Tree Town Blend Coffee Beans

A fantastically flavorful cup of coffee that does the town proud
Ari Weinzweig, CEO & Co-Founder of Zingerman’s 

Looking for a good coffee to perk up your mornings this month? Something to mark the start of September, welcome autumn, and sip while you watch the leaves start to change color? The 2020 release of our annual, early-autumn Tree Town Blend would be a particularly terrific way to do it. While the temperatures and the leaves slowly but surely start to fall, Tree Town is on the way up. Steve Mangigian, the Coffee Company’s managing partner, and I both agree—this year’s blend is better than ever!

Why “Tree Town”? Ann Arbor was founded in 1824, named for the wives of the village’s founders, both named Ann, and the stands of burr oak trees. That fall the U.S. held its 10th election for President. Voting lasted five weeks, from late October through December 1. No candidate won a majority of the votes and the election was turned over to Congress, where John Quincy Adams was elected. The “Tree Town” moniker derived over the years from the high volume of trees in the city. Until the arrival of Europeans, most of this part of the world—originally home to the Ojibwe people—was fully forested. But one of the first acts Europeans often engaged in was to take down large numbers of trees for timber, and then to plow virgin lands in order to farm—most of the city’s original trees were clear cut in the second half the 19th century to use for building here and for sale back east. Fortunately, early in the next century—around the time that Rocco Disderide built what’s now the Deli’s building back in 1902—the city embarked on a reforestation program. Given the positive impact that all those trees have on the aesthetics and ecology of the town, it seems that all of us who live here now ought to give those who led that project a big round of appreciation. The Tree Town blend is a celebration of that beauty.

Like the town for which it’s named, the Tree Town Blend is wonderfully well-rounded. And, as is true for Ann Arbor, its personality features contributions from caring sources from around the world—in this case, coffee beans Brazil, Guatemala, and Tanzania. The base is the Daterra espresso blend we get from the Pascoal family in Brazil. To that we’re adding coffee from a wonderful “crop to cup” lot we took possession of last month from Tanzania. And the whole thing is rounded out with some of that great Guatemala Esperanza (read more here…scroll down).

The result is a seriously tasty cup of coffee with a clean base of chocolate and caramel. It’s kind of cocoa-y, a bit nutty, remarkably smooth, and complex in a way that hints at dark plums. I’ve tried the Tree Town blend in all the brew methods at the Coffee Company and all have been pretty terrific. The Clever brewing was my favorite, but test them out and see what you like. You can drink a lot of it. As Steve says, “It’s not overpowering, and you could sip it long and slow all day. I love it.”

The Tree Town Blend is available at the Coffee Company on Plaza Drive, at the Deli, and at the Roadhouse (come sit outside at any or all of them and sip away)! Or ship some of this very special coffee to anyone who would appreciate a little taste of Ann Arbor!

 

Excerpt from Ari’s weekly Top 5 E-Newsletter. To stay in-the-know about things that Ari is excited about in the Zingerman’s family, sign up here

Crafting Coffee, Curbing Covid: Checking in with Barista Becca

We’re in “these times” together, but our experiences are unique and personal.
In this new series, we’ll be checking in with the friendly folks who bring your favorite joe to life – the Zingerman’s Coffee Co. team – to see what the “new normal” means for them.

Name: Becca
Years at Zingerman’s Coffee Company: 3
Role: Barista

 

Q: You are our global traveler who’s usually jetting off across the world. How are you dealing right now? 

A: Handling wanderlust in the age of Covid is a challenge I have no choice but to accept. In these times, I feel grateful for all of the traveling I have pursued thus far. While I long to give my freshly-renewed passport some well-deserved love, I have been exploring the Great Lakes State instead. I visited the Warren Sand Dunes for the first time recently, and will visit Sleeping Bear Dunes soon.

Something that I have always loved about this country is how multicultural it is. By recommendation of a fellow ZCoBer, I recently visited ZZ’s Market on Packard in search of tahini. They were out, but every person in there had a different accent, and one man suggested Aladdin’s Market, just past the light. I thanked him and made my way over. The owner of Aladdin’s helped me with my hummus recipe and gave me a sample of his product, saying ‘try to make yours taste like this’. Needless to say, my first batch of hummus turned out pretty tasty.

