Hi Huck friends,
We're excited about these coffees for a few reasons. We like the way they taste, and Atitlán represents our strongest relationship at origin. And, let's be honest: we were running a pretty Africa-heavy lineup for a few weeks there. I love African coffees, and part of roasting a seasonal, single origin-focused lineup is that at times we'll have more coffees from one area of the world than another. Still, it's nice to have a bit more Latin American coffee back in the roastery and in our mugs.
Anyways, let's talk about them coffees.
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Esperanza de Garzón is a limited release coffee for us, grown by Nelson Andrés at his farm Finca La Esperanza in La Trinidad de Garzón, Huila, Colombia. We source some of our favorite Colombian and Central American coffees through Caravela Coffee, a Colombia-based exporter and importer. We think they're responsible for some of the most dependable quality in the industry, and every once in a while, they offer us a single farmer coffee that stands out from his or her growers cooperative.
This year, Nelson Andrés produced one of those special coffees, and we think it's a great example of just how bright and clean Colombian coffees can be. Señor Andres grows only Caturra variety coffee, and washes and dries his coffee on farm. We're currently in the planning stages of a Colombia trip with Caravela, and are looking forward to seeing Finca la Esperanza firsthand. We taste green grape, spice, and candied citrus, and have enjoyed using this coffee both filter-brewed and as espresso. We only have a little bit of this coffee, and it won't be around too long.
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Atitlán el Grano should be familiar for those of you have been on the Huckleberry bandwagon for a little while. This is our third year roasting this crowd-pleaser from the AProCafé El Grano growers association in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala, and if you count a year when these growers were operating semi-autonomously as part of a larger cooperative called FEDEPMA, I think we can safely call it year 4.
We think this organic-grown coffee is one of the most versatile coffees we offer. It works great as a black coffee, and does have subtle fruity complexity and crisp brightness for all you pourover aficionados. But it also packs big, traditional flavors of chocolate, caramel, and almond butter that help this coffee work well as a single origin espresso, and as filter coffee pair well with milk and make for a good every day, every person drinker.
Atitlán el Grano is our first offering from AProCafé this year. Later this summer we'll also start to roast microlots bearing some other familiar names: Don Pedro, Don Manuel, Doña Lucinda, and a new one from Familia Sosa*. We're proud of all of these coffees in their own right - they're delicious - but Guatemala means a bit more for Huck than just another single origin offering on our shelves. Here are just a few of the ways we dig in with APrCafé.
1.) Sister Winter and Leaf Rust
Leaf rust, or roya, is a fungal disease that has decimated Central American coffee production over the past few years, and is becoming more and more prevalent with global warming. Danilo Cholotio, an AProCafé farmer and the group's agronomic advisor, crafts an organic-approved sulfur dioxide treatment for the association's coffee plants, which he personally distributes to each farm for 3 applications between harvests. For the past two years, Huckleberry has used a portion of proceeds from our Sister Winter Holiday Blend to pay for all of the raw materials for this treatment.
2.) Single Farm Microlots
AProCafé gives us access to some amazing coffees, separating out the coffee grown by a few model farmers, so that we can highlight those farms' particular flavor nuances. This requires quite a bit more effort on behalf of both the organization and the farmers, and we pay roughly $1.50 more per pound than the association earns when selling its main lot to an importer. As we and AProCafé grow, our goal has always been to highlight more of this coffee ourselves, and help the association find a home for more of it than we can roast ourselves, at a price it deserves. So, we've helped the organization gain direct access to a few of our other friends in the US roasting community.
Two years ago, we purchased 6 x 150lb bags of these single farmer coffees, split evenly between two farmers: Lucinda Puac Perez and Manuel Tzic Saso. The microlot program is still relatively small, at just over 60 bags total, but this year there are 5 AProCafé farmers participating and earning more for their effort, and 5 US roasters highlighting their great coffee. Huckleberry will release our first single farmer lots towards the end of the summer, and we're proud to grow this program with Buddy Brew Coffee in Florida, Press Coffee in Arizona, Maquina Coffee Roasters in Pennsylvania, and Switchback Coffee Roasters in Colorado Springs for 2017.
3.) Main Lot Premiums and Quality Improvements
AProCafé does a great job selling most of its coffee to US-based importers, who are an incredibly valuable part of the supply chain. It's great that we can buy 25 bags of microlots and 25 bags of coffee from the association as a whole, but when AProCafé sells 500 bags at a time to an importer, that's security for its farmers. This year, we're purchasing our main lot - this release of Atitlán el Grano - through Atlantic Specialty Importers, though we've also worked with our friends at Olam Specialty and Cafe Imports to offer AProCafé's coffee in prior years.
For 2017, we're setting aside $0.20 per pound of AProCafé coffee on top of our purchase price, and using it for direct assistance to the group. Some of this spending is still TBD, but we started things off by buying the group a handheld moisture meter, which allows growers to test if their coffee is appropriately dried after washing. We're hoping that this improves the quality of coffee we see from both individual farmers and the group as a whole, allowing more farmers to contribute coffee for microlot selection in 2018 and enabling the group to demand higher premiums for its main lot coffee.
We'll work hand in hand with AProCafé to make sure that the rest of that $0.20/lb gets put to good use, but are waiting to hear how the growers can best put it to work. We do plan to spend this premium on specific projects, but want to make sure we're listening, rather than just pushing our own ideas on the group.
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All said and done, we're stoked on these two new coffees, Esperanza de Garzón and Atitlán el Grano. We're stoked on the AProCafé microlot coffees that will be coming our way later this summer. And we're stoked to travel back to Guatemala, partner with AProCafé for the long haul, help the group earn a better livelihood, and roast some tasty Guatemalan coffee for you year after year.
*For full transparency's sake, we'll probably single out 3 of these coffees by themselves, and make #4 the star of this year's Sister Winter. Who'll make the cut? Stay tuned to find out...