I’m back at the roastery this week after my annual visit to Brazil to check out the harvest and source lots for this years blends. I visited our partner farm, Fazenda Santana in São Paulo, as well as Fazenda Recreio in South Minas Gerais. The week was packed full of travel, farm visits, mill visits, and coffee cupping, which had me pretty exhausted by week’s end. Overall the harvest was very good this year, and both quality and quantity is up.

Here’s a little run down on Fazenda Santana and the coffees we source from this farm:

Looking out over the fields of Fazenda Santana’s 250 acres. The altitude of this farm may only be at a modest 850-950 masl, but the farm produces solid large lots of coffees that are sweet and creamy and are perfect for tying blends like Breakfast, Italian, Porch, and Cleavon together. They also produce very stellar micro lots that break expectation of the typical Brazilian profile. Looking forward for more of this to come. 

Meet Dornelis, he manages the harvest at Fazenda Santana. I don’t think you’ll find anybody more excited about what they do than this guy. He eats, sleeps, and breaths growing coffee.

Fazenda Santa’s state-of-the-art wet mill and patios. Serving as a test bed for Pinhalense (coffee processing equipment manufacturer), located in the near by town, the farm takes processing deadly serious and to fantastic quality results. 

 

The coffee is on it’s way and should show up here in a couple of weeks. Next post will be about the micro lot we’ll be featuring from Producer Diogo Diaz on his beautiful farm, Fazenda Recreio. Can’t wait to roast this coffee!

Cheers,

Ian Picco, Director of Coffee


Get yourself a piece of the gold and buy a Limited Edition tube of the coffee that won Ian Picco the 2018 U.S. Roaster Championship title!

 

This will be roasted and shipped on June 1st, and is available for pre-order HERE.

 

Read Ian’s competition dialog and his approach to roasting this award winning coffee:

“I have heard it said that a chef is only as good as his ingredients. The same can be said for the coffee roaster as well. Of course, as roasters, we really only have one ingredient that we prepare, which poses a challenge when trying to express personal creativity into the roasted product. For this a roaster needs the ability to influence the ingredient somehow, which takes being a good green buyer and good cupper on top of knowing how to roast well.

The coffee I present to you today is the result of nearly a decade of working as a professional coffee roaster, continually seeking knowledge about roasting science and craft, teaching new roasters, honing my sensory skills, and fostering a creative partnership with our main producer Emilio Lopez Diaz

For your enjoyment today I bring you a unique lot of SL-34 variety grown on Topeca’s family farm Finca el Manzano in the Santa Ana region of El Salvador. This lot was selectively harvested in January from an acreage at 1550 masl. It was depulped and dried with it’s mucilage attached on raised beds for 16 days. It was beautifully milled and contains virtually zero defects, only counting 2 Category IIs, which only comprised of a handful of broken/chipped beans. The lot is of very consistent size with 98% above screen 15. The total moisture measures 11% and the bean density measures 895 g/L, which is moderately high.

I roasted this coffee on a North 500 g electric drum roaster from Mill City Roasters. I charged at a full 500 g batch weight at 420 F, which in this roaster is the midway temperature between first and second crack at a full charge. Because this bean was of greater density I hit the beginning of the roast with only 90% power to the heating element and lower fan speed to promote a slower rate of change through the drying phase. This was to allow the conductive energy to permeate the seed more thoroughly without forcing out the moisture out of the outer layers of the bean too quickly. This sets me up for greater Maillard reactions later in the roast. Towards the end of drying when the bean turns pale green I increase my fan speed to mid range to increase convective transfer and assist in drying the seed more evenly. The color changed from green to yellow at 5:35 at which point I decrease my energy input to 80% to slow the rate of change during the Maillard phase. The aim here is to increase complexity, sweetness and body by allowing a longer time spent in the temperature range where Maillard reactions are occurring. I aim to approach first crack at a heating rate of 12 degrees per minute and increased fan speed to establish enough thermal momentum to avoid stalling during crack but keeping the heat passing through the drum quickly so I can eventually slow to 2 degrees per minute through crack, which happened at 10:05. My theory about pulp natural and natural coffees is that by drying the seed in it’s mucilage and/or pulp you allow the seed to begin the process of germination, which starts the degradation of carbohydrates into sugars. Knowing this, I tend to roast these coffees to a lower end temperature and spend a shorter time post crack, to avoid further degrading these sugars. This roast ends at 4 F and 1:20 past the beginning of first crack, for a total roasting time of 11:25. Roast color measures 39 WB and 83 G on the Agtron scale.

