Trip reports

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…

Earlier Articles

Trip Report: La Palma y El Tucan

By Forrest Wright, PT’s Retail Manager     La Palma y El Tucan is a new operation working on a large area outside of Bogota. They currently produce their own crops as well as process harvests from a few surrounding farms, making them the hub of a small network. They are experimenting with everything from… Continue Reading

Trip Report: Colombia – Kevin Kerkhof

Editor’s Note: Kevin Kerkhof is the General Manager of Greyhouse Coffee & Supply Co. in West Lafayette, Indiana. When possible, we like to invite our wholesale customers to join us on trips to origin as a way to further connect the relationship between our farmers and our customers. Our Retail Manager Forrest Wright and Director… Continue Reading

Trip Report: Guatemala, Part I

January-February 2014 As always, the weather in Guatemala in January and February was especially invigorating. This year in particular, it provided an extra welcome relief from an exceptionally cold and snowy winter here in the Midwest. The prospect of trading my office for the outdoors is a much appreciated benefit, but make no mistake, our… Continue Reading

Jon Visits Aida: Part II

Some more thoughts from El Salvador: Coffee people LOVE coffee. With so many first dates, profound conversations and creative epiphanies had at the mercy of coffee, how can we not? And of course the fullest expression of this romanticism waits at origin. Nothing short of pure magic exists in these places for those of us… Continue Reading

Jon Visits Aida: Part I

A couple of weeks ago I had the distinct privilege and pleasure of going to El Salvador to meet Aida Batlle during my first origin trip with PT’s Coffee.  Senora Batlle is one of our Direct Trade partners, and the producer behind Finca Kilimanjaro which will be re-launched later this year.  The context for my… Continue Reading

Dos Caras

I was working a bar shift at our cafe, PT’s at College Hill, when Jeff and Maritza told me that I would be taking my first farm trip. It was exciting, and I only had six weeks to prepare. As I began my research on Bolivia, I started to realize that this journey was going to be a… Continue Reading

UPDATE: Finca Santa Maria

  Many of you have read Jeff’s post about the terrible tragedy that befell Finca Santa Maria last month in Colombia. You have responded generously and we are so, so grateful. So far, we have raised nearly $2,000 and have already sent an initial payment to Armando to get the recovery started. Due to the… Continue Reading

Latin America Coffee Tragedy

UPDATE: We are no longer receiving direct donations to the Finca Santa Maria fund. Thank you so very much for your support! We far exceeded our initial goal will have an update soon on the total amount received. You can read Armando’s letter of gratitude here. For Maritza and I, it was just another travel… Continue Reading

TRIP REPORT – PART III – EL SALVADOR

TRIP REPORT: EL SALVADOR – JAN 21-28, 2013 Some of my favorite coffees year after year come from the tiny, but very diverse country of El Salvador. The cup quality is outstanding from the farms we work with, but perhaps even more, the relationships we have built as a company over the years with them are perhaps… Continue Reading