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Nice work, Krystal Jackson, winner of the June 2013 Counter Culture Coffee Cup Tasters Challenge. Photo by Scott Satterwhite.
Congratulations to Krystal Jackson of Asheville's High Five Coffee Bar. Krystal was the overall top finisher in last night's Cup Tasters Challenge event. Participants at each Training Center tasted four sets of three cups each and tried to identify which was different from the other two in each set. Krystal identified all four flights correctly in 52.5 seconds!
 
The Cup Tasters Challenge title belt will be heading to Asheville because the top 5 participants there got the most right of any of our Training Centers. Way to go, Asheville.
 
Thanks to everyone who competed and special thanks for gracious help from prize sponsors Baratza grinders and Espresso Supply!
 
Hope you can make it to the next one,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: regional events
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
Erin McCarthy, 2013 World Brewers Cup Champ. Photo courtesy WCE/Livestream.
Erin McCarthy is the 2013 World Brewers Cup champ!
 
A finalist at the Northeast Regional Brewers Cup Competition earlier this year, Erin took top honors at the US Brewers Cup in Boston in mid-April and the World Brewers Cup this weekend with a Gesha-variety coffee from Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama.
 
Congratulations to Erin!
 
Sincerely,
Nathan
 
Note: In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, our transit carriers will not be picking up or delivering packages on Monday, May 27. Orders received now through midnight on Monday will be roasted, packaged, and shipped on Tuesday, May 28. Orders in transit may experience a slight delay. Please order accordingly. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend. Thanks!
 
POSTED IN: regional events
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
Growers in Ethiopia at our compost workshop in March 2013.At the end of March, coffee buyers Kim Elena Ionescu and Tim Hill traveled together – which they almost never get to do; with so much Coffee Department travel, they usually travel separately – to Ethiopia for a compost workshop funded by our $1-per-pound allocation from our 2012 Holiday Blend and attended by 30 farmers from Haru, Idido, and Biloya.

"I was really excited about this trip!" acknowledged Kim Elena. "I was also really nervous, however, because I had committed Counter Culture to hosting a workshop in a place I had never been, in a language I didn't speak, on a subject outside my area of expertise."

Read Kim Elena's full trip report on Flickr offering annotated photos offer an overview of the two-day workshop, as well as a few glimpses into the activities at these cooperatives this time of year.

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
Hannah with Calixto, the go-to guy for receiving coffee and quality control with Triunfo Verde co-op in Guatemala, weighing coffee for cupping.Coffee Buyer's Agent Hannah Popish was in Mexico and Guatemala at the end of March and filed a trip report from her visit with three separate cooperatives – one in Mexico from which we do not currently purchase coffee and two in Guatemala that are active partners.
 
Hannah reported on efforts to address "leaf rust," the implementation of Seeds projects, and some of the goals that the cooperatives are working toward to improve the coffee and quality of life of their members.
 
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
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

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