Nov. 5, 2015
If you have received an order from us in the recent weeks, it probably included one of our Kenya postcards with a collage of Tom's great photos on the front and on the back, a brief history how Tom began buying Kenyan coffee along with an explanation of why we don't use auction numbers as coffee titles anymore.
Here's the front.
...and the back. Don't squint trying to read it, the exact text is below this photo.
"Kenyas have always been important coffees for us at Sweet Maria's. It is one of the first origins I sold with specific lot designations. If you looked at an SM offer list of 10 years ago you would see “Kenya AA Auction Lot 293 -Gicherori” or “Kenya AA Auction Lot 662 –Mbaranga.” I don't know why I put the actual lot number, it just sounded cool.
That was just about the time I started traveling to Africa to select our coffees in person, travelling to the factories (what they call a wet-processing mill in Kenya) and started to really understand the entire Kenya coffee system.
These days, just putting up an auction number seems more than quaint. It's completely obsolete. We don't buy Kenya coffees from brokers anymore, or even from the Kenya auction. We buy them from a direct-selection process, where I make connections through exporters and co-ops. It's not for bragging rights or "direct trade" branding; it's necessary. In a Kenya coffee system that has been turned on its head by political infighting, this is how you find the exact qualities of coffees you are looking for.
We bring in exponentially more coffee than compared to 10 years ago, using 3 different sourcing channels. The reason to focus on Kenya is so simple: the coffee can be that good, it demands it.
We just landed another container of small lots from Nyeri district, which means we have one of the broadest selections of Kenya coffees in our history, with a huge range of flavor profiles. We have the bright citrusy types, those with deep berry and black currant flavor and more balanced lots with sweet milk chocolate. It's prime time for Kenya coffee, with such a deep set to choose from." - t.o.
By the way, we have an excellent selection of Kenya coffees right now including a Kenya Sample Set (a 4-pack of high-scoring Kenyan coffees) that features new Kenyans as of 2 weeks ago.