A “single origin” coffee is identified by the geographical location of where it is grown. All single origin coffees are titled with the producing country’s name and are the ingredients of any and all blends. There are three main regions in the world where specialty coffees are produced: The Americas (Central and South), Asia / Oceana and Africa. Also included within the title can be a region, designating specific areas of growth, appellation, denoted by specific ecosystems in which the coffee is grown, and estate, which is located within an appellation, and any mark, which includes registered trademarks and certifications, further identifying and distinguishing the coffee. It’s much like specialty wine; the more details a person knows about their favorite origin, the greater the consistent enjoyment and supply will be through having refined knowledge of specific flavor profiles relative to that location as well as procuring specific and consistent sources of a favorite origin (country, region, appellation, estate and mark).
Oftentimes the grade of the coffee is listed in the title, such as Supremo, AA, SHB, etc. And, for the aficionado and science and detail folks, knowledge of the cultivars within the origin can further define a favorite coffee. These all have an effect on flavor, which will be presented in my next column.
One of my favorite single origins is coffee from Colombia (enter Juan Valdez, one the busiest growers on the planet). Colombia is the second largest producer of specialty coffees in the world and offers beans from seven different regions. Known as “milds”, Colombian coffees possess foundational flavor characteristics of mild acidity, sweet, caramel aroma and flavor, and medium – full body. Aftertaste can vary in all coffees, determined predominantly by the processing, storing, roasting and age of the beans. But, a Colombian coffee from the Huila region tends to be more acidic, with citrus and floral flavors than those of the Bucaramanga region, which come the closest to the aforementioned general flavor profile of Colombians.
Within the spectrum of single origin coffees and differing foundational flavor profiles, Ethiopian (African) coffees are the antithesis to Colombians, in that they are generally of bold and assertive acidity with fruit, floral and earthy flavors and heavy body. Sumatran (Asia / Oceana) coffees correspondingly exhibit mild acidity, woody, nutty and earthy flavors with big body. Central American coffees vary the most within the predominant three world regions because of the longitude the countries cover, offering a broader difference in soil and climatic effects.
“Traditional” blends are those known as French, Italian and Viennese. Although these titles do represent geographical locations, the flavor profile of each of these blends is governed by broadly-accepted standards, which also encompass a specific degree of roast, namely on the “dark” side. French Roast is known on the west coast of the U.S. to be the darkest of roasts, which should offer a complex flavor that is sweet and smooth, resulting from the use of mild origin coffees, most-often those of the Americas and Asia / Oceana regions. Italian Roast is known on our east coast as the darkest of roasts that traditionally is used for espresso preparation, offering a deep and intense flavor that is spicy, sweet and bold, primarily resulting from the use of natural or pulp natural (semi-washed) East African, Central- and South American coffees. Vienna Roast is smooth and sweet, milder in the cup with less intensity due to its lighter development on the dark roast spectrum.
Most specialty roasting companies offer a signature or “house” blend, which is guaranteed to be different from anything or anyone else’s blend, regardless of the individual origin coffees used in the recipes. Single origins are roasted on different machines to different degrees and blended together in different quantities. It is in this action that unique tasting coffees are created, providing the world with greater variety and selection in the cup. Enjoy!
Guatemala has long cultivated a sense of mystique and intrigue within me. Whether it be the multi-colored ‘trademark’ textiles, the variety of historical and modern architecture, legend and life of the ancient Maya and colonial Spanish or the rich and varied cups of coffee to be enjoyed, Guatemala is truly the rainbow of Central America.
Often I am asked what the “best” coffee in the world is. Because the answer to this question is purely subjective, my reply is always seasonally contingent. Coffee quality is parallel to that of wine, relying on soil mineral content and annual rainfall amounts to be the predominant criteria in flavor make-up.
Guatemala’s history with coffee dates back to 1700 and is greatly influenced by the influx of European immigrants and their detail-oriented ways of life. Because of the well-established quality stock of fine arabica species coffee trees, attaining ages of up to 100 years, the nine producing regions in Guatemala offer a rainbow of flavors. The rich and fertile soil of the many still active volcanoes in the land is the foundation of the coffees’ favorable characteristics, which are described as spicy, chocolaty, floral and winy. The “European Preparation” processing used in creating the deep-emerald colored beans ensures coffees of bright and clean cup. Having recently been an honored guest of a major producing coffee family in Guatemala and witnessing all facets of their coffee producing culture, I can confidently state that Guatemala is one of the premier specialty coffee producers in the world today.
