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

Coffee Residency at A Tavola Madeira

When the spark of a good idea ignites some dry tinder, it only takes some added fuel and a little stoking to create a burning hot fire. As is true with wood-fire pizza ovens, so it goes for a coffee-fueled joint venture with our friends at A Tavola Bar + Trattoria. Built with espresso service in mind, A Tavola’s second location in Madeira has been waiting for the right way to deliver the level of quality you’ve come to expect from their outrageously good food, craft cocktails and dining environments in OTR and now in Madeira. ‘Hey, let’s do a pop-up cafe!’

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At the beginning of October, Deeper Roots occupied the bar at A Tavola and we’ve been serving stellar coffee with our signature style to those who may have heard the rumors and wandered in. The rumors are true – we are open at 7am every morning and our ‘baristas in residence’ are happy to serve up a selction of fare: coffee of the day, pour-over options, full espresso menu, iced coffee on tap, select teas and creative signature drinks. We have house-made baked goods to compliment: olive oil cakes, biscotti, pumpkin muffins with spiced mascarpone and amazing toaster pastries.

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The environment is gorgeous, the atmosphere is lively and the coffee is, of course, compelling. If you work from home, you can come work here. If you have kids, they are welcome. If you are on the way, if you are meeting a friend, if you need a break, if you want good coffee, we would love to host you. We’re calling it a Coffee Residency or Pop-Up – on the one hand, it’s a social experiment; on the other, it’s essentially as if the vision of A Tavola serving delicoius coffee and epsresso is now on fire.

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If you are a social media-ite, you can follow the pop-up action here:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Come in for coffee, enjoy the community space and stick around for pizza!

Origin Trip: Colombia

IMG_0070Recently Deeper Roots Coffee had the opportunity to visit Colombia as International Expertise for the Expoespeciales this year in Bogota as guests of Castle & Co., coffee importers based in California. We were honored to visit five coffee farms, cup coffees with the farmers who grew these coffees, attend lectures at the expo, and be guests of the FNC (Colombia Coffee Growers Federation) throughout the trip.

While in Tolima, there were two farms that really stuck out as uniquely different experiences. The first farm, owned by Jairo Lopez, was quite small as far as coffee farms are concerned. In Colombia, 95% of all coffee grown is grown on 5 hectares (12.36 acres) or less; Jairo’s farm was one of these. Jairo and his family take great pride in the product they grow and special care to produce specialty grade and even micro-lot quality coffee. Jairo trains his pickers to pick only the ripest cherries, which means visiting a single plant two to three times during peak harvest season. He also keeps a close watch on processing times, equipment cleanliness, and drying times and procedures. Jairo is known in his area for growing high quality coffee, it was truly an honor to meet him, cup coffees with him, and have lunch with him and his family.
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The second farm that peaked our attention was that of Daniel Melendro. Daniel’s farm was purchased by his family in 1896 and has been producing coffee since 1906, with Daniel working to improve the quality since taking over the operations of the farm. Daniel’s farm is 33 hectares (81.5 acres) which is a larger scale farm as far as Colombia is concerned. Daniel’s approach is different from Jairo’s. He produces much more coffee and he’s refining his picking and processing methods to obtain better coffee by the year. He has even been able to invest in satellite imagery of his farm to identify areas of biomass concentrations in order to help them apply fertilizers more strategically. We were able to spend some time with Daniel at his farm as well as at Jairo’s farm where we cupped their coffees side by side. It was humbling to see Daniel take notes on how Jairo was executing his processing in order to make suggestions to his employees to possibly obtain better coffee next season.

While at the expo we were also given the opportunity to meet the coffee farmer who grew the micro-lot we recently purchased through Castle & Co. Elver Guzman is a Tolima farmer who participated in the micro-lot project through the FNC for the first time this year. He purchased his farm in Planadas with his brother several years ago and started paying more attention to coffee processing when his brother placed in the Cup of Excellence competition. It inspired him to produce better coffee since he knew he was working with the same coffee varieties as his brother, on effectively the same land with the same processing equipment. Now, Elver is producing an amazing quality coffee from his four hectares (10 acres) that we’re proud to present in a just few weeks.

