Atlas Coffee finds dedicated growers... and throws a mean BBQ, too
The ro-ro crew (that's Victrola slang for "roasters") headed out to Atlas Coffee Importers (in Ballard) twice last week, as Latin American coffee-buying season fast approaches. We've written before about the amazing cupping lab Atlas has in their basement (can we say, cupping envy?), but their greatest asset lies in their ability to establish meaningful relationships with coffee growers around the world. Case in point, on Friday we were invited to attend a cupping that featured the winning coffees from a competition held in Las Capucas, Honduras. In just one year, this community of 60 coffee growers has spearheaded a movement to raise and reward exceptional quality coffee growing. Through the sponsorship of several companies (such as Atlas) and organizations (especially the Peace Corps), Las Capucas has built a cupping lab (so the farmers can actually taste the results of their harvest), brought in experts for consultations, achieved certifications through the Rainforest Alliance (and others), and initiated an annual competition that is held IN the community. Pretty amazing. Not only did Atlas show us a presentation about their participation in this community's transformation, they also helped US (the roasters present at this cupping) establish a connection with these growers by setting up a virtual meeting. Aided with webcams, microphones, and Skype (an online video communication program), we could see and hear the growers from Capucas, and they could hear us. This is one of those instances where the internet really proved itself to providing a truly powerful experience (without even going to origin) between two previously unlinked groups. After tasting the Honduran coffees and exchanging our thoughts to the growers, we ambled outside to find a plush spread of BBQ items to fill our bellies with something other than caffeine :) Luckily for us, Atlas has some Midwestern folk (aka Professional-grade BBQers) on staff, and we were treated to a feast. Needless to say, we'll be headed back soon. Thanks to the Atlas crew for being such great hosts!