We're all here for one reason...coffee. The III International Women's Coffee Alliance Conference is being held this week in Guatemala City at Anacafe. Women and men, with a common association of coffee, have come from all over the world to celebrate, support and learn from one another. The conference is designed to; 'provide Women and Men a greater visibility into the coffee industry, encourage Trade and Business opportunities for all and to promote social and environmental Sustainable Projects related to coffee'.
Grace Mena, IWCA President, presides over this fast growing group and gives countless hours of time to foster and grow the organization. Her teams of smart and giving individuals continue to look for ways to support us in a global way. Today's activities included educational sessions, Guatemala coffee cupping roundtables and endless opportunities for networking. There were also two new IWCA chapters celebrated today...India and the Phillipines. It was amazing to hear the years of determined effort put forth by Sunalini Menon of Coffee Lab, India to establish that chapter.
It's a great opportunity for Kohana Coffee to be here. We want to join in the effort - we want to promote women in coffee and in business - we want to be socially and environmentally responsible, we want to continue to learn better ways to be in/do business each and every day.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to talk through ideas and foster new relationships here. We appreciate you all!
A look at our IWCA Antigua tour today at Finca San Sebastian in the famous Panchoy Valley of Antigua, Guatemala. Thanks to Edgar Cozza and his team for making it such a great day. He took great care and time to answer questions about farming, certifications and his families history which traced back to the finca's founding in 1890. We cupped some beautiful bourbons and toured the amazing wet mill with its residual water treatment facility before stopping for an absolutely lovely lunch.
We met new friends and had invigorating conversations. We were even treated to an unexpected up close viewing of the orchid cultivation business as an after lunch treat. It was a full and amazing day and we really look forward to all that lies ahead at the IWCA III International Convention this week. Stay tuned for more updates.
As you've probably heard...Kohana Cold Brew has been part of some pretty incredible coffee technology as of late. We stepped into the Cold Brewed coffee business about 2 years ago - working hard to create something that would satisfy our want for an incredible tasting cold coffee beverage at the same high-end level as we run our roasted coffee business. What happened from there can best be described as a whirl wind.
One of the reasons we got into this market was that people went crazy for it everywhere we took our Cold Brew. At first we were just trying to turn people on to the plus side differences cold brewing great coffee could add. Then we figured...we should bottle this. Next, we got into Whole Foods Southwest Region with the product and we couldn't make it fast enough. And THEN we had some engineers approach us about a patented process to not only cold brew but make it so it's shelf stable. One of the drawbacks of our original version was it's shelf life and the fact that it had to be cold stored. We had to work hard to add that dimension into the mix. We worked diligently with this team to get the end product exactly to our specifications. We aren't that easy to please. To actually have a great, shelf stable cold brew product who's only ingredients are organic/fair trade coffee and filtered water was a revolution - the convenience factor shot through the roof! And it's the only product like it on the market. We're proud of that too!
Bottom line is that this coffee is a by-product of great care and demand. We're thrilled that you like it. Know that we're playing around with additional versions that meet wants you've expressed. We've added several 16oz bottle offerings to the mix based on your feedback to date...but we're not through. Stay tuned and thank you for your support - it's helped direct us every step of the way.
Please check our Where to Buy page - we're updating it as we go but it will give you an idea of where you can find Kohana - or shop online on our new and improved website. If you're interested about reading more about the new Shelf Stable Cold Brew view and download the full press release below.
At points along the way we weren’t sure this would happen — we had
worked so hard to create a Fair Trade, Organic, beautiful single origin
Cold Brew Concentrate and we really wondered if getting it to a shelf
stable product would pass our high Quality Control standards. As the
months went by and we fine tuned the process of green bean selection,
craft roast profile - included water quality and temperature, brew times
and some very innovative, patented technology…well, we did it.
WE DID IT!! And the most beautiful thing about it; it holds tight to Kohana Coffee’s highest
standards and adherence to the natural and good. Ingredients are;
beautifully craft roasted organic coffee and filtered water.
We launch this week at Whole Foods
Southwest Region stores to be followed this month by the Whole Foods
Northern California Region and South Pacific Regions. A boatload of
thanks goes out to the Whole Foods Teams and to each and everyone of
you who has supported us along the way.
Mark your calendars for January 29, 2012 folks, this one is going to be legendary.
Bats & Beers connects brewmasters, chefs and engaged Austinites to
explore creations and collaborations centered around remarkable beer and
food. Our winter showcase will be held at the funky East-side Pine
Street Station, home to the artist Reji Thomas. This special Winter
edition of Bats & Beers will proudly showcase a first for
collaboration in Austin. Jake Maddux of Thirsty Planet Brewery is
crafting a special Bats&Beers release, a Smoked Coffee Belgian Dubbel.
