Tales from the Dominican Republic

Our coffee director, Byron Jackson Holcomb, is not just a buyer but a farmer himself. This is his latest dispatch from a trip to visit his own coffee farm, Finca La Paz, in Los Frios, Dominican Republic.


Buying coffee is binary. Approve or Reject. For a long time the reigning coffee company in the Dominican Republic, Cafe Santo Domingo, has employed a system which dominates market forces. They often set the internal price for coffee buying at a price that is about 20 above the C market, when the coffee delivered is barely good enough for a C market approval (really low quality).

Cafe Santo Domingo also controls the internal price, and 95% of the internal market. The DR only produces about 500,000 bags of coffee a year. That is half a million, when most countries measure coffee production based in millions. Costa Rica produced 1.8 million last year and Honduras produced almost 5 million. Only about 30,000 to 40,000 bags are exported from the DR. That is a very very small amount.

For a long time we coffee people have wondered why they just didn’t buy cheap Brazil or robusta because local consumption doesn’t demand much quality. Last year, Cafe Santo Domingo purchased 120 boxes of Vietnam Robusta. The robusta coffee is cleaner and has more coffee than the stuff they used to buy as wet parchment coffee locally. For example, I just sold my repela—the final picking of the coffee tree’s cherries, regardless of their ripeness— to Cafe Santo Domingo. Now, what I sold them was barely coffee. It was about half green coffee and most of that wasn’t even “underripe” it was more like not even a bean. As a bean develops the skin is green, but there isn’t actually a coffee bean inside. It is just kinda mushy and might have the shell of the bean, but there is not real cellulose.

This year Santo Domingo has been stricter than ever. They are actually rejecting really bad coffees which means no one will buy it. Now that they have a supply of coffee from Vietnam to fill local market needs, they can use the Dominican coffees for export. One person told me that local quality has gone up with the robusta conversion. Another told me there have been lots of quality complaints. Nerva, my Dominican mother, says that the last can of coffee she had tasted like “nothing”. I found my Cafe Santo Domingo cafecitos to be just as inconstant and dark as ever.

What this means for Dominican coffee is that people will have to increase the quality of their processing or get a much lower price, or not sell their coffee at all. If farmers would invest in their farms and increase yields, then quality and production could be not far away. Of course, if the labor shortage and the constant exodus from rural areas to urban areas continues, there will be no one to bring the coffee to market.

It is rather simple, approve or reject.

Coffee Fest Brasil Naturals Cup of Excellence Cupping

It’s no secret we’re tremendous fans of Brasilian coffee here at Dallis—in fact, Brasil is part of our very own coffee family, stretching from here in New York City all the way down to our farm, Nossa Senhora Aparecida. It’s with this passion that we’re thrilled to announce a very special cupping at Coffee Fest NYC, featuring the best of the Brasil Natural-processed coffees featured in this year’s Cup of Excellence competition. Our head roaster, Anne Cooper, was in Brasil for the event and we’re now pleased to share our city with Cup of Excellence and these fantastic, wildly underrated coffees.

Attendance to the event (not including Coffee Fest admission) is FREE, but in order to fully appreciate the cupping experience, space is limited. Sign up here today to ensure a spot at Saturday’s exciting cupping.

And a word from our sprudgers

Our busy and incredible weekend hosting the NERBC last Saturday and Sunday would never have been the same without the pinnacle of coffee journalism, sprudge.com in attendance to keep score, shoot video, conduct interviews, and generally act like our event was as important and exciting as we think it was. Zachary and Jordan took a minute to share this exclusive video with us, and their final thoughts on the best region in the nation.

“It seems impossible, but the NERBC weekend has come and gone. It was an intense competition to say the least. In just 5 short years, the Northeast region has become home to many of the best cafes, baristas, and roasters in America, a vibrant community that fielded a record 46 competitors between the Barista Competition and Brewers Cup events. We came away stunned by the quality of routines throughout the weekend, and an atmosphere that felt more like a national event than a mere regional. A huge part of that excitement can be credited to the organizational and event planning work of the Dallis Bros. team, who were wise to pair this event with the 7th Annual Coffee and Tea Festival NYC. As hundreds of curious New Yorkers filed in and out of the competition space, it was at times tough to move, tough to think, tough to breathe, but it certainly made for an exciting room, with by far the largest audience of any regional event this year. Kudos to Dallis Bros. and the SCAA for planning, then managing to execute such an incredible weekend.

