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JG_3 On view March 10 – April 6th
Reception 4-6pm Sunday, March 22nd with music by Jonathan Sielaff (of Golden Retriever)

John Gnorski was born and raised in Virginia and lives and works in Portland. He writes and plays music with the band Houndstooth.

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For more information about this show or exhibiting your artwork with us, please contact the curator, Wendy Swartz – wendy@stumptowncoffee.com.

Division Stumptown
4525 SE Division Street

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Bolivia Buenavista is our featured coffee this month. Completely unique compared to other South American profiles, it is elegant and distinguished and worthy of a close taste. It’s elusive, yet rewarding, and as comforting as the day is long.

Andrew and Steve from our Coffee Sourcing & Roasting team recently visited some of our producer partners in Caranavi and came home with some incredible coffee, bundles of coffee flower tea to share and some interesting takeaways.

Caranavi, Bolivia
Late August 2014

To get to Buenavista in Caranavi, Bolivia, you take a 9-hour flight to Peru from Los Angeles, get up at dawn the following day and hop another 2-hour flight from Lima, Peru to El Alto, Bolivia, flying over Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America.  El Alto lies just above the very dense city of La Paz. The climate is cool and humid to semi-arid; just right for growing potatoes, which are a staple crop here.

By the time you land in El Alto, you might be struck with altitude sickness–you are 13,325 feet above sea level, after all. It’s basically like being dropped out of plane on top of a mountain. Couple that with the quick transition to speaking Spanish, and navigating work visa logistics can be tricky.Source_Bolivia_Aug14_SK-1Source_Bolivia_Aug14_SK-12Source_Bolivia_Aug14_SK-4

After arriving in El Alto, we met Pedro Rodriguez and his daughter Daniela, who along with his son, operate five coffee farms and the Buenavista wet mill in Caranavi. They also own and run Agricafe and Agrinuts, exporting coffee and peanuts.

After our hellos, we began the long, treacherous drive down to Caranavi, which is the main source for coffee production in Bolivia. To get there you must drive a formidable road, wide enough for only one car to pass at a time.

It took us five hours to go about 100 miles.

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The Altiplano looks harsh and barren. As you descend slowly the landscape begins to change. It starts with small ferns, which gives way to larger ferns and azalea-look-alikes growing out from the rocky walls. When you start to get closer to the Yungas valley, the vegetation bursts into lush greenery.

It was dark by the time we reached the Buenavista Mill in Caranavi. We sat down for a classic Bolivian dinner with Pedro and his family, which was a spicy chicken dish called Sajta y pollo con aji and chuno. Chuno is a dried potato from the Altiplano, with a rich earthy flavor.

We stayed in rooms in the “villa” behind the mill. As we drifted off, we could hear the sound of the slow, cyclical churning of the drying coffee in the drum dryers called gaurdiolas.

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We woke up to a beautiful breakfast spread of crepes with caramel and scrambled eggs with cheese and went straight to work.

Pedro runs a tight team. He told us we’d start at 9am, and he was ready. We cupped through three tables of coffee that day.

The cupping lab is perched above the valley looking over Caranavi – a beautiful place to spend the day tasting coffees. After each cupping, we’d break, eat some fruit, adjourn to a separate room and we’d all view our scores and notes on a screen.

There was a constant bustle of taxis bringing cherry to the mill – the farmers hire taxis to deliver the cherry. Pedro pays for the taxis, and the farmer usually stays, has a cup of coffee and watches his lot being cleaned.

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Pedro has created a mini-school here, where farmers can cup, learn about best practices, enjoy lunch, and even brew coffee, all within the mill.

The next day, we arrived at Pedro’s farm, and he showed us his unconventional method of growing coffee. The forest has been mostly cleared except for some tall canopy of shade, which is counter to the tangles of wild growth in the jungle that we usually see.

Despite our surprise at his approach, what he was doing was working.

We saw some Caturra varieties planted 7 months ago at a year old, that were already producing flower. Usually it takes two to three years.  The flowers of the Caturra plants smell (and taste) like jasmine and the sweet smell hung heavy in the air around us.

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We sipped cups of French Press coffee from the farm in the chilly, misty morning, which is the way most of the coffee was brewed while we were there.

Pedro and Daniela laid out coffee cherry for us to taste. It was an unusual treat for us to taste each of the different varieties produced at Buenavista separated out.

