CCS at the London Coffee Festival

CCS will be in town for the London Coffee Festival. Join us and our friends at Ozone Coffee Roasers for a cupping on Saturday April 14. We'll be tasting new crops from Colombia, Ehtiopia and Kenya. Spaces are limited, email Nico to make sure you don't miss out. 

CCS SPRING poster template.jpg

CCS x Ikawa

We'll also be joining our friends at the Ikawa stand during the festival for a demonstration roast. Nico will discuss roasting on our portable Ikawa while sourcing coffee in Ethiopia, and we'll have a few delicious Ikawa-roasted coffees from Burundi and Ethiopia available to taste.  

13.00 - 15.00 on Thursday April 12. 


Would you like to chat with us while we're in London? We'd love to meet you. Email us and we'll make a time. 



Kenya update - First Origin Trip 2018

We visited Kenya in February, starting at the KenyaCof lab in Karen, and wrapping up in C. Dormans LTD in Nairobi. For ten exciting days we cupped the best of this year’s Kenya crops, and found the truly unique and delicious gems amongst so much great coffee. 

Order your samples

We are excited to provide you with nothing but the best of what Kenya has to offer. These stellar coffees should be on the water very shortly. Contact Nico in Europe, or Colleen and Sal in the US to request samples.


It was my first trip to this origin, and I could not have imagined the logistics behind buying coffee in an auction system, and what that means for sample storage. The first day I walked into KenyaCof I was blown away by the thousands of sample bags that filled the office. To me, it looked like compete chaos, but the wizardly staff at KenyaCof could have located a sample in a second, and told us exactly how much was remaining. I am truly impressed with the professionalism at KenyaCof, including Managing Director, Mie Hansen, who hosted us in a multitude of ways, even picking us up from the hotel every day, to Sample Roaster extraordinaire James, and everyone in between.

Days one and two at KenyaCof were spent screening and pairing down the massive offerings list, setting up the final table for day three. There was an overwhelming number of coffees to choose from and I am thrilled with what we’ve selected.

 Decisions are hard - Will (left, Tandem Coffee Roasters), Ondrej (middle, Doubleshot) and Robert grapple with the difficult task of selecting the best of the best. 

Decisions are hard - Will (left, Tandem Coffee Roasters), Ondrej (middle, Doubleshot) and Robert grapple with the difficult task of selecting the best of the best. 

 A small fraction of the KenyaCof offerings

A small fraction of the KenyaCof offerings


The start of the next week brought a short trek over to the historic C. Dormans Ltd lab. Dormans Coffee holds such a dear place in my heart, and it has long been my dream to visit their famous facility. How bittersweet it was to have made it to the lab in its last year before they move to a bigger and better facility. While you can’t take the history of the building with you, you can take the people and know-how that make C. Dormans the coffee powerhouse it is today. I had the fortune of seeing some drawings of the planned facility, and it is going to be spectacular.

The lab was buzzing with activity when we arrived. The plan, as before, was two days of pre-screening coffees, followed by a final day of top selections. Again, we were overwhelmed with the quantity of delicious coffee, and the skill of their roaster of 28 years, Samuel, whose consistency is awe-inspiring. Raphael and the rest of the Dormans team were thrilled of the quality of coffee available in the auction this year, and noted the significant improvement over last.

Price increase

While quality is definitely up, yields in Kenya this year are down, and that will affect prices.

Bridget Carrington, Managing Director at Dormans, explained that production is down around 20-30% on the main crop. “The New York futures market is much lower, so the coffee that is traded deferentially is more expensive,” she said. However she also agreed that quality is a better this year than last. “The best coffees continue to fetch healthy premiums over and above the rest."

 Raphael (far right) and his team at Dormans working hard to provide us with delicious coffee

Raphael (far right) and his team at Dormans working hard to provide us with delicious coffee

Ruiri Coffee Fair

This trip was strictly about cupping, so we didn’t have time to visit any farms or washing stations. However we did have the chance to see the Ruiri Coffee Fair. Don’t bother Googling it. I tried. The website doesn’t link to booth reservations, hotel offerings or a symposium program. You won’t find much more than a date and time for last year’s event, and a Facebook group that suggests that two people attended. But I can assure you it exists and more than two people were there.

In fact, there were perhaps 300 people from Kiambu County, which may be a small fraction of the attendance of an event like the SCA Specialty Coffee Expo, but for those 300 people it was possibly the most important event on their calendar. As well as discovering the latest technology tractors, depulpers and roasting machines, those 300 people were there to share and receive information. In our hyper-connected countries we sometimes take for granted our access to information, anytime, anywhere. For these farmers, the Ruiri Coffee Fair may be the place to receive some small offering of knowledge that changes their coffee, and thus, their lives.

 The booths were buzzing with eager attendees

The booths were buzzing with eager attendees

 Sustainability and financing seminar at the Ruiri Coffee Fair

Sustainability and financing seminar at the Ruiri Coffee Fair

Cultural cupping exchange

Cupping in Kenya was also a transformative experience for me. On this trip we were joined by a number of colleagues from across the globe; Will of Tandem Coffee Roasters in the United States, Ondrej from Doubleshot in Czech Republic, Stanley of Green Coffee Gallery in Taiwan, and Nicholas of Camera Obscura in Russia.

It is always a joy and a revelation to travel with coffee professionals from different parts of the world. As a coffee buyer, even a single cupping session with someone from another culture can yield information that gives you an invaluable outlook into another market, an experience that you just can’t get secondhand. To spend multiple days with them and see how the process works in their head, session-to-session, can add a layer of understanding that allows you to grow you as a professional. You start to re-evaluate your own understanding of coffee. I’m very grateful for each time I get this opportunity. Thanks, all. 


Coffee & Tea RusExpo


Robert will be in Moscow for the Coffee & Tea RusExpo this Friday and Saturday! 

Gesha Village and CCS

16 March, 2018, 17:00 - 18:00
Coffee&Tea Lab

Highlighting the unique farm and high-end specialty coffee project of Adam Overton, Gesha Village, located in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia — the true birth place of the Gesha varietal. Robert will explain the various areas of the farm, varietals, harvesting practices, and their meticulous processing craft, plus present a few highlighted lots, including their highest scoring lots of Gesha; washed, honeys, and naturals. The best lots from this farm will be auctioned online in May. 

CCS & Sourcing Coffee for Competition

17 March, 2018, 15:45 - 16:45
Coffee&Tea Lab

Introducing the processes behind sourcing very specific high-end coffee lots for a competition program. Robert will discuss planning according to the harvest seasons, building a conceptual competition program around a varietal and/or processing method, understanding the logistical implications and price challenges, and finally, tasting the potential! He will present samples from a few state-of-the-art coffee producers where CCS source these unique and exceptional coffees. 

See the full program for more details

Astrid Medina, in her own words

 From left: Eduardo Urquina and Alejandro Renjifo from Fairfield Trading, Astrid Medina, and Robert from CCS. Astrid was visiting Acevedo during the CCS Acevedo Cup 2018 to support and learn from her coffee producing peers in Huila. 

