company - education - coffee

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An update on barismo, dwelltime, and voltage

Many of you have seen, read, or heard rumblings about what we are up to.  Let me break it down and explain a bit more.

We started dwelltime 3 years ago with a mission to build a flagship cafe.  We hosted throwdowns, took per cup to a new level, hosted farm producer events, and won some awards along the way.  It has, on many levels, been a success.  It was never quite barismo though.  That's probably because barismo delved into additional outside investment to open the cafe, hence the different name.  In 2015 we ended up buying out that outside investment and have been doubling down on the core aspects that we care about.

Meanwhile, Voltage has been a mainstay of the coffee community for many years under Lucy Valena.  We were the roaster there for several years and as with many of our partners, we shared strategies, discussed financials, and were quite invested in that space.  Lucy was getting married, looking for a change, and with the renewed momentum and energy we had, we have been in a unique position to get more involved.   It became a natural fit for us to go one step further and bring that space into our family and continue it's vision.  Once we won approval from the city to let this happen, we now have some clarity to communicate to you.

dwelltime and voltage are closing.

In their place, we will be opening 2 more barismo locations.  364 Broadway (dwelltime) has already undergone the cleanup and changes that better communicate who we are.  The new colors and layout were something Lucy has organized in her new capacity with barismo.   295 Third St. (voltage) will be under renovation in the winter, some paint, new gear, modifications to the bar.  We hope to have a new food menu in place and get things up and running by January.  It will be much more in line with what we do on Broadway.

UPDATE: For 295 Third St., barismo is looking to partner with to bring a new look and feel to the gallery side of the space.  It has been used for years as a study, meeting, and work area so we feel that upgrading that capacity with Cove to meet the needs of the neighborhood is best for everyone.  More to come soon as this is pending landlord approval and will require some additional construction.

That is not to say we will not be investing in our other spaces.  Our original barismo location in east Arlington will get a paint job and possibly some facade work over the winter.  We are also planning a menu change to go into effect by Christmas.  There is a lot going on everywhere.

By 2016, you will be able to visit us at three retail locations:
171 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA
295 Third St., Cambridge, MA
364 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

You can still contact our Somerville roasting operations for wholesale/office/online orders via our website:

We hope that clarifies everything!

Jaime van Schyndel

Friday, August 14, 2015

Coffee Sourcing Transparency

UPDATE: We wrote more on the why & how of transparency in Fresh Cup Magazine -- read the full story here!

A few weeks ago we were discussing our current projects with a customer who has been with us since the very early days of barismo. Looking back on where we have come since 2008, they noted one of our defining qualities has been that we've never settled with where we are, and always are working on the next project. That pursuit and advocacy of quality has taken many forms over the years and has helped push our local & national coffee market.

Still, in some ways the coffee market today is harder than ever for a consumer to navigate; alongside genuinely great coffees on the market there are cheap coffees dressed up in the same way, packaged and marketed to mimic progressive quality coffee. No matter how many pictures of farms and slick branding accompanies the coffee, at the end of the day they're still the same "black box" blends that don't tell you what's in them, roast dates hidden or unlabeled, and the coffee itself simply being cheap & poor quality.

The best way we can respond to this is by becoming even more transparent; this year, we are making a move to full pricing transparency for our coffees. We're proud of the prices we are able to pay farmers & how they have increased each year. We fully own that we don't sell the cheapest coffee in the market by a long shot; our business is in quality coffee, and in order to get quality you have to pay farmers more money for their coffee. We have made a concerted effort over the years to build our business in a way so that we can reward producers for their work & the risks they take in pursuit of quality. We've often shared this information casually across the counter when talking coffee sourcing with customers, and we have taken the step this year to fully publish what we pay for coffee.

The coffee prices we paid for this year's arrivals are listed below. The prices are per pound green coffee. Every country we work in and source coffee from has a different dynamic between farmers, millers, exporters and contracts; based on that, we have listed one or two different prices: Free On Board (FOB), which is the price for the coffee delivered in a container to the ship dock, and Exit Warehouse Price, the cost to us once the coffee leaves the warehouse in the United States on its way to us.

After the coffee arrives, we have to pay for the cost of origin travel, truck freight, handling, rent, gas, electricity, equipment, bags, labels, QC, and labor (in addition to extra costs of running a business — accounts receivable/collections, accounting, insurance, taxes, etc). During the roasting process itself, green coffee loses 17% of its mass during the roasting process as water weight. In this light we believe that quality coffee is an incredible value in light of all the hands and expenses that are involved from the coffee nursery to the coffeebar.

Our average Landed Price in 2015 is $3.90 per pound. In comparison the commodity coffee price (C-market price) today ranges from $1.20 - $1.60 per pound, the same price that was being paid in the 1980’s; everything has gotten more expensive over the past 30 years, but the majority of coffee farmers are still making the same amount of money.

