COFFEE 101

Central America Sourcing Trip

Part 1

In February of this year, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and PT’s Coffee Roasting Company joined forces. As a result of this new partnership, both companies will see expanded coffee offerings by this summer. We hope customers of both companies will enjoy what we have in store for this year and for many years to come. Not only is this merger beneficial for our customers, it will benefit the long-time Direct Trade partners of both companies as the growers get access to two growing companies instead of one.

In 2002, I founded Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and now am the green coffee buyer for both Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and PT’s.  Jeff Taylor, PT’s co-owner and the new owner of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, and I have known each other for over 10 years and have traveled parallel paths in the coffee industry. We both built our companies on great coffee and by establishing Direct Trade relationships with wonderful farms all over the world.  Both companies have strong Direct Trade partners, such as Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama. Each company has also forged relationships with different farms in different countries, thus providing an exciting opportunity to join Direct Trade forces.

Central America is an important region for most coffee buyers and especially for Bird Rock and PT’s.  Both companies have spent the better part of the last 10 years searching for great coffee in this region.  In the greater coffee world, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama are perhaps the most common coffees customers encounter at third wave coffee shops, so even the most passive coffee customer is somewhat familiar with what each region has to offer.

While I have been to Central America countless times, this sourcing trip was scheduled to be a bit longer and more ambitious as we wanted to cover a lot of ground in one shot.

Unfortunately, things have been difficult for many of the Central American coffee producers during the last few years.  The roya outbreak a few years ago devastated many trees and some of the affected farms never recovered. The 2016-2017 harvest yields are significantly down in just about every country. While we have been used to water issues/drought in California for years, a prolonged drought in Central America is a new problem. In addition to not having enough water for the crops, in many cases farms do not have enough water to properly process their coffee.  As a result, quantity is way down. The good news is quality seems to be up and if the April rains were sufficient as hoped, the 2017-2018 crop could be huge.

To be continued…

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