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"Partly Sunny Party" the 2017 Cafe Imports Expo Party Announced

We are very excited to be throwing a party once again for all the beautiful people of the specialty-coffee community. Join us along with our co-sponsors Barista Magazine and Roast Magazine for a night of majesty, a.k.a. Friday night of the Global Specialty Coffee Expo.

Friday, April 21, 6-10pm at the Fremont Foundry, 154 N 35th St., Seattle 

It is our third Seattle "Partly Sunny Party," on the heels of last year's "Hotlanta: Cool Party" from Atlanta SCAA Expo 2016. To say the very least, this is not our first rodeo* (*party).

Complimentary food & drinks will be provided, as well as live music spinning by RADAMES

Facebook event here.


"Perfecting the Enemy of the Good" -- A New Cupping Score Card by Ian Fretheim


Cafe Imports Director of Sensory Analysis Ian Fretheim has been working on a new Cupping Score Card for some time now. After careful development and refinement, based on years of on-again/off-again brainstorming and months of application, Ian has arrived upon a new form that we are deeming the "Analytic Cupping Score Card" (Figure 1). Cafe Imports' Sensory Analysis department has been working with this new form for the past several months, in an effort to increase both the accuracy and the descriptiveness of our cupping program. Please enjoy the following essay, written by Ian himself, where he explores the new design and metaphysical hurdles to its development.

Figure 1 (Click here for a downloadable .pdf)

 

It is sometimes posited, even admonished, that we should not allow the Perfect to become the enemy of the Good. Less creative words were never said. Of course, early on the road from pragmatic compromise to tired platitude, this may yet be sound advice. Later, it is no more than Status defending Quo.

Or maybe the saying is true, and it is not the Perfect (head) but Perfection (heart) and Perfecting (hands) that we should look for in defense against the Good. In the knowing hands of experts, in the movements of the potter and the poet...we see that the Perfect is a far cry from Perfection. We see the ruse of the Perfect. Not the potter's ruse but Status's. The Perfect is nonexistent. And the status quoth neither heart nor skill of hand, but to claim the Perfect enemy that does not exist. Not so, Perfection. Not so, Perfecting.

Of course there are times when the Good needs an enemy. There are times when the Good needs an enemy Better than its friends. Without challenge, cross-breeze cold drought and deluge now and then, the Good loses pace, loses what makes it Robustly Good, defends weaknesses as pillars and afterthoughts as strengths. 

Plato may have planted these seeds. He saw the human as dealing in imperfect approximations of the Real thing. The Perfect. But who is the enemy of whom? Until perhaps Plato, had there been no war? And was this, the opening shot, let fly not from the Perfect attacking the Good, but from the Good keeping the Perfect at bay? Is the warning not to let the Perfect become the enemy of the Good a sort of rally cry for the oppressive Good?

With Plato we begin in a cave being taught to not let the Good be the enemy of the Perfect. In a cave, Good dancing distraction before us. Distraction from?...the Perfect. Plato, original Perfectionist. But what did Plato see? By his own theory, and by his own eyes: Approximation. Of the Perfect.

Though he never tasted but 88s, Plato always scaled to 100.

How did he know?

It is not the Good for which we need to worry, but Perfection. Plato lacked his teacher's knack for it. Lacked the Pliability to be wrong. To fall through the unknown and stick the landing. Or not. In Place of the unknown, Plato put the net of Perfect.

It may be that Plato once fell in love. Grecian air and all. One night they're walking the coast...and this is where Odysseus... as the sun sets over the Mediterranean expanse, he turns and says to his beloved, "You're really Good." Plato. For him, she can not be the Perfect (for the Perfect [non]exists above all existents), nor can he handle perfection, cannot suffer perfection upon perfection. "You're really good. 88. Maybe 89." What if the moon catches her eye? "Point five." Point five? Plato. Tell her/him s/he is perfection. But he cannot see it. So enamoured is he with the Perfect and its construction. Yes. Even for Plato there is no Perfect, only the Project. Perhaps the sweetest he can say is: "Dearest Danae, before you my understanding of the Perfect was less Perfect. But you've skewed the distribution and now I've added you to the accumulated data and the Perfect is more Perfect than I had imagined!"