Following decades of often corrupt and oppressive military rule, which culminated with the civil war of the early 1980’s, Guatemalans are letting their guard down, breathing a cautious sigh of relief and happily opening their arms to welcome travelers to their colorful land.
As part of my goal to participate in and support sustainable business practices, through the direct purchasing of coffees from the farmers in countries of origin, it was an honor to tour several of the premier coffee regions and estates in Guatemala and forge new relationships and understanding of the lives of the farmers and families so intricately responsible for satisfying the huge demand of world-wide coffee drinkers.
Finca (Estate) El Bosque is a coffee farm of rich heritage. Hosted by the third generation of this estate, Sr. Jose Eladio Flores and family were very gracious with their time, providing us with a full tour of the farm and mill, which is located near Lake Amatitlan, between Guatemala City to the north and the ever-active Pacaya Volcano to the south.
The steep mountainsides of Aldea Loma Larga, Amatitlan, is where the Flores family cultivates the heartiest of all coffee subspecies stocks, arabica bourbon. Traveling in the back of one of the ever-present, classic original Toyota Land Cruisers, the most common work vehicle throughout the Guatemalan farmlands, we navigated the heavily fruit-ladened, ninety year old coffee orchards. Many of the pickers, being of Mayan descent, working barefoot, lower themselves on safety tethers along the rows of trees, focusing to maintain balance while picking only the ripe, ruby-red cherries. Hopping off the bank to get a closer look at the trees and do some picking myself provided an instant realization of the arduous work involved just getting the cherry off the tree, let alone to the mill.
Having purchased from this farm for the past year, it was an invaluable experience to see the small wet mill, with its handful of workers, de-pulping the coffee cherries and channeling the “nuts” or pits, which are the coffee beans, into the primary fermentation tanks, where they will ferment from 12 to 48 hours, enhancing the flavor within the bean. From there the coffees are channeled further along, rolling in water, which “washes” the coffee of an enzymatic mucilage surrounding the beans, arresting primary fermentation. Guatemala utilizes a secondary soaking of the coffee for an additional 24 hours, which further dissolves the mucilage, sharpening the beans’ flavors to laser intensity and deep blue-emerald colors. The final stage in the hand-crafted processing our humble supplier incorporates is a patio drying of the coffee pergamino. Pergamino is a thin, nut-like shell encasing the beans. Patio sun drying of coffee results in sweeter flavor in the cup and can take up to two days to complete. Finally the pergamino is stored in breathable sacks of 150 pounds inside warehouses for a three month curing, or reposo period, completing the last stage of preparation before the coffee is husked and bagged for export.
Throughout our week long tour we visited the renowned Antigua region, which produces Guatemala’s flagship coffee, Guatemala Antigua. This coffee is full in body, chocolaty-sweet and spicy in the cup with a balanced and bright finish. The colonial city of La Antigua, lying below the Agua Volcano, located southwest of Guatemala City, is a “must-visit” classic Spanish colonial city, where time stands still. The cobbled streets and meticulously groomed shop-fronts welcome the international traveler to a warm and genuine Guatemala, brimming with color and historical architecture.
Board any one of the intricately painted, mucho-colorful buses running at seemingly crazy pace throughout the country and head east to another one of Guatemala’s national landmarks, Lago (Lake) Atitlan. Rimmed by Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro volcanoes, the towns of Santiago Atitlan and Panajachel, along the southern and eastern shores respectively, provide authentic Mayan cultural experience with contemporary flair. Crossing the lake by ferry is a scenic journey, akin to a crossing of Tahoe or Interlaken in Switzerland. Proceed with caution!; the afternoon wind, known as Chocomil, can run-up a tempest, providing adventure and danger in a short period of time. This region is best for sourcing and buying the trademark multi-colored textiles of the Maya Indians, which has, as of 2003, along with tourism, supplanted coffee as Guatemala’s number one export. Jade, especially the rare white and black varieties, are mined in this region and attract a world-class following.
