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Competitor Spotlight: Anne Cooper

Anne at Mountaintop Estate, Australia

On this third year of hosting the Northeast Regional Barista Competition right here in New York City, and our 100th year as one of that same city’s very own specialty coffee roasters, we couldn’t be more excited to have two of our talented team competing in the upcoming festivities.

Anne Cooper is our roaster here, an international veteran talent with an infectious enthusiasm and a heck of a commute to work.

What coffee are you using?
Australian Bin 478 from Mountain Top Estate

Why’d you select it?
Because its a Rule Breaker!
Not only is it dear to my heart (by being Australian) but because it’s a coffee/origin that not many have heard of or tasted before. And I really wanted to give the judges a unique coffee experience.

How many times have you competed before?
Approx. 7 times in the Australian Barista comps at Regionals & Nationals.

What’s been the hardest part of your training?
Not actually getting my coffee & being able to roast it & get to know it better until only 2 weeks ago, as I was waiting on fresh crop to arrive…

Anne competes next week at the 2013 NERBC and Brewer’s Cup, catch her at 2:25pm EST on the live stream on Wednesday, February 20th!

Competitor Spotlight! Joe Drazenovic

On this third year of hosting the Northeast Regional Barista Competition right here in New York City, and our 100th year as one of that same city’s very own specialty coffee roasters, we couldn’t be more excited to have two of our talented team competing in the upcoming festivities.

Josip Drazenovic works for us as an espresso and coffee consultant. If you’ve never met Joe at an event, on bar at a cafe that serves Dallis Bros., or on the throwdown circuit, you’re missing out — his talent is immediate and his enthusiasm is infections. Joe is competing in both the NERBC barista event as well as the Brewer’s Cup. We asked him a little bit about his routine.

What coffee are you using?
Dallis Bros. Lot #1 from La Esmeralda located in Huila, Colombia.

Why’d you select it?
The first time I cupped it, I realized it was a representation of why I decided to devote myself to the coffee industry. There haven’t been many coffees I’ve brewed and pulled that I’ve felt as connected to.

With La Esmeralda, I know what it likes and i know what it wants to taste like. From flavor, texture and aroma it’s exactly what I’d want my last cup of coffee to be.

I think any barista can relate to that and if they can’t right now, they will at some point in their career — whether its a blend or a single lot from a farm.

How many times have you competed before?
None!

What’s been the hardest part of your training?
Time management.

Josip competes next week at the 2013 NERBC and Brewer’s Cup, catch him at 12:12pm on the live stream on Thursday, February 21st!

Official NERBC after-party, Thursday February 21!

Please come and join us for the official NERBC Party, to take place at Mable’s Smokehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a short distance from the competition in Long Island City!

We’ll be gathering from 7-11, and the first 200 attendees will receive two drink tickets each for beer or wine. After that, we’re donating 20% of the bar proceeds to Respond and Rebuild‘s Sandy relief efforts.

We hope you’ll come out and celebrate our craft and our community before the last day of competition finals!

Februrary Dallis Bros. Coffee Factory Tour: Saturday 9th!

It’s a new year, and we’ve got a coffee factory full of new coffees and sensory experiences for you to enjoy!

Won’t you join us on Saturday, February 9th for a wonderful fall day of tasting, touring, and talking coffee?

We’ll lead you on a romp through local history, the history of our 100-year-old New York City coffee company, coffee roasting, coffee tasting (cupping), and a tour of our roasting plant.

Tours are $10 and include a free bag of coffee at the end! Our next tour is Saturday, February 9, beginning at 1:00 and wrapping up at about 4:00. Space on the tour is limited due to all the coffee in here, so reserve your space in advance by emailing orders@dallisbroscoffee.com.

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.

NERBC 2013 Rescheduled! Feb 20-22

Specialty Coffee Association of America Announces Rescheduled NERBC Event Dates

LONG BEACH, Calif. U.S.A. (January 11, 2013) — The Specialty Coffee Association has announced the rescheduled dates and venue for the 2012/13 North East Regional Barista Competition, hosted by Dallis Bros. Coffee.

When: February 20-22, 2013
Where: Attic Studios, 11-05 44th Road, Third Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101.
Times: Wednesday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Thursday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The event, which was originally slated to take place in November in Atlantic City, was postponed after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy only days before the first day of competition. All prior NERBC competitors will remain registered to compete and the SCAA will open a waiting list for those wanting to sign up if any original competitors drop out; competition spots will be given on a first come, first serve basis.

“Dallis Bros Coffee is extremely proud and excited to host the NERBC and Brewers Cup for the third consecutive year.” States John Moore, VP of Dallis Bros. Coffee. “2013 marks the 100 year anniversary for Dallis Bros and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than alongside some of the most talented, innovative, driven, and passionate coffee professionals in the region right here in Queens, NYC. People throughout the northeast region have a reputation for resilience and grit, and it feels especially gratifying to bring the competition back to where Sandy hit so many so hard. We hope that all in attendance will join us in celebrating the remarkable talent and hard work of the competitors, judges, and all those part of making the coffee culture of the northeast so special and distinct.”
For additional information about the Regional Barista Competitions, visit www.usbaristachampionship.org.