From left: Eduardo Urquina and Alejandro Renjifo from Fairfield Trading, Astrid Medina, and Robert from CCS. Astrid was visiting Acevedo during the CCS Acevedo Cup 2018 to support and learn from her coffee producing peers in Huila. 

Within 30 seconds of meeting Astrid Medina, she invited me to her finca. She invites everyone, and her invitation is genuine, she would really love to show you her home and her coffee. She is a rockstar of specialty coffee with fans across the globe, but Astrid is a caring and humble person, grateful to coffee for what it has given to her family. 

Astrid is from Planadas, Tolima, an area of Colombia that suffered the some of the worst of the Colombian internal conflict, caught between the FARC guerrillas, the government, the narco-traffickers and the paramilitary groups. People of this region tend not to talk of this violence. Everyone has a story. Everyone suffered. As Colombia begins its journey to peace, these people are looking forward, not backwards. 

I asked Astrid to answer a few questions for me, and what she provided was this heartfelt essay. Rather than edit it into our usual style of blog post, I decided to post it as is. It has been translated from Spanish, and modified slightly for flow, but it remains Astrid's story, in her own words. 

By Astrid Medina

My farm, Buena Vista, is located in the municipality of Planadas in Gaitania, Tolima at an altitude of 1780 to 2000 metres above sea level. The varieties I grow are Caturra, Colombia and Castillo. The total area of my farm is 15 hectares of which 13.5 a dedicated to coffee production.

My coffee is cultivated, picked, processed and dried with upmost care to maintain the quality. Quality is our primary objective when working with coffee.

Coffee has always been part of my life

My paternal grandfather was a coffee producer, my father was a coffee producer, and the family of my husband were all coffee producers.

When I was 29 years old my father, Aureliano Medina, was killed. My three younger siblings and I inherited the farm. Two of my siblings sold their share, so now Buena Vista is owned by my husband, my younger sister and me.

It hasn’t been easy, it is a constant struggle to be a coffee producer, the price, the climate, the varieties, the work that must be done by hand. But it is a passion and an art, and we never stop learning.

Entering the specialty market

I began producing specialty coffee in 2014 when the National Federation of Coffee Growers and Nespresso launched a program called LH TIME, or Late Harvest, which was just for the Castillo variety and consisted of collecting the mature cherries. In our case we picked the cherries over four weeks to obtain the best state of ripeness of this variety. We managed to sell 5000 kg of coffee in parchment at a premium of 300,000 pesos (approximately an additional $100 USD per 125kg). This additional money really helped us to make investments in our farm to implement more processes to achieve better quality and improve salaries of our workers.

In 2015 they held the Cup of Excellence in Colombia and we decided to enter, it was held on the 13th of March, and our coffee won first place! This competition changed our lives. It not only proved that quality coffee is worth the effort, it also proved that hard work and dedication bring good things.

This competition lifted us from anonymity and introduced us to the world of specialty coffee. Many people were suddenly interested in visiting our region, tasting and buying coffee from Planadas. This really helped our region which was hit hard by the internal conflict in Colombia. The coffee producers improved their conditions, could invest in their farms and improve salaries for their workers.

Specialty coffee changed my life and that of my family for the better. It allowed us to improve infrastructure, improve the salaries of our workers, and gave us the opportunity to travel abroad, encounter new cultures, to meet with the people who had come to visit us on our farm. Coffee really unites people.

Specialty coffee allows us to educate our children and support my daughter who is studying at a university in Bogota. It has returned my sense of security, my will to work, to listen, to travel, to learn, to dream.

Family and the role of women in coffee

My husband is Raúl Antonio Duran, my daughter is Dayhana Alejandra Duran, she is 19 and is in the sixth semester of an environmental science degree at Universidad El Bosque, and my son Raúl Alejandro is 9 and finishing 4th grade.

My husband is a medical veterinarian, and I am an agricultural production technician. We have always worked in coffee. Before we inherited the farm, we worked for a coffee cooperative, and my husband continues to work as a buyer. In my free time I help with physical analysis, and this has really helped us to learn more about coffee.

My husband has a good head for finances and is an excellent administrator. This has given me the opportunity to participate, to learn, to contribute, and it has really helped us to grow and work towards the same goal. We work as a team.

To be a woman in the Colombian coffee sector is a crucial role that requires great commitment, work, dedication and above all, great passion for what we do. Gender equality is so important. In coffee there is always work for every member of the family, and it is very important to empower those who want to work. Men and women always complement each other and both are important. Both are in charge of what they do, both develop a role very important in their family.

Plans for the future

My plans for the future are very ambitious. I want my farm to be a place that does not harm the environment, where many varieties of coffee exist, where there are many ornamental and fruit trees, where we never want for vegetables. I want to have the highest standard of water treatment, to offer my workers training, and above all we want to learn more ourselves. We want to have some means of air transport to bring the picked coffee from the highest lots to the washing station.

I dream that my children will speak English, finish their university studies, and be in love with coffee.

I am very proud of my farm, it is the legacy of my father, but I am prouder of the coffee that we produce. It is wonderful and privileged position to offer specialty coffee, it gives me great satisfaction and fills me with gratitude. I am proud to know that we have placed one grain of sand in building the country of our dreams.

Special regards
Astrid Medina Pereira

The December 2017 harvest, Finca Buena Vista, Planadas, Tolima, Colombia. All photos courtesy of Raúl Durán. Astrid's award winning coffee is available in the US. See our North America Offers to order a sample. 

Astrid Medina en sus propias palabras

 De izquierda a derecha: Eduardo Urquina y Alejandro Renjifo de Fairfield Trading, Astrid Medina, y Robert de CCS. Astrid estuvo en Acevedo durante el concurso CCS Acevedo Cup 2018 para apoyar y aprender de sus colegas cafeteros huilenses. 

De izquierda a derecha: Eduardo Urquina y Alejandro Renjifo de Fairfield Trading, Astrid Medina, y Robert de CCS. Astrid estuvo en Acevedo durante el concurso CCS Acevedo Cup 2018 para apoyar y aprender de sus colegas cafeteros huilenses. 

Luego de 30 segundos a partir de conocer a Astrid Medina, me invitó a su finca. Ella invita a todos, y su invitación es genuina, realmente le encantaría mostrarles su casa y su café. Ella es una estrella del café de especialidad con fanáticos en todas partes del mundo, pero Astrid es una persona cariñosa y humilde, agradecida al café por lo que ha dado a su familia.

Astrid es de Planadas, Tolima, un área de Colombia que sufrió muchos de los peores del conflicto interno colombiano, atrapada entre las guerrillas de las FARC, el gobierno, los narcotraficantes y los grupos paramilitares. La gente de esta región no habla mucho de esta violencia. Todos tienen una historia. Todos sufrieron. A medida que Colombia inicia su viaje a la paz, estas personas están mirando hacia adelante, no hacia atrás.

Le pedí a Astrid que respondiera algunas preguntas para mí, y lo que me envió fue este ensayo sincero. En vez de editarlo en nuestro estilo habitual del blog, decidí publicarlo tal como está. Se ha modificado levemente para el flujo, pero sigue siendo la historia de Astrid, en sus propias palabras.