In the cup you should perceive the following sensory attributes:

For aromas: Cherry Pie, Blood Orange, nutmeg

Flavors: tart cherry, bruleed grapefruit, stewed peaches  

Acidy is medium high with a grapefruit like quality

The body is medium+ with a spritely and crisp mouthfeel

The aftertaste is like cherry cola, rose candy, almond

It’s been my pleasure presenting this coffee to you today. Enjoy”


Both Ian Picco, Director of Coffee, and Tyler Duncan, Wholesale Trainer, made it to this year’s final rounds in The U.S. Coffee Championships held at the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, WA last month. Tyler competed in the Brewer’s Cup Championship and placed 5th overall, beating out 70-some U.S competitors. Ian crushed the competition in the Roaster Championship placing 1st in both rounds. They both used a coffee from the family farm, El Manzano, which we will be releasing at the end of this month in our Limited Edition tube (more on this very soon). The competitions were fierce, competing for several days over several rounds across a handful of cities over the year, going up against the best baristas and roasters in the industry, and the best coffees in the world.

Ian goes on to represent the U.S. in the World Coffee Roasting Championship this November in Dubai.  For an interview between Ian and Roast Magazine’s Daily Coffee News, check out this just published article.


(Guest blog from 1804 Coffee Co).

Topeca Coffee is partnering with 1804 Coffee to provide you with some of the rarest and finest Arabica Typica coffee you will find this season, and it’s from Haiti.  We wonder how many of you have ever had the opportunity to taste high altitude, high quality Haitian coffee, or even if you knew that Haiti grows fantastic coffee.

Haiti has a long and illustrious history growing coffee that dates back to the early 1700s.  The heirloom coffee traveled through Martinique and onto Haiti where it is still shade grown in Creole gardens organically after roughly 300 years.  Creole gardens consist of layers of plants and trees, such as banana, mango, grapefruit, and avocado which provide shade for the Typica plants as well as contributing natural composting processes.  Fertilizers are very expensive, and hard to get in Haiti, by default most farmers still grow coffee organically, just as they have for generations.

Growing coffee is like a religion in Haiti.  The skills and small plot farms are passed down from generation to generation, they are a large part of the fabric of Haitian culture.  Haitians drink more coffee per capita than any third world country worldwide, they are true coffee drinkers and can appreciate great coffee.

Their identity is deeply rooted in coffee and the impact Haitian coffee had on early coffee culture.  Historically, Haitian coffee was coveted by Europeans.  Italian roasters used to love to use the low acidity beans in their espresso blends.  French, Germans and the Netherlands drank coffee from Haiti for centuries in some of the earliest coffee shops. In fact, Haitian coffee was so popular, Haiti as a colony was worth more to France than America was to Great Britain.

After the Haitians defeated France in the revolution of 1804, they were the first black country to gain their independence in history.  France and many countries would not recognize their independence until Haiti paid restitution to France, which was financed through the sale of coffee.

A twenty plus year occupation by American forces in the early 1900s, followed by a string of dictators and export embargoes imposed by Europe and the USA crippled their coffee industry.  Production dropped by approximately 97% as farmers cut down their plants and trees to make charcoal as well as grow crops they could eat.  The deforestation of Haiti has been well documented, it’s destruction has overwhelmed the climate and terrain of Haiti, and all but eliminated their coffee growing culture.

Yet, because Haitians love to drink coffee, and use dried coffee cherries as a form of currency in the mountains, they retained a small portion of their farms as Creole Gardens.  They really had no intention of exporting their coffee, which is what we at 1804 Coffee Company discovered when we began building relationships with farmers several years ago.

