Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Northwest’s Own

| June 28, 2011
It happened June 18-19: the Northwest Coffee Festival at Seattle Center. Fisher Pavilion was filled with the sounds of espresso machines, music, and chatter as people visited vendor booths for specialty drinks, fancy snacks, and to learn about the featured brewing equipment, coffee beans, and specialty drinks.
At our corner booth, our fired-up baristas pulled shots on the Bosco for traditional Italian espresso drinks and served clean and simple pour-over coffee. A spontaneous coffee and chocolate pairing was brilliantly arranged by our friends at Theo Chocolate, who walked some treats down from their booth to make a chocolate annex in ours. (Great idea, Theo! Thanks.)
You’ll see Jacob as a panelist in the slideshow above (seated at the table on the far right) during the Sunday discussion of the future of coffee and the current market. He shared a fresh perspective, having just returned from coffee farms in Colombia. (We’ll be sharing more about his travels on this blog soon.) The packed program of events made new dimensions of coffee celebration and exploration available to the festival-goers.
As a coffee company, it was a special chance to join together with the Seattle coffee community, connect with hometown industry friends, and, of course, share our coffee. If we didn’t see you there this year, we hope to see you next year.

From Papua New Guinea

| June 24, 2011
EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Shewmaker, Caffe Vita’s green bean buyer, has been on a wild adventure to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for most of this month. He traveled there with members of the Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP). Daniel is on his way back to Seattle now, but he has sent ahead some photos and updates for us. As you will read more about below, Caffe Vita has partnered with the Zoo to support their conservation work in the YUS Conservation AreaPNG’s first national conservation area. Also, to help the TKCP meet their June 30 fundraising goal, here are the instructions to text a $5 donation. Another way to help and also enjoy coffee is to purchase Zoo Special Reserve. Caffe Vita donates $1 to the Zoo for every bag of this coffee sold in our cafes or online.
Update 6/6/2011
I arrived at the Nadzab airport last night and followed a kid with a sign that said “Daniel Somika” onto a bus. After about an hour of riding through the bumpy night, dropping off other patrons in the town of Lae, I found myself at the Melanesian hotel and met up with members of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program and Conservation International.
Lae is not a safe place. It turned out that I would be staying in different hotel about two blocks away, but I was not allowed to walk there. I had to hire an armed vehicle called “Guard Dog” to drive me the short distance. There is definitely something unsettling about this.
Today, after my first night of sleep in what seems like a very long time, I met up with Lisa and Hilary from the Zoo, and we talked a little bit about our flight into the village of Sapmanga tomorrow, and our time trekking around and helping with coffee harvesting and processing. Today, we are gathering supplies and packing for the 11 days that we will be off the grid. There are a few different groups of people that will also be in the area, including members of Conservation International and researchers from James Cook University in Australia. They are doing various studies on wildlife populations and such.
I am excited to be going to the interior rather than staying here, as we are pretty much on lockdown while in Lae. I won’t be able to touch base again until I get back, which I believe is on the 18th or 19th. I leave early tomorrow morning, and I am really not encouraged to go wandering around, but I will attach a photo I took on my way to the TKCP office — the tallest building in Lae!
Update 6/20/2011
Hello from Yawan Village. As I write this the rain is pouring and my spirits are dampened. The scheduled flight for this morning back to Nadzab decided to forgo its pickup at the Yawan airstrip due to poor visibility, and my hope for making the connecting flight back to the United States all depends on the weather tomorrow morning. If I wake to clear skies, a hectic and stressful day awaits: a ride on the guard dog security transport into Lae where I hope to shower, clean, pack, meet with the Coffee Industry Corporation, gather green coffee samples, and prepare for the long journey home. If the rain and mist continue, I will remain here. I’ve come to understand that this is just the way things are in Papua New Guinea — the best laid plans, effort, and will are all too often subject to the whims of nature or others. Well enough about the joys of travel on this majestic island; here is what I came for, the coffee.
For the past two weeks I’ve been walking through the Uruwa region, visiting villages, and meeting as many coffee growers as possible. A small revolution has been taking place. Coffee gardens which had been abandoned for decades have now been pruned and maintained. Raised beds have been constructed and hope is high that the remarkable coffee of this region will find its way to a market. This is the goal that Caffe Vita has come here to help achieve.
This possibility first came to our attention over a year ago when we were approached by the Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Project. We were told of a people who had decided to set aside large portions of their land as a conservation area; the first of its kind in Papua New Guinea. They also happened to grow a lot of coffee, but have never received a good price due to the remoteness of their location. One of the only options was to make the three-day journey to the nearest road and hope that someone would come along and purchase their coffee — often a middle man who would take advantage and offer a low price. Coffee is one of the only means of income for most of the villagers, and for years now, these people have struggled to pay for basic necessities such as school fees and health care. Caffe Vita is commited to help change this situation by aiding in the improvement of coffee quality and beginning to purchase coffee from them at a price which will enable them to improve their livelihoods.
I believe that the potential for coffee cultivation in this region is tremendous. The soil is rich, dense chocolate-cake-like humus, fed by numerous nitrogen-fixing shade trees, such as the native Casarina. The elevation is prime, ranging from about 1400 – 2000 meters above sea level, and I’ve seen nothing but Bourbon, Typica, Mundo Novo, and Arusha trees in the gardens. The coffee is organic, grown in harmony with its surroundings, interspersed among numerous other species such as breadfruit, betelnut, citrus, banana, taro, and lusina. From a distance it is often difficult to determine where the coffee is growing, as it blends into the thick flora and fauna.
Like much of the Asia-Pacific coffee growing region, drying has proved to be a challenge, but the ingenuity and hard work of some of the more diligent coffee growers has led to the construction of raised beds and solar driers which I imagine will drastically improve the cup quality. I have been collecting a backpack full of samples, and I am eager to fire up the sample roaster back at Vita and begin work on the collection and export of this coffee to Seattle. Now, if only the rain would let up.
Update 6/21/2011
The rain did not let up, but a brave (crazy?) young pilot decided to land on the airstrip anyhow. Unfortunately, the mud and water caused his plane to skid and slide all over the place. He wisely decided to only take a few passengers back to Nadzab, so that he could lift off before hitting the muck (and the subsequent cliff). Due to my imminent connection to international flights I was chosen to board and feel fortunate to have survived the flight back to Nadzab. Please have in your thoughts Ryan and Lisa from the Woodland Park Zoo. To my knowledge they are still stranded in Yawan awaiting another flight.