Por Astrid Medina

Mi finca Buena Vista está ubicada en el municipio de Planadas en el corregimiento de Gaitania, Tolima, a una altura de 1.780 a 2.000 metros sobre el nivel del mar. Las variedades son Caturra, Colombia y Castillo. El área total de la finca es de 15 hectáreas de las cuales hay 13.5 sembradas en café. Mi café es cultivado, recolectado, beneficiado y secado con el mayor de los cuidados para no afectar la calidad.

La calidad es nuestra mayor motivación para que siempre se realice un excelente trabajo con nuestro equipo.

Mi viaje en el café ha sido mi vida

Mi abuelo paterno, caficultor; mi padre, caficultor; y la familia de mi esposo, caficultores. El café siempre ha estado anexo a mi vida. Cuando yo cumplí 29 años mi padre Aureliano Medina fue asesinado. Fue así como la finca Buena Vista fue heredada por mis tres hermanos menores y yo.

Dos de mis hermanos nos fueron vendiendo su parte al correr de los años. Ahora, Buena Vista es de mi esposo, mi hermana menor y mía. 

No ha sido fácil. Es una lucha constante ser caficultor. Es el precio, es el clima, las variedades, la mano de obra etc. Pero es una pasión, un arte del cual nunca terminaremos de aprender.

Empecé a producir café de especialidad en el año 2014 cuando Federación Nacional  de Cafeteros y Nespresso lanzaron un programa llamado LH TIME, o cosecha tardía; eso fue solo para café variedad castillo y consistía en recolectar el café bien maduro o uva. En nuestro caso, lo recolectábamos cada cuatro semanas para obtener esa maduración perfecta en esta variedad, obtuvimos un cupo de 5.000 kilos de café pergamino seco logrando un sobreprecio de $ 300.000 de más, lo cual nos ayudo mucho para hacer inversiones en nuestra finca y para implementar más procesos para así obtener mejor calidad y poder mejorar el pago a nuestros trabajadores.

También encontramos una motivación muy interesante para seguir produciendo café de especialidad y así poder mejorar la calidad de vida de nuestra empresa.

En el año 2.015 muy motivados se realizaba en el país Taza de la Excelencia y decidimos participar. El concurso fue el 13 de marzo. El café se presentó en diciembre y enero. Ese fue un café de traviesa, así ganamos el primer puesto. Este concurso cambió nuestras vidas. No solo nos ratificó que producir café de calidad valía la pena sino que se debe trabajar con esfuerzo y dedicación. Hacer las cosas bien siempre nos lleva a la excelencia.

Nos dio a conocer en el mundo del café de especialidad, nos ayudó a salir del anonimato, a que nuestra región fuera visitada y mucha gente se interesara en probar y comprar café de la zona. Eso ayuda mucho en una región golpeada por la guerra para que los productores mejoren sus condiciones de vida, y puedan invertir en sus empresas cafeteras para mejorar el pago a sus trabajadores.

El  café de especialidad ha cambiado mi vida y la de mi familia de una manera positiva. Además de las mejoras de infraestructura y mejor pago a la mano de obra, nos dio la oportunidad de viajar fuera del país, de conocer nuevas culturas, de distinguir personas que han venido a visitarnos y a enseñarnos a interactuar con ellos. Realmente, el café nos une.

Ha mejorado nuestra calidad de vida, el café de especialidad nos ha permitido dar estudios a nuestros hijos, sostener a mi hija en su universidad en Bogotá. Me ha devuelto la seguridad, las ganas de trabajar, de soñar, de reír, de viajar, de aprender etc.

El papel de la cafetera

El nombre de mi esposo es Raúl Antonio Duran; mi hija, Dayhana Alejandra Duran, tiene 19 años y estudia Ingeniería Ambiental. Terminó sexto semestre en la Universidad El Bosque y mi niño Raúl Alejandro tiene 9 años termino cuarto de primaria.

Mi esposo es Médico Veterinario y yo soy Tecnóloga en Producción Agrícola.  El gusto que siempre hemos tenido por el campo y el legado que había dejado mi padre fueron cosas valiosas para empezar un proyecto de vida.

Nosotros siempre hemos trabajado en café. Antes de heredar nuestra finca trabajábamos en una cooperativa de caficultores. Mi esposo es agente de compra y yo en mi tiempo libre le colaboro en la parte de análisis físico. Esto también nos ha ayudado mucho para aprender sobre el café.

Mi esposo es un hombre muy financista y un excelente administrador que me ha dado la oportunidad de participar, de opinar, de aprender. Eso nos ha ayudado mucho para crecer y trabajar por un mismo ideal, trabajamos en equipo.

Ser una mujer en el sector del café colombiano es un rol muy importante y de mucho compromiso, trabajo, dedicación y sobre todo de mucha pasión por lo que se hace. La equidad de género es muy importante, en la empresa cafetera siempre hay trabajo para todos los miembros de una familia y es muy importante empoderarnos de lo que nos gusta hacer.

El hombre y la mujer siempre se complementan. Los dos son importantes y son los encargados de hacer que todos desarrollen un  trabajo importante en cada familia. 

Planes para el futuro

Mis planes a futuro son muy ambiciosos: quiero convertir mi finca en una granja especial donde no hagamos daño al medio ambiente, donde existan más variedades de café, donde haya muchos árboles ornamentales y frutales, donde nunca falten las verduras, tener un manejo de aguas residuales donde todo esté en regla. Poder ofrecer a mis trabajadores capacitación y sobre todo capacitarnos mucho más nosotros.

Tener un medio de transporte aéreo para bajar el café recolectado de los lotes más altos y lejanos al beneficio y así poder facilitar el trabajo.

Sueño con ver a mis hijos hablando inglés, terminando universidad y enamorados del café.

Estoy muy orgullosa de mi finca, es el legado que dejó  mi padre, pero estoy más orgullosa del café que nos produce este lugar tan maravilloso y privilegiado. Poder ofrecer un café de especialidad me llena de satisfacción, de gratitud, de orgullo de saber que estamos poniendo un granito de arena en la construcción del país que soñamos.

Un abrazo especial
Astrid Medina Pereira

La cosecha de Diciembre, 2017, Finca Buena Vista. Fotos por Raul Durán. 










Tom Kuyken, Brewers Cup Contender

Despite being a small team here at CCS, we are in fact members of a much larger family including the roastery Kaffa, online coffee suppliers Kaffa Butikk, and the cafés Java and Mocca. The first three companies share a space in the former Luxo lamp factory in Oslo, and baristas from the cafés often join us for training with Head Barista, Tom Kuyken. 

We have seen quite a bit of Tom lately as he is using the space here to train for the upcoming Norwegian national Brewers Cup in Kristiansand. With only 3 days to go before the March 8 competition, Tom is doing little else. 

 Tom performs a cocktail-worthy move while a Luxo lamp looks on. 

Tom performs a cocktail-worthy move while a Luxo lamp looks on. 