Q: I have to ask!: Have you been to any of the coffee-growing countries?

A: Yes! I took a vacation to Panamá, and happened to make the acquaintance of a coffee producer there who invited my friends and I to his farm. He gave us a demo on how to pick beans, explained how different woods burn at different temperatures and which are good for roasting, and of course let us taste some coffee! I ran over to my friends saying how naturally sweet the coffee was. They were in disbelief until they tried it themselves.

Q: Back home here at Coffee, what’s your favorite bean/brew method combo?

A: My favorite brew method we carry is the press pot;  I like my coffee less filtered. It pairs great with the new Peru. I will say I miss every Mexican coffee we’ve sourced and would love to see a comeback.

 

High-Grown Honduras Coffee from Farmer Pablo Paz

A University of Michigan student project pays delicious dividends a decade down the road
Ari Weinzweig, CEO & Co-Founder of Zingerman’s 

Producer Pablo Paz with his daughter.

It’s about ten years ago now that U of M alum Andrew Boyd approached me. He wanted to tell me about a new project he and some other recent graduates were getting into. Their idea was to work with quality-oriented specialty coffee growers in Honduras to enable the farmers to sell their beans for a much higher price and free themselves from the mass market’s unmanageable price swings. By having us roast the coffee and sell it here at Zingerman’s, he suggested, we could bring it back home to Ann Arbor—whence this wonderful project originated. A decade down the road, I can confidently say the project with the company Andrew and his colleagues call Union Microfinanza is going strong. The Honduran coffee this year is better than ever—right now it’s featured as the Coffee of the Month. The crew at the Coffee Company says it’s “floral and juicy, with notes of cocoa.” I agree. Add maybe a touch of toffee or toasted walnuts. And I’ll say too that the finish is cleaner and smoother than ever. I loved the clarity I got when it was brewed as a Chemex. As our partner at the Coffee Company, Steve Mangigian, shared, “It shows that when you work with the producer year after year, and when everyone is committed to quality, it gets better and better each year.”

The land of the nation-state now known as Honduras has been inhabited for thousands of years by various native tribes, including a strong presence of Maya (the border to the north is Guatemala). Europeans arrived at the end of July 1502. Columbus named it Honduras, which means “depths,” for the deep waters of the harbor. Native tribes fought back against the Spanish for much of the 16th century and maintained a fair bit of freedom from European colonizers through the 17th century. In the 17th century, a number of Africans destined for enslavement escaped from slave ships that had wrecked on Honduras’ rocky Gulf coast. Many intermarried with native peoples and their descendants came to be known as the Miskito people. By the end of the 18th century, the Miskito kingdom was quite well established. They had an interesting and very egalitarian culture—Miskito kings sat on the throne, but all members of the kingdom were considered to be equal and the kings had very little power unless the kingdom was being attacked. In one of those seeming incongruities and complexities that make historical oversimplification inevitably ineffective, the Miskito often raided other territories and sold their captives to the English as slaves to be brought to work in the Caribbean sugar fields.

Staff of Zingerman's Coffee Company with baskets, picking coffee cherries in Honduras.

Chris, Matthew, and Managing Partner Steve Mangigian picking coffee cherries in Honduras, during the the trip to origin in 2015.

If you look at a map, you’ll find Honduras lies at about the midpoint of Central America, nestled nicely between Nicaragua to the east, Guatemala to the west, and El Salvador to the south. Coffee came to the area in the late 19th century, but since bananas remained the big colonial cash crop, coffee got little attention. Coffee for high-quality export really only started up in the years after we opened the Deli in 1982. Before that, the best Honduran beans were sold across the border and repacked as Guatemalan coffee in the same way that olive oil from North Africa was long shipped to Italy and re-packaged there.

