Bring a Friend to the Tasting Room

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The holidays are all about connecting and creating shared moments with friends and family. There is nothing better than sitting and connecting with an old friend on a fall/winter morning over a cup of coffee. Just thinking about that gets me excited about opening our doors and making drinks for you. This holiday season we are going to encourage  people to connect, to take a moment to stop and have genuine conversation with someone they’ve not had a chance to connect with for a while. Starting Nov 16 we are going to give away a bag of coffee everyday to someone who brings a friend who hasn’t been to Arcade. Simply bring someone new to our tasting room and you'll be entered into a raffle to win a bag of coffee. We’ll announce the winner everyday on our Instagram the hour before we close and you can come that day to claim your bag or the following days after we announce.

We hope this inspires you to create more shared moments with the people you love! 

My Trip to Nicaragua

In the 2 weeks leading up to my trip to Nicaragua, I found myself struggling to prepare. It was the first time I was travelling alone, the first time visiting a coffee producing country, and the first time teaching a class. This trip had a lot of “firsts”, and made me realize that there is much more to learn than teach.

On the plane from Los Angeles to Dallas, I listened to an episode of the podcast ‘On Being’. The man that was being interviewed was discussing the idea of “Interdependence” concerning the nature of reality. The idea basically explains the relationship to everything that exists in the universe as we know it; from soil to water, human to human, light to rainbow, and so on. He starts his explanation with an example taken from science, explaining that if any particle or photon were to be separated, even at any distance, they still remain a part of a whole; there is still something holding them together.  A tree does not exist without the sun or water, and could not exist without the soil and the nutrients in the soil. This idea of interdependence is important not only to better understand the relationship between different elements or particles, but to understand how it can be used towards our relationship as human beings.

As a coffee roaster, one of my most important goals was to visit a coffee farm and hear farmers speak about coffee through a completely different lens than I am able to. Before this trip, I believed that I knew the significance and importance of coffee farming and cultivation, but have never been able to comprehend the significance of the relationship that we, as coffee roasters and cafe owners, have with coffee farmers. What I was learning on this trip is that so often coffee roasters, baristas, and cafe owners forget the connection we have with the farmers. Unfortunately, the farming/cultivation side is used as marketing material, and the actual relationship and impact we have with each person in the coffee chain is forgotten. I was fortunate enough to participate in a handful of conversations with farmers in Nicaragua and get to hear how our connection to each other and to the earth is so important.

The last two days of my trip were spent hiking through Miraflor, a mountainous region where a majority of the coffee farms are located. Agusto, a coffee farmer and one of the most generous hosts, led us through miles of mud and farmland. We took back roads through other farms and talked about Reggaeton (if you don’t know what that is, think of the song “Despacito"), namely about how much money in royalties the guys that created “who let the dogs out” make. It was a memorable hike and one that I will work hard to never forget.

After the long hike, we arrived at Agusto’s farm. I was blown away; it was my first time ever seeing a coffee farm or washing mill. He walked us through the entire process from start to finish, from germination to fruit bearing. First, they plant coffee beans and wait 90-100 days to sprout. They then put the sprouts in bags to germinate, growing them in a nursery for approximately 6 months. Lastly, the sprout is planted and in about three years, it bears fruit.

All in all, it’s a long process. I had an idea of the amount of time that goes into growing a healthy coffee tree (especially organically) but was never quite able to grasp the work and heart that goes into it. Agusto started to explain the trials, errors, patience, and commitment that is required for growing coffee trees. He talked about the recovery from a horrible disease that destroyed 80% of his coffee plants about 4-5 years ago and how using chemicals/pesticides could have helped prevent it. Agusto only works with organic pesticides, fungicides, etc., believing that he owes it to the environment. Using chemicals affects both the coffee and the wildlife that surrounds it. Birds, important insects, and other animals living in the area will flee if chemicals are used, therefore effecting pollination of plants, habitats, and the natural order of life. The farmers I met pay so much attention to every detail in the cultivation process, it was inspiring.

All trip, I kept going back to what I heard on that podcast. It is so important to realize interdependence in the coffee chain and how important relationships with farmers, roasters, cafe owners, and baristas are. It can be easy to forget that the final product, your cup of coffee, involved so many different individuals, with so many different passions and stories. It is us humans, coming together and playing our part in producing a beverage that we all love and that can create relationships and shared moments. It’s the patience and care that the farmers put into growing and processing the green coffee. It’s the roaster receiving it and putting the time and attention to roast it. It’s the barista understanding this and giving focus to brew and extract this coffee to highlight the work and intentionality that went into the coffee.

