Yemen Haraaz Fundraiser

A short note about our Yemen Haraaz Coffee Fundraiser.

While our country is snarled in the arguments of security, personal rights, the ethos of America’s welcoming borders and the limits of presidential powers; there are families across the globe struggling for survival. They are trapped in civil wars, insurgencies, natural disasters and religious persecutions. If they are fortunate enough to escape, it has always been through the kindness of strangers that they have been able to restart their lives. In these selfless acts we both fight our tribal human nature and realize the greatest potential in our humanity.

In view of these larger issues of our world, the notion that our work in coffee is of any real importance feels trivial. In part, this is probably a healthy reminder for us all. But truly we can play small but important roles no matter our position. Our work at Deeper Roots affords us a particularly global view. Every day we share a story of someone else’s work from a place far away from our own. Whether we’ve personally built that relationship or feel very distant from them, we are able to connect to people from around the world through coffee everyday.

We’ve never offered a Yemeni coffee in the past and very few have ever landed on our cupping table. We don’t have any direct, long term relationships with growers there. However, what a great opportunity we have now to make a positive impact, small as it may be, to the lives of those both struggling to survive in the country growing coffee, as well as those who have fled their homes to refugee camps. Thus, we’ve chosen to give 100% of the sales of our Yemen Haraaz coffee to assist with the refuge work of International Rescue Committee. We chose IRC as the recipient of our funds because of their history of good work all over the world and their broad reaching impact both abroad and for refugee resettlement here in the US.

If you haven’t read much about the civil war in Yemen or the issues facing refugees in the area check out this and the UN’s info here.  Let’s make it our aim to take the negativity that has caused the issue of refugees to rise to the top of the news and turn it towards positive action to support our fellow humans that are in crisis. 

Thanks for your participation in this project!

Deeper Roots Coffee

What Is Peaberry?

The elusive coffee cherry that continues to smoothly flow off the tongue of coffee professionals and coffee amateurs alike – peaberry. It’s catchy and sophisticated. So what exactly is a peaberry?  Why is it unique and what causes this anomaly in the coffee world? To better understand what a peaberry is, we’ll approach it from a coffee botany standpoint.

A peaberry is an underdeveloped coffee fruit that has only one seed inside of it as opposed to the typical two seeds that develop inside a coffee cherry and it inherently grows on all coffee species.  About 5-7 % of harvests are peaberries, and they are smaller in size.  To understand why they are smaller and have only one seed, we first need to understand how fruit develops in the plant world.

A fruit of any plant is nothing more than a ripened ovary. That ovary is the fleshy substance surrounding the seeds inside the plant (also called mucilage in coffee). How do those seeds come about? Fertilization is the simple answer. With regards to the Coffea arabica species, there are 2 floral organs that we will briefly talk about, the stamens and the pistils. The stamens are the male representation and the pistils are the female representation. When the pollen from the stamens reach the pistils, it fertilizes the ovules (contained within the ovary prior to fertilization) and those ovules form into two seeds. Within Coffea arabica, there are two ovules that must be fertilized to get a typical coffee cherry. If, for some reason, there is a malfunction in that fertilization process and only one of the ovules can be fertilized you get an anomaly called peaberry.

So, why does this happen? Much research is still going on about what exactly causes it, but when you distill it down it’s a fertilization issue. Coffea arabica is self-fertile meaning, although beneficial, pollinators are not necessary to fertilize coffee flowers. Both the stamens and pistils are in the same flower and are compatible with each other, but genetics are not always perfect. So, what exactly causes the incompatibility? Is it an issue in the uptake of pollen? Is it an ovary malfunction? Is it the pollen itself? Does it have to do with genetic diversity in Coffea arabica? It’s still an ongoing discussion and more research needs to be done to fully understand how it comes about, but it becomes a conversation of genetic diversity and maintaining good breeding practices. The farther away we get from true Coffea arabica genetics, the more genetic malfunctions we get. So, celebrate proper horticultural practices and celebrate quality cups. Tasting is knowing, so drink up!

How to store coffee at home.

We’re pretty picky about how coffee is stored and honestly it’s pretty easy. There are a few ways people store coffee that we’ve encountered over the years and several of them are big no no’s, so we figured we’d share with you quickly how we do it and why.

The basic fact to know is that roasted coffee has two enemies: oxygen and light. When you by coffee from us you’ll notice that it’s stored in a smaller bag that has a degassing valve and doesn’t allow any light in. The degassing valve allows pressure out of the bag as fresh coffee degasses after being roasted. This makes sure the sealed bag won’t explode but doesn’t allow air back into the bag so the coffee stays fresh. The non-transparent package functions primarily to keep the light out. Using it up quickly will also obviously help keep it fresh. This is primarily why we do twelve-ounce bags for the retail size packages instead of a full pound; it allows you to use it up a little faster thus keeping your coffee supply fresh.