Plato regrets his former youthful Proclamations of 87.5, so rash and lacking in Perspective. So absent knowledge and imagination of Danae. So 85 and a quarter. But there they are. Etched in the stone of some demon's cave, imperfect approximations of the Perfect for all to see. Every 100 must be dragged down by gross material connection with lowly 86s. None withstand judgement and all come out 91 - 92.

But what if we, for a moment, set aside Plato's approximation of the imperfect Good, which he called the Perfect? What if we take upon ourselves the task of Perfecting an enemy of the Good, rather than positing its ideal Perfect? An enemy of the Good set out not as the straw Perfect, but instead as the Better? Failing Perfection, might this enemy yet revitalize the dogged Good.

We have been working on a new cupping score card here at Cafe Imports for the last few months. The project began in earnest in November of 2016, but followed literally years of ongoing conversation and brainstorming. By early December we had a working model and by the end of the year we had refined it and begun training its use.

What is a score card? We can think of it as a questionnaire. As the administrator of a sensory test, I give my panelists score cards that I intend for them to use to tell me about their experiences. There is certain information that I want to know, in our case, about the coffees on a cupping table. I cannot follow each cupper around the table, asking (for inspiration) at each aspiration, "uh, so, how's the acidity?" "hmm, ok, how about now? Aftertaste?" "oh, hey, you getting jasmine in that?" "freshly cut? Or more tea-like?" Neither can I just set out the cups and tell everyone to have at it. The information received would scale between pictograms and this essay.

So the score card is a questionnaire. Great. Now we just have to decide what we want to ask. Oh, and how we want to ask it. Oh, and maybe what it is about what we want to ask, and how we can ask that.

Grab a bunch of cupping score cards and compare them. There are overlapping categories, and there are unique categories. In many cases they are arranged differently from one another, even where they are similar. What gives? Ever been to a Cup of Excellence competition? It's no mistake that their form leads with Clean and Sweet. At every CoE orientation to which I've ever been, the head cupper emphasizes Clean and Sweet. If you are unsure about a coffee, ask yourself, is it Clean and Sweet? By leading the scorecard with Clean and Sweet, Cup of Excellence is helping to orient their panelists to find the coffees that best fit their criteria.

So, the order in which the questions get asked matters. What else? Well, how about what we do and do not ask? For example, coffee has bitterness. Even very good coffees have some bitterness. But specialty forms don't ask about it. Why? Could be that because relative to lower-grade beans and Robustas, specialty Arabica stands out for its lack of bitterness. Could be that we'd rather spend our time assessing other, more positive attributes. Could be that we take it for given and that's a rap.

There's a problem, though, which is that bitterness is there. Lurking in every Aftertaste, every Overall, every Final Score. While we can use form structuring and question selection to focus the efforts of our panelists, we cannot very well get them to leave out integral aspects of their experience -- in particular when we are asking the very open questions of quality and perception through categories like Flavor and Aftertaste. Life finds a way and bitterness is going to get scored. As is lack of bitterness. Every time. Not providing space for bitterness is fine, but it also means that we have information that 1) is not getting reported and 2) is bleeding into other categories without clear specification.

Once we figure out all of our questions, we'll figure out the order in which to present them. We know that we want to explicitly include the most basic and unavoidable aspects of the tasting experience, lest they find their own way in. For coffee, this will be the tastes sweet, sour, and bitter. We've already got two, and so adding the third will be easy. Just need to make room.

What is this? For everything we add we need to take two away? Not quite. But we do need to limit the number of questions we're asking our panelists to consider. If you look beyond coffee, you'll see that in many cases we're trying to extract much more information from our sensory all at once than are other specialty industries. Ask too much and you'll dilute the answers. Don't give enough time to answer them, same result. It works in reverse, too. Ask too few questions or give too much time and you're likely to get over-cooked (extracted) responses.

