Celebrate Earth Day With Rainforest Foundation Project!

Rainforest Foundation Blend

At Irving Farm we’re in constant pursuit of not only delicious, but sustainable coffees that give back to the earth that’s generous enough to grow it, on Earth Day and every day.

Today, April 22nd, try a bag of our Rainforest Foundation Project coffee, a fully USDA organic certified, Bird-Friendly and Fair Trade blend made from a harmony of beautiful coffees from Honduras and Peru. When you purchase a bag of Rainforest Foundation Blend coffee, $1 from the sale of each bag will go to our friends at the Rainforest Foundation, an organization we’re proud to partner with, and even prouder to share with you, this Earth Day.

Or if you’re local, come try a cup in one of our cafes, where we’re featuring it today, and pay for the price of only a small when you bring in your earth-friendly reusable cups. With steps like these we can celebrate Earth Day year-round. In the New York City area, you can also try it at Astor Row Cafe, McEnroe Organic, Union Market on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn, or at selected Whole Foods stores in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Irving Farm at United States Barista Championship!

Liz Dean and Teresa Von Fuchs keep Tamara Vigil upright and upside-down at the Northeast Regional Barista Competition.

Liz Dean and Teresa Von Fuchs keep Tamara Vigil upright and upside-down at the Northeast Regional Barista Competition.

 

If you know the Irving Farm family well, you may be lucky enough to know Tamara Vigil, our Director of Education. In between stints enlightening our own baristas with coffee science, and the wonderful cafes and restaurants that use our coffee, Tamara’s spent the last several months training for barista competitions in the Northeast, and now this week, at the national level.

Tam’s training time took a little longer than usual if you add in the consideration that the original Northeast Regional Barista Competition was derailed in November by Hurricane Sandy—but after making the regional finals in February, Tamara’s excited to go on to compete in Boston, Mass. this week against the best of the best in the industry in the United States Barista Championship. (And knowing a good thing when they see it, Tamara was also recently profiled by the Barista Guild of America in their Five Questions interview series.)

At the Northeast, Tamara competed using our Willer Rivera coffee from Colombia, a beautiful one-bag microlot sourced by our coffee director Dan Streetman. Señor Rivera’s coffee is long gone, but Tamara’s using another incredible Single Origin Colombian coffee, this one from coffee producer Orlando Osa, instead. Orlando’s farm is only a day’s walk from Willer Rivera’s, and we’re so excited to watch Tamara compete with this special coffee we’re even sending our roastmaster, Clyde Miller, along with two other team members, to help cheer and support Tam in person.

Tune in to all the weekend’s festivities live-streaming at usbaristachampionship.org Tam will be competing on Thursday, and we’ll announce the time on our Twitter feed. Go team Irving Farm, and go team Tam!

We Love Hudson Valley Restaurant Week!

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

Irving Farm’s ongoing relationship with Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is a great way for us to show our support of the vibrant, delicious locavore food culture of the Hudson Valley. From the coffee beans we roast farmhouse fresh in Dutchess county to the cups we serve at our Millerton Cafe and in New York City, to the people who enjoy our coffee after dinner at countless Hudson Valley Restaurants–we couldn’t be happier to be a part of this culinary community. Moreover, we find the farm-to-chef conversation critical to our own goals in bringing conscientiously sourced, high quality coffee to our little corner of the world.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

We were delighted to hold a series of coffee tastings at our Millerton cafe last week to honor our connection to this celebration. Thanks again to all involved for a great two-week week of beautiful, thoughtful cuisine, and the great conversations it inspires.

We’ve got big news for the Lower East Side!

 

88 Orchard FacadeWe’re moving on down to the Lower East Side — and we couldn’t feel more at home. We’re delighted to announce that we’ve welcomed longtime friends and Irving Farm retailer 88 Orchard officially into the fold.

This supremely cozy, historic space at the corner of Orchard and Broome has been loyally serving our farmhouse-roasted coffees to the Lower East Side for more than a decade. When the owner, and our friend, Erica, decided it was time to move in a new direction, the idea was obvious: bring her great shop truly into the Irving Farm family as our newest cafe.