Father’s Day Freebie. Because Dad is Rad.

| June 16, 2011

Father’s day is this Sunday, June 19, and we’re treating dads to free French press coffee, any size. Dads don’t have to be accompanied by their offspring or show the baristas their precious clones on their iPhones. Dads should just come in to any of our cafes and request the free French press coffee. Dad is rad. ‘Nuff said.

If you’re looking to make some plans with your dad (or without) this weekend, we’ll be celebrating coffee and summertime at the Northwest Coffee Festival and the Fremont Fair on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll have booths at both. Come drink coffee with us.

It’s the Seattle Coffee Crawl.

| June 11, 2011

The 2011 Northwest Coffee Festival is next weekend, June 18-19, at Seattle Center. Caffe Vita will be there, and our baristas are excited to indulge in a weekend of coffee nerdery with the fine attendees of this brand-new festival. Ticket information is here.

Kicking off the fest is the Seattle Coffee Crawl, now underway. There is a staggering list of activities planned for coffee enthusiasts. It’s a chance to get to the cafes you’ve been wanting to visit, taste new coffee, increase your coffee knowledge, or do something fun with your family or friends. You might even win something at a Coffee Crawl event.
The full Seattle Coffee Crawl map and schedule is here. We’ve listed the Caffe Vita events below, as well as the activities at our other favorite cafes in town. And, if you enjoy coffee with chocolate, pie or ice cream, you’re in four-leaf-clover-grade luck.

Sunday, June 12, 11AM-1PM
Coffee and Conservation
With special guest, the Woodland Park Zoo. Siphon bar tasting of Zoo Special Reserve
Monday, June 13, 3PM-5PM
A Tale of Two Roasters
With special guest, Theo Chocolate. Sampling Theo Chocolate and Caffe Vita Theo Blend
Tuesday, June 14, 8AM-11AM
Yirgacheffe Extravaganza
Sampling Ethiopian Yirgacheffe espresso and other brewing methods.
Wednesday, June 15, 4PM-8PM
Quattro Crazy Happy Hour (aka “A Tale of Two Vices”)
$5 for wine or beer and an espresso shot. Caffe del Sol coffee beans, 12 oz. for $9.99.
Thursday, June 16, 11AM-1PM
Cold-Brew Coffees
Sampling Kyoto-style and Toddy. Pizza lunch specials.
Friday, June 17, 10AM (2 hours)
Roasterie Tour and Cupping of Single-Origins
RSVP to Spaces are limited.
Sunday, June 12, 4:30PM-6PM
Organic Affogato Tasting
Parfait’s Fiore French Roast Coffee Ice Cream + espresso
Monday, June 13, 10AM-12PM
Traditional Macchiatos by Bam Bam
Purchase a macchiato and receive half-off Fuel merch.
Monday, June 13, 3PM-7PM
Organic Affogato Tasting
Parfait’s Fiore French Roast Coffee Ice Cream + espresso
Tuesday, June 14, 5PM-7PM
Pie + Coffee = The Perfect Combo
Free Fuel espresso drink with purchase of any pie
Thursday, June 16, 1PM-3PM
Coffee Tasting (4oz drinks)
NW Macchiato / Roma Macchiato / Icee
Friday, June 17, 4:30PM-6PM
Organic Affogato Tasting
Parfait’s Fiore French Roast Coffee Ice Cream + espresso