What have we been asking about? Aroma, Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity, Body, Sweetness and Cupper's Score. What have we been asking about these things? We've been asking what the quality is. What is the quality of the Flavor? Of the Acidity? Why? Perhaps for the same reason we don't ask about bitterness. We are a quality-based industry. What would be the alternative? Intensity. However, raw intensity does little to tell us whether something is any good. Tons of acidity, but it's all acetic? Enough said -- and back to quality.

What is quality? If we look to acidity we can enumerate types of acid -- citric, malic, etc.-- and then designate which of those are considered good and which are considered bad. We can call this Q1. But that's not the end of it. Maybe malic is a higher-rated type than citric, but maybe the citric acid in this Yirgacheffe offers a more pleasant experience, described as juicier, than the malic in this Huehuetenango. Let's call this Q2. And again, what if Yirg number 2 has a similarly juicy citric acid as Yirg number 1, but Yirg number 2's acid is somehow more concentrated, clear, or representative of citric acid in coffee? Q3. Q4 goes to preference, for while we might deny that preference enters the professional assessment, it's there. Then, of course, so long as we are talking about positive attributes, we do indeed bring in intensity. We'll call it I. Let's call all of these the Indices of Quality. There may be others, and these may not each be weighted equally, though it would be better if they were...

How do we come to a score for the acidity of a coffee? Simplistically, Q1 +/- Q2 +/- Q3 +/- Q4 +/- I. And again for flavor, aftertaste, body, sweetness, etc. And again for the next coffee and the next. Either this, or we just use personalized shortcuts to loosen the bandwidth required to rapidly make the Quality calculation over and over. Intensity looks pretty good again, what with the Indices of Intensity being... intensity.

While quality needs significant simplification and specification, intensity needs precise elaboration and qualification.

Maybe there's another way to bring in quality? Something less complex and ambiguous? Something that can allow it to elaborate and qualify intensity? Can we build a new score card?

Let's go back to what we said about what we're asking about. What do we want to know? What are we looking for? With these questions for lenses, let's look at our old categories: Aroma, Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity, Body, Sweetness, and Cupper's Score. We use seven categories scored 0 - 10 and give a 30-point handicap to all coffees, adding up to 100 (if it's Perfect). Limiting ourselves to seven categories is extremely functional, and the 30-point math is comfortable so we'll try to stay with that.

We'll definitely keep Acidity and Sweetness, to which we'll add Bitterness. This means we've got 5 categories and only 4 spots remaining: Aroma, Flavor, Aftertaste, Body, and Cupper's Score. Let's keep Body as it is less vague than the others, is a variable attribute in coffees and lends itself readily to scaling. This essay has gotten long so I'll cut some chase. Aroma and Cupper's Score are both out. Cupper's Score doesn't tell me anything. It may as well be Stubborn Score when it doesn't match the attributes and Meh Score when it does. Aroma is important. I always smell the grounds before I make coffee at home. Everyone always smells the grounds when they cup. But what happens when a coffee smells really nice and then cups poorly? It doesn't get bought. When it doesn't smell like much but it cups out well? It gets bought. Panelists often say things like: "I marked this an 85, but my aroma score is pulling it up/down."

Acidity, Sweetness, Bitterness, Body: in. Aroma and Cupper's Score: out. We're left with three open spots, and only Flavor and Aftertaste to fill them. Scratch that. Aftertaste is out. People frequently use it to just amplify their Flavor score, it's qualitatively vague, correlates with other attributes, and now that we're assessing Bitterness, Aftertaste can probably be dropped.

What about Flavor and our final three spots? Flavor is dubious. Most coffee tasters are highly flavor-centric, and yet flavor is an exceptionally vague category. Are we asking people to draw on the entirety of their food- and beverage-consuming lives? Seriously? And we're asking coffee people to do this?! It's no wonder cupping notes at times read like the heavily curated menus of the bourgiest working-class-themed restaurants in your city. If the fennel isn't roasted on Jim's cherry wood in a shale-composite outdoor oven, is it even an upper Midwestern farm-style pizza pie? This is the kind of stuff that makes coffee interesting--to talk about. It's not the stuff that makes coffee quality.

