I usually pack my trail shoes when I travel to origin. They take no space in my carry-on and make a great escape from the hours of traveling in the back of a car on bumpy roads that lead to where the coffee grow. When running in the morning mist of Awassa last year I realized that both running and coffee was part of Ethiopias identity. Why not combine these two in a trip?
Back home I mentioned this when delivering coffee to Icebugs office. They too thought it was a great idea and suddenly it became reality. I reached out to Per-Olof at Global Relations who brought a social initiative with their school project to the trip. Together, we planed Coffee Run Ethiopia.
On November 10th, 25 people flew to Ethiopia. We spent a week together visiting schools, cultural heritage sites, coffee stations and mills and between all these events we ran through the streets of Awassa and in Sidamo together with Kenenisas coach and pacemaker. We ended the week with Great Ethiopian Run where 40000 people ran 10k through Addis. The runners sang and yelled more than the people watching. Everyone was happy. A unique experience and truly a great run.
I have been to Ethiopia many times, but this was still a one in a lifetime experience for me. Seeing Ethiopia for the first time, through the eyes of other people, stepping away from the coffee trail and taking the time to meet other sides of this vast county. On top of this I got to bring consumers into the life of a coffee buyer, showing the steps involved in the coffee process, and the work and passion behind the coffee they drink.
I met Samuel Zavala and his family at their farm El Cambalache many years ago and I bought his coffee since. Some of you might have tried coffee from their other farm La Picona. When I herd that El Cambalache ended up on 4th place in Cup of Excellence this year I just had to bid on the coffee. I know how important the competition is for the farmers, and I do love myself some excellent coffee. A true win-win.
El Cambalache is located in Dipilto on an elevation of 1350-1450 meters. The farm has been in the family for 10 years. Samuel inherited the farm two years ago and started to develop the farm and mill. The farm was initially planted with Maracaturra variety, but Samuel implement new varieties to diversify his farm. Samuel have tried out different process methods as part of quality improvement on the farm. In this lot he used anaerobic fermentation. This means that the beans rest in closed buckets after pulping, for 60 hours in this case, before the mucilage is washed of and beans try on raised beds. The cup is clean and elegant, with almond, apple, plum, green grapes, fudge and cacao in the cup. Sounds tasty? It is.
The orange on the bag is a symbol for Samuels quiet place on the farm. There is an orange tree in an open space among the coffee shrubs where Samuel can take a break and rest when he needs to.
The year that just passed was a busy one. . It is now five (!) years since I started the roastery and woke the Coffee Fox to life. It feels so … WOW! If I was a coffee shrub, I would now give my first yield.
Here is an attempt to summarize the main parts of 2017:
I have been busy, and I can feel it. But what a luxury to be busy with so many fun things. Looking forward to the new year that just started. For me, it is also the start of a new five year run.
10 years as a roaster, 5 years as a Coffee Fox. As I said in the beginning it feels so … wow. And I will celebrate this in the best way I can imagine: by taking a vacation with my family. We have already landed in Costa Rica to relax before it is time to look forward to whats to come.
I often get the question about the illustration on my bags. I always say that they carry a story about the coffee. In one way or another, they tell a story about the people, farm, farmer, mill, region or country that the coffee comes from. Here is the story about Ninga Hill, a coffee from Burundi.
I have roasted Ninga Hill for the most part of this year. Right now, Ninga Hill is one of the last coffees I have in stock that I don’t source myself, directly from origin. But I loved the coffee and the Long Mile project behind it to much, so I decided to buy it anyway through the importer they work with. Now, when I am down to the last bag I finally find the time to write about the bridge on the bag. As this is not my story, I let Ben and Kristy from Long Miles tell it:
”The Rugoma bridge connects Rugoma hill with Gaharo, which is where the Bukeye washing station is located. Subsequently, it connects the Rugoma community/people with the hills/communities/people located on Ninga and Munyinya hills, located behind Gaharo hill. In Burundi, hills are communities.
The Rugoma bridge is crucial as an access point for both education and commerce. The children from Rugoma use the bridge to get to school and goods are transported via foot or motorbike across the bridge. It’s also the bridge farmers use to deliver coffee cherries to Long Miles’ Bukeye washing station.
Due to heavy rains, the Rugoma bridge washed out at the end of 2014, after the coffee season had ended. During all of 2015, there was no bridge and the communities of Rugoma, Ninga & Munyinya finally asked Long Miles to help them, since the local government hadn’t replaced the fallen bridge. At first the Long Miles team didn’t know whether to get involved because of potential safety concerns, etc. But it was located right behind their Bukeye station and the two temporary logs that had been laid down for kids to get to school were hit by heavy rain in 2015, leaving only one log left. Children were falling in or weren’t going to school at all, while motorbikes couldn’t get across to transport goods and people.
