company - education - coffee

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

La Bandera De Dota - The Flag Bearer of Tarrazu

On the Ground: barismo's roaster Chris Malarick reports from Costa Rica to share developments with partners at Exclusive Coffees. Chris' update starts with the introduction of a new farm in Costa Rica that's small size matches up well to our model. Stay tuned for more info as we build up to the arrival of this years lots.

As it's name implies, La Bandera de Dota sits atop a mountain like a flag reigning over it's farms that cover the hillsides from 1875-1920 meters in the microregion of Dota in Tarrazu. It's Diego Hidalgo Umana's first year running his own micromill and farming the land himself.  This is land his father had farmed before him since 1976, but he's made sure not to suffer the growing pains and experience the learning mistakes that often riddle a producer's first year processing their own cherry. 

I first met Diego at the cupping lab of Exclusive Coffees. Producers are always coming and going, dropping off samples to be evaluated and offered by Exclusive. They are checking up on how their produce is scoring and getting feedback or simply attempting to talk with traveling buyers and the Exclusive staff. I was cupping my morning table, finishing up my score sheet when Diego came over and asked how I liked the coffees. I told him overall the table was pretty good, but Number 13 was standing out as I liked it very much. Diego blushed and his face filled with a smile as he humbly told me that was his coffee. "It's my first year. I'm very excited! But I still have a lot to learn". I shook his hand and told him he was doing a wonderful job, and then immediately arranged  to visit him on my trip to Tarrazu in a day or so.

Diego has 24 acres of well groomed red and yellow Catuai/Caturra that he processes exclusively using a fully washed wet processing method. Once the cherries are picked at peak ripeness and pulped to remove all of the cherry skins from the parchment, they are then wet fermented to remove the sticky fruit mucilage.  After that, the beans hit the drying phase, something Diego has thought out very thoroughly. All of his coffees are dried in a greenhouse using a tiered system. He has 90 beds with 11 racks that stack in sets 3 deep. Coffees spend 10 days on the top rack and 2 weeks divided between the two bottom racks.  This slows down the drying processing, fostering more structure to the coffee which in turn gives it a longer "green life" once the coffee is in our storage. Everything is clearly labeled and organized as all of the data is collected on a central board at the helm of the greenhouse.

Diego's dedication to impeccable picking, processing and drying procedures makes him a perfect partner for Barismo. Not only does his mentality ensure that quality coffees will be grown, but that quality dialogues will be had. This is why we do this. We're more than excited to see Diego grow as we work with him in the years to come, and we're equally excited to share his beautiful coffees with you as well. -@gastronomin

From barismo to barismonauts: Jaime VanSchyndel gives you a look in on an event at barismo's new Somerville location at The Aeronaut Hub, as well as an introspective look at the local industry and our neighbors. Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to see the new space!

Last Thursday night, barismo hosted an industry event where we gathered a group of our local coffee professional peers. The goal of the event was to get together a unique cross section of local coffee shop owners and barista in one location and just talk.  The guise of the night was definitely to introduce them to our new space, but inevitability it really became a discussion about how far this industry has come locally. 

So what did we learn?

My goal going into this event was to engage the community and have a discussion. This discussion would be about sharing where we've been and why we moved into Somerville.  The end goal was to answer, where do we go from here?  A discussion about sustainability, quality, and what local means to us is only valuable if others are willing to engage in that discussion.  After a long weekend to digest how these conversations were useful, I realized that they offered us some real feedback to guide our internal dialogue as coffee professionals about how to move barismo forward.

We learned that a select few people are locked in to their way of doing things to what may ultimately be a fault.  We could come back in five years and expect their shops to still be doing the same exact things regardless of how the community changes.  In spite of that, we also learned that the true majority of coffee pros locally are really excited to explore and are looking forward to what the next phase of our local scene could become.  Being an independent shop though is really hard and it takes a lot of time and energy to make any changes towards any new direction. This really represented the majority of people who came to the event and therefore defines our thinking about us as a roastery supporting them.

I also learned this local coffee pro community is bigger and stronger than I had expected going into that event. They showed up and were willing to talk freely about where they think the community is and where they think it's going. It clarified that indy shops have the motivation to do big things. Since I know for a fact that you don't have to be a big chain or a national company to put out quality products, it means these local shops have a lot of potential.

Excited as I am, the same obstacles that every indy shop faces slows down our community.  Time, money, and the energy to move forward are always in short supply when you run your own business.

For us, it's time to digest what we're learning and define the goals going forward.  Some of what we do to support coffee shops already builds on what we feel are basic solutions in training and organization.  Some of it is simply getting more barista to acknowledge coffee customers who choose independent shops over chains are more likely to learn and grow as the shop does.  A big part of what needs to change in our local coffee scene is also messaging. What I have come to realize is that we are at another turning point where the community may grow and improve a lot the next few years.  If the free discussions and shared knowledge we saw Thursday night continues, the end result will be better coffee in our area. - @jaime_vans

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