"Flavor?" is a vague question. Try it sometime. "Hey, you! Flavor?" "Uh, what?" "Quality!" Of course, all the complexity discussed above applies. If we're not interested in fennel, what are we interested in? What are we looking for? With some qualification, we're looking for coffees that are Fruity, Floral, and Caramely.

Importantly, the most differentiated and specific flavor experiences come from a cupping roast and a cupping preparation. The cupping process certainly highlights defects, but it can also highlight the most exceptionally nuanced, subtle and volatile qualities of a coffee. In other words, much of the ambrosia of these apples is Edenic -- whereas the soft, sweet, malic description is not.

Of all the madeleine moments that coffee can conjure, the coffees that we're consistently interested in buying boil right down to Fruity, Floral, and Caramely. That roasted-fennel dreamscape that I described earlier? Maybe a bit floral, not too fruity, and, by the sounds of it, fairly caramely. We need more info, but what was it, some sort of Pacamara?

Where do we stand now? Fruity, Floral, Caramely, Acidity, Sweetness, Bitterness and Body. Flavors (sought after), Tastes, and Tactility. OK. Now we just need to figure out how to scale them. If you've noticed, we've already qualified Flavor to some extent. We've divided it into positive flavor groups. We could get into some trouble with ferment, but we can deal with that later. What if these categories were scaled graphically from Absent to Intense? What if Intense Fruitiness were a 10 (instead of Perfect coffee flavor)? Granting that the world didn't end then and there with the panelist's closing of the 0, I would know that this coffee was very fruity. What if Absent Fruitiness were a 6?

We've haven't gotten too much into score compression, but let me just drop from my pocket that most coffee scorers, like Plato, believe in the Perfect 100, and the crushing insult of <80. We fear with the fear of the ancient mysteries to trespass anywhere near the former or much beyond sight of the latter. It's called compression, and I am an acolyte-hypocrite in never having scored anything 100 points. How then can I know that an 88 has 12 points to go? If we posit a Perfect 100-point coffee (though ever unknown, for knowledge can only taint the Perfect), by necessity standing behind every Real experience, then our 91s and our 92s will be 8 and 9 points fear, 4 and 5 points hope, and terribly uncomfortable all squished together near the ceiling of our imagination.

Back to it. What if Fructus Absentia were a 6? Simple. I would not expect a fruity coffee. Works the same with the other flavors. How about the tastes? What about that bad acid? Let's try it. Let's scale acidity from Lacking at 6 to Intense at 10 (Mild, Moderate, and Strong making up the middle). Aromatic acid? Minus 2. We can use a checkbox. Intense gets a 10, minus 2 gives an 8. Seems a bit much except that the questions are "What is the intensity?" and "Is there acetic acid?" High and low are not the only concerns when we're talking about scaling. It is also important for the numbers we use to tell us specific information about the category that we're assessing. Imagine a spider diagram in which acidity is drawn out to ten, but the region beyond eight is shaded with a contrasting color. This conveys more information about the tasting experience than a diagram that only extends to seven or eight, wherein the acidity score has been pre-discounted as lower quality. For those worried over the final maths, we've found that acetic coffees tend in the end to be less sweet and more bitter than those without acetic acid.

CQAs? We can use another checkbox. Sweetness is easy. More is more. But bitterness? Graphically we can scale the same: Lacking through Intense. Numerically, we simply invert, such that Lacking is a 10, and Intense is a 6.

This leaves us with Body. Thin - Normal - Thick. 6 - 8 - 10. Rough? Minus 2. Astringent? Minus 4. Are thick coffees objectively better than thin ones? No, but they are thicker. If an EP Excelso gets a 10 on body compared to some spindly Gesha with a 6, then that's great because now I have some information. The Gesha can score very well elsewhere and the Excelso can be Thick. It's OK; you don't have to marry it.

Accounting for defects and further qualitative refinements can be done surprisingly well with set value checkboxes, as you'll see below.

