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Aklilu Kassa, owner of Kilenso Mokonisa, has invested heavily in the southern Ethiopian town.
The rush of new arrivals continues with a wide range of flavors. This week, we welcome back the berry-heavy Kilenso Mokonisa Natural Sundried, sweetly crisp Haru, brightly complex Karatu Peaberry, and spicy-sweet Atu Lintang.
 
Kilenso Mokonisa Natural Sundried, from Aklilu Kassa's washing station in Kilenso Mokonisa in southern Ethiopia, showcases what natural sundried processed Ethiopian coffee is all about. Big flavors of blueberry and blackberry are accentuated by a juicy body.
 
This year, we worked with Haru and the Yirgacheffe Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia to recreate the immaculate coffee we bought last year. Better cherry selection and better processing resulted in another lot exclusively for Counter Culture that hits the hallmarks of a great Yirgacheffe coffee. Bright, crisp flavors of lime, jasmine, and sweet honey.
 
The Gitwe Farmers cooperative – near the eastern slope of the Aberdare mountain range in Kenya – impressed us with an amazing coffee two years ago. This tiny, few-hundred pound Karatu Peaberry lot proves that was not just a fluke. Complex tropical fruit, hibiscus, and citrus notes.
 
Atu Lintang grew out of a conversation about improving quality at the Jagong mill in Sumatra a few years back. Weather and mitigating circumstances prevented us from accessing it again for a few years, and we feel fortunate to have revived this project and excited to feature a coffee from Sumatra that reflects our commitment to quality there as everywhere else we work. Look for notes of bell pepper, green grape and spice.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: coffee
Solid organization in the Union el Triunfo cooperative as seen here in community-specific records.
Thanks to the timing of the coffee harvest season in the Northen hemisphere, we have a ton of new coffees arriving almost every week (perhaps literally). We're very happy to welcome the return of two recent favorites alongside a new offering about which we're quite excited, as well.
 
We worked with the Chiapas Mountains Cooperative – a group of small, organic, indigenous farmers in southern Mexico – to bring you Decaf Las Milpas, which boasts rich chocolate notes, almond, and a unifying sweet, perfect coffee flavor. All-natural, organic decaffeination.
 
Don Fernando Lima separated the Pacamara variety coffees from Finca Santa Elena in Santa Ana, El Salvador, for us again this year. Finca Santa Elena Pacamara Microlot gives us a glimpse of the spicy, savory, fruity character of this quintessentially Salvadoran variety.
 
Our new Union el Triunfo offering represents our exciting first foray into partnering with the cooperative of the same name in Chiapas, Mexico, and we are excited to share their coffee with you. The cup is very balanced with notes of bittersweet cocoa and maple syrup.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: coffee
Don Fernando Lima at Finca Santa Elena in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
Every year, we have worked increasingly well with Don Fernando Lima – owner of Finca Santa Elena in Santa Ana, El Salvador – to keep perfecting his coffee. This year, he built an impressive area for raised bed drying based on some feedback from us and even implemented fermentation and processing techniques that we had seen used successfully at other farms. One lot using these techniques placed 5th in the El Salvador Cup of Excellence this year. We are super-proud of Don Fernando and Finca Santa Elena this year, and think it is the best coffee the farm has output for us yet: an extraordinary Bourbon variety coffee with notes of pear, nougat, and orange.
 
Banko Gotiti happened to be shipped to our cupping lab by an exporter working in Ethiopia. We have never been to the farm and don't know the producers, but we know through taste alone that some great things are happening here, and we are looking forward to learning more about the area and producers around Banko Gotiti. It is likely you will see a few more coffees from this tiny village offered from Counter Culture this year. This particular lot of coffee comes from a private washing station focused on quality and offers notes of honeysuckle, lemonade, and raspberry-peach that simply wowed us.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: coffee
The Ndaroini Cooperative in Nyeri embodies the very definition of a great Kenyan coffee.
In Kenya, great geographical conditions – bright-red, iron-rich soil and high altitudes – combine with excellent processing techniques to produce some of the most sought-after coffee in the quality-coffee world.
 
