453. Under construction

2015 March 19
by Michael Sheridan

Last week I saw this message as part of an art exhibit in Brasilia.


seu blog é fútile-your blog is futile


It was disheartening.  After more five years and 450 posts to this blog, I wished someone had told me sooner.

But the message was timely.

We are in the process of upgrading the design and content of the Coffeelands blog.  We have invested some resources in the process.  We have secured commitments from new contributors.  And we are excited about the all-new-and-improved Coffeelands.  While we resist the idea that the effort is futile, we do want to avoid hubris.

We won’t be publishing anything new until the upgrades are complete, and plan to resume transmission in time for the SCAA events in April.  More from Seattle!

452. The SCAA Event: The annual Coffeelands preview

2015 March 9
by Michael Sheridan

The 27th SCAA Event opens one month from today, which means it’s time for my annual SCAA preview and picks for the show’s best origin content.

This year’s preview, which ran a little longer than last year’s, is thematic in focus.  If you are in a hurry, or prefer a chronological format that presents the best origin lectures on a session-by-session basis, download the summary version of this post and bring it with you to The Event.

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451. Intelligentsia releases first lot from the Borderlands

2015 March 4

Intelligentsia wasn’t just a charter member of the Advisory Council for our Borderlands project in Nariño, Colombia–conversations with coffee buyer Geoff Watts dating back to 2010 helped shape the project’s design and planted the seeds for the Colombia Sensory Trial, our partnership with leaders in specialty coffee, research and philanthropy on a rigorous comparative analysis of the cup quality of Castillo and Caturra varieties.

Today, almost five years after our initial conversations with Geoff and the team at Intelligentsia, they release their first lot from the Borderlands project–a single-farm lot grown by Fidencio Chamorro, a leader in the community of Linares.  It was worth the wait.


Intelli - Fidencio Chamorro


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450. What difference does policy make?

2015 February 26

The sustainability conversation in specialty coffee has evolved in important ways since I first tuned in more than 10 years ago.  I find it to be more robust.  More nuanced.  More mature.  And, well…just more.

The list of topics on the industry’s sustainability agenda is longer than it was a decade ago.  One topic that does not seem to have made its way into the slipstream of the conversation, however, is policy.  But regulatory and policy changes at origin and in the marketplace have real implications for ongoing commercial operations as well as the economic, social and environmental impacts of the coffee trade.

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449. La Florida: Meet the growers

2015 February 20

Since early this morning, members of the 33 families who grew the coffee in Counter Culture’s La Florida single-variety Caturra lot have been gathered in Pasto, the capital of Nariño.  They are waiting until 3:12 pm local time, when their coffee takes center stage in the able hands of Anna Utevsky.  Meet some of them here, and hear their impressions of their first barista competition.


La Florida grid.

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448. USBC preview: Anna Utevsky and intentionality

2015 February 19

The U.S. Barista Championship gets underway tomorrow in Long Beach.  The live broadcast of the competition will reach viewers in a place not accustomed to watching barista events.

I’m not talking about Las Vegas, North Carolina.

Or Holland, Michigan.

Or even Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I am talking about Nariño, Colombia, where the farmers who grew Anna Utevsky’s competition coffee–Counter Culture’s La Florida–will gather to watch her routine.

Last year, Laila Ghambari of Cherry Street Coffee in Seattle took home the USBC crown with a coffee she custom built for competition with Phil Dillanos of (duh) Dillanos Coffee Roasters and Emilio López of Cuatro M in El Salvador.  We didn’t exactly duplicate that approach with Anna and our friends at Counter Culture, but the La Florida lot from our Borderlands project in Nariño tastes as if it were customized for competition.  More importantly for Anna, it embodies the principle of intentionality that is central to her engagement with coffee.


La Florida in production

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447. Six lenses on gender

2015 February 10
by Michael Sheridan

It seems 2015 is shaping up to be the year of gender equity in specialty coffee.

CQI is conducting research on the issue as part of the industry-driven Partnership for Gender Equity, and the SCAA has announced a Symposium session on gender equity–a good sign that this is an issue whose time has come.

In a spirit of collaboration (and humility), here are six lenses on gender that inform us in our work at CRS and may be helpful as the specialty coffee community rolls up its sleeves to get to work on this issue.

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446. Counter Culture rolls out single-farm Borderlands lots

2015 February 3
by Michael Sheridan

Last month, Counter Culture introduced this single-variety community lot from La Florida.  This month, it rolls out a series of more than one dozen single-farm lots from the same region of Nariño.

Counter Culture - Borderlands Single-Farm Lots

Courtesy of Counter Culture Coffee.


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445