July 2020 - Setting sail into new directions, feature coffee the amazing Guatemala Todosanterita
Date Posted:1 July 2020
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela
July marks a milestone period for Australian businesses to reset and renew, just like some of us do at a new calendar year with our personal resolutions.
For many large, mature businesses it's just another start of a new budget and sadly they take a lazy approach by concentrating only on the numbers in a simplistic approach of hoping for an addition over last year's performance without evolving or pushing their businesses into new directions.
But for us, like most dynamic small/medium companies it's about aiming for better outcomes that don't necessarily need to translate into financial performances, so instead we are able to take on other values such as social and ethical metrics.
Whilst running a business certainly has it's daily challenges, a key benefit of owning a company means you have total freedom to steer into directions that you feel are relevant or important without fear of consequences.
So we have set our sails to different courses for this new financial period and beyond.
Over the last year we have been working on improving the environmental impact of our packaging - it's a gradual evolution as the new eco-materials are big on promise and not fully capable yet of delivering the effective barrier protection required for high levels of volatile compounds in fresh roasted coffees.
Unfortunately, there is still too much of the deceptive smoke and mirrors being leveraged by marketers.......mostly to generate a false point of difference in a crowded retail coffee industry. Progress is a case of small but important steps forward - so for us it's the quality and integrity that will always come first and we won't resort to promoting outlandish claims.
By far our most important new mission is to ensure our investments in coffee-related social programs are in fact generating real benefits for coffee farming communities.
We will continue to participate in the FAIRTRADE system, but there's a growing realization these "at arms-length" programs may not be providing adequate transparency or properly advocating the benefits, so we see ourselves stepping up to a more "hands on" role by focusing our social investments directly into coffee community programs such as funding initiatives at origin.
Secret Label has been wildly popular and for this month we are breaking from tradition and instead featuring a very special Coffee of the Month - it's a story about proud indigenous coffee farmers producing stunning coffees against considerable challenges.
From the prized growing region of Guatemala, this exceptional micro-lot from Todos Santos is jaw-dropping and we reckon it's even better than our Secret Labels, so get on board and help support a proud indigenous farming community with this amazing lot - as a black coffee, I'm ranking it as one of the nicest lot's we've had in a while - so that's a big call from the grumpy dude that buys and roasts all the coffees !
July 2020 feature coffee - mighty Guatemala Todosanterita Microlot
What can we say about Guatemala to get you incredibly excited ?
Is it the ideal micro-climate for growing coffee with near perfect weather patterns and temperatures, or maybe it's the rich volcanic soils that are the envy of many other coffee growing regions around the world, or perhaps it's the lush high altitudes that promote excellent conditions for sensitive fine cup arabicas.
Any way you choose to look at it, Guatemala has so much going for it that those in the coffee industry with enough experience regard it as an origin capable of punching well above it's weight to produce amazing Cinderella moments - deep, dark chocolate bombs with sparkling acidity.
I have always likened Guatemala to fireworks......an intensity overloaded with wonderful joy.
However, it's not without challenges and most of these are outside of the coffee farming realm.
Political instability, dire economic conditions, increasing violence, poverty, a general lack of infrastructure and services, Guatemala seems destined like some of it's Central American neighbors to experience tumultuous moments of darkness.
When our coffee brokers have traveled to Guatemala and I ask them about the trip, overwhelmingly it's a sombre story of despair. Too many coffee farmers are living in poverty. They exist in constant fear of risks in unexpected random acts of violence that have become a part of daily life for many villages. It seems the government is unable to reset, control and build a modern nation, with continued levels of unchecked corruption.
Against this background of chaos exists a sublime coffee industry. Farmers surviving in almost impossible financial conditions turning out mind blowing qualities.
This month we have a coffee from Todosanterita Co-operative, a special community in Guatemala's Todos Santos area, located in Huehuetenango over the Cuchumatanes ranges at altitude of 2000 metres above sea level, surrounded by high mountains and largely isolated from many transport hubs and normal infrastructure, hence the Co-op has it's own milling and processing facilities.
The Todosanterita cooperative was founded in the mid-1980s by an original 20 members and now consists of 130 members, 16 of which are women heads of household.
The Co-Op has a combined output of almost 380,000 kilos of coffee each harvest, of which only a part are sold via direct channels obtaining better prices, like the lot we purchased. These higher quality coffees provide better prices for farmers that in turn help fund community facilities like education and health services.
Yes, it's a single origin, so for all those lovers of blends please don't despair, blending never means better......and there's a big bundle of joy in single origins so we suggest giving this coffee a run and it's got balance and complexity in spades.
A micro lot coffee with impeccable credentials that quite frankly would be a crying shame to blend it with anything else. Nope, this puppy is going out the door in it's full intended unvarnished glory.
To understand what we mean by the term "micro lot", it's the best of the best for that coffee plantation, estate or region. The farmers know which are the highest quality cherries, what tastes the best, etc. and they grade the coffees before preparing the harvest for sale to Co-ops, exporters or processors.
In other words, imagine having first right to pick the top tasting coffees of a crop, that's what is meant by micro lot - however unfortunately too many companies use the term in order to exaggerate the quality or pretend their coffees are a level above everything else.
This lot is something quite amazing and is clearly better than anything else you will be served in a cafe with delicious flavors of red apple, blackcurrants, crisp acidity and floral notes, a silky smooth texture and a long, creamy chocolate and hazelnut finish.
1kg packs only. Sorry, no 500g packs.
Perhaps one of the most versatile lots we have come across all year - working exceptionally well in either black or milk-based beverages. The balance is stunning and the rich hazelnut and chocolate finish in a silky body is amazing.
This coffee is in limited supply and is likely to be sold out by the end of August - please don't miss this great opportunity.
Grab it here - Guatemala Todosanterita
Thanks for your support and loyalty - please stay safe during these uncertain times.