Bienvenidos, Concepción Huista
We have a long history of working in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, through our excellent relationship with the Recinos family of Finca Nueva Armenia. So, when an importer shared with us a coffee from a cooperative of small organic farmers in Huehuetenango in 2010, we were intrigued. Kim and Jeff, from our coffee and roasting departments, respectively, planned a side trip after a visit to Nueva Armenia to begin establishing a relationship with the cooperative, called Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Desarrollo de Concepción Huista (CODECH).
We introduced the coffee as a special selection in 2011, and, last year, took another step by embracing Concepción Huista officially into our lineup of perennial coffees, complete with its own label and icon. We look forward to a long, flourishing relationship with CODECH and to continuing to roast delicious coffees like this one.
This year's harvest of Concepción Huista is delicious, fragrant, sweet coffee graced by a variety of fruit aromas, and a beautiful example of what great small farmers can accomplish when they band together cooperatively.
New Training Centers in Boston and Philly
We're thrilled to announce the opening of new training centers next month in Boston and Philadelphia. The two new regional training centers extend our network of spaces dedicated to cutting-edge coffee education curriculum, wholesale customer support, and hands-on training for coffee and food professionals, as well as home coffee enthusiasts.
"Philadelphia and Boston are amazing cities with incredible coffee communities, and we are proud to be a part of each," notes company President and co-founder Brett Smith. "We look forward to sharing what we know and learn about coffee with the many talented folks who live and work there."
In welcoming local communities to these new outposts, each new Training Center will host a a Saturday open house in September.
The Philadelphia Training Center – located at 2149 unit B Catherine Street in Philadelphia – Open House will be held on Saturday, September 8, from noon to 4 p.m. RSVP via Facebook.
The Boston Training Center – located at 374 Somerville Avenue, in Somerville, MA – Open House will be held on Saturday, September 15, from noon to 4 p.m. RSVP via Facebook.
Look for additional details coming soon via Facebook and sign up to get emails about Boston or Philadelphia via our newsletter.
Congratulations to Pavement and Ultimo!
As a lot of folks already know, we don't operate Counter Culture Coffee shops. So, we rely on the people making our coffee and serving it to the public to ensure that the same level of attention to detail is given to brewing and serving our coffee as goes into sourcing and roasting it. (This is why we created our Counter Intelligence coffee education program , btw.) We're very grateful to the many high-quality shops, restaurants, and specialty groceries that serve and sell our coffees.
It's especially gratifying to have two of our friends and partners, Pavement Coffeehouse and Ultimo Coffee, be named the best coffee shops by Boston and Philadelphia magazines, respectively.
"One of the first places in Boston to offer pour-over and cold-brew coffees," noted Boston Magazine. "Pavement goes well beyond crafting lattes and cappuccinos (although these are fantastic here, too)."
And, of Ultimo, Philadelphia Magazine wrote: "The inviting staff, comfortable vibe and Counter Culture coffee would be enough to make Ultimo Philadelphia’s best. That the Newbold spot shares space with Brew-a beer store-makes it the ultimate for a 2 p.m. pick-me-up followed by a 4 p.m. happy hour."
We're very proud of both teams and want to thank their owners, management, and staff for their hard work!
As many of you may recall, we have bought coffee from the Ndaroini washing station in Nyeri, Kenya – as well as the other two washing stations of the Gikanda cooperative, Gitchathaini and Kangocho – in past years, and we couldn't be happier to have Ndaroini back in our lineup after a two year absence.
"I'm pretty sure that I've never been as impressed with Ndaroini as I am this year," notes Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu. "A deep, Concord grape quality underpins the savory and citrus flavors that we revere in great Kenyan coffees. This fine specimen rolls out on Monday, so jump on it!"
Cream of the Crop from Finca Nueva Armenia
One of the coolest things about Finca Nueva Armenia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, is the sheer drama of its geography. The house and coffee mill sit nestled on a valley floor, near a beautiful river. The coffee farm proper begins a few yards beyond, and almost immediately shoots up a steep valley wall almost to the top of a mountain that towers over the farm house. The dizzying change in altitude from the lowest parts of the farm to the highest is a critical part of Nueva Armenia's character; the high parts of the farm develop slower, harvest later, and taste different than other parts of the farm. In our very first meeting with the Recinos brothers, we discussed the idea of isolating and separating the coffee from different parts of the farm. Cupping led us to the part of the farm called "Area 7," which seemed to consistently taste spectacular.
The next year, immediately upon my late-afternoon arrival to Finca Nueva Armenia, we set out to hike the mountain and see if we could figure out what made coffee from area 7 so special. It took a while for us to there, but I'll never forget our arrival: it was the waning hours of the day, and misty clouds were sweeping through the tall trees that tower over the coffee bushes. Our destination was the landmark of area 7: a small, cavelike spring that emerges magically from the forested slope in this part of the farm. As Jorge Recinos led me to the spot, I exclaimed: "Oh, wow! Un grotto!" in my trademark Spanglish.
Now, it turns out that our word "grotto" (which comes from the Italian grotta) is not all that common in Spanish, but I feel it is one of the most beautiful and evocative words we have. Jorge must have agreed, because from that day he began referring to the coffee from that part of the farm as "El Grotto."
Name aside, we've separated coffee from El Grotto ever since, and it can be fairly called the cream of Finca Nueva Armenia's crop. To taste Finca Nueva Armenia Grotto Microlot beside the main lot from Finca Nueva Armenia is a dramatic experience of geography and discovery, and every time I taste it I am transported back to that moment I first saw the spring, and understood the magic of a little part of a little farm in a little canyon in Guatemala.