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April 2017 Archives

Stump the Roaster: Berlin, 4th May


Join our European Cafe Imports team for a night of Stumping the Roaster! a focused conversation about roasting coffee, with an extroadinary panel of coffee professionals. 

The evenings events will talke place Thursday, May the 4th at 7pm at our European office facility:

58 Oranienstrasse, 10969 Berlin. 

Cafe Imports Europe's Stuart Ritson will emcee the event, with our panel of roasters including:

James Bailey, Workshop Coffee

Jeff Verellen, Caffenation

Mihaela Iordache, La Brulerie de Belleville

Philipp Reichel, Café Neun

Lynsey Harley, Modern Standard Coffee

Maren Ernst, Ernst Kaffeeröster

The Café Imports Legendary Coffee Tour: Spring 2017

We are pleased to be announcing our Spring 2017 "Legendary Coffee Tour", hitting a cupping table near you this May!

The Legendary Coffee Tour is a travelling coffee education event and celebration presented by our notorious team of Café Imports Sales Reps and Customer Service. In years past, Café Imports has hit the road with a number of similarly styled coffee events including but not limited to: The Legendary Cupping Tour, 2015 (a multi-city cupping/party event tour), The Legendary Coffee Producer Tour, 2016 (a multi-city, multi-coffee producer meet & greet/presentation/party) Stump the Roaster event series, 2016-2017 (a focused conversation about roasting coffee, with a panel of roasters).

The Legendary Coffee Tour was created in the likeness of these three aforementioned events, aiming to focus strengths from all three into one city at a time, Spring 2017 marks the first leg of the Legendary Coffee tour, with stops in Toronto, Miami, Tampa, Indianapolis, and Denver. The resultant success from this Spring circuit will set the tone for a tour we hope to be never-ending...a coffee series for which legends are made.

We are excited to be having two very special guests along for the Ride:

• The wizards at will be in attendence acting as a digi-literary "hype" team, documenting our travels and our collaborating coffee communities.

• Our Minneapolis neighbors at Mill City Roasters are also on board, buying a round of drinks or several for all attendees as the tour's official beverage sponsor. 

The details for each city are listed below, along with a facebook event page link for each location, if you care to R.S.V.P. ahead of time. We are excited to see your beautiful faces soon! #LegendaryCoffeeTour

May 10th, Toronto

An afternoon Coffee Cupping and early evening Stump the Roaster Q&A panel discussion

Boxcar Social Harbourfront

235 Queen's Quay West Toronto, ON M5J 2G8, Canada

1:00-3:00pm Coffee Cupping, 4:00-6:30pm Stump the Roaster

Click here for the Legendary Coffee Tour: Toronto Facebook event page.

May 17th, Miami

An afternoon Coffee Cupping at All Day MIA followed by a new "Roaster Relay" event at Panther Coffee

Cupping at All Day MIA at 2:00-4:00pm

1035 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33136

"Roaster Relay" (new CI event) at Panther Coffee. 7:00pm - 10:00pm

5934 NW 2nd Ave Miami FL 33127

Click here for the Legendary Coffee Tour: Miami Facebook event page.

May 18th/19th, Tampa

A Thursday night Stump the Roaster, and Friday cupping sessions at Buddy Brew Coffee. 

Buddy Brew Coffee
2020 W Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606

Thursday May 18th: Stump the Roaster, 7:00pm-10:00pm

Friday May 19th: Two Coffee Cuppings, 10:00am & 1:00pm

Click here for the Legendary Coffee Tour: Tampa Facebook Event page.

May 25th, Indianapolis

Afternoon coffee cupping followed by an early evening Stump the Roaster live panel Q&A @ The Tube Factory.

The Tube Factory

1125 S. Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203

Coffee Cupping 2:00pm - 3:30pm 
Doors open for Stump the Roaster at 4:00pm
Stump the Roaster at 4:30-7:30pm (Live panel to be announced leading up to event!)

Click here for the Legendary Coffee Tour: Indianapolis Facebook event page.

June 2nd - Denver

Afternoon coffee cupping followed by an early evening Stump the Roaster live panel Q&A @ Huckleberry Coffee Roasters.4:30 Coffee Cupping

Huckleberry Roasters, warehouse location
2650 West 2nd Ave, Unit 14, Denver, CO 80219
4:30pm - Cupping

6:30pm - Stump the Roaster

Click here for the Legendary Coffee Tour: Denver Facebook event page.

Stay posted to our Social media for further tour deatails and updates!

Sample Roasting with the Stronghold S7 Pro - A Reflection by Ian Fretheim

In November of 2015, I made a trip to South Korea to visit a roaster manufacturer called Stronghold Technology. The four-drum sample roasters that we had been using were in need of an upgrade: Digital probing had verified significant variability between the barrels, and Cafe Imports was expanding its operations such that our remote offices were also in need of calibrated sample roasting. While my colleague in the sensory analysis department, Megan Person, had become an expert on our drum sample roaster, increases in sample volume at our HQ and the lighter staffing that we were using in the offices abroad both demanded that we adapt.

