Showcasing the best a nation has to offer, Cup of Excellence is a rare program that allows a truly vibrant spectrum of a country’s coffees to be compared and given the honors they deserve. This sunny, warm coffee is tangy sweet with golden raisin and pineapple notes—truly among the best of Honduras.
At Dallis Bros. Coffee we are huge supporters of the Cup of Excellence (CoE) Program. For several years we have sent one or two of our Q Graders to judge at the competitions, which take place in different coffee growing nations. It is a privilege to be invited to judge the crown jewels of a producing country. In 2011, Dallis Bros. Coffee was invited to both Honduras and Brasil.
The process can start with hundreds of coffees. The National Jury narrows the pool down to 40 or 50 great coffees, then awaits the arrival of the International Jury (that’s us!) to cup and score. Only coffees that have average scores of 84 points or higher can advance.
After the 2011 Honduras CoE, our Coffee Director returned to Ozone Park raving about the diversity and quality of the top coffees. Some were incredibly floral, others were citric. Others had a lovely tartaric acidity.
This particular coffee was hard to miss. It scored high enough to make it into the top ten coffees produced in Honduras’ last harvest. When we cupped it in Honduras, it jumped off the table with exceptional balance and beauty. Back home at Dallis Bros., we cupped each sample from the Cup of Excellence in Honduras and fell in love again. This coffee was awarded #8 in the 2011 competition.
Much of the coffee from the small town El Pinal isn’t sold as Honduran coffee. It is exported and relabeled with a different country’s name, because of the higher prices available. Through programs like CoE, we hope to highlight beautiful coffees from Honduras and help Honduran farmers return to selling them as the country’s own.
Sharing resources in coffee production allows smaller landholding farmers access to technology they might not otherwise be able to afford. This coffee from Kenya’s Muburi Coffee Factory is a sweet, tangy, stone-fruit example of individual farmers cooperatively working together to process their coffee and deliver it, deliciously, to you.
Where water flows across a low-lying place is “muburi” to the Kikuyu people. About 200,000 coffee trees grow along the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, and are handpicked and sorted for size and quality here. The members of the Rwama Farmers Cooperative Society individually own their land, and collectively deliver their coffee cherries to the Muburi Coffee Factory. We are pleased to deliver it to you.
Long before this coffee got on a boat to New York City, our own Byron Holcomb went to Kenya to calibrate with an exporter and miller in Nairobi named Ibero. The calibration was easier than getting there — with all the major roads under construction, getting around Nairobi isn’t easy, nor is getting there on two red-eye flights. The head cupper in Nairobi is, like Byron, a Q-grader. Byron was easily able to articulate to her the exact type of Kenyan coffees Dallis Bros. was looking for: bright and sweet, full of nuanced flavor and body.
The auction system in Kenya doesn’t easily allow us to taste coffee samples before they go to auction. Ibero helped us find this delicious lot and set it aside for us, knowing exactly what flavors we were looking for based on our calibrated palates. When the sample arrived here in Queens, its sweet, fruity and clean acidic character charmed us on the cupping table.
The tropical character of this coffee is really a treat in the morning. A savory apricot undertone and sweet guava note with juicy round acidity make this coffee beautifully balanced.
The 2011 El Salvador Cup of Excellence competition brought forward more incredible coffees than ever before, this complex, fruity and candy-sweet coffee from Finca Andalucía one of them. This organically certified coffee balances tangy acidity and smooth chocolate finish, and we’re honored to be able to showcase it.
The Lima y Hermanos family farm known as Finca Andalucía is long known for its quality production of organic coffees. From Bourbon to Pacamara to new varieties, the farm has grown coffee conscientiously for around 70 years, earning the Mayacert organic certification and working locally to conserve natural rainforest lands and animal habitats. Its altitude, volcanic soil and carefully shaded growing areas are just some of the factors that contribute to the success of this great coffee.
This year at the Cup of Excellence El Salvador, there were an unprecedented number of coffees that scored well and were accepted as winners by the International Jury. At Dallis Bros Coffee we stay very connected to the Cup of Excellence program because of the coffee quality that is highlighted from the competition, and the way it helps encourage regions and growers. This coffee placed 34th in the competition, out of more than 40 coffees to score high enough (84) for the Cup of Excellence award, and 165 total samples submitted.
Why so many great coffees this year? One theory centers on the eruption of Ilamatepec in the Santa Ana region five years ago. The eruption killed several people and evacuated thousands from the area. Yet the volcanic ash which covered the entire area can be an interesting fertilizer. Its mineral components are absorbed slowly into the soil over time, and coffee trees producing fruit years later may be only now seeing the benefits.
We’ve long been fans of coffee from this part of Honduras, incorporating it into our favorite blends. But Jose Isidro Lara’s prolific, organic farm begged to be highlighted as a single origin coffee, with all the sweet, tangy complexity that can open minds about coffee.
Jose Isidro Lara is an attentive farmer. He loves his coffee trees, but he hates dirt. He’s as fastidious about his patios as he is passionate about coffee. When we visited his farm well after the harvest season, his patio and wet mill remained spotless, like they had been scrubbed the day before.
We asked Jose how he processed his coffee: animatedly talking a million miles an hour, he detailed every step of picking, sorting, fermenting, washing, cleaning, and all the other steps important to Specialty Coffee. He stressed that the slightest degradation in his coffee would pull it off his export list — he would rather sell a coffee locally or not at all than damage his relationships with his buyers in an international market.
The farms in this region, specifically in the town of Capucas, where Jose’s farm and mill are located, are typically very productive and totally organic. The rich black soil, rainfall, and altitude are just perfect for coffee.
