Ecuador Day 1 in the Books!
Well, some of you may not have heard, but I ended up on a little last-minute jaunt to Ecuador this week! Thanks to USAID and Cafe Imports, we’re down here to establish some relationships with farmers, look for coffees, and check out a bunch of farms. I’m traveling this week with Alexandra from Verve, Sean from Metropolis, and Andrew from Blueprint Coffee, along with Piero from Cafe Imports. All pretty awesome people. If you ever meet them, say hi.
As you all may know, we’re currently offering a coffee from Vilcabamba, which is in the south end of the country, near Loja. Unfortunately, this trip will be confined to the north end, but I did get to see the mill where the Lucas Vera lot was milled! More on that later…
We started the day (and pretty much spent the whole day) cupping at Cafe Velez, an exporter who works with a lot of farmers in the north and south. This was the exporter who coordinated the Vilcabamba lot.
We actually had a really interesting experience trying to cup. We set up the first round of coffees, and dove in. We got about 15 minutes in, and all looked at each other, and pretty much stopped. All the coffees on the table were super flat. I mean, no acidity. None. All these coffees were super fresh off the patio, so there’s no way this could be right.
After playing around for a while, we came to the realization that the water we were using was super soft, but also had a very high TDS count. We ended up doing a round with tap water, and it worked out much better. This was an interesting situation, and one I hope to explore a bit further when I get home.
Anyway, we ended up cupping out about 24 coffees over the course of 6 rounds, due to the early problems. Combined with other factors (like the fact we only had one scale), we ended up taking several hours to finish cupping. We were all super hungry and ready for a beer…
The good news is that we ended up finding some coffees we thought had a lot of potential. Coffee from farms like Finca San Alejo, Maputo, and La Nube, and lots put together by guys like Marcelo Delgado, Romo Lomas, and Angelino Abad really had some nice things going on. There were a few issues with roast, so I think we’re going to go back on Saturday and re-roast some of the samples.
After leaving Cafe Velez, we grabbed a quick sandwich, then headed over to the dry mill where the Lucas Vera lot was dry-milled. It was a very clean dry mill, run by an ex-pat named Don Galetti. He’s a New Yorker (still sounds like it!) who came down here about 14 years ago. He currently mills most of the specialty coffee coming out of Ecuador. He’s got a really nice setup, including a GIANT Probat roaster that runs a diesel. Pretty cool. They actually roast a lot for internal comsumption. They ended up having a pretty nice cupping lab too, with a pretty little 2 barrel sample roaster.
After that, the day was done. We headed back to the hotel to rest up for day 2.