Winter and spring are a time for Southern Hemisphere coffees to shine, and we're stoked to kick off Southern Hemisphere Africas with the Agaseke Women's Producer Group in Rwanda.
Agaseke - named after a traditional Rwandan basket with a pointed lid, traditionally used for gift-giving - is a relatively new group of 265 female farmers, and is part of the larger KOPAKAKI Cooperative. The most quality-driven female members of the cooperative organized into their own group in 2018, and together with the larger cooperative, focuses on helping its members produce better coffee and attain higher pricing, and re-invests its premiums into women’s health and education initiatives, agronomy support, and microcredit loans for its members.
One of the reasons we love Rwandan coffee is that the Lake Kivu area is planted almost entirely in Bourbon, a coffee variety that lends a deep, sugary, syrupy sweetness. Variety, rich red clay soil, meticulous picking and sorting, and careful processing all work together to layer that sweetness with sparkling acidity complexity.
Agaseke brings a combination of fruit-driven acidity and deep sweetness to the lineup. We're tasting cranberry, shortbread cookies, lemon, and apricot in this years’ crop!
Brazil is still a relatively new feature on the Huck single origin menu, and Sitio Bela Vista brings something different to our table!
This past year we visited Brazil for the first time, and in addition to spending time with longer-term partners BD Imports, Apara Cafes, and farmers in the Campo das Vertentes area of Minas Gerais, we also spent some time with Thiago Trovo at Osito Coffee’s new Brazil office. Thiago has a long history working with larger Brazilian export companies, and a specific interest in promoting and further developing coffee in Espirito Santo.
Brazil has a reputation for massive farms, flat terrain, and boring-if-consistent quality, and while we’ve learned that’s not the case if you’re working with the right people, some things are common throughout most of the bigger coffee-growing regions, even on the smaller farms. The climate is warm and dry, farms generally focus on natural-processing (even if it doesn’t always taste super fruity), and the farms tend to be both flatter and less-shaded than we’re accustomed to in other parts of Latin America.
Espirito Santo is an outlier. This region is actually quite hilly, with a cool, humid, microclimate and plenty of water access. As a result of that water, farmers can produce washed coffee, and as a result of that humidity, they have to at least remove the cherry skin before drying, to prevent mold and other defects. That means the honey and washed processes rule the roost here. Plus, the hilly terrain we’re used to in Peru and Colombia forces farmers’ hand to handpick coffee, as opposed to the more mechanized picking in other parts of the country.
On the right farm, the result of all those factors are coffees that can taste more like a typical Central American coffee than a typical Brazil. Cleaner, brighter, and more nuanced, without some of the heavier fruit, process-influenced flavors that quality-focused farmers need to pursue in other parts of the country. We’re not knocking fruity Brazils by any means (Sitio Embira is awesome!), but we like clean, too, and variety is the spice of life.
For our first year roasting from Espirito Santo, we’re highlighting a honey-processed coffee from Jose Debona Romao and his second-generation farm, Sitio Bela Vista. The pear, milk chocolate, almond and marzipan are clean, crisp, and sweet, with just a hint of rosehip and berry complexity to round out the show.
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Brazil! As a single origin! Two years back, Luis and Edilaine Romao changed our mind about offering Brazils as single origins, and they’re back with this fruit-forward, funky natural.
Brazil has always played a role at Huckleberry, it's usually been a utilitarian one. The country is the world's biggest coffee producer by a longshot, and with relatively low altitudes and a coffee industry that prioritizes productivity over cup quality, your stereotypical Brazil - if it's a good one - is low in acidity and overall pretty mellow in flavor. And while some of the farmers are undoubtedly great people, Brazil's coffee industry is steeped in its colonial past, dominated by huge farms, owned primarily by families of European descent.
So good, but typical Brazils are not necessarily the type of coffee we usually seek out for our single origin lineup, but they’ve always formed an important building block in Blue Orchid, Sound and Vision, and cold brew.
