This is the first installment of travel blogging from Chris Owens as he heads out for a month buying coffee and meeting producers.
“So what did I pack for 4 weeks and 5 Central American countries? I like the saying “take half as many clothes as you think you need and twice as much money”, but still think I brought too much. Here’s the list:
Yellow vaccination card
2 pair pants, 1 black and 1 grey - outlier OB
Here is what outlier has to say about the pants:
Ultralight Summer Trousers (Gray)
The ones that barely exist. Ultralight Doubleweave is soft, supple and tough. It breathes incredibly well, with a soft lux handfeel and elegant drape. Yet when it comes to durability it’ll outclass fabrics more than three times its weight.
The Ultralight fabric is a yarn-dyed doublewoven intimate blend of various nylons. The micro-nylon fibers create a soft loose inner weave that helps pull moisture from the skin, while slightly thicker nylon is tightly woven on the outside to give it a degree of water resistance and excellent abrasion resistance. The “self-cleaning” nanosphere treatment adds in some wine, beer and iced coffee resistance. A four-way stretch means you’ll move with a breezy freedom all across a beautiful summer.
The Outlier OG Pant (Black)
The Schoeller Dryskin fabric is essentially the same as the Ultralight just, well, a little heavier. Oh, and if you completely saturate either of these pants, they will dry in minutes (generally around 15-20).
1 waterproof shell - Patagonia
1 dark blazer - Nau “travel” blazer
1 dark navy grenadine tie - Drakes of London (If you are going to only have one tie this is it)
The blazer and tie are nice to have. In airports and on airplanes I feel like people treat you better when you dress well. They also come in handy if you need to dress up for an event on your trip. You never know!
2 long-sleeve Ministry of Supply Apollo dress shirts, 1 white & 1 Pink.
1 pair swim shorts - Apolis (double as shorts)
1 swim trunks - Parke & Ronen (very small. They DO NOT double as shorts)
3 merino wool t-shirts (2 black, 1Natural) - smartwool
If you are wounding “why merino wool?” well, wool stays cleaner, seems to refuse to smell even after constant daily wear, keeps you warm even when wet, is effective at wicking sweat and has a bit of natural stretch.
3 pair merino wool long socks, all dark colors - Smartwool
2 pair merino wool short socks, 1 white and 1 black - Smartwool
Same benefits as the t-shirts
1 pair Chelsea boots with a slight commando sole - Allen edmunds
Easy to slip on and off at the airport, can dress them up or down, and has a bit of traction.
1 Merino wool Buff (super versatile)
3 pairs underwear - Calvin Klein Prostretch Reflex low-rise trunk
1 sleep mask
1 pair headphones - custom JH Audio IEMs
1 iPad - ipad 3
1 pair sunglasses - Warby Parker
1 Phone - iPhone 5
1 modified Aeropress (with paper filters. I prefer them)
1 Hario brew scale
1 Porlex hand grinder
1 Keep Cup
Some Handsome Coffee, of course
1 SterPEN Journey LCD
1 Wahl Lithium Ion beard trimmer (powerful motor and rapid charging)
1 Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter (I love this thing!)
In room laundry kit (a flat disk sink stopper and a braided surgical tubing clothesline)
aLOKSAK bags to pack things in
What do I pack all these, things in? A Tom Bihn 19L Synapse backpack.
I purposely selected a smaller backpack to help force myself to re-evaluate what to bring. The size of the backpack is a very real and logical Limit. You are the one who has to carry it around.
I’ll be doing a lot of packing and unpacking this trip so I’ll try and put a little video together to show you guys how I pack is all into such a small backpack.”
We’re looking for a barista or two to come down to Handsome HQ and work with us at the coffee bar.
We’re pretty specific about how we do it over here. Now, we reckon we can teach you about coffee if you don’t already know.
What we don’t reckon is that we can teach you to be nice to people, anticipate our customers’ needs, help make a great team greater, solve problems, and think about how you can make Handsome better. That’s a skill set that’s inherent. It’s only half about coffee.
If you are passionate about customer service, the satisfaction of hard work, being part of a wonderful team, and you really love coffee, let us know. Because that’s what we’re after.
If you’re interested in being a part of Team Handsome, send us an email (anthony at handsome coffee dot com) and tell us why. Resumes are ok too, but we’d really like to know who you are and why you’re a great addition. If you live in LA, come on down to the shop and speak with Anthony between 11am and 4pm Wednesday through Friday or 11am to 3pm on Saturday.
Today we’re releasing a new coffee. It’s new to us, new to you, and new to the world. Until today, all the coffee grown by members of Regalo de Popayan in Colombia was sold through a commodities market. And this is a really special moment for us and for the producers, as their hard work has blossomed into a new relationship with us and a marked improvement in revenues as a direct result of their efforts to improve quality.
Regalo de Popayan is comprised of two growers associations - APROSEP and AGRICOD.
APROSEP is only a year old and it’s growing quickly. New members are still joining and the group is supported by the mayor’s office.
AGRICOD is a group of women coffee producers established in 2007. These ladies take a huge amount of pride in their work and it shows in the coffee. Chris was fortunate enough to be invited to lunch with one of the leaders, Liliana, where she told him the coffee is so good because “Ladies do a better job of processing, work harder, and are more responsible.”
The area is named after the Mesata de Popayan, a high altitude plateau that is a unique growing environment in Colombia since it’s relatively flat.