So after you open your fresh bag of coffee the easiest and best way to store it is to just roll down the bag as tight as you can, clip it in some way to keep it closed, use it quickly and you should be good. It’s that easy. Glass jar? No. Freezer? NO WAY. Vacuum seal? That’s up to you. The key is to just seal it up and use it quickly. Now you’re one small step closer to brewing better coffee at home. So go to your friend’s freezer, grab that coffee and throw it out. But make sure to bring them some fresh coffee to ease the blow.

Dark Roast Debunk

Medium Deeper Roots roast on the left. Very dark, unnamed coffee giant roast on the right.  Note oil migration and see some of the coffees have even exploded a bit on the dark roast... no good!

Medium Deeper Roots roast on the left. Very dark, unnamed coffee giant roast on the right. Note oil migration and see some of the bean surfaces have even exploded a bit on the dark roast… no good!

We know. You like “bold”, dark coffees. That’s ok! But we want to give you a little ammo for next time you head out to buy a dark roasted coffee and debunk a common myth about the roast level of coffees.

The main myth we want to debunk is: “Coffee is better when you can see the oils on the bean.”

As coffee is roasted, the cell structure of the bean undergoes significant change. Different chemical reactions occur to bring out or subdue certain flavor compounds depending on what the roaster is trying to accomplish. As coffee is roasted darker and darker, the cell structure of the bean starts to break down and allow those flavor compounds, contained in oils, to migrate to the outside of the bean. So, in medium to light roasts, you wont see these oils on the bean because the cell structure is still mostly in tact and keeping those flavor-containing oils safe inside the bean. The problem with having these oils on the outside of the bean is that they are exposed to air and immediately start to oxidize. Think about the time you left a glass of water on the counter overnight and tried to drink it the next day or even two days after. The water tastes old and stale due to oxidation from exposure to air. The same thing happens to the oils on the outside of the bean and immediately makes them start to taste old and stale. So if you’ve been told that seeing oil on the bean correlates to more flavor, now you know that’s not true! However, the problem still remains that you want to buy a fresh coffee that doesn’t taste oxidized but still gives you the boldness you want. We suggest you investigate what “bold” means to you whether it be dark chocolate, smoky, thick body, etc and try to find a little bit lighter roasted coffees that fit those descriptions. We suggest some African coffee origins such as Malawi and Tanzania and Asian origins such as Sumatra and Sulawesi. Though these origins don’t always display these flavor characteristics, they often do and are a great place to start looking. We know that the answer isn’t always a light roast so we offer a blend called Losantiville. It’s the darkest roast we offer and it’s on the darker side of medium roast allowing the oils to stay in the bean but still allow for a smoky, full body, dark chocolate taste experience. The important part is to find coffees roasted to the point where YOU are the one extracting those oils when you brew and are still able to taste what you like. Now that you know a little bit more, drink up!

Giving decaf some love.

In the specialty coffee industry, we give a lot of attention to the various countries, regions, altitudes, varietals, etc. of different single origin coffees.  We all definitely pride ourselves in showcasing as best we can what each and every coffee has to offer.  However, we have noticed a lack of attention to really great decafs in our region if not the industry as a whole but do understand the barriers as to why decaf does not receive a lot of attention.

99.9% of decaf coffee started out as regular green coffee that undergoes some sort of natural or chemical decaffeination process before the roasting process.  A very small amount of coffee does grow naturally as decaf but it’s so rare that it’s often unseen even in the specialty market.  There are multiple different types of decaffeination methods but most undergo the same basic process where the green coffee is soaked in a solution, the resulting water is then filtered of caffeine and then the green coffee is allowed to absorb the caffeine-less solution back into itself up to a certain point.  This process most often negatively affects the cell structure, chemical composition and thus taste of the final product after roasting.  You may often notice that a decaf coffee is quite oily on the surface even if it is not a dark roast.  This is due to damaged cell structure and takes quite a lot of care in the roasting process to prevent this from happening and keep those delicious oils inside the bean so they can be extracted while brewing and not oxidize on the outside of the bean.

So, we here at DRC have been working with importers to source really great decafs for several years to bring coffees that have undergone the best possible decaffeination process to maintain the integrity of the final cup quality.  Throughout this year we have been dialoguing with one importer in particular, Artisan Coffee Importers, to bring an extra special decaf to your palates.  This new Colombia La Serrania is from 29 small farmers in the state of Huila in Colombia and has undergone a process called “natural ethyl-acetate” process.  In this process a 100% pure sugar cane substance was used to draw the caffeine out of the coffee and not put any added chemicals into the bean.

