I spent last weekend in San Francisco with my girlfriend. We visited with some nice people and spent time coffeeshop-hopping: Four Barrel, Sightglass, Ritual, Blue Bottle, Stanza, Reveille, and even peeked through the windows of the supposed Intelligentsia store in Potrero. We wandered into Dandelion Chocolate on Valencia, and Beer Revolution in Oakland. Ate a donut at Dynamo on the water's edge, relaxing with the slosh of water against sailboat hulls, and enjoying the classic Golden Gate vista. I had a romantic cocktail with my sweetheart in the Top of the Mark, overlooking the lion's share of the city. We rode the ferry, the train, BART, we walked, we ran, and we dilly-dallied a little. It was a great trip. Fun and full of new experiences, new sights and sounds, and it was nice to talk to other people in the coffee industry again, to see what's happening in the Bay.
Change is inevitable, but whether you steer the direction of the change or not, is up to each of us. I came back from San Francisco mentally refreshed and inspired, with new ideas and a little extra energy to work on my ideas that are already in the works. So hopefully the changes you see along our journey will be progress and innovation, serving our customers better and continuing to enjoy unique coffees in creative ways.
Next month I'll be visiting the Hartmann's in the Volcan region of Panama, from where our Ojo de Agua was grown. We'll actually be staying in a cabin at the Ojo de Agua farm, way out in the forest without any electricity. For a couple of days, we'll hike through the coffee trees and forested land adacent to La Amistad International Park, making our way to the farmhouse where we can taste more coffees. The result of my trip to Panama last year is the coffee we're drinking today at the DoubleShot: Hartmann Honey. The coffee is outstanding.
This coming Monday afternoon, I'm going to roast the first batch of another, very small lot of coffee called Hartmann Natural. It's also from Finca Hartmann: the same coffee, but different processing. Honey processing (as in, Hartmann Honey) is one in which the cherries are picked ripe, the skins are stripped from the coffee berry, and the coffee beans are laid out to dry on raised beds with mucilage still intact. After the coffee is dried in the sun, the mill strips off the dried mucilage and parchment, leaving the raw, green coffee beans for me to roast here at the DoubleShot.
The Hartmann Natural is a dry-processed coffee. The coffee cherries are again picked ripe, maybe on the same day, from the same trees. But then they are spread out on the raised beds to dry whole - skins, mucilage, parchment, everything unaltered. Once the cherries shrivel into a tasty, sweet coffee raisin, the mill strips them down to the coffee bean nubbins. And I roast them to perfection.
Do the coffee beans look different? They do. In fact, the Hartmann Honey is a bit more yellow, and is stained with the golden-brown of dried mucilage, whereas the Hartmann Natural is a slightly varied mix of green-yellow (or is it yellow-green?). And the fragrances emanating from the grain pro bags encasing each of the two coffees is really amazing and distinct, from sour fruit to grass and fermented grains. And that difference, like twins raised in two different cultures, carries over into the roasted bean and into your cup. It's another really interesting study in the effect of processing on coffees.
On Friday, I'm making the trip to Panama again to get a feel for the lay of the land and to taste coffee at Palo Verde under the canopy of ancient rainforest, to experience the culture and connect with the growers. What a contrast this trip will be from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, but it's the journey to the source of coffee that allows us to push the envelope and serve coffees that are as good as any you'll find anywhere else in the world.
As soon as I return, we are having another Coffee Illuminati event to taste the contrast of these two amazing coffees: Hartmann Honey and Hartmann Natural. The event will be held on Saturday, February 16 at 10a here at the DoubleShot. I'll talk a little about my trip to the Hartmann farm and about the coffees, and you'll get a chance to see and taste the differences and similarities side-by-side. This is an event you don't want to miss. As a fundraiser for the Coffee Illuminati [a 501(c)(3)], your $10 donation would be greatly appreciated. We use these proceeds to support children and families of coffee farmers. For more information about the Coffee Illuminati, check out www.CoffeeIlluminati.com and for more info about the tasting, read CoffeeIlluminati.blogspot.com.
Put that on your calendar, and then go check out our new Hartmann Natural. Buy it now and we'll ship it to you right after I roast it Monday night. Want to do a comparison tasting right in your kitchen? Get the Hartmann Dubbel, available online now in half pounds or full pounds. It's like San Francisco all wrapped up in Panamanian rainforest, right here in Flyover Country.