December 29, 2011

You’re invited!

The Gala Reception will be Friday the 13th of Jan from 8-10 p.m. in the main hall at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California.

Marketplace will showcase the winners on Sat the 14th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Front Alcoves of the Ferry Building.

So put it on your calendar and hop online now to book some tickets.  You know you’ve been looking for a good excuse to fly to SF for a good coffee/roaster crawl weekend.

Click here For more info from the Good Food Awards site and here to purchase a Reception or Marketplace ticket.

Happy New Year!

-Edwin

Good Food Awards 2012

December 29, 2011

You’re invited!

The Gala Reception will be Friday the 13th of Jan from 8-10 p.m. in the main hall at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California.

Marketplace will showcase the winners on Sat the 14th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Front Alcoves of the Ferry Building.

So put it on your calendar and hop online now to book some tickets.  You know you’ve been looking for a good excuse to fly to SF for a good coffee/roaster crawl weekend.

Click here For more info from the Good Food Awards site and here to purchase a Reception or Marketplace ticket.

Happy New Year!

-Edwin

Changes at FVH

November 30, 2011

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog.  Almost a year and a half.  Tempted to say it’s been too long, but  it’s not been long enough.  While technology has many great values it can also be a huge waste of time.  With over 1400 contacts in my phone and an email inbox that is evidence of how poorly I manage time, it is hard to justify spending time adding a new post.  However I find it does have it’s place.  It can build brand, establish history and take up space on servers.  It was Jen and Chris the founders of Victrola that convinced me blogging was quite easy to do, this was back when the then tonx.org  (now at http://blog.tonx.org  sort of…) was one of the first blogs in specialty coffee with pictures and interesting content.  Interesting to me anyway.   Tony happened to work at Victrola as their roaster.  At the time the only roaster I knew that blogged.  And now it’s hard to think of one that does not at least tweet.

So I decided to dive in since it seemed no one else was doing it.  I’m fascinated with the advantages and risks of being an early adopter.  This was when Myspace was much bigger than Facebook and Twitter was barely an idea in Jack Dorsey’s head.  I soon realized there was no end to how many people had seemingly infinite time to post on their blogs.. that kept popping up left and right.  It became hard to keep up on 65 different blogs and tools emerged to make this easier.  And that’s about when I felt less compelled by what I was reading.  Not because there wasn’t compelling content out there.  It was the amounts of noise and babble that drowned out the nuggets of information that were worth digging for.  As the audience grew so did the disconnect.  SO WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH F.V.H.?  Well we’ve been fortunate to get quite connected in record time for a farm that is MUCH smaller than most imagine.  Shockingly so to anyone who visits.  For a farm that is 7 hours away from Guatemala City.  Half our customers can fly to Guatemala faster than we can get Guatemala city to the farm!  So it is nothing short of a miracle that anyone knows about FVH today.  One could speculate it is a collision of luck and strategy with really good timing.

For several years now we have been working hard to get less connected.  Simply to sell more of our coffee to less people.  To bring less people to the farm but be much more intentional regarding who and why.  And this comes around to defining clarity and purpose in what we are working towards.  We want to produce some of the finest coffee in the world and then we want people to enjoy it.  And really this is what every producer wants.  This is a lot of work though.  Two months ago we went with out our manager for a full week as Eliseo cupped hundreds of defective coffees each day as part of an intensive cupping course for producers taught by an old colleague and Q grader.  We are going to be doing a lot of cupping on the farm in 2012.  Something we’ve not done before because I’m simply not motivated to try and do something if it can’t be done really well.  We have not been equipped to do this well in the past.   This is changing.  We will get our patio crew cupping in between turning and drying coffee on the patios.  We have dozens of neighboring farms bringing their coffee for feedback and now we’ll equip them to create their own feedback.  We are surrounded by farms that have been in the Cup of Excellence and have been awarded high marks for quality by many private organizations such as exporters, importers, roasters, retailers as well as by Anacafe.  Simply talking about the difference and showing pictures of what a ripe cherry looks like is not as big an impact as being able to taste the difference and BE the consumer.