The SL28 was sweet but simple and pulpy. The Bourbon cherry was less complex with a candied sweetness, while the Yellow Caturra was floral. The Java variety and the Caturra were our favorites: the Java was juicy and very tropical and the Caturra intensely sweet and complex.

The Bolivian Buenavista now on our menu is made up of Caturra, Typica and Catuai varieties. The profile that we are getting from this season is incredibly delicate and nuanced. It is not a heavy coffee. It is elegant, with lots of champagne grape, lime, cocoa nibs, clove, honey and a buttery mouthfeel. The sweetness is like a sprinkling of white cane sugar.

Sourcing great coffee from this region is getting harder and harder because of competition with Coca, which is easier to pick and often more profitable. Change in climate is proving to be problematic, too – rainfall patterns are changing, which is complicating harvest and delaying coffee shipments.

We’ve also seen poor infrastructure and training, with most producers relying on old trees and a prevalence of Roya (coffee rust) destroying established coffee trees.

Pedro and his team at the Buenavista mill are helping us to remain hopeful, though, with impeccable processing and extensive education.

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Bainbridge_Ferry_2014

On view March 3rd – March 31st

Michael Rutledge makes work about himself. He makes work about the places and people in the world that provide him with a great sense of feeling. He makes the artwork that he would like to see hanging at home, which sometimes makes letting go of it difficult. Until its finished, he doesn’t usually think too much about what he’s making or why he’s made it.

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For more information about this show or exhibiting your artwork with us, please contact the curator, Wendy Swartz – wendy@stumptowncoffee.com.

Belmont Stumptown
3356 SE Belmont Street

maria.joan.dixon.1On view February 25th – March 31st, 2015
Opening reception 5-7 pm Sunday, March 1st

For Medicine Paintings Vol. 1, her second solo exhibition at Stumptown Downtown, Maria Joan Dixon documents the gorgeous and luminous worlds she has seen in her most recent visions and dreams. Mixed with a bit of what we know as physical images of our space and universe, her paintings express the ‘as within, so without’ aspect of our surreality.

Maria Joan Dixon is a born and raised Portland painter. Having taught herself acrylic painting since childhood, she has recently moved on to oil paints. Her work was previously exhibited at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, CA and in Portland, OR at Breeze Block Gallery, Sugar Gallery, and Stumptown Downtown. Dixon is a staple of Portland identity, having created album covers for Adrian Orange, Valet, Swan Island, and Eternal Tapestry and murals for Rad Summer, The Box Social, and Sol Republic Headquarters.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
128 SW Third Avenue

On view February 6th – March 9th
Reception for the artist 4-6pm Sunday, February 15th

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“I believe that the Universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of one organic whole.” - Robinson Jeffers

I have always found myself drawn to naturalist writers: Whitman, Thoreau, Jeffers, Abbey, Snyder. Through them, engrossed with an idea of monism, traveling from city to country, my computer screen to vast expanses of landscape. Feeling comfortable with each.

These photographs are of the Painted Hills, Oregon. Shot in the new year, no one around for miles. The stillness was intoxicating.

They are printed on bond paper using a plotter — a large format printer mainly used to produce architectural prints. While I enjoy the textural aesthetic of the image using this method, I am also drawn to marrying an image of a natural creation, with a method typically reserved for man made constructions.

- Evan Kinkel

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For more information about this show or exhibiting your artwork with us, please contact the curator, Wendy Swartz – wendy@stumptowncoffee.com.

Division Stumptown
4525 SE Division Street

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Recently, Carolyn Reddy, a visual artist and our Stumptown Trainer in Seattle, sat down for a conversation with Jesse Hughey, Stumptown Roaster and frontman for Grey Waves, Hughey’s visual and musical collaboration with drummer Brandon Hughes and visual artist Alison Pate.

The band is preparing for the release of their first record, Faith/Void, on January 30th, on the label People In A Position To Know. The 7-inch record will be for sale in a limited pre-sale on their Bandcamp page, and at their record release party on January 30th at 9 pm at the Lo-Fi in Seattle. The release party will also showcase a really cool project he’s spearheading – Jesse solicited 100 record cover images made by visual artists, including eight current and former Stumptown employees from both coasts.

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Congratulations on the first Grey Waves record! This project has been a broad collaboration with visual artists as well as musicians. Was that the plan from the beginning, or did it evolve as you went along?

