Coffee Profile – Paraje Los Machos – Washed, Oaxaca, Mexico

Paraje Los Machos is an association of 180 coffee growing families split across three towns on the temperate mountain range of Sierra Juarez, north of Oaxaca City. The majority of association members are of Zapotec heritage and, therefore, only speak Spanish as a second language. These historical ties to the region bring a massive sense of community to the area, that is also present during the coffee harvest. Rather than employing coffee pickers, locals from the town all chip in together in return for lunch and the promise of help when it comes time for their cherries to be harvested.

The association is led by Romulo Chavez, who has been working for years to build direct relationships with coffee buyers, in order to obtain higher prices for the growers of Los Machos.

We buy all of our Mexican lots from Raw Material, a coffee importer with the task of trying to improve conditions of coffee growers at each of the origins they work with at the heart of their buying philosophy. As a Community Interest Company, they send all profits back to the growing communities they work with. We absolutely love their coffees!!!

The Paraje Los Machos lot is perfect for winter, with a toffee-apple sweet and fruity flavour, deep brazil nuts and a smooth, silky finish. Whether as a delicate pour over or as a creamy, smooth flat white, this coffee will help to keep the cold out!

Our Brew Recipe:

Kalita Wave 155, 15g coffee to 250g water at 94°, 30 second bloom with 50g water, fast pour 100g, 5 second pause, moderate pour to 200g, 5 second pause, slow pour to 250g with a final brew time of 2:40. Grind size medium-coarse (roughly 29 clicks on Comandante).

All photos © Raw Material 2021

Coffee Profile – Rwanda, Shyira Washing Station, Washed Red Bourbon

Rwanda has had a difficult time in the past couple of years, with extreme weather conditions causing massive landslides in the Nyabihu region. Many of the coffee growers from Shyira and many other stations lost homes and loved ones as a result. This is part of the reason we continue to exclusively buy our Rwandan coffees through Raw Material, who as a Community Interest Company return all profits to the coffee producers they work with. Alongside this, they also set up an appeal fund to try and raise the money necessary to replace loss of earnings from crops lost and rebuild buildings, supply clean water, feed and house all those displaced by the flooding.

Large areas of land are now no longer farmable, meaning that many farmers will never regain their livelihood. If you are able to, please consider donating what you can to the fund Raw Material have set up HERE.

Despite everything, the Shyira Washing Station continue to deliver incredible crops. Here’s a little bit of information from Raw Material about the current lot we have on offer:


All cherry is hand-sorted before a pre-pulp float, underripe or damaged cherry is removed, along with any foreign objects. Cherry is then floated in pre-pulping tanks removing any floaters and later pulped. Next, coffee is fermented in dedicated concrete fermentation tanks for an average of 12 hours. During this time, the fermented parchment is agitated several times through the day by way of ceremonial foot-stomping. This is to encourage lower density parchment to float and to clean any residual mucilage off the parchment. Once the parchment is separated into grades, it is given a final post-wash rinse. At this point, coffee is then taken to a pre-drying area where the parchment is hand-sorted removing any insect-damaged, discoloured or chipped coffee. Parchment is then laid out to dry where it is turned on a regular basis throughout the day

After fermentation, coffee is released into a large serpentine grading channel. This process also separates parchment into different density grades. During the washing process, parchment is continuously agitated to encourage lower density parchment to float and to clean any residual mucilage off the parchment. Once the parchment is separated into grades, it is given a final post-wash rinse. At this point, coffee is taken to a pre-drying area where the parchment is hand-sorted removing any insect-damaged, discoloured or chipped coffee. The parchment is laid out to dry and turned on a regular basis throughout the day for 30 days.

Washed Process
Station: Shyira

Region: Nyamasheke District

Country: Rwanda

Altitude: 1450 – 1600 MASL

Variety: Red Bourbon

Process: Washed, Honey, Natural

Screen Size: 15+

Preparation: Euro Prep 0,20

Sorting: Laser sorted

All images © Raw Material

Coffee Profile – Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society, AB Top Natural

Natural coffee is not the norm in Kenya, so when the Kedovo Project offered us one, we couldn’t say no!!! And it didn’t disappoint! It’s juicy and floral and delicate, with all of the sweetness of a natural process, without losing its crisp, clean aromas.