CoffeeRelationshipOriginFOBExit WarehousePounds Green Coffee
Buena Esperanza (Hacienda Santa Rosa)DirectGuatemala $4.25$4.543,800
Pena Blanca (Hacienda Santa Rosa)DirectGuatemala $2.75$3.0421,432
Cerro Verde (Hacienda Santa Rosa)DirectGuatemala$3.00$3.296,080
Finca Santa AnaDirectGuatemala $4.25$4.853,040
El XalumDirectGuatemala $4.00$4.585,420
El BosqueDirectGuatemala $3.95$4.5110,100
Jardin De AromasDirectCosta Rica$3.25$3.603,040
La Bandera El QuetzalDirectCosta Rica$4.00$4.352,280
La Lia Santa Rosa 1900DirectCosta Rica$4.25$4.60760
Genesis OscarDirectCosta Rica$4.75$5.10760
Meridiano AADirectColombia$4.003,040
MataharaImporter ContractEthiopia$4.183,800
Abysinian MoccaImporter ContractEthiopia$4.403,040
Gitare ABImporter ContractKenya$4.101,980
Finca Santa Leticia PamonImporter ContractEl Salvador$4.251,520
Mario Doroteo Perez AAImporter ContractHonduras$3.903,040
Manuel Adan AAAImporter ContractHonduras$4.351,520
Tupac AmaruImporter ContractPeru$4.401,824
Average Exit Warehouse Price: $3.90

Friday, February 13, 2015

For love of coffee

2015 marks our 7th year offering up fresh roast and per cup.  While a lot has changed (see dwelltime, Cambridge Cold Brew), a lot of our core love of coffee is still there.  The weather is just dreadful right now but it's a great time to look back before we look forward to the rest of the year.

I started in coffee a decade ago at a time when there were nearly all dark roasts being offered at local cafes. Mystery blends without roast dates made it pretty hard to find great coffee.  That doesn't even cover the lack of good tools and equipment back then.  These days, things have changed a bit and the equipment is getting to be a non issue and it shows.  More coffee shops are doing latte art and the execution has become better in our scene.  These days, there are still mostly dark roast blends at coffee shops in town and while you hear and see 'single estate' used a lot, there isn't that much of it actually being served.  Shops and roasters are really laying into 'freshly roasted' but it is surprisingly hard to find whole bean that's less than ten days off roast.  The messaging has evolved but there is a lot of room to grow in terms of the quality.  Meanwhile, the national 'indie' coffee scene is obsessed with venture capital, acquisitions, aggressive expansion, and (quietly) exit strategies but those topics are less discussed locally.  It's easy to be overwhelmed by it all.

In some ways, I am back where I started when I founded this company.  I find myself asking some of the same questions.  How do we (continue to) do what we do in a community of shops where so many shop owners may be pulling in the opposite direction?  After a lot of thought, I realized that we just have to acknowledge that barismo is on a mission.  We love coffee and just happen to also be lucky enough to have found a community of coffee drinkers that let's us be a little nerdy and obsessed about great coffee.  We have a complex business and a bit of an uphill trek but sometimes you just have to focus on what matters.  So, here's a break down of what our core goals are for 2015:

Fresh Roast  We will continue to strive to be the only coffee brand you will consistently see on shelves locally that is delivering coffee 24 hours off roast. We want you to take it home and enjoy it in the first two weeks while it is fresh.

Fresh Brew  We will push for, wrangle up, and argue for the most attentive, detailed, and cared for brews we can muster.  We promise that while you may have to wait a little longer for a brew, it wasn't sitting around all day staling and waiting for you.

Transparency  We will never blend up a mystery bag or serve up a murky 'dark roast' that lacks farm identity.  We also promise to share as much as you can stand to listen to about our farm partners and their stories of quality improvement.  Without transparency, we'd be taking credit for their work and that's not very barismo.

Education  We promise to share our brew methods, offer up classes, organize farmer events, and host cuppings.

Value  We believe that value is built on everything from how the coffee was processed and stored to roasted and brewed.  We will do our best to make the case for what makes good coffee and why we invested in the farms we did.  We don't roast anything dark (nothing goes into second crack) and we will continue to avoid obscuring the quality farms have worked so hard to create. 

Redefine the Regular Coffee  People want to drink good coffee.  We don't assume you want to drink bad coffee.  If you come in our doors, we know you came looking for more and we will do our best to provide that cup.  We want the chance to make your regular everyday cup something special.

While we admit we're on a mission for great coffee, it is a labor of love.  We do all this and more because we think it matters and we hope you agree.  Sure, we might not be willing to compromise, but in the end, we hope you will see and appreciate the effort from seed to your cup.  We want you to enjoy the coffee while we say thank you for the support over the years.