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02/02/2014 - 12:39

As I write this, I'm making sure I follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule and double-checking that my hiking boots made it into my carry-on. Tomorrow morning, I fly from CLE to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo to join our partners from Crop to Cup in a coffee sourcing trip.

Phoenix Coffee's Direct Trade Mexican Zihuatanejo originates from my destination--we're looking forward to spending a week with the farmers, helping them evaluate their crops and choose lots of coffee for export for this coming harvest.

I'll be updating this post with photos and stories from my travels. I'll do my best to bring back some sun!

Christopher

 

11/21/2013 - 18:21


DIRECT TRADE MEXICAN ZIHUATANEJO
Strawberry, cinnamon, cocoa
Elevation: 1000-1375m
Region: Lyeva Mancilla, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
Process: Natural process
Drying: Spread on pavement or solar dryer
Varietals: Typica, bourbon, caturra, garnica
Traceable to: 26 direct registered farmers

BACKGROUND:
Phoenix Coffee’s newest Direct Trade offering comes from La Costa Grande in the Guerrero state of Mexico, set between the Pacific and the Sierra del Sur mountain range.

The climate here is ideal for growing coffee – and with little rain, the region is perfectly suited for specialty-grade production of natural processed coffees, like this one, which its farmer group calls “Natural Gold.”

Working with our farmer representatives, the 26-member Grupo de Trabajo Lleyva Mancilla registered as its own exporter in 2013 – which enables them to sell their rare coffee to the American market and receive a higher price per pound. Before, the farmers received on average only $0.75 per pound for their coffee. That was below the market rate at the time, which was $1.25 per pound. By selling directly to Americans (such as us), our farmers are able to fetch a premium for their coffee.

That's huge. That's the money that the farmers use to raise their families and educate their cihldren and invest in their futures. That's the money they use to increase the quality and yield of their crops.

As a result, in preparation for next year’s harvest, where the farmers will receive a premium for cup quality, the farmers are building better storage facilities, testing soil, cupping and renewing their organic certification – all of which will help improve the yield, quality and price of this unique coffee.

FARMER INFO - AND HOW COFFEE CAME TO ZIHUA:
Some of our farmers wanted to send along some information about themselves. They're proud of the coffee they've produced and want us to know - and to communicate to our customers - the humans who labored to produce the coffee we drink.

Maria Guadelupe Gomez-Andzo, a 59 year old farmer, wife, and mother of three, cares for 40,000 trees on her farm, loves to listen to Cumbia music, and dreams of vacationing to see the coffee farms in Costa Rica. "You can see the beach from my farm, which is so beautiful. Our coffee is kissed by the salty breeze of the sea even though my farm is over 1,200 meters high. I care very much about protecting the environment, the soil, the birds, because I know that all of it goes into making the world’s best coffee." Her favorite food is rice and beans.

40,000 trees might seem like a lot - but the yield of these trees is just an average of 1-1.5kg per harvest per tree. Dismal. The increased revenue from exporting their coffee directly will help the people of Zihua increase their yield and quality of life.

Casear Galieana Sortiz is 95 years old; a few weeks away from turning 96 when our farmer rep, Jake, met him in the lush garden courtyard of his house on the outskirts of Zihuatenejo. Back in the 1960's, when Casear was a young man in his early 40's he left the tourist town on foot, travelling away from the ocean and up the mountains. The first few times he followed the river up, since there was no road. This trip could take up to two days.

Later, he purchased a burro and enjoyed a 12 hour donkey ride up the mountain. He would stay there for 2 weeks at a time, sleeping under a tree with a pistol to protect him from panthers or pumas or jaguars.

After a few years neighbors from Zihuatanejo would follow him and start their own farms. Locals who lived on the mountainside would come by to cook food and later stay to pick coffee for pay. Later still Casear moved his family up to the farm, and stayed there until his children had to go to school.

Why did he do this? The short answer he gave: 'I was stubborn and stupid'.

Before Casear there was no coffee in the area of Zihuatanejo. But he know that there was markets South in Atoyac.

The longer answer he gave had to do with a lack of education and opportunity to do much else. Casear saw the rugged undeveloped mountains behind Zihuatanejo as an opportunity to make something that he could pass on to his children.

And he did.

08/30/2013 - 10:17

After months of planning, hard work, and excited nights (which is another way to say 'sleepless'), we are nearly ready to unveil our new cafe at 1793 Coventry Rd. Cleveland Heights, OH.

We'll update our cafes page in order to accommodate the change - but for those of you who have us on speed dial, don't worry, the phone number will stay the same.

Here's the timeline of events for the next couple of weeks:

Sunday, September 1

Last day at 1854 Coventry Rd. We'd love to have you stop by. This address has been a coffee house on Coventry Rd, either as an Arabica, a Caribou or a Phoenix, since 1976. There are a lot of memories here, and we'd love to capture as many as we can so that as we prepare for this transition we bring with us all of the connections we've helped make over the years. We have blank note cards at the cafe as a way to record these favorite memories. We lock the doors at 9pm.

Labor Day (Monday, September 2) through Thursday, September 5

Our Coventry cafe is closed. We will be open at our Lee Rd. and E.9th cafes for your coffee needs!