Preparing for the Brewer's Cup

Those in the coffee industry who have competed in this, or any, competition know well how much work goes into the preparation. Tom has invested hours of his time, choosing the right brewing device, training with his coaches Rune Åldstedt and Lise Marie Rømo, of Kaffa Butikk and Kaffa respectively, practicing his presentation, brewing, brewing, brewing, and selecting the right cups to serve the coffee. Tom consulted a ceramics expert on the best vessels to present and enjoy his chosen coffee, and decided on elegant and unique porcelain cups from MK Ceramics in Copenhagen. “An exquisite coffee is made more exquisite when served in a beautiful cup,” Tom said. 

Tom’s challenge is a big one. He will be up against a coffee professional who has dominated the field, winning the nationals four times and the World Brewers Cup competition in 2015. However Tom, with support from Kaffa and the rest of the family, is mounting a serious campaign to challenge the reigning champ. With the spectacular coffee he has chosen, and his dedication these last months, he stands a very good chance. 

The coffee, sourced by CCS, is a Sidra Natural, part of the Heroes Series from La Palma y El Tucán (LP&ET). 

On the the front lines for this innovative partner of ours in Cundinamarca, Colombia, is “The Elite Squad,” a group of ten women who are all heads of their households and living in the region. These women are the LP&ET coffee picking team, an finely trained and experienced group who wear nail polish of a particular deep shade of red to help them identify only the ripest cherries for harvest. 

Sidra Variety

The Sidra variety is a rare cross between Typica and Bourbon. It is vulnerable to coffee leaf rust, but has adapted extremely well to the microclimate on its lot on the LP&ET farm, producing some of the best cups the team has tasted. Even with humidity reaching 90% and higher, and lower oxygen levels due to the altitude, the plant has adapted so well that it's now producing over 400 grams of parchment coffee per year. This is extremely low compared to the national average of 800g to 1kg of parchment coffee per tree, however it is a high yield compared to the other high quality varietals grown at high altitude.

The Sidra tree can grow to over 4 metres in 3 years, but the LP&ET team prune theirs in order to make it easier for pickers to reach all the cherries. The architecture of the Sidra resembles the Gesha tree, with branches that exit the trunk close to 45 degrees. The leaves are a light green color and spear-like in shape.

LP&ET Washed Processing

The processing period in this part of Cundinamarca is during the rainy season, and the farm can experience humidity levels of 90% or more. The humidity and the rain keep the temperature down and affect the amount of light the trees receive, which LP&ET believe causes just the right amount of stress on the plants to positively affect the concentration of organic acids and storage of sugars. 

LP&ET have both high and low tech solutions to this problem. They dry the coffee on raised beds in green houses fitted with thermostats that automatically turn on fans if the humidity gets too high. They also dry their coffee in very thin layers, and have a well-trained team who regularly rake and rotate the coffee to avoid fungal contamination while drying. 

LP&ET Natural Processing

Two years ago Colombia began experiencing the harshest affects of the El Niño weather phenomenon which sent warm currents across parts of the country. A severe drought, accompanied by the highest temperatures recorded in 136 years, wreaked havoc on farms across the country. However, for LP&ET it presented a rare opportunity. The higher temperatures and lower levels of humidity opened a small window of time to process natural coffees. The team jumped into action. The result is this unique and limited cup.   

Tom chose this coffee for his competition because it is so different to every other coffee he has experienced. While Gesha is the go-to coffee in brewing competitions, Tom is betting his Sidra will stand out from the pack. This natural coffee is very clean and sweet with strawberry candy, rhubarb, jam, dried mango, floral hibiscus and tart cherry notes. 

CCS has sold out of the Sidra Natural, but we do have a few bags of other limited edition Sidra Honeys, Lactics and Mixed lots, plus some other spectacular coffees in the La Palma y El Tucán Heroes Series. See our Colombian offers here and order a sample.  

If you’re in Oslo, you can also pick up a bag of beans roasted here at Kaffa, available in Java or Mocca. 

Go Tom! 

Update 10th March, 2018

Tom is the new Norwegian Brewers Cup champion!!! 

Ethiopia Update - 2nd Origin Trip, 2017 / 2018 Crop

 Muluka, sorting natural coffees at Gidhe A Washing Station, Ethiopia

Muluka, sorting natural coffees at Gidhe A Washing Station, Ethiopia

CCS was in Ethiopia for the second time this harvest season from January 7 to 14. Roasters from all over the globe joined us as we travelled from Addis Ababa to Yirgacheffe and Sidamo in the south of the country, visiting long-time partners and new friends. 

Our goal in the south of the country was to visit washing stations that are new for CCS, to get a sense of the people there and the way they work, as well as cupping their coffees. Next to Robert and I, in the vans travelling the bumpy roads of Southern Ethiopia, sat Mike from Blueprint in the US, Glen and Stanley from Green Coffee Gallery in Taiwan, Echo, Qili and Van, from Coffee Voice in China, Thomas, from Belleville Brûlerie in France and Erik, from Kaffa in Norway. We were accompanied by Abenezer from SNAP, an exporter and new partner we will work with this season and into the future.

Coffea Arabica at the source

When buying your green coffee or sipping your freshly brewed cup, you may have wondered, what is an Ethiopia Heirloom? Well, I have at least a partial answer to that: when stepping on the black and fertile soils in the Guji Highland Estate you cannot find two trees alike. Walking randomly in the farm we passed by a beautiful specimen of unknown variety with orange, almost pink cherries. Even Robert, who has travelled to Ethiopia at least twice each season for the last 12 years, had never seen a tree like this! As the birthplace of coffee, the genetic variety in Ethiopia is breath taking, and something we are only beginning to understand. 

I have spent some time at origin in Latin America, but this was my first trip to Africa. What struck me immediately was how perfectly suited Ethiopia is to growing coffee, at least on the southern regions we visited. The weather was dry during our trip, with temperate days and cool evenings. Spectacular forests provide protective shade for the coffee trees which allow the cherries to grow and ripen slowly, enriching their pulp with sweetness. Again, this is no surprise given Ethiopia is the home of the coffee tree, still it is an experience to see it in person. 

The complications of logistics

In Perú and Ecuador, where I worked for a few months with cooperatives and producers, we often spoke about the terroir, the weather, and the processing methods as the components of specialty coffee quality. The one part that is usually the forgotten is logistics. The complexity in Peru surprised me, some farms are only accessible by motorcycle over bumpy and muddy tracks. How do we reach those small producers in the most isolated reaches of the mountains? How do we maintain traceability?

The issue of logistics is even more complicated in Ethiopia. First, Ethiopia is HUGE. We spent four days of long travel to reach different washing stations and farms in the south. And yet, seeing how tiny that region is on the large map of Ethiopia, I realised how crazy it is to work in a lot of different regions in the country. Distances are not that great, but the roads are extremely bumpy! Just moving from the north of Yirgacheffe to the south took us a full day in a car! 

At the same time, I felt privileged to see an Ethiopia that will soon be history. The country boasted an annual economic growth of 10,8% on average between 2004-2014, and its population is expected to grow from 100 million people today, to 190 million by 2050! That’s almost double! Huge infrastructure projects are underway to connect all parts of Ethiopia, and more specifically to link remote areas of beautiful coffees to the existing main roads leading to Addis. If you want to experience the Ethiopian “adventure,” go there soon guys! 