This trip has been such a life-changing experience for me, from being able to share my passion with the farmer-roaster team at Vega HQ in Esteli, to learning an incredible amount about coffee cultivation from Agusto in Miraflor. The hospitality and kindness I experienced was so inviting and warm. I came to teach what I know about coffee, and came back feeling like I was the one who was taught something. It made me realize that the roasting I’m doing here in Riverside is only one part of the process, highlighting all the hard work that’s done on the farm. One day, Arcade will be in a place where we can support farmers directly and build more intimate relationships. For now, we will strive to support farmers through importers and cooperative programs, roast to the best of our ability to highlight the art of farming, share the stories of the coffee we work with, and continue to develop and cultivate shared moments that bring us together, regardless of distance.

 

- Shane

 

Click on the photos below to scroll through the ones I took during my trip to Miraflor.

The podcast mentioned was Krista Tippett's On Being interview of Matthieu Ricard. Check it out here: https://onbeing.org/programs/matthieu-ricard-happiness-as-human-flourishing-jul2017/

Written by Shane Levario

Arcade Staff Barista Competition

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It’s Monday, October 2nd, and we’re still coming down from the excitement of hosting our first ever in-house barista competition. Corey has more color in his face, Kyle wasn’t upset during our weekly huddle, we weren’t getting on each others nerves as much and managed to get a full day of roasting in. “Anything in life worth doing is never easy, but is always worth it” is one of our core values at Arcade, and we lived it this month as we prepared for the Staff Barista Competition this past weekend.

The premise of the competition was that everyone on our team would prepare one drink of choice and serve three judges (we can’t serve everyone—yet!). We thought it would be something that would invite people into the space, give our team a way to expand their skills, and create a new menu item (that being the winning beverage). I thought there was going to be an all out mutant the Monday before the competition but we pulled through and made—what I thought— was a very fun and memorable event happen.

We had 100+ people crammed into our tasting room, bomb Korean BBQ tacos, incredible beer, and (obviously) coffee. Our friend Ian Loudon put together a little video to show what you missed out on. Enjoy!

Each Staff member presented their drink to the three judges: Karen Dunlap, represented the people, Larry Thai, Chef of W. Wolfskill and The Salted Pig, represented the culinary people and Jonathan Sepulveda, owner of Beyond the Grind, represented the coffee people. The competitors had 6 minutes to prep their station, and 6 minutes to present their drinks. They were scored on: Mouthfeel, Uniqueness, Overall Taste, & Presentation of the Drink (not their routine). I need to brag a little bit, each Arcade Staff member killed it. Their ideas were fantastic and the execution was on point. I couldn’t believe how well put together they were and I was so proud seeing all of them get up there and push themselves. Each of us was shaking while we poured for the judges, but somehow everyone kept it together. After the competition was over we realized we didn’t even get a chance to try each others drinks. So...we think it would be really cool to serve the drinks for a tasty Tuesday. Any thoughts?

Overall we felt like this event was a slam dunk. It for was a place to Create Shared Moments and anytime we do that we are happy. Hope you all loved it as much as we did!

Drink Recipes to come!

No tipping at the Tasting Room

I really hate the idea of tipping. To think that someone expects me to pay them extra for actually doing their job well, kind of frustrates me. And it’s always awkward now when you turn the square register back to the person behind the counter because they clearly see that I indeed didn't tip them to their expectation. I’m aware that the argument for tipping is that some people survive off their tips because they don’t get paid well enough, but even still, the fact that their stingy employer doesn’t want to pay them enough doesn’t mean I have to tip someone regardless of the quality of the service. I also realize that for some people tipping makes them feel really good. There is a certain feeling you get when you drop a $20 down as a tip and you know you’ve made someone's day. I get that it makes people feel good on both ends, if it works. But at Arcade we’ve decided to forgo the tipping method and instead share profits with our employees. 

We’ve thought long and hard about ways that we can get our team more invested in the business, so that in a small way, they feel almost like they own the place. If all of our team thought the way Shane and I do, then our service would be excellent, the equipment would be taken care of and the drinks would be perfect every time we served them. The profit sharing model makes so much sense for us to motivate and inspire our team to ensure that every customer has a no less than a perfect experience every time they come. So instead of having an awkward moment where you don’t know if you should tip or not, you’ll just have the ability to enjoy the service and know that an even larger portion of your drinks goes to support our baristas. We are excited about this and can’t wait to implement it into our shop!