January Factory Tour This Weekend!

It’s a new year, and we’ve got a coffee factory full of new coffees and sensory experiences for you to enjoy!

Won’t you join us this Saturday, January 12th for a wonderful fall day of tasting, touring, and talking coffee?

We’ll lead you on a romp through local history, the history of our 100-year-old New York City coffee company, coffee roasting, coffee tasting (cupping), and a tour of our roasting plant.

Tours are $10 and include a free bag of coffee at the end! Our next tour is Saturday, January 12, beginning at 1:00 and wrapping up at about 4:00. Space on the tour is limited due to all the coffee in here, so reserve your space in advance by emailing orders@dallisbroscoffee.com.

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.

Sourcing Diaries: Grading Naturals in Ethiopia, Part II

Our coffee buyer, Byron Holcomb, recently visited Ethiopia—also known as the birthplace of coffee—for a very important conference on Natural Process coffees. Here is the second of his journals and observations on the proceedings.

Cupping Naturals with people from all over the world. Photo by Byron Jackson Holcomb.

The little handbook with pictures and green grading standards that the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) uses was created by Rob Stephen and a couple others, and took took more than three years of work. Three years for a 20-page book with some pictures of defects and how severely they rank for a coffee to be qualified as Speciality per the SCAA definition. Those standards are based on washed coffee only. For Natural Process coffees, well, there aren’t green grading standards, roasting standards, or cupping standards at all. Everything is based on washed coffee.

So here’s the challenge: how do you build standards that work across the globe for a type of coffee that is more complex, harder to control in processing, slightly different in roasting, and where the rules of traditional green grading don’t apply? That is what some of us would like to start to figure out.

Cupping aprons for Naturals fans.

During the four day Natural Conference, we talked mainly about case studies from other countries, Ethiopian standards, Natural Processing and drafted a cupping form for Natural Process coffees. Manuel Diaz drafted the form based on the current SCAA cupping sheet, but changed a few things. Sweetness is now not a “yes” or “no” but is graded like any other attribute. This is because quality naturals can show their character best in sweetness expression. I totally agree with his opinion. I really liked using the form, but are we starting at the wrong end of the equation?

Manuel, in particular, has done an immense amount of actual scientific work on processing especially on Naturals. I was blown away by his ability to bring up scientific papers, presenters and others who could talk eloquently about best practices for Naturals, cupping results, and Brix percentages based on variety, ripeness, and bean weight. A lot has already been done, but how do we tackle this?

Just look at the diversity in Naturals from Ethiopia in terms of the green coffee. When I get a sample of Natural Process from Ethiopia, every single bean looks different in the bag: long berries, short berries, pea berries, different shades of green to yellow, all different sizes and even shapes of beans. Considering that Ethiopia has the greatest number of varieties and about two-thirds of the coffees delivered to the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange (ECX) are all Naturals, that makes this likely the most complex origin in the world in terms of Naturals. Figuring out a green grading system for the Naturals of Ethiopia may apply to other places as well.

We talked a lot with Manuel about the viability of the embryo. Remember coffee is a seed: it is intended to grow a whole new tree. Manuel wants to make a Specialty Natural (we don’t even really have a term for these “Specialty” Natural coffees yet) that it must have 40% embryo viability. This can be checked with a microscope. But we didn’t really make a whole lot of progress on the green grading discussion because we were too busy talking about the processing of naturals and what are the real factors involved in producing them and where they go wrong. It makes sense that people understand them before we create standards around them.

Reject coffee. Photo by Byron Jackson Holcomb.

We talked a good bit about the cupping form and roasting Naturals. Starting with the roasting. We can roast to the spec of the Washed coffees in the SCAA and some Naturals work with that. Others just taste sour, and can even show signs of negative ferment. Adjust the curve slightly by extending the roast development time and actually taking the coffee a touch further (I’m talking about 30 seconds and a few degrees) and the Natural will show its true nature of a sweet, balanced coffee with plenty of complexity and some acidity. Here is the thing, the roasting protocol and the cupping form are very closely linked. I could take a washed coffee a bit further and also flatten out the acidity and round out the cup, but should I use the same form for that?

If we all agree that Naturals should be roasted differently, then how? I agree with some that the criteria should be linked to density and sugar content (in a perfect world). Density totally drives how a coffee moves in the roaster and anyone with a tube and an accurate scale can measure density. Did you know that Costa Rica actually includes density in their grading system? We measure it at Dallis for most samples and I’ll roast them knowing their density and moisture. Also how do we measure this, Agtron? Anyone who roasts a lot of coffee knows that some coffees are naturally darker than others, I feel this is because of sugar content in the bean or fertilizers used on the coffee.

