Last week, we sent four of our staff to Camp Pull-a-Shot East, a semiannual professional development and summer camp hosted by our friends at the Barista Guild of America (and of which we were also proud to be a sponsor). The setting was truly idyllic: three days and four nights at the “top of the world” at a Dirty Dancing-themed mountain resort in the Blue Ridges of Virginia. But rather than flipping s’mores and tipping canoes in the lake, our Dallis campers worked their butts off—from coffee director Byron Holcomb leading cupping labs for beginners to Joe Drazenovic, Teresa von Fuchs and Philip Search all leading espresso workshops and milk labs. (We did catch Byron teaching a student how to “listen” to foamed milk, too.)
In between leading workshops, our campers even found time to get their own BGA certification—Byron and Joe came home with level 1 certificates (though we have a hunch they had the skills already down pat.) The final night’s team challenge resulted in the Dallis Bros. and Sisters being pitted against one another in a battle to the death, where each team was given just enough play money to buy green coffee, “ship” it, and buy roasting and brewing equipment with which to roast and brew the coffee. In a fit of mechanical inspiration (isn’t he always in one, though?) Philip Search dismantled his team’s coffee roaster (a popcorn popper) to allow himself to attenuate the heating controls manually. Sparks flew! And over at team 8, Teresa von Fuchs and her allies turned the game on its ear by simply using their money to purchase ALL the coffee brewing equipment—making them the sole providers to the rest of the teams, and naturally, doubling the price.
We asked each of our campers for a little postcard home.
“No regrets on cornering the market in the team challenge, and I loved Lorenzo’s comment that various economic elements of the seed to cup cycle are overlooked by enthusiastic coffee folks. The ‘romance’ of specialty coffee (from the SCAA’a opening keynote) needs to be a sustainable model, capitalism doesn’t have to be a dirty immoral word. And I witnessed and participated in a lot more discussion about this type of thing than usual at educational events, how baristas and quality focused cafes can and are doing to differentiate themselves from the larger ‘specialty’ chains and the threshold for what customers are ‘willing’ to pay for their ‘love’ affair…
For me, It was a real honor to pass the examiners exam and then administer the level 1 tests to campers. One of the things I love about judging barista competitions is the chance to support baristas who want to take their skills to the next level. There was so much goodness crammed into camp it’s hard to believe it was only a few days…”
– Camper Teresa von Fuchs
“1. Winning the trophy was awesome and I had truly a team that was fun to work with and gave 110 percent while having a blast.
2. “I am James Hoffmann, and God is [redacted—Ed.]”
3. The debate that went from 1 am to 3 am with Lorenzo, Pete, Joe and myself about the tests and curriculum and how we all agreed in the end, how much passion was there, and how we all want a master class level of coffee professional.”
– Camper Philip Search
“It’s incredible how much better coffee beverage quality could be if coffee professionals took the level one classes and passed the exam. Just taking things to the basics and getting comfortable preparing a product repeatedly, and consistently. I believe James Hoffmann put it very well when he told us ‘we should be focusing on making our worst coffee consistently better’. To
me, as an educator, how much knowledge we want and need that we have yet to acquire to educate further its truly and absolutely inspiring. As the youngest coffee professional on our team, it was so inspiring how hard all the “veterans” worked.”
– Camper Joe Drazenovic
“It is incredible how many people traveled from far and wide to come to this beautiful little spot in the the VA mountains where “Dirty Dancing” was apparently filmed just to learn and share about coffee. the environment is really great. Tracy from SCAA gave a wonderful key note speech about the emotional reasons behind a coffee drinkers relationship to coffee. the SCAA did a study group in two different cities: when the coffee drinkers were asked to express their relationship with coffee visually on a piece of paper, it was clear that the end customer was talking about a deep rooted emotional connection with coffee. they used words like “love” written in glitter. they wrote that coffee made them a better person, more inspired, driven, smarter, more passionate. what wasn’t present were farm names or elevations or variety types or any kind of coffee specific details in the artistic expression. so baristas are serving that every morning. not just a simulate called caffeine in a black liquid.
i think in my heart i’m one of those people that takes a minute to warm up to a big group. after being booked from 8am to 11pm for Tuesday and Wednesday (table lead in 4 classes and my Level 1 Barista written and practical) i’m not as tired as excited about all the work the BGA has done. they have some really great classes some great content to communicate and some really talented instructors. the spirit of the entire week was summed up by Justin Schultz when he said that he didn’t find as many people arguing so eagerly about details as he found people sharing ideas.