Heres a breakdown of what profit sharing could look like here at Arcade :

While we were running our pop-up we were doing between 175-200 drinks per day. So, if we stay with those numbers and charge $4 on average per drink(which is low), then our monthly gross revenue will be $10,920 serving on average 182 drinks per day. To sell that many drinks our cost would be around $6,263 leaving us $3,265 profit and at a 10% profit share, 4 team members split $326.56 which is $81.64 working 2-3 days per week. We think that's pretty exciting.

182 drinks for one month (15 days of operation) = $10,920
Cost of Goods & Overhead for Cafe (400 sf) = $6,263
Profit = $3,265
Profit Share between 4 team members = $81.64

We hope this inspires others to do a similar model. After all, we are all in this together.

Tasting Room Update

This ones for those of you who have been following our progress or those who just want to know when we are getting this dang thing open!

I’ve been terrible at keeping this blog up to date so ill do better over the next few weeks as we more forward with getting our tasting room open. We received our plans back from the city last week on Monday and started the real work that will allow us to be fully operational there. This is a lateral move for us getting into this space so when you think of those super cool, trendy hip, beautiful spaces don’t think of us. Our tasting room is going to be simple, it’s simply going to be our next version of what we currently have plus a small standing room only cafe in the front, similar that the pop-up vibe we had going on (RIP). We were able to cut the concrete, dig the trenches and pretty much prep everything so plumbing can be laid to the front of the store by the middle of this week. While that is happening we are getting more bids for the electrical ($20,000-$40,000 yikes) and for AC ($20,000-$30,000 woof). I didn’t anticipate everything being so expensive but everyone told me whatever our budget was double it. The Kickstarter has been one of my greatest motivations in all of this. Our people have been crazy generous and people I don’t even know are giving to the cause. I am humbled by the response. If you haven’t supported us yet check it out HERE.

I told my contractor he has 30 days to get this done and that I wouldn’t be the one to keep him from moving fast. Old Russell is keeping with my timeline and so far I’ve been able to keep my word but this old man is faster than I thought. We’ll see who the slow one is. Can’t wait to share this space with you guys! Can’t believe we are almost there!

Shared Moments over the Holidays

I don’t think there is any time of year that is better than Fall and Winter. These seasons lend themselves to creating so many memorable moments with friends and family more than any of the others in my opinion. From picking a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch for carving to baking cookies at home with your mom, there are so many opportunities to stop and connect. It’s hard for me to even nail down one moment that is a favorite but one that sticks out right now is decorating the Christmas tree with our kids. There’s nothing like watching their eyes light up when the tree is put in place. Ashley and I always take care of the lights first and then the girls get to load the tree with the ornaments we’ve amassed over the years. Now with having a 1 year old boy around most of the ornaments will hang 3’ and above so he won’t have the opportunity to break any of my favorites.

Growing up we always had the tradition of setting a night to decorate the tree and would have special Christmas cookies to go along with the event. My family was a big fan of eggnog so we would each get our own special Santa mug filled to the brim with nog and topped with nutmeg. The thought of it makes my mouth water. That tradition of egg nog has subsided since I am the only one who fancies it in the my family now so when decorating the tree we eat our cookies with coffee, a much healthier and more popular choice for us. If you haven't tried the Christmas cookies from Trader Joe’s stop what you're doing and go buy some right now. Our favorites are the Gingerbread cookies with white fudge frosting and the Peppermint Joe-joes. And the coffee to go along with those will be our Santa Luzia, Brazil. It’s sweet, juicy and chocolaty and makes a perfect pair for our family tradition. If you want to know how I brew coffee at home check out our other blog post HERE. We are excited to create moments with our friends and family this year and hope you take advantage to do the same.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

How to Brew Coffee at Home

One of the things that really got me into coffee was the fact that if I was going to continue enjoying specialty coffee I would eventually be broke and make my wife very upset. $4-$5 per pour-over was really hurting our budget and I needed a way to still enjoy the coffee without spending the same. I bought a V60, a kettle and a handmill grinder (I know there’s a little investment first)  and then started buying 12oz bags of anything I could get my hands on. Even after the initial $50 investment of equipment and my first bag I was going to save myself $10 after all was said and done. One bag yields around 12-15 cups of coffee so at $4 per pour-over I was in the positive, at-least that’s how I pitched it to Ashley. So I get your struggle, I’ve been there and I want to help. Because sometimes it’s just nice to wake up, make a cup of coffee, sit and relax in the comfort of your own home. For me making V60’s in the morning was part of my morning ritual. It was a calming time to stop in the busy morning and take in the moment and prep myself for the day. 