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Our host for the week, Henry Martinez from the FNC, taught us a lot about the organizational structure of coffee in Colombia. The FNC is a government affiliated non-profit and is the largest exporter of coffee from Colombia. It controls the quality standards for exportable coffee from the country whether it is exporting it or not. This means that they set the minimum standard for quality and if a coffee doesn’t meet that standard then it doesn’t leave the country and will be used in the internal marketplace. Local coffee committees help the FNC with the dissemination of information for farmers, promotion of the micro-lot project, and cupping the coffees from the surrounding farms. The co-ops in Colombia also serve a different function than ones we’re more familiar with a little north in Central America. The co-ops in Colombia do not process the coffee but serve as a resource for farmers to purchase equipment, fertilizers, etc. as well as act as a drop off point for already processed coffee. Almost every single farmer in Colombia has on-site processing and delivers parchment coffee (dried coffee with parchment still on) to drop off points and to co-ops any day of the year. The co-ops have a 100% purchase guarantee 365 days a year. This means that if a farmer has one bag of coffee to sell or 100 bags the coffee will be purchased. At the co-op when farmers drop off coffee the coffee is visually inspected and put into one of three categories if the coffee is not a specific micro-lot. The farmer is then paid based on the quality of coffee they produce. Micro-lots are different in that they are tracked and kept separate through the whole process and once the lot is purchased the farmer is handed a check for the premium that the coffee was sold for. The FNC is very excited about the micro-lot project, driving the quality of coffee in Colombia higher. The premiums go directly to the farmer with the FNC helping the farmer to get their high quality coffee into market.

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Our team learned a lot on this trip and is encouraged by the increasing quality of coffee in Colombia. We’re keeping an eye on emerging areas in Colombia that aren’t quite as popular as the well known Santa Marta, Huila and Tolima and constantly in contact with our friends there who are trying new and interesting things. Keep an eye out for the release of our Colombia Los Guayabos from Elver Guzman!

Recap from The Event 2013

Innovation. Collaboration. Education. Global crisis. All descriptors of some of the amazing experiences the Deeper Roots crew had at this year’s 25th Annual Event, part of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. This yearly get together of coffee enthusiasts is an exciting conference that brings top professionals in the industry together, giving us all a chance to talk about that little bean we’re all so passionate about. A three-day trade show and educational courses are just the foundation of what makes this event so special. However, it’s the conversations and connections to our fellow coffee geeks that inspire our team to push for excellence within our community.

To share every highlight of our weekend in one blog would be impossible, and honestly probably too long to read, but we are excited to share a few of our favorite highlights and hot issues of the weekend. In the coming weeks more of our experiences will seep their way into our posts, but here are some top highlights from Les, Adam, and Courtney.
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LES:

Coffee leaf rust: the largest growing threat to the coffee industry in Central America weighed heavily on the minds of SCAA attendees this year. This terror of a fungus has been known in many parts of the coffee growing world for over a century now, once decimating the production of coffee in Asia and East Africa. Currently the fungus has spread in new locations, higher in elevation than ever before due to increased humidity and temperatures. A direct result of global warming, this trend is causing concern for growers and buyers alike. Devastating estimates are already projecting a $500,000,000 annual loss to Central American economies just from this year’s harvest alone.

Listed as one of the top issues for 2013, coffee leaf rust constituted many hours of expert lectures at this year’s Symposium; a gathering of top minds in the industry that precludes The Event. While many causes and long term strategies were hypothesized, there was very little offered in terms of immediate solutions. This crisis will be played out in the coming years. As Tim Schilling, executive director of World Coffee Research, shared, “in many cases this could be the end of their careers in coffee,” referring to the number of small producers that will be effected by this severe problem. Not to be to negative, but this drives us at Deeper Roots to be even more engaged in long term relationships with our growers, supporting them through these rough times.

ADAM:

Strength In Numbers: Since starting Deeper Roots Coffee we’ve spent a lot of energy and time building the business to be sustainable enough to support full time staff in our core competencies. This has allowed each of us to directly focus our attention on what we’re doing to the point where we are now getting regional and national recognition for what we do. It’s great being a part of a team now where we can show our strength in numbers and work alongside some of the people we respect most in the industry and our time at SCAA this year was a perfect example of that opportunity.