Traditionally, the coffee that Dallis Bros. Coffee has purchased from this region is sold in our Red Den and Unisphere blends. After meeting Jose and tasting his coffee it was clear that we needed to highlight this particular farmer and his hard work. His enthusiasm shines in the cup, and so does ours.
Importing coffee from its birthplace, Ethiopia, has become a particular art in the modern age of regulated commodities. Dallis Bros. works closely with trusted pros within the country to help us access the best of the classic, red-berry, huge fruit coffees its growers are most known for, like this one we call Ardi.
Ethiopia is a land of legend, whether it’s the discovery of coffee or the unearthing of a 4.4-million-year-old prehuman fossil nicknamed Ardi. Our friend Samuel Demisse, who has a personal relationship to this mill, began importing this beautifully processed natural coffee from the Guji region around the same time that Ardi-the-skeleton was recognized, and thus his spectacular coffee is named in tribute.
About 60 miles south of the famous small town of Yirgacheffe there is a town called Hagere Maryam. All of the Ardi coffee comes from one mill in this town. Starting next year there will be two more additional mills buying and processing coffee for Samuel.
This is a natural processed coffee, which helps to yield the super typical blueberry and strawberry flavors that are found in the cup. In order to control the drying process of this coffee it is first dried for two weeks on raised beds in the sun. There are several women who clean the coffee as it dries. Any under-ripe cherry (green in color) stands in stark contrast to all the red cherries on the bed. All the under-ripe cherries are removed, and after two weeks, the coffee is set to dry on a concrete patio.
Demisse, who now lives in the United States, comes from a family of coffee producers. His father owned a mill in Ethiopia and a farm as well. Samuel grew up picking coffee and attending coffee ceremonies, and has been selling fine Ethiopian coffees to Dallis Bros. for years now.
A citric-yet-savory coffee with great presence in the cup, El Lagulito is the product of both two special coffees, and our continued interest in rediscovering the huge potential in coffees often overlooked in the Dominican Republic. We’re excited to offer this beautiful blend from farms in two of the best coffee-growing regions in the country.
Nowadays, it’s rare to see Dominican Coffee offered on a roaster’s single origin offering sheet. But in the 1950s, the Dominican Republic was one of the major coffee producers for the United States coffee market. Times have changed.
Our Coffee Director, Byron Holcomb, has particular expertise in the Dominican Republic, having lived there — and owning his own coffee farm there. Through his firsthand experience and his contacts in the DR, Byron has been able to both find great coffees and tell their stories.
El Lagulito is classified as one kind of coffee, Tipo Juncalito, because it meets the elevation and cup characteristics required for this well-known Dominican region. But it comes from two different towns, Las Lagunas and Juncalito. The coffee from Las Lagunas has a brighter, orange-driven acidity while Juncalito has a peach acidity and a bigger body. Both are great on their own. However we decided to combine them, because as they were blended they tasted really beautiful together. The sum of the parts is truly greater than the whole on this one.
Both coffees were picked ripe, fermented and then washed and patio dried. The coffee from Las Lagunas comes from one of the highest growing altitudes in the region, which many say contributes to the coffee’s acidity. Warm tasting notes of cedar are also found, a perfect expression of the romantic cedar trees that shade the region’s coffee trees.
Join us for a tour of our coffee roasting factory and tasting room in Ozone Park, Queens!
Our next tour is Saturday, January 7th beginning at 1:00 and wrapping up at about 4:00. Space on the tour is limited so book now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tours are $10, and due to the tasting component we ask that all participants show up perfume and cologne free! If you have any questions feel free to call our office during business hours, (718) 845-3010.
We have offered this special coffee for two years. It comes from the farm of one of our own: Byron Holcomb, our Director of Coffee. Finca La Paz’s name was inspired by the two years that Byron lived in Los Fríos, Dominican Republic, as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Cuerpo de Paz in Spanish). Nearly six years ago, Byron purchased the farm from an old friend. Some things have changed in Los Fríos in those years, and some things haven’t. The community still doesn’t have electricity, and the running water only comes once a day.
Coffee takes a long time to grow from a seed to a fruit. Usually there is a 4 year gap between planting and the first real harvest. Finca La Paz was basically abandoned when it was purchased, but is already showing its great potential. This year’s crop is even better than last year, owing to the lack of rain during the drying season and the attention to detail during the fertilizing and harvesting from farm manager Antonio.
Over the next few years, Byron will plant a specific percentage of the farm with Typica, Red Caturra and Yellow Catuai based on cupping experiments here at Dallis Bros. Almost every process has been tried on the farm. The best result was a dry fermentation, washed and then dried on raised beds and finished on a patio. This particular lot incorporates that process, as well as a small amount of natural processed coffee, mixed in for flavor complexity. We love this as both espresso and as drip coffee.
Each day of December up until Christmas, buy a bag of whole bean coffee for $2.25 off the list price at our Union Square Pop-Up!
We miss the joys of tearing open little cardboard doors each day of December to reveal terrible, waxy chocolate treats shaped like snowmen (or worse, squares), and as such are turning such fancies to more grown-up delights and sharing them with you, the coffee lover.
For each day of our market in December, 2011, Dallis Bros. will celebrate by offering daily specials bags of whole bean coffee—perfect to get you through the holidays, or to give as a gift! We’ll announce each morning on Twitter and Facebook which of our coffees is on sale that day at our Union Square Holiday Market booth here in New York City. And just to get you that much more motivated to get your shopping done, we’ve made the discount meaningful and covered your subway fare to the market.