Kedovo e.V do a lot of amazing work in Kenya, not just within coffee. If you want to learn more, or would be interested in volunteering with them, go to their website here. For this article, however, I will focus on the coffee side of things.

Based in the coffee growing areas of the Central Province in Kenya, the Kedovo Project’s main aim is to help the multiple farming members to improve coffee quality and productivity, set up quality testing centres to help farmers track the quality of their coffees and facilitate farmer grouping, to ensure greater market access and remove the need for a middleman, meaning that they can get a fairer price by working more with direct trade buyers.

“The process of cultivating coffee is lengthy and tiresome. ”How many people have the patience to wait for 4 years?” Asks Social Enterpreneur Muthoni Schneidewind. 
” Yes, that is how long the coffee tree takes to thrive and yield its first bean! Most of these farmers grow the high quality SL-28 and SL-34, that are very delicate from planting to harvesting, the Arabica beans are selectively hand picked when the cherries are bright red and ripe!one beautiful cherry at a time.. they require great care during harvesting. Their cherries fall to the ground after ripening and spoil and thus careful monitoring and interval picking is required.”She continues. ”Coffee growing has been in my family for years, i myself grew up picking coffee as a child, i was educated with money from the coffee proceeds and it was a struggle. Everyday after school, together with my siblings we had to walk the 2 kilometre way down to the river, draw the muddy water to water the small coffee bushes! Four years … And then one day, the whole ridge was filled with fragrant white flowers, smell of ripe coffee berries ;the noise of the happy weaver birds; our FIRST coffee harvest was ready”. she remembers.

The coffee growing communities in Nyeri have suffered. Nothing much has changed since Muthoni was a child. Most of them simply lack everything they need, they are still at the mercy of middlemen and brokers who buy their supplies and pay them a pittance for the valuable produce, they barely afford school fees for their children, some have cut down the trees and instead are now turning to growing staple foods, the coffee fields are neglected, the list is long!

With all these needs for her community weighing heavily on her mind the KEDOVO Coffee Project was founded.” – kedovo.org

“Empowering Coffee Farmers Through Value Addition” – Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society Statement

Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society is an organization of 19 small wet mills (known as “factories,”) in and around the town of Othaya in Nyeri county. The society was registered in 1956 with 250 farmers and has since grown to over 15,000 members. Their offices are located in the center of town, and the Gatuyaini factory is their production center, less than a kilometer up the hill from the main office. Many factors make Othaya extraordinary, chief among them strong social unity, a holistic approach to business management and a progressive view towards quality control throughout the supply chain. The society has a nursery and farm store to supply its members with inputs, equipment and seedlings. Farm management workshops are offered regularly, and factory managers are routinely trained on wet mill best practices. Othaya has sample roasting and cupping facilities at the Gatuyaini factory, and society staff cup samples of every lot delivered during the harvest season. Also at Gatuyaini factory is a complete dry milling installation, allowing the society to manage even the parchment hulling sorting and grading elements of their operation.

Coffee Profile – Faysel A. Yonis, Aricha, Natural Mixed Heirloom

Trabocca have been doing great work in Ethiopia for over 25 years, not only sourcing beautiful coffees, also in the coffee growing communities with whom they work with. This is exactly why I buy all of our Ethiopian lots from them. The quality in the past years has been fantastic! Here is what they have to say about Aricha, where our current natural Ethiopian coffee comes from and Faysel, who does a wonderful job producing this coffee:

The road to the Aricha washing station

As soon as you pass the city of Dilla, you’ll notice the road roughening. A bumpy A8-highway, that feels like a country-side mountain bike trail, takes you to the Aricha mountains. Then a curly rocky road leads you to the gate of Aricha washing station. The famous Naga Singage mountain looms over the station and the Wogida river creates a continuous serene rush of water, only interrupted by singing Gedeo women stirring parchment and coffee cherry.

If you’re looking for floral and complex-tasting Yirgacheffe’s, Aricha is the place. The recently revived washing station collects coffee cherries from Yirgacheffe’s most potent coffee forests. The washing station provides an income for surrounding communities. And coffee roasters find the finest natural and washed grade-1 Yirgacheffe’s on the market. But it wasn’t always like this.