A crew from the Coffee Company flew down to Honduras back in the winter of 2015 to visit. The farmer, Pablo Paz, won their hearts with his commitment to quality, his family’s five generations in coffee growing, and his interest in learning and continuous improvement. The crew shared: “Long before many folks in the specialty coffee world were paying a premium for high-quality beans or taking trips to remote areas of the world to source rare and distinct micro-lots, growing fantastic coffee was just how the Paz family operated, and we’re so lucky to have developed a relationship with him.” Pablo’s farm is located in the hills outside the town of La Union, in the highlands, in the center of the country. The town is doing well, in great part thanks to the attention and income that comes from being a central point for high-quality coffee.

Pablo Paz’s Honduran beans brew up in what I would suggest is an exceptionally egalitarian cup—a set of more forward flavor notes for those who like their coffee on the bolder side, yet simultaneously soft enough for people like me who prefer their brew to be mellower. You can get Pablo Paz’s Honduran coffee at the Coffee Company, Deli, and Roadhouse!

Excerpt from Ari’s weekly Top 5 E-Newsletter. To stay in-the-know about things that Ari is excited about in the Zingerman’s family, sign up here

Kyoto Cold Brew Coffee

400 years of Japanese tradition and 10 hours of patience add up to one smooth cup of cold brew coffee.


What is Kyoto Cold Brew Coffee?

Kyoto-style cold brew coffee is made by letting cold water slowly drip, drop by drop, over coffee grounds. Kyoto cold brew, or Kyoto drip coffee, is also known around the world as Dutch coffee, ice drip coffee, cold drip coffee, and water drip coffee. It is documented as far back as the 1600s in Japan, where it’s believed the method was introduced by Dutch traders who brought cold brew on their ships.

Kyoto Is Cool

The traditional Kyoto drip method, like all cold brew coffee, is made using cool water instead of hot water. The use of cool water changes the balance of flavors extracted from the coffee grounds during brewing. Kyoto drip coffee barely oxidizes, which makes it easy to taste the subtlest flavors and nuances of single origin coffees. It is an especially good brewing method for lighter-roasted coffees, as it preserves the nuances and bright, fruit-like flavors of more delicately roasted, complex beans.

The sight of a Kyoto-style brewer is something to behold! The four foot tall wood and glass tower is a cross between an elegant hourglass and an intriguing chemistry set. It has three sections: the water chamber on top, the column of coffee grounds and filter in the middle, and the carafe at the base. And, you get to drink the experiment with no dire (only delicious) consequences!

Zingerman’s Coffee Company guests will have the chance to try Kyoto Cold Brew for a limited time. We have our very own Kyoto brewer, and will offer this unique cold brew for the whole month of August – exclusively in our Southside cafe!

Kyoto Cold Brew at the Zingerman’s Coffee Café

Other Cold-Brewed Coffee Options

For those who’d like to taste their way through Zingerman’s cold coffee offerings after they try Kyoto Cold Brew, we recommend sampling Zingerman’s Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew.

Plastic logo cup filled with ice and dark Zingerman's cold brew coffee, placed upon lavender picnic table with a foliage background

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Our Experimental Coffee Trees

News from Steve on coffee trees being cultivated in Brazil, exclusively for Zingerman’s

Update: August 20th, 2020:

The harvesting of our Pacamara coffee cherries is underway at the farm! The folks at Daterra Estate in Brazil began hand-picking our plot on July 7th. Everyone involved has been curious to see how these trees behave, given that they’re new (planted only four years ago) and foreign to Brazil. We were definitely expecting our Pacamara to be different, and indeed its coffee cherries matured less uniformly than more established and native plots on the farm.

With respect to our project specifically, the last round of picking should occur next week.

Last year, we shared a video of us trying this coffee for the first time – which was a treat, but the harvest was too small for us to really do anything with except for sample roast. We’re unsure of exactly how much the total production will be this year, but so far 6 boxes (23 kg. or 50 lbs.), have been picked. We’ll report the final tally once picking is officially done.

Closer to the end of the year, we’ll be receiving a shipment from the farm of our Pacamara coffee processed four distinct ways:

The team at the farm be cupping these coffees first, and will send their notes along with the coffees. We’ll then cup the coffee ourselves, and compare their notes against ours.