Two years back though, we started working with Phyllis Johnson and Miriam Aguiar in Brazil, and after spending some time with both in Brazil last year, we’re all in. Phyllis owns BD Imports in the US, and has been one of the major forces pushing for increased diversity in the coffee industry. And Miriam runs Apara Coffees, an exporter focused on developing coffee and sustainable practices at smaller farms in the Minas Gerais region in Brazil. Together, they've been working to highlight female and black Brazilians in coffee, and have given us the chance to taste and roast some wonderful coffees. More often than not, these gems would have been blended into large, untraceable, regional lots.
The Româo family and their farm, Sitio Embira are exactly the type of farmers we're excited to highlight. Luis Româo worked on others' coffee farms in his youth, but spent much of his adult life as a bricklayer. Luis returned to coffee through a stroke of luck, entering a church raffle and winning the money he needed to move back to the countryside and purchase the land for Sitio Embira. Several years in, Luis manages the farm, while his wife Edilaine and son Diego manage processing, drying the farm's natural-process coffee on raised beds - an exceedingly rare setup in Brazil. Beyond the slower drying, the family has also fine-tuned a period of anaerobic fermentation in sealed barrels before drying, boosting the fruity intensity of the coffee, while keeping that intensity from getting out of hand.
Sitio Embira produces coffee that's far from your typical Brazil - this ain't mellow at all. We're tasting big fruit - sangria, concord grape and raspberry, red wine-like acidity, and rounded out with dark chocolate and a pleasant, praline-like nuttiness. Sometimes it's good to be proven wrong, and we couldn't be happier that the Romaos, BD Imports, and Apara Coffees have changed our minds on Brazil. This one's only here for a short while, and only on the Huck site and in our cafes, so get it while and where you can.
*** for roasting schedule, shipping, receiving & additional information, please visit out Frequently Asked Questions ***
Pictured L to R: Diego, Luis, Edilaine, Diego, and Cauã RomãoView full product details
Huck has been with Long Miles since their first harvest in 2013, and look forward to new and innovative coffee from the group every year - this our third harvest roasting a delicious Long Miles honey, and our first roasting any coffee from farmers on Bumba hill!
Honey-processed coffees lie somewhere between a washed- and natural-process coffee. The outer layer of the coffee is removed (depulped), but rather than washing off the sticky fruit on the outside of the bean, the coffee is dried with this sticky layer, often called either mucilage or honey, still on the seed. In this case, Long Miles’ Ninga Washing Station added a 72 hours of oxygen-reduced fermentation between depulping and drying, and the result is one of the brightest, most complex honeys we’ve tasted from any origin, and one of the best coffees of any process we've tasted from Long Miles.
The Long Miles Coffee Project was founded by Ben and Kristy Carlson, an American couple living in Burundi. Upon seeing the difficulties farmers faced while Ben was working as a coffee trader, the Carlsons built two washing stations in the region, and have worked with area farmers to help them fetch better prices. By working with the farmers to develop stringent quality practices at the farm level, then washing and milling the coffee with meticulous care, Long Miles is able to ensure that the coffee is of the highest quality possible. By working with Huckleberry and other roasters who commit to coffees before they've shipped from Burundi, the Long Miles Coffee Project is able to pay the farmers a higher price for their coffee than they would receive on the open market and from other washing stations.
Bumba is a specific hill near Long Miles' Ninga washing station, and this coffee comes exclusively from the Long Miles farmers living on that hill. Until recently, Bumba farmers made a much longer journey to Bukeye station, but over the past couple harvest, Long Miles’ newest station on Ninga hill has made the journey significantly more manageable.
Bumba Honey is bright, sweet, fruity, and complex - we're tasting subtly-floral creamed honey, melon, and peach tea in our mugs!
*** For roasting schedule, shipping, receiving & additional information, please visit out Frequently Asked Questions . And, for a primer on coffee processing, check out our Processing Basics Guide. ***
Photo courtesy Long Miles Coffee Project.View full product details