This beautiful decaf will give you chocolate, creme brûlée and dried strawberries in the cup and hopefully will give you a great experience with a product that usually gets bad street cred.  We hope you enjoy and hope you stay with us on the hunt for quality decaffeinated coffees to add to our arsenal.

Einar Ortiz in his immaculate farm.  Photo courtesy of Virmax Coffee in Colombia.

Einar Ortiz in his immaculate farm. Photo courtesy of Virmax Coffee in Colombia.

San Jeronimo Miramar

Yes, this is the much-famed Geisha coffee variety that is sought after by coffee enthusiasts around the world. To understand the true beauty of this coffee you must first understand where it was grown. The Bressani family has operated the beautiful Finca San Jeronimo Miramar for over 100 years. To call it just a coffee farm would be selling it short. Not only are some fantastic coffees being grown and cared for here, but also beautiful jersey dairy cows, honeybees, and exotic tropical fruits. Sitting high above all of this is a gorgeous, protected natural reserve. This forest is the lifeblood of the farm as its volcanic terrain feeds the farm’s natural fresh water springs and powers the farm’s entire processing facilities with hydroelectric power.

We had the pleasure to start our relationship with the Bressani’s on the grounds of Finca San Jeronimo this past year. Working with their farm and mill management team we helped to develop an understanding of the quality level for their current coffee production. Over the past few years farm administrator, Don Arnoldo Villagran, cultivated a plot of Geisha as an experiment through the suggestion of Anacafe. This experiment yielded some truly remarkable results, and lucky you have the chance to taste it for the first time in the US.

Geisha, a heirloom variety of Arabica coffee originating in Ethiopia, has taken the coffee world by storm over the past few years. The floral and stone fruit notes are as distinctive as they are nuanced in a manner really incomparable in other Arabica varieties. This offering from San Jeronimo is a wonderful expression of that and is a great way to kick off what is to become a great relationship over the years to come; with many more great coffees to show for it!

Giorgio (left) and Mark (right).  Father son duo from San Jeronimo Miramar.

Giorgio (left) and Mark (right). Father son duo from San Jeronimo Miramar.

Deeper Roots' Les Stoneham cupping with the team at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

Deeper Roots’ Les Stoneham cupping with the team at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

The diary cows on the farm.

The diary cows on the farm.

Drying patio at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar.

Drying patio at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar.

Don Arnoldo, the farm manager at Finca San Jeronimo.

Don Arnoldo, the farm manager at Finca San Jeronimo.

Geisha plants with Volcan Fuego in the background.

Geisha plants with Volcan Fuego in the background.

Geisha beans just weeks from being fully ripe.

Geisha beans just weeks from being fully ripe.

Why not fresh espresso?

Why rest your espresso? Coffee in general is very volatile in the first few hours after roasting. Soon after a coffee comes out of the roaster it starts a process called de-gassing or off-gassing. This is mainly carbon dioxide (and some other delightfully long named science-y things) leaving the cell structure of the coffee bean and is the culprit for that amazing smell when you open a bag. When a coffee is roasted it will continually off-gas until it has completely staled but it’s important to wait at least 8-12 hours after roasting. A significant amount of gas is leaving the bean at this time and if you try to brew before allowing this time to pass you will get a really bubbly brew of coffee as well as a seemingly underdeveloped acidity in the cup. Sometimes this can lead to some vegetal notes as well and just overall makes for a really unbalanced. One-dimensional cup. To see just how much gas comes off fresh roasted coffee just put some in a sealed plastic bag for a day and all will be revealed.

Here at DRC we’ve found that resting brewed coffee for at least one day, or at least overnight, after roasting allows the volatile aromatic compounds to balance out and for the cup to be exactly what the roaster was intending. Since espresso is ground significantly finer and brewed under pressure this waiting period needs to be 4-7 days on average. We’ve had coffees here at DRC taste best as espresso after 10+ days but they are less common. As roasters and fanatics about quality we want to facilitate people at home and shops around the region brewing better espresso. So we’ve recently implemented a built in waiting time to most orders going out the door. Our wholesale shops may now notice a delivery of espresso that was roasted up to 4 days prior. This is beneficial because even if they have a built in waiting period in their shop to brew espresso several days after roast, they’re still brewing fresh espresso in the ideal resting time. If you brew espresso at home and purchase from your local shop, ask for espresso that is rested and enjoy a more balanced, nuanced espresso at home.