Be on the lookout for a live cupping of these coffees closer to the end of the year!

 


 

Update: May 15th, 2020:

I’m thrilled to be giving this update! We previously shared our excitement about an ongoing long-term project with our close coffee partners Daterra Estate in Brazil, cultivating the Pacamara varietal. Prior to embarking upon this project, I was struck by the immense size of the Pacamara coffee bean during my first-ever origin trip to El Salvador many years ago. I knew I had to do something special with this varietal. Pacamara has not traditionally been grown in Brazil, therefore our endeavor is rather experimental.

Young, green coffee cherries in a coffee tree - our experimental Pacamara varietal, being grown at Daterra Farms in Brazil

Youthful Pacamara varietal coffee beans – our experimental lot being grown at Daterra Estate in Brazil.

Our three-acre plot is on a high, flat plain in the Cerrado region near the city of Patrocínio. Daterra’s farms are located at an average altitude of over 3,000 ft and some terroirs are around 4,000 ft. The wind, sun and soil there are exceptional for Arabica trees. The diverse altitudes and microclimates on the farm make it one of the best coffee-producing areas in the country. With dry winds on pleasantly hot days and refreshingly cool nights, conditions are perfect for amazing beans to be grown.

Checking In On Our Trees

Although much of the world has slowed down, our little coffee trees continue to grow and thrive. We are more committed than ever to continuing this work to bring you the most exceptional coffee varieties we can find. Given the circumstances around the world this year, it’s not in the cards for us to make our annual trip down to Brazil to see the farm in person. However, updates continue!

After receiving some photos from the farm, I had a chance to video-conference with Gabriel Agrelli Moreira, Daterra’s head of international sales. We spoke about the status of our project and the current health of the trees on our experimental plot. An interesting observation they made is that Daterra’s agronomists are seeing a marked difference from other coffee trees on the farm. In the rest of the crop, Daterra is beginning to see maturation, which means the coffee cherries will be ready to harvest soon.

However, the Pacamara plot is actually about a month behind the rest of the farm! Our coffee cherries are still super green. Daterra is attributing that to both the trees still being quite young, and the typical coffee cherries of the Pacamara varietal being twice the size of a normal coffee cherry. These trees will be ready for picking by the end of this month, or beginning of June. Our estimate is that we’ll yield just 7 to 10 bags (132 lbs. or 60 kg. each) in total this year. However it is likely just 5 to 7 of them will be usable. After picking the coffee is processed, milled, and sorted, there is always a loss of volume.

The Details Matter In The Final Cup

Something interesting to note in coffee trees that’s perhaps not discussed often in the coffee world, is the difference between vegetative trees versus productive trees. Vegetative trees have lots of branches, leaves, tree structure, but not a lot of production. With mature, productive trees, it’s the opposite: we see lots of flowers, seeds, and cherries. From what we can ascertain thus far, our plot seems to be more vegetative. Even when fully grown, likely these trees will produce a “medium” amount of cherries. This may not sound ideal, but actually vegetative trees, while they produce less, tend to produce better quality cherries and coffees!

Low production for this year means our focus will be on determining a processing method(s) for the Pacamara. Of the dozen or so processing methods Daterra Estate is able to offer, we have asked that they use the honey, natural process on the tree (called “raisin”), natural processing on raised beds – a traditional African processing method, washed, and anaerobic.

Another aspect of our experiment is determining taste differences between coffees grown under shade as well as full sun exposure. The mahogany trees planted alongside the Pacamara trees are still young, so shade hasn’t been quite established. We have learned that those trees may still take a few years of growth before we see any tangible benefit. We hope our patience will be rewarded!

Love At First Sip

I fell in love at first sip with the Pacamara coffee (see the short video). It has an intense plum flavor that is really pleasant. I really can’t wait to invite you in for a taste, and share the fruits of our growing experiment with you in the future.

Stay tuned! Subscribe to our E-News or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, so you be alerted when this very special coffee is released!

