company - education - coffee

Friday, March 29, 2013

Origin Week: I'd like to introduce...

The SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) is organizing an event in Boston that gives us an opportunity to pull in many of the people we work with.  With a continuing desire for transparency and giving credit where it's due, we have arranged for a list of speakers and small events outside the trade show and competitions that regular people who love coffee can attend for free.

You know we are passionate, but these people are involved in much of what we do at varying levels.  Meet farm owners, mill managers, quality operations that represent small farmers and organize relationships, and others. Origin week highlights the people we work with to bring you coffee. These events give you, our local customers, a chance to interact and hear their story.

Wihout further ado, here is an introduction to all of the amazing people who will be at the Origin Week events, take a look and then go reserve your free tickets for each event over here:

April 9th and April 14th
Gustavo Alfaro is a fourth generation coffee farmer, but he is not your typical producer. After graduating from the University of Guatemala, Gustavo went on to pursue a career in biochemistry which led him from Chile to South Africa. Eventually when the time came for him to take on the operation of Hacienda Santa Rosa, Gustavo brought great new ideas to investing in the future of the farm. One of his first goals was to find a partnership with a roaster who would have a focus on quality and long term growth with HSA. Barismo was amazed with the Buena Esperanza when they first cupped it and became the very first specialty micro roaster to work with HSA. Buena Esperanza went on to place 4th in the 2012 Cup of Excellence with promise of an improved 2013 crop. Gustavo pushes for improvements for the farm at every level, from microlots and agricultural projects to quality of life for workers. 

April 10th
Luis Pedro runs Bella Vista Mill in Guatemala and is also a manager of many quality farms in Guatemala. We have worked with Luis for over four years on various coffees, notably the El Bosque, Bosque Red and Yellow Bourbon microlots from 2011. Luis has implemented continued quality improvements on the farm level at El Bosque. We recently began working with him on an extensive varietal project. Luis has a background in agronomy and a passion for quality.

April 11th
Francisco Mena and Exclusive Coffees are big supporters of the Micromill Revolution in Costa Rica. The so called revolution focuses on specialty quality coffees and lot separation, and has continued to grow with the rise of direct trade efforts by specialty roasters. Barismo has worked with Francisco and Exclusive Coffees on the Don Mayo lot La Loma, Jardin De Aromas mircrolots, and various other excellent coffees.

April 11th
Alejandro Cadena has a degree in Economics from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. He joined Virmax in 2001 and in 2002 he set up Virmax Colombia. Alejandro is the managing director of Virmax, but still visits with coffee growers and continues to seek out new relationships with producers to bring in exciting coffees.

April 11th
Badi Bradley is a specialty coffee importer for Caravela Coffee located in North Carolina. Barismo has worked with Badi for many years to sustainably bring in coffees from Colombia. Caravela, though mainly dealing with Colombian coffees, brings in excellent lots from Honduras, Nicaragua and other Central American countries. 
April 12th
Matthew Hodges founded GeoCertify in 2007, while working with the government of Rwanda to restructure the coffee sector from commodity to specialty grade. He is currently serving as President and CEO of GeoCertify, implementing tracability efforts of microlots through the Ethiopia Commodity Echange.  He spent 5 years as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently lectures at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. He holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University and Harvard University. - from geocertify website
April 12th
Anteneh Assafa is the new CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, succeeding founder of the ECX Eleni Gabre-Medhin PhD. Mr. Assafa holds a degree in managment from Addis Ababa University and a degree in finance from the University of Sorbonne. Mr. Assafa has 15 years experience in the banking sector most recently as the Vice-President of the Bank of Abyssinia.

Reserve your free ticket for these events at:

Signup now:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Origin Week Events

barismo coffee roaster presents
 Origin Week Full Event List 
April 9-14, 2013  Free registration for all events at
they grow it, we roast it, you love it. shake the hands that planted your coffee.
Barismo is a local coffee roaster who has dedicated years to sourcing the freshest quality coffee. We work tirelessly to foster transparent and sustainable Direct Trade relationships with the top growers, exporters, and importers in the world. This April, join us for Origin Week and seize the opportunity to shake the hands that planted your coffee.

Gustavo Alfaro of HSA at Voltage, Guatemalan Coffees
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)
Voltage Coffee & Art, 295 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142

Luis Pedro from Bella Vista Mill / El Bosque in Guatemala
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)
Simon's Too, 983 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

Francisco Mena of Exclusive Coffees in Costa Rica
Thursday, April 11, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (PDT)
Dwelltime Coffeebar and Bakeshop, 364 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

Badi Bradley and Aljandro Cadena Colombian Coffees
Thursday, April 11, 2013 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (PDT)
Dwelltime Coffeebar and Bakeshop, 364 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

Boston TNT
Thursday, April 11, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PDT)
Voltage Coffee & Art, 295 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142

Matt Hodges of GeoCertify and Anteneh Assefa of ECX Ethiopia
Friday, April 12, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)
Dwelltime Coffeebar and Bakeshop, 364 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

Gustavo Alfaro of HSA at Clover HSQ Guatemalan Coffees
Sunday, April 14, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (PDT)
Clover HSQ in Harvard Square, 7 Holyoke St, Cambridge, MA 02141

Gustavo Alfaro of Hacienda Santa Rosa
Featured guest : Gustavo Alfaro of Hacienda Santa Rosa

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Direct tradiness, an update

This year, we went early to get a lot of things done with the farms we work with.  We completed our visits to Costa Rica and El Salvador, but we'll report on those coffees later.  Right now, we just got back from Guatemala and have a few updates to report.

