As the year comes to a close, we would like to take this time to look back and reflect on our accomplishments. 2012 was an exciting year for us that brought forth change and innovation. Our sourcing efforts were also immensley successful and we were able to introduce multiple new Direct Trade coffees.
Needless to say, we were incredibly busy this year. Below is a Month by Month breakdown of the happenings at PT’s in 2012. We want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May your 2013 be the best one yet, filled with joy and great coffee!
Jeff and Maritza Taylor, PT’s Green Coffee Buyers, had the opportunity to visit coffee factories in Kenya for the first time in five years. We have had the coffee grown around the Thiriku and Thunguri processing stations before, but to be able to visit and evaluate this years’ harvest was truly special. The quality produced at these two processing stations always impresses us. The visit to Kenya resulted in 3 outstanding lots of coffee that arrived in late August. The coffee from the Thiriku processing station was recognized in November as a Good Food Award finalist and received a 92 point review on Coffee Review in August. The lot from Thunguri received a stellar 94 point review in October. our third lot from Kenya is from the Gatina Processing Station and will be available later in January. This is the first time we have offered a coffee from Gatina, but were very impressed with the factory and coffee on our visit.
During the last two weeks of February and into the first week of March, Jeff and Maritza traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala to visit our Direct Trade Partners. Several of these producers were conducting first time experiments with their processing methods. One of the experiments that stands out, was conducted by Lucia Ortiz at La Avila. She experimented with the “Double Soak” process with the bourbon variety grown on the farm. The “Double Soak” process is very similar to a processing method commonly used in Kenya.
During her experimentation, out of curiosity, she sent the coffee to be evaluated by a panel of cuppers at the Consejo (or quality control lab for El Salvador). Ironically, the cuppers were so impressed with the coffee, without Lucia knowing about it, they submitted it to the El Salvador Coffee of the Year competition, where it took 1st Place this year. (side note: the El Salvador Coffee of the Year competition is not associated with the SCAA Coffee of the Year competition.)
We also had the opportunity to visit the farms operated by Ernesto Menendez in El Salvador, Los Andes and La Ilusion. We were very excited with the quality produced on the farms, and were proud to introduce his coffee later in the year as one of our new Direct Trade offerings.
We introduced our first Direct Trade coffee from Bolivia in March. We visited Bolivia in 2011 and had the opportunity to meet Juan and Carmelo Yujra and evaluate their harvests. This was the first of what will be many offerings from the farmers in Bolivia. We visited them again in June of 2012.
March also brought a new addition to the PT’s team, Autumn Eaken. Autumn had formally been a manager at one of our retail outlets. She brings a wealth of experience in videography.
Jeff Taylor attended the second Cupping Extravaganza in Santander, Colombia. Finca El Roble created this event to explore, through cupping, the different varieties and the results they produce in the unique microclimate at El Roble. The feedback from the event leads to better crops for future production, and a better price for the producer. Following the cupping event, El Roble hosted an auction for the microlots at the event. We were able to land our hands on their Geisha variety.
Jeff and Maritza traveled to the southern district of Ka’u on the Hawai’i Island, also referred to as the Big Island. Jeff was invited to the island as a guest speaker at the Ka’u Coffee Festival. The festival was created in 2009 as a way to highlight the coffees grown in the region and to increase awareness. To many people, Kona Coffee is a household name, however the Ka’u district has been producing some of the most decorated micro-lots from the State in recent years. On that visit, Jeff and Maritza met up with Lorie Obra. Lorie’s farm, Rusty’s Hawaiian, has been one of our favorite Direct Trade coffees in recent years. Lorie is one of the most innovative producers in the coffee world. The coffee from Rusty’s Hawaiian has received several awards in the past few years, including being named the Grand Champion of the Hawaiian Cupping Competition 2 years in a row in 2010 and 2011. You can view a video here from Jeff and Maritza’s visit, and learn about the experimentation Lorie has been working on over the past year. We are extremely excited to bring her coffee back in 2013.
PT’s had been developing a new look through 2011 and 2012. Our new website had been in the planning phase since 2011, and the actual development started to take shape in May. Our old website served us well, but it was starting to show its age. We underwent a rebranding initiative this year that brought more than just a new website, but a new look to our bags and our overall image.
Jeff, Maritza and Autumn embarked on a three week trip to visit our Direct Trade partners in Colombia and Bolivia. The trip was an effort to document the lives of the producers we work so closely with in order to deliver exceptional coffee to you. Coffees from some of these producers will be available very soon. You can view one of the videos here. This video documents the production at Finca Villa Loyola. As we progress into the future, we will be trying to document and show a more clear representation of what it takes to produce great coffee through our videos.