What you need:
Good Coffee - my current favorite is the Mutambu, Burundi
Good Water - you at-least want filtered water, or if you can use Arrowhead bottled water, DO NOT USE DISTILLED WATER!
Brewing Device - at home is use a Bonavita 5 Cup Brewer
Scale - I love my acaia scale, they are a little pricey but well worth it
Grinder - The Barratza encore is awesome, this is maybe the most important purchase of all.

Here’s my morning recipe.
47 grams of coffee
800ml of water
brew time around 5 minutes
grind size same coarseness as table salt

Weigh out your coffee. For my Bonavita I use 47 grams of coffee which is a 17:1 ratio of water to coffee ratio. I’ve found this to be the best and most consistent for my taste and totally my recommendation. Next you’ll want to use around 10 grams of coffee or a tablespoon full to purge your grinder. This gets out any old coffee or anything that was in your grinder before so that what you get in the final grind is the coffee you want to brew. Also make sure to check your grind size here. If its off, make the adjustment to make the grinder more or less coarse. Get rid of the purge coffee and then grind the coffee you’re going to brew. Add water to your kettle and heat to 195-205 degrees or to your brewer. If you’re adding it to your brewer make sure to add the amount from the ratio above. I add 800 ml or fill the brewer to the line where it says .8L. The Bonavita has this awesome setting for fresh coffee where you can hold it for 3-5 seconds and then it blinks. This put its in a mode where it blooms the coffee and does pulse pours. You want this for fresh coffee. After that the brewer does all the work for you. If you’re using a single pour over method (20-30 grams of coffee) bloom your coffee to around double the weight of the coffee. Let that sit for 30-45 seconds and then do your second pour up to 200ml (g) let that brew for a 45-60 seconds and then do another pour of 100ml (g) and let that brew for 45-60 seconds. The final pour should take you to your total amount from the ratio above. When it’s done fully brewing and there aren’t anymore drips coming from the filter, remove the filter and dispose of the grounds. Pour and drink some fine coffee!

This is by far one of my favorite recipes and has been a solid one for me when I am making coffee for friends and family. Hope you enjoy! 

Fair Chocolate and Coffee Fair

I realize that most people probably don’t really care about coffee culture and all the things we do behind the scenes. Most of our customers just want what they paid for to taste good and all the other stuff we tell them is just extra info. Sometimes it’s disheartening that all the effort we put into finding info on, or putting effort into i.e.; processing, farms and coops, roasting, cupping, brewing techniques and everything that it took to make that coffee taste so good is lost or forgotten. All this makes it extra special when someone notices the thoughtful care we put into a beverage and that’s really something we love.

We had the privilege of joining a special Redlands Art Walk weekends ago that included a chocolate and coffee fair and then a competition to showcase some of our products and also collaborate with a chocolate company on a specialty chocolate and coffee beverage. Our friends Augies and Parliament put the event on and paired us up with an awesome company from Brooklyn called Raaka Chocolate. We were pretty excited about the opportunity, especially having a chance to showcase a new beverage we’ve been dreaming up for a while. Mocktails have been something fun we’ve been experimenting with and it seems like there’s been a pretty positive response. We sold out of our Mint Mojito in just 24 hours and the Old Fashioned sold out within the first 2 weeks and they are some of the most ordered drinks at our pop-up. This was the drink to use as our signature drink. About 1 1/2 months previous to the event I had taken a barrel I used for aging whiskey and filled it with cold brew. It was just a random experiment to see what we could do with it and how it complimented (or ruined) the cold brew. We had sampled it the week before the competition and it was incredible. The nose had tons of whiskey in it and the flavor was like a warm coffee stout, with notes of orange, and some characteristics of the barrel. We had no idea if this would work as a mocktail but it was worth the try. 