This beer has been specially crafted by Thirsty Planet to pair with the
world famous Franklin BBQ Brisket from the smoking genius of Aaron
Franklin. This special release is being brewed to accentuate the smoke
flavors of the brisket and the Espresso Coffee BBQ sauce by using coffee
from Kohana Coffee. Come join us for this unique beer-and-food culinary
collaboration, co-presented by You Stay Hoppy Austin, and let your
taste buds explore the possibilities while enjoying the commanding view
of downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake. Live art demostrations to be
The event takes place on Sunday, January 29 from 5pm-9pm. Your
ticket will covers access to the art gallery, live music, BBQ from
Franklin BBQ, and etry into our raffle drawing. Free beer tastings will
The response to the Kohana Cold Brew has exceeded our expectations. We've spent all summer sampling, talking to you, playing with your recipes and watching it take hold in the marketplace. Now, after great anticipation, our Cold Brew is available in all eight Central Market stores across the state of Texas. If you haven't been to a Central Market you are missing out on a full blown foodie experience that many aren't privy to. You see, living in Austin makes us some of the luckiest specialty grocery shoppers in the world. As crazy as it sounds, when friends visit it's one of the items on the 'have-to-do's'. Hands down - we have better specialty grocery here than any other city. And we're proud of that fact. To have Kohana Cold Brew at the fingertips of the Central Market discerning shopper is heavenly to us. This consumer is attuned, well educated in the culinary arts and knows something special when he/she sees it. They are appreciators of the 'good' and we love that! As a small, woman owned start-up here in Austin we've been truly blessed by the embracement of our community. We as a company, and our products have grown due to the support of each and every one of you. We are thankful for every single fan, consumer, store buyer, coffee enthusiast, Facebook Fan, Twitter Follower and purist at heart. You, in essence, make it all worth our while.
As most of your heard, Kohana Cold Brew is here, and here to stay. Last week we launched the product at Whole Foods Market flagship store in Austin, TX. If you haven't been there - put it on your list of the 'must see' when visiting.
Kohana Coffee's answer was to your call - you loved it - we bottled it. It's being used by chefs, mixologists, foodies and coffee appreciators with endless creativity in favorite drink and food recipes. This Organic and Fair Trade coffee concentrate holds a world of possibilities.
We'll plan to put fan recipes on the site so if you have one please send to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include with those we've formulated.
Thank you to all who have helped champion this endeavor - your support is immeasurable. Our Kohana hats are tipped in your direction!
Sometime things just fall into place...as was our experience on the last day in Boquete. One grower, who's coffee we've been selling for years, was on our list but we had yet to connect. Casa Ruiz holds a rather historic place in our business; not only as a mainstay in our coffee lineup from day one, but also acting as somewhat of a visual achievement of success for us. The framed coffee bag in the photo was given by Kohana Coffee staff to Victoria Lynden (owner of Kohana Coffee) - she helped roast the inaugural beans that came from that bag - and it just happened to be the Casa Ruiz Panamaria.
We tried to set a meeting with Casa Ruiz - which wasn't so easy. They are busy people producing award winning coffees. Because we couldn't imagine going back to Austin without meeting; we basically showed up at their doorstep. Actually, we started off at Cafe Ruiz which happens to be one of the best coffee houses in Panama. Through great internal efforts the Casa Ruiz brand has expanded straight to the consumer by perfecting brew techniques and using top of the line equipment. I had a Pacamara pour over that stayed in my dreams that night. All I could think about the next day was getting back there to duplicate the experience. Before leaving we stopped by the office to ask if it was possible to talk with anyone about purchasing green coffee. After a small wait Dr. Maria Ruizwalked out.
Because I have a yen for the behind the scenes of businesses, my research had taken me to the history of this family and their path to greatness. Specifically, I was fascinated by Dr. Ruiz's journey and the acclaim she had received along the way. I couldn't believe our great fortune in having her accross the table. We spoke for a while about what Kohana was looking for and then moved to the cupping lab. La Berlina Organico, a Catuai, the Pacamara, a Cerro Horqueta micro lot, a non-estate Berlina and a Ruiz profile coffee were on the table. Cupping these coffees was an exceptional experience to put it lightly. Dr. Ruiz is a rare person in our coffee industry - she 'shapes' things - and we admire that about her.