We returned to Addis on the weekend for many cuppings, and to visit Heleanna of Moplaco. Their warehouse and mill are astonishing! In another life I worked for luxury cosmetic brands and visited the French factories of Chanel and Dior. It is astounding to see a production facility for coffee in Ethiopia just as clean and perfectly organized as the production line of the fanciest perfumes from Paris. No wonder the coffees we get through Heleanna are always stellars.

The highlight of this trip was meeting the people behind these incredible coffees, all of them with the biggest smiles. Each time I lifted my camera to my eye to capture the sorting process, or the natural coffees drying on their beds, I saw producers and partners with phones in hand, taking photos of me. 

Matt is finalizing our buys in Ethiopia, and the fresh crop should be on the boat by end of March. Contact me in Europe or Sal in the US to get your hands of some samples. 


CCS Cup, Learn & Share - Recap

The first CCS Cup Learn & Share event of the year was last Thursday, Feb 16, and we were joined by roasters and baristas from Russia, Romania, Japan and Norway. With the help of special guests Rory Rosenberg and Lise Marie Rømo, the team presented two innovative projects by our partners at origin, Long Miles Coffee Project from Burundi and La Palma y El Tucán from Colombia.

These events are so much more than just a cupping. They include discussion, information and presentations, a chance to understand the context of the coffees and the people behind them. 

 Barista Rory Rosenberg presenting his experience in Burundi with Long Miles Coffee Project. 

Barista Rory Rosenberg presenting his experience in Burundi with Long Miles Coffee Project. 

Burundi coffee producers work largely on nano-lots, often with as few as 500 trees. Ben and Kristy Carlson recognised the potential of this country to produce specialty coffee, and the economic benefit it could bring to these farmers' lives. They moved their entire family to Bujumbura, Burundi to start the Long Miles Coffee Project, and built two beautiful washing stations that process cherries from over 3000 neighboring families. 

Rory Rosenberg of Oslo Cold Brew won the Norwegian Barista Championship in 2017 with coffee from Long Miles, and he visited their washing stations and farms to see first hand the work they are doing in Burundi. He talked about the innovative agricultural extension programme Long Miles have implemented, sending a team of Coffee Scouts out to farms to teach farmers best coffee cultivation practices, but most importantly, teaching them how to manually eradicate the dreaded antestia bug, the cause of potato defect. 

 Yusho, head roaster from Fuglen, Japan.

Yusho, head roaster from Fuglen, Japan.

Our second cupping was of La Palma y El Tucán from Colombia who have several projects that are changing the face of specialty coffee in Colombia. Barista Lise Marie Rømo of, our sister company Kaffa, spoke of her experience competing with the LPET coffee and visiting their farm in Cundinamarca, Colombia. She described the company's team of trained coffee pickers they send to neighboring farms during the coffee harvest. The women pickers paint their nails a specific red so they can easily identify the ripest cherries on the tree.  Sixty trucks transport the picked cherries to the La Palma y El Tucán farm where they are processed using innovative methods including Acetic, Natural and Lactic. Also on the table were the LPET Heroes Series, special varieties including Sidra and Gesha that are grown on their own farm and processed to achieve the most delicious and interesting cups. 

We were so honored to be joined by Origo Coffee from Romania, Tasty Coffee from Russia, Nord from Norway, Fuglen from Japan and Norway and other baristas and upcoming roasters. We are grateful you made the trip to Oslo to contribute, share, taste and collaborate. 

Our second container of Burundi coffees will arrive in Europe and the US in the next week or two, and coffees from La Palma y El Tucán are already in Europe. See our full offer list for details. 

Would you like to join us for the next Cup, Learn & Share? Join our mailing list on our homepage to stay up to date with events and happenings at CCS. 

 At the cupping table, Nico from CCS and Mihai from Origo Coffee, Romania. 

At the cupping table, Nico from CCS and Mihai from Origo Coffee, Romania. 

In memory of Alexander Ordoñez

Our friend and partner, Alexander Ordoñez from Huila, Colombia, was in a motorcycle accident and passed away yesterday. We at CCS are heartbroken by this news.

 Alexander Ordoñez Bravo on his finca Los Naranjos, in Acevedo, Huila, Colombia

Alexander Ordoñez Bravo on his finca Los Naranjos, in Acevedo, Huila, Colombia

Alexander was a gentle man, an exceptional coffee producer, and a loving dad. When asked what he was most proud of, he said “being a responsible father.” Alexander’s own father was never part of his life, and his mother only sporadically. Alexander passed though homes of friends and family, a week here, a month there. During many periods of his childhood he didn’t own shoes, he rarely ate meat or even rice. When Alexander was 15 he moved to Planadas, Tolima, where he was lucky to be taken in by a kind coffee farmer who taught him about coffee cultivation. Having left school after sixth grade, these were Alexander’s most formative years of education.

Alexander's wife Maribel comes from a long line of coffee producers, and shortly after she and Alexander married in 1999, the couple inherited a small piece of land near Acevedo. Over the past 18 years they have slowly built their farm, planting new trees and purchasing neighbouring lots to increase production, whilst raising their two kids, Laura Camila and Diego Alejandro. Recently they built a road on their property to connect their farm to the nearest official road, saving themselves an hour journey by mule to transport their coffee off the farm.

When we visited Acevedo in January, Alexander and Maribel hosted us for lunch. Maribel and her sister Maryoni prepared Asado Huilense, meat marinated in a local bitter orange, served with potatoes, tapioca root and plantain. Alexander opened his best bottle of whiskey and repeatedly filled glasses for his many guests. When I thanked him for his generous hospitality he insisted on thanking us for accepting their invitation for lunch. In previous years when CCS visited Acevedo he only had the opportunity to offer us a snack, which was hugely disappointing for the family. “My wife is an excellent cook,” Alexander explained.

Our thoughts right now are with Maribel, Camila and Diego and the community of producers in Acevedo. Alexander, we will all miss you.

Living Our Values: The Right People at Origin

What makes a coffee 'specialty'? We believe it goes beyond cup score and is ultimately about the people involved. From the agronomists who strategize and train workers on soil nutrition and plant care, to the workers who carry out these plans, through to the dry mill staff that ensure the parchment is hulled and packaged to the importer's specifications; coffee passes through many hands before it is even roasted and finally prepared by a barista. While the final cup quality is of course impacted by the final two stages--roasting and preparation--the barista has no chance of extracting a tasty cup without the many previous steps having gone "right". So it makes sense that we spend a lot of time and effort getting to know our partners at origin very well before we purchase any coffee from them. What are we looking for in the "right" origin partner? We've found that the best partners are a mixture of ambitious, reliable, curious, passionate and continually striving for excellence. Heleanna Georgalis of Moplaco Trading in Ethiopia is a person who exhibits all of these traits and far more. We have been working with her since 2013 and are looking forward to many more years of close collaboration.

Below is an excerpt from our report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017 where you can read more about Heleanna and the incredible work she does.


