The Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) controls all exports of coffee out of their country. From what I understand, they are a rigid, bureaucratic organization. And Colombian. So that’s why I don’t want to say anything bad about them. I’m sure they are a bunch of muchachos buenos. ¡Viva la FNC!
Anyway, until recently it was illegal to airfreight unroasted coffee out of the country. But suddenly the FNC, in all their pro-commerce sensibilities, decided to open that mode of export. The result of this change is that my friend Cristina might taste a very good micro-lot in Medellin and send me a sample. And if I like it, she can FedEx a pallet of coffee to my front door in a week. Instead of waiting to fill a shipping container with 250 bags of coffee, loading it onto a container ship, transporting it on the ocean to a major port, and then trucking it overland from one of the coasts. Now if I like a 2-bag lot, it could go from the farm in rural Antioquia, Colombia to my roaster in urban Tulsa, Oklahoma in just a few days. This is great.
When Cristina told me this good news, she had two small lots she thought I would like. And I did.
Aaron Wing, a parent and a board member of the Lee Elementary School Foundation, asked if I would be interested in branding a small lot of coffee to sell in one-pound bags to support our neighborhood kids at Lee Elementary School. My one caveat was that I wanted to split the fundraising between Lee and the local schools where the coffee was grown. The children of the farmers who tended our crop would be attending these rural, equatorial schools and they need funds every bit as much as our local students. Aaron agreed enthusiastically and I began to think about the coffee.
One of the micro-lots Cristina sold to me is from a farm called Clavellina, which is in the municipality of San Isidro, in the Antioquia region of Colombia. This coffee is grown by a man named Alfredo Zea, who does not own the land, but is farming on property that was lent to him. These coffees are purchased and brought to Medellin by a woman named Marleny Taborda. She sells the coffee to Cristina’s father, Ernesto Garces, who is the largest coffee producer in Colombia. Ernesto’s guys mill the coffee and grade it, then sell and export it around the world. They cup every lot that comes into the mill and when an exceptional lot like this comes in, Cristina has it separated for roasters like me.
The timing of the new FNC rule could not have been better. I just recently received our first FedEx coffee export and began roasting the coffee for our school project. I asked Cristina if we could donate some money to help the schools in San Isidro. She told me that she asked Marleny about it and she was very excited because the schools were in need of help. She said that a storm had damaged the roof at one school, and she sent several pictures of the school rooms and kids.
This project is called "School Grounds Coffee." We will roast and sell the coffee each Wednesday. A portion of the proceeds from each pound sold will go to the Lee Elementary School Foundation and to the schools in San Isidro, Colombia.
This is a great coffee, with notes of caramel, vanilla, and pecan. And it’s for two great causes. We will sell it each Wednesday until the micro-lot runs out. Thank you for supporting the kids.
Wait. I’m not finished.
You know I like to run. I used to hate running, but now I crave it. I love running. And I especially love running very far on dirt trails in difficult terrain. This past Summer I ran a 100-kilometer race just outside of Zion National Park, and I’ve never felt better. It was a really pretty course. I love the desert. So I signed up for a 50-mile race called the Antelope Canyon Ultramarathon in northern Arizona that will likely be one of the most beautiful places I’ve been fortunate enough to run. The race starts and finishes in the town of Page, next to the Glen Canyon Dam at the gateway to Lake Powell. The race course goes through a few slot canyons, including the world famous Antelope Canyon, which is on Navajo land and is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world. Antelope Canyon is sacred to the Navajo, and native guides will be posted on the course because their presence is required through these areas. The course will also skirt Horseshoe Bend overlooking the Colorado River. I anticipate the beauty of the landscape will overwhelm the pain in my legs. The race is on Saturday, February 25. My goal is not to win the race (because that would be impossible). But I have two other goals for this race. As always, I want to finish; and I would like to finish in the top half of all the racers. Secondly, I registered for this race as a charity runner. That means I am raising money that will be used to assist with projects and groups in and around Page, Arizona. The donations will be used for three things:
On a professional level, I always feel compelled to give whenever possible to coffee-related causes. But on a personal level, I have long felt a connection to the desert and its people and the ancient histories carved in the stone. I have spent many days roaming on foot and mountain bike through canyons and buttes, over plateaus and rivers, through sand and scree. In the stillness of desert pathways I can feel the spirit of the ancestors who roamed these places, knowing they looked at the same sights and felt the same rock and warm breezes. I love those feelings and the connection I have with the land. I can feel the life within the rocks.
I want to do something special for this event. If you know me or you’ve seen me around the DoubleShot, you’ve seen me drinking coffee from interesting cups. These ceramic bowls were made by Navajo potters. They enhance my coffee-drinking experience and remind me of the desert. They connect me with the ancient ones who sipped from similar gourd-shaped ceramics. I would like for you to know this same experience. So if you donate $100 or more to my fundraising for this event, I will pick out one of these Navajo bowls (likely procured from one of the Navajo artisans’ road-side stands in Arizona) and give it to you upon my return from the event. Thereby, we’re supporting the Navajo people in one more way! There’s no way for me to track these things, so make sure when you donate, put your name on the donation (don’t do it anonymously if you want the cup), and send me an email so that I have your contact info.
You can go here to donate: runsignup.com/doubleshot
Email me: Brian@DoubleShotCoffee.com
On a related note, there are a couple of interesting things you should check out if you’re curious about the Native American culture and what’s happening in the Tribal world. One is a podcast about the Navajo People: http://www.eisradio.org/item/021/
The other is a short documentary about the stand-off at Standing Rock that was made by a friend and DoubleShot customer, Kyle Bell: https://vimeo.com/190403297
The podcast mentioned above, “Everything Is Stories,” also did an episode about the protest at Standing Rock: http://www.eisradio.org/item/022/