exactly is it collected, and how did each of these producers contribute? For this coffee, we're lucky enough to have all of that information. Here’s a list from the dry mill, Beneficio La Estrella in Ocotal, that breaks it down. Let’s investigate the story behind it.

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    Farmers like Daniel Rodriguez Mairena, whose coffee makes up 15 % of our lot, wet mill their cherry and bring it to La Estrella as clean, wet parchment. The mill takes a look at the parchment and does a quick analysis of some physical defects like insect damage. They’re looking for clean, even parchment. If a coffee has potential, the farmer essentially ‘loans’ the coffee to the mill; farmers are paid a base price upfront for the parchment, but they agree to buy it back if Beneficio La Estrella chooses not to keep the finished green coffee. If the coffee cups well, they are paid an extra premium. If the mill chooses not to buy, the farmers are charged a small fee for exceptional drying and hulling and can sell their green coffee to another buyer. Estrella has formed strong relationships that allow this kind of trust.

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    Daniel Rodriguez at his farm, Finca El Naranjo. Lots from Daniel made up 15% of our La Roca offering. Photo Courtesy of Caravela Coffee.

    The quality control team, led by Will Ortiz, hand-mills a small sample of each tiny lot and cups it. This mill gives the coffee an internal grade that determines the premium they will pay the farmer on top of the parchment cost. The price is directly related to cup score, and that extends all the way down to the price that Merit pays; for example, all the lots that went into our La Roca purchase scored between 84 and 86. We calibrate with Estrella’s cuppers each time we visit to ensure we’re on the same page. Estrella QC will then fit the right lots together like a puzzle to create a unique, balanced flavor profile.

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    Will Ortiz, head of QC at Beneficio La Estrella.

    Take a look at the dates on the left of the table. This is the day that the farmer brought that lot to the beneficio. Once purchased, the parchment begins the drying process immediately. It is relatively stable once the moisture levels reach 12% of their initial water content, which takes about two weeks. Bags of dry parchment are stored in a cool warehouse to await hulling. The mill can store coffee in parchment while they select the other pieces of the puzzle to blend. When the entire collection is dried evenly, they are all hulled together and sorted extensively.

    Notice how some farmers submitted multiple lots of the same varietal on the same day. Most likely, these lots came from sections of the farm with different microclimates and altitude. An experienced cupper can detect differences in quality based on these tiny changes.

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    Farmers bring their wet parchment to Beneficio La Estrella in Ocotal. Photo Courtesy of Caravela Coffee. 

    Based on this type of information, we can figure out which farmers contributed the most to our coffee, and what percentage of each varietal we have. Good tracking is hugely helpful for holding everyone accountable for their achievements. It could even help us purchase from the exact same farmers in the group next year. The more we receive and interpret this kind of data, the better we can solidify sustainable relationships between real people who are thousands of miles apart.

    -Jamie Isetts, Green Coffee Buyer

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  • 18 May 2016

    Making Green Coffee Bags

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    When we receive our green coffee from origin, it comes in a traditional sisal (jute) bag with a plastic liner. Just like Merit puts a lot of thought into the presentation of our retail bags, producers and millers represent themselves by the package they choose for their coffee. Some bags have elaborately printed pictures, or even Merit Coffee on the bag as the buyer. 

    Here's an album of photos and videos , courtesy of Virmax Colombia, on the making of the bags for our Colombia El Paraíso, currently served on drip at all Local Coffee locations. These bags are in our warehouse in SA right now!

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  • 16 May 2016

    Defying Expectations: Kateshi Isanya and Coffee Dogma

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    One of our biggest enemies as an industry is what I call "coffee dogma": the arbitrary rules we make for ourselves about what coffee should be. When you invest a lot of time in the details, it's essential to step back and examine the big picture. Why do we hold the beliefs that we do? How do they serve to push us forward, or even hold us back? Our recent release of the Zambia Kateshi Isanya speaks to the rewards of letting go of your death grip on coffee ideology.

    Southeastern Africa is an intriguing region for specialty coffee, and I've been wanting to find a killer selection from there all winter and spring. This part of the world ships coffee at a time when interesting coffees are hard to find. From February to April, so many roasters have the same origins (Colombia, I'm looking at you) that by the end of spring I'm dying for diversity. Central American lots feel tantalizingly close but are really too far from shipping to make a dent in the seasonal offering list. And so, I've been scouring offering lists for any Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe out there to see if one could work.

    We cupped this coffee blind (like we do for most offer samples). It jumped off the table, a crazy complex lemonade wild enough for Gucci Mane to rap about for four minutes. Totally not the typical earthy, wine-toned coffee I would expect from this part of the world. Everyone who cupped it gave it the two thumbs up for purchase. 

    When I started delving into the backstory, the surprises kept coming. First off, the varietal: the Arabica planted on the Kateshi and Isanya estates is 100% Catimor 129. Catimor is a cross between Caturra (a bright, acidic Bourbon derivative) and Hibrido de Timor. It's super disease resistant and productive. However, Hibrido de Timor has strong genetic links to Robusta, which can pass along some vegetal and rough flavors that the specialty community typically eschews. Good processing and the unique conditions on any farm can make it shine, but it's still not as revered as Bourbon or Typica. In the Kateshi Isanya, its complexity and balance definitely rivals those more "desirable" cultivars. 