The rules were that our team had 1 hour to make the following: one chocolate thing using ingredients from a local farm in Redlands, make one coffee drink again using produce from the local farm, and a combined chocolate and coffee beverage to collaborate on. The ingredients list was extensive. Persimmons, pears, apples orange, herbs like rosemary, thyme, and tons of other veggies and fruits. The plan was to try and take aspects of our Old Fashioned mocktail and a drink I’ve grown to really enjoy, Mint Julep, and mix them together with the Barrel Aged Cold Brew acting as the alcohol. We made two simple syrups for our drink. We chose orange, chocolate mint, spearmint and a cinnamon basil from the list of ingredients. Nate (the chocolate magician) made some type of Basil confet and chocolate with his miso maple chocolate. It was superb and a fantastic pairing for our drink with the basil. I’m sure you've seen the cooking competition shows like Iron Chef, where they have a limited amount of time to plan prepare and execute on a meal. It's always a fun thing to watch when you have nothing else to do and I assumed this would have some similarities with that and some similarities to the barista competitions we’ve been participating in over the past few years but I was not prepared for the stress that comes from executing under a high level of pressure. We brought all of our products to the staging area and setup. The timer began and we were off. Joey started on the syrups while Kyle and I went to dial in the espresso for our mocha. The shots of our Fall Espresso were pulling nicely. Some nice dark chocolate with subtle tones of plums and citrus. We took some of Nate’s miso maple chocolate and made tested our ratio of chocolate to espresso. We landed on a 30 grams of chocolate to 36 grams of espresso with 12 ounces of milk. It was perfect, but with the basil on top, it tied all of our drinks together very nicely. The first syrup turned out great, but we felt it needed more orange. It had the nice presence of mint and the orange rind came through, but the sweetness of the orange was missing. With a few more orange slices we found the perfect balance. Next, we started on the basil simple syrup where we used the cinnamon basil. It had the normal characteristics of basil with this wonderful spice at the end. Joey mixed the drink. Barrel Aged Cold Brew with mint, orange and basil simple syrup with an orange garnish-it was marvelous. Each note stood on its own but complemented the other. We couldn’t believe how well everything was coming together. We were ready with almost 30 minutes to spare but our partner Nate was struggling with his basil confet to freeze. We waited with him and helped as best as we could and then he decided to forgo his original plan of making molds of the confet and decided to go with truffles. While he finished, the clock was ticking down...10 minutes left and we needed to start on our mochas. I went outside to start and realized our chocolate had hardened up. I couldn’t believe it! We went back inside to get the chocolate from Nate, but he had turned the machine off and the chocolate wasn’t ready for us anymore. He quickly turned the machine back on to melt the chocolate and we started racing against the clock. Kyle pulled the first shot, and I grabbed the bowl of chocolate. We made the first drink and the basil sat on top of the steamed milk perfectly looking gorgeous. Then they started counting down from 40 and I had 2 more drinks to make. Kyle pulled shots, Joey added the chocolate and I steamed the milk. 10 seconds! I added the basil and it sunk to the bottom of the glass…whomp whomp. We served it and started on the final drink. "3…2…1" and we only had mixed the chocolate and espresso. We felt as sad as that basil looked at the bottom of the mocha. The judges graciously gave us a few more seconds to steam and finalize the last drink and it was all over.

We moved to the judges table and started our unrehearsed presentation of what was before them and why we chose each ingredient. We briefly spoke about the mocha, but I could tell they weren’t that interested after having a few sips they stopped and so we moved on to the next portion where Nate talked about his chocolate. Now things started getting interesting, they were taken back by his miso maple chocolate. It was savory and sweet, the perfect balance between the two. And the basil was a perfect addition to the combo. They spoke for a few more minutes and then we mixed their drinks for the coffee portion. We talked about the different ingredients and why we chose them, how so many shared moments are over coffee and some type of alcohol and then we served their drinks. They were all pretty silent for a while, but sipping the cocktail often. I couldn’t tell by their face if they liked it or not. Either this was going horribly or they loved it. Finally one of the judges broke and said “this is…well…I shouldn’t say because I don’t want to influence either of their opinions.” They asked so many questions about how we barrel aged the coffee and what the process of everything was. They were intrigued and we could tell now they were genuinely just wanting to know what this thing in their hand was. At one point the judges actually cheered with the cups. the judge who broke earlier said, “off the record this is incredible.” We smiled and thanked him. A few more questions and we gave a final thank you and left; high fiving each other as we walked away. If that wasn’t a winner, then I don’t know what else we could have done to take it home. 