It’s definitely been an evolving project. But a lot of it was that I felt kind of alienated from my artistic community when I moved to Seattle.

I spent about seven years playing music really seriously in Portland, and then it was all just gone one day. And I feel really lucky for the community I have here at Stumptown in particular, and for the artists I’m surrounded by, and I guess I wanted to do a project that was representative of an artistic community, not only of the artistic community that I’m placed within, but just to showcase the generosity and talent of those around me.

You know, I have some really, really talented friends who were happy to spend time and energy and creativity on a project that I’m spearheading. And it’s humbling, and a reminder that you are a part of a community when sometimes its easy to forget.

I met Patrick, one of our roasters out in New York, when we got snowed in there a year ago, and sent him an offhand note like, “Hey, I’m putting out this record and I’m trying to get visual artists on board to make covers, I really like what you’re doing.” He met me for fifteen minutes and he sent me four absolutely beautiful covers that he’d clearly put time into but also had actually engaged with the work I was doing. That’s a pretty awesome level of generosity.

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You’ve worked with artists from both coasts at Stumptown to make this – how has working at Stumptown with these kinds of colleagues impacted your work as a musician and artist?

It’s an awesome community to be a part of and I feel really lucky to be able to work in such a creative place. At any given moment you could book a really awesome festival with just Stumptown people. In music, in visual art, in spoken word, in poetry – there is a really cool creative group of people here and that’s been inspiring and supportive.

I remember the first show I played after starting to work at Stumptown. I had like twenty coworkers show up! You’re just encouraged to take care of the people around you – I’ve never spent time anywhere like that before.

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How long have you worked at Stumptown?

I’m three and a half years in right now, and I’m a roaster here in Seattle, but I worked in production as a delivery driver in Portland for about a year before I started here.

Is this process of curating visual works new for you?

I’ve never been engaged in visual art at all – just as an observer. It’s all been very new and I actually did some covers myself and that’s been a cool process also.

And I think it’s cool to remind myself that the divisions we make in art are fake, you know? And ultimately restrictive to expression. To kind of draw these lines – a band makes music and a painter paints – to make these restrictions is just limiting on our ability to say things, and I think that art should be more collaborative and less medium-oriented.

So with Grey Waves, to honor the idea of not putting divisions between visual and auditory work, I asked one of my favorite artists [Alison Pate] to be a member of the band so she’s in control of the visual element of what we do.

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So the visual element makes this different from your work in the past. Musically, how would you compare it to work you’ve done before? Is it a departure? A progression?

Yeah, it is a pretty big departure from what I’ve done before. I played in a band for a really long time and I’m primarily a writer – that’s what I feel most comfortable doing – but I feel like when you are in a band, there are certain things that maybe you can’t say, like you feel like you are speaking for a group of people when you’re the person writing for a band.

It’s different because I’ve done a lot more of it on my own. I really spent a lot of time writing, and on the recording I play everything except for the bass, which is different. I’ve never done that before.

I was always in bands where the goal was to make a little bit of money and go on tour, sell a few records, that kind of thing, whereas the goal here – it’s a 7-inch. It’s just an art project. I’m not really worried about if my voice sounds perfect and I’m not really worried about if it’s going to get played on the radio.

I am happy with it. To me it says what I want it to say and that’s my only goal for it. And that’s new. I haven’t felt that way in work before… I’m not trying to please anybody with it – I’m just sort of over that, which is very freeing. I can just make it sound the way I want it to.

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Where did the name Grey Waves come from?

“Grey Waves” is very much an homage to my home in the Pacific Northwest.

I grew up on a little  island in Southeast Alaska, and the shared color of the sky and the sea through most of the year in the Pacific Northwest is a really beautiful thing to me and I think that there’s something about the subtlety of that beauty. Like, people complain about the grey all year long but it is sort of beautiful, and it is the thing I always miss when I’m away. Kind of that point on the horizon where you can’t tell if you are looking at the sea or the sky – that right there is what the name is.

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What’s next for you? Will we see more from Grey Waves?

Yeah, so this is two songs from a much larger collection. Releasing two songs was maybe just a way for me to get it moving and these are two that represent the extremes – the lyric extremes – on the record. I’m really excited to get in and do a full length record as soon as I have time.

Thanks, Jesse – and we’ll look forward to it!