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

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.

Brazil Direct Trade Relationship

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Brazil is huge!! And its easy to be overwhelmed by the shear size of the coffee farms there compared to our usual travels in Central America. That’s what makes Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF) such a wonderful place for us. Located in the region of Mococa near the southern border of Sul de Minas, FAF is the sustainably managed farm of the Croce family. We first met the Croce family, Marcos, Silvia and sons Felipe and Daniel on a visit in 2012. The 800 hectare farm is 1/3 organic coffee, 1/3 cattle ranch and 1/3 old growth forest. The Croces inherited the farm when no one else in the family was interested in running it any longer. Not having any experience themselves in farming, Marcos relied greatly on his sense of respecting the environment and listening to the experience of his neighbors. They since have created one of the greatest models of sustainability, from soil and ecosystem to business and community, that the coffee industry has.

IMG_1415Quality drives their business at FAF. While their farm doesn’t grow nearly the yields other farms in Brazil do, their quality and commitment to organic methods mean their coffee fetches very high prices. They don’t keep this model to themselves either. They have been hard a work over the past years to encourage and assist their neighbors in the high, rugged hills of Mococa. A lot of this work has been done through their Bobolink coffee project.

We’re really excited to be working with such great farmers and visionaries in their community. We look forward to supporting their efforts and sharing their coffees with you over many years to come.  This year we are offering a few different micro-lots from FAF.  July 8th we’ll be introducing the FAF Red Bourbon, a natural processed coffee. Then later in the month we’ll be introducing a tasting series of 3 other micro-lots. Stayed tuned…

Potato Defect in Coffee

Have you ever drank a cup of coffee from East Africa (Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, etc.) and tasted a distinct potato taste?  We at DRC have seen this potato defect for years but have been truly impressed by what the growing specialty coffee production has done for the Rwandan economy and have been equally impressed by the taste of the coffees from there.  In order to enjoy this wonderful coffee and support what’s going on in Rwanda, this year we’ve bought another coffee being willing to take the occasional potato defect head on.  But, it’s caused us to want to take a dig and find out a little more about this defect and give our readers an overview about what’s happening.

After some digging we’ve found that the dreadful potato defect is hypothesized to be from microorganisms infecting the coffee bean that could have been transmitted due to damage from insects called Antestia bugs.  It is thought that these bugs transmit a chemical from the methoxypyrizine family (2-methoxy 3-isopropylpyrazine) when they feed on the unripe fruit and create a defective bean.  There isn’t definitive proof that these bugs are the sole culprit.  When they burrow into the bean they leave small holes in the fruit where other chemicals could enter but again, that’s just a hypothesis.  Regardless, the damage that the Antestia bugs create are hard to detect when farming and processing and the final, hideous aroma whether it’s from the bugs or not can’t be detected often until the coffee is ground.  We’ve talked to some of our friends at Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn, NY and they occasionally experience the same thing with this exact Rwandan.  It only happens ever now and then, but when it does, it’s easy to detect and discard before serving.

A lot of time and research is currently being spent to determine the exact cause for this defect and how it can be prevented in the future.  But for now, when you grind an East African coffee, pay attention to the dry aromas before you serve it.  If you smell some potato just dump the grounds, purge your grinder and re-brew.  It’s an unfortunate defect but it’s an interesting reminder that we serve an ever changing, highly intricate, agricultural product.

Brew on people.

-Adam

New Coffee Offering

We are excited to offer two new coffees to our list. We have an Ethiopian Amaro Gayo and a Mexican Fiech. These are great additions to what we offer and we are looking forward to hearing your feedback! Also, we are almost out of the Rwandan Kigeyo, and Colombian El Bordo is completely gone for the year.  Here are some quick summaries of our new offerings:

        Ethiopia Amaro Gayo Washed

As part of our new coffee offerings, this particular coffee comes from Ethiopia’s only female exporter. Her name is Asnaketch Thomas and she is native to the Amaro region, situated within the larger Sidamo region of Ethiopia. She is concerned with helping her surrounding communities with job creation, schooling, and medical assistance.  You can read more about Asnaketch’s work with the community at http://www.amarogayocoffee.com.

As being native to the region, she is well aware of the richness that the country has to offer, like the highland bamboo forests and waterfalls, which add to the uniqueness of this coffee. Amaro Gayo is 100% certified organic as well.

The Amaro Gayo is an Arabica coffee of indigenous varieties that is grown at an elevation of 5200 feet. The washed processing method gives the coffee a cleaner cup with more citrus character than the “natural” version of the same coffee.  We’ll be featuring this “natural” process version later this summer.

Cup characteristics:  Floral, citrus, clean soft acidity, orange marmalade, silky body.

Mexico Fiech

The Mexican Fiech is a coffee from 13 small cooperatives found in the Chiapas region. The farmers all belong to the Indigenous Ecological Federation of Chiapas (FIECH), which has won an award called the National Ecological Prize for environmental stewardship by the government in 1996.

Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Mame, Chuj and Zoque farmers formed the organization in 1996 to improve the quality of life and obtain affordable credit, while considering the concerns of the environment. Along with the original regions, the co op now has farmers from the Frailesca, Costa, Sierra Madre, Fronteriza and Norte regions.

By becoming a certified organic organization, these farmers have tripled their average income, while also implementing programs to build school dormitories, create women’s programs and started a community-lending bank. Since the development of the organization, the farmers have used their resources and extra income to improve their homes, further education, and provide medical care for their families.

The coffee is grown and tended to at 4500 feet.  The varieties of Arabica grown include Arabe, Bourbon, and Mundonovo, which are harvested from December to April.

Cup characteristics: Green apple, crisp acidity, nutty, syrupy body