Yopno Coffee Training

| October 17, 2014

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The YUS Conservation Area includes three distinct regions, named for the main rivers and languages spoken – Yopno, Uruwa, and Som.  It was four years ago that we began to work with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) in developing a sustainable coffee program as part of their mission to improve the livelihoods of those who have pledged their land for conservation.  The pilot project began in Uruwa, which had the most coffee and also were furthest along in terms of management and processing know how.  Having just completed our fourth harvest with the farmers of Uruwa, we have turned our focus to Yopno.

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After a delayed flight and a considerable amount of waiting, I arrived at the Teptep airstrip with Benjamin, Daniel, and six coffee pulpers.  After a brief snack we hiked to the village of Nian, where the workshops were to take place. More than 70 farmers had gathered from the surrounding villages to take part in the training.  As livelihoods coordinator for TKCP, Benjamin has a wealth of knowledge and experience teaching about quality coffee production.  Joining him was Daniel of the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), and Namu, a Yopno community leader, one of the first to pledge land for conservation.

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Over the course of four days we covered the topics of garden management, pruning, harvesting, cherry selection, pulping, washing, fermentation, and drying.  On the final day we tasted YUS coffee (from Uruwa) together and spoke with anticipation of the day that the quality of Yopno coffee would be included.  We are setting a goal for the harvest of 2015 for the first export from Yopno to Caffe Vita.  First, the farmers must finish pruning and cleaning their gardens, organize into groups to set up their pulpers and construct solar driers, and construct a storage warehouse near the airstrip.

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We spent the following few days visiting villages throughout the region, meeting with farmers and checking out their coffee gardens.  As Caffe Vita’s buyer I am filled with anticipation and excitement for the people of Yopno and their coffee.  Having witnessed the positive impact in the Uruwa region, we are looking forward to replicating the same success in Yopno.  Additionally, from a quality standpoint, the farmers of Yopno have the potential to produce some truly exquisite coffee that will be among the highest grown in the world.  Our GPS read out elevations of 2000-2400 meters above sea level at all of the farms we visited.  With massive swings in temperature between day and night, ridiculously fertile black soils, and old growth heirloom varieties of coffee, the sky is the limit.

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Mornings at The Mecca – A Pound of Fries & A Pot of Coffee

| October 14, 2014

These places exist in almost every small town or city across the country. A hole in the wall, established some time toward the start of the 20thcentury, serving breakfast at odd hours and hot coffee by the cup. The Mecca Café, which opened its doors in 1929, has been a staple of Lower Queen Anne since its inception. Serving “good’ol classic diner grub that’s inexpensive, hearty and unpretentious,” the Mecca is one half watering hole and one half diner.

 

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The café itself is long and narrow, with black-and-white checkerboard floors and a row of vinyl swivel-seats that belly up to the bar. There are low hanging lamps with sticker filled shades and a series of booths along the left side of the café. A small door adjacent to the entrance leads you to the booze, which is served in a room with walls covered in “coaster art.”

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The kind of place that’s open all night, the Mecca Café serves your usual assortment of breakfast bits and hamburgers, as well as a pound of fries for $5 – which is what dragged us through its doors. Hand cut and golden brown, a pound of fries and a pot of Caffé Vita coffee were shared between two, soaking up the mistakes we’d made the night before.

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The ambiance is enticing, the fries fantastic and the coffee, well, you already know how good the coffee is! So if you’re in the market for a middle-of-the-night or early morning eatery, and aren’t afraid of a little loud music, take a trip to the Mecca Café and overindulge.

Connect with the Mecca Cafe on social media: Facebook. Twitter.

The Wolves of Wolf Haven International

Caffe Vita Supports Wolf Haven International, Oct 13-31

| October 13, 2014

Did you know that it is National Wolf Awareness Week?

Here’s how you can help today through October 31:

1. Purchase one 12oz bag of the Mexico Sierra Sur de Oaxaca single origin coffee in-store or online and Caffe Vita will donate $2 to Wolf Haven International’s repopulation program, bringing the Mexican gray wolf back from the brink of extinction.

2. Tell us why you appreciate these vital animals on social media. Share your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for your chance to win two tickets to Wolf Haven’s sanctuary in Tenino, WA and a coffee package- be sure to tag Caffe Vita and Wolf Haven!

What is Wolf Haven International?

More than 14,000 visitors tour Wolf Haven each year, which sits on 82 acres of rare mounded prairie, wetlands and woodlands. While the nonprofit provides sanctuary for multiple wolf breeds, the repopulation program specifically focuses on the recovery of this endangered species, to prevent the complete eradication of the Mexican wolf. Once common from Mexico to Colorado, today there are approximately 76 of these animals left in the wild, mainly along the Arizona-New Mexico border.

