Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dominican Coffee for Sale from Finca La Paz

Yes. It is true. My coffee is for sale.
For years now people have asked where they can buy my coffee and I had to tell them to wait. Wait until I had a product. Currently I've been selling my time as a consultant and that is going well, but now after years of effort I actually have coffee for sale from my farm.

I have a great partnership with 1000 Faces Coffee. They exclusively purchased my coffee this year. They also have been very supportive in my barista competitions through sponsorship and roasting my coffee very very well.

Let me cut to the chase. This year I offer two different micro-lots. Full Natural and Fully Washed. The full natural is in very limited supply (only one burlap bag). There is very little full natural process coming out of Latin America that is done in an artisan fashion. This coffee was picked ripe and very carefully dried first on raised beds then finished on a patio. When it was dry milled, I was present to make sure they did a good job without heating up the coffee. The flavor notes are red fruit, chocolate and a big sweet body. There will be a subtle tart finish as well.
The Fully Washed is a more conventional process. Picked ripe, depupled, washed and, like the full natural, started to dry on a raised bed and finished on a patio. The notes that shine through on this coffee are deep chocolate, caramel, and a great silky body.

The coffees offered are both $18 per pound plus shipping from the 1000 Faces website. The coffee is available wholesale as well to local coffee shops. Now if you find this expensive, please let me explain. Artisan coffee is very expensive to produce. I'm actually losing $1,000 on this harvest! 1000 Faces should break even after all is said and done. They had to design a new label, spend time marketing it, upload it to their website, they sponsored me as a barista competitor and pay all their bills along they. So if you take a step back and look at what went into the coffee the price should seem like a bargain.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

United States Barist Championship (USBC): results

I was given the privilege to compete in the USBC in Round 1. I really enjoyed the experience competing at South East Regional Competition.

Just like the regional competition, I had two main goals: become a better barista, and tell my story. Similar to the regional comp, I feel like I was able to accomplish both. A barista competition was a rather new sport a few years ago. Even within the coffee industry it was barely understood. Now after many years of competitions and the winners receiving much recognition, barista comps are well accepted and the level of performance and coffee have gone through the roof. This year was by far the most competitive field I've ever seen.

The coffee I used was from my farm. This makes me the first ever farmer/barista competitor. Most baristas use coffee from the shop they work at. Some work for roasters, some don't even work at a coffee shop. It did make it special for me to take a coffee from before it was flower all the way through picking at red cherry, washing, drying, exporting and finally working directly with the roaster to develop a roast profile that would show the best attributes of the coffee. When I finished the competition one of the prevailing thoughts was worry that I did my coffee justice.

Usually I can stand and deliver a good presentation. This time, I couldn't shake the nervousness in my voice or hands. I don't know if it was the large venue or just an off-day. Oh well. I told my story and served my coffee that I was able to guide through every step of the process, personally.

There were a few different types of processing that went into this coffee, 55% washed - post-fermentation-soak, 15% underwater-ferment, 30% full natural. The blend wasn't intentional, but it was delicious. The blend was actually comprised of the samples I had on hand that were destined for roasters to try my process experiments, but something came up. I had my coffee air shipped so that it would arrive on April 1st to the warehouse. However, the FDA flagged my coffee for a random inspection. No worries, but the the fact that I had a competition coming up and wanted that coffee to compete with did make me worry. In the end after countless phone calls and emails, the FDA released the coffee only to tell me it didn't have Ochra-Toxin days before the comp. Hence, the roast I used was a total one-off. It was simply, about 6.75lbs of coffee I had on hand. So could I prepare like most baristas and taste the coffee as it aged off the roast date? No. Could I even know how my coffee would take milk for the capps? No. Did I know if my coffee would taste good in my sig bev? Nope.

I made plenty of time to dial in the grinder for the comp, which was the problem I ran into during regionals. This time I served some great shots. I received some really good score on those. The notes were red fruit notes and deep chocolate all wrapped around a silky body. The capps were good, but not amazing. And the sig bev could have been better sold. But it seemed like I just couldn't communicate like I wanted to.

It was an awesome experience. Had I made it to the semi-finals, I would probably say that is enough validation on my barista skills and on my coffee to not compete again. Instead I have this feeling in my gut that next year I can do better. . .