Dormant washing station turns into Yirgacheffe coffee hub

The Aricha station, in the words of the current manager, was a dump. A neglected, abandoned, and the out-of-business station that did not process a single cherry for years on end. Grass covered the entire terrain and the buildings were in decay. The surrounding smallholders had to deliver their cherries to another washing station further up the road. A far from an ideal situation, since transport goes on foot or by mule. But just a few months before the harvest of 2018, the communities met with a new potential station owner. Faysel Yonis, the founder of coffee exporter Testi Coffee.

Faysel shared his plans to make Aricha a hub for quality Yiracheffe coffee. After the traditional coffee ceremony, the elders expressed their enthusiasm and gave their blessing. Faysel’s vision goes beyond coffee and business. Because besides reviving the station, Faysel started to work with the community to build an electricity-network for surrounding villages. Testi Coffee is also coordinating the construction of a school and plans to give families access to clean water.

The coffee communities of Aricha

Today Aricha is a Yirgacheffe coffee-hub. Testi Coffee estimates that one thousand smallholders from different communities come to Aricha to sell their cherries. During collection, the people of Testi Coffee mark the lots per community to ensure traceability. In the hills surrounding the station, you find four coffee communities; Aricha, Gersi, Idido, and Reko Onancho.

All four communities submitted micro-lots for the 2019’ Ethiopian Cup and ranked among the top-scoring coffees within the auction. Each farming family received a portion of the auction premium to improve their livelihoods. When you search for lots from Aricha, be sure to look for the community names as well.

Coffee Profile – Burundi Izuba, Natural Red Bourbon

In the last year I have been absolutely blown away by the amazing work Raw Material have been doing importing coffee. More importantly, the wonderful work they do in coffee growing communities. They are a Community Interest Company, meaning that they give all profits made through the sale of the coffees back to the producers at origin. Given that we are still not at the size, where we can do such good work at source, it has been a goal of mine in the past year to try and move solely to working with coffee importers that are also involved in social initiatives in the counties they work within. Raw Material not only source some of the most delicious coffees I’ve tasted in the past year, their social work at origin is truly incredible! Thanks for all of your hard work and the delicious coffees!

Here’s all of their information about the beautiful Izuba Washing Station in Burundi:

Context

Izuba meaning “sun” in Kirundi, is located in Runinya, Kabarore Commune, of Kayanza Province. The Izuba washing station is set close to a nearby river, providing a vital and regular freshwater source for coffee processing. The station is managed by Ntama Appolinaire, who works alongside Prosper Merrimee, the operational manager of RM Burundi. Izuba employs 2 full-time staff and around 250 seasonal workers, who are all local to the station. Izuba is situated near to the Kibira national park, where the soil and climate are paired well for fantastic coffee production.

Kigeri, Ryamukona, and Mugoyi are the three hills (collines) surrounding Izuba and the three areas in which coffee is collected or delivered from. Each volume of cherry sold to Izuba is recorded by producer and hillside, showing the minute variances in profile from locations surrounding the washing station. In 2020 we bought coffee from 1482 producers, 1169 of which were male and 313 female (around 26%). We processed 453,000kg of cherry, the max capacity of the station is 800,000kg. 

Processing

Izuba currently produces washed coffees and is actively developing both honey and natural processed lots, which will become larger in volume this year. Washed coffees are fermented for around 12 hours and dried for an average of 20 days. Naturals take around 30 days of drying time.

Potato defect is tackled firstly through very thorough floating of cherries and then primarily by extensive wet sorting (this is the hand sorting that takes place under cover when the coffee has just been pulped and is still wet- the potato defect beans are most visible at this point).  Two new additional wet sorting sheds were added in 2020 to further improve this process. Once the coffee has been fully processed, the remaining coffee pulp is turned into a natural fertiliser as it degrades. When ready, it is distributed to local farmers to add nutrients to their soil. 


Payment

The station aims to provide premiums where possible to not only the farmers but the station staff also. The employees were paid 25% higher than other local washing stations and 33% more than the national average salary. Producers are paid government-set prices for coffee cherries, in 2020 these were:

Cherry A (ripe) 550 BIF/kg

Cherry B (underripe, floaters etc) 275 BIF/KG

Producers are paid for cherry on two set payment dates in the year, which are also set by the government. The first is usually in April, very early in the harvest, and the second at the end of the harvest. Farmers essentially choose which station they will sell to that year through the first payment then deliver there for the whole season. At the end of the season third payments are made based on the quality and final sale price of the coffee. Making these three payments on time is a key concern for producers and one of Izuba’s primary goals in supporting producers.

