May Green Coffee Outlook: Spring Travels Summer Coffees

Details from our most recent origin visits to Africa and Central America, and updates for coffees currently on the water.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the bulk of our annual volume is procured in the first three months of the year. It’s around this time that the harvest seasons come to a close in Central America and East Africa, which make up a very large portion of our buying. The planning conversations start much earlier, but the real work that goes into securing coffee – cupping and selection, travel, lot building, contracts – that all happens in the first quarter.

Tom spent the start of the year focused on Ethiopia, and Kenya, both sources of some of our highest scoring coffees, as well as our largest volumes. Despite the Kenya trip being cut short unexpectedly, both visits helped us get a read on the quality of this year’s harvests, and laid the groundwork for our buying strategy.

An open jute bags displays the meticulously sorted ripe red coffee cherries at the Halo Beriti washing station in Gedeb Woreda.
An open jute bags displays the meticulously sorted ripe red coffee cherries at the Halo Beriti washing station in Gedeb Woreda.

The quality in Ethiopia’s Southern regions was as strong as ever, and we bought more coffee from washing stations in Guji than planned. It’s not unusual for us to go heavy on coffees from this region, but we did not intent to buy so little from neighboring Yirga Cheffe. The quality just led us in that direction. We are still cupping some late harvest samples with the intention of buying a few more lots from the Yirg region, so stay tuned.

While we may enter each season with a wishlist of coffees we hope to buy, things don’t always go as planned. A wet mill that produces exquisite coffee one year, may produce mediocre coffee the next. Our final decisions are often made at the cupping table, and always based on what we taste. Especially in the pursuit of quality.

At the end of the day, you’ll likely recognize a lot of the coffees in our “Incoming Coffees” list below. From the South, you can expect favorites from Hambela region, wet mills such as Chelbessa, Goro, Rogicha, and Korate. From the West, we are looking forward to new crops from cooperatives under the Kata Muduga Union, like Duromina, Geta Bore, and of course, Nano Challa.

Film image of a worker standing in front of the drying tabels at the Chinga coffee factory in Nyeri, Kenya.
Film image of a worker standing in front of the drying tabels at the Chinga coffee factory in Nyeri, Kenya.

Shipping is underway, though not without its kinks. Between limited services out of the port of Djibouti, rerouted shipping lanes, and a global shortage of 20′ containers, it’s been tricky getting coffee out of Ethiopia at all. We were lucky enough to ship most of our boxes early, before things got really bad, and the first arrivals are on track for late June.

The Suez Canal continues to be a security risk, and most carriers are still opting to take a much longer journey around the Cape of Good Hope rather than facing possible drone strikes in the Red Sea. Longer travel times means increase costs for fuel, worker hours etc, which in turn means higher shipping costs for us. In this case I suppose you can put a price on safety, and we’re paying it!

The domestic movement of coffee from Ethiopia’s growing regions to the ports has also been strained by new loan limits imposed by Ethiopia’s central bank. Many exporters rely on these loans to pay the washing stations and coops for coffee, and without them, coffee sits unsold. Thankfully, our coffees have not been affected by this as the importers we work with provide pre-financing to secure the coffees we select.

We’ve all but finished up the final contracts for our coffees from Ethiopia and Kenya, and the containers from these purchases have already started to ship. I’ve posted ETA’s for everything on the water below, and expect to see all boxes shipped by our next Green Coffee Outlook.

Tom’s currently in Burundi and Rwanda, where they are just entering the harvest peak. The season had a slow start, with heavy rains causing coffee cherry to ripen very slowly. Once the clouds finally parted, things picked up significantly. Both countries are expected to have very big harvests this year, which generally indicates improved top grades as well.

Sweet Maria's Instagram grid, including posts from the road in Rwanda and Burundi.
Sweet Maria’s Instagram grid, including posts from the road in Rwanda and Burundi.

Last I saw, Tom was at Gitesi mill, near Lake Kivu in Rwanda, collecting cherries from different coffee varieties for his nursery back in the Bay Area (you can see the post on Instagram). If you have any questions about either coffee origin, drop them in the comments below and he’ll answer them from the road, or when back in another week.