Sprudge.com provided event coverage throughout the weekend, both live on Twitter and via our home page. Curious readers can relive the weekend by visiting this link, a portal to all of our NERBC features, including videos, photos and recaps – 17 pieces of coverage and counting. Our work at NERBC would never have been possible without the sponsorship and on-site support of Dallis Bros. – we remain indebted to the fine folks who make Dallis Bros. such an important part of the American specialty coffee community.

Dallis Bros. did more than just organize this event. They also fielded four top-notch competitors: Mike DeJesus and Philip Search in the Barista Competition, and Teresa von Fuchs and William McAllister in the Brewers Cup. Mr. DeJesus competed using Dallis Bros. Andino Especial and Finca Monte Redonda Narino, both from Colombia, as well as Brazilian coffee from Dallis Bros.’ Fazenda Nossa Senhora Aparecida. His routine was a fan favorite in the audience, and on a personal note, it was a pleasure to meet Mike at the event and have a chance to chat with him throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, last year’s NERBC champion, Philip Search, offered up a routine that included made-to-order affogatos and no shortage of skill. Both were a delight to watch—Dallis has so much to be proud of, and we look forward to watching these competitors and their routines for years to come.

We can’t say enough about how much fun this year’s NERBC was. The competition was wild, loud, vibrant, exciting, challenging, packed, incredibly competitive, and deeply memorable—the essence of New York City, distilled into a barista competition. As journalists, we could not have asked for more. Congratualtions, Dallis Bros., for putting together such a very special event—til we meet again at NERBC 2013, we want to take this chance to say “thank you” for your sponsorship, your support, and for the very important role you play in the American specialty coffee community. Attending and reporting on your event has truly been our pleasure.”

-Jordan and Zachary

Up next…coffee fest!!

Join us at Coffee Fest New York, March 9-11 at the Jacob Javits center, 655 W. 34th Street (at 11th Ave) in Manhattan!

We’ll be proudly representing New York City coffee all weekend long at booth #360, serving delicious espressos and specially prepared Chemexes, and talking to people about coffee.

Stay tuned to this space for more info about special events Dallis Bros. Coffee is excited to participate in at the Fest.

And just like that it’s over

Photo (c) 2012 Clay Williams

In the blink of an eye, it’s done! How did months of practice and hair-pulling-out go up in a puff of purged steam? And yet it happens that way every year…

As proud parents of this year’s regional competition, we’d like to take a moment to thank those who helped us so much in getting the event off the ground and providing a format to showcase the very best of New York City coffee and coffee expertise. (Yes, we know thirteen other states competed — but it was Gotham that’s home to both Brewer’s Cup and the NERBC Champ! Fantastic!)

Photo (c) 2012 Clay Williams

We’d like to thank, first and foremost, the Coffee and Tea Festival for providing the framework to let us share our competition with their extremely popular, sold-out show. And to the SCAA, the United States Barista Championship, and the Barista Guild of America for their tireless efforts in making these events happen nationwide. And to Marcus Boni and Amber Sather for being the magicians behind each and every amazing competition. Without all of you, and our judges, volunteers, station maintenance cleaners, people hauling jugs of water—we’d never have the chance to celebrate our region’s talents like this.

Another inspiring competition and another great day in New York City coffee.

NERBC 2012 Winners!!

2012 NERBC Champion Katie Carguilo visiting the Dallis Bros. Coffee midtown coffee farm.

And thus concludes another successful Northeast Regional Barista Competition! Thank you to all who attended, volunteered, competed, tuned in and twitted about this crazy-fun-nonstop weekend.

Without further ado, we are pleased to congratulate the 2012 winners of both the NERBC and Brewer’s Cup!