The highlight of our tour came on the final day with a helicopter flight up into the northern highlands of Guatemala, which, by automobile would have taken a few days’ journey. Lifting above the dense smog of Guatemala City to be greeted by the morning sun and a host of volcanoes in every direction, we flew over many hectares of corn, coffee and sugar cane fields, planted high upon steep hillsides, cascading into deep ravines, very often swollen with well-fed creeks and rivers.
Huehuetenango (pronounced whey-whey ten-ang-go), lies at the base of a series of deep gorges just south of the Mexican border. The Finca El-Injerto hosted us for a morning breakfast and tour of their farm and mill, which rank high on the scale of cleanliness, optimally reflected in their shining coffees. The coffee trees ranged 2000 vertical feet up on slopes as steep as 45 degrees, intermixed with old-growth mesquite and oak as shade trees. This farm also cultivated yucca commercially, which is sold to the Japanese market. Huehuetenango is another of Guatemala’s well-known coffee origins, producing coffees with assertive citrus and floral notes in the cup, brightly finished by bold acidity.
Finca La Perla was the crux of our tour. This relatively small farm occupies a famous place in recent history and provided an experience at origin second to none, as all of my professional colleagues, who joined me that week, will attest to. It was during the leftist rebel insurgency in the early 1980’s that this multi generation coffee estate found itself in the middle of the heat of the battle. Leftist guerrillas wanted to prevent any coffee leaving, or, for that matter, any interaction outside of Guatemala. They sought to halt the flow of coffee from mill to export, which was and still is the lifeblood for the Maya peoples of the northern department of El Quiche. In 1981 and ’82 thousands of Indians fled from the higher elevations to take welcomed refuge on the estate. It was the Patron of the family at La Perla that stood firm and committed to resisting control by the insurgents. For this he did pay dearly, being assassinated in his home a short time thereafter by a woman leftist guerrilla, posing as a local come to visit.
La Perla is a community of approximately 2000 Indians, who speak one of the twelve native dialects of the Maya, known as Quiche. It is eight hours isolated from the nearest main road by steep mountains and valleys. The airstrip is cut into the side of the mountain and promises excitement for anyone arriving by small plane, landing on a grassy strip that runs up the mountain. Finca La Perla supports a small village, which is typical of most all coffee farms in Central America, comprised of a church at the center, school next door and medical clinic nearby. As we hovered around and over the farm in two brightly-painted Bell Long Ranger helicopters, a swarm of small figures, resembling a stream of ants from our vantage point, poured out of the school and down toward the airstrip to where we were soon to touch down. A feeling of warmth and genuine fascination on both the behalf of us gringo coffee professionals and the 200 or so Maya children running to greet us pervaded the air.
Although being quite isolated, Finca La Perla produces some very fine organic specialty coffee, along with cardamom, of which Guatemala happens to be the world’s largest producer. Having cupped the first round of coffee produced at La Perla, we patiently await export samples and final purchase negotiations to complete one of our primary objectives of creating a “relationship” coffee we can offer direct from the humble farmers at La Perla to the coffee lovers of Lake Tahoe.
This story painted a relatively rosy picture of life and traveling in Guatemala. Unfortunately, this is not the predominant scenario. The U.S. Department of State continues to maintain a very cautious travel advisory for the country. Guatemala’s new president is ushering in an administration prepared to respond to the country’s dire needs of improving education, clean water, reducing income disparity, increasing jobs and bridging the cultural differences between the Maya and the Ladinos, and working to reduce rampant violent crime and build a more cohesive country.
Living and working conditions for the coffee pickers are in many areas deplorable. Through buying direct we can better trace where our money is going and make wiser, more informed purchasing decisions. All of the estates we do business with engage in improved and sustainable employment and social practices, offering incentives to get the workers to send their children to school, seek consistent and preventative personal hygiene and health care, through building clinics on the farm or within the local communities, staffed regularly with doctors and dentists, and improving local water supply with new and improved infrastructure. They pay thirty to fifty percent higher wages over the minimum required by the government.