I (Dan) spent two weeks in March visiting some of our coffee sources in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. This trip was organized with cupping in mind, timed with the end of the harvest when there is a good selection of coffee from the higher elevation zones.

The harvest was late in most Central American countries due to El Niño weather effect. In some regions the dryer weather pattern meant a delayed start to the harvest. Others saw intermittent rains lead to sporadic flowering, causing cherries to ripen at different rates.

It’s not unusual to see green and red cherries on the same tree, but higher instances like we saw this year can create problems in quality-focused operations. When coffee ripens at different rates, it means either spending more time in the field picking less coffee, or picking a mix of ripeness. Since payment to pickers is based on volume and uniform ripeness, neither situation is ideal.

A worker empties bags of ripe coffee cherries from Finca Miravalles in Ahuachapan, El Salvador.
A worker empties bags of ripe coffee cherries from Finca Miravalles in Ahuachapan, El Salvador.

As a result, you saw a lot more unripe coffee mixed in with ripe. The top grades will suffer unless quality control measures are implemented at the mill. Most of the mills we buy from use flotation as the first means of removing unripe coffee from their grade 1 coffee. It might look different from one country to the next, but the concept is the same. When you pour coffee in a pool of water, the heavy ripe coffee sinks to the bottom, while the unripe coffee floats to the top making it easy to remove.

Many mills sort out defective cherries by hand before it even gets to the mill, like Finca Miravalles, in El Salvador. But hand labor can be very expensive, and there are machines that do an effective job when calibrated correctly. If you’re interested in seeing some of these processes in action, check out this video of coffee being processed at Finca Miravalles in El Salvador, or this video where Tom shows both wet and dry process methods being performed in Ethiopia.

Since we only selected coffees from the harvest peak, when they’re tasting best, we aren’t likely to have our fist new crop Central American coffees until late June. I just received word that some of our containers have been stuffed in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, with ETD’s later this month.

Check out the full list below of contracted coffees and ETA’s below.


Upcoming Coffees May & June

Below is a list of upcoming green coffees currently on the schedule to be added to our website for May and June. This list is still being updated:

May Outlook:

CoffeesBags
Brazil Dry Process Wilderson Avelar21
Colombia Inzá Río Páez16
Colombia Buesaco EA Decaf58
Colombia Inzá Vereda San Antonio19
Costa Rica Cerro Alto La Union20
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Buliye120
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Goro80
Guatemala Proyecto Xinabajul Urizar de Leon20
Guatemala Antigua Pulcal B30033
Honduras San Luis Carlos Umberto Pacas10
Kenya Nyeri Maganjo AB74
Papua New Guinea Morita30
Peru Cajamarca San Ignacio20
Sumatra Anaerobic Wet Hulled Aulia20
Timor Leste Sabelu20
Tanzania Mbozi Ilomba AA50

June Outlook (so far):

Burundi Gaterama Agahore Station23
Burundi Honey Process Masha40
Kenya Nyeri Thuti49
Colombia Nariño Vereda Buesaco5
Colombia Nariño Vereda Veracruz9
Colombia Inzá La Chorrera25
Colombia Frutas del Cauca35
Ethiopia Sidama Bombe100
Honduras El Sauce Esteban Chávez Parainema11
Java Sunda Cirambai40
Kenya Nyeri Njuriga AB51
Peru Huabal Edilberto Torres25
Tanzania Dry Process Acacia Hills AB22
Yemen Mokha Peaberry50
Sweet Maria's Coffee Shrub Coffee Sourcerer
Sweet Maria’s Coffee Shrub Coffee Sourcerer

Incoming coffees currently on the water: June onward

Please keep in mind that names may change when we list the coffee on our website. Location status of “In Transit” are also a bit of a wild card, as logistical disruptions are out of our control! You also may notice some of the coffees from last month’s list have disappeared. These have likely arrived in the US, and await being added to our launch schedule. Thanks for your patience!

