What burden? Education. This is one of the things I’m most excited about in coffee. While everyone knows about coffee, you can’t really ever know enough about it right? If ever in Bellingham, WA make this a mandatory stop. 205 Grand Avenue. Just go there.

Having just opened Alexarc Mastema and Teri Bryant who own the Black Drop are now roasting as Maniac Roaster. Show up between 8 a.m. and noon M-F and you can purchase a hand poured gold filtered cup and some great alternative brewing devices that will be sure to please any eager coffee geek. Alex was kind enough to allow me to stop in during non business hours and hang out during his roasting time.

I walked in just as he was about to dump in his first batch of decaf that he’s roasted in 15 years. Yes coffee is not new to Alex. (The roast came out looking as nice as a sumatran decaf can look – I’ll have to go back just to try this). You may notice a few huge black drops tatooed on his arms and think he’s pretty serious about coffee. And he is, but the reason you need to stop by is because he wants to share this. I’ve been following them since they opened… and just dug up this old link where they get great reviews, 4 years ago! In Bellingham I’ve noticed that the way-over saturated coffee scene is full of coffee that meets the local demand that drowns it with cream and sugar, and it doesn’t take much to be the best in town. The Black Drop has continuously raised the bar time and time again. Stop by their place at 300 W champion and get a free dopio on Fridays. To start off great and improve non stop does not happen by accident. Nice job guys. Congradulations on the new space.

Cost of participation in CoE.

September 17, 2007

2007 Cup of Excellence FVH results

We received $8.05/lb green but after all itemized expenses below are pulled out the amount totals to $6.19/lb. Then we must back out another .32 for misc expenses related to getting our coffee to the warehouse and additional warehousing fees not included in report that were prepaid. This leaves $5.85
I expect we’ll see more interest on behalf of growers next year because of these prices. The last time we were in an auction it was the “Exceptional Cup” in 2004 and we got $1.65/lb before any expenses were backed out. I still find that most growers think that auction winners are able to sell their entire crop at auction prices. Sounds like a dream? Not so much. This the goal of the Q.

CoE expenses to growerA CoE expenses to growerB

I wanted to add a few more comments…. after a few email exchanges with Gabriela at Anacafe I realized I may be giving off the wrong impresssion. We were very pleased with the results of this auction and are extremely supportive of both CoE and Anacafe. My goal in sharing these details is not to complain about how much is taken off the top, rather to be transparent. I realize such a program has overhead and I would recommend involvement to any grower/roaster who has interest in long term relationships with other like minded quality driven folks.

Using technology in geography for agriculture

This is free next Tues if you’re in Guate.

DSCF0026, originally uploaded by edwinfvh.

I thought I would comment a little more on some of the details people often enquire about. This place seems quite secure and has a fenced area the size of an indoor soccer field that is locked internally to keep the CoE coffees separate from the general “run of the mill”…. literally.

There is no signage on the main road, and you have to drive into a gated yard to weigh in, then exit and re-enter on the back side off a narrow gravel road to unload. I asked the plant manager about this, and it will change soon as it makes sense for accountability reasons to weigh immediately before and after a load or unload. Regardless the facility seems quite secure and very UN marked. You just about need GPS coordinates and exact milemarkers to find this as the only place I saw a sign is this scratch on the back door 2 blocks back from the main road. Otherwise you’d never know that this plant can process over $200,000 of coffee a day.

If you’re one of “them” – fanatic coffee geeks who spends 30 minutes preparing, roasting, blowing chaff away and cooling, this post is for you. Whether you are roasting in a popcorn popper, an RK drum in a BBQ or in your modified hair dryer you know the excitement that comes from turning your own green to brown. This “hobby” and passion has spread like wild flower and allowed really cool folks such as Gary and John at www.burmancoffee.com to buy green coffee and resell it with out even roasting it. At a profit. The value added is worth every penny. They do all the work of sourcing for you and break it down so you can order just a few lbs to try with out having to buy 1500lbs. We don’t sell direct to home roasters because it’s alot of work, it’s not our focus, and others do it much better than we ever could.

Mario Guzman perfecting the art of home roasting

Check out his pictures HERE – this is certainly the best looking results I’ve ever seen from a home roaster. You’ll note he has a good eye for evaluating green as he found some defects in our coffee. Mario has been kind enough to offer sending a sample of his finished product for us to taste. I can’t wait.

Happy Roasting!

Zambian Barista Champion

September 3, 2007


I’ve recently taken great interest in Zambia, in part because some close friends left this weekend to live there for a few years. During the WBC this year I made it a point to watch the Zambian Barista Champion Francis Njobvu perform. CLICK HERE TO SEE IT FOR YOURSELF. As it was a full house, I was lucky to find an empty seat near the front. The woman next to me was waving a flag, and yes it was the Zambian flag. Turns out it was Teija Lubinkhof of MUNALI COFFEE. He used Teija’s beans as well as the mucilage removed with a Penagos to make a jam. The fruit was cooked into a reduction with sugar and lime juice, then skin was sifted out. The 07 crop is being harvested as I write this.


Francis may very well have been the most calm performer in the entire WBC this year. Too bad more people couldn’t try his signature drink. It was quite unique. Teija gave me some green in Tokyo which I will be sample roasting for fun next week. Based on a green evaluation only it looks very promising.

Cupping Micro lots.

September 2, 2007

There are few things I enjoy more than spending a day sample roasting and cupping our micro lots. It’s strange how some things never get old. I suppose in large part it’s a sign of how much more there is to learn. While many will not distinguish a notable difference there are subtle nuances that are fun to identify and a challenge to highlight in a production roast.

Philip Meech has been growing his business one batch at a time and while growth often pulls roasters away from sample roasting and “playing” aroung with coffee, Philip seems to be experimenting even more getting to know each bean more intimately. As a grower we rely much on roasters big and small that invest into thorough evaluation and testing of all kinds. It’s amazing how much we learn from others about our own coffee. Phil had to bring his roaster up to our warehouse and sample roast every microlot before buying a few more bags. If this trend continues we’ll have to send left overs to the CoE auction next year.

San Franciscan Philip cupping in our garage in Bellingham