Warmly,
Steve

Steve Mangigian, Zingerman’s Coffee Company Managing Partner

A Zingerman’s Coffee cafe – in your kitchen!

Now’s the perfect time to up your home coffee game!
 We have all-that-you-need coffee hand brewer kits bundled up and ready to go.

AVAILABLE KITS: 

For your inspiration and caffeination, we are also offering kits with your choice of Zingerman’s coffee beans, a Zingerman’s coffee logo mug, and your choice of book or pamphlet authored by Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig.

Give us a call at (734) 929-6060 to order yours for curbside pick-up, or order online with Snackpass for contact-free pick-up in our cafe!

Your Coffee, Curbside! 🚗❤️

We are OPEN for take-out orders, and now – to serve you better – we’re offering our coffee, curbside! 🚗

For curbside delivery…

Step 1: Give us a ring at (734) 929-6060.
Step 2: Tell us your order; we’ll let you know when it’ll be ready.
Step 3: Call us when you arrive wit
h a description of your vehicle, and we’ll be out in a jiffy!
Step 4: Enjoy your daily cup o’ joe!

 

We are so grateful for your ongoing support, and look forward to serving you in our cozy cafe in the near future. ❤️

We are Open and Prepared: A Letter to Our Guests from Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Updated 6/5/2020

A Note About COVID-19

 

As you may already know, Governor Whitmer is allowing restaurants to reopen to the public starting Monday, June 8.  Our highest priority is your safety and our staff’s safety. To that end, we have a few guidelines for enjoying our cafe space starting on Monday June 8th: 

Our cafe may be open, but we are remaining diligent

THANK YOU in advance for helping uskeep a good thing goin’, safely. ❤️ Not ready to chill in our cafe? No worries! We are still offering curbside deliverycontact-free pick-up, and home delivery!

Peruvian Coffee From Café Femenino

Female farmers cooperative offers up superb coffee
Ari Weinzweig, CEO & Co-Founder of Zingerman’s 

 

Back in 2004, Isabel Uriarte Latorre co-founded Café Femenino, an organization dedicated to empowering women on the front lines of the coffee industry. Very much like the folks at Ziba in Afghanistan that I wrote about earlier this year, she’s built the business to support women—financially, spiritually, and socially—in the work world. The folks at Café Femenino share that,

Women in remote and rural coffee communities face a host of challenges that keep them trapped in poverty. Many of these isolated women live in male-dominated societies and have very little financial control or decision-making power. Four-hundred-sixty-four women farmers in northern Peru decided to change this dynamic by separating their coffee production from the men’s. At that moment, for the first time, this group of women created their own product and income . . . to support social justice and empowerment for women coffee producers worldwide. 

Erlita’s farm is near the village of Nueva York, a small coffee community in the Amazonas region of northern Peru, east of the Andes Mountains. (Intriguingly, there’s also a town Peru, New York, in the far northeast corner of New York state.) The Amazonas is a high-elevation area, typically 5,700 to 6,500 feet above sea level—ideal for high-quality Arabica coffee trees.

Coffee farmer and Cafe Femenino co-founder Erlita Baca Arce with her daughter, Ketty, holding baskets of red hand-picked coffee cherries

Does the work of Café Femenino make a difference? Steve Mangigian, managing partner at the Coffee Company made the trip down to Peru last summer. He quickly offered that, “the dynamic is completely different than traditional male-run farms.” Every article I’ve read about them details outstanding results: increased local recognition of the work the women are doing, both in the fields and on the home front; a reduction in abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual); an increase in income; more men participating in child care and housework, and upswing in school attendance among local girls. It’s hard to argue against any of that! In addition, because the female coffee producers in the area now have the potential to get a better price for their coffee, many men are signing the deeds of their land over to their wives so their coffee will be eligible for Cafe Femenino designation.

