Please Welcome Variety: Bourbon
We're pleased and proud to be innovating coffee once again! On Monday, we begin roasting Variety: Bourbon, a brand new kind of coffee. Let me explain: just like all great produce, variety is important – a Granny Smith apple and a Pink Lady apple look, feel, and most importantly taste different from each other. Same goes for tomatoes, potatoes, wine grapes, and, yes, coffee. The wine world figured this out a couple of decades ago and began selling coffee by varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The traditional distance between coffee farmer and roaster has made this impossible in coffee – until now. Our hard work building relationships with farmers and supporting their work with heirloom coffee varieties has led to us being able to sell single-variety coffees, grown by our partners!
This year, we begin a new project – where we will source and roast Bourbon-variety coffee from farms around the globe, seasonally fresh, and blend them to accentuate and celebrate the characteristics of the Bourbon coffee variety. So, Variety: Bourbon it is!
Counter Culture Green Fund: Raised Garden Beds
"I am not a gardener," admits Atlanta Wholesale Regional Representative David LaMont. "At best, my thumbs are the pale green of dead grass."
That lack of aptitude didn't stop David from applying for Counter Culture's employee matching "Green Fund" program to build raised garden beds in the yard of his Sugar Hill, GA, home with the goals of spending more time outdoors with his kids and growing a bit of their own food.
In 2011, our Sustainability Committee introduced the Counter Culture Employee Green Fund, which offers each employee the opportunity to apply for up to $500 a year in matching funds toward a personal sustainability-related project. Other projects have included gym memberships, a high-efficiency washing machine, a rain-water garden irrigation system, home fitness equipment, and more. In its first year, the Green Fund contributed $2,266.01 in matching funds.
Read about David's Raised Garden Bed project on facebook and look for more Green Fund stories coming soon.
Go Big: Cinco de Junio Maragojipe Microlot
Late in 2010, we approached our partners at the Cinco de Junio co-op in Las Sabanas, Nicaragua, about separating coffee from contributing farmers to create microlots. They suggested that they could separate Maragojipe-variety coffee from a small sub-set of their members. Although we had never tasted Maragojipe from this group of growers, our Coffee Department's all-time highest scoring Nicaraguan coffee was Maragojipe, so we went for it. And, we certainly weren't disappointed. Our 2011 Maragojipe microlot knocked our socks off, and we are thrilled that Cinco de Junio replicated the process again this year.
Maragojipe is a legendary coffee variety – the big, beautiful Maragojipe beans can hold intensely delicious flavor. A few farmers from among the cooperative's 150 producers volunteered to harvest and process the coffee from their Maragojipe trees apart from the coffee from more prevalent Caturra and Catuaí varieties, and we select from these to roast for this unique Maragojipe Microlot. Sweet-spicy notes of nutmeg, citrus, and pistachio balance with a crisp brightness and pleasantly dry finish.
NOTE: we will be closed on Monday, so web orders received between now and Monday night at midnight will be roasted, packaged, and shipped on Tuesday, May 29, and orders already in transit may experience a slight delay. Happy Memorial Day!
Spring is in the Air ... or on a Boat!
In recent years, we've increased our focus on coffee seasonality to the point that we roast each year's harvest of a coffee for about 6 months after it arrives, then eagerly await it next year. With the return of Finca Nueva Armenia a few weeks ago, coffees have begun to arrive from the northern hemisphere, and the next few weeks and months will bring an incredible influx.
Coffee Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill posted an update about upcoming coffees along with relevant photos on flickr, sharing his unique insight into coffees as varied as a Finca El Puente Yellow Catuai Microlot from Honduras to a Thiriku Peaberry lot from Kenya. These northern hemisphere arrivals reflect the amazing breadth of coffees (sometimes from a single farm) made possible by the long-term relationships our coffee department works to strengthen each year, as well as by their persistent pursuit of new and exciting coffees.
Perennial favorites like Finca Mauritania and Idido Natural Sundried are on their way, along with soon-to-be favorites like Las Milpas and a tiny 400 pound lot of Santa Elena Kenya Type Microlot. Read Tim's coffee update on flickr for details.
A New Video for Iced Coffee Season
As spring becomes summer in North Carolina, a lot of folks here in our Durham office start thinking about iced coffee. (The Atlanta team is already ahead of us in this respect.) While we're firmly in "sweet tea" country, we prefer the delicious results of brewing coffee directly onto ice to lock in flavors and aromatics. Clean, fresh, sweet, and aromatic, iced coffee made by cooling the coffee immediately avoids oxidized flavors that other brewing methods can produce.
Bright and clean coffees like El Gavilán (Ecuador) are well-suited to this Japanese iced coffee brewing method, but any coffee can reveal interesting and enjoyable characteristics when prepared this way. Ask US Barista Championship finalist Travis Beckett of DC's Peregrine Espresso: he used Japanese-style iced Idido Natural Sundried in his signature beverage.
The Counter Culture Pourover Brewer which serves us so well throughout the year very handily accommodates handcrafting perfect, refreshing iced coffee. Check out our new How to Make Japanese Iced Coffee instructional video to see what we mean.