it was really a privilege to step into a class room with eager students and well prepared materials. it is easy in my job to expect everyone knows how to wipe a portfilter dry and dose their shots to be consistent because everyone around me at dallis can do that in their sleep. in my job as coffee director i cup at least one flight a day and talk with importers, exporters and farmers in “green coffee language”. it is easy for me to be disconnected with the greater community that doesn’t speak “green coffee language” or weigh the yield of espresso and talk about exact days off roast.
my question for everyone is: will being a BGA Level 1 barista improve the quality of the coffee served? and are we supporting this certification process out of a need in the industry? or is it in the spirit of unity for the industry and respect for the product?”
– Camper Byron Holcomb
Note to Baristas who are seeking Level 1 certification (both for industry unity and to improve quality!) but were unable to attend Camp Pull-a-Shot: Joe and Teresa will be offering Level 1 tests all over NYC in the coming months. Stay tuned here for more info!
Sertão is one of Brazil’s oldest coffee farms, more than 100 years old, and is also a specialist in the Yellow Bourbon variety. Once upon a time, the farmers decided to branch away into different types of coffee that were more productive, but once the accolades for the quality of their Yellow Bourbon trees began to roll in, from competitions like Cup of Excellence—the rest is history.
This quality oriented farm is not known just for its accomplishments, but for the diligence behind them. They are exhaustive cuppers, and taste every single lot of coffee to bring it up to their farm’s historically high standards.
We recently visited our friends at Mercadito Miami, who paired for us a “Smokey Pablo”—reposado tequila, mango puree, cinnamon-chile syrup, blueberry puree and fresh lime juice— and beautiful Octavio coffee from our own farms in Brasil. The cocktail and beverage program at Mercadito (on its own a wonderful modern Latin restaurant) is curated by the Tippling Bros., the libation geniuses behind NYC’s The Tippler, Tavernita in Chicago, and other Mercaditos. With a coffee program as sophisticated as their cocktail program, it’s so nice not to have to choose one or the other.
Our coffee director, Byron Holcomb, is frequently called upon to visit coffee-producing countries and report in from the front lines. His latest trip to El Salvador and Honduras brings us his fourth report.
Honduras is amateur cowboy hour. To leave the country they charged me $38, CASH ONLY. There are no signs at all in the airport. No monitors showing which flights go to which gates. The 2 monitors that I found that work only show “on time” and “CANCELADO”. Passing through security they combed through by bag and found sunscreen (less than 3 oz.) “If you want to take this you need to buy a plastic bag to put it in. You can buy them over there and come back for your tube.” 50 cents later I get my sunscreen back. I leave my customer service expectations in the US. But this place clearly doesn’t want you to float out of here. They want to suck you dry for every penny you have left.
Last night over dinner with the manager of Beneficio Santa Rosa de Copan, they were asking me what Honduras had to do in order to actually enter the US market. I told them about the success of tourism in Costa Rica and Jamaica where people are totally moved by their surroundings and mediocre coffee and they give all the credit to the coffee. Quality may sell itself, but the end consumer in the US doesn’t have any idea that Honduras produces brilliant coffee. Of course 10 years ago when Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia had solid quality and very well-funded marketing programs, Honduran producers were selling at wet parchment to intermediaries that would end up as flavor base. So they are way behind.
The stark contrast is how some of these guys work. Omar, Douglas, and Humberto are so excited and passionate about coffee they wake up early, stay late and drive through these sleepy dirty towns like they were propelled by some supernatural force. They walk like New Yorkers. For example, I was kinda pissed that they didn’t show me the coffee I asked for based on only looking at the elevation, variety, climate and aspect and soil last year (it won the Capucas Coffee Competition this year). I told them that again last night. Somebody woke up at 4am and drove a sample to me this morning before 6am when I left Santa Rosa. Truly incredible effort put forth.
Want to know why Honduras is all of a sudden producing more coffee than Guatemala? Because of a lot of the work done in Western Honduras, much of the coffee is actually staying in Honduras. It isn’t being sold as Guatemalan or coffee from El Salvador.
