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Honduras Santa Elena Catracha Ernesto Vasquez update

by badbeard2 4. May 2016 19:31

We are out of stock of the Ernesto Vasquez's fabled coffee, our Central american fave, source of all the goodness in the Badbeard's Milk Stout making the rounds on the Portland tap scene. Word today from Royal Coffee that arrival for the fantastic (cupped a pre-ship sample...super chocolatey!) microlot 2016 will be mid-July. We got the whole 14 bags of it! Can't wait here....

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Coffee News | The Grind

Coming arrival of new crop Honduras from Ernesto Vasquez, Mayra Orellana-Powell speaks!

by badbeard2 9. April 2016 10:46

Got word this week from Mayra Orellana-Powell, marketing manager of our esteemed partners/importers Royal Coffee, that our fave producer, Ernesto Vasquez (farm "El Durazno Melocoton") of the Catracha Coffee Project in Santa Elena, Honduras, produced an excellent lot and it will be making its way here soon. Fantastic coffee...the one we used to produce a coffee beer with collaboration of Jason Webb of Portland's Unicorn Brewing....chocolatey, lively acidity, banana leaf, vanilla. Can't wait! This coffee will make it into our offering sheet as well as the next production run of Badbeard's Coffee Stout, which is currently on tap at the Beaverton Market of Choice.

Mayra is doing amazing things...REAL "eco-activism" for her hometown community of Santa she is addressing an SCAA assembly. Thanks Mayra and husband Lowell Powell and all the besties at Royal!

E. Africa treasures arrived, Organic Uganda and Yirgacheffe, Limu from Keffa

by badbeard2 24. March 2016 12:01

Great new crop offerings...a first for us from Uganda, Sipi Falls organic, a tremendous coffee, rich and sweet. Badbeard's is kicking over a share to our wonderful friends at S.O.U.L., a nonprofit working in educational and community outreach in some of that country's poorest regions. We will continue to support SOUL with all of our Ugandan offerings as they arrive...

Also excited to have Keffa Coffee's new crop YirgZ and Limu-Gera back in the rotation. The washed Limu was one of the highest-scoring coffees from that area ever handled by Samuel Demisse, a jammy fruit bomb normally reserved for natural process cultivars. Bravo. Fantastic pourover and espresso.

Coffee beers extravaganza in Portland Saturday March 12!

by badbeard2 9. March 2016 07:47

The presence of our Honduras Santa Elena Catracha "Ernesto Vasquez" is going to be in evidence on Saturday March 12 at the Baker's Dozen coffee beers/donuts/coffee event held at Culmination Brewing in NE Portland. Excited! Brewers John Lovegrove and Jason Webb of Unicorn have done an excellent job jacking up thier Milk Stout with this prized, chocolatey coffee! A preview here from last night's pre-show promo and tasting of some of the offerings.

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Updates and info on our partners in Honduras, Catracha Coffees

by badbeard2 1. March 2016 10:00

Harvest is underway in lovely Santa Elena, Honduras, from whence some of the best Central American coffees we've tasted and offered in recent years. Can't wait to get our grubby little roaster hands on the new offerings in May when they make their way to the West Coast thru Royal Coffee. Posting here the recent update/report from Royal's boots on the ground...

Visiting Santa Elena & Many of the CatrachaFarms By Kevin Stark




The municipality of Santa Elena in Western Honduras is located in the department of La Paz, at an elevation of 1,800 meters above sea level and is very near the border with El Salvador. Most of the Catracha farms are located in this region, and many with long views down the valley below. If you start at the family home of Mayra Orellana-Powell, marketing manager for Royal Coffee and co-founder of Catracha, and depending on which road you take around the mountains, the terrain, landscape, plants, and farms will change dramatically.

You may remember the details of this project: The municipality has approximately 88 square miles and a population of 14,800.  Coffee is grown between 1,500 and 1,800 meters above sea level, and we think the quality is very high.

Catracha Coffee is a coffee-buying social enterprise that accesses the specialty coffee market for smallholder farmers. The quality project is an initiative focused on supporting the production of specialty coffee among Catracha Coffee farmers in Honduras.

As I’m writing this, data loggers are running on four farms, in the solar dryers, and near drying patios—installed by farmers (Rosibel Vasquez, Santiago Lopez, Luis Nolasco, and Porfirio Lopez) with the help of Arvin Juan and Lowell Powell with Catracha.

Arvin and Lowell have also encouraged farmers to add more ventilation to their solar dryers and use breathable black mesh under the coffee parchment while it dries to promote slow and even drying in an easy to clean environment free of unwanted contamination. 
“People believe drying coffee in 5 days is good because it opens up space to dry more coffee, so the challenge is to convince a producer that 15 days is better because the quality will be better,” Lowell said to me.

The intention of the data loggers is this: they will map the post-harvest process and collect data at each step, from receiving, pulping, fermenting, drying, and storage.  “Many farmers have their particular way of doing things, and our goal is to capture the uniqueness from farm to farm so we can learn from each other and get even better,” said Orellana-Powell.  

In its first year, Catracha worked with 13 farmers. The following year it was near 30 producers and Mayra is estimating closer to 60 people this year. This is evidence of a great buy-in from people on the ground in Honduras.  