Coffee Profile – Agro Helena, Natural Caturra

When I tried the Agro Helena for the first time, I immediately called our good friend Nico from Planting Costa Rica to tell him he was a weird young man with a lot of weird coffees, and that I LOVED it, and him. He has been doing fantastic work over the past few years, sourcing some really interesting and beautiful coffees with his Planting Costa Rica project.

Here are some words that he has written about our newest release. Which is, in my opinion, one of the nicest coffees I have had the pleasure to roast in my entire time as coffee roaster!!

The micro-mill Agro-Helena is a young project established by don William Mora Moreno in 2015 and today is mainly run by his daughter Helena Mora. Their 45-hectare farm is situated in the Tarrazú, Costa Rica region at around 1700 meters above sea level.

Helena Mora and her family are very conscious about nature. They even keep 50% of their farm intact to maintain balance with nature and not disturb the micro-climate on their fields. On addition, they decided only to focus on natural and anaerobic processing because these methods generate less-to-no residual waters which could potentially harm the environment if not correctly handled. Furthermore, all the coffee husk produced during the processing of the coffee is composted and given back to the soils.

As a third generation of a coffee producers on the soil-rich lands of Tarrazú, Costa Rica, she counts with over a hundred years of knowledge on coffee. Due to this and their incredible consciousness about nature we are certain that the exotic and delicious coffees proceed by this family is the result of passion and hard work, reasons why Planting Costa Rica is very proud to be present this amazing coffee to you!

Coffee Profile – Diago Bermúdez, Lychee Castillo

Samuel Diago Bermúdez is undoubtedly the king of experimental coffee processing. His experiments on Finca El Paraiso have been an exciting part of some of the world’s best coffee roasteries’ coffee programs over the past few years.

This lychee anaerobic lot has been one of my favourite coffees to roast and present to people over the past few months, simply because it’s just so so outstanding. Juicy, almost fizzy, fruitiness with a super syrupy sweetness. It works just as beautifully for espresso as it does for filter and is always the belle of the ball on the cupping table.

We’re down to the last few kilos of this one now, so get it quickly before it’s all gone!!!

Thanks Diago, you’re the Don!

Coffee Profile – German Carranza, Natural Processed Castillo Rosario

Our first Producer Profile is about German Carranza Baboza in Peru.

We have been working with German since 2017, importing micro-lots from his farm in El Palto, in the Amazonas region of Peru. Connected through one of our past co-workers who knows German well, the first contact was made and the relationship with German established. Over the past 4 years, we have been cultivating that relationship, attempting to build the volumes ordered from him year to year, whilst offering feedback on the various experiments he has undertaken into processing methods and new varietals.

His family have been working with coffee since 1965 in the Caserio district of the Amazonas. With an altitude of 1600masl, the 14 Hectare (140.000m2) farm has been maintained by the Carranza family since then. Of the 12 Carranza children, German and 4 of his siblings have been involved in the cultivation and harvesting of the coffee trees from an early age. In 2017, as German was just 25 years old, Carranza senior officially divided the farm. Withholding 4 Hectares for himself, the 5 children involved in the farm each received 2 Hectares to manage as they saw fit.

Spurred on by samples of speciality crops brought to him from Sumatra by a friend, German’s adventures into the varying processing methods began, starting to dive into the tricky and time-consuming world of Natural and Honey processes with a huge amount of passion. He has also started planting new and exciting varietals (including rare geisha varietals) and has raised the quality of product to a speciality level.

His passion doesn’t stop there. Due to a lack of Micro Mill on the farm, German drives the green coffee to the Juan Marco el Palto Mill in Chiclayo, which is 400km away and takes over 8 hours to drive due to the poor street conditions, often having to make the journey many times a week. Once milled, the coffee is then transported to the docks from Paita by the Industrial San Antonio S.A logistics company.

We massively appreciate the work German does, and love receiving updates from him about the research and experimentation he continues to do. Also, we’re really looking forward to the next batch samples from his first crop of Geisha!!!

Thank you German!