In this week’s Coffee with Andrew, we talk about visiting coffee farms. Throughout Andrew’s career in coffee he has made many origin trips as a Cup of Excellence judge and as a grader and buyer. We sat down and talked with him about some of the experiences that he’s had when seeing where his coffee comes from.
Andrew, can you tell us about some of the things you experience by visiting the farm that you can never understand when just tasting a coffee?
For me, the best coffees have a story that surround them. When you visit the farm and see the reality of the things that are usually written on a coffee bag, it brings the experience of the coffee to life. Standing in front of the coffee trees that are shaded by the jungle or seeing the raised beds where the coffee is drying, it means so much more. You can imagine all of those things when you taste the coffee. It is the inspiration behind the stories we try to share with our customers.
Tell us about an experience that changed your understanding of coffee…
Back in 2003, I visited Paulo Almeida at Santa Terezhina in Brazil. At the time, the impression of Brazil coffee was that it was all growing in rows in full sun at low elevations. Paulo was doing everything opposite from the stereotype of Brazilian coffee. His coffee was organic and shade grown at elevation that resulted in beautiful sweet coffee with a soft acidity. It was a fully functioning farm that had livestock and multiple products including cheese and honey that he sold in town. It opened my mind to the potential of Brazilian coffee when it was grown with care and intention. Paulo inspired a lineage of coffee farmers that followed his example in Brazil, including some of our favorite farms, Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza and Camocim.
What is one thing you most wish you could share with your customers about visiting a farm?
Visiting the farm and meeting the producer of the coffee that you work with everyday is an absolutely magical experience. In many ways, it creates a yearning to share the magic of the farm that just doesn’t seem possible with words or pictures. When I drink a cup of coffee from a place like Camocim, I can hear the birds and smell the coffee drying and I just wish I could transport everyone who drinks these coffees to that experience so people can taste the story and work that goes on behind that cup. We hope we communicate it in some way that improves the experience!