Friday, March 19, 2010
By now most of the March Sip n Stitch packages should have arrived and so I'd like to take a moment to share some information about the coffee company we selected for this month and the colorway inspiration. If you haven't received your package yet and don't want to be spoiled, please stop reading now!
The coffee roaster we selected for this shipment is Counter Culture Coffee located in Durham, NC. They are the largest of the roasters we used, but still only have about 30 employees and the owner is directly involved in every batch of coffee they roast. In addition to the roasting facility in Durham, Counter Culture has training centers in Asheville, Atlanta, Washington, NYC, Charlotte. And every Friday at 10am at all of their training centers they offer free cuppings. If you are near one of these locations, or will be traveling near one, I highly recommend that you spend a Friday morning tasting coffee with them. I did and I learned so much. I had no idea that the "cupping" process was so involved and was surprised at how difficult it was for me to put names to the smells and flavors of the different coffees. I think its something that you get better at with experience! But even though I had a hard time identifying the "notes of oak wood smoke" or "sweet, syrupy fig" I can tell you that all the coffee was GOOD! After going through the multi-step tasting and smelling process we compared notes- it was fun to see what other participants tasted or smelt in the same coffees-- things I never would have thought of but, in retrospect, were perfect descriptions!
Since I did my cupping at the Durham location we also got a tour of the roasting facility. Its so neat to see the big bags of green beans, bins of freshly roasted coffee and imposing roasting machines. I was impressed to find out that most of their coffee is shipped or picked up the same day as its roasted. You can't beat that for freshness!
All of the employees I talked to were so friendly and welcoming and seemed so passionate about the company and the product they produce. As I was leaving the owner was clearing off space in the cupping room for their weekly potluck lunch. If I ever decide to get out of the dyeing business, I know where I'll be sending my resume!
So now lets talk about the coffee we selected. All the Counter Culture coffees are great so I knew I couldn't really make a bad choice. We selected Valle del Santuario for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, its a great coffee. One of my all time favorites. Even the decaf version is good. It has just become available for the season so the beans are at their very best. I also love that it comes from a small community in the middle of nowhere in Peru. Because of their size and location these coffee farmers would likely be overlooked or underpaid by larger coffee companies but because Counter Culture is committed to the principles of fair trade we can be certain that the coffee farmers are being respected and fairly paid for their high quality product.
Since this coffee comes out of Peru, I thought I'd use the beautiful traditional clothing of the indigenous people to inspire the colorway. If you do a google image search for "Quechua" you'll find many examples of the clothing I'm talking about. This is one of my favorites since it also includes a llama. Traditional Quechua clothing usually has a deep red or magenta as the primary color with accents of teal, green, yellow and blue. You may find that some areas are lighter than others, this is on purpose as I was trying to get that worn, homespun look.
You can see a few more photos from my cupping and tour here. Enjoy!