Coffee Origins

Project Direct Nicaragua is on deck

It’s the very end of the picking season here in Nicaragua and most of the plants have been stripped of their fruit. However, this morning when Paul Thornton, Chris Wade and I drove through the mist at Finca El Quetzel, we came upon a group of pickers who were working a slope of red and yellow catuai in small pocket of the farm. We rounded a bend in the road and thought we heard singing. When we looked up, we spotted about 100 workers dotting the hillside. Read more »


Portland Business Journal: Coffee Bean International adopts direct trade program

The following story was in Portland Business Journal and Sustainable Business Oregon on February 10, 2010. Read it here.

Coffee Bean International announced Wednesday the launch of a direct trade program, “Project Direct,” working directly with farmers with a goal of paying higher prices for better quality coffee and directly improving coffee growers’ farms, communities, and quality of life. Read more »


Single-Origin Coffees versus Blends

So much attention these days seems to be given to single-origin coffees – served as shots of espresso, dripped in brewers, or brewed in siphons. Read more »


Just Arrived: Project Direct™ Peru San Ignacio!

We are buzzing because the San Ignacio has finally arrived! After many miles traveled and hundreds of coffees tasted, we chose our new direct trade coffees from 20 small farms in the San Ignacio region of Peru. The ideal terrain and dedication of the farmers initially attracted us to the region. After witnessing the passion for producing a great coffee experience, we are excited to have a long-term direct buying relationship with the farmers of San Ignacio. As part of an intimate relationship we are committed to regional stability, healthful farming practices, and economic transparency, which is the key in allowing farmers to command higher prices. Read more »


Healani Farm: Third Place Winner in Kona Coffee Competition

Until 2006, Gary Williams combined all of the coffee harvested from his scattered Kona farms—regardless of quality—and sold it in bulk to a mill. Then, through an enlightening conversation with Paul Thornton, Coffee Bean International’s Master Roaster, he realized that farms surrounding his Healani Farm were winning awards, and by blending coffee of exceptional quality with that of average quality, he might be missing out on an opportunity to offer some even better qualities and receive payment at the upper end of the market price range, for this improved quality. Read more »


The Ultimate Coffee Cred

Looking to gain some street cred in the coffee business? Buy Cup of Excellence® coffee for your brand.

Every year, more countries and farms are participating in the Cup of Excellence (COE), a rigorous competition that anoints the top 10-20 coffees from each participating country. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the COE program is highly regarded as one of the leading ways to discover and present the world’s finest coffees. Read more »


Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Touring the Farms

I spent Sunday and Monday traveling through Minas Gerais, meeting other farmers and visiting their farms. I was fortunate to be able to spend Sunday visiting Fazenda Sant’ana (“St. Anne’s Farm”), this year’s second place COE finisher Sr. Paulo Sérgio Noronha Barleta’s estate, located outside of Olimpio Noronha, a small community of about 2,500 people a few kilometers west of Carmo de Minas, MG. On Monday, it was my pleasure to visit the Sr. Junqueira’s Carmo Estate operation, and spent the day touring his impressive operation. Read more »


Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – World Class Farming

The Cup of Excellence award ceremony in Machado, Brazil was preceded by an opportunity to sit down with some of the finalist farmers that had traveled to the competition site. Read more »


Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Coffee’s Journey to the International Jury

To get to the COE’s international jury, a coffee must pass through two previous competitions. The first is held immediately after the harvest, and is open to all growers that believe they have had an exceptional harvest. Needless to say, hundreds of samples are submitted! The vetting by the national judges reduces the assortment down to a more manageable group of about 100 coffees. Two weeks before the international competition, the second national competition is held to go through the initial 100 coffees to further narrow the field. So every coffee we start with ad already  passed through two rounds of competition, where each had been carefully roasted and then tasted – literally – hundreds of times. Read more »


Brazil's Cup of Excellence Competition – Cup of Excellence Program

The structure of the Brazilian Cup of Excellence competition was pretty much the same as the other COE competitions I’ve done elsewhere around the world. The basic structure calls for Monday through Thursday being dedicated to the actual competition, with Friday devoted to re-cupping the top ten coffees and then capped by meetings with the farmers. Friday evening is the ceremony where the winning coffees are announced and their proud farmers accept their awards. Saturday and Sunday is usually devoted to field trips to meet the winning farmers at their farms  (whenever possible), or visiting other growers and mills in the region to get a better idea of the agricultural practices in the region. Read more »

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