by David Pohl
Equator had the opportunity to cup 55 unique "micro-lot" coffees from Costa Rica and Panama this week. The occasion was a visit from Francisco Mena, an exporter and friend from Deli Cafe, Costa Rica. After touring Equator's facilities, we went with Francisco to Royal Coffee for a presentation and cupping of unique "micro-mill"/"micro-lot" coffees.
We were joined by folks from Ritual Coffee, Mr. Espresso, Blue Bottle, among others. Francisco Mena's presentation focused on the micro mill revolution in Costa Rica and Panama and the resulting benefits to coffee quality from those countries. Please see the attached document below for a complete description of this movement. The central message of Francisco Mena's presentation was that the advent of micro-mills has given farmers enhanced control over the quality of their coffee. Many farmers can now afford to buy their own mill and mill their own coffee. This allows farmers to innovate by trying unconventional milling techniques, separating out coffees by date harvested and varietal, and tailoring milling to meet the needs of specific customers. Micro-mills are also much more efficient in the use of water and fuel than their conventional counterparts. In some cases the reduction of water/pound of green coffee is from 40 gallons/1 pound washed green coffee to 1 gallon/1 pound washed green coffee.
Of the 55 coffees we cupped at Royal we brought back to our warehouse 9 samples and recupped them today. Included in our favorites were some "honey" coffees, or pulped natural as they are known elsewhere, as well as a full "natural" coffee. This latter coffee is dried in the pulp, and is never washed, giving it a fruity character. We are delighted that these processing techniques are being experimented with in Central America. We will be in touch with Royal to see if we can contract with the farmers to buy one or two of these outstanding micro-lots, which range in size from 10-50 bags of 130 pounds each. If we are successful in bringing in these coffees, we will offer them to all of our customers, both wholesale and retail, along with specific information on the farm on which they were produced.
As with all of our coffees, we are seeking with this initiative to buy outstanding coffees directly from the buyer, at a price that gives the farmer a fair profit, and to develop a long term relationship that results in ever improving quality.Visit the web album for more pictures Micro Mill Revolution