In El Salvador they are nerdy and “want to be part of Europe” (according to Susie Spindler). In Honduras they are cowboys and farmers. Every where I’ve been in Honduras they are planting coffee. Their production should skyrocket in the next two or 3 years. They are excited about coffee. They have some beautiful coffees. Truly balanced, diverse, incredible coffees. But they are treating their coffee only slightly better than they have in the last few years. Most of the coffee is sold at wet parchment (really the worst case scenario for quality and traceability).
I crossed the border by bus and spent the first day with Roberto Salezar the manager of COCAFELOL. They have some great coffees, incredible potential. The Saul Melara Hondo CoE #8 from last year came from one of his farmers. They showed me one farm, then “invited” to a meeting with the World Bank that was reviewing some funding. They had farmers, Spanish NGO’s, people from the coop, local development agencies and me. Really they had everyone but a barista. The people from World Bank had really great questions about relevance of Honduran coffee and the US market demands and how certifications are valued. The crux of their proposal was micro-lots and I tried to explain how Honduras has great potential in this market. The timing was great for them to have a buyer present.
The most impressive part of COCAFELOL was their aguas mieles (waste water) management. They take 100% of the water and make 3 products: bio ethanol, methane gas, and liquid fertilizer for foliar application to coffee trees.They take the pulp and use vermiculture (earth worms) on the largest scale present in Honduras. Really incredible.
We bought a microlot from this wonderful family: Dionisio Sanchez. I went to their farm—it is just down the road from Finca Liquidambar. I spent most of the day with them. Walked almost the entire farm, visited the namesake waterfall “La Cascada”. They are warm wonderful people. When I told the father I was getting married, without hesitation he said, “. . . and you didn’t invite me!” I instantly invited him. When we said goodbye he said, “if by chance I don’t make it to your wedding, send her my best”. They have a wonderful farm. And their coffee is one of the best lots produced in the region this year, according to everyone I talked to. They aren’t taking the artisan approach. The are taking the farmer approach. They build their soil with organic and some chemical inputs. The lot that they sold came from two tablones, all Catuai in great health, depulped, dry fermented for 16 hours, washed and patio dried. They have a laguna for aguas mieles. They produce a pretty large amount of coffee and hope to double it in the next couple years. They did some soil tests this year, but can’t recite the results. In El Salvador, when I asked about the pH of a farm, they knew it. “Oh this farm has a pH of 3.8, the other farm has a pH of 5.4 because it hasn’t been worked for the last few years.”
Dionisio’s son Renen sent me with a sample of a natural process that he did for fun but it was too wet. They still have some random coffee cherries in the trees so he might be able to redo it and send it to us. They were eager for feedback and we shared lots of ideas about coffee management.
Our coffee director, Byron Holcomb, is frequently called upon to visit coffee-producing countries and report in from the front lines. His latest trip to El Salvador, for the annual Cup of Excellence juried competition, brings us his third report.
The top two coffees of the 2012 Cup of Excellence El Salvador were standout polar opposites. Number 1 was so fruity and big that we all suspected some type of special process. Number 2 was elegant, citric, balanced, and clean floral—it really defined floral.
The guy who won first from the farm, Ernesto Mendez from Las Brumas, was shaking so badly after he won he looked terrified. He has won before. I talked with the manager at JHill, Mario, (the guy who processes the coffee for Aida Batlle) about the winner. Mario called it before it happened. Apparently he had been testing the cherry sugar levels with a Brix meter—which can measure the sugar content of fruit—and was able to calibrate himself with the meter. He picked the coffee from 1650 meters. It was a red bourbon, de-pulped dry and dry fermented. After the awards ceremony I left with the manager from JHill to stay at JHill for the night so that I could cup our coffees there, and talk more specifics about how a special process lot that I had requested happened. I was pretty happy with the results and they followed my instructions to the letter.
Then I asked the owners Rafael and Carmen Silva of Finca Siberia to pick me up and take me to see some of their farms. I was pretty keen on seeing Finca Siberia, which won like 23rd this year. Several years ago they changed my life when I had their Pacamara at Batdorf and Bronson. But they had a newish farm that won 7th called Llano Grande, it was crazy delish on every table. We toured their farms on 4-wheelers. It was too much fun. We saw a bunch of the farm and the farm manager was there too. La Fany isn’t huge but it has everything going for it, aside from the name, which they don’t know where it comes from—has been in their family for generations. 100% Red Bourbon, diverse shade, high altitude, a great market all over the world, they keep every tablon separate and sell it that way.