NERBC Winners:

1. Katie Carguilo, Counter Culture Coffee, New York, New York
2. Jordan Barber, Third Rail Coffee, New York, New York
3. Park Brannen, Handsome Coffee Roasters, New York, New York

Brewer’s Cup:

1. Jordan Barber, Third Rail Coffee, New York, New York
2. Brady Guinn, Pavement Coffee, Boston, Massachusetts
3. Tamara Vigil, Irving Farm Coffee, New York, New York

Liveblogging the NERBC Via Sprudge.com!

Yesterday’s by-the-minute updates from Sprudge.com.

The NERBC is live as hell! Reporting from the 11th floor midtown Manhattan, with a stunning skyline as our backdrop. You can play along via Twitter by following the hashtag #NERBC, or keep up to date here with our liveblog. Newest posts at the bottom!

Urban Eisley, Ports Coffee NYC – competes using Stumptown Guatemala El Injerto and Kenya Gatomboya

8:35am this is mr. eisley’s first time competing at #nerbc – “roasted almond, baker’s chocolate, papaya or guava from the gatomboya” – espresso

8:40 Urban’s signature drink: cherry reduction, egg yolk, almond infused cream + almond honey, pulls shot of injerto / gatomboya and asks judges to stir

8:41 urban eisley offers a steady first performance to start the day at #nerbc – calls time at 14:35 – @stumptowncoffee done proud

Rose-Emma Lunderman, of Root Hill Coffee, Brooklyn – competes using Dallis Bros. Coffee (Dominican and Brazillian Peaberry)

8:52 “i’m from upstate new york, and to be honest, i didn’t really know what a cappuccino was” – @relunderma of @roothillcafe

8:53 there’s a charming kind of debutante wonder to @relunderma’s routine – she’s new to coffee, and she’s owns that fact –

8:58 Rose’s signature drink: cocoa, bay leaves, nutmeg, cinnamon in a crock pot – raspberry whip cream – @relunderma’s version of a “dominican cocoa tea”

Tamara Vigil, Irving Farm Coffee, New York – competes using Irving Farm Honduras Cerro Gacho

9:11 tamara asks of the judges – “what kind of coffee do you like?” – the judges answer! “kenyan…ethiopian…” #chit-chat

9:18 Tamara competes uses Honduran coffee from Irving farms. She describes it as having a “bright, punchy acidity – nutty finish” – sparkling body – nutty flavors accentuated by milk #nerbc

9:22 her coffee from Irving Farm was produced by Jose Luis Estevez Medrano on his farm, Cerro Gacho, in Honduras

9:30 great routine, but she’s DQ’d – look forward to watching her compete again next year, or in Portland

Cara Vincente of Think Coffee NYC – competes using El Salvador Himalaya, sourced by Think, roasted by Dallis Bros.

9:42 cara vincente of @thinkcoffeenyc makes a salvadoran horchata for sig drink – “spicy, earthy, nutty, sweet” – cashews! sesame! want!

9:46 whoa – cara vincente calls time at like 10:45 – that has got to be some kind of record, seriously. @nickcho can you verify?

Calen Robinette of Voltage Coffee, Cambridge, MA – competed using Guatemala Buena Esperanza, roasted by Barismo.

10:06 Calen’s entire shop came down from Boston, that’s awesome

Jonathan Payne of Joe NYC – competes using Piandamo Colombia, roasted by @eccocaffe for @joecoffeenyc

1o:12 “sweetness, freshness, red wine tartness, savory creamy depth like herbs and cheese” – jonathan payne on his espresso

10:25 gutsy routine from jonathan payne @joecoffeenyc calls time at 15:58, makes a point to finish his routine with the judges – hardcore.

Tommy Green of Tiny’s Giant, NYC – competes using Honduras Las Amazonas and Finca Liquidamber roasted by @dalliscoffee

10:38 tommy green’s twitter handle is @tommygbaby, but tommy green does not, in any way, look like his twitter handle should be @tommygbaby

10:40 his sig drink is a take on the tequila slammer – star anise, strained – adds espresso, requests a stir, lick the spoon, drink

Josh Littlefield of Johnson and Wales University, Providence, RI – competes using (will update)

10:51 Josh uses milk form a rhode island dairy cooperative…”it enhances espresso, but doesn’t cover it”

10:57 josh loses his mic – doesn’t even look phased – incredibly professional, didn’t miss a beat, still smiling!

