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June 2011

Darra Crosby

Tapping into my memory, I start at the front door of each of the significant homes I have lived or spent time in, drawing every detail I can recall. I work room by room, corner to corner overlapping each view. The more discernible objects and areas are made permanent with paint, while those left in chalk represent the fragile memories flirting with disappearance. I struggle to capture the minute details of each room as I think I experienced them.

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Opening Reception Thursday, June 30th from 5pm-7pm
We would love to see you there.

 

Belmont Stumptown Coffee
2256 SE Belmont Street
Portland, Oregon 97214
(503)232-8889

While Stumptown has been visiting Rwanda for years, this is my first trip ever.
I’ve always loved the coffee from Rwanda. A description on an early offering from Stumptown was ‘pomegranate,’ something that has stuck with me since. While this year the coffees we offered showed more complexity and range than any one fruit, their bright but elegant acidity abounds. The Rwanda crop is especially small this year, predicted to be the smallest since the mid-90s. Due to some market conditions that were well broadcast and perhaps over-discussed in the last 6 months, many washing stations paid too much for cherry, speculating that the prices would continue to rise, but since they have lagged lately (just a tiny bit), many of them are holding coffee that they cannot even sell to break even.

In one case, neighbors of Kanzu were so aggressive with their prices paid for cherries that Kanzu barely operated this year, and we fear for our ability to secure coffee from this area; we will be following up with their neighbors. I’m especially desperate to get my cupping spoon back on the Kanzu, which I shorthand describe as being the most cantaloupe-laden coffee I’ve ever had, but we are unfamiliar with the neighbors  and their processing which could preserve what we historically love about that coffee, or ruin it.

We’re delighted to report that early cupping of new crop Muyongwe is delicious: big, chewy body, honey, apricot.

I brought a bag of Marvin Robles to share with our sourcing partners here in Kigali, and explained his (mullet and) operation: front yard beneficio. They got excited and said that they were in touch with a man who operated similarly. While most of Rwanda operates under the centralized washing stations popular throughout East Africa, this guy has a tiny mill that he’s using to process his own cherry. Rwandese Marvin Robles. The coffee is exceptional with lots of brown sugar, cream, dark fruits (like black cherry) and lavender.

Today is Umuganda, a day dedicated to community service that appears to begin with no work and no activity (and no transportation permitted either). Tomorrow we will head for Butare and from there we will be able to visit David Rubanzangabo (Rwandese Marvin Robles). Based on some meetings here in Kigali, there are also some exciting new projects in new locations, many of which are at skyscraping altitudes, and we will visit some of these as well.

On Monday we’ll cross the border into Burundi, stopping in Kayanza. Of course we will be visiting Bwayi and Kinyovu, and as always, some new washing stations.

Follow us on twitter to see our live notes and pics.

ryanb

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Back in the lab we are getting ready to make our coffee menu a little bigger once again. The fast approaching roll out will see coffees such as Guatemala Semillero, and Guatemala Santa Clara from the Zelaya family. Luis Pedro Zelaya is our man in Guatemala. A fourth generation coffee farmer, he has been an integral part of our continually growing Direct Trade relationships throughout Antigua. In addition to those, look for the new crop of Ethiopia Mordecofe to be hitting our shelves in the very near future. This year’s lot brings us flavors of red fruit, honey, hops, chocolate, and peach tea. All of these wonderful new coffees are being roasted right now.

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Lots of Colombian coffee comes through the lab. We spend a lot of time working with Virmax on the ground cupping our way though hundreds of samples from extremely small sized farms scattered throughout Colombia. Some of these farms are no bigger than a backyard. Due to its geographical location, Colombia experiences two harvests a year making it very likely to find us cupping Colombian coffee year round. It was my pleasure to see more coffee from Isias Cantillo Osa come through the lab a few weeks ago. I have been a huge fan of his coffee, La Esperanza, for many years now. On the cupping table, his coffee consistently begs for our complete attention and rightly so. This years lot brings us flavors of toasted almond brandy, cherry cola and lavender honey with a foundation of the sweetest caramel you’ve ever tasted. I’m sure to be turning a quarter pound sample batch of this coffee purely for my enjoyment this weekend. Yes, I am spoiled.

The Brooklyn roast post has some amazing new coffees headed their way that will be exclusively roasted in New York. The Kenya Kangunu is back for the second year. Flavors of fresh watermelon, pineapple, maple sugar candy, and chocolate cream pie are explosive in this beautiful Grand Cru offering. In addition, we’re offering the Costa Rica Santa Rosa 1900 exclusively on the east coast. This coffee jumped off the cupping table. At high elevations like Santa Rosa, everything slows down for the coffee tree; the cherry takes much longer to ripen allowing it to develop more sugar giving the coffee an immense depth of sweetness. This is an extremely dense and structured coffee. Flavors of rose water and caramel support a soft and clean acidity reminiscent of a honey crisp apple.
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Perhaps one of the most exciting things that made its way through the lab over the last few weeks is some incredible coffee from our old friend Aida Batlle in El Salvador. A traditional staple on our menu, the Finca Kilimanjaro is back this year to once again charm us with an immensely sweet and syrupy profile. Flavors of kalamata olive and perfectly ripe plum are seamlessly integrated into a rich dark chocolate body. This is easily one of the most expansive and complex coffees that exists today. But Aida doesn’t stop there. For those lucky enough to have met her, you’ll know Aida is no ordinary coffee producer. She’s perhaps one of the most experimental coffee producers out there. This year, a small amount of coffee from her Kilimanjaro farm has been double fermented, a process that Kenyan producers have been doing for some time now. By fermenting the coffee a second time, it essentially polishes the seeds before drying, giving the cup an immaculately clean and transparent profile. Flavors of sweet lime and juicy pineapple are completely expressive in the finish making this coffee one of the cleanest and juiciest coffees I’ve ever tasted out of El Salvador. All in all, this extremely small micro lot is guaranteed to turn some heads later this summer. It will be well worth the wait.

AK


Duane Sorenson, the Coffee Connoiseur of Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Duane Sorenson’s first customers gave it to him straight: They loved what he was doing with coffee–but they gave his business a year. This innovator elevated coffee to a level of appreciation on par with gourmet food and fine wine. An inside look at how the company helped launch a culture of coffee aficionados.

That was November 1999, and Sorenson had just quit his head roasting job at Lighthouse Roasters Fine Coffees, bought a 5-kilo coffee roaster for $8,300 (emptying out his savings account) and set up a small roastery and café called Stumptown Coffee Roasters in a run-down area in Southeast Portland, Ore. It was, Sorenson felt, his duty.

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