On the other side of the business, Catracha is seeing similar excitement from roasters and the industry. You will remember Mayra’s talk at last year’s symposium:

I had a chance to get the perspective of some of the coffee buyers on this trip (who, I should add, have been offering extremely valuable guidance and support for this project). Many of the buyers agreed that the social aspect of this project—the community building, the focus on transparency, bringing more money back to the producer—is as appealing as the quality aspect of the project (which again, we think is pretty great). The organizing, the market connection, the producer investment is all happening in an exciting way.

What is special about Santa Elena? So many things, but not the least of which is the coffee. The work is beginning, and it is important that Catracha can show continued improvement in quality over the coming years. I’d like to sketch out how we are going to track that progress.

Let’s start with what is happening on the coffee farms. I mentioned some of the ways that data is going to be captured. This is important, baseline information. Going forward, when Catracha experiences quality outliers—coffee that exceeds or does not meet expectation—Catracha should be able to drill into the processing and farm information to identify why and adjust its methods. This will be valuable feedback for farmers and can help explain quality variance, something that can be a mystery.
Giving advice to farmers in Santa Elena based on successes seen in other growing regions of the world could be risky because every growing region can have its own unique micro-climate and favorable factors that are not necessarily transferable to Santa Elena.  Having data to analyze before suggesting possible strategies for quality improvements will reduce costly mistakes.     
This project is bringing together individuals from wide ranging backgrounds.  There are, of course, the coffee professionals. The Catracha team is being guided by advice from experienced coffee buyers. There is a pretty healthy debate happening within the Catracha community about processing techniques, pricing and transparency.

Catracha is also working with John Casazza, a consultant in sustainable agriculture development and food systems, John is working with farms to identify best practices for shade, tree management, application of compost, and ways to protect against la roya or leaf rust. More from John in a future post, but he clearly identified the coffee value chain for Catracha. See below:

And most importantly, Catracha will work with close to sixty producers this year, almost double from 2015. According to Lowell and Mayra, the new additions to the Catracha group have been wonderful to work with and their coffee looks spectacular.



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Coffee News | The Grind

Yirgacheffe Blue Nile backorder, Sumatra Honey Mandheling

by badbeard 1. May 2013 11:22

Will be replenishing the outstanding Yirgacheffe Blue Nile in a couple of weeks with the new crop offering...sold out. Also hope to introduce the complex "honey process" Sumatra Mandheling, a pirated brief description from Royal Coffees info portal..."This coffee is processed in a unique style, which we doubt is found anywhere else in the world. It begins with ripe cherries from the Bener Meriah District being run through hand-cranked de-pulpers to remove the skins. This is followed by a “dry” fermentation overnight. No water is added at any stage. On the second day, the parchment, still covered in sticky mucilage, is laid out on the drying patios. The coffee is dried to below 30% moisture content and then wet-hulled in the traditional Sumatra style, after which it returns to the patios for final drying of the green beans. So, in effect, this is a Dry-Fermented/Pulped-Natural/Wet-Hulled coffee. Definitely an advanced level of coffee processing which yields quite a unique final product." (courtesy exclusive importer Royal Coffee, Emeryville, CA)

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Coffee News | Food and Drink | The Grind

Important and concisely-written explanation of the turbulent coffee market!!!

by badbeard 31. January 2011 11:55

Thanks to Max Fuller of Royal Coffee in California (one of my key and esteemed purveyors of green beans) for his succinct and tragically-right on appraisal of where coffee "is" right now and the near-future.  If your cups of favored coffee are costing more these days, read this blog post to learn why.

    Badbeard's is trying to rein in pricing fluctutations with existing inventory but will be joining the ranks of the price-increasers soon enough.  The superior quality we are offering across the board makes your dollar spent-to-pleasure experienced ration even higher!

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Food and Drink | The Grind | The Mill

New arrivals in time for Labor Day

by badbeard 29. August 2010 01:27

Two awesome, seasonal coffees....smokin' fresh and ready...Ethiopia Guji Sidamo Natural DECAF (Mountain Water Process), still berry-bursting nose and great body.  We thought this fabulously fruity caffeinated coffee was excellent as well...doesn't lose much in the decaf process! Actually came in at a higher 2nd crack temp in the roaster than the caffeinated version.  A real treat for you decaf drinkers...I never thought I'd find a WP coffee THIS good.

New territory for us in Northern Sumatra with the Sidikalang-Dairi" Tabu Jamu", a special project of developer/partner/importer Royal Coffee.  I was thrilled to have this call out to me from the cupping table, as it's not your average joe...the volcanic area around the massive Lake Toba holds some amazing terroir for spicy, heavy-bodied semi-washed coffees without the funk you get in most Mandheling- and Lintong-category offerings.  The Tabu Jamu is a proprietary development between exporter Syahrial and Dody and Royal.  They're both committed to offering a non-earthy Sumatra alternative, and this crop, the third one (since '07)is a fine example.  Wine and coriander and berry notes for the exotic nose, syrupy body with a long and even finish, nice mild acidity.  This'll make a few blends as well, which excited my alchemical side.

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The Grind | The Mill