However, many of the Mayan pickers and their families find the transition from their traditional lifestyle to be a difficult one.
As a traveler from the U.S., one must be wary of pick-pocket petty thieves, avoiding bad neighborhoods in any part of the country and becoming accustomed to the ubiquitous presence of firearms. In other words, get a good cup of coffee and keep your head about you. Respect local customs, speak and walk quietly and smile a whole bunch. Traveling with an open, understanding and loving heart is essential.
This article was reprinted from our 2004 Guatemala travel log. CW
As I stirred in the kitchen this morning grinding our daily brew, darling little Chloe, our three year old, asked, “Dad, let me smell the coffee!”, as she insists in being involved in making Mama’s coffee whenever possible. The whir of the Virtuoso burr grinder filled the background as breaking sunlight filtered into the breakfast nook. “That smells good, Papa”, Chloe says, with a big smile. I am confident that this little live wire is going to be a coffee achiever – sooner than later.
The Technivorm brewer begins its gurgle and the rays of morning light catch the ochre red of the first drops of brew in the pot. “Freeze this frame” is all I can think, as a soft and sweet moment occurs. No worries, a little darling by my side and the realization that the ochre red color of those first drops of brew is so rich in texture that I am completely captivated. Wow, ochre red – the true color of the finest arabica species coffees.
Then comes the aroma. With notes of rich cacao and spice, I look over and see that darling Chloe is anticipating the ensuing cup as much as I am.
There is cause for much excitement. The looming brew is capturing all of our senses and has us spellbound. What is it? It’s one of our favorites, of course, and fresh from the farm. Guatemala Antigua Los Volcanes.
This Central American origin is just super, especially this time of year when the first bags have completed their reposo,or “resting”, phase and are arriving in port and in Minden to be expertly and skilfully brought to life by Alpen Sierra’s production team. The acidity is so lovely and bright that it wakes the senses for a full blast of syrupy-sweet and rich chocolaty flavor. This comes from the double washed processing that Guatemala practices, which results in accentuated and clean acidity in the cup. As the rich mouthfeel of this brew travels the palate, the finish becomes spicy and is long- lingering in the aftertaste.
As I cradle this reverent cup and am absorbed in this seemingly eternal moment of bliss, I am snapped back to the present by the wide, bright and
intensely blue eyes and anticipating gaze of my darling Chloe, wanting to have a smell and taste of Papa’s coffee. Oh girl, here we go already…
Well, yes, coffee can be bitter. Much like the tannins in wine and tea, the many acidic compounds in coffee can become overwhelming and undesirable in the cup for several reasons. Bitter is such an ambiguous term, though, when judged by an individual’s subjective taste perception. Bitter to one person may be brightness to another. How can bitterness in coffee be truly identified and controlled?
The International Coffee Organization (ICO) defines “bitterness” in coffee as “…a primary taste characterized by the solution of caffeine, quinine and certain alkaloids. This taste is considered desirable up to a certain level and is affected by the degree of roast and brewing process.”
DEGREE OF ROAST: We identify three distinct roast categories for coffee here at Alpen Sierra:
1. Medium: the lightest degree of development of the coffee bean where heat has penetrated the outer layer of the bean and developed it adequately to represent the truest character and terroir of the origin and cultivar of that particular coffee. The resulting flavor will be “dimensional”, meaning it can be tasted all over the palate.
2. Full-City: Truly the peak of flavor development of the coffee, which has all the benefits of medium roast, yet is enhanced by a slight degree of caramelization of sugars on the surface of the bean, adding richness to the cup.
3. Dark: Ranging from medium dark to full dark, this degree reflects full heat penetration of the core of the coffee bean, releasing starches and sugars, triggering volatile chemical reactions and resulting in diminished dimensionality and true representation of the coffee’s terroir, yet increased intensity in the cup.
The most probable degree of roast that would display true and undesirable bitterness is the dark roast. If a roaster’s internal temperature becomes too high during the roast, which happens later in the roast, and not tapered or limited, the coffee beans will become exothermic, meaning that the beans will have absorbed all the heat they can during roasting and then begin to add heat back into the environment. It is this exothermic reaction that will create a gaseous and nasty sharp finish in the coffee.