"Elite" Bourbon at El Bosque 2013
The one everyone is interested in is El Bosque, the farm with the heirloom Bourbon outside of Antigua, Guatemala.  Bosque started out as a wild farm, a beautiful and untouched place with great potential.  After four years of care and reworking, we are starting to see some great new changes.

First off, new plantings from the cherry of those 70-90 year old trees are coming to fruit soon.  That means, the production will increase but it also means the preservation of these trees.  They were referring to these in El Salvador as 'Elite' Bourbon so we are going to adopt that nomenclature in this post to distinguish it.  It's defined by the much taller tree with more space between branches, the distinct angle of the branches, and that these are the older heirloom trees we associate with El Bosque and it's resulting flavor profile.  The really old trees (70-90 years) always had issues of low yield and high rates of defects (higher attrition when sorting).  Seeing younger plantings come to fruit soon should help out with that and hopefully retain the characters we like about the coffee.

Villa Sarchi at Guatemala El Bosque
It's not just the 'Elite' Bourbon that's there, they have the local Bourbon planted at many farms Luis Pedro Zelaya works with called Bourbon 300 (Bourbon Trescientos).  That's a more disease resistant, shorter height, and higher yield Bourbon that Luis selected for planting.  Bosque also has plantings of the more common Yellow Caturra and Pacamara.

What excites us is the new Villa Sarchi planted on the farm that's coming to fruit and maybe next year we can bring some in.  The first harvest of it probably won't cup out well enough to be anything notable.  Along with that, we have some Orange Bourbon (from El Salvador) and Yellow Bourbon (from the original Yellow Bourbon trees on Bosque)  planted and a little mix of Ethiopian varieties that need more time to evaluate before planting more.  The farm manager and also the owner of the mill that handles this and many other coffees will be in town soon to present more about the mighty progression of El Bosque.

Buena Esperanza is the other main farm we work with in Guatemala up in the mountains of Huehuetenango.  This year, that farm is blowing up after placing well in the Cup of Excellence.  Gustavo has been quite busy with all the for traffic of new coffee buyers trying to bend his ear, but the Esperanza has scored well and continues to build an international following.  We see the coffee cupping well and expect things to move forward in our relationship.  Since Gustavo will be in town shortly and many of you can meet him locally, we'll hold more of the details for him to personally pass them along.

More information to follow soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Don't worry, it's just a seasonal thing

Every year, we have a gap where we just run out of a coffee until the next harvest arrives.  The seasonal nature of the coffee harvest means it's often a good thing to run out of it for a little while and move to other coffees that are fresher.  While it's sound from a quality perspective, it doesn't make us feel better when our favorite coffees disappear from the shelf for a while.

What's been amazing to watch over the last few years is the attachment that people have as we bring back the producers who have excelled or that we have a strong relationship with.  Last year, it was the El Bosque from Guatemala.  We organized a pick of red and yellow bourbon, which we ran through very quickly after it arrived.  There were many people looking for it on what seemed like a daily basis after it was gone.  One dedicated person in particular called us every few weeks to get an update on when that coffee would be back in season... until it arrived.  Next year will be our fourth year working with El Bosque and we get the attachment people have to that farm.

This year, the La Loma from Costa Rica seems to have converted quite a few people to become loyal fans.  The next crop of La Loma will be our third year bringing this lot in and fourth working with the folks at Don Mayo. Our customers and cafes have had time to become attached to this particular lot and the quality produced at Don Mayo.  The other day, our green buyer was covering in a pinch and helped close the coffee bar.  Within minutes of each other, two customers came in and were both seeking out Loma and seemed pretty devastated at it's absence.  The comments 'now what do I get, that was my favorite' and the more humorous advice 'tell Don Mayo they need to plant more coffee trees' were left with us.  Both left with another good coffee but truth is, we get it.  That's what makes a lot of this worth while.

The good thing is that the new coffees are just around the corner.  Miralvalle is shipping early and looks great, the Loma is fantastic and always ships on time, and of course Bosque is a bit late with picking but won't be far behind.  While these farms have become beloved in our lineup (among other well liked coffees), we are looking forward to bridging the gap and finally putting some faces and people in front of customers to go with the names of coffees they like.  Stay tuned as we are planning to arrange something special soon as a way to make the conversation more complete.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ecosystem of Good Coffee and Good Food

Good Food and Good Coffee

It is not an uncommon experience to go out for a great meal at a restaurant only to end with a bitter shot of espresso or poor cup of drip coffee. The biggest challenge for restaurants is time. It takes time to make a pour over the way you might see it done at a place like dwelltime.  On top of that, a dedicated cafe takes a considerable amount of time to train staff to make consistently great tasting coffee. There are too many arguments made for having a coffee experience that is not in line with the food. The question we have is why not accept the challenge and make better coffee?