At the awards banquet we quickly forgot the feeling we had before and were doubting our drink. We were competing against some pretty remarkable coffee programs like Augies, Modern Times and Bodhi Leaf. They called us all to the front to announce. Joey and I stood there confident in our performance but wondered if it was enough. The judge started talking about the winning beverage, "This was by far the most unique thing we have ever had.” And then she said it, “the winner is, Arcade!” We were stoked honored and pleased that they noticed the detail and thoughtful care we put into this beverage for them. For us, that was truly special and a moment we will always remember. Onto the next adventure!

-stevie-

Controlling the Narrative

 

A few weeks back there were two people that showed up to the pop-up (rest in peace) through our front doors. It's always awkward when that happens because they get this feeling of “Oh was I supposed to come in a different way” but we are like “No no you’re fine, that way is perfect,” but they are never convinced, thus their first interaction with us is always a little awkward. So this time I offered them coffee to break the tension. The guy ordered a cold brew with milk and some simple syrup and the girl declined for the moment. We started talking and and I noticed the guy had this awesome tattoo on his forearm of California with the I.E. whited out. We started talking about that and how he was from San Bernardino and was proud of it enough to have it tattooed it on his arm. He said people would ask from time to time about it and most never knew San Bernardino existed until the tragic shooting had occurred last year. We joked about the I.E. a bit and I have seriously contemplated the same tattoo for myself since then.

Later the girl pulled out her camera and started taking some pics. It’s always funny when that happens cause you don’t really know their motives but it’s always fun to ask. Then she dropped the bomb. “I’m from Sprudge.” SHUT UP!!! I didn’t say that, but I was pretty pumped. We’ve wanted an opportunity like this for a while. A chance to share with the coffee community on a larger platform our mission and WHY weeven opened a coffee company in Riverside. She asked her questions and I answered as best as I could. I felt like Will from Newsroom, talking about civilizing the world and things like that. She snapped some shots, then asked for a latte and I realized my art isn’t quite where Shane’s is so I attempted a simple heart. Made the pour and passed her a large lopsided latte. They stayed a bit longer. We chatted more about the tattoo and then they were off. I texted Shane immediately letting him know this was by far the worst day for him to not be here, and there was a piece of me that wanted to rub it in that fact that he missed the experience.

I shared with Ashley, my wife, when I got home and was so excited till I thought something that has made me worried ever since. What if they get us wrong? What if Sprudge, the biggest coffee blog that I am aware of, misses the point of who were are. Will we be branded as who they say we are? And then I started thinking bigger picture. What do people think about us? What do they think is our purpose in doing this? I ask everyone we interview for team members here why they think we are doing this. Who are we? What is Arcade about? And they usually give some answer about quality coffee and we are genuine people, which are some of our values here, but no one knows why. Why does Arcade exist? This has been one of the best things I’ve worked through over the past few years. Searching for our identity and purpose in an overcrowded industry. Yes we are coffee nerds/professionals and take the science of coffee seriously, and we are artisans that care deeply about the craft of coffee and how it is prepared specifically and purposefully for an individual. We are trainers who help people learn how to brew coffee on their own and how to taste it and appreciate it for how wonderful it can be. But these are expressions of a deeper purpose of Arcade. These are just what’s and how's to our why. So I am going to blog once per week to control the narrative of Arcade, so people will always have a place to turn to if the purpose gets fuzzy or if there's a question to our character. Arcade exists to enrich lives by inspiring others to create shared moments, relationship and a sense of belonging for all. This is our purpose in the marketplace. To give people a place where they will stop and connect to create genuine relationship with each other and because of that everyone will feel like they belong. And we feel there is no better medium for that than connecting over a cup of real coffee. We hope that you will join our cause as we continue to serve and connect with our community.

-stevie-

P.S. I still hope Sprudge writes the article about us. That would be awesome! 

Coffee Farm Bali, Indonesia

Coffee is about people. 

On both sides of the cup its about people. You’ve got baristas and customers, managers, roasters and finally we are starting to hear the stories of the importers and farmers. Creating shared moments is so important so we can hear from each other. What we like, and don’t like. How things work or how processes are supposed to happen. In these moments we can learn things from each other, we can make each other better, if we stop slow down and take in the moment. 