BREWING PROCESS: Properly roasted coffee is always going to be grind degree sensitive, i.e. the beans must be ground to the correct degree for the brewing application. If coffees are ground too fine for their respective brewing method, they will over-extract acidic compounds in the coffee and result in bitterness in the cup. Oftentimes I hear people say they like to grind their coffee on the fine side to get “more flavor” out of it. This will be true of under-roasted, or baked, coffees, which can be found quite prevalently in the marketplace, read “slow roasted coffee”. Coffees that have been developed to their full flavor potential will always be grind degree sensitive. If you are unsure as to the proper degree of grind, have your local coffee professional prepare a sample on a commercial coffee grinder and use that sample as a benchmark when grinding at home. Buy a burr grinder for accurate and consistently ground coffee and optimum quality brew!
Rule of thumb: the longer the contact time of coffee grounds to water during the brewing process, the coarser the coffee should be ground.
1. Espresso, being a rapid method of extraction (coffee brewing), with a contact time of thirty seconds, should be ground fine. Caution with the stove-top espresso makers – they require a medium degree of grind as the water boils up through the grounds and over-extracts flavor if too finely ground. Fine-ground coffee will also clog the stove top filter baskets.
2. Drip coffee, whether in a V-cone or flat bottom brew basket, should be a medium degree of grind as the contact / extraction time of water to coffee grounds is anywhere from three to five minutes.
3. French press, or press pot, brewing should be coarse medium, as the contact time, although recommended to be four minutes, ends up being longer, because the grounds are retained within the brew – pour the brew off immediately, if possible, to retain balanced flavor.
4. Lastly, coffee prepared in a percolator should be ground coarse for the contact time is quite long. We discourage percolator brewing because it boils coffee and re-brews the coffee through the coffee several times, which will result in bitter coffee,.
The optimum brewing temperatures for coffee range from 196 to 202 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level and that boiling temperature reduces one degree every five hundred feet of elevation gained above sea level. Brewing with boiling water can result in bitterness in the cup.
Should you still be experiencing bitterness in your cup and have addressed the two primary factors, check your brew pots, filter baskets and mugs for dark, oily residue build-up. All contact surfaces of coffee and water during brewing, including your favorite coffee mug, should be squeaky-clean and free of tar and oils. It is this build-up of residues, which oxidizes and rancidifies, that will spoil any and all water and coffee with a bitter taint. There are many products to assist with cleaning brewing equipment, carafes and mugs. Warm, soapy dish water and some good ol’ elbow grease is the easiest, cheapest and fastest. Otherwise, check out products like Puro-Caff and Tabz for overnight dissolving of oily build-up
In closing, many coffees from around the world are naturally high in “favorable” acidity and display a distinct metallic sensation on the palate. This taste characteristic is identified as “brightness” in the cup and is important to aficionados as a quality attribute, yet can also be confused with bitterness by those coffee drinkers with milder taste preferences. This positive characteristic is prevalent in many coffees from Africa and Central America, most notably, Ethiopia, Kenya, Costa Rica and Mexico, to name a few. If you find this brightness undesirable, select milder coffees from regions such as South America and Indonesia. To insure you are getting the best possible quality in the cup, seek coffees that are of the specialty arabica species, are expertly roasted, preferably in small batches, and that are fresh ground and freshly brewed. Enjoy!
Here I sit, trying to figure out what to drink this morning. Having just went through our stock to select the October Special of the Month, I was seeking new arrival green coffees from origin. One of my other criteria for selecting the special is to see what we have not offered in a while and that which is drinking very good right now.
Having been camping this past weekend with the family up at Saddlebag Lake, at the top of Tioga Pass just east of the Yosemite National Park entrance at 10,038 ft., I had planned on crisp morning temperatures. French Roast, the ever-darkest and intense blend, seemed an appropriate choice for the trip, especially since my eldest little one, Emma, and I would be fishing from the boat.
