Category Archives: specialty coffee

Farm to Cup: Caffe Vita & Jackson 20 Travel to Guatemala

| December 17, 2014

For many years, Caffe Vita has sourced excellent coffee through our farm direct partnerships in Guatemala, one of the most prized coffee producing regions in Central America.

Coffee cherries.

Coffee cherries in Guatemala.

Usually, our Green Coffee Buyer Daniel visits the farms on his own but last week, a special guest from Alexandria, VA came along for the ride. Chef Brian McPherson of Jackson 20 has served Caffe Vita since opening six years ago. Located in the Hotel Monaco by Kimpton, Jackson 20 was named after President Andrew Jackson and is known for contemporary versions of traditional American classics.

So how did a Chef from Virginia get to spend six days in Guatemala with Caffe Vita? Long story short, our own, Bob Prince, pitched the idea to Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, consistently named one of FORTUNE’s 2014 “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and a longstanding Caffe Vita wholesale account. The goal of trekking six days throughout Guatemala together was to take a talented chef who uses our coffee in his or her restaurant on a journey to witness Caffe Vita’s innovative farm to cup process.

The first week of December, Bob, Daniel and Chef Brian visited current, former and potential new partners in four coffee producing areas of Guatemala. When the trip began last Sunday, it was clear that Guatemalan hospitality would be a common thread throughout their stay.

Chef Brian and Bob Prince

Chef Brian and Bob Prince looking tough at Finca Nuevo Vinas.

First they spent time with the Keller Family in Finca Nuevo Vias where Caffe Vita has sourced coffee for seven years. The community threw a party and roasted a pig to welcome their guests on the last day of their trip in the country, a highlight of the experience according to Daniel. The FNV coffee has been farmed by the Keller family for over 100 years, and in 2003, they made the full transition to organic farming, an expensive and lengthy certification process. This is where Chef Brian first witnessed pulping, where the seed from the coffee cherry is removed from the actual fruit. For six years, he has served Caffe Vita coffee and now he knows exactly where it comes from.

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Chef Brian McPherson holds pulped coffee cherries in Guatemala.

Next, they made their way to Finca Pacamaral to meet the farm’s new owner, Sergio. Vita previously purchased coffee from this land but Daniel was looking forward to meeting with Sergio to discuss a potential partnership in the future.

After Finca Pacamaral, Valmar in Coban was next on the list, where Vita has purchased coffee for the past two years. Coban’s climate this time of year is very similar to Seattle, cold, wet and cloudy. Bob and Daniel felt completely at home surveying the property in their rain gear, and were welcomed into the farm home of the Valdez family.

Coffee cherries dry in the sun at Santo Tomas Pachuj.

Coffee drying in the sun at Santo Tomas Pachuj.

Then it was onto Santo Tomas Pachuj where Andres Fahsen grows coffee near the Lake Atitlán region, a nature preserve. Andres visited with us at Caffe Vita in Capitol Hill when he was in town for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual event last April.

Compost with red worms at Finca Chacaya.

Compost with red worms at Finca Chacaya.

After Santo Tomas Pachuj the team drove to Finca Chacaya, a farm on the western shores of Atitlan that still grows old typica coffee, the first variety of coffee brought to the country and which is now hard to find.

Lastly, the team drove to San Juan Sacatepequez to visit the celebrated farm San Jose Ocana. Guillermo Sanchez gave a wonderful tour and provided a delicious lunch of local cuisine.

To be able to share this unique farm to cup process with Chef Brian was a fantastic experience for Bob and Daniel. Now that he has witnessed it for himself, Chef says that he plans to find new ways to use Vita coffee in his restaurant. Even bringing home dried husks to hopefully make bitters to be used in Jackson 20’s famous bar program.

Connecting with our Guatemalan farmers over long conversations, property tours, cuppings, and special meals with hard working families is certainly an experience these guys will never forget. “Every farmer we met exuded a strong sense of stewardship and pride for their land,” according to Daniel. This is something that Caffe Vita takes into account when searching for the best coffee; it’s about more than just a cup of coffee.

Learn more about how Caffe Vita meticulously sources the best coffee through our farm direct partnerships across the globe and purchase our own Guatemala Valmar single origin coffee today while supplies last.

2014 SCAA Conference and Caffe Vita Afterparty

| May 1, 2014

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If  you happened to miss the this year’s Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event in Seattle from April 24-27, you missed out on one of the baddest weekends for coffeeheads.

Naturally, we got our asses down there.

Bringing some of our local charm to the Convention Center downtown, we built a Caffe Vita booth for visitors to sip their favorite brew and chat with some of our baristas.

Not only did we meet some interesting people, but we invited them all to a blowout party at our bean room Saturday night to see what we’re all about at Vita. If you couldn’t make it, here are a few pics to help you vicariously live through those who did.

Special thanks to Batch 206, Georgetown Brewery and Via Tribunali for filling stomachs with booze and food at the party, bands The Young Evils, The Cave Singers, Pearl Dragon, Tilson XOXO and Iska Dhaaf  for rocking the stage all night and everyone who donated more than $5,000 for The Service Board with generous tips.

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 One of our baristas serves up coffee.

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 Almost the finished product.

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Our DJ gets partygoers ready.

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Vita’s own Pearl Dragon showed his MC skills.

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 Via Tribunali chefs served up personalized pizzas.

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There was no shortage of booze at our afterparty.

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Guests fill the dance floor for the night.

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Tilson XOXO rocks the mic early in the night.

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 The Young Evils serenade the crowd with their tunes.

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 Cave Singers made sure they brought the jams.

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Iska Dhaaf belted out their music to get the crowd going.

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Copping that front row spot next to the stage.

Images by Andy Bokanev

Public Brewing School March 15th

| March 4, 2014

Join us March 15th, 2014 from 10am to 12pm for our FREE Public Brewing School at our Capitol Hill Cafe!  Reserve your space by emailing trainingdept@caffevita.com

Interested to know more, read about Examiner Writer, Mary Garrison’s experience in her article “Learn the Art of Brewing Coffee at Caffe Vita”

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New Specialty Coffee from Colombia!

| May 28, 2013

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Columbia Villa Maria

Most coffee farms in Colombia are relatively small, on average 1-2 hectares yielding 20 sacks of green coffee.  Consequently, Colombian coffee is usually exported as a blend of many small farms, either representing a cooperative or region. This past harvest we had the privilege of cupping many individual farmer lots and chose to focus on one of our favorite growing regions, Southern Huila.  This coffee, from the farm of Jesus Antonio Santamaria stood out on the cupping table with a distinct sweetness and mouth-feel.  It will only be available for a limited time and is not to be missed!

Jesus Antonio’s farm, Villa Maria, sits at 1500 meters in the community of Acevedo.  Coffee is harvested and processed with strict attention to detail and commitment to quality.  This microlot was harvested during the second semester, which spans from September to December.  After harvest, the coffee is pulped, fermented overnight, and then dried on covered patios.

Jesus Antonio is a member of the San Isidro cooperative, based in the town of Pitalito.  This cooperative has received recognition for the incredible quality of coffee that its members produce and for its commitment to the environment.  This region is teeming with wildlife, including species of birds found nowhere else in the world. In order to protect this biodiversity, the cooperative has purchased land for preservation.

Visit our information page for more details about Columbia Villa Maria or buy now!