Fortunately there are some great examples locally of establishments we partner with who are taking up the challenge and finding ways to offer coffee that is in line with the rest of their values: fresh product, quality, locally sourced. We hope you have a chance to try them all!

Four Burgers

704 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA  @fourburgers

That is right, a burger joint doing good coffee. Four Burgers is a local burger restaurant that focuses on well sourced ingredients from local New England farmers, cooked fresh to order. They just launched their new breakfast hours and menu (see menu on right) this month at their Central Square location.  If you haven't been, you should check it out. They are using ceramic beehouse drippers to offer per cup servings of barismo coffee. The bar has just been raised.

Puritan & Co.

1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA

This newly opened restaurant has quickly become a popular dining spot in Inman Square and for good reason. The sourcing of the food they serve is an important aspect of what they do. In addition to well prepared, well sourced food, their Wine and Coffee buyer chose to find a coffee roaster that fit in with their two-fold goals of great tasting and locally sourced. Coffee service at Puritan & Co. is in the process of switching from french press to a stylish filtered Chemex brew. Despite the challenges all restaurants face, they have invested in a creative time saving water dispersion system that will allow them to execute a programmed Chemex recipe that's freshly ground and freshly brewed. Go for great food, but don't miss the great coffee.

Casa B

253 Washington St, Somerville, MA @casabrestaurant

The beautiful space at Casa B is just the first layer of an amazing dining experience focused on small plates and excellent ingredients. After your meal, ask for the coffee, Casa B is perhaps the only restaurant locally doing, not just fresh drip coffee, but cloth filtered woodnecks. You get the rich, clean concentrated flavors of the coffees in a way that is even hard to find from a dedicated coffee shop. Each cup is prepared fresh upon ordering. This is a restaurant that has really taken coffee to the next level and the rewards are very delicious.


134 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA

This Inman Square favorite has excellent food. They asked themselves the question, why not? Why would a restaurant who can talk about their food, not offer a coffee that they can talk about. They came to barismo for two reasons, locally roasted is fresher, and we identify coffees by the producer. Instead of generic regions or fanciful Italian sounding pseudo names, they liked that we give the name of the producer, the varietal, the elevation and processing. Servers who are adept at explaining food, easily transition to coffee expert with the information provided. Coffee service at Oleana is traditional french press prepared fresh by the cup.

Good Coffee and Good Food

All of the noise we make about well sourced, freshly roasted, locally delivered coffee, it might be excusable for an excellent coffee shop to offer lackluster baked goods or food options. But why would we? Or to complete the thought, Why Not offer great food too? 

It is not an easy undertaking to run a food program in what is mostly a coffee focused business.  One main reason is that as coffee people we may not have specific kitchen experience to know where to even begin. With a little bit of kitchen help, and dedication to making it work, it is very possible and in fact works well. Here are some coffee places we work with doing just that.


364 Broadway, Cambridge, MA @dwelltimecoffee

Almost one year ago dwelltime launched as an example of what a high volume coffeebar can do, fresh to order drip coffees, new pressure profile espresso machine, excellent teas, cold brew on tap, great service and a comfortable spacious place to relax. That in itself was a big undertaking, but once we were on our feet that was not the end of the story. Over the first few months we were quietly figuring out our food program. We launched with baked goods which we have pushed to be better and better. Next came lunch service, internally we have kitchen experience and that was invaluable, but it is never easy figuring these things out. Once we had a handle on our weekday lunch service, we tried something really different, Brunch. And guess what... people who love great coffee, love great food too.

Voltage Coffee & Art

295 Third St, Cambridge, MA @voltagecoffee

Voltage Coffee & Art added something exceptional to the Kendall neighborhood in Cambridge when it opened almost two years ago, and like dwelltime it is not content to settle with just good coffee. People are confident in the quality of coffee at Voltage and we expect that to continue, but there is more in the works.  Voltage's owner Lucy Valena has been quietly crafting a lunch program that recently launched as part of an expanding lineup soon to include beer/wine. Voltage is on the verge of installing its beer tap system and putting in a brand new wine selection. We are looking forward to expanded seating as well which will mean patio seats outdoors!  Voltage is one of those spaces where the best is yet to come but knowing the staff and owner, we get that quality, community, fresh, and local are going to be the highlights.

Why Not?

Why would a really great restaurant offer poorly roasted, stale coffee? Or why would a "local" coffeeshop ship roasted coffee in from across the country? We don't have the answers to the various hybids of inconsistency found in the food and beverage industry. For restaurants and cafes that over look one or the other, the question is not why, but why not just get it right? The demand for quality is rising on both ends.

Luckily for customers there are places that understand that quality local food and quality local roasted coffee are part of a mutually sustaining ecosystem. Hopefully there will be more establishments who ask themselves, why not source everything fresh and local?