Indeed, it was a great choice. Rich, syrupy and long in the aftertaste, the French Roast, prepared Melitta-style pour-over drip, mingled well with the smoke of our campfire, the pinch of cold morning on our cheeks and the sweet, syrupy pancakes and eggs we enjoyed to fuel us up for the day ahead.
It turns out that we have not offered French Roast as a special fo the month, either in conventional or sustainable versions, at Alpen Sierra since June, 2006. Coinciding with this is the freshness status of the blend’s ingredients. New crop arrivals of Guatemala Antigua, which we roast Full-City, and Colombia Popayan Supremo, medium roast, are brimming with high-note flavor and bright acidity, enhancing the bold intensity of this heavily carmelized blend. Check it out!
Other coffees now arriving extremely fresh, just out of “reposo” (or the “curing”) phase of processing include, Organic Peru, the new and exciting coffees of Rwanda and the ever-juicy Kenyans. Soon to arrive as fresh, new crop are the Indonesians, of which the first-arrival Sumatrans are always extra sweet and malty in their Alpen Sierra dark roast fashion.
Brew up a fresh pot of French, pull on the hoodie, grab the paper and enjoy the Autumn colors.
Here I sit in Denver International Airport, which harkens me back to my last visit here – a redirected, winter storm transfer from Dallas while trying to return home from my first trip to Colombia. Those are some sweet and fresh memories. Colombia, number two on the world volume production specialty list, really was a trip!
Can I get a good cuppa anywhere in an airport? SBC, another undercover version of SBUX, which both, with their bitter, over-roasted, mass produced brews – suck, is all that’s around. Looks like the local guys have been forced out by the big pockets. It’s really a shame for those of us who prefer GOOD COFFEE.
Invited by Willem Boot to serve as a cupper on a new appelation developement project in January ‘07, this trip promised to be special. Colombia coffees, although showing varied character, mostly through enhanced acidity from select production regions, such as Huila, are familiar and appealing to me for their mild, caramelly-sweetness, making them a very accessible and enjoyable cup any time of the day. Arriving in Medellin, the fashion capital of South America, we stayed the first night in a hotel, came together as a group and departed the next day for a mountain-road journey up to Antioquia.
Antioquia is a smallish coffee producing region located at 2000+ meters SW of Medellin. We were guests of the largest private coffee grower in Colombia, Don Ernesto Garces and his daughter, Christina, who operates their specialty division, Cafe Montes Y Colinas. Our escorts included several federal army and private armed guards, there with us to insure our safety should any unwelcome trouble arise (foreigners are still a hot kidnapping commodity for FARK, the right-wing rebels, who would rather force the cutlivation of Coca on local farmers, than see them do well by coffee).
As we traveled steep ascents and descents I came to realize first-hand why the Colombia pro cyclists are such strong climbers. These passes make Tahoe’s Kingsbury Grade and Ebbet’s Pass seem minor in gradient and length. Locals on the commute, whose only manner of transportation is the bicycle, would hang onto the rear of slower traveling trucks for miles-long, steep tows up these passes, letting go on top for a bomber ride down the other side.
We arrive on a clear and sunny Sunday afternoon in the provincial town of Concordia, where we are welcomed as esteemed guests and treated to a special coffee festival parade, complete with mules ladened with everything from building materials to coffee seedlings to green coffee bags, precisely balanced to keep the mules moving. (Load a mule lopsided and it will stand firm, going nowhere.) Local beauties adorn village floats brimming with Concordia’s numerous and profuse flower varieties.
Our team of cuppers consisted of eleven people from several countries: USA, the Netherlands, Panama, Austria and Colombia. Hotels were not an option in Concordia. In groups of three, we were led to different residences, where we were to be hosted by families of coffee professionals associated with the Garces family. Meals were prepared by a loving group of ladies and served in one of their humble homes, which was directly adjacent to, and used to be a section of, the town’s central church.
With Colombia’s coffee production and export being primarily controlled by the FRC, Federal Coffee Control, the program we were here to participate in was to assist the farmers with recognizing and rewarding quality production of “heirloom” varietals, which included caturra, catuai and bourbon and inspire those not currently focusing on higher-end production, which would allow a break-away from government-controlled cultivation of heavier, commercially familiar cultivars, cattimor, which are then mass-blended prior to export to provide Colombia’s well-known “richest coffee” in the world, never to be recognized for any “extraordinary” unique cup character.