There are some other farms that come from Rafael’s family that looked even better to me. Slightly lower elevation but not such a south-facing aspect, and the soil just looked better, the farms smelled better. This sounds crazy but when they told me they didn’t know the cup quality until recently and they were lamenting that it was submitted to CoE. Soil health = quality, usually.
At one point on our tour, we came a across seven guys all with M-16′s in full camo fatigues. They looked like they were packing for a camping trip. Apparently things are so bad here they are being dispatched to farms looking for gangs. They were packing clothes and a map. Every night they would sleep in a different farm. The sergeant had 4 clips on his chest and carried his M-16 like it was a wrist watch. He had that cool confidence you would expect from a movie star. I asked to take his picture and he looked to the right. I asked the question a second time to see if he understood me. He clearly did. “Now I know, thanks,” I responded as I lowered my camera. Rafael chimed in, and urged, “Let him take your picture!” He looked at Rafael and said, “es proibido”. No smile, no head nod, he shouldered his bag and lead his men off to a farm for the night.
Rafael pulled me aside and told me the real reason we didn’t go to Finca Siberia was because of the risk. Apparently there are a couple different gangs. One is involved in drugs. The other “just likes to kill people”. They will wait for people to leave a specific area and when they are on these terrible roads they stop them take everything you have. At the dry mill on Llano Grande there were 4 guard dogs and two armed guards. This isn’t Disneyland.
The next day I spent with Luis Rodriguez and Maria Jose. I visited two of their farms. Very different from the heavily fertilized and organized farms that I saw earlier in the week. I love how serious people are in El Salvador about coffee. They are total nerds. Note: most people use central wet mills to process coffee. Luis told me about a common practice to evaluate a sample: take 100 cherries before it is depulped. Weigh them, count defects, floaters, then put them in a press for 5 minutes and weigh the expressed juice, measure the Brix, and like 5 more things that I can’t remember. In one mill they did all this and then correlated it against cupping scores.
Apparently the Brix test had no correlation with cup quality. What did correlate is the amount of muscilage expressed out of the cherries. The more muscilage the higher cup score. Luis is excited because of this variety that he found on his farm Elefante produces up to 14 drops of muscilage from one cherry when Bourbon is like 9 drops. Rumor has it this is one of the early developments of the Tequisik variety that I saw in Guatemala this year.
Luis is one of those crazy honest awesome people. “Luis when are you going to sell us (Dallis) some coffee? We’d love to buy some?” “Byron, I think I might have a 10 bag lot to show you, but it isn’t our best, there is nothing wrong with it, it is actually quite nice, but not really what you want.” Wow, somebody who actually listens when I communicate our specs.
I’ve got more stories from Honduras. But that will have to wait for the plane ride tomorrow.
The annual Village Voice Obies are coming fast upon Broadway on Monday, May 21—and we’re more than excited to be providing coffee to all the talented nominees and attendees who’ll be sitting on the edge of their seats! If you’re attending this New York tradition, we’ll see you there!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACTS: Marissa Nicolaescu
Macy’s Media Relations
Maria Benvenuti & Michael Gartenlaub
Benvenuti Public Relations
EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF BRAZILIAN GASTRONOMY WITH CHEF FELIPE BRONZE AND DALLIS BROS. COFFEE AT MACY’S BRASIL: A MAGICAL JOURNEY
NEW YORK, NY – May 10, 2012 –“Brasil: A Magical Journey,” Macy’s seasonal salute to South America’s most captivating country, kicks off at the retailer’s world-famous flagship at Herald Square with a Carnaval-inspired celebration featuring the fashion, food, music, dance and art of Brasil on May 15th. The enchanting evening will bring the best of Brazil to New York City’s most iconic department store for a unique cultural celebration at a spectacular gala that will feature the sights, sounds and tastes of Brazil.
From Bossa Nova and Samba to Capoeira, Macy’s Herald Square will set the stage for internationally acclaimed musicians Bebel Gilberto and Sergio Mendes, Globo TV’s famous telenovela stars Fiorella Mattheis, Raphael Viana, and pop music sensation Fiuk bringing the spirit of Brazilian culture to life. In addition to the festivities, the night will give back to the local communities in Brazil with a $50,000 donation to the BrazilFoundation and a silent auction benefitting the organization’s community led projects and efforts in empowering the region. A spectacular runway fashion show, an art exhibition featuring the works of 27 Brazilian artists and epicurean delights from Rio’s renowned celebrity chef Felipe Bronze will cap the evening’s celebration.
