Latest Posts

  1. Podcast Episode #22 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 2

    Podcast Episode #22 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 2

    Part 2 of 2 - Continuing the talk about the coffee supply chain and other topics

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  2. Podcast Episode #21 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 1

    Podcast Episode #21 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 1

    Part 1 of 2 - Talking about the coffee supply chain among other topics

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  3. Early harvest in Nariño (and general ramblings from the road)

    Early harvest in Nariño (and general ramblings from the road)

    Harvest in Nariño comes at a time that is somewhat in between the middle and main harvests of our other primary sources of Colombian coffee, namely Urrao and Caicedo in the north, and La Plata and Inzá down south.

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  4. Farm Gate Coffee™

    Farm Gate Coffee™

    Farm Gate Coffee is the name we give to our direct trade coffee buying program. Farm Gate pricing means that we have negotiated a price directly with the farmer "at the farm gate," that is, without any of the confusing export and import fees.

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  5. Podcast Episodes 19 & 20: Kenya Coffee: Growing, Trading and Marketing

    Podcast Episodes 19 & 20: Kenya Coffee: Growing, Trading and Marketing

    A while back we had Mary Maina Manyeki visit us in Oakland, and had a great conversation about her experiences as a Kenya coffee farmer.

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  6. Another Home Roaster Takes the Leap

    Another Home Roaster Takes the Leap

    Sweet Maria's customer jumps into his own coffee business

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  7. Import Partners and Direct Trade

    Import Partners and Direct Trade

    If you've ever visited our warehouse, you may have noticed coffee bags with logos other than the "Sweet Maria's", or our sister wholesale business "Coffee Shrub" logos.

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  8. Lost and Found Coffee

    Lost and Found Coffee

    Some recommendations to replace our recently out of stock coffees

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  9. Out with the new, in with the newer!

    Out with the new, in with the newer!

    Regular harvests make Colombia a truly unique coffee producing country.

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  10. Bag it up! How Our Customers Package Their Roasts

    Bag it up! How Our Customers Package Their Roasts

    How Do You Package Your Coffee?

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  11. Podcast: Coffee Cultivation in Colombia PART 2

    Podcast: Coffee Cultivation in Colombia PART 2

    The second half of a pair of audio recordings from Tom's Skype conversation with Leonardo Henao who works with many Colombian Farmers.

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  12. Podcast: Coffee Cultivation in Colombia PART 1

    Podcast: Coffee Cultivation in Colombia PART 1

    The first half of a pair of audio recordings from Tom's Skype conversation with Leonardo Henao who works with many Colombian Farmers.

    Read More

$caa in hotlanta

$caa in hotlanta

We're off to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (scaa) conference in scintillating "Hotlanta" today. In a way, I wonder why I go. I count among the disaffected, I suppose. At one time "Specialty Coffee" really meant something, defining itself in opposition to commercial/industrial grade coffee. Now there are so many things crammed under the roof of Specialty, it's hard not to feel squeezed out. I don't know what we are ... Fourth Wave, Micro-Lot Specialists, DIY ... it always seems silly to think of such terms and even sillier to apply them. Maybe it's my history. Since I am from an artsy background, it reminds me of photography, which was (supposedly) my field of focus. Photography as a technical skill gives you a lot to talk about with other photo geeks, bracketing half-stops, and backlight compensation. But when it comes to the ideas, what you really do, well, you might be better off talking to your pet dog than most photo people; just because you share a method doesn't mean you have shared goals. It's like that with the coffee trade. You could sit next to a fellow coffee buyer on a plane trip to an origin country, and have nothing substantial to talk about but the weather. Of course, the opposite can be true to, which is why I still go to the $caa, armed with a dim hope. In reference to my crafty use of the $, I have to consider this: what furthers our ability to find better coffees to offer our customers, $3000 spent going to the scaa (Josh comes too), or $2500 spent on a great origin trip, cupping, visiting farms, understanding local issues, forming new relationships. For sweet maria's it's the later, of course. Two footnotes to this grumpy post: a. I volunteer to help roaster trainings and cupper trainings at scaa and I find that worthwhile for me and others, and b. the branch of the scaa called the Roasters Guild, especially the intensive RG retreat each year, is very, very worthwhile.
Incidentally, I will try to send a couple pictures to the web log from there 1. an image of the stupidest coffee product I find (there will be a lot of competition in this category) and 2. something new that is actually sensible and of good quality. That might be tough.

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