The next five days consisted of blind cupping sessions held in a local schoolroom – with a view (see photo) – experiencing coffees with such extraordinary forward flavor characteristics such as red fruit, passion fruit, high-tone-lemony citrus, cacao, Jasmine flower, and coffee blossom.
Nights consisted of cultural events, indigenous and traditional dances, music performances by local youth orchestra and singing by the local youth choir. Don Ernesto would invite us to his “office” inside a local market, where our glasses were never empty of local lager beer or the region’s locally-produced drink.
Several afternoons trips were made to different parts of the region to experience the farms, their residents and delicious and bountiful local meals. In addition to mules as the choice for spedition, horses are definitely a local passion. The Paso Fino Colombiano, a gaited and beautiful horse, were in great numbers and offered quite a spectacle for us gringos.
As I sip my favorite Colombian coffee I am taken back to those sweet and special days we spent in Concordia. Thank goodness for Colombians!
A question I am always asked, “what is your favorite coffee?”. My answer is always the same: “It depends on the time of the year and growing seasons”.
It is April and we are starting to see new crop arrivals of Central American coffees. Many of our prime origins have completed their “reposo” phases and are coming into port. I must say that my favorite coffee right now is the new-arrival Certified Organic Mexico Chiapas.
Produced by the UDEPOM cooperative, this coffee is sweet, sweet, sweet. It is bright with delicate acidity and a rich honey character. The full-city roast Alpen Sierra has finished it with leaves a long-lingering, clean and sweet aftertaste. This is definitely a coffee I recommend everyone try very soon. It is soooo good that it will be gone fast.
Second and third crop arrivals will begin to flatten. Buy your Mexican coffee by the end of June to experience that traditional honey-like sweetness in the cup!
Warm, sunny weather and a rich cup of Alpen Sierra French Roast are a great way to start a beautiful Tahoe day. Sitting very early by the tele watching the Tour de France, which has just entered the Pyrenees and looks still to be anyone’s race, gets the heartrate up and motivation moving to get in the saddle and enjoy one of the many rides available to us.
Two weeks ago was the Death Ride – Tour of the California Alps, which Alpen Sierra was a continuing sponsor of. Another maximum field of riders were out and smokin’ the route in record time. Riders from the likes of Webcor were already on Carson Pass at 11 am. The temperatures were warm, but the assembly of 3,000 + cyclists pushed each other on to make the two, three, four and five pass crossings. Good on you all who made the day.
Grab a fresh arrival cup of Organic Guatemala Las Lagunas and get out onto the Tahoe Rim Trail with your mountain bikes. It is the best this time of year. Mr. Toad’s, Armstrong Pass and Star Lake are in prime form and the air is crystal clear. Please RESPECT the hikers, environment and other riders, with hikers and equestrians – either direction, up and down, and cyclists coming downhill having the right-of-way. Stay on the trails and keep the tires rolling to avoid skidding and unnecessary erosion.
The smoke is long gone, the ash has settled and we are all good here in Lake Tahoe following the Angora fire, which ravaged our South Shore community the last week of June, 2007. Ravaged yes, but defeated – NO. Like most natural disasters, this fire has brought out the best in people. The morale and monetary support has been wonderful.
Many friends and neighbors have lost their homes and most, if not all of their personal belongings. Positive attitudes have become the foundation of rebuilding of homes.
Beside the local scarring the “Lake of the Sky” is warming her waters and pleasing her guests. Cool breezes stir white puffy clouds about and escort cascading waters as they fall toward the golden sandy shores. Please come visit us! Take a hike, ride a bike, find a quiet spot to follow the sun’s rays as they penetrate the emerald depths of Tahoe. Support LOCAL businesses. Dine at an independent cafe, shop at one of our local sporting goods stores and truly experience Lake Tahoe flavor.
Thank you to all of you who have sent your concerns and donations. Further donations for the Angora fire victims can be made directly to US Bank “Angora Fire Fund”. For more information please visit: http://www.marketwire.com/2.0/release.do?id=746801