 Photo Credit: Annie Musselman

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Northwest Chocolate Festival Comes to Bell Harbor This Weekend

| September 29, 2014

How much do you love chocolate? Enough to spend the entire weekend eating it in different recipes and confections? So do we.

Beginning this Friday at 7PM, the largest artisan chocolate event in North America, The Northwest Chocolate Festival, will offer 86 culinary and education workshops, tastings, classes and presentations here in Seattle on Pier 66 at the Bell Harbor Conference Center.

As the exclusive coffee sponsor this year, Caffe Vita will sample from three coffee bars, one on each level of the festival. In addition to our cold brew, a blend of Peruvian and Indonesian coffee, each bar will feature a different one of our single origin coffees- the Kenya Kiandu, Nicaragua La Esperanza and Ethiopia Lelisa Hara- all released within the last month, stop by each bar for a taste. And of course, there will be chocolate involved, join our seminar for a special coffee and chocolate pairing experience with Intrigue Chocolate.

Before deciding which sessions to attend at the festival, read up on the eight presenters, all notable bigwigs from the chocolate world, that we can’t wait to see:

Fran Bigelow, Founder, Fran’s Chocolates
Fran Bigelow, founder of Seattle-Based Fran’s Chocolates, is a pioneer of the American artisan confectioner revival.32 years ago, she openedher first patisserie and chocolate shop and is now considered one of the best chocolatiers in the nation. Fran just moved her factory from Capitol Hill to Georgetown in the old Rainier Brewery today, which is also her birthday. HBD, Fran!
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Chloe Doutre-Roussel, International Fine Chocolate Expert
Chloe Doutre-Roussel is the author of the book The Chocolate Connoisseur and travels worldwide giving conferences on chocolate education. Since 2007, She has voluntarily collaborated with the El Ceibo cooperative of native cacao growers in Bolivia, launching the only chocolate brand 100% produced from tree to packed fine chocolate products to date, exported worldwide. A true innovator in the chocolate world, Chloe is widely considered one of the foremost experts in the field.

Alice Medrich, Award-Winning Author, Pastry Chef & Teacher
Alice Medrich is one of the country’s foremost experts on chocolate and chocolate desserts, and the author of the IACP award-winning book, Bittersweet with the revised version Seriously Bittersweet, now available. Since 1976, when she opened her renowned dessert shop, Cocolat, Alice’s unique recipes and insistence on quality ingredients have influenced a generation of confectioners, pastry chefs and home cooks. She is also credited with popularizing chocolate truffles in the US!

Maricel Presilla, Award-Winning Chef, Author, Culinary Historian, New York
Maricel Presilla is a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain. She is the president of Gran Cacao Company, a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. Maricel’s latest book is The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes was released in 2001. She has also completed a comprehensive Latin American cookbook for W.W. Norton and contributed articles to Saveur, Food & Wine, Food Arts, and Gourmet.

John Scharffenberger, Co-Founder, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
Co-founding San Francisco-based Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker in 1997, John Scharffenberger created America’s first contemporary artisan chocolate manufacturer. At the time, his business was the first new American bean-to-bar chocolatier in over 50 years. John’s pioneering spirit and vision has made him one of the world’s leading chocolate experts, opening the door to an explosion of new and exciting chocolate makers processing cocoa beans in-house throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Emily Stone, Social Entrepreneur, Belize & Guatemala
Emily Stone is part of a new breed of social entrepreneur representing hundreds of farmers in Central America. Based in Guatemala, she is co-founder and CEO of Maya Mountain Cacao (Belize), Cacao Verapaz (Guatemala), and the Uncommon Cocoa Group. Emily’s focus on farm direct sourcing of organic cacao from indigenous Maya smallholder farming families has inspired more than 10 chocolate companies had completely transparent business transactions. Her many accolades include awards from the World Wildlife Fund, the William James Foundation, and more.

Alex Whitmore, Co-Founder, Taza Chocolate, Boston MA
In 2005, Taza Chocolate co-founder Alex Whitmore traveled to Oaxaca to steep himself in the history and culture of Mexico where he had his first taste of earthy and intense cacao. Inspired — some might say possessed — he learned how to hand-carve granite millstones and returned home determined to start a chocolate factory dedicated to crafting artisan, Mexican-style chocolate in the United States. Whitmore co-founded Taza Chocolate in 2006 outside Boston. Alex is currently forging new, direct trade routes for sourcing cacao from Belize, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.
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Gillian Goddard, Founder, Sun Eater Organics, Trinidad & Tobago
Gillian Goddard is a long-term agitator in the fields of organics, sustainability and community empowerment around the Caribbean and North America. In the mid 2000′s Gillian started the first organic shop in Trinidad and Tobago before establishing an organic café and member owned co-op. In 2012 she co-founded Soular – an organic food production company, from which Sun Eaters Organics was born. Sun Eaters Organics is interested in teaching chocolate making to communities traditionally involved in cacao growing and production.