Scott & Ryan with Batdorf & Bronson's® Green Coffee Buyer, Bob Benck
2010 started off with a great experience for both Batdorf & Bronson® and our wholesale partners Caf Javasti - a group trip to Costa Rica! Every year we look forward to our annual trip to Costa Rica to visit AFAORCA co-op member farms, review the organic fertilizer project and stop by Hacienda La Minita. This year's trip was special due to our travel companions, Scott Morell and Ryan Sheridan, co-owners of Seattle's Caf Javasti. Caf Javasti has been a wholesale partner with Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters since 2001. Now with two Seattle neighborhood locations (Maple Leaf and Wedgewood), Ryan and Scott are continuously staying busy and always looking for new ways to learn more about coffee. After showing interest about the production of coffee and farming practices, we decided to invite Scott and Ryan along on our annual visit. Being fortunate enough to go along on the trip, I made some time to ask them a few question about how going to origin has changed their understanding of coffee production and how this will make a difference in their cafe's. What made you want to visit a country of origin? Having worked in the retail side of the coffee industry for so long, visiting a country of origin was opportunity we jumped at. What an opportunity to expand your perspective. What were you looking forward to seeing/learning? It is so easy to get stuck in your routine, to make yourself so busy with all of the responsibilities you have as an owner that you get lost in your small part the coffee world. I was excited for the adventure to shake me loose from my daily role and give me a wider, more comprehensive understanding of the process. It most definitely did. What was the most surprising thing you learned while on the farm? I was most surprised by the incredible attention to detail and commitment to quality applied by the staff and employees of the farms at both La Minita and the AFAORCA cooperative. When you are sitting on the porch of the main house at La Minita and looking out over the farm, which contains 1.7 million coffee trees, it is easy to get lost in the enormity of the task picking, pruning, fertilizing, replanting all by hand. I couldnt get my head around it. Somehow, they maintain a focused calm and year after year produce some of the best coffee in the world. From on operational point of view it was impressive.
Scott and Ryan's results after one hour of picking at La Minita.
I think that Scott picked more coffee then you Ryan.is that right? You couldnt be more wrong! Stefanylets remember this together. I intentionally picked a row or two over from you and Scott so that your chit chatting wouldnt get in the way or my efficient picking. I do believe I was paid the most for my cherries at the pay station! How did you spend your $1.17 cents or 650 Colones? I am saving my $1.17 to remind me of how hard it is to pick coffee at 6000 feet on the side of a mountain. The pickers on the farm could pick 7-8 times what we were able to pick in an hour. They were amazing.
L to R: Christian Mora (AFAORCA), Ryan Sheridan, Bob Benck, Scott Morel and Katie Gilmer (Sustainable Harvest)
What was the most meaningful experience you had while traveling? There were a lot of moments on this trip that really stirred me. I would have to say that our day with the AFAORCA cooperative really touched me. Batdorf talks a lot about its commitment to relationship coffee and that day really backed up those claims. Not only were Christian and Minor amazing hosts and patient educators but they welcomed us into their homes, stuffed us with delicious bbq and shared with us their families and communities. Having that personal connection with a group of people that are on the complete opposite end of the coffee world was amazing. This one was of my favorite experiences at La Minita but, I am curious to know, how was it for you to cup coffee with Sergio at La Minita? Sergio was unbelievable. When he took his first slurp of a cup at the table, I realized that this was a man who commanded attention and respect. It was so loud and exact that I realized quickly I needed to work on my slurp. Sergio was a true gentlemen and a lot of fun to cup with.
L to R: Scott Morel and Ryan Sheridan with our old friend Scott Merle (now of La Minita)
What was the biggest contrast between the two farms we visited? La Minita was majestic and awe inspiring. The views of the surrounding mountains, valleys and waterfalls provided a back drop that was out of a movie. The farm was so impressive and organized. There was a feeling among the staff that this place was special and the tradition of producing award winning coffee was to be respected. As a business owner, I was impressed with the organization and execution of the farm as well as its ability to provide a livelihood for so many. Visiting the organic farm that was a part of the cooperative was such a contrast. The farm was owned and farmed by one family. It was raw and alive. The variety of trees, plants and bugs on the farm far exceeded what we had seen on La Minita. It was an ecosystem that was able to support the production of coffee verses a coffee farm that was working to support its surrounding ecosystem -- inspiring in its own way. How have your views about coffee changed since working on the farm? I am so much more appreciative of the quality of coffee I get to enjoy each day. I have been talking to my customers and employees non-stop about this since returning. Not only are we spoiled to have such a great roaster but the green coffees that Batdorf sources are the best of the best. It has also lit a fire under my butt to do the very best I can each day, to make sure all of us at Caf Javasti honor the hard work and passion that the people I met on this trip have for the coffee they produce. It is the least we can do.
Thanks Scott & Ryan!