santa barbara

Co-Roasting Spaces — Building Coffee Communities

Announcing the first in a quarterly series of cuppings at Bay Area CoRoasters, Berkeley, California: Tuesday Dec 5, 10am. See below for details and reserve your space on our Facebook page.

Co-roasting spaces such as Bay Area CoRoasters (or CoRo for short) are crucial businesses in the specialty coffee industry, providing an entry into the expensive business of roasting. Co-Ro offers memberships to coffee companies who then receive scheduled time on one of the four roasters on their production floor of their West Berkeley space.
 

An affordable beginning for new roasters

Co-roasting spaces give young companies time to practice, learn and build their business, before making the large investment of time and money in finding their own space, setting up machines, and acquiring the necessary permits. 

“Our goal is to provide all of the infrastructure and capital intensive equipment for you to start a coffee business,” said Floy Andrews, co-founder and CEO of CoRo. “All of that investment is shared by different brands.”

One of four roasters available on the CoRo production floor. Image courtesy of  Bay Area CoRoasters .

One of four roasters available on the CoRo production floor. Image courtesy of Bay Area CoRoasters.

CoRo is also in a position to keep their roasting space up to date. “We’re really focused on having the newest technology,” Floy said. For example, “we’re switching out the afterburner with a thing called a Vortex which is a water quench mechanism. It collects the dirt in the smoke, and its strained into a bucket. It’s not toxic - it’s actually good for your plants. Afterburners release a lot of CO2 and [the Vortex] aligns more with the values of Co-Ro.”

Building a Coffee Community

But CoRo is so much more than simply an affordable way to roast. In keeping with the spirit of the Bay Area where they are located, CoRo has a mission to create a community. In addition to the four roasters available, the CoRo space offers members a QC lab and a cupping room. Here they hold events and offer their members training and development on their journey as coffee professionals.

CoRo offer classes in roasting and production. Image courtesy of  Bay Area CoRoasters .

CoRo offer classes in roasting and production. Image courtesy of Bay Area CoRoasters.

Regular cuppings are held in the CoRo Cupping Room. Image courtesy of  Bay Area CoRoasters .

Regular cuppings are held in the CoRo Cupping Room. Image courtesy of Bay Area CoRoasters.

Then there’s the “Green Wall”, a space for importers to leave greens samples of their coffee for roasting, cupping and comparison. “The way green coffee is distributed, traditionally, is sort of out of sync with the way these small roasters operate,” Floy explained. “Our Green Wall is our first endeavor in connecting small roasters to a range of importers. It plays into the community space function of Co-Ro.”

The Green Coffee Wall at CoRo. Image courtesy of  Bay Area CoRoasters .

The Green Coffee Wall at CoRo. Image courtesy of Bay Area CoRoasters.

CCS and CoRo Community Events

At CCS we believe strongly that community is essential to the growth and sustainability of the specialty coffee industry, so we're excited to announce two initiatives:

CCS Quarterly Cuppings at CoRo

Colleen will be running quarterly cuppings in the cupping room at CoRo! The first will be next Tuesday December 5 at 10am. Join us for a cupping of Late Harvest Hondurans from Santa Barbara, plus Colombian coffees from Huila and Tolima. Contact Colleen to learn more, or sign up on our Facebook page.

Roasting Q&A with Matt Hassell

Matt Hassell, Buyer, Sample Manager and QC Director at Collaborative Coffee Source, and former roaster for George Howell Coffee, will be answering your roast questions starting immediately after the cupping at CoRo next week. The Q&A will begin at midday Tuesday Dec 5 and run until midday Tuesday Dec 12. Whatever your roast quandary, Matt is here to help. Post your question on Twitter to @collaborativeCS and use the hashtag #ccsQandA.