African Incoming Coffees

CoffeesBagsETA
Cameroon Grassfield Cooperative25TBD
Ethiopia Guji Hambela Dabaye60ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Kercha Bilida Bukisa80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Guji Hambela Buliye120ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Hambela Benti Nenka60ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Dry Process Birbirsa Coop60ETA 7/17
Ethiopia Agaro Duromina60ETA 7/17
Ethiopia Geta Bore Lot 160ETA 7/17
Ethiopia Agaro Kenisa60ETA 7/17
Ethiopia Gera Nano Challa60ETA 7/17
Ethiopia Gure Dako40ETA 7/17
Ethiopia Geta Bore Lot 860TBD
Ethiopia Guji Wesi80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Guji Goro Bedessa80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Dry Process Guji Buku80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Dry Process Kayon Guji Genet80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Uraga Gogogu80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Chelbesa Danche80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Halo Beriti80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Uraga Raro Boda80ETA 6/22
Ethiopia Dry Process Gerba Doku80ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Dry Process Suke Quto80ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Dry Process Gerbicho Rogicha11ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Dry Process Hebo109ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Honey Process Senna Katta Mountain2TBD
Ethiopia Dry Process Senna Katta Mountain158TBD
Ethiopia Dry Process Aba Bulgu60TBD
Ethiopia Dry Process Aba Derese40TBD
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Goro100ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Dry Process Dogo Sodu60ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Dry Process Buno Dambi Uddo100ETA 6/28
Ethiopia Dry Process Korate60ETA 6/28
Kenya Nyeri Kamoini AA32TBD
Kenya Othaya Gatuyaini AA15TBD
Kenya Nyeri Gatugi AA61TBD
Kenya Nyeri Mahiga AA10TBD
Kenya Othaya Gura AA16TBD
Kenya Nyeri Gichichi AA19TBD
Kenya Nyeri Mutwewathi AA30TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kamoini AB30TBD
Kenya Othaya Gatuyaini AB30TBD
Kenya Nyeri Mahiga AB30TBD
Kenya Nyeri Mahiga Peaberry 111TBD
Kenya Nyeri Mahiga Peaberry 219TBD
Kenya Nyeri Chinga Peaberry17TBD
Kenya Muranga Kangunu AA80ETA 7/21
Kenya Kirinyaga Kamwangi Peaberry 122ETA 7/21
Kenya Kirinyaga Kamwangi Peaberry 228ETA 7/21
Kenya Kirinyaga Kainamui Peaberry38ETA 7/21
Kenya Kiambu Spikes AB98ETA 7/21
Kenya Nyeri Ichamama AB60ETA 7/21
Kenya Nyeri Miiri AB24TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kagumo AB8TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kiamwangi AB25TBD
Kenya Tetu Mungaria AB11TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kiawamururu AB54TBD
Kenya Thika Kamuyaka AB50TBD
Kenya Nyeri Ruarai Peaberry7TBD
Kenya Nyeri Nduma Peaberry6TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kiawamururu Peaberry7TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kiawamururu AA49TBD
Kenya Dry Process Ruiruiru37TBD
Kenya Nyeri Thunguri AA16TBD
Kenya Nyeri Rugi AA 19TBD
Kenya Nyeri Kagumoini AB8TBD
Kenya Nyeri Rugi AA 29TBD
Kenya Othaya Mahiga AA29TBD
Kenya Nyeri Chinga AB30TBD
Kenya Nyeri Gatugi AB30TBD
Kenya Nyeri Rukira Peaberry16TBD
Kenya Dry Process Kagunyu20TBD