Over the last 10 years the single most frustrating thing as a producer and as a consultant to roasters is seeing value added that goes unappreciated.  (the only thing worse of course is to under deliver) I picture getting a perfect haircut and then having the barber tell me, “you know Edwin I did such a great job cutting your hair, I’m going to go through the motions once again if you don’t mind”  Well, that’s pointless and yet we do this in coffee all the time.  If the end consumer does not perceive the same added value you do, then it is not there.  For example, bad coffee in fine dining is not a problem to be solved.  The problem is the consumer does not know the difference so how can they be expected to care?  So we are getting our hands dirty with the end goal of continuous education and ever improving quality.  Starting on the farm.!  We hope you are able to enjoy the fruit of our labor!  Stay tuned as there are more changes to come in the next few months.  Nothing big really, but a lot of little things that we think make a difference.

-Edwin Martinez

President Colom has declared Guatemala in a state of “national calamity”  after an earthquake, an errupting volcano, the capital being covered in raining black sand and a tropical depression hitting the northwest coast.

After more phone calls and emails than usual and over 1000 views just this morning to a blog I’ve only posted on once this year… I thought I should give an update with a quick summary of some links.

In ENGLISH:

The Guatemala Times is not the best place for news, but does pick up big events and offers dramatic perspective

I am adding this link in later in the day as this report is both in English and more updated that much of the content I put up this morning.  This is currently on the home page for THE GUATEMALA TIMES website

Fox News covers TROPICAL STORM AGATHA.  I was disappointed that most of the comments on this were wether or not the photo was fake.

In SPANISH from PRENSA LIBRE:

Every few hours these numbers seem to go up, but it’s currently over 115,000 who have been evacuated or are stranded due to over 100 landslides, 18 major bridges destroyed and over 100 bridges including minor bridges on dirt roads and footpaths that hinder daily life and commerce. 152 have died 90 missing.

22,000 homes damaged or destroyed

Largest highways in the country shut down

Another sinkhole.  100 ft deep in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood.  This is in addition to the one I posted 3  years ago here

Food shortage in northwest region in and around Huehue due to damage from heavy waters

If you get on you tube and search “lluvia de arena guatemala” or “lluvia de cenisa guatemala” you’ll find lots of raw live footage from last Thursday night May 27, 2010 where it rained black sand.  Click on this link to see a clip I came across where someone simply walked around a neighborhood the next morning.

How are we at FVH?  Well many roads are damaged and this will make transport challenging.  We are fine.  As a people the community is doing well.  I am in touch with Eliceo who is in charge at the finca.  And aside from not seeing the sun for 2 weeks straight all is o.k.  I look forward to sharing more Eliceo soon.  I just returned from Guatemala back to Bellingham 2 weeks ago and might have returned Friday morning to catch the final day of the Cup of Excellence and catch up with some producers however the airport has been shut down for four and a half days.  The airport only has about 3000 people going through it a day so today as it will likely open there will be over 12,000 people waiting to fly in or out of an already over crowded tiny airport.

We have coffee at Cofeco in Huehuetenango and at SUBE in Guatemala city with shipments ready to go, but we’re holding back at the moment until things clear up and we feel comfortable with the associated risks.  Most of my family lives in Guatemala city which is in some ways continues business as usual but for many life is in a state of chaos.  Guatemala is not a country where the physical needs of most are well met.  These additional hardships don’t make things any easier.  Much of the entrepreneurial spirit and optimism that emerges out of Guatemala comes out of necessity.  If you’ve read this far and you’re wondering how you can help.  You can visit, sometime when the airport is not shut down, and drink good coffee.  Tourism and coffee are the #1 and #2 sources of revenue for Guatemala.

FVH now on Twitter!!!