Santa Barbara, Honduras 2016 update

Yojoa Lake & Santa Barbara Mountain

Yojoa Lake & Santa Barbara Mountain

Since the beginning of our work in Santa Barbara, Honduras, which even started before CCS existed, through our sister-company KAFFA Oslo (a roaster), the relationships we’ve developed within this region have been some of the strongest and most exciting of all the relationships we have in all the coffee origins we work with.

What started out as purchasing coffee from a mere handful of farmers has expanded to our working with almost 40 producers across 4 municipalities. And the growth is only increasing, which is good since a high demand for these coffees have developed over the years. Still, there is more demand than there is supply and we still need to be scrutinizing and picky to get the really good stuff. The great news is that more and more farmers are becoming ambitious and know what the market is demanding.

Santa Barbara is an area that has, over the years, become recognized namely by some of the very same producers we have developed close ties with. And more broadly, Honduras has made a strong name for itself in the coffee world. For example, in this year’s Cup of Excellence (2016), Honduras was put on the map as an origin that has a variety of varieties that now include geisha. Some of these coffees are scoring the high 80s and are even reaching 90s, thus fetching historically high auction prices (worldwide) at +$120/lb.

View from El Guayabo, the plot that produced one of the best coffees from Santa Barbara this season

View from El Guayabo, the plot that produced one of the best coffees from Santa Barbara this season

There are three major developments that we are excited about sharing with respect to our work in Santa Barbara (S.B.) this year:

1) A new price agreement

We have raised the bar and so necessarily, the price. The fact that the market is still low should not matter to the long-standing and loyal producers of the greatest coffees around.

Our goal always from the beginning is to only buy 86+ point coffee. Practically, some of the lots we have purchased from SB have been at 85 points. In agreeing to work with someone long-term, there needs to be support even and perhaps especially during the times that all factors are not at their optimal.

Today, we happily report that there are more 86-point coffees than ever and consequently, we are raising prices for the considerable efforts made. So we are both paying more than ever. On the other hand, if the coffees are less than 86, we are also paying less.

The price and score breakdown

The price and score breakdown

The prices this year range from $3.00/lb to $4.50/lb FOB and in today’s market, these prices are very high. Our farmer partners not only expressed gratitude for our continued relationship and support but they are re-investing in land, facilities, their families and their children’s education. Some of the farmers we’ve worked with longest are truly prospering.

CCS' strongest Santa Barbara allies: the Moreno family

CCS' strongest Santa Barbara allies: the Moreno family

2) Deforestation is not accepted!

The demand for coffee has pressured/tempted an increasing number of farmers to cut adjacent natural forest in order to plant more coffee. The consequences of these practices are devastating and we have expressed a strict opposition to this. To be clear, CCS will not buy coffee from newly deforested areas and we have had meeting with the mayor of one of the municipalities in order to get even support for this message.

Some negative effects from deforestation

Some negative effects from deforestation

Another sad image about deforestation and its effects

Another sad image about deforestation and its effects

A gentlemen's agreement: no forest killing! The Morenos are in agreement and will help communicate this important message around the community

A gentlemen's agreement: no forest killing! The Morenos are in agreement and will help communicate this important message around the community

3) Processing: drying & shade

As we’ve come to learn, one of the key factors in making good quality coffee is processing. It is also clear that the process itself, and the drying stage in particular, is making for a more or less long-lived cup quality. This is becoming increasingly important in S.B. as the international recognition for the area rises and the prices go up.

Roasters need for green coffee to keep up their quality months after arrival. A fading coffee feels demoralizing to all of us and is oftentimes not an understood or experienced phenomenon by the farmer. Some are educating themselves about this and taking the need for solutions seriously.

As a general rule our partners have been implementing drying slower and under shade in order to protect parchment from direct sunlight in the first steps of the drying process. This has proven favorable.

Although this is currently one of the investments we are seeing in the field, just four years it was rare to see farmers drying their own coffee in the first place. These days, some are very proud of their being masters of the processing craft.

- Robert

Mario Moreno w/ his new drying beds now with shade

Mario Moreno w/ his new drying beds now with shade

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