Nice is Nice, and so are Coffee People

The French Riviera beckons. Photo by Dan Streetman.

The French Riviera beckons. Photo by Dan Streetman.

Our Coffee Director, Dan Streetman, recently traveled to Nice, France, for the 2013 Specialty Coffee Association of Europe conference. While he wasn’t tanning on the beach, he took the time to meet with some coffee colleagues and producers and to judge some rigorous competitions. Here is his recap of the week.

The South of France might be one of the most universally exciting travel destinations in the world, especially in June. When I was invited to attend this year’s Specialty Coffee Association of Europe show, I jumped at the chance. Spending a week in the Riviera was just too enticing, even if it meant a week of trade show activities.

Arriving in France, the plane took a sweep off the coast of the city. Nothing but crystal azure water and terracotta roofs extending from the beach to the foothills in the distance. Even a view of the distant Alps made for quite the introduction. After dropping bags at the hotel and a quick breakfast, I headed over to the convention center for judges’ calibration for the World Latte Art and World Coffee in Good Spirits competitions. We do not conduct national competitions for these events in the United States, so I was especially interested to participate.

The next few days would prove to be a whirlwind of activity, just like every other trade show. I was observing SCAE education classes, judging Coffee in Good Spirits as a sensory judge and walking the show floor in between. I was a little skeptical about Coffee in Good Spirits—a contest involving signature drinks combining coffee and alcohol—because as a coffee purist I have never been a fan of people putting things in my coffee. However the drinks in the competition made me a believer, as all of them were far superior to anything I had tried before in the way of coffee cocktails. This was especially true of the drinks in the final round, with some especially delicious drinks.  France took home the crown with their competitor making a drink that included coffee, Cognac, and a cigar whose smoke was trapped under a cloche and released just before drinking.

Working with SCAE Education folks was equally rewarding, as being so heavily involved with the Barista Guild and SCAA espresso curriculum it is always nice to share war stories with another group that faces similar challenges.

The best surprise of the show however was running into a few of our friends from producing countries. Andres Salaverria, whose family owns the farms of Guadalupe and El Molino in El Salvador was in attendance to facilitate some cuppings at the show with their European clients Nordic Approach. It is always great to see Andres, and especially so when it is unexpected. He informed me that the farms are doing very well, and they have almost defeated the leaf rust scare, reducing the infection from 40% of the farms to 1%. This news came as quite a surprise to me, as there has not been any news like this out of Central America in regards to the leaf rust epidemic.  Andres explained however that careful pruning and a lot of management had been the secret to their success—along with favorable weather.

I was also lucky enough to see Omar Rodriguez, who is President of the Capucas Co-op. He was excited to hear that we had just received our coffees, and that we were looking forward to releasing them (our fresh crop of Capucas is now available). Omar also had surprisingly good reports in regards to leaf rust in regards to our other producers from Capucas: Jose Francisco and Jose Luis who own Los Plantanares and Los Lirios.

My third encounter was with Tsion Taye who was my guide in Ethiopia this year.  We chatted business briefly, and talked about the complexities of Ethiopia. I also got some advice on how to get some very exciting coffees for next year.

Judge Streetman rigging another contest...

Judge Streetman rigging another contest…

After the event, I was energized by the interactions of the show. Volunteering at these events always drives home that coffee is about people—particularly those people who  you may not even expect to run into but who make all the difference. Working and collaborating with these people is my favorite part of working in 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.



Introducing Angel Antonio:


We’ve got an exciting lineup of new coffees that we’ve started releasing just this month! If you think the first coffee we introduced from Capucas was good, then you’d better stay tuned for more details on what other coffees the town is producing!

Earlier this year, a competition was held to select the best microlots from producers in the Capucas coffee producers cooperative. Our very own Director of Coffee, Dan Streetman, was there for the action. And, even better, he was lucky enough to bring us back all five of the winning coffees. All of them. These Capucas microlots will be roasted and offered exclusively by Irving Farm Coffee.

Right now, we’re offering the fifth place winning coffee from the competition, which was produced by Angel Antonio Serrano Deras on his farm, Finca Los Angeles. This year he submitted only 365 pounds of coffee from his 2.5-manzana (4.33-acre) farm. Angel picks this coffee by hand, and is especially careful to select only the ripe cherries. He then processes the coffee in a micro-mill on his farm, using a hand-crank de-pulper to remove the fruit from the bean, and ferments the coffee beans in water for 12-24 hours before washing them with clean water. The coffee is then taken to a “solar-dryer,” which looks like a plastic greenhouse with raised beds inside for drying.

If you’d like to taste the deliciousness for yourself, you can find this coffee at IrvingFarm.com and at our two cafes in lower Manhattan: 71 Irving Place and 56 Seventh Avenue. In early November, we’ll also be opening the doors of our barista training lab for a public tasting and discussion of the five winning coffees from this year’s Capucas microlot competition.

In the coming months, we’ll continue the countdown and offer the other winning microlots. So, stay tuned.

And, as always, let us know what you think of the coffee!

-Ugo