Providing a window into Brazil’s vibrant food and drink scene is renowned celebrity chef Felipe Bronze of Oro Restaurant in Rio. At the gala, he’ll present his re-imagined modern Brazilian cuisine. In addition, Dallis Bros. Coffee will serve a very special single origin coffee, Brazilian Fazenda Nossa Senhora Yellow Bourbon Micro-lot, from their proprietary farm in the Alta Mogiana region of Brazil.
Chef Felipe Bronze, a shining star in Brazil’s glistening culinary universe, combines classic techniques with indigenous Brazilian ingredients to create his interpretations of modern Brazilian cuisine. He attended the highly respected Culinary Institute of America, then staged at Le Bernardin and Nobu before returning to Brazil in 2001. He attracted the attention of journalist and gourmands for his work in several of Brazil’s top kitchens before striking out on his own to open Oro. Chef Bronze’s restaurant Oro, in Rio de Janeiro’s Jadim Botanico district, opened with the height of critical acclaim: He was named “Chef of the Year” by Veja Rio Magazine and Oro was proclaimed best restaurant in Rio de Janeiro by O Globo/Rio. Felipe is slated to star in his own cooking show on Globo TV Network, Brazil’s largest television station.
During the celebration, Chef Bronze will present regional Brazilian ingredients in unexpected forms, such as Feijoada Spheres, in which he transforms the homey national dish, a meat and bean casserole comparable to cassoulet, into elegant passed hors d’oeuvres. His menu for the evening draws on the culinary culture and singular ingredients of Brazil, including Brazil’s famous berry, açai in a surprising twist on the popular Brazilian beverage, açai and tapioca. Other featured dishes include rich braised pork belly perfectly paired with pineapple. Sweets include a luscious avocado cream with Brazilian nut praline and chocolate ganache tart. Chef Bronze will also take the stage for a demonstration of his modern technique with the preparation of Feijoada Spheres, and Nitro Caipirinha, a molecular gastronomic version of the classic cocktail featuring cachaça, the rum that can only be made with Brazilian sugarcane.
Adding to the culinary experience is Dallis Bros. Coffee, iconic New York coffee roaster since 1913. Showcasing the company’s deep relationship with Brazilian coffee, Dallis Bros. Coffee will serve a very special single origin coffee from its own state-of-the-art proprietary coffee farm, Fazenda Nossa Senhora Aparecida, located in Brazil’s Alta Mogiana region. The unique coffee, Brazilian Fazenda Nossa Senhora Yellow Bourbon Micro-lot, sparkles with plum acidity and notes of honey, graham and citrusy amaretto. The enthusiasm and expertise that Dallis Bros. Coffee has for the product of its farm in Brazil, shines through in every perfect cup.
Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc., delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at more than 800 locations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Macy’s stores and macys.com offer distinctive assortments including the most desired family of exclusive and fashion brands for him, her and home. Macy’s is known for such epic events as Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks® and The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, as well as spectacular fashion shows, culinary events, flower shows and celebrity appearances. Building on a 150-year tradition, Macy’s helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities that make a difference in the lives of our customers.
We’ve all had cold coffee, whether intentionally cold-brewed or accidentally left behind. But have you ever tried Japanese cold brew? Our Training and Development Manager, Josip Drazenovic, contributed his tips for this great summer method over at Find. Eat. Drink. Check it out!
Let us be among the legions to throw our hats in the ring to congratulate esteemed NYC chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern for taking the Best Chef NYC award in this week’s 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony. We couldn’t be more honored to close your beautiful meals with our coffee, Michael!
As we slowly begin to gather our senses after Wednesday’s Brooklyn Uncorked, hosted by great friends and epic food hosts Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, we’d like to just linger on a few memories. Flourless Madagascar Chocolate Cake from the Chocolate Room—perfect with our Colombia Narino (or a Pinot Noir). Curry Tuna from Rosewater in Park Slope, Turkey Mortadella on Thyme Cracker from Gramercy Tavern, amazing bread from our pals at Orwashers, succulent rabbit hearts and livers from Palo Santo/Fort Reno…. and the wines, the wines, the rose wines, all of the beautiful drinks we can’t even enumerate (or quite remember). Thanks again to Sam Seier and the entire Edible crew for including us in another delicious and wonderful event!