At that time, Stronghold was relatively new. Information about the company was difficult to find, and long-term reviews were nonexistent, but there were two things I knew: Stronghold built an automatic roaster with a batch size small enough for samples. Their original roaster, the S7, had a 850-gram capacity. I became interested in the S7 in part because Stronghold claimed that it could roast, save and replicate profiles with as little as 150 grams of coffee. That sounded a heck of a lot like an answer to my sample roasting situation. The larger batch size would also come in handy for cupping events, while the automation would allow salespeople to roast their own samples rather than relying on Megan and I.

I decided to make the trip and check them out for myself. The potential upside was so great that if the trip turned out to be a dud it would still have been justified.

I spent two days roasting on the S7 in Stronghold's office. I didn't produce exactly the roasts that I was looking for. My investigations into the S7's capabilities were too broad--can it do this, can it do that, what if I change this parameter, etc. I needed to feel good about the roaster's potential, and see as much of the S7's range of application as I could. Perfecting roasts was a task for a later date. Based on the range of roasts that I was able to accomplish, and seeing the S7's ability to replicate those roasts, I came home confident that I had found our machine.

Now it's 17 months later, and we've been using the S7 almost exclusively for our sample roasting for about a year. The ease of use, the quality and consistency of roast, the scalability and the ability to build and share profiles between roasters--all these things have made the S7 a truly remarkable tool for our sensory program.

It has been an absolute pleasure working with Stronghold, and I look forward to many more years of it. They're going to be at SCA Expo, and I strongly encourage you to check out their booth--and the version of the S7 that they'll be releasing for sale here in the U.S.A. That's right. The S7 that I've been raving about is no more...

Stronghold is moving forward with a second-generation roaster called the S7 Pro. We've just received ours, and I can say that everything has been improved-even things we didn't know needed improving. From the user interface to the probing, from the PID controller to profile replication, even with practical things like chaff collection and clean out, I was gobsmacked unboxing and firing up the new machines. The only thing the S7 Pros don't do is make breakfast, which I've heard may be part of the first software update...

--Ian Fretheim

Café Imports Director of Sensory Analysis

Stronghold has also released a video testimonial with Ian commenting on his experience working with the S7. You can watch that at this link:

Origin Report: Costa Rica

Ever since we bought our first container of Costa Rican microlots in 2004, we have been nurturing and growing our relationships with producers there, only to see the projects, partnerships, and the coffees themselves blossom in ways we honestly just could not have imagined back then.

Our operation is extensive in Costa Rica. At our office and cupping lab in San José, farmers stop by to cup coffees, watch buyers cup their coffees, or just grab some GrainPro bags to take back to the mill. We're living there (well, one of our green buyers is, anyway) from December to May which allows us to constantly source coffees and to keep our doors open for our customers in a way that a two-week visit, or a simple agent on the ground, just does not allow.
Rain. That one word defined this year, but in ways that were not expected. Unlike the dry season previous, the rains came at precisely the right times for peak cherry development during the 2016/2017 growth cycle.

The rain was a boon to coffee growers, but it changed the tenor of the harvest season completely, creating a bit of drama as producers scrambled to pick, process, and pack their abundant crops in half the usual time. Normally this is a major problem, as farmers are not able to give the coffee the attention that it demands, but this year, the volume was also down, so that all came together for some coffees that are shaping up to be stellar.

Tropical storm Otto hit Costa Rica late this past November, bringing heavy rain and gusting winds that knocked many of the ripening cherries to the ground. At the beginning of the harvest period, when seasonal workers began to show up to begin picking coffee, the cherry still wasn't ready - many left in search of work elsewhere. As luck would have it, just as the workers left the coffee became ready to pick.

This particular situation affected one of our longtime partners: the Las Lajas micromill in Sabanilla de Alajuela. Suddenly, the coffee on their seven farms had ripened at the same time - which meant pickers had double work to do to keep up with the loads being harvested, and the patios and drying beds were soon filled with drying coffee, putting space at a premium.

Co-operatives and larger organizations were also feeling the crunch: The loss of cherry and the lack of labor resources put a strain on the harvest for the complicated networks of small producers who pool resources and often make several large sweeps through the fields for ripe cherry, rather than returning daily to each tree as they are able to do at smaller operations.

As a result, while we expect to see a significant drop in full-container volume from larger cooperatives this year, the micromills are a different story: quality appears to be up, and the volume should be just about the same as last year.


The theory is that a majority of cherries knocked from the branches by the storm were weak or of lesser quality to begin with. A natural "pruning" of these cherries by the rain and wind meant only the stronger cherries remained, which meant they also received the bulk of the nutrients, sunlight, and energy from the plant during maturation.