    The history of these estates is also a departure from our typical origin story. Zambia, which lies smack dab in the middle of Sub-Saharan Africa to the west of Tanzania, only came into prominence as a coffee producer in the 1980s. Our partners at Olam, a multinational coffee and grain player with a great specialty coffee division, recently took over the giant Kateshi and Isanya plantations in Zambia's Northern Province. Olam completely rehabilitated these farms, a years-long process, to revitalize the health of the soil through intercropping. They did a vast replanting using Catimor 129 for its hardiness. Schools and clinics were built, and the first female tractor drivers in Zambia prepared the soil. Zambia does not have a history of small-scale coffee production, but the plantations are developing a program for small farmers to begin growing around the estates.

    This year is the very first harvest of the new plantings.  Even the owners were surprised by the outstanding result! We love the Kateshi Isanya now, but we've already started a dialogue with Olam that will have a measurable effect on next year's offerings.  We're excited to be at the forefront of this budding project in a growing region for craft coffee. It serves as a constant reminder to test your own rules--and always be ready to break them. 

    Order Kateshi Isanya

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  • 13 Apr 2016

    Leapfrogging into Specialty: Mexico’s Coop Sierra Mixteca de Yucuhiti

    Mexican coffee used to be the bottom of the barrel in quality terms. A seasoned coffee trader told me once that importers used to refer to a container of low-grade Mexican coffee as a “box full of rocks.” But in the last ten years, changes in quality and practice have elevated the international perception of what is possible in Mexico. Now there is a segmented market available for foreign buyers: the tippy-top micro lots (often at understandably high prices), and large, regional blends that are unimpressive but consistent. It’s still a challenge to find an “everyday” coffee between these extremes from Mexico.

    The town itself lies at about 1300 meters. Most of the farms are slightly higher, between 1400-1600 masl. This makes for some beautiful views.

    To this end, we wound up the slopes in Tlaxiaco, watching fog swirl around the truck as we moved toward the tiny town of Guadelupe Miramar. With night so dark we could barely see our feet in front of us, we opened the car doors after driving for hours and immediately hiked through a pine forest dense with Typica. Hermenegildo Garcia, effective head of Coop Sierra Mixteca de Yucuhiti, led the way. Merit purchased some outstanding micro lots from this group in 2015, and their notes of rich chocolate and silky mouthfeel made me wonder if we could find that larger lot for an amazing espresso or drip. Our export partners at Caravela had spelled out their intention to invest in this cooperative, giving us even more confidence in the supply chain.

    Hermenegildo Garcia, head of Coop Sierra Mixteca de Yucuhiti.

    We cut through the branches to a clearing with a little shack. Here, Gildo introduced me to his parents, who owned the hectares of coffee plants that we had hiked through. Dried corn cobs and and firewood rested on the walls of the room. We sat down for a snack while Gildo translated between Spanish and Mixteco, the pre-Colombian language of the locals and the language of daily use for Gildo and his family.

    Coffee and maize kept mixing in Guadelupe Miramar. It’s pretty common to see a small corn field on the edge of a slope of coffee trees, and I once saw coffee parchment drying a few feet away from corn on a cement patio. Both have a rich tradition in the Sierra Mixteca mountain range. When the roughly 150 members of Coop Sierra Mixteca broke off from a larger cooperative in 2013, their vow to focus on quality was actually bolstered by traditional farming techniques. Their use of lower-yielding Typica plants actually creates a tastier cup. Common sense organic farming methods and vermiculture composting are the de facto way to grow coffee. These producers have leapfrogged a lot of bad habits by coupling tradition with the influence of 21st century specialty coffee. Though the roya crisis has tested the limits of organic farmers (Mexico’s crop was down by more than half this year), these farmers persist and adapt as they have for generations. There are lots of clear opportunities for quality improvement, but the attitude of this group suggests it could be a great partnership. We look forward to tasting a bit of Guadalupe Miramar at Merit in the years to come.

    – Jamie Isetts, Director of Green Coffee

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  • 19 Feb 2016

    Nicaragua- Brisas del Mogoton and Exotic Varietals

    posted by Badi Bradley

    Our partner Badi Bradley, head of Caravela’s import operation in the US, captured an interesting exchange I had with Bayardo Jimenez of Finca Brisas del Mogotón and Roger Rodriguez of Beneficio La Estrella about the exotic Maracaturra lot we purchased from this farm in 2015. Maracaturra is a coffee varietal known for its giant beans and unique peach-pineapple acidity. –Jamie Isetts, Director of Green Coffee

    Traveling to origin is a wonderful way to see first hand what our colleagues on the export side of the business are working on. We are constantly striving to improve, so there are always new projects in the pipeline, and in the different stages of execution, in all the countries that we work in. These trips are also an opportunity to get a feel for how the harvest is progressing and to taste and perceive what is unique about the current harvest because no two coffee harvests are exactly alike. And of course, an origin trip is also a chance to fortify relationships established between producers and roasters by traveling with the buyers to the farms to share their experiences with the producers who supply their raw materials.