Of course, the key question is, how does the coffee taste? Steve Mangigian is particularly high on Erlita’s beans: “This coffee has so many delicious layers! On first sip, it has a deep fruitiness that reminds us of plum. It also has a rich, toffee-like sweetness and a full, creamy body.” I say, it’s pretty darned tasty! Darker than last month’s Peruvian Peaberry. Smooth, a bit of dark chocolate, maybe even like a piece of toasted Country Miche bread from the Bakehouse. The coffee has a surprisingly clean finish and modestly full mouthfeel. All the brew methods have been good, but I’m stuck on the smoothest flavor of the bunch, which I found to be Chemex.

Back of Zingerman's Peru Erlita's Lot coffee on top of the Cafe Femenino logo on a coffee jute bag.

Sip some of this great new coffee and nibble on a Bakehouse cookie—as of this month all of them are even better than ever because they’re made with freshly milled whole grain from Ferris Organic Farms in Eaton Rapids at the Bakehouse. Erlita’s Lot is available at the Coffee CompanyNext Door Café, and at the Roadhouse.

Excerpt from Ari’s weekly Top 5 E-Newsletter. To stay in-the-know about things that Ari is excited about in the Zingerman’s family, sign up here

Coffee Origin Story: Peru

Steve Mangigian, Managing Partner of Zingerman’s Coffee Company, chronicles his latest globetrotting adventure to where the coffee is grown.

 

Zingerman’s Coffee Company Managing Partner Steve Mangigian, with one of the highlights of his trip!

 

At Zingerman’s Coffee Company, our mission is to source and roast the best coffees on the planet, and to present them to you, the coffee consumer, with as much detail as possible. That way, we can draw you into the experience of not just tasting what makes these coffees so special, but understanding the journey of the bean in a way that is approachable and accessible.

Origin travel has become a standard part of our approach to sourcing great coffee. We regularly receive samples from the importers we work with, but it’s only after we find a “keeper” that we will consider traveling to that origin.

Typically when I travel to origin, I am all about business; I endeavor to complete my work and then get back to the States. There is always work that needs to get done back home! Travel does not inspire dramatic romanticism in me as it does for others. I have never traveled well internationally, so the prospect of traveling to new and different places never appealed to me. Coffee origin travel is hard work, probably the hardest of all the work we do at Zingerman’s Coffee Company.

Every trip to origin – whether it is the first time or tenth time – always feels like a brand new experience. Seeing different cultures and learning new things keeps me captivated, even after close to a decade and a half of traveling. Visiting the most remote areas of the world in search of high-quality coffee – and finding it – makes it all worthwhile. This trip to Peru was no exception.

 

PERU

When the opportunity came to visit Peru – which would be a first for me – I considered whether or not I should accept it. When trips to new countries present themselves, language barriers, access to food and water, and cultural differences need to be considered. Upon reflection, I realized I tend to favor visiting countries I have navigated many times before, like Brazil and Costa Rica.

Peru is home to a section of the Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains. The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites. On Peru’s arid Pacific coast is Lima, the capital, with a preserved colonial center and important collections of pre-Columbian art.

In the end, an opportunity to visit Machu Picchu (one of the wonders of the world) is what made me decide to take the trip. Although I have not studied this legend very much, the stories told to me intrigued me to experience it first hand.

 

Steve at the WONDER that is Machu Picchu.

 

MACHU PICCHU

So, off I went to South America. Detroit to Lima to Cusco via Air Lima, then a train ride and, finally, a bus trip. At about 11,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is not the easiest location to travel to and unless you frequent high altitudes, altitude sickness pills are a must. Hotels in the area even cater to the altitude challenge by providing pure oxygen and tea prepared with the leaves of the coca plant to offset symptoms.

Photos only capture one dimension of the beauty of Machu Picchu. We hiked the entire area, traversing challenging terrain to see Machu Picchu’s full wonderment. The intricacy of the architecture, the knowledge of what the site once was, and the labor it took to accomplish truly incites the imagination.

After about four hours of exploration, it was time to make our way back. I would be remiss if I did not mention that we left our hotel in Cusco at 4 a.m. and did not return until approximately 11 p.m. that night. Suffice it to say, the day trip was worth the time and effort.