The month of July was a steady month for us. Many of our new crop coffees arrived in July. One of the most important developments was the beginning of the brainstorm that led to the Flatlanders Barista Cup. We were looking for ways to display our Direct Trade program, and to bring our customers and baristas closer to the producers. In addition to hosting an educational event, we wanted to encourage baristas to learn and develop through competition. We began to pick up the phone, and quickly realized that we would have an all star guest list, and the international event was born.
Our roasting division has been located in its current space since August 2007. In that time, our place has needed a little bit of an overhaul. Our office space was very much just that, an office space complete with cubicles and all. With the help of some of our freinds at Warehouse 414, we began the renovation of our space. The renovation brought a new cupping lab, training facility and a much more open space. The design is very much an artistic representation of who we are as a coffee roaster. Jeff Taylor is a professional photographer, and many of his best works are on display in the gallery style office. Our office space, is no longer an office space, but an open gallery displaying the farms and families that dedicate their lives to deliver us the best coffees in the world.
In August, Jeff and Maritza traveled to Guatemala for a two month stay. The trip was in large part for Jeff to learn spanish. Communication with the farmer is immensely important. While in Guatemala, they were staying in the city of Antigua, close to one of our Direct Trade partners, the Gonzalez family at Finca El Valle. While Jeff and Maritza were visiting the producers and exporters in Antigua, they witnessed a rare sight as Volcan de Fuego erupted for the first time in over 50 years. Luis Gonzalez of Finca El Valle is a captain in the fire department, as well as an exceptional coffee producer, and gave Jeff and Maritza a personal tour of the area after the eruption.
In what would be one of the most memorable months in our company history, we pulled it off without a hitch. All of our planning came together in October. The remodel was completed, one day before the Flatlanders Barista Cup began. Our new website launched in the middle of the month after being in development since May.
Baristas and producers converged on our location at the end of the month for the first ever Flatlanders Barista Cup. Honorary guests included Juan Diego de la Cerda (Finca El Socorro), Rodrigo de la Cerda (Finca El Socorro), Serio Ticas (Finca Los Planes), Lucia Abrego de Ortiz (Finca Las Mercedes), Federico Bolanos (Viva Espresso), Alejandro Mendez (2011 WBC Champion), and Pete Licata (2011 USBC Champion & 2011 WBC Runner-Up). We also had a surprise guest, Jeremy Ho, the 2012 Canadian Barista Champion. The competition was a huge success. This team event challenged baristas to hone their skills in latte art, cupping skills, blend development and presentation. Baristas had the oppportunity to learn directly from the producers and barista champions to inspire their competition espresso blends. The event was such a success that we will be hosting it again next year. Nathan Slabaugh produced a video recap of the entire event. You can view the video here.
After a crazy October, November was slightly less eventful, but exciting none-the-less. Our newest retail location, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. – Home of Flying Monkey Espresso, had its first anniversary in November. After one year, the cafe is off to a roaring start and has been featured in many local publications.
Colombia La Esperanza Cerro Azul Geisha garnered a 96 point review from Coffee Review. This ties the highest rating ever given to a Colombian coffee. A 96 point review has only been given to a Colombian coffee 2 other times, one of which was a different lot on La Esperanza.
As the holiday season began, our peak production season began to take hold. At the beginning of the month, we brought in a new roaster. Unlike the last one, the 90-Kilo Gothot, this one is on the opposite end of the spectrum, a Diedrich IR-5. The IR-5 is a small batch, 5-kilo roaster. This new roaster is perfect for our microlots. By adding this roaster to the mix, we will be able to roast our microlots more frequently. For many fans of our rare geisha lots, they know that the roast dates were spread out before. The issue was that we were roasting the small lots on an IR-24. This made our minimum roast requirement much higher. With the IR-5 we will be able to roast these lots on a weekly basis.
Kenya Thiriku and Ethiopia Nanno Challa were named finalists for the annual Good Food Awards in early December. The winners of the Good Food Awards will be announced in January.
2012 90+ Coffee Reviews
March – 94 – Colombia Villa Loyola Caturra
May – 92 – Bolivia Tres Estrellas
August – 92 – Kenya Thiriku
August – 94 – Ethiopia Nanno Challa
October – 90 – El Salvador Las Ranas Flor del Sol
October – 92 – Ethiopia Michiti
October – 92 – Guatemala Finca El Valle Bourbon
October – 94 – Kenya Thunguri
November – 92 – Guatemala Finca El Socorro Maracaturra
November – 94 – Guatemala Finca El Injerto Pacamara
November – 96 – Colombia La Esperanza Cerro Azul Geisha
December – 96 – Panama Don Pachi Estate Geisha Natural
December – 94 – Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Mario San Jose Geisha