The Right People at Origin

Finding the right people: Heleanna Georgalis, Moplaco, Ethiopia.

A romanticized idea of coffee trading is that one is sourcing from a farmer who is equipped and empowered to offer coffee from their  field, and bringing it to your market, and all other parties in-between are helping to make it happen. It isn’t always quite like that.

CCS’ relationship with Ethiopia as a coffee origin is like any other passionate relationship: it can be fantastic and fantastically challenging at the same time. The country offers coffees that are as unique as the many ways of handling them. Our source for guidance and relief has often times been Heleanna Georgalis of Moplaco.

She has, since CCS’ inception, presented strategies and solutions for dealing with Ethiopia as a multi-faceted origin. She is a coffee farmer. She processes her own coffee. She buys cherries and processes coffee from other growers. She buys lots from ECX and cleans them. She has a great dry mill, which makes all the difference. She is an exporter. She is a reliable partner. She reminds us again and again that coffee is not only people, but also politics and culture.

Heleanna is constantly teaching us the complexities of the trade, which has emboldened us to broaden our scope. We are now working with many more and very different partners in Ethiopia; farmers and millers, agronomists and researchers. The next step for CCS is to open our own lab in Addis, thus staying closer while also working more independently.

We are continuing our business relationship with Moplaco, getting the best services possible on milling and quality control, while nourishing personal connection with Heleanna’s team. That’s coffee romance to us.

Read the full report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017.

CCS Acevedo Cup 2018 Recap

Acevedo Cup winners and other stellar coffees of the region will be arriving soon! Order your samples by contacting Sal in the US and Nico in Europe.

Jair Caicedo was this year’s winner, a surprise to many at the awards ceremony on Jan 21, as the young farmer is only 26 years old.

The full list of winners

1. Jair Caicedo, Finca Buena Vista

2. Alberto Calderon, Finca La Esmeralda

3. Carlos Calderon, Finca El Porvenir

4. Carmelo Carmelo Blend:
Oscar Ferney Cruz, Finca Jerico
William Arley Cruz, Finca Jerico

Jaimr Useche Gonzalez, Finca La Luna
Dionar Aleis Useche Gonzalez, Finca Los Alpes

5. Blend:
Otoniel Cordoba, Finca El Jardin
Edilson Calderon, Finca El Tesoro

Manuel Calderon, Finca Mira Flores

6. Jhon Wilson Poveda, Finca Danny

7. Jhon Wilson Poveda, Finca Danny

8. Maria Bercelia, Finca Los Angeles

9. Guillermo Rojas, Finca La Falda

10. Blend:
Miller Norberto Bustos, Finca El Mirador
Jamir Usache, Finca La Luna
Diego Bernal, Finca Primavera
Alexander Granada, Finca El Rinconcito
Jose Ignacio Morales, Finca El Guadual

11. Jhon Wilson Poveda, Finca Danny

12. Maria Bercelia, Finca Los Angeles

13. Wilmer Cuellar, Finca Las Brisas

14. Maria Bercelia, Finca Los Angeles

15. Wilmer Cuellar, Finca Las Brisas

16. Mariano Leal, Finca Las Acacias

17. Luis Vargas, Finca Llanitos

18. Maria Bercelia, Finca Los Angeles

19. Carlos Calderon, Finca El Porvenir

20. Jair Caicedo, Finca Buena Vista

Good years and bad years

The overriding theme of this year’s trip to Acevedo is that producing quality is really hard. Sometimes a farmer does everything right and still their coffee doesn’t make it to 86, the benchmark both CCS and Fairfield have set. Why? This season it was the weather. Heavy rains damaged the flowers resulting in lower yields. And those rains, combined with unusually cold weather, caused problems when drying the coffee, resulting in poorer quality.

This is the heartbreaking part of our job. We have a quality benchmark, and there are many good reasons for setting it at 86, but some years that means rejecting coffee from producers we love and dearly want to support. We wish we could buy all their coffee. This year, the best we could do to support them was show up.

The impact of being there

Being present should not to be underestimated, especially in Colombia. Accepting an invitation into a Colombian’s home, allowing them to nourish you, even with just a snack, shows enormous respect for them, and their respect for you. Maribel Claros Castro, wife of Alexander Ordóñez, prepared us a traditional feast called Asado Huilense, meat marinated in bitter orange and cooked on a wood-fired stove. Alexander has had a bad year, thousands of kilos of his coffee were damaged when unusually cold temperatures hit his region while his coffee was drying. But rather than complain about his financial loss, he thanked us profusely for accepting their invitation for lunch. “My wife is an excellent cook,” he explained.

For the producers, the roasters are the real celebrities. Dillon Edwards of Parlor Coffee joined us on this trip to Acevedo and it was his fourth time in the region in two years. He brought gifts for his treasured producers, including roasted coffee in packages bearing the names of their fincas. For many years Colombia offered just one coffee, “Café de Colombia,” so it is a a genuine surprise and delight for these farmers to know their work as a family is presented directly to coffee consumers. 

Bringing producers together

Events like the CCS Acevedo Cup also present a rare opportunity to collaborate. Seldom are so many producers of specialty coffee in one room together, as they were for the CCS Acevedo Cup awards ceremony. The after-party is as important as the awards presentation itself, the farmers use it to discuss, share and advise. 

Special guests at the event this year were Team Tolima! Alejandro Renjifo of Fairfield Trading is a big advocate of regional collaboration, and this year he invited several producers from Planadas to join us on our farm visits and attend the awards ceremony, including Hernando Gomez, Ivan and Jhon Molano, and Astrid Medina. One of the greatest highlights of this trip was seeing Astrid Medina’s reaction to Maria Bercelia’s unique drying facility on her farm, Finca Los Angeles. What a treat it was to listen as these two rock stars of Colombian coffee discussed the finer points of fermentation and drying.


What it means to win

Despite the adverse weather, there was great coffee to cup. While this year's event wasn't the marathon of 2016, we still had 37 lots to taste and overall the cupping scores were higher than last year.

What does it mean to place in the Acevedo Cup? In addition to being recognised in the community, winning a place in the top 20 means a significant financial gain. Jair Caicedo will earn 2,200,000 Colombian pesos per carga (125kg of parchment coffee) for his winning lot. To put that price in perspective, the FNC are currently offering around 800,000 pesos per carga. Once yield rates are taken into account, Jair will earn about three times the current purchase price.

We are so grateful to all the farmers who invited us into their homes, offered us meals and refreshments, listened, shared, and gave us their precious time: Javier Pulgarín and Patricia Rodriguez, Luis Vargas and his family, Alexander Ordoñez and Maribel Claros Castro, and Maria Bercelia and Jose Erazo. We are so humbled by your generous hospitality. See you next year.

Acevedo Cup winners and other stellar coffees of the region will be arriving soon! Order your samples by contacting Sal in the US and Nico in Europe.