Thursday, September 5 at sundown (7:54pm)

We will be hosting a Community Candlelit Gathering at 1854 Coventry to honor the address that has been a center of Coventry Village for 37 years and mark the occasion of a new era. In the words of SWJ, our CEO/superbarista: "We hope to honor the magic of the past connections and relationships that have been born on Coventry." Gather with the rest of the community at 7:30pm for a ceremonial 'goodbye' and espresso shots at the NEW Phoenix Coffee on Coventry.

Friday, September 6 at 6 a.m.

The new Phoenix Coffee on Coventry opens! The address is 1793 Coventry Rd. Cleveland Heights, OH - on the corner of Coventry and Hampshire.

06/17/2013 - 16:16

Tongkonan

Direct Trade SULAWESI TORAJA TONGKONAN GR1

This island - Sulawesi - produced the cup of coffee that changed CEO/superbarista Sarah Wilson Jones' life. So it seems fitting that Phoenix Coffee's newest direct trade offering comes from this ancient island. We hope it will change your life, too.

The geology of Sulawesi (formerly called Celebes) dates back 100 million years - its iron-rich soil is perfect for growing coffee. This coffee comes to us from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, specifically in the northern part of the southwest region of the island - east of Makale town, a mountainous area occupied by the native tribe, Toraja.

Growing coffee is a traditional part of Toraja heritage and a practice that continues today. The coffee trees, as well as their thick shade trees, are fertilized using the droppings of livestock and coffee parchment. "This is fairly much the typical or sort of unwritten standard, which can be seen at almost every family's backyard within the region with manual pulley ground water well as water source."

Chemical fertilizer is relatively unknown to these farmers - and as a result, like our other Direct Trade offerings, the coffee is produced through organic means (though it has not gone through USDA certification).

The coffee is wet hulled - a process known as "giling basah" in the local language. The parchment coffee is partially dried, and then the outer layer of the bean is stripped off revealing the whitish and swollen green bean. The coffee is then dried on patios, turned frequently, resulting in the bluish beans that we have at our roastery.

DIRECT TRADE SULAWESI TORAJA TONGKONAN GR1

Cupping notes: Creamy, pepper, cocoa (an amazing berry finish too)

Altitude: 1300-1400m

Varietals: Djember and Ateng

Processing: Wet-hulled

Grade: Grade 1

 

Phoenix Coffee Company's Direct Trade Sulawesi Toraja Tongkonan coffee directly supports the quality of life for farmers in the Toraja tribe of Sulawesi and is available for a limited time online and at all Phoenix Coffee Company locations.

04/01/2013 - 12:15

We're putting together an experiment to settle, empirically - ONCE AND FOR ALL - the question of how different storage methods impact the taste of coffee.

We need tasters!

Before we can begin the actual study, we will need a panel of people whose palates have proven to be up to the challenge. Collecting a group of such people will involve hosting a series of qualifying cuppings at each of our cafes. For those of us already in the coffee industry, this is an excellent palate-development opportunity.

Qualifying Triangulation Locations and Schedule

Lee Rd Cafe

  • Thursday May 30th 5 PM

E. 9th Cafe

  • Wednesday June 5th 2 PM

Phoenix Coffee Storage Test Overview

In continuing with Phoenix’s pursuit of excellent coffee, this spring will mark the beginning of a six-week study on the different methods of storing coffee. We will attempt to collect enough data to describe the flavor degradation associated with the storage variations available to Phoenix customers, as those degradations occur over a six-week period.

This study will endeavour to describe the components of flavor (aroma, acidity, body, notes, and finish) present in stored coffee, as those components compare to the components of flavor present in freshly-roasted coffee of the same varietal and roast temperature, when both coffees are brewed via french press. The study will contrast the timing and form of degradations occurring in the storage methods most preferred by Phoenix customers and employees.  The storage methods will be determined prior to the experiment by a compilation of surveys given on social media and in Phoenix cafes.

The study will require a weekly tasting, documentation, and comparison of both the stored and freshly roasted coffees by a panel of tasters. The tasters will receive a rubric for comparison that will evaluate the stored coffees’ similarity to the fresh coffee across the five components of flavor.

Test Participant Qualification

To ensure that each of the tasters has a palate capable of discerning differences in similar coffees, and in keeping with Phoenix’s commitment to fostering community, we invite all interested employees, customers, and coffee enthusiasts to participate in a series of qualifying trials at their local Phoenix cafe.

These trials will consist of five triangulation cuppings, in which the taster will be required to taste three cups of coffee and identify which of the three cups contains a different coffee from the other two cups. In order to qualify for participation in the studies, tasters will be required to correctly discern the different coffee in four of the five cuppings. To ensure the consistency of the tasters’ palates, we ask that those interested in participating in the study pass the triangulation trial on two different dates.

We already have several qualified tasters, but we are still looking for 6 more to qualify in the coming weeks.

Those tasters that qualify for participation in the study will then be contacted about scheduling times and days for holding the storage method tastings. Successful qualifiers that choose to participate in the final study will be compensated for their time and input with coffee beans and merchandise.