10:59 for sheer tenacity and professionalism, josh littlefield’s is 1 of the best routines all year – you would NEVER know his mic was off

11:00 creme brulee sig drink on top of all of that -blowtorches! mic failures! josh littlefield is the http://sprudge.com #nerbc hero thus far

Rachel Haughey of EspressoNEAT, Darien, CT – competes using Handsome Coffee Roasters Fisticuffs blend, currently Colombia San Sebastian and Honduras Don Merdado

11:12 @rachelhaughey drops some espressos, super intentional with the judges – “i’ll give you a moment to evaluate that individually”

11:24 clever drips honduran – san sebastian updosed espresso – no added ingredients for the sig drink from @rachelhaughey

Charlie Biando of Shot Tower Coffee, Philly – competes using Counter Culture Coffee PNG Baroida

11:38 charlie’s sig drank: condensed almond milk, orange juice, simple syrup, muddled – bartender shake for aromatics – strained into espresso

11:40 charlie biando works as he talks, pulling shots while explaining processing – washed, de-pulped, in good hands

11:43 charlie calls time at 15:09 – in a word, poised.

Sam Penix of Everyman Espresso NYC:

11:49 @everymannY sam competes w/ finca mauritania from @aidabattle – microlots sourced for @counter_culture’s pro series training courses

11:57 @everymanNY going for capps with “high quality dark chocolate” flavor notes

12:03 @everymanNY sig drink inspired by supply chain – meyer lemon juice, “very special sugar”, concord grape foam, shot of mauritania

12:08 this regional is SO new york – it’s busy, it’s crowded, it’s full of angry old ladies, the performances are amazing, it’s DOG EAT DOG

Mike Morganstern of Joe NYC

12:21 creamy, delicious peanut butter cup – easy to drink – mike morganstern of @joecoffeenyc on his capps at #nerbc

Mike Dejesus of Dallis Bros. Coffee

12:30 mike dejesus – SO new york – competes with colombian and brazillian coffees from @dalliscoffee – gotta love this guy

12:46 these are unforgiving competitions…slight spill from mike dejesus at 14:30, unable to serve all 4 judges a sig drink – harsh.

Jordan Barber, Third Rail Coffee

12:59 hustles through a cd skip…no change in expression, no loss of focus…jordan barber of @thirdrailcoffee is the honey badger of

1:01 intentionally does not reveal his coffee during his routine

NERBC Day One!

There’s nothing like a sunny springlike Saturday in midtown (that ends in snow) to commemorate one of the busiest days of the year in coffee. Yesterday’s first round of the Northeast Regional Barista Competition at the Coffee and Tea Festival was a doozy! From 8am til 6pm, baristas and brewers teamed up—along with volunteers aplenty cleaning, helping, and making coffee on the “Fourth Machine”.

We were proud as punch to watch the six (!) NERBC competitors who used our coffee, from Rose-Emma Lunderman’s poised delivery to Justin Schulz’ leek centerpiece to Cara Vincente’s horchata infusion to Mike D’s stage debut to Tommy Green’s early morning Tequila Slammer. And did we mention Philip Search made ICE CREAM on stage, using ziploc bags of ice cubes and the touch of the master? We love this stuff. (Our Brewer’s Cup entrants, Bill McAllister and Teresa von Fuchs, nailed it as well—when they weren’t busy volunteering and judging, of course! When do these people sleep?)