During the same rainy period in 2015 that took out the temporary logs lain for the fallen Rugoma Bridge, the Musumba Bridge was washed out. This bridge was even bigger and more important, being that trucks used to cross it.
The local government couldn’t afford to repair/replace the bridge, as with the Rugoma bridge, so all the communities struggled. Then in 2016, one of the Long Miles Coffee Scouts, Fabrice, resigned from being a scout due to becoming elected as the Musumba commune chief. Once he became chief, Fabrice came to Long Miles about the Musumba bridge issue.
Long Miles, Fabrice and the Musumba Hill commune came together to figure out how to solve the bridge problem. They ended up agreeing that if Long Miles provided the materials to construct the bridge (cement, trees/planks, nails) and the commune provided the labour and engineer, there were enough resources to get the bridge replaced. The Long Miles team then went back to the Rugoma, Ninga & Munyinya communities and suggested the same deal and all communities agreed.
In 2015, Kristy’s grandmother passed away and the family had decided to give a monetary gift to Long Miles and said they wanted the proceeds to go toward something memorable. This gift was given at the time the bridge projects were being negotiated, so the bridge money was given to these communities, in Patty Thorton’s name, to re-construct both the foot/motorcycle bridge that connects Rugoma with Gaharo, Ninga & Munyina, and the truck bridge for Musumba.”
If you get tempted to try this coffee you better hurry, I might just roast the last batch this week.
Way back in February I went to Kenya to find some good lots to bring home. At this time the harvest cycle was enging, and there are a lot of coffee going through the Kenyan coffee auction in Nairobi. It is usually a fun trip with a couple of days in Nairobi, where I pick out my favorite cups on a blind cupping table. After that, I like to take a trip upcountry to meet the farmers behind the coffee so I can learn more about how they work and what makes them special. This year turned out differently. The main crop in Kenya was lower than normal, about 40% lower I was told when asking around. This was due to unusual dry weather, that caused low flowering, and higher infestation by diseases and pests. With lower crop, the competition over the top lots got higher, and hence my long cupping hours. I ended up spending the whole trip in Nairobi. I kept cupping table after table after table. Some coffees where good, a few was great. One name popped out as a top lot over and over again. Kamwangi. As coffees are cupped blind, its always a joy seeing the same name continuously coming out on top, as this is a sign that they are doing a fantastic job at the washing station.
One of many cupping tables in Kenya
In the end, I found what I was looking for and I came home (very) satisfied. And now, several months later, when the coffee arrives to the roastery, I can rust, brew and drink what I got. The coffee moves fast, and two small lots are already history. I secured enough of Kamwangi though, and I have an AA lot that is available in the webshop, and an PB lot that I roast for espresso on order for my wholesale customers.
Drying beds at Kamwangi factory
Kamwangi is part of the New Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) and located in the Gichugu division in Kirinyaga district. Coffee here is grown around 1600-1800 masl on the slopes of Mount Kenya. The rich volcanic soil helps bring out the rich flavors in the coffee. The water for the washing station comes from nearby Nyamindi river. Kamwangi also have a water recirculation system set up as well as eight waste water soaking pits to help minimize the environmental impact. The coffee is bold, with blackcurrant, lemon and a long finish.
So, I got a brand new website. Welcome! There are a number of updates from my old one and I figured it could be a good thing to tell you about them.
This site is all in English for starters. This is so for several reasons. First, none of my suppliers are Swedish, and none of them understand Swedish, believe me, I’ve tried. I am better of communicating with them in English. (Now, many of them do not speak or write English ether, but my Spanish, Kinyarwanda and Amharic way to basic for it to be the main language here. One step at the time folks). Second, I have had a (growing) number of international customers from the start of my roasting company four years ago. Although google translage is a great tool that have improved during this time there are certain details that are lost in translation, leading up to extra work for me and them. Thirds, this business of speciality coffee that I work in is clearly a global trend, and English is the language it speaks. I hope my Swedish customers and readers don’t mind this change of language. If you don’t follow, google translate works the other way around as well.
Lets see, what else? There are some simple country guides that I hope will give you an idea of when you can expect to see coffee from different parts of the world. There is a brew guide that I hope will help you brew a tastier cup of coffee at home and there are some other info about me and where to drink my coffee that you get will find if you click around.
The probably biggest thing that you cannot miss is the web shop. I constantly get requests from people wanting to buy my coffee and now I don’t have to say no anymore. Why don’t you check it out? I got coffee of course, but also some courses and merch. If there is anything you would like to see more of let me know.