Central America Incoming Coffees

CoffeesBagsETA
Nicaragua Acopio Suyatal50ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Ojo de Agua20ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Buenos Aires Los Pinos30ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Monte Libano30ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Finca Buenos Aires 135ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Finca Buenos Aires 240ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Buenos Aires Peaberry5ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Buenos Aires Java10ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Buenos Aires Maracaturra10ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Maracaturra Los Medios30ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Dry Process Maracaturra10ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Dry Process El Suyatal15ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Los Alpes Gesha1ETA 6/12
Nicaragua Dry Process Los Alpes Gesha1ETA 6/12
El Salvador Finca Miravalles Sampacho40ETA 6/30
El Salvador Finca Miravalles Icatu10ETA 6/30
El Salvador Finca Miravalles Caturra30ETA 6/30
El Salvador Finca Miravalles Tabi30ETA 6/30
El Salvador Finca Miravalles Castillo35ETA 6/30
El Salvador Finca Miravalles Bourbon58ETA 6/30
El Salvador Finca San Miguel Bourbon5ETA 6/30
El Salvador Mirravalles Pacamara11ETA 6/30
El Salvador Honey Process Anacafe 145ETA 6/30
El Salvador Honey Process Castillo19ETA 6/30
El Salvador Dry Process Finca San Luis35ETA 6/30
El Salvador Dry Process Finca Miravalles7ETA 6/30
Costa Rica Jardin de Aromas20TBD
Costa Rica Cerro Alto La Union40TBD
Costa Rica Cerro Alto El Mongo30TBD
Costa Rica Tarrazu El Ruby20TBD
Costa Rica Don Mayo La Loma20TBD
Costa Rica Don Mayo El Pedregal20TBD
Costa Rica Don Oscar 180035TBD
Costa Rica Don Oscar El Coyote35TBD
Costa Rica Dry Process La Casona10TBD
Costa Rica Chirripo Finca Jose20TBD
Costa Rica Puente Tarrazu Bourbon & Gesha1TBD
Mexico Organic Chiapas San Cristobal40TBD
Mexico Organic Chiapas Yajalon80TBD
Guatemala Antigua Finca Cabrejo21TBD
Guatemala Antigua Hunapu Dueñas26TBD
Guatemala Antigua La Parcela Melanie5TBD
Guatemala Antigua La Folie22TBD
Guatemala Antigua Carmona Pulcal30TBD
Guatemala Antigua Pulcal Inteligente21TBD
Guatemala Finca Santa Ines Bourbon20TBD
Guatemala Patzún Finca La Florida27TBD
Guatemala Patzun Finca Las Camelias20TBD
Guatemala San Martin Jilotepeque54TBD
Guatemala Patzún Finca Santa Anita12TBD
Guatemala San Diego Buena Vista Bourbon11TBD
Guatemala Acatenango Gesha36TBD
Guatemala San Diego Buena Vista Java33TBD
Costa Rica Palmichal70TBD
Costa Rica Red Honey Palmichal30TBD
Costa Rica Zarcero Monte Brisas Danto 130TBD
Costa Rica Chirripo Bamboo10TBD
Costa Rica Dry Process Hacienda Sonora40TBD
Costa Rica Honey Process Nace33TBD
Costa Rica Tarrazu Casa de Piedra31TBD
Costa Rica Zarcero Monte Brisas Typica6TBD
Costa Rica Zarcero Monte Brisas Danto 235TBD

Indonesia & SE Asia & Oceania Incoming Coffees

CoffeesBagsETA
India Pearl Mountain Estate Peaberry35TBD
Sumatra Wet Hulled Kerinci Pendekar50TBD
Sumatra Wet Process Kerinci Pendekar20TBD
Sumatra Dry Process Kerinci Pendekar20TBD
Sumatra Giling Basah Bebesen Aulia20TBD
Sumatra Giling Anaerobic Wet Hulled Aulia20TBD
Sumatra Wet Process Ribang Gayo20TBD
Sulawesi Honey Process Enrekang Angin12TBD

8 Responses

  1. Me again, LOL. Looking through the list a second time around. As I take notes I had to do a double take when I saw Bunno Dambi Uddo in transit. But I could almost swear in a communication with you a couple of outlooks ago that you said there would be none this year. Suffice it to say I am pleasantly surprised to see it listed! Do you by any chance remember how this year’s lot compares to last year’s (I assume you and/or Tom cupped it before buying)? I realize it could cup a little differently once you get it. Regardless I am stoked!

    1. Hey Todd,

      This source of Dambi Uddo has been a very consistent, and looking at Tom’s notes, we expect good things again this year! We’re looking forward to the arrival ourselves 🙂

      -Dan

  2. I’ve enjoyed roasting some of the maragogypes for over 40 years now. The Nicaraguans are usually very nice. You’ve got a great list of incoming beans. Ever get any Galapagos beans?

    1. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Nicaraguan coffees. Once again, we have some very nice lots coming in this year from Cafetalera Buenos Aires.

      I honestly don’t think we’ve ever carried Galapagos coffee.

      -Dan

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