The example of our score card in figure 1, is a working draft. It has shortcomings. It raises questions. Can we include a slider for panelists to note roast level? What are the specific thresholds and definitions for each category? When should I mark "Variable?" or "Muddled?" What is "Tropical Fruit?" Are CQAs always astringent, and if so should they discount twice? Can coffees "plus-one" more than once in a single category (e.g. Tropical and Stone Fruit)? What happens when we no longer love "Tropical Fruit?" If a cupper scores a coffee higher than 100 points, does their spoon get revoked?

This isn't the final word in score cards. For me, it's just the second or third word. Remember: We're Perfecting an enemy of the Good. Should we find success such that our score card is one day itself Good, another enemy will be needed.

-- Ian Fretheim, Cafe Imports Director of Sensory Analysis

 


Stump the Roaster: Melbourne, Thursday 30 March 7-10pm

YOU are invited to an in-depth conversation about roasting at Cafe Imports Australia, Thursday 30 March, 7-10pm. 

Free beer and food will be provided to foster top-notch focus during the evening's sage-level stage banter!

Our panel of guests include:

Fay Kamanis of Padre Coffee
Aaron Wood of Wood & Co Coffee Roasters
Pat Connolly of Veneziano Coffee
Damien Steponavicius of Five Sense Coffee
Dan May of Mecca Coffee

With the entire evening emceed by Cafe Imports S.V.P of Sales Noah Namowicz

R.S.V.P. by visiting our event facebook page! or by emailing australia@cafeimports.com


Fresh Crop: Los Naranjos

Two lots from Association Los Naranjos, one of our oldest and most-cherished partnerships, just hit our US warehouse last week.  The video below is a short interview of Fairfield Trading's Alejandro Renjifo in which he explains the program we have in place to create Los Naranjos offerings.

See the two available offerings here before they are all gone! 

Association Los Naranjos -- San Agustín, Huila, Colombia from Cafe Imports on Vimeo.


New Cafe Imports Education page: "How We Cup"

It is with great pleasure that we announce our "How We Cup" installment of the Cafe Imports Education program is officially live!

A thorough instructional video along with detailed step-by-step instructions can be found right here: www.cafeimports.com/howwecup 

This video/write-up is an installment of our Cafe Imports Education programming where we aim to provide top-notch specialty coffee education as a free resource on our webpage. 

It should be noted that this video is how "we" cup, which is slightly different than some of the set standards in our industry. So not only is this an educational video, but it serves as a transparent view of our sensory analysis practices, and should lend for some interesting conversation! Our Director of Education Joe Marrocco has highlighted these differences in the detailed step-by-step instructions that accompany the video. 

This project was a distant sequel to our How to Sample Roast video and webpage that we released over a year ago, and should hopefully be the first of many installments that we release on our Cafe Imports Education page this year!

Please enjoy!

--The CI team

 

 

 

 

 

 


New "Regional Select" Program Offering: Nariño

Café Imports is pleased to announce the arrival of a new member to our Colombian "Regional Select" program: Nariño.
As always, we believe our Regional Select program allows for the unique flavors and complexities of specific coffee-producing areas to be individually highlighted. This terroir-focused approach celebrates producers in each region; their varieties, their histories and farming practices, while at the same time rewarding them for their efforts through a program that pays higher prices for quality coffees.

Regional Select: Nariño

While each of Colombia's various coffee-growing regions has a distinct character in the cup, Nariño's unique climate conditions contribute to the special, sparkling quality of the coffees there. The dramatic slopes and valleys that comprise the landscape in this department have direct effect on the temperature modulation that creates these high-acidity, supersweet coffees: Warm, humid air collects in the lowlands during the day and creeps gently up the mountainsides at night, a combination that allows coffee to thrive at much higher altitudes than most of the rest of the country, as much as 2,300 meters above sea level.


Our Favorite Tagged Instagram Photos of 2016

Once again, we are so grateful for these tagged photos that we have compiled a list of our favorites from this year and wanted to share them back for the whole world to see! 

 

Here are our top ten favorite tagged Instagram photos from 2016 in no particular order:


London, UK

@alchemycoffeeroasters --"Cafe Imports limited edition caps...primed for a celebratory head spin??? Great roast day at Alchemy!"