COURTNEY:

Well there’s no way around it, the learning process is a never-ending journey. The world of specialty coffee is an industry that thrives on the motto “my best is never enough!” What I mean is, no matter how many hours you’ve spent behind a machine there are always new practices and ideas to improve on taste and quality. It’s exciting to be immersed in an industry that is constantly growing, giving life and excitement to my daily endeavors. Working alongside some of the top educators in the field has rejuvenated the approach and concepts that Deeper Roots hopes to bring to our communities. My next new concept to tackle: pressure and espresso! Get ready!

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TED2013

If you’ve noticed the recent deluge of Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram pics from us, you can tell we’ve been pretty excited to have our coffee being served at TED2013. To have been selected for this is a great testament to our work through Deeper Roots Development with the growers of our La Armonia Hermosa coffee as well as our focus on perfecting our craft as roasters.  What you may not have picked up on is how much we at Deeper Roots enjoy what the TED conference is about. We especially enjoy the TED Talks that they make available free, online for everyone’s inspiration and knowledge enrichment. We’ve put together a list of recommendations to get you started in exploring the “Ideas Worth Sharing” available for free at www.TED.com

Recommendations from our staff:

Ryan –

Adam –

Courtney –

Greg –

Les –

Perspectives on “Why ‘Good Jobs’ Are Good for Retailers” for Specialty Coffee Bars

Behind the craziness of a coffee shop is always someone sitting behind a pile of bills wondering how to drive up the profits of the shop, while still keeping coffee prices at a competing level. Lets face it, business costs are increasing, customers are feeling financially pinched, and barista turnover remains a constant challenge. So what do you do? Zeynep Ton wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review called, ““Why ‘Good Jobs’ Are Good for Retailers” and her recommendation is simply to invest more in employee training.

You’re saying, “no way.” “If I invest more in employees and training, then customers will have to pay more, and coffee is expensive already.” Statistically, it is true. In order for a business to be successful, they need to have “a combination of investment in the workforce and operational practices that benefit employees, customers, and the company.” That is the overall goal, right? We all want to have a good workplace for our employees and a place for customers to feel satisfied, but why does that seem so hard to do?

Labor is the largest controllable expense for a business and many retailers see it as a cost driver rather than a sales driver. When we see sales decrease, then we need to decrease our staff, which makes sense for an immediate effect. Wrong. It actually hurts the overall goal of a successful business because that is what creates the vicious cycle of poor morale, operations, and sales.

The overall goal should be to focus on labor. Investing in employees by spending time/money on a full training will create excellent and efficient operations, which will boost sales and profits and allows for a larger budget to invest more in the employees. Also, Ton recommended cross training the employees so they are able to become more productive and knowledgeable about the product for the customers, and eventually they will be able to train the other employees.

To be able to do that in our industry, that would look like a few weeks of training on the bar to learn about coffee, the machines, ways to brew, and the goal of the business. Having a few weeks of training will help the employee to strive towards better customer service and serving a higher quality cup of coffee. Customers will notice the craft and will have a higher appreciation towards the shop and bring in more sales.

At Deeper Roots Coffee, we realize that it takes a lot of time to train employees on the bar. Sometimes, it is hard to do trainings when there are customers lined up and the other daily tasks are adding up. We want to help in this process by offering trainings at our roaster in Mount Healthy. Your employees will have the opportunity to learn about coffee origins, flavors and tastes, brewing methods, and much more. These sessions are offered every Wednesday night during the summer as a group, or we are happy to schedule a different time. If you would like more information on our trainings or would like to sign up, email us at info@deeperrootscoffee.com.

The full article is available for purchase at the Harvard Business Review website at www.hbr.orgImage

Greetings!

Welcome to our blog site! As a part of our website launch, we have featured this blog to let you in on what’s happening with us on a weekly basis. We would like this to be an interactive part of the website for you to check regularly.  Learn about our new coffees, get thoughts from the roaster, hear about our project in Guatemala, and watch our how-to video brew guides.

We hope this is a place for you to learn about us individually and as a team. We are so excited to have this website launched and look forward to updating you on what we learn along the way. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know!