The mountains of Haiti can be quite enchanting, and certainly there is something very romantic about attempting to lift Haitian farmers from poverty to prosperity through economic development.  The idealistic vision of regenerating farms, increasing farmer income and reintroducing the world to a high quality wet processed Haitian coffee is what drives us at 1804 Coffee Co.

But make no mistake about it, this work is grueling, time consuming, and very costly.  We have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars traveling across Haiti, building relationships throughout the country with farmers inside the coffee industry, as well as understanding their culture and their needs.

From the inception of 1804 Coffee, we have partnered with Topeca Coffee Roasters.  John and his team were gracious to take us under their wing and have been fundamental in educating us on the coffee industry at large while they roasted and packaged all of our coffee for us.

What we learned through this multiyear process was that Haitian farmers needed all of our attention.  We simply didn’t have time to learn the complexities of the roasting trade nor did we feel like we could truly do these beans justice.  Our hands were full with building farmer training programs, and investing our resources into farm regeneration, as well as continuing to forge relationships with quality farmers.

At some point in early spring, over a cup of coffee, John, Ian and I sat around the table and discussed a co-branding project that would see the 1804 Coffee exclusively roasted by and distributed through Topeca Coffee for the 2017 harvest. We felt like it put both companies in their strengths which would provide everyone some excellent and quite unique micro lots from Haiti.  It also provides a wonderful platform for us to build on in future harvests.


Today we are proud to announce the first two Haitian coffees that are exclusively available through Topeca Coffee.

Bel Jaden, which means “beautiful garden” in Creole, is an Arabica Typica harvested and blended from three tiny farms at 1,400 meters.  These three farms were each less than two hectares.

Mon Kache, which means “hidden mountain” in Creole is a single origin from a five-hectare farm nestled in the mountain tops at 1,800 meters.

Both coffees were hand-picked from multiple harvest passes over a two-month period.   These micro lots were wet processed, sun dried and hand sorted.

This year Hurricane Matthew ravaged farms throughout Haiti and those who still had coffee to harvest, noticed reduction in yields by 90%.  Our micro lots are scarce, only yielding 322 pounds of the Bel Jaden and 812 pounds of Mon Kache.  The difficult weather conditions though have contributed something unique to the 2017 harvest cupping profile.

Topeca Coffee has developed and refined various roast profiles over the past two years of working with these Haitian coffees unlocking a sophisticated cup profile.

The Bel Jaden lot cups an “Excellent” in Specialty grade. The aromas express themselves as overall sweet and floral. On the palate, the acidity is tart and sweet like a berry, and the body has creamy texture. Overall, a very well-structured coffee with unique qualities of a unique origin.

The Mon Kache lot also cups at “Excellent.” This lot really highlights the Haitian profile the best, with a bit more rustic landscape of flavors. In the aroma, you’ll find deep dark florals, with a sweet herb essence. On the palate, again a great citric berry acidity, with that sweet herbal note lingering in the finish. A very classic typica profile, yet distinctly different.

How 1804 Coffee Company treats the farmers we partner with is something everyone can be proud of. We provide monthly training for farmers to improve farming practices and harvest techniques to improve export quality. We have also developed a financial model that blends multiple financial tools to help the farmer regenerate their farms while maintaining their livelihood.  We pay above fair-trade pricing, provide substantial payment advances, pay a bonus based on the cupping score, and provide farmers with loans for farm regeneration.  All of these works together to help farmers meet immediate, short term and long-term needs.  We forecast that over the next five years 1804 Coffee Company will triple to quadruple farmer income for the farmers working with us.

Our small team at 1804 Coffee is incredibly humbled by the opportunity to partner with Topeca Coffee Roasters, and always proud to represent the Haitian coffee farmer.  We hope you will enjoy drinking coffee from our micro lots and sharing these stories with others.  Lavi Bon. “Life is Good”!

 

-Eric English, CEO 1804 Coffee. Co

 

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog where Eric walks us through how his Farm Rejuvenation model works, and how it benefits small farming families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


OVERVIEW

Topeca Coffee Roasters in Tulsa, Oklahoma is seeking to add a Head of Roasting position to its team. Topeca started as a fully vertically integrated “Seed-to-Cup” coffee company, with family owned farms, mill, and roastery in El Salvador. Topeca established a roasting facility and their first retail shop in Tulsa, OK in 2005. Topeca is a specialty coffee company committed to creating supply chain sustainability through the pillars of: Education, Professionalism, Quality, and Service. As Topeca continues to grow, it is needing an experienced roaster who can help bridge the gap between production and quality control. Topeca also seeks a candidate who has the experience and desire for roaster industry education.

POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Manage Roasting Production Team (Production Roaster(s), Packager(s) and Delivery)
  • Creation of Daily/Weekly Roast Production Schedules
  • Assisting in Production Roasting
  • Assisting in Sample Roasting
  • Assisting Director of Coffee in the following areas:
    • Creation/Management of Production Roast Profiles
    • Finished Product Sensory Analysis
  • Assisting in roaster training at Topeca’s SCA Premier Campus, Topeca Instruments Division

PERSONAL QUALITIES

  • SELF DIRECTED
  • PASSIONATE
  • TEAM PLAYER
  • TEAM LEADER
  • EDUCATOR
  • WILLING TO FAIL
  • QUICK LEANER
  • GOOD LISTENER
  • GOOD HUMOR

STRONGLY CONSIDERED ACHIEVEMENTS/EXPERIENCE

  • SCAA Certified Roaster, or SCAE Equivalent
  • IDP or AST certified instructor/trainer
  • 3+ years’ experience in production roasting
  • Management experience
  • Coffee educator/trainer experience

COMPENSATION

  • $40K annual starting salary
  • Full Personal Health coverage (Health, Dental, Vision)
    • Option for family health plan at additional cost
  • 10 days annual PTO

JOB PERKS

  • Creative Working Environment
  • Great Cost of Living
    • Tulsa is a burgeoning little city that is rooted in its history and investing in its future. You can choose to live an urban, inter-urban, or suburban lifestyle to fit whatever makes you feel at home. Tulsa’s culture is fairly progressive and full of youth, who is shaping the Tulsa of tomorrow. The city and surrounding areas has plenty to offer in way of: art, music, culinary experience, public gathering spaces, outdoor recreation, and community building opportunities.
  • Opportunity for continued education/certification
  • Opportunities to travel to origin

 

Please send your resume or any follow up questions to ianpicco@topecacoffee.com



On September 18th for one night only, Topeca Coffee Roaster’s will be hosting 2 screenings of A Film About Coffee at Tulsa’s Historic Circle Cinema. Our reason for bringing the film to Tulsa is to help elevate the awareness of Specialty Coffee; what it takes to create from Seed-to-Cup, what is involved in this emerging coffee culture, and how Tulsa and Topeca fit into the big picture.  All of the proceeds will be going to schools near our farm in El Salvador to help out education for children in the area. We are asking for at least $7 per ticket to help schools and education in the area. So if you’ve ever wondered where the stuff in your cup comes from, how it’s grown and processed, and who the people are involved along the journey, then you won’t wanna miss this.

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Last month we featured our first coffee in MistoBox, a coffee subscription service that sends 4 coffees in 4 oz sample sizes to your doorstep. We decided to feature the Manzano Honey Process for it’s ability to connect with coffee drinkers of all types. For those who are just diving into the coffee scene, it’s soft body and balanced acidity invites you to sit back and enjoy the simple moments in life. While the more experienced coffee drinker discovers small complexities that set it apart from similarly processed coffees. It’s one of those coffees that really starts to shine as the cup cools and encourages further explorations. Through MistoBox we met Brian Beyke who manages a very well developed blog called Abandon Coffee. We were honored to have our coffee reviewed on his blog and his thorough breakdown of the coffee executed using miscellaneous brew methods is helpful feedback for our team.

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Here at Topeca we are very excited to share with you our updated brand design. I feel like it’s been a long time in the making. For the past 2 years or so I’ve been feeling a little distant from our current branding. While it did a great job at establishing us in Tulsa as a small, family-owned coffee company, with roots in El Salvador, I felt like it didn’t really reflect the company that we have become. So, after much deliberation and heads banging against walls, and eyes staring into computer screens, we finally arrived to where we are now…with an elegant sleek new logo and brand design.

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