Costa Rica measures the harvest by using a cajuela, a metal box that is filled to the brim with cherry, then closed, and counted to give a tally of how many full cajuelas a producer has brought to the mill. The harvest is measured in volume, but the cajuelas are also weighed to compare one year's crop with the last. Last year the average weight of one cajuela was 11-12 kilograms. This year, cajuelas from the majority of our microlot partners are weighing 12-13.5 kilograms.


More sugars, and riper cherry, weigh more in each box. This is the direct result of a near-perfect growing season with unique weather conditions prior to the harvest.

We have begun to cup the first samples of this year from our partners like Las Lajas and the Aguilera Bros at our lab in San José, and we'll soon taste those samples in Minneapolis and our international offices as well. Most all of these microlot samples are cupping in at least one whole point higher than last year - and these are just the first samples of the year.

In short, we are seeing better quality in terms of both full-container and microlots and expect a significant decrease in the exportable volume of larger cooperative coffees this year. In terms of microlot processing, we expect the majority to be honey, followed by washed, and then naturals.

All of this goes to show not only the impact of climate variances and the unpredictability of weather in the coffee lands, but also that adaptability is key: Where our micromill partners are able to adjust their harvest season to capitalize on the quality cherry production, small farmers in co-operatives seemed better able to capture quality without also producing quantity. As the Earth warms and patterns change, we will see more of these types of season-by-season adaptations and the evolution of production in Costa Rica and beyond - but for right now, we can simply wait for the delicious coffees to start rolling in.

We are currently in the middle of finalizing our Microlot containers from Costa Rica. As they become available, our offering sheet will reflect these lots. We suggest, if you haven't done so already, email your rep with your needs including process, bag counts, and any specific farms or micromills. We will do our best to make sure everyone is accommodated and has some delicious Costa Rican coffee for this season!

Introducing Tolima to our Colombian "Regional Select" offerings

We are excited to be offering a new Colombian coffee region, recently arriving to our Regional Select program coffees for the very first time: Tolima. 

Tolima is the third largest coffee producing region of Colombia and accounts for 12% of the country's annual production. Located in west-central Colombia, this region is fully inscribed by the Andean mountains and the Magdalena river basin, making it rather remote and challenging to access. Until recently, much of the coffee growing area had been considered dangerous because of the Colombian FARC's presence. Today, Tolima has seen a drastic decline in FARC presence, allowing for increased accessibility to these nutty, tangy, fruity, and creamy-bodied coffees.

We have two lots currently available at our U.S. warehouse: 10066, and 10067 (click for beanologies)

Progress Report: Environment 2017--Remaining Carbon Neutral with Trees, Water, & People

"From 2005-2016, every bean of coffee that reached the Café Imports warehouse doors was carbon neutral/carbon offset by planting trees. This new effort (with Trees, Water & People) in 2017, a charitable effort by the ownership of Café Imports, guarantees again that all of our coffee is carbon neutral by the time it arrives at our warehouse"

--Andrew Miller, Café Imports Founder

Unfortunately, at a time where it is seemingly more topical than ever before, we find it is critical to analyze our business practices and the impact importing coffee has on the environment. Our goal each year, in accordance with our mission of Progress, is to analyze our carbon footprint and examine how we can keep our business practices carbon neutral.

By clicking on this link, or on the image below, you can view a report on our environmental progress--reflecting on 2016, and looking ahead for 2017. In this report, we have outlined the impact our business and behavior has on the environment, and how we are making progress to minimize our global impact. All information in the report can also be found at

Café Imports Progress Report: Environment 2017


A significant portion of our report highlights the analysis of our carbon footprint and what we are doing to offset that. In 2005, we worked with Trees for the Future, purchasing 80,000 trees to be planted in Central America. This project offset our carbon footprint through 2016. As the calendar turned over to 2017, we found ourselves "on the market" for another project to offset our carbon footprint moving forward. After careful consideration, we are extremely excited to announce our partnership with Trees, Water & People to fulfill our goal of remaining carbon neutral.  TWP has been planting trees, building cook stoves, and greatly increasing the quality of life for people in Central America since 1998. Their mission of improving lives while helping manage natural resources is something we feel aligns with our core values and business practices, and we are greatly looking forward to the experience of working with them. More information can be found about the Trees, Water & People in the aforementioned environmental progress report. 

It is important to note that we refer to this TWP project and all of our carbon offset projects as a necessary cost of doing ethical business: They are base-line investments from Café Imports and are not connected to or reflected in the premiums of our coffee offerings.

The environmental commitments we have integrated into our business practices are here to stay. We don't consider ourselves a 'green' business, but we are committed to make environmentally conscious decisions at every step of the coffee chain, wherever possible. We know there is plenty of room for improvement, but we take pride knowing there are efforts in place. If you have any suggestions, please e-mail and we will happily consider your input.