In the end, I think we all (a couple roasters, lots of exporters, quality control people, and coffee scientists) had a chance to voice our opinion as to the elements on which we should base Naturals standards. We at Dallis have a lot to offer, from farms to Q Graders, in the whole process. I really enjoyed hearing from Marty Curtis, who had plenty to say about roasting, that each section of the Natural Standards will be shared with people in the industry, evaluated and reviewed before any Standards are put into stone. Imagine standards that only work for a couple countries, or a few companies? Upon launching those types of standards, they would already be invalid.

I was hoping for more linear progress to be made at the conference, but simply defining the areas in need of review and talking about broad strokes of suggestions took four days. Imagine how long the next steps will be. My guess is 5 years minimum before anything can be final drafts can be published.

Stay tuned for Part III of Byron’s trip to the Naturals conference.

A word about naturals

Natural process coffee in Honduras

We’ve been talking a lot about natural process coffees on these pages, but not everyone reading our blogs may know quite what the ruckus is about. Isn’t coffee coffee, and all of it delicious? Yes and no. And maybe.

So-called “Naturals” have a bad rap in coffee. But first, what is a “natural”? Coffee starts as the seed of a fruit. Before it can be roasted, it must be processed. There are two major ways to process coffee. The first is washed process, wherein coffee is picked, the skin of the fruit removed, a natural fermentation happens, the remaining sugars are removed and the coffee is dried. The other is natural or dry process. The coffee is picked and dried (often on big concrete patios). Natural process is by far the simplest procedure, pick and dry.

Naturals are notorious for being inconsistent and/or over-fermented. Because of this, often, natural process coffees are discarded as low quality simply because they are naturals. But several years ago some people in distant corners of the globe started to use the natural process with incredible dedication and attention to how the coffee was dried and managed.

Nowadays there are fantastic naturals, but there is no grading system for this particular kind of coffee, and therefore no separation of these “super naturals” from the low quality naturals that have always existed. The biggest challenge with natural process is control. Each bean is its own universe. When processed correctly, they can produce sweeter and more complex coffee than washed. Who doesn’t want rich, sweet complex coffee?
We don’t know either.

Happy Holidays from Dallis Bros.!


 
 

Happy holidays from all of us at Dallis Bros. Coffee!

We can’t wait to celebrate the new year with you, and if we hadn’t mentioned it lately, our birthday is coming up. We’ll be 100 years old. And we can’t think of a better city than New York to grow old in.

With warm wishes from all your friends at Dallis Bros., enjoy the season!

Sourcing Diaries: Off to Ethiopia

Our coffee buyer, Byron  Holcomb, recently visited Ethiopia—also known as the birthplace of coffee—for a very important conference on Natural Process coffees. Here is the first of his journals and observations on the proceedings.

 

Addis Abeba. Photo by Byron Jackson Holcomb.

This is my third trip to East Africa. It is different. I honestly belive that everything started in East Africa: humans, coffee, the garden of Eden. The point is that I’m beyond excited to go to Ethiopia again.

Usually when I’m going to origin, it’s for chasing the best beans that a county or region has to offer. What is pulling me to Easth Africa this time is actually a conference about Natural Process coffees, or “Naturals”. A friend of mine is a brilliant coffee person and has invested an incredible amount of time and energy trying to understand Natural Process coffee. Being from Mexico, and a scientist by trade and a full time coffee consultant, he understands coffee more intimately on more levels that almost anyone I know. His name is Manuel Diaz. I met him in Uganda several years ago, just before the first Natural Conference happened in Yemen. I am on my way to the third Natural Conference right now.

We will be spending a lot of time cupping Naturals and discussing Natural standards. Here is the thing: most all specialty coffee (grading, scoring, purchasing, marketing) is based on our criteria for “Washed” coffees. Now, in the world, there is a small percentage of Washed coffees. There is a much larger percentage of Naturals produced out there. Some roasting companies refuse to purchase them. Naturals are risky business.

But they are also very very important. Look at the amount of water used in any washing mill, hundreds of liters per 100lbs of green coffee in some cases. Look at the consumer market: they aren’t nearly as sensitive as coffee buyers to coffee that tastes “fruity”&emdash;the hallmark of Natural process. I find that well roasted Naturals go over very well and can be an incredible source of sweetness in blends. I won’t say any names, buy I can think of at least four roasting companies that refuse to buy Naturals simply because they are Naturals. We at Dallis love brilliant coffees that will bring the daily customers of the cafes and restaurants we sell to coming back every day for a great cup, regardless of the process.

Let me define what I’m talking about: super-naturals. I like that name because it makes it very clear that we are not talking about commercial-grade-last-picking-rejects: the vast majority of naturals fit into that category. But here is the thing: imagine a farmer who doesn’t have water access or financing access to wet-mill his coffee, what hope does he have for quality? None, unless he can produce a quality natural. I personally have had totally different natural process results from my farm: three years of ok, one year of rejected coffee, and last year was incredible. Why? Same farm, same drying methods. If we as an industry could start to better understand Natural processing I think we could positivly affect more lives than probably any other coffee project out there. So yes, I’m excited and I know it will take years, but I’m patient.