Everyone in attendance (and there were A HUGE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE, to the point they had to take the chairs away) was blown away by the overall quality of all the competitors. Espresso NEAT’s Rachel Houghey pulled off her first competition like it was old hat; Counter Culture Coffee’s Katie Cargiulo dropped serious science, and Philly kids Charlie Biando and Brian Gelletley truly brought it. We’ll see many of these folks again in Portland, but the ones we’ll see today are as follows:

2012 NERBC Finals Schedule:

1. Jordan Barber, Third Rail Coffee, New York, New York

2. Park Brannen, Handsome Coffee Roasters, New York, New York

3. Brandon Duff, RBC, New York, New York

4. Katie Carguilo, Counter Culture Coffee, New York, New York

5. Brian Gelletly, Ultimo Coffee, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

6. Sam Lewontin, Everyman Espresso, New York, New York

Way to keep it in the city, New York! We’ve been at this for 99 years, but it’s nothing short of moving to have the team effort of this city’s amazing coffee community to cement us, indisputably, on the world map of great coffee. Wonderful job everybody and good luck today!

NERBC Competitor Times!

As we’ve mentioned once or twice in the past, the 2012 Northeast Regional Barista Competition is THIS WEEKEND, February 25 and 26 at 7W Studios, 7 West 34th Street, in New York City. We’re proud to host this event in the city we’ve roasted coffee in for nearly 100 years, and we’re even prouder of the eight talented baristas representing our coffee that registered to compete this year!

If you’d like to catch some of the action, either stop by the competition anytime Saturday from 8am-5pm or Sunday (finals!) from noon til 5. Those tuning in at home can watch a live stream here. Check out these guys if you get the chance—they have been working SO hard.

SATURDAY COMPETITION SCHEDULE (times subject to change)

Rose-Emma Lunderman (“Oh my god there’s so much in my head and I’m really high on espresso.”)
Root Hill Cafe

Cara Vincente (“Dude, relax. Everything is gonna be awesome, okay? We can do this.”)
Think Coffee 9:12am

Tommy Green (“Mike dexter is a god. Mike dexter is a role model!”)
Tiny’s Giant

Mike DeJesus (“Why did I decide to do this?!!?”)
Dallis Bros.
Coffee 12:03pm

Justin Schulz (“Now what happens?”)

Philip Search (“It’s gonna be awesome.”)
Dallis Bros. Coffee
1:57 pm

And our two brilliant Brewer’s Cup competitors….

Teresa von Fuchs (“Jangly and weepy, sleep deprivation? Too much espresso? Or just so proud of all the hard work these folks brought and keep bringing.”)
Dallis Bros. Coffee


Bill McAllister Dallis Bros. Coffee

See you there, coffee world!!

NERBC Barista Preview: Mike DeJesus

With the North East Regional Barista Championship coming up in a few short days, we’re offering a sneak peek into the activities at our training lab in Ozone Park (and basements in Long Island). As the city’s finest baristas gear up to compete for the title of best in the region, it’s time to practice, practice, and practice—with the occasional break to answer questions for our blog.

We finally pinned down our very own Mikey DeJesus to answer a few questions about competition!

Where do you work and how long have you been in coffee?

I have been in “da biz” for over 7 years. 5 as a service tech. Now over 2 years with Dallis Bros. coffee as a sales rep and service tech.

What made you decide to compete in the NERBC?

With everything going on I have been asking my self WHY did I decide to do this? I defy anyone to not want to compete after listening to World Barista Champ Gwilym Davies talk about competing. I decided to throw my hat into the ring to push myself to be a better barista. And have fun doing so.

What coffee did you choose to work with and why?

I chose two different microlots from Colombia: our Andino Especial and the Finca Monte Redonda Narino, along with and a Brazil, the #5 microlot, Catuai—from our farm, Nossa Senhora Aparecida. The reason I picked these coffees was because they played so well together.

What can you tell us about your signature drink?

I can tell you working on my sig bev has been harder then I thought. If I pull it off it will be delicious.

What’s your training regimen been like so far?

I practice every time I train the staff of my new accounts. But I did the most of my training in my basement cafe. There have been too many sleepless nights due to over caffienation.  That is where I worked on my blend, my timing and my idea for signature beverage.

Have you been to a competition before? What do you think is rad about it or what excites you about its role in the industry, or your role within the competition and within the greater community?

I went to the WBC in Atlanta a few years back and was shocked at the level the baristas’ skills. They were the rockstars of the coffee world to me at that time. I think these competitions are great because they help to push the industry forward.

Things like this and throwdowns help to show people that don’t know yet how great coffee can be.