I’ve learned so much over the past few years about this idea of connecting with people to learn and grow. To capture the moment when you're with someone to get better, to learn and to just enjoy. We’ve had the chance to have a few of these moments with coffee farmers in the past but hadn’t yet experienced it in their home area, where they could physically show us where they dried the coffee cherries or how the machines worked. Where we could touch the trees and smell the fermentation. I never thought that our fist experience on a coffee farm with a farmer would be in the mountains of Bail, Indonesia but then I never thought I would own a business let alone a coffee business either.

The day started with waking up early to our little Ibu making us breakfast at our Villa in Ubud. Normally we would take our moto out into town but that day we had a driver who picked us up for the two hour drive to the mountainous area of Kintamani. Traveling through the city seemed to take forever in the car but it was nice to be at ease instead of listening intently to Ashley (my wife) for Google Maps directions that lead us to driving on the wrong side of the road at least 3 times on the moto. Sujud A (our Indokom coffee contact) met us on the street because our driver got lost twice and in the process scratched his bosses car. We were finally there. Sujud A introduced us to the group leader Ketut Ngembeng and gave us a brief welcome to the farm and we signed in for the experience. He had us start in the main meeting area that was no bigger than 2 dorm rooms and explained this was where they would meet with all 46 farmers that were responsible for maintaining the land. The land is around 100 hectares which is around 250 acres and each hectare produces around 5,500-6,000 kg of red cherry. On site they are able to wash the cherries and put them into fermentation tanks where they ferment for 36 hours. After that they go into a pulper where the skin and fruit of the cherry is removed and what’s left of the cherry runs down a long chute where they are sorted good from bad. Bad cherries end up in a large pile right behind the chute and they, along with the skin and fruit of the cherries, become compost for fertilizing the coffee trees. After the cherries are sorted by hand, they go back into another fermentation tank where they are wet hulled (not the best for the beans but this is pretty typical for Indonesian coffees). Sujud A’s english was really good but I didn’t understand everything he said so there was another pulping machine and I think it’s where more of the mucilage is removed or the husk is removed. From there he walked us to their patios where they dry the coffee. This is super important to make sure the coffee is dried enough to make sure when it is bagged and then shipped it doesn’t develop mold on the bean (moisture needs to be between 10-12%). 

After seeing all the processing we were ready to see some trees and some actual coffee beans. Sujud A walked us down from where the processing happens and Wayansyah, his business partner, joined us. The trees were much bigger than I expected, very tall and lush. I stopped while they spoke with Ashley and grabbed a fresh cherry off the tree. Normally the branches would be full of cherries but we had arrived just after the harvest season. I washed the cherry off and popped it in my mouth. It wasn’t very sweet but reminded me of the Cascara teas I’ve had. I’ll stick with drinking coffee rather than trying to eat it. This plot of land is between 1,350-1,600 meters above sea level and is divided up between all 46 farmers. Each farmer has 1-2 cows that are used to produce fertilizer for their trees along with the fruit from the coffee cherries. In addition to the coffee trees each lot has a minimum of 12 fruit trees to help with creating more income in the off seasons and then also creates shade and enriches the soil for the coffees. From what I could tell these trees produced Typica, Catimor and S-795 varietals (not really, I got that info after we left the farm) but all the trees on the farm are Arabica and everything is certified organic and rainforest alliance. From there we circled back to the meeting place, took a few more pictures and our first visit to the coffee farm had ended. Since it’s the end of the harvest there wasn’t coffee for us to cup but we are looking forward to the samples from their farm and hope that it will be something we can have in stock at Arcade. It was a shared moment I will remember for a long time.

It was really encouraging to see how much these guys were investing into their farm. You could tell how proud they were to be showing us, American coffee roasters, how much work they put into the cultivation of coffee. We asked so many questions trying to gain as much knowledge as possible to learn from the men who were on the front end of something we love and care about so much about. What ends up in your cup is based on how well these guys do with following all these intricate steps along the way. It’s crazy that we are connected with someone on the other side of the world, who we would normally have no reason to talk with and now because of a common bond in coffee we’ve created a moment that will have lasting affects for years. 

Coffee is truly about people 

-stevie-

(from Left to Right) Sujud A, Ketut Ngembeng, me (the tall one) and Wayansyah

(from Left to Right) Sujud A, Ketut Ngembeng, me (the tall one) and Wayansyah