October 11, 2009

No. Not really. While many are going out of their way to broaden their sphere of influence for business and personal reasons via social networking tools such as facebook, Twitter, linkedin, myspace and more, I’m working my way off the grid. I counted 161 social networking sites listed on wikipedia.org today, which is clearly not a comprehensive list as they somehow missed baristaexchange. Despite the great values offered by these technologies, I have come to appreciate communicating and interacting IN PERSON a great deal. I’m careful to not be too critical of something I’m unfamiliar with, however I’m content being ignorant. That being said, this post was done from my phone

If you’re in the Seattle area the interview I did on Wed will air today at 2:00 p.m.  If you’re not in Seattle or your catching this after the fact it will be a downloadable podcast at their site:

http://www.kuow.org

or go directly here

The Burke Museum in Seattle is kicking off this weekend an exhibit titled “Coffee: The World In Your Cup”.  To my knowledge, this is the first of it’s kind in North America!  I had the privilege of making an introduction to the press (about 20-30 people) and speaking about the relevance and value of this exhibit to the coffee industry on Wednesday.  I will also be lecturing on Saturday the 24th along with David Griswold founder of Sustainable Harvest in Portland and Max Savishinsky the director of UW Exploration Seminar Study Abroad Programs.  In the afternoon I’ll do a brief tasting.  I’m thinking I’ll sample roast a few micro lots, maybe some vacuum packed maragogype and peaberry.  I’ll brew them each in both chemex and eva solo, so attendees can taste a clean cup as well as one with some artificial body for those who may be disappointed in such a light roast hoping for a less flavorful and bolder taste.

photography by Gabriel Rodriguez

photography by Gabriel Rodriguez

 

This has been a collaborative effort on behalf of many of the staff at the Burke as well as many from the coffee industry.  You’ll find burlap sacks hung up on the wall over 25 feet wide and close to 20 feet high.  There is a pretty good spread of marks that are mostly mill and export marks, but some import and even roaster marks from atlas, intelli, stumptown, tonys and many more.  While I was there a few hours I didn’t get more than a glance at it, but did notice someone submitted our bag!!!  And it was stuffed separately next to a big poster with Ted Lingles tasters wheel and some other text with a title – “The Perfect Cup”.

While Starbucks was not on board at first they eventually came around and were more than supportive and collaborative.  They just couldn’t not be a part of it as it is in their back yard and they have paved the way for the early development of specialty coffee.

 

Before leaving I got to talking and met a journalist who is also a Q grader.  Not knowing who he was I asked, so what do you do in coffee or where do you work aside from being a jounalist?  (As curiosity is getting the best of me.)  His response was “Nothing – outside of journalism, I’m not a professional in the coffee industry.”  It turns out the Miles Small is an information sponge and is editor/owner of COFFEE TALK,which has been around for 22 years!!!

 

While the Burke is not a place where coffee professionals will go to learn a lot of content, it is fun to soak up the details as they’ve done a fantastic job of creating a social space among coffee displays that give some idea what coffee looks like from seed to cup.  So for anyone who has not been to origin this beats watching any video and hopefully will compel you to finally make that first, or 41st trip to origin.  There is a small depulper, patio with coffee drying and even a display of what the corner of a fermentation tank or washing tank may look like with fresh wet pergamino.

And for anyone who has any interest at all in coffee, it’s history or culture it is a great place to just watch the screen as pictures cycle through.  Many of the photos used on the home page’s flash as well as in other places on the website, in the exhibit on the walls and in posters were taken by Gabe Rodriguez at FVH.  His photography continues to amaze me even as I go back and take another look at pictures I’ve already seen many times.  Here is a link to some of these pictures… if you look around you’ll find many more.

We are putting together a 2009 calendar as we did 3-4 years ago and it will be composed 100% of Gabe’s photos.  While it does not tell the complete seed to cup story and include a great picture of my wife driving one of our old Land Cruiser pick ups, the images speak for them self and are very engaging.  It’s kind of ridiculous actually how much raw detail is each of these pictures.

I also did an interview on KUOW Public Radio with Jeremy Richards that may be aired Jan 23 in the afternoon.  I will post a link if I find one later as well as posting about Saturday.  The interview was a Q&A as well as a walk around and talk in the museum as we soaked it all in ending with a tasting.  Major Cohen was serving pressed Bella Vista – Tres Rios and Nathan Warner the head roaster at Fidalgo Bay was pouring fresh pressed Selvanica into ceramic, which had great acidity and sweetness.

The exhibit will be around for about 6 months and if you are not in the pacific northwest, check back on the museum website later this year as this exhibit will hit the road for 3 years!!!

 

Don’t miss it!