One of the most famous co-ops in all of Kenya, the Ndaroini Cooperative in Nyeri has long been a Counter Culture favorite. Over the years, Ndaroini and its sibling cooperatives built systems to ensure excellent cherry selection and processing that help to make their coffees among the best of the best.
 
Ndaroini refines the classic Kenyan flavor profile and embodies the very definition of a great Kenyan coffee. Look for lime, blackcurrant, and blackberry above a round, juicy body, with hints of sweet savoriness.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: coffee
Marysabel Caballero from Finca El Puente in Marcala, Honduras.
Spring has sprung here in Durham, NC, and, along with favorite seasonal vegetables – like the crazy amount of arugula in my little garden – it's exciting for northern hemisphere favorites Finca El Puente and Finca Nueva Armenia to return, as much because they are remarkable coffees unto themselves, but also because of the months of richly diverse offerings that will inevitably follow.
 
When visiting Finca Nueva Armenia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, the Recinos brothers, Jorge and Javier, are effusive about the baby coffee trees funded in part by our 2009 Holiday Blend project – for which $1 per pound was donated to a reforestation project on their farm and in the surrounding area, watch a short video of the nursery in action at the time of its inception. As ever, their coffee is fantastic: clean, clear notes of green apple, grape, and almond above a crisp acidity and juicy body.
 
Marysabel and her husband, Moíses Herrera, continue the refinement of their exploration of varieties at Finca El Puente in Marcala, Honduras, making improvements at the mill, and so on. Their main lot from Finca El Puente offers lighter purple-lavender and plum notes, black cherry, sugar cane sweetness and toast nut in the finish. And, of course, we're eager for the future, when the building momentum of their variety exploration yields new and different microlots, as well.
 
So, please join us in welcoming fresh harvests of these two familiar favorites, and, happy spring!
 
Sincerely,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: coffee
This Single-Origin Espresso from the Thiriku Cooperative in Nyeri, Kenya, makes for a deliciously sweet, tart ristretto.
Like most of the producers in Nyeri, Kenya, the producers of the Thiriku Farmers Cooperative are very small, averaging only a few hundred coffee trees on their land. Alongside coffee, producer grow other food crops that are primarily used to feed their families. Over the 3 past years, we bought coffee from Thiriku through the Kenyan auction system and through Kenya's "second window" market, which allows producers to sell outside the auction.
 
This year, our coffee from Thiriku was bought outside the auction, as was all of our coffee from Kenya. And, we were also able to establish a better dialogue with the cooperative chair, Erastus Mathenge, and the cooperative set aside specific lots for Counter Culture from what they felt was their best.
 
In this single-origin espresso from Thiriku, chocolate, cherry, and pomegranate combine for a sweet and tart ristretto with a pleasant cherry-cola finish.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
POSTED IN: coffee
Welcome back Los Cipreses from Marcala, Honduras.
Our commitment to organic agriculture has gotten stronger every year. We're working toward only buying organic coffees, and, in 2010, we were at 77 percent – data for 2011 should be ready very soon. We also recently launched the Save Our Soil campaign to encourage people to become advocates for organic agriculture. So, it is with particular enthusiasm that we welcome back Los Cipreses, which, in addition to being organic, is also in incredibly delicious coffee.
 
In the five years we've worked with Marysabel Caballero and Moises Herrera in Marcala, Honduras, for all of the experiments and the successes we have experienced together, one obstacle has remained: their farm, Dulce Nombre de Jesús (better known as Finca El Puente), is not certified organic. Strong encouragement for organic certification has become a regular feature of our conversations with them.
 
So, we were more than just a little surprised when they told us that they had been managing the highest area of their farm – a parcel called Los Cipreses after the cypress trees that grow on that portion of the farm – organically for the previous three years. Thankfully, an organic coffee cooperative in Marcala made it possible for the pieces to fall into place for Counter Culture to purchase the first-ever certified organic coffee from Dulce Nombre de Jesús last year. And, we're excited to offer it again this year.
 
Los Cipreses offers vibrant flavors of citrus and peach perfectly balanced by a juicy body. This is clean, sweet Latin American coffee at its best.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
POSTED IN: coffee
Welcome back Ndaroini.
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!"
 
Sincerely,
Nathan
POSTED IN: coffee

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