20th Street Single Origin Espresso

We’re now offering a Single Origin Espresso as an option for all espresso drinks at our 20th Street coffee bar and roastery.

First in the hopper: El Meridiano Peaberry. This very special offering comprises a selection of peaberry separations from coffees harvested by a small group of producers in Tolima, Colombia. Peaberries can be found in most coffee varieties, and occur when only one of a coffee cherry’s two seeds is fertilized, resulting in a single, round, dense seed. About 5% of all coffee fruits are peaberries, and often showcase different flavors within the same crop.

El Meridiano PB has undergone numerous rounds of presorting, resulting in an amazingly consistent, uniform lot. Rarely seen as a Single Origin Espresso, we sourced this lot specifically for that purpose, finding that, as an espresso, we are able to highlight its unique, dense, crème brûlée sweetness, silky smooth body, balanced by crisp acidity, and sparking flavors of ripe blackberry. Our amazing 20th Street baristas have been raving about this remarkable espresso since it arrived last week.

We’ll be sourcing and roasting very special lots of coffee exclusively for bar service at 20th Street. The selection will rotate each month, so make a point to stop in regularly to experience some truly special espressos. These coffees will be available only on bar, and only at 20th Street, as these lots are particularly small in size and have undergone particular care and preparation. We can’t wait for you to try them.

Dispatches: Colombia

We’ve recently returned from a string of amazing sourcing trips—Rwanda, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and, most recently, Colombia.

Colombia was one of the first countries we ever visited, and each time we return we’re reminded of what made that first visit so special. Colombia, aside from being ruggedly gorgeous and wildly exciting to travel in, has some of the most kind and generous and truly thoughtful farmers we’ve ever encountered, from our friends at Finca Florestales, to the inimitable Wilfredo Ule Vargas of Finca Alcatraz.

We took a little extra time this trip so we could really have some one-on-ones with the producers we’ve been working with for some time now, to see how we can best support their efforts producing world-class coffee. We had some really lovely conversations, which we’ll have more on soon.

Dispatches: Rwanda

Our sourcing trips are all special, in various and truly unique ways. Some are remarkably difficult, but rewarding. Some are complicated and frustrating, but leave us with the true sense that our work is valuable and worthwhile as we cup a coffee that blows us away. Our most recent visit to Rwanda, which we’ve just returned from this week, was an absolute dream, an origin trip for the ages.

These days, a lot of our trips are a mix of visiting with producers we’ve worked with for years. We check in with them, see how we can best support their efforts, see how their kids are growing up, etc. We’ll make some time for adventures, and will set aside a good portion to seek out new producers in areas we’ve not ventured yet. But this trip to Rwanda was almost all exploration. It felt fresh, new.

Kigali & Kageyo Station

We flew into Kigali, the capital city and home to more than one million people. We met with some friends from a coffee exporter and cupped some coffees from some cooperatives they thought we might be most interested in visiting with. A few of the coffees immediately stood out, and felt like what we were looking for in the Rwandan coffees we wanted to bring onto our menus, so we decided on a route that would lead us to as many of the cooperatives in the short time we had, while still giving us time to take in some sights and visit with our friends at Kageyo Station, whose coffees we’d been so happy with this last year.

Lake Kiva, Rwanda

Rwanda is roughly the size of Maryland, bordered on the west by Lake Kivu, a stunning, often tranquil and picturesque body of water.  We spent the night above one of the Lake’s gorgeous little alcoves, and watched thunderheads builld up across the lake as the sun set. In the dark the lightning illuminated the cloud’s depth—a truly stunning, eerily calm, but violently beautiful thing to watch. We shared some beers and stared, speechless.

The Highlands & Mwasa Station

Over the next couple days we made our way through the highlands, eventually arriving at Mwasa Station, whose more exemplary coffees had just blown us away in Kigali. This cooperative processes coffees from more than 100,000 beautiful coffee plants, picked by more than 500 individuals in the area. The station is immaculate, and they do a remarkably thoughtful job wet milling. We can’t wait to get their coffees state-side, for you to enjoy.

rwanda_mwasaWe returned to Kigali in time to do some sightseeing. In our experience, Rwandans are some of the most kind and welcoming people, and the country seems dead set on changing outsider’s perspectives of the country, considering the true tragedies that befell the country during the 90s. The Rwandan government has made huge efforts of making Kigali especially desirable to visitors, including the development of a manmade lake in the city’s center, which will eventually be surrounded by new businesses as well as world-class accommodations. We left excited to be heading home, but knowing we’d be back very soon…

Vice / Munchies: Chasing Coffee in Ethiopia

Our first in a multi-part series has gone live at Vice / Munchies. The first stories will focus on our sourcing efforts in Ethiopia, as our green buying team careens through stunning East African landscapes in search of some of the world’s finest coffee.

