Each month our cafe menu changes, highlighting our new and delicious specialty coffee offerings. So we asked our National trainer, Josey Markiewicz, to take us through what’s new on-the-bar for May.
Every year it happens and every time it amazes. The awakening of mother nature from her wintry slumber. Happy spring, friends! Anything is possible, all over again.
Anyone who is anyone knows that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, ya? It’s the very cradle of our caffeinated civilization. So, how did the humble coffee seed make its way around the globe? How did its roots find soil on tropical hillsides from Southeast Asia to South America?
Funny thing is that although coffee was born into its journey in the forests of Ethiopia, it didn’t come back home until two hundred years after leaving the nest. Coffee was taken from East Africa and spread all throughout the world’s tropics before coming back home to populate places like Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda. Coffee was actually being grown in Colombia far before it was being grown in Malawi.
Speaking of Malawi: part two of our “Africa Series” features a coffee from this tiny nation, a country known more for its tobacco production than its coffee production.
There seems to be a common practice that runs through the heart of central Africa. Many different varieties of coffee that come from thousands of individual farmers are all processed together and sold under one name. This is just the societal norm of the region, I reckon. Most families have a modest home with a bit of land, and the land bears a bit of fruit. The fruit can be sold at a processing station down the road. You get a few bucks and can hopefully buy something of necessity. These plants are rarely really all that tended for; they just sort of happen. At least that was the case before the MZUZU Cooperative was formed. Now, folks are working together to farm better quality coffee, which can be sold at higher prices. This takes time, but the investment is worth it. Specialty grade coffee: it’s good business!
That being said, something has to replace Burundi on Batch brew. How about something sweet, that tastes sort of like a chocolate cherry cola? Why not one of the Workshop line’s great success stories? How about COLOMBIA SAN ROQUE!
Coffee jumps through quite a few hoops on its way from the farm to the cup. Just like Malawi MZUZU, Colombia San Roque is composed of seeds from many different farms processed at a centralized processing station. The difference between these coffees is a matter of evolution. Colombia has excelled at coffee production, perfecting the craft over the last couple centuries. Now they have joined the ranks of Brazil as being one of the world’s only industrialized coffee-producing countries.
So, what makes San Roque unique? Well, its meticulous attention to detail. One person (!!!) actually tastes all the different farmers’ coffees individually after processing, grades them, and then separates them by grade. The farmer then receives a text message alerting them of their coffees score and resulting value. Only coffees of a certain flavor profile and quality become San Roque. The rest are sold as other Colombian coffees.
What a bad-ass!
Speaking of success stories, La Colombe’s own Ethiopia YIRGZ was voted best coffee in the country last year by Consumer Reports! This should come as no surprise, as this coffee is grown at very high elevation, processed with care, and obsessively sorted (by size, color, and density.) Now, I’ve been making iced YirgZ for years. It’s peachy, lemony, tea-ish-ness makes it the perfect accompaniment to long hazy days. Throw a ‘lil simple in there and you got yourself a “coffee Snapple.” The thought of it is enough to give me jazz-hands! B’ B’ B’ BAM!
Burundi Kayanza is like the quiet kid who sits at the back of the class with their head down, scribbling into a notebook quietly humming to themselves. You would never suspect that beneath that meek exterior lies the soul of a warrior, but it’s in there, only to be perceived in fleeting glimpses. You can feel it while shuffling down dusty corridors permeated with strawberry memories. It is the rising sun that wakes you from dreams with a whisper on each eyelid.
Let’s look back a couple of months: “Now, any coffee is sort of a microcosmic mirror that reflects the nuances of the environment from which it was born. It nourishes itself from the minerals in the soil. It drinks from the earth. This coffee showcases some very interesting potential with flavors ranging from Goji berry to pineapple, to green apple, to tangerine. You may even experience a bit of tamarind or star anise along with the standard caramels and milk chocolate flavors we appreciate so much in our Workshop…”
This is the exciting time of year for coffee. Old friends like San Roque, YirgZ, and soon Ardi, will all be with us again, punctuating the theory that farmer/roaster relationships are good for everyone along the supply chain. Especially those most in need. This is that tiny idea that has slowly become truth. That coffee, when done mindfully, can actually inspire a positive change in the world.
It’s just what we do.
Written by National Manager of Training and Quality Assurance, Josey Markiewicz