Since we've been back our attention has been on the roasted sample coffee's we carried home that we're currently cupping. Those samples are; both La Berlina's (conventional and organic) as well as the Caminos del Zuto Pacamara. I carry them with me wherever I go (for safekeeping, of course). La Berlina Organico - wow. When grinding this coffee today a waft of cinnamon came up...cinnamon??! There's just so much to it - so many layers. We've decided that our favorite coffees do have just this; a part 'A', a part 'B', a part 'C', etc. Similar to a symphony of sorts in your mouth - the pieces unravel before you. It's the type of coffee that stays in your mind as a reference point. This can be a good and/or bad thing. Coffee snobbery - 'yeh yeh' in Panamanian terms - can be a lonely place in a location where there are no good coffees. Fortunately, the Western Highlands of Panama is not in that category.
We look forward to future business with Dr. Ruiz. Her family's continued quest for distinction in coffees of highest quality is worthy of all our attention. We love to see the unending search for excellence in all parts of her business. It's fascinating, really.
Finca La Milagrosa
Today was our first day up into the coffee farms. Our first stop was Finca La Milagrosa, run by Tito Vargas. What we appreciated about this farm is Tito’s ability to create such good coffee with what he has…a beautiful piece of land, discarded car and machine parts, ingenuity and sheer determination. La Milagrosa translates to 'the miracle' and he believes each stage of his path toward great coffee has involved many.
Tito sample roasted a small batch for us to complete the explanation of his cycle – and one of my favorite useful items he made was a screwdriver welded to a spoon to act as his roast sampler. With the patina of many a roast – this qualified as a prized possession. You can see why.
His newly created sample roaster (on the right) is not ready as he’s still missing one integral piece he needs to recycle from another piece of machinery. The roaster on the left is his currently working sample roaster – check out the front end made of a headlight casing.
Tito grows 7 different varietals of coffee including Gesha and has created quite a bit of acclaim for his small farm full of good coffee. We look forward to bringing samples home to play with.
Don Pepe Estate
After a brilliant lunch of local fare at Nelvi’s we met Tony Vasquez from the somewhat infamous 4th generation of coffee farmers, Don Pepe Estate. The farm, located at approx 1500 meters in a lush mountain side setting, is where we get our first view of coffee truly growing straight up a mountain. My first question is how they possibly harvest – imaging the challenge – but the answer is that the local pickers have done it with talent and ease for generations. He also joked that they used a shotgun to seed it – which didn’t seem so farfetched. I wish I had a better photo to include for you to get the visual as it was amazing.
We’re interested in Don Pepe’s superior cupping Bourbon’s from this estate. Historically they are a great balanced, sweet coffee that fits a profile we wish to fill. Although plenty of coffee is already harvested, it’s still in a critical rest period that we don’t want to rush. We anxiously wait for this coffee to be ready in March.
Panama Origin Trip 01-16-11
We arrived Panama City Sunday night – just in time to get to hotel and try to grab a drink paired with a small bite of local fare. What we got was a bad glass of 'merlot' (which I opted out of…life is too short) and a beef dish that we spent the rest of the meal trying to figure out: ‘is it pork, is it processed – my take was that it was jerky…in the slim jim family.
Panama City is a gateway city – full of commerce and new business opportunity. Since the ‘take back’ of the Panama Canal in 1999 the city has experienced transformation into new possibility and growth. That may sound more romantic that it should – but you can see the country influx of new all around you.
Today I prep for the trip to Boquete tomorrow. We fly from Panama City to David early tomorrow morning and take a 45 minute car ride to our hotel in Boquete. This area of Panama is referred to as the Western Highlands and is a perfect hot bed for some of the finest highland coffees in the world.
Some of the coffees in Boquete are shade grown, a more traditional method where the plant grows in the shade of a forest or among trees planted for this purpose. Trees provide habitat to hundreds of bird species – many being migratory birds. Bird watching is a treasured pastime here. The other advantages are that trees preserve the chemical balance of the soil, prevent erosion and produce a natural mulch which can act as a fertilizer. It’s also believed to help protect the crop from pests requiring less pesticide – always a plus. Those that aren't shade grown are usually that way because of the needed sunlight, how much cloud cover they experience and where the coffee is grown in relation to the mountains and when sunlight hits them.
Coffees here are normally harvested by hand from October to February. A large part of the workforce are migrant Ngobe-Bugle farm workers who are critical to the coffee industry in Panama. The harvesting is done by hand to enable fully formed, ripe red fruit to be pulled from the tree rather than under ripe/immature green that might get pulled as well in mechanical harvesting. Once dried (most are sun dried, a process that takes 8-12 days) the beans are stored for approximately 3 months for a curing (aging) of sorts. This coffee is ready to sell in late March or early April. Obviously, this isn't an perfect opportunity to taste test new coffees as most are 'resting' – but our opportunity came now and seeing the promise of new crop on the tree is a rare treat.
Coffee is on!