CCS Presents: Cup, Learn & Share

CCS WINTER POSTER OSLO feb 16 insta.jpg
CCS WINTER POSTER OSLO feb 16 insta.jpg

Join us in Oslo for a fascinating 1-day workshop and discover two innovative CCS partners and their unique approach to producing specialty coffee:

La Palma y El Tucan (LPET), Colombia

Long Miles Coffee Project (LMCP), Burundi

We will be cupping, discussing, sharing and learning with guest speakers Lise Rømo of sister company Kaffa, and Rory Rosenberg of Oslo Cold Brew, two baristas who have competed with these coffees, and visited their farms and washing stations, plus a Skype Q&A with Sebastian Villamizar of La Palma y El Tucan.


10am  Cupping coffees from Long Miles Coffee Project

12pm Presentation by Rory Rosenberg of Oslo Cold Brew Rory was the 2017 Norwegian Barista Champion. He competed with LMCP and visited their washing stations in Burundi.

12.30pm Light lunch provided

1pm Cupping La Palma y El Tucan - Neighbors and Crops

2pm Cupping La Palma y El Tucan - Heroes Series

3pm Presentation by Lise Rømo of Lise was the 2016 Norwegian Barista Champion. She competed with coffee from La Palma y El Tucan, and visited their innovative farm in Cundinamarca, Colombia.

3.30pm Skype Q&A with Sebastian Villamizar of La Palma y El Tucan

4pm Beers and refreshments

Spaces are limited. Contact to reserve yours!

Antwerp Warehouse Sale - 20% off Ethiopias

Mormora and Hunda Oli - 20% off! See the full Antwerp Warehouse Sale Price List for more deals. 

We are moving warehouses from Antwerp to Vollers in Hamburg which means we have a warehouse to clear, which means stellar coffees at clearance prices like these treasures from Ethiopia that we are offering at a staggering 20% discount.


Guji Natural by Mormora Estate

Mormora Coffee Estate is located in the Oromia Regional State, Guji zone, and Shakisso woreda (which is in this case, also a town). Shakisso is 500km south of Addis Ababa and Mormora Estate a further 20km from Shakisso. 

The farm is semi-forested and covered by indigenous trees. The varieties are ‘heirloom’which means the plants come from seeds that grow wild the area. The soil is red, brownand rich. It is made up of organic materials that have decomposed over decades.

Ethiopian coffees court especially high expectations and attention year after year. Perhaps more than any other origin, coffee roasters look to Ethiopia to provide both stand-alone knockouts, as well as that little something to round out an espresso blend. Time and time again, the “Queen of Coffee Origins” delivers, despite a labyrinthine and constantly evolving coffee auction and export system. Year after year, coffee buyers eagerly make their way through Addis Ababa and into the countryside, in search of the next fabled cup.

Ethiopian coffee is still made up of many wild growing coffee plants – most of them have not yet been classified, so the genetic diversity is currently incalculable. Being wild, these varieties have evolved naturally and so are well adapted to their surroundings. All this means that chemical inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are rarely used in Ethiopia; the majority of coffee produced is organic in the truest sense of the word.

This Guji Natural is a mix of Guji heirloom varieties and exhibits rose rose water, cane sugar, berries, peach, citrus in the cup. 

Guji Natural by Mormora Estate, Ethiopia Variety: Guji Heirloom Process: Natural Score: 87,25 Normal Price: $11,07/kg With20% Discount: $8,86/kg You save $2.21!


Hunda Oli

Hunda Oli is a cooperative located near Agaro, in the Jimma region in western Ethiopia, 397km from AddisAbaba. It is part of the larger Kata Mudaga Union.

Farmers in this co-op grow Limu heirloom varieties. The cherries, once picked, are mechanically pulped and soaked overnight. Beans are dried for 6 hours in full shade before being moved to main drying beds and turned regularly to ensure even drying.

Hunda Oli Lot 15 scored 87 points and features floral notes fresh apricot, and a balanced and round cup.

Hunda Oli Lot 15, Ethiopia Variety: Limu Heirloom Process: Washed Score: 87 Normal Price: $11,62/kg With20% Discount: $9,30/kg You save $2.32!

Contact Nico to get your samples.

Living Our Values: The Collaborative Model

Below is a excerpt from our report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017.

The CCS team has always been made up of people who have worked throughout various parts of the coffee chain. We are and have been baristas, barista trainers, competitors, coffee shop managers, roasters and coffee buyers. Most of us only really know the coffee industry through the lens of specialty coffee and this automatically puts our team in both a position of privilege and responsibility.


We have been privileged in so many different ways. At the coffee shops and roasteries each of us have worked at prior to CCS, each of us were a part of teams that were focused on excellence: roasting and serving the best coffee we could; buying the tastiest, most unique coffees from the brightest and most ambitious producers we could find. While not inherent to finding great coffees and producers, good relationships usually go hand-in-hand. It seems to go hand-in-hand that finding reliable partners producing excellent coffee year-after-year means working with great people. When we started CCS, we both saw the uniqueness of approaching coffee purchasing from a relational standpoint as well as the emerging market of roasters who were looking to find the same.

You see this context writ all over “The Collaborative Model” in Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017: the words “relationships”, “community”, “good coffee, good business”, “interdependency”, “communication”. These are not just words we throw about casually - they underlie everything that we do. When you read about our model, we hope that your experience matches what they are describing. Rest assured, we are doing everything we can to uphold them.

The Collaborative Model

One of the founding principles for the Collaborative Coffee Source is building relationships between people, in our case the craftspeople that are making coffee. Some are working in the field, others in roasteries, and still many more hands and heads and hearts are involved, so we think it’s only logical that there is a strong connection. The barista should be in the mix too, as they are the ones brewing beverages from these fruits-of-labor, they are on the frontier for all of us. We’re all needed, and we all need each other.

We strive to connect roasters, baristas, exporters, farmers, cooperatives, washing stations, and everybody else working in this community in a tight web of support, communication and feedback. This is fundamentally a model for collaboration, and quite frankly, it is a good business model too. Collaboration creates opportunities for learning, in all directions. Coffee travels the world and so do we, and it is in the exchanges of ideas and preferences that the best coffees are made.

Coffee is a people business. When curious people meet, and great products are made, and beautiful understanding occurs and interdependency grows, it is the best environment for a healthy business relationship. Good Coffee deserves to be Good Business, for all parties.

An ambitious coffee roaster who wants to stand out with a desired product needs a coffee supplier that is delivering the right coffee year after year. We strongly believe that we help both ends when we connect them, and the best way to achieve that is to know them. This is why we work with coffee professionals we respect and cherish, whose hopes and dreams we share. We want to change the world. The process may be “poco a poco,” but we’re ok with that.

Read the full report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017.

And the winner is...

 Jair Caicedo, 1st place winner

Jair Caicedo, 1st place winner

The CCS Acevedo Cup 2018 wrapped up on Sunday with a fantastic awards ceremony in Acevedo town, and the top placing coffee is...

Jair Caicedo, Finca Buena Vista!

The announcement of Jair's name elicited gasps from the farming community in attendance at the awards ceremony of the CCS Acevedo Cup 2018. This dedicated coffee grower is only 26!

Dillon of Parlor Coffee poetically described Jair’s coffee as “extraordinary! Honeycomb, berry, custard with concentrated citrus syrup.” Robert of CCS said it showed “lively aromatics with the promise of fruit,” and “a balanced soft acidity.”