Ames, IA, USA

@cabellcoffee --"Cupping through a zillion samples from our good friends up at Cafe Imports..."


Long Beach, CA, USA

@lordwindsorcoffee --"...that El Higueron from Costa Rica was incredibly tasty, so it's fitting to see it end up in good hands..."


Perth, Australia

@twinpeakscoffee --"We're diving straight into our new season offerings this morning!..."


Popayán, Cauca, Colombia

@nyloncoffee --"...That very moment before we won #caucabesetcup2016 lot 10!..."


Nashville, TN, USA

@katelynncastiglione --"...Thanks fo the lift homie..."


Moscow, Russia

@ichsuchdieddr --"...about to roast new Brazil..."


Lawrence, KS, USA

@amypope785 --"...so amped to receive this very special delivery from Colombia..."


Los Angeles, CA, USA

@klatchroasting --"...making a simple cup of coffee brings out a sweet collaoration between the server, the mug, and the taster..."


Pitalito, Huila, Colombia

@summitcoffee--"...as promised! Taking home a Huila Best Cup crop! Sharing with @vervecoffee - going to be delicious..."


Women Coffee Producers Program

 

 

In an attempt to recognize and promote the work that women do in growing and producing coffees around the world, we have developed and hope to expand a program that empowers women along the global coffee supply chain by creating equity, empowerment, and access to a wider market. We have been working with women producer groups over the past five years and have now formalized these efforts into a program, eager to expand into other origins.

While the role of women is culturally distinct from region to region within the coffee-producing world, we have created a set of base guidelines for the organizations and communities whose coffees are highlighted in this program, which helps us to work collaboratively with the growers to establish premiums and parameters for their participation.


At its base, a Women Coffee Producers coffee lot is:

· sourced through a democratically organized collective or group which comprises at least a significant voting percentage of active female coffee growers (more than 25% participation), or from groups entirely comprising female members and/or participants.


· purchased at a premium price above the average market value for the coffee, with the application of that premium decided upon by a majority of the group. The use of this premium will vary based on the needs of the women; in the past, these premiums have been used to build organic vegetable gardens (CESMACH, Mexico), dry-mill facilities (CODECH, Guatemala), and education and training programs related to sustainability practices (Gayo Megah Berseri, Sumatra). In some cases, the premium may simply be distributed among the group members in order to create equity and to raise their standard of living.


· given ample market representation as a lot that seeks to create equity, equality, and recognition for the normally marginalized female members of the supply chain.


· traceable to the organizational level, if not to the individual producer level, with particular attention given to the membership structure of the organization.


· a potential for a long-term relationship in which increased market accessibility creates the opportunity and incentive to improve coffee quality, thereby earning increased cup-based premium in future harvests.

To see all of the women producer groups we currently work with, visit our Community Page here.

 


 

A.M.A.C.A (Association de Mujeres Productoras Agropecuarias del Cauca) is the latest partnership in our Women Coffee Producer program. Located in the Colombian municipality of El Tambo, Cauca, this collective is made up of 140 female producers. After cupping a sample of their coffee this past July, we decided to drive to the township of San Joaquin and meet them - they're inspiring. The average size of land is just a single hectare per member, most of whom are the heads of their households. The members of AMACA are passionate, strong-willed, and have a deep sense of family values that seems almost magnified within the group as a whole. The premium included in the support of this coffee will most likely go towards the construction of a building where the members can store and cup their future harvests. 

Colombia: A.M.A.C.A. - Women Coffee Producer Program from Cafe Imports on Vimeo.


Cauca Best Cup - 3rd Edition


Cauca Best Cup - 3rd Edition 
Popayan, Cauca 
Colombia

Last September we hosted our third-annual live auction of contest winning coffees from a week long event full of cuppings and farm visits in the town of Popayan from the State of Cauca, Southern Colombia. "Best Cup" as we call it, and the winner received $22.00 per pound from Café Libre, in Seoul, South Korea.

Señor Rodrigo Batata from Caldono, Cauca and his one hectare of coffee trees.

