Last week, we announced that Passenger Coffee from Lancaster, PA was coming aboard our Chemex pour over menu as a guest roaster. In the days since, we've thoroughly enjoyed sharing these two beautifully roasted and intricately flavored offerings with our customers. We totally understand how and why people get locked into routines, but that makes it even more fun to break out and try new things.
Let's take a closer look at the Passenger coffees we have right now: Ethiopia Guji GR. 1 and Guatemala El Pilar. First up, the Ethiopia :
Generally speaking, Ethiopian coffees are prized throughout the specialty coffee industry. And it's no mystery why: Ethiopia, located on the mid-East coast of Africa, is not only considered the birthplace of coffee, it also is home to some of the planet's most perfect growing conditions (so much so, that coffee plants just grow wild across the land!). The genetic diversity of coffee varieties is staggering, with some types surely still undiscovered.
This particular coffee is sourced from the Moplaco Trading Company, a family-run coffee grading and cleaning business that was founded in 1972 by Yanni Georgalis and is now run by his daughter Heleanna.
As a small child, Heleanna fled to Europe as civil war was braking out in Ethiopia, and lived there until 2008, when her father passed away. At that point, she moved back to Addis Ababa and took over the business. This was right when the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange, a marketplace for the country's major exports, was being formed. Throughout all of the political and market changes, she has helped Moplaco grow and thrive, and they have done incredible things for the Ethiopian coffee trade. The company's vision and mission statements strike right at the heart of what we're all about, and give us a swell of joy to know how many intensely dedicated coffee stewards there are out there:
Heleanna also runs a dry mill, where already highly graded coffee is cleaned further, to Passenger's specifications. This coffee from the Oromia region, wet processed and dried on raised beds, has undergone a "absolutely perfect preparation," according to Passenger's website. Much Ethiopian coffee is lauded for in-your-face fruitiness, big peachy or berry flavors that kind of wallop the palate. We were pleased and surprised to find that the Guji Gr. 1 brings a much more subtle, nuanced red fruit profile, along with cocoa roundness, citrus-y acidity and extremely pleasant sweetness. These beans are clearly the work of many expert hands.
Next up, Guatemala El Pilar:
El Pilar is a farm in the San Juan Sacatepéquez region of Guatemala, owned and run by Juan Carlos Chen, who was gifted the farm as a wedding present in 2012 by his father in-law. Before running the farm, Juan was an accountant - how's that for a career change? Juan has steered the farm toward sustainable practices; for instance, the farm uses no pesticides, allowing other kinds of plants to grow and provide a dry covering for the coffee plants. While the farm comprises less than 8 square miles, the coffee crops only take up a small percentage of the space. The rest is for corn crops as well as nature preservation. The corn crops are managed by and feed locals from the community, which sounds like a really responsible, generous system to us.
While it's gone through periods of flourishing and struggle, El Pilar's land has been used for farming since the 17th century, and is home to 70 year old coffee trees that are tall enough that ladders are needed for harvesting! The coffee cherries are hand picked and processed in a wet mill on the farm's property, fermented for 48 hours, washed and then dried on patios.
Passenger's treatment of these beans results in a juicy acidity, redolent of tropical and red fruits. Complex baking spice notes and a hint of cocoa add depth and warmth, for a spectacular cup.
We love being able to share the stories about the coffee we serve. Big thanks to Passenger for the wealth of information on their website - they go above and beyond in terms of storytelling and transparency. Both of these coffees will be on our menu through early 2016, so give them a try before they're gone!
Photo Credit for Juan Carlos Chen: http://www.melbournecoffeemerchants.com.au/
Photo Credit for Finca El Pilar sign: http://www.coffeehunter.com/