At the Coffee Hound we continually strive to offer our customers, both in-store and online, the best coffee we can. Often this entails the refinement and improvement of processes and procedures in our stores and roasting facility located in Central Illinois. Yet, at times, this means leaving our base of operations to learn more about current trends in our industry, as well as build relationships and develop partnerships with growers, distributors, and other colleagues from around the world.
Last month, this took our roasters, Steve and Trace, and one of our managers, Kyle, to the 2016 Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual expo (SCAA2016) in Atlanta, Georgia. There they met with Ben Carlson from the Long Miles Coffee Project, the provider of our newly launched Burundi Natural Nkonge and Burundi Washed Musumba, and learned how Long Miles had reached its capacity for bringing on new partnerships, which means we were lucky to form ours when we did. We also discussed the possibility of experimenting with beans processed through different methods, such as the honey process, where, unlike the full natural, only some of the mucilage is left on the cherry. Additionally, Trace even got to participate in a cupping with Ben and other Long Miles roasters, cupping the roasts of the different Burundis from the different roasters, all unique in their own way.
Also, looking forward, Steve, Trace, and Kyle were able to meet with Ben Weiner of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers from Nicaragua, with whom we recently formed a partnership similar to the one we have with Long Miles. During the meeting Ben Weiner explained the rigorous quality control measures his organization has in place on their farms, one such measure being their “Ripeness Police Force” which measures sugar levels within their coffee cherries using refractometers, another being dark maroon rubber bracelets on the wrists of their cherry-pickers, used for ensuring only the ripest cherries are chosen. While speaking with him, we were also assured our crop from Don Isidro of the Gold Mountain Coffee Growers should be in by mid-summer, along with some coffee cherry tea, which will be served in our shops. Furthermore, we discussed the prospect of a trip to Gold Mountain’s farms for Steve and April, and the opportunity to meet Don Isidro himself.