Like our other cafes, what we love most about 88 Orchard is its interaction with, and sense of belonging to, the neighborhood around it. As a fixture both in its streetscape and in our hearts, we’ll be careful to preserve the most wonderful things about 88 — while building on its great menu and atmosphere with an even better, more beautiful interior and an improved coffee program that will knock the neighborhood’s socks off.

We’re honored to have the baton of this lovely cafe passed on to us, and we hope you’ll come visit early this summer once we’ve completed our full transition. And yes — we’ll be renaming the cafe Irving Farm Coffee Roasters — but don’t worry. You can still call it 88.

— David Elwell and Stephen Leven, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

We’re back from TED and full of ideas!

Beyond the talks and minds that make TED famous each year is a particular kind of fuel we’re proud to be in the business of: coffee, and the customer service that goes along with it. This year, we were honored to have two of our best coffee professionals, Teresa von Fuchs and Tamara Vigil, selected to help out at the TEDcoffee portion of TED. Here’s Teresa’s firsthand account of what made it so special.

 

Teresa von Fuchs serving coffee at TED2013.

Teresa von Fuchs serving coffee at TED2013.

I first heard about TED when someone sent me the video link of Jill Bolte Taylor detailing her stroke. The story of a Neuroanatomist experiencing her own brain in such a unique way, and then being able to detail that experience just blew me away. The venue for sharing this was TED—and uniquely TED.

So when I was invited, along with 30 other respected coffee professionals, to be a part of this year’s TED, as part of the coffee service program, I was thrilled. Thrilled by the thought of rubbing shoulders with great minds in so many different fields. (And of course there was some of that—I actually met Dr. Bolte Taylor, along with some other very inspiring and smart people). And thrilled by the coffee peers selected with me, and by the way new ideas were able to germinate and bloom so quickly in the simple act of working together. Thrilled by how with even the barest infrastructure, we all took the task of pouring what we loved about coffee so seriously into every cup.

A little background on this year’s #TEDcoffee, as we called it. While serious coffee has always been important to the TED organizers, this was the first year the Barista Guild of America (BGA), the Roasters Guild and the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) had the opportunity to take on the project and present a coffee service as a collaboration.

The Roasters Guild held an open call for coffee submissions, and blind cupped coffees from 36 different roasters. They then selected five coffees to be highlighted as single origins, and created one blend using coffees from three different roasters.

The Barista Guild sent invites to members it had identified as having strong “skills in not only making great coffee but being exceptional ambassadors for specialty coffee.” And the SCAA asked its equipment and smallwares members if they could loan/donate/pitch in to create the seven bars that were open continuously during the event. There’s no overstating what a massive amount of logistical, organizational and plain-old-elbow-grease was required to just set the process in motion, let alone pull it off as a raging success. Huge props, hugs and high fives go out to Chris Schooley, Head of the Roasters Guild, Trevor Corlett, Vice-Chair of the BGA, Julie Housh of World Coffee Events and Peter Giuliano of SCAA Symposium.

The day before TED opened, 30 baristas flew to California from all over the world and met up at SCAA headquarters in Long Beach to get the scoop on the work we had cut out for us during the next week. Our organizing leaders had invited the barista team because they knew we could all make great coffee and spin a good yarn about what makes it special, but they had an even clearer idea of what they wanted service to look like. Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of the SCAA, started us off by talking about how we’re all here because we love coffee:

“We think it’s really important, but at the end of the day, it’s just coffee. We’re not curing cancer, its not rocket science, there’s no nutritive value. But that’s one of the reasons its special. We don’t need wine or music or love to survive either, but it’s those things that make life richer, sweeter. And coffee has that power too, to enhance our lives not because we need it, but because we love it. And we can share that love with the folks at TED.”

We were encouraged to talk about the coffees by talking about what we were doing, not just the seed-to-cup story, but focusing on the craftsmanship and artistry of making specialty coffee special. In the same vein, Chris Schooley asked that we focus on the actual people who roasted these coffees. We were given info about each coffee, and each roaster detailed how he or she approached this coffee. He asked that we name the roaster, not just the company, for each coffee when we served it.