    I recently had the fortune to travel to Nicaragua with our customers from Merit Coffee Roasting in San Antonio, Texas as we went to visit Bayardo and Lenny Jimenez at their farm Brisas del Mogoton in La Union, Nueva Segovia. The folks at Merit had visited last year, had purchased coffee from Brisas del Mogoton and were coming back to see how things are going and to reinforce the relationship. But there was one moment during the visit that stood out to me and it is a moment that I would like to share with you.

    As we were walking through the farm, we started to talk about the Maracaturra variety. The roaster mentioned that the Maracaturra variety behaves very differently than all other varieties, that it is so different that it must be roasted separately, either at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day or even on a separate day. This coffee doesn’t like to mixed in with other coffees on a normal production roasting day.

    Bayardo Jimenez, who manages Brisas del Mogoton, then mentioned that the same thing happens on the trees. If the Maracaturra variety is planted in a mixed-variety field, say with Catuai and Bourbon, then the flowering for the Maracaturra plants happens later than the rest. It doesn’t play nice with the others. But, if the Maracaturra is planted in a plot only with other Maracaturra, then it flowers at the same time as the other varieties, which makes it easier for him to coordinate the management and harvest of the farm.

    Not to be outdone, Roger Rodriguez from Beneficio La Estrella and Caravela Nicaragua stepped in to say that the Maracaturra variety must be dried separately from other varieties as well. That the drying curve of Maracaturra doesn’t match that of the others and it cannot be blended in on the drying beds because it would lead to uneven drying and the consequences thereof. Maracaturra needs white-glove treatment because it is temperamental and needs even more attention to detail than the others. But that if it is kept separate then the Maracaturra, as well as the other varieties, could be dried to the desired levels without complications.

    At this point, I felt like we had all just learned something. The Maracaturra variety needs to be separated at every step of the process, and by doing so it can be given the attention that it demands, while at the same time allowing for the other friendly varieties to be blended together in harmony. The reward for the extra effort is in the cup for the Maracaturra, but also can be measured in logistics, efficiency and the overall quality of all the coffee on the farm, simply by keeping it separate.

    I was also excited because this nugget of knowledge was revealed to us through collaboration. By having the custodians of the coffee at different stages in one place, we could share our experience, and through that shared knowledge we were able draw a conclusion that will help us in our constant quest to improve. It was a fulfilling moment, like many in the specialty coffee trade, and I am grateful that I was able to witness it. And I hope that by reading this, it contributes to your knowledge base on your quest to improve, as well.

    – Badi Bradley, Caravela Coffee, Managing Partner

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  • 16 Feb 2016

    Revisiting a favorite, Nicaragua 2016

    posted by Jamie Isetts

    Our trip to Nicaragua represents the deepening of an existing relationship. The real fun starts when a coffee makes it through a season of serving and we can begin the cycle again with more perspective. Though we begin every relationship with the goal of a years-long collaboration, the reality is that we need to test the coffee—and the partnership—for several seasons before we can really know how long term it will be. We purchased three coffees from miller/import-export group Caravela in Nicaragua last year. If you had La Roca as drip, drank coffee at the Hotel Emma, or tried the slow pour Maracaturra varietal from Finca Brisas del Mogotón, you’ve had coffee from this project. Robby and I returned to Ocotal, Nueva Segovia in late February to assess the harvest for this year.
    Robby, myself, and Bayardo Jimenez at Bayardo’s farm, Finca Brisas del Mogotón.

    Dual-sport motorcycles are the transportation of choice for the rocky, steep roads leading to the farms.

    Alba Luz leads us through her farm. Alba’s coffee contributed to our exclusive offering for Hotel Emma.

    The biggest step forward in Ocotal is the construction of a state-of-the art dry mill, Beneficio La Estrella. Staff agronomists conduct a pre-analysis of coffees at the farm before purchasing wet parchment lots and transporting to the mill. A card with vital info follows each lot from farm to export. We were delighted to see the mill’s immaculate new three-layer raised drying beds, which work wonders for increasing the cleanliness and shelf life of a coffee. The mill technicians measure the humidity and temperature at each level and keep track of the data. This allows for a constant, objective monitoring of the conditions of the coffee—and reminds us of our own use of data in finding the perfect roast and brew.

    Each lot that comes to Beneficio La Estrella has an info card that follows it throughout its life at the mill, a level of traceability that we definitely appreciate.

    Coffee is pre-dried on raised beds in Nueva Segovia while workers pic out obvious defects.

    First to taste this improvement in quality is William Ortiz, Quality Director for the project in Nicaragua. Originally from Colombia, William heads the cupping lab at La Estrella and ties what he tastes back to the farm and drying operation. William works with his team to taste every lot that comes through the mill and creates a dialogue with agronomists and farms to improve wet milling, picking, fertilizing, and disease management. If the early harvest lots we cupped are any indication, the work of William and Beneficio La Estrella will make our Nicaraguan offerings even tastier in 2016.

    William Ortiz, Quality Director for Caravela Nicaragua.

    – Jamie Isetts, Director of Green Coffee