When the Cusco leg of our trip ended, it was time to travel almost 1,200 miles north to coffee country, where we would spend the coming week. We arrived in Chiclayo, a bustling city with a population of about 700,000 and some of the most outlandish traffic and driving I have ever witnessed. Chiclayo, located in northeast Peru, served as the center point of our daily travels, providing relatively easy access to the four communities we’d visit across the mountainous Lambayeque region:

Day 1-Corral de Piedra Cruz De Mayo, Colaya
Day 2-Tallapampa
Day 3-Villa Rumi
Day 4-Aspro La Florida, Agua Azul

Each day started early in the morning, accompanied by a caravan of visitors travelling along with us. It took us four to five hours one way to get to each daily destination, which meant eight to ten hours on the road every day, varying between sea level and 4,000-7,000 feet above sea level. On average, the drive along paved roads would last over an hour and then, the rest of the trek took place on dirt roads plagued by ruts which seemed to swallow our vehicles as we traversed up the narrow, steep paths. Along the way, we saw breathtaking scenery of some of the most beautiful landscapes and waterfalls with vistas. We would ascend above the clouds, seeing nothing but never-ending mountain ranges.

 

Left to right: Victor Rojas Diaz, Isabel Uriarte Latorre, & Steve.

 

CAFÉ FEMENINO

During our stay in Chiclayo, we were greeted every day by our hosts Isabel Uriarte Latorre and her husband Victor Rojas Diaz, owners of the exporting company, Proassa, which exports coffee to Organic Products Trading Company (OPTCO), who then imports the coffee into various coffee consuming countries.

Isabel co-founded Café Femenino, an organization dedicated to empowering women on the front lines of the coffee industry, with OPTCO. Together, they created a social business program that provides a framework for women coffee producers to gain access to their full potential through financial and social incentives. This program now operates in eight coffee-producing countries around the world.

Every community we visited on this trip had a strong group of women who not only worked the land, but owned the land. In many of my origin visits, this is typically not the case, but it’s a growing trend, particularly in developing countries. Café Femenino was developed for the purpose of empowering women who grow coffee in very isolated, impoverished, rural areas.

As the Café Femenino website states:

“Women in remote and rural coffee communities face a host of challenges that keep them trapped in poverty. Many of these isolated women live in male-dominated societies and have very little financial control or decision-making power. In 2003, 464 women farmers in northern Peru decided to change this dynamic by separating their coffee production from the men’s. In that moment, for the first time, this group of women created their own product and income. Their coffee cooperative CECANOR joined their commercial partner Organic Products Trading Company (OPTCO) to create Café Femenino—a gender-focused program to support social justice and empowerment for women coffee producers worldwide.”

Café Femenino started in Peru in 2003, and has spread to eight other coffee producing countries including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Sumatra.

 

THE COFFEE

On day five, after experiencing these amazing communities, it was time to taste their coffee. The cupping table saw about 18 coffee samples and many were from the different areas we visited. Overall, the coffees showed a lot of promise. I have since received many samples based on this cupping exercise, and am happy to say we will be adding a Peruvian coffee to our roster of coffees!

Although this trip has ended, our journey into the coffees of Peru is really just beginning. As we explore the possibility of working with different communities within Peru, I am captivated by the hard work of the women in this country. We here at Zingerman’s Coffee Company desire to support this work in the future. The people of Peru are warm and hospitable, and the country is beautiful. I will be back!

 

Freshly picked coffee cherries.

 

FEBRUARY ROASTER’S PICK

This February, we are thrilled to feature a rare Peruvian Peaberry that I sourced on this trip as our Roaster’s Pick of the month. What’s so special about this coffee? To start, it’s comprised of peaberry beans, which make up less than three percent of all coffee beans. It’s grown near the Cerra Condorpuna, host to one of the largest old-growth forests in the Amazon. The altitude and ample shade of this area makes for an ideal environment for growing high-quality coffee. Peruvian coffee is hand picked and, after processing, is transported by foot or mule by farmers into town via mountainous trails. Indeed, this coffee tastes as exceptional as its origin. It will only be around for a limited time, so be sure to stop by the café or order it online through Zingerman’s Mail Order!

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