Trevor Corlett followed this up by reminding us that the story of all of us coming together from competing companies, that we volunteered our time and paid our own ways to be there, could help create the potential “lightbulb” moment for people in attendance.  These were, after all, some of the brightest people in the world, coming together to share ideas: why wouldn’t they want to share some ideas about coffee with some of the brightest coffee pros around?

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All this inspiring talk about service and love eased us into the nitty gritty of schedules: though it was now pushing 10pm, some folks were still needed to finish setting up the bars. And this was basically how the rest of the week would run: morning meetings started at 7am, we started closing the coffee bars down at 7pm, and then all tromped to dinner where we’d discuss the finer points of how these big ideas of service were translating into the day-to-day details.

tedwater

So how did all these big ideas translate into actual service? About as well as they do at home, in all of our best-intentioned specialty coffee businesses. A small percentage of folks already got it and were thrilled with what we were doing and that we were there. A similar percentage commented that they’d come in with a cup of something else and soon realized they couldn’t drink it once they compared it with the deliciousness we were serving. A few folks had their socks blown off for the first time. Most folks said thank you. And a good number barely registered that we weren’t catering staff. And though that reality could seem disheartening, it didn’t kill the love we poured into every cup one bit. It didn’t dampen the collective professional passion, or our ability to remain open to learning something from the person working beside us. There was a really natural and quick evolution of bar/work flow as folks from all different shops and backgrounds worked together during the stampedes to fill every cup, and how we drew together in the slow times to coax attendees into engaging. The story of collaboration, of the three-roaster blend, of working next to someone who at other times is a “competitor” (in business life, or literally your opponent in a barista competition) infused the whole experience, creating real magic. As Peter G. encouraged us in our early meeting, this helped us bring “real humanity into the equation of specialty.”

I don’t mean to downplay the joy or truly incredible experience many attendees had—there were meaningful and rewarding service moments every day, when someone (like former VP Al Gore or the head of Google) started asking questions about the coffee or what we were doing, or why our badges said volunteer when we were clearly working hard, or had that look of pure delight when they took a sip and actually tasted the coffee.

One of my favorite, though silly, moments was overhearing an attendee, or TEDster as we called them, walk by and ask her friend “Did you know the coffee people here are world champion coffee makers? They came just to make us award winning coffee.”  But one of the biggest things I took back with me was how much we can learn about preparation and presentation from the spirit of collaboration—of working with people who you’d otherwise not have the opportunity to work beside. This coming together renewed a focus on the coffee as a whole as special, not just our company or shop or cup or even the coffee producer, but the collective work and passion that goes into the whole equation.

ted1

Along these lines, I want to mention a parallel I’m still chewing on from one of the talks I got to hear during the event. We talked about this and many other ideas from the talks in our clean-up or slow moments, but I’d like to know what you all think about how this idea can relate to our work: musician and performer Amanda Palmer talked about wanting to never lose a direct “intense kind of eye contact” connection with her fans, about how she approaches her art, her life and her music with a daring trust in her fans and collaborators to support and “catch” her.

And from that perspective it looked like maybe the music industry has been asking the wrong question, when it wonders “How do we get people to pay for music?” The question she wants to explore is how can we ask them to pay for music? And in that vein, I’m wondering how we can we ask our customers and coffee drinking people what’s special to them about coffee and in what new ways we can draw them into our love and passion.

Thanks for reading, it was a long, awesome week and this is really only the beginning of the ideas and inspiration bubbling up. For a full list of “winning” coffees, “world champion coffee makers” and partner supporting organizations that made #TEDcoffee possible, check out the BGA blog here.

SCAA Special Recognition Awarded to Dan Streetman!

Irving Farm Coffee Green Buyer and SCAA Special Recognition Award Winner Dan Streetman
Congratulations to Dan Streetman, winner of a 2013 SCAA Special Recognition award!

We at Irving Farm Coffee Roasters have recognized Dan Streetman, our Green Coffee Buyer and Vice President of Wholesale, as special for some time. His career path and dedication to specialty coffee speak for themselves: for ten years, Dan has applied himself to constantly bettering his understanding of coffee and, in turn, helping coffee get better alongside it. As a seasoned coffee professional, Dan’s had a chance to work for such venerated companies as Cuvee Coffee Roasting Company, in his home state of Texas, and historic Dallis Bros. Coffee here in New York City.