We’re thrilled to be working with a trailblazing organization such as Vice and hope you enjoy reading about our (mis)adventures as much as we enjoyed / suffered them ourselves. The second dispatch will be out later this month. Stay tuned.

Dispatches: Honduras

We’ve spent the last few days winding our way through Honduras with the most kind and sweet people.

We visited with Jeovany, on his beautiful estate, Finca Baide. We cupped some of his most recently harvested coffees and hung out with his stylishly coiffed son, Danny.

We had the chance to visit with the ever charming, infinitely sweet Norma Zulema Azucena Erazo, at her beautiful Finca Zulema, in the Santa Barbara district. She had just finished her third picking of her meticulously groomed, perfectly organized farm. She was just moving the coffee to her family’s shared drying beds – we can’t wait to see how these coffees cup!

Norma took us to where her family also farms beets, cilantro, and cabbage—a farmer’s paradise high in the mountains of Honduras. We stopped by her house, where she treated us to fresh baked cookies and coffee, a much appreciated respite on what is always somewhat exhausting work. Norma is just so sweet and generous and thoughtful, it makes all the work it takes to come visit with her seem like nothing at all.

But each trip has its disappointments as well. So many producers have been devastated by coffee leaf rust, with a number of them going so far as cutting their once-beautiful, plants down to stumps and starting over. Heartbreaking.

We’ve got a few more days here in Honduras, before we head to Nicaragua. So far the trip has been a tremendous success.

Now Open: Sightglass 20th Street

It’s official! We’re pleased to introduce Sightglass 20th Street, our newest coffee bar and roastery, located at 3014 20th Street in the Mission, on the well-loved block between Florida and Alabama, next to our friends at Southern Exposure, Trick Dog, Salumeria, and Central Kitchen.

Designed to serve the beautiful neighborhood in which it resides, 20th Street is an intimate, thoughtful space—open and spacious, warm and inviting. We’ll be sourcing exclusive coffees for the new location, and roast all coffees in-house, on a vintage 1969 5-kilo Probat. We can’t wait to share what has been the year’s long labor of countless individuals. We’re so proud of it. See you soon.

We’d love for you to come by and let us treat you to a coffee, today (Sunday, February 24th) from 8AM – 8PM.

 

Dispatches: Guatemala & El Salvador

We spent the last two weeks in El Salvador and Guatemala, two countries we’ve enjoyed thoroughly on past trips, and to which we were excited to return.

El Salvador

In El Salvador we visited Finca California, a small farm we purchased about 15-bags of coffee from last year, hoping to discuss their farm’s organization and processing. The 150 hectare farm built raised African drying beds to dry his highest quality coffees last year, which improved their coffee’s quality immensely. During our visit they decided to build four more beds, seeing the potential for getting much better prices for higher quality coffees. We literally watched them hammering posts into the ground, building the new bed’s foundations as we drove away from their lovely farm. We can’t wait to taste their hard work’s results.

From there we headed to the San Vicente region, where Luis Cristiani grows quite a large amount of great coffees at >1700 MASL (even some Pacamara!). Luis has never pursued specialty coffee roasters, but after seeing his picking, sorting and processing first hand, we were blown away—some of the best we’ve ever seen in Latin America, no question. Luis owns and operates his own wet mill, called Beneficio Las Vegas. His coffees are not only dried on raised drying beds, but in the shade—which contributes immensely to both flavor and to a coffee’s longevity as green beans.

Guatemala

We left El Salvador and headed to Guatemala, to meet a friend in Antigua, owner of Beneficio Buena Vista, Pedro Zelaya. The last few Guatemalan harvests have been terrorized by leaf rust. To improve quality and guarantee delicious coffees, Pedro installed a density sorter, which is used after the coffee has been hand-sorted. Each of his coffees are put through the density sorter three times before being shipped out. We purchase our Hunapu and our Cubito from Pedro, both of which have been great coffees. But after cupping the fresh crop samples, we can’t wait to get our hands on these new lots come April or May (Spring really is the best time of year for any coffee lover).

We left Antigua and headed out to meet with some new, exciting producers—young, committed, hard-working folks whose coffees we can’t wait to share with you in the coming months!

You never know how origin visits will go until you’re on the ground, and it’s always such a welcome relief when things fall into place. The trip was a tremendous success, a truly fruitful adventure.