Stay tuned for a full update on this amazing event by Fairfield Trading and CCS, and the full list of the top 20 winners. In the meantime, US roasters can contact Sal in the US or Nico in EU to order your samples. 

CCS Warehouse Clearance Sale — Featuring Fernando Bustos & Alto Encanto

We are moving warehouses to Vollers in Hamburg and clearing our Antwerp warehouse. That means stellar coffees at clearance prices, like these two gems from Acevedo, Colombia

Fernando Bustos

 Fernando Bustos

Fernando Bustos

While Fernando has had a coffee farm for quite some time, there was a period of eight years that he lived in Ibagué and his brother, Miller, managed El Progreso’s coffee production. On intuition, one day Fernando decided to move back to Acevedo to manage the farm himself and further, to change its production to specialty coffee. He didn’t know anything of about specialty coffee at the time.

Thankfully, neighbour Alvaro Perdomo was already producing specialty and taught Fernando about how to change his processing techniques. Especially when to stop fermentation and start washing.

With the announcement of CCS’ Acevedo Cup in 2016, Fernando worked the best he could with the coffee harvest. He knew he’d made it to the competition selection, which was screened and determined by Fairfield’s cupping team. The international panel of judges ranked the top twenty in mid-December of 2016, but Fernando had planned a trip to Ibagué during the awards announcements and ceremony, so he missed hearing his name called. When he heard that El Progreso had won second place, he was elated.

With the premiums earned from the competition, he planned to build three new fermentation tanks and more drying facilities.

This lot is fruit-forward and sweet: berries, stone fruit, nougat and a clean finish.

Fernando Bustos, Acevedo, Colombia
Variety: Colombia
Process: Washed
Score: 87,5
Normal Price: $14,33/kg
Now: $13.83/kg or $13,33/kg for a full pallet

Alto Encanto


This lot is a "Hamlet Blend" of coffees that were entered into the CCS Acevedo Cup 2016 that did not reach the top twenty. Everyone whose coffee made it into competition were paid price premiums, with the top twenty receiving incrementally better prices.

Alto Encanto was constructed from two day lots from the following producers:

• Nicolas Delgado – 10 bags • Jose Erasmo Peres – 10 bags

The varieties are Caturra, Colombia F.6 and Castillo, grown between 1,400 and 1,600 meters above sea level.

This blend offers notes of black tea, caramel, citrus and an overall balanced cup.

Alto Encanto, Acevedo, Colombia
Variety: Various, incl. Castillo & Colombia
Process: Washed
Score: 87
Normal Price: $11,73/kg
Now: $11.23/kg or $10,73/kg for a full pallet

Contact Nico for samples, and download the full Antwerp Clearance Sale price list here.

Brazilian quality Innovations

Given that Brazil has one of the most developed economies and coffee sectors throughout all of the coffee producing origins, its coffee producers and exporters are relatively "wealthy" in terms of resources and knowledge, placing them ahead of the curve when it comes to having the capacity to innovate in coffee production. About 80% of Brazilian coffee is natural processed. This is due to a few different factors, not least because labour is relatively expensive in Brazil. In general, labour costs combined with the fact that many farms have good infrastructure, coffee production in Brazil is more mechanized than it is in other producing origins. One potential paradox to this, when it comes to specialty coffee, is the value that is often placed on specialty coffee being handcrafted or otherwise produced in a special way.

What we've found, over the years, is that it is not always the case that labour or time intensiveness equals coffee quality. Especially in Brazil, where we are continually impressed by the strides its specialty coffee community is making by using its relative wealth and resources to produce ever more interesting and more tasty coffees.

Over the past few years in particular, we've noticed innovations in three areas: picking, processing and fermentation.



In Brazil, coffee tends to be planted at "lower" elevations in comparison to other origins. This, in combination with the lack of manual labour, means that mechanical pickers are very commonly used to strip coffee cherries off of the trees. If undertaken only once in a season, farmers are left with a vast number of over- and under-ripe cherries, so in order to optimize the picking of ripe cherries, producers have come up with three levels of stripping: first from the top, then the middle, and finally the bottom of the tree. These pickings are further sorted into micro-lot and commodity grades.

Interesting to note is that the middle of the tree tends to produce the best quality since it has the most balanced sun-exposure and the leaves protect the cherries from the elements (e.g. wind and frost). As well, while handpicking isn’t common, higher altitude farms or farms within mountainous areas require handpicking since machines aren't able to operate at these angles.


Since Brazil is best known and equipped for producing naturals and pulped naturals, these processes are naturally the first to undergo experimentation and development.

At higher elevation/small production farms, farmers are innovating the way they dry coffee since there is not a lot of room for drying beds or patios. Small huts with fermentation tank-like tanks with mesh floors are being built and solar panels are installed, which powers a turbine that creates warm or cold airflow based on drying needs. The drying method within these huts consists of first filling up the tank with five tons of cherries and then injecting a controlled amount of air flow upward through the mesh and on to the cherries. This whole process takes about 30 days to complete. According to Alex, who last travelled to Brazil for our August 2017 buying trip, while this process is slower than others, it provides a stable drying environment and temperatures. In terms of cup quality, he experienced that the coffee is quite fresh and fruit-forward.

Carmo Coffees is both our longest-standing and most trusted partner in Brazil. They're also conducting some of the most forward-looking experiments in Brazilian specialty coffee. Within the area of processing, they are one of the few producers doing washed processing and for the first time, we are offering a washed Brazilian coffee that has been produced by them. We chose this lot not because it is a washed coffee, necessarily, but because it is really, really good.



Carmo is also experimenting with yeast fermentation. Brazilian coffee producers in general haven’t had the energy or desire to ferment the coffee due to it being time and resource intensive. Brazil's coffee producing tradition has been focused on volume and uniformity. The times are changing and Carmo is at the forefront.

While the Carmo team is choosing to be proprietary about the protocol of their fermentation experiments, the fact that they’re starting to experiment is itself significant. And already proving to be rewarding: one of the experimental lots last year was scored 93-points by no less than Kentaro Maruyama.

What they were willing to share is that at one of the experimental farms, they had employed a yeast expert from France that had been traveling all over the world to teach producers how to use yeast in coffee fermentation. The basic concept is to utilize a single yeast bacterial culture within a stable tank/environment. This bacterial culture then lives in the tank and impacts the cherries in a way that is replicable year after year (since it's a single culture). The biggest upside is having replicable profiles year after year. Some  downsides are that it pollutes water and is time consuming.

Brazil is unique as a coffee origin because it has the land, infrastructure and capital to be freer in focusing on innovating, while most other origins are working just to make coffee a sustainable enterprise. In other words, Brazilian producers have the resources to carry out experiments and not just invest in disease prevention and other practical investments. Hopefully over time, as coffee markets and consumers become more educated about the costs involved in producing coffee and prices subsequently rise to meet these realities, the Brazilian approach to coffee innovation will become a model for other coffee origins to follow.



Get in touch with Nico for samples if you are located in Europe & Asia and Sal if you are located in the US and Canada.