All the while, Dan’s been seen on the scene: whether it’s his worth with the Barista Guild of America, helping baristas further themselves along with the craft of coffee preparation, or his countless hours volunteering as a Certified Head Judge at barista competitions nationwide since 2008. As a member of Team Irving Farm, we’ve been honored to have his guidance and expertise in the continued improvement of our green coffee sourcing operations, among countless other contributions he makes to our wholesale and day to day operations.

We’re thrilled, then, to see him receive this unique Special Recognition Award from the Specialty Coffee Association of America for 2013, to be formally awarded at the SCAA annual conference in Boston, this coming April. From the SCAA website: “These leaders have made contributions to the industry, resulting in the development and promotion of coffee excellence and sustainability.”

We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Dan!

Irving Farm Coffee Takes the Stage!

Tamara

 

Join us this week in cheering on two of Irving Farm’s favorite coffees and coffee people in the 2013 Northeast Regional Barista Competition, taking place right here in New York City. This annual event leads up to the United States Barista Championship, and is an exciting way to raise awareness of what great coffee is and can be, through competition between the very best of the very best.

Our Director of Education, Tamara Vigil, and our Tech Extraordinaire, Bill McAllister, will compete Wednesday and Thursday in the Barista Competition and Brewer’s Cup. Tamara will be using our exclusive, only-available-in-stores Colombia Willer Rivera coffee, and Bill will be showcasing our amazing Los Lirios from Honduras.

The event is open to the public and streaming online, or capture the magic at home with a bag of fresh roasted Irving Farm coffee!

Celebrating Honduran Coffees

honduras

 

Honduras is a very special coffee producing country. For many farming families, producing coffee is still a new vocation: as such, there’s a palpable energy and passion for the newness of this wonderful crop. In our travels to Honduras, it’s been absolutely magical to watch Honduras transform, and work alongside producers as they try new things, working to bring their coffee to exemplary levels worthy of demanding, high-quality purchasers.

To celebrate our current roster, enjoy 10% off these Honduran coffees* now through 2/20:

 

capucas

CAPUCAS, HONDURAS

The town of Capucas is home to just over 80 families who produce coffee. Throughout town, coffee plantations border small homes, with vegetable gardens and chickens loose in the yard. Many of the farmers also have small “micro-mills” to process their coffees, and then sell through the co-op.

lirios
LOS LIRIOS, HONDURAS

Los Lirios means The Lilies and is the home of Jose Luis Rivera and his family in western Honduras. The Riveras are members of the Capucas co-op, and for years have sold their coffee through the cooperative. Recently, they established a small mill on the farm, and started processing their own coffee.

plantanares
LOS PLANTANARES, HONDURAS

Pancho has been growing coffee for more than 20 years, mostly selling his crop to the local co-op. His wife and five children live on the farm, and the whole family is passionate about coffee. Pancho’s intimate connection to his coffee is an inspiration, and so is this micro-lot Los Plantanares: an inspiration in the cup.

Is your lover a coffee lover?

ifch-millertion-6

 

Flirting with the idea of the perfect consumable Valentine’s Day gift? Irving Farm Coffee Roasters offers the perfect way to get to delight someone with a cafe gift card he or she can use to buy coffee, treats, or more at any of our cafes. Perhaps they’ll even share a cup with you?

Looking for something with a little more commitment? We also offer coffee subscriptions in three, six, and twelve-month periods, for the gift that keeps reminding your special someone of your impeccable taste — and just how sweet it is to share coffee together in the mornings.

 

Los Pozos: Sweetness Direct from Nicaragua

Los_Pozos

At Irving Farm, we visit a lot of farms and are always looking for new ways to make farm relationships. Our Nicaragua Los Pozos offering is a special coffee with a special story. We purchased this sweet and deep coffee through a brand new organization working to make the links between producers and coffee roasters that much more direct. Pulley Collective, a New-York-based initiative, has been working since 2012 to connect very small producers — many of whom are award winners — with international roasters through carefully curated auction systems.

Through their efforts we were introduced to this beautiful example of Nicaraguan single origin coffee, a big-drinking, rustic and sweet cup, full of dried fruit and spice notes and perfect for winter drinking.

 

 

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