THE BEAN THIEF

we cry over spilt coffee

ORIGIN TRIP 2013-Guatemala & El Salvador

THE FIRST LEG - INTERVIEW WITH JUAN DIEGO DE LA CERDA

This year’s visit to Finca El Soccorro was going to be slightly different from past years. A typical visit includes spending time at the farm and wet mill as well as cupping and selecting lots. This time I planned to pick the brain of Juan Diego de la Cerda. His farm has produced many award-winning coffees and Barefoot customer favorites Palo Blanco and Amarillo, so I wanted to explore his business mind for insights into his success.

ME - While being on the board of directors for Anacafe, what were some of your responsibilities?

D - We spent a lot of time with the producers, either in a group or individually, and strategized ways through which they could improve their coffee production. 

ME - You’ve shown me how the labs have analyzed your green coffee samples and given you spider graphs, as well as cupping scores. What else is involved if the producer wants to know everything?

D - There are many different services that Anacafe, as a whole, provides for coffee professionals/producers/enthusiasts: barista training, roasting, brewing and other educational classes. The producers can also get their coffee roasted if they do not possess the facilities with which to do so.

ME - What was your major in college?

D - I studied agricultural science with an emphasis on tropical regions.

ME - Your favorite thing to do?

D - Spending time outdoors. Not only managing the farms, but enjoying nature with my family and young boys.

ME - I believe that…I’ve seen all the photos you post. Not to mention, you and your dad know your farms like the back of your hands. Every nook and cranny. Such familiarity explains why your coffees are winning COE (Cup of Excellence) year after year. Favorite part of your job?

D - Public relations and the marketing side of the business.

ME - Any advice to those producers who have placed in Cup of Excellence and want to repeat, and/or build on their success.

D - If your coffee is auctioned off, then put the money back into the farm. Improve the systems you have in place to increase the quality of the coffee…each year. 

 

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JUAN DIEGO DE LA CERDA 

Once we finished our Q&A session, we ate lunch and talked about our families. While we have forged a strong connection through the business of quality coffee, I have really enjoyed my time over the years with the Cerdas. They are just plain “good folk”….  the kind of down to earth individuals with whom you enjoy spending the day.

After lunch we headed out to see some of the yellow bourbon/caturra lots that we have been salivating over since last year’s Aguacate Amarillo selection. Due to the time of year of my visit there were less cherries on the trees, as most of it had been harvested weeks before, but we still got some good shots.

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Diego decided to combine all the yellow bourbon and caturra into one offering for us and these sweet, juicy coffees are now available.

I had the opportunity to go to Anacafe the next day and cup this, as well as the other lots. The Amarillo sung on the table. Delightfully, delicate and bright with gobs of tropical fruit and hints of pineapple, pilloncillo and creme fraiche. Crisp acidity and an uber clean finish.

I also really enjoyed the Pacamara we cupped. Being the first harvest of this unique and prized varietal, I was surprised at the depth of flavor and round body that it exhibited, especially from a sample roast. I expect big things in the next couple year’s from El Socorro’s Pacamara lots.

-David Vicente Johnson

 

ORIGIN TRIP 2013-Guatemala & El Salvador

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Each year we travel to origin to source some of the best coffees that Guatemala and El Salvador have to offer. It’s an exciting time for me as I get to reconnect with long-term partners as well as cup and sample a ton of prospective coffees from this year’s harvest. This is the first in a series of blogs sharing experiences from my trip, as well as other coffee-fueled ramblings.

Relationship Coffee

So much of what Barefoot Coffee Roasters does is based around relationships. Whether it’s the unspoken trust established between barista and customer or working with our award-winning coffee producers for nearly a decade. We thrive by establishing a kinship with those who are like minded.

Like Diego de La Cerda from El Socorro, who only picks the blood red cherries and separates his day lots. Our baristas practice the same incredibly high standards as they throw out an espresso shot that isn’t to spec. Why? To ensure that our customers leave with a smile on their face after we nail the next one.

Trippin’

When I started planning my annual origin trip last November, my goals were to check on the progress of this year’s harvest and to visit our producers and their families. This practice started with our founder, Andy, who advocated, “You can always find someone who grows the best coffee, but if you don’t share an affinity or connection then what’s the point of buying coffee from them?” 

Our friends Roberto, Rodrigo, Diego, Edwin and Mauricio have been ideal partners. Having won multiple Cup of Excellence awards in the past, they did it again this year. Malacara “B” came in 8th and Divisadero took 2nd place in El Salvador’s highly prized specialty coffee auction, while Diego’s El Socorro and San Guayabo farms took 3rd and 4th in Guatemala’s COE.

Traveling to Central America

The harvest (or cosecha) typically happens between December-March, but with the onset of climate change it has started as early as November. This year, farmers had to deal with another significant issue affecting their crop: the roya or rust fungus outbreak. I regularly keep in touch with our farming partners in Central America.  While they assured me that they had not been affected by the outbreak, the roya did hit many of their fellow producers hard.

So my plan was to fly to Guatemala in March, visiting El Socorro in Palencia, and then heading up north to Huehuetenango with Edwin Martinez at Finca Vista Hermosa. The second leg of my trip would consist of catching a bus to El Salvador to see the Dumont’s and Malacara “B”, before re-connecting with Mauricio Salaverria and his Divisadero Farms. We are looking forward to adding another star to the Barefoot roster with Mauricio’s coffees, especially his semi-washed, which are some of El Salvador’s best. So I was excited to cup his latest lots and see if we could lay the groundwork for a future Direct Trade relationship.