The average farm size here is between 1 and 2 hectares, and production is mostly organic, although not certified. Most plots are densely planted with a mix of fruit trees.
Unrelated to coffee but interesting none the less is “el cerro de la tetilla.” This roughly translates to “nipple hill.” Nipple hill is the source of much folklore in the region, including a tale that the indigenous people hid gold in the nipple. The area is quite rich with minerals and gold. This often creates conflict with mining companies, so it’s important for the growers here to gain more stability in the region to avoid being displaced.
Popayan grows Caturra, Colombia, and Typica at 1750 meters above sea level. There are two harvests, a small one in October and November and a larger one May through June. It’s been a very dry season and producers are concerned about the yield next harvest.
Cupping and brewing have shown us baked apples, cinnamon and allspice, cocoa finish, and round body. This is definitely a Comfort coffee. Something you can sip on all day.
Much like changing a tire or shining your boots, manually brewing a great cup of coffee is a skill any Handsome coffee drinker should have under their belt. This December, 2010 world barista champion Michael Phillips will help you be able to do just that. He will be hosting three classes, one on every Tuesday leading up to his Birthday on the 21st. Each one will walk you through how to make a great cup with a different style of brewer. Learn on your very own kit and then buy one as a gift for your family and friends, fully prepared to show them just the right way to use it! We will even have craft paper and coffee bag ribbons on hand if you want to get your wrapping done early! There is limited availability so swing by the shop to get your spot early! Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chemex and V60 class
Date: December 4th, 6pm-7pm
Gear you get: Chemex brewer, filters, 12 oz bag of coffee
Ever wonder who Peter Schlumbohm is? Or perhaps you are confused about what all the cool kids mean when they talk about “bloom time”? In this Handsome event World Barista Champion Michael Phillips will clear up all this and more when he walks you through the process of how to brew an amazing cup using the Chemex and V60 pour over brew methods. Learn historical tidbits, best brew ratios and basic technique for these two easy to use coffee brew methods.
Aeropress and the traveling brew
Date: December 11th, 6pm-7pm
Gear you get: Aeropress brewer, 12 oz bag of coffee
You may not be able to take your local talented Handsome Coffee barista with you when you hit the road for the holidays, you can certainly at least bring some beans. This class will have Michael showing you the ropes of brewing with the ever wonderful Aeropress brewer and mini Porlex hand grinder. An unstoppable duo for any road warrior who will not settle when it comes to their daily cup.
French, Clever and the fine art of steeping
Date: December 18th, 6pm-7pm
Gear you get: Clever brewer, filters, 12 oz bag of coffee
What happens when you let a french press sit steeping for a full hour? Michael goes through the horror of it in this class just so that you never have to at home. (he brewed for your sins…) Steeping brew methods like the french press and clever are a whole different ball game. Discover how to make a french press cleaner than spring sheets and a clever richer than scrooge McDuck in this one hour brew bonanza.
Sign up at handsomecoffee.com or email email@example.com to reserve your spot!
Fresh off the boat, after much ado and excitement, our first repeat offering is here. Brought to you all the way from 1550 meters above sea level, hailing from El Sauce, Santa Barbara, Honduras, please welcome the catuai varietal that’s been fully washed and patio dried under the watchful eye of the man himself,
“DON” MEDARDO SAGASTUME!!!!!!!!
Chris was fortunate enough to spend a little time down in Honduras with the man and here’s what he had to say.
My Trip to Honduras by Christopher C. Owens
“Medardo Sagastume is a first generation coffee farmer. He purchased his farm in 1980 and he and his brothers have managed it ever since. The brothers work hard to maintain the farm and the ecology surrounding it. Shade on the farm is provided by Musaceae (the family of plants that contain the banana and plantain) and various fruit trees. They perform two cleans of the farm a year to remove the exhausted plant material. This is hard work done typically done with a machete. These selective prunings of the coffee plantation are done to ensure the healthiest and most productive coffee plants possible. Harvest typically starts in the month of February and ends in June with the bulk being February through April.
Don Medardo uses only clean water for fermentation and washing. It takes roughly 14 hours on hot days and 18 hours on cold days to properly ferment the coffee. He is also diligent to not contaminate the water sources to further protect the health of the farm as well as the surrounding forests. The coffee pulp is composted and applied to the farm and the residual waters are deposited in oxidation lagoons to also be used within the farm. Don Medardo has his own small rustic wet mill. All his coffee is milled on the farm and dried on his own patio. This allows him total control over his process. After it is pre-dried it only has to travel an hour and a half to the San Vicente Mill.
Don Medardo grows 100% Red Catuai
This year the harvest was quite late. This caused everything to ripen all at once. While everything being ripe sounds like it would be a good thing, since the coffee is picked selectively and individually, for only the single red cherries, it made it difficult to get all the ripe coffee of the plant in time. Don Medardo struggled to find enough pickers this year which further compounded the problem. So a lot of his coffee stayed on the tree unpicked. This meant it missed the optimal point of ripeness and won’t be sold as specialty. So Sad. What did make it our way is delicious!
The area of Santa Barbara, in the mountains overlooking Lago de Yojoa, is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I’ve seen Norwegian Fjords!”!”
This is one of our very favorite coffees, and a sentimental one, too. This was the first coffee that floored all of us, and our first farmer relationship coffee.