Together with our Colombian coffee sourcing partner Banexport and 30 cuppers from around the world, we spent four days cupping coffees in the morning and afternoons visiting producers from this region in preparation for the event. Coffees from this region have rich tropical fruit, sparkling lime acidity, big rich juicy berry sweetness and big full body. They can be a little bit wild and intense and this is the exact quality that makes them unique. Like a nice Chilean Malbec, they can be a little racy, which is one of the reasons we wanted to have this event; to highlight the coffees from this territory.

Banexport collected over 700 submissions over the harvest period of May-July and cupped through them time after time, reducing the submissions down to 60 lots of coffee, 30 micro-lots and some 100 bag lots of "Regional Select" (small lots of coffee that were blended together from a specific micro-region or municipality). In addition, a table of experimental lots and unique varieties like Naturally processed Geishas and Pink Bourbons -- all to be cupped through and auctioned off to our panel of coffee professionals.

To me, these small auctions pay homage to the Cup of Excellence and all the work that program has done over the years to find the best coffee producers in the world, introducing them to the community and paying them well for their commitment to quality and excellence. "Cauca Best Cup" is essentially a small version of COE done on a regional level in order to highlight the micro climates and terroir inherent in the mountainous terrain of Southern Colombia. We do this on a shoestring budget but, in the same way, it discovers and brings forward the best producers in the land, celebrates their greatness in their community, pays them for their quality and introduces them to small roasters from around the world. It is unfortunate in our industry how coffee farmers deliver their product to town and have no idea where it goes or what it becomes. So, one of the greatest joys is seeing the crowd of farmers hanging around the cupping tables all week watching the madness of 30 cuppers from around the world cupping through table after table.

On the final day, we re-cupped the top 15 scoring coffees for confirmation and final scoring. Then we piled in to the bus and headed to the small town of Timbio, where an agricultural coffee fair was being held that day. A day of presentations, vendors, food and celebrations -- kind of like a county fair but throw in the fact that a bus load of gringos were in town to buy some coffee and things got wild.

Roasters from Momos Coffee in Busan to CoffeeMania in Moscow, bidding against Repetition coffee from Kansas and Philly's Elixir. Patriot Coffee from Florida versus Singapore's Nylon coffee and St. Louis' own Sump coffee versus Mpls' Dunn Bros. Quills from Kentucky and LA's Rose Park. These folks were civil during the week but savage on the bidding floor, taking some lots quickly to $10, 11, 12 and $13. Dollars. All the while surrounded by hundreds of screaming Colombian producers encouraging them to pay more with yours truly on the auction podium, gavel in-hand, trying to keep up with the raging prices and the screaming crowd.

When the bidding for each coffee is done, the winning farmer comes up to the stage and is joined by the roaster who just bought their coffee. They hug and take selfies, get certificates but most importantly, they meet. They become business partners and hopefully they begin a relationship that can last for years. We have witnessed first hand the passion that roasters have for a coffee once they meet the person who is responsible for growing it and the pride that famers show when they know the person that is taking their product across the globe to roast, brew and serve it to a community on the other side of the planet. Really pretty cool and one of the success stories that helps me get through Mondays.

We will be back in Huila the end of Jan for Huila Best cup if you know anyone interested in some great coffee and some madness.  -- Andrew Miller, Founder & President of Café Imports


Happily announcing our Non-GMO Project Verification

Café Imports is proud to say that our coffees are now certified under the GMO verify project to be a non-GMO food.

Like the Non GMO Project, we believe "That the integrity of our diverse genetic inheritance is essential to human and environmental health and ecological harmony."

We also oppose the fact that the easy and clear labeling of food products that include GMO's has been majorly and unfairly fought by the GMO-Food industry. For these reasons, we took the step to become certified through the Non GMO Verify project. Our commitment to our customers is to never work with GMO coffee in an effort to help maintain the integrity and consumer clarity of a product we all care for so much.

Click here to view and download our non-GMO project verified certificate.

Go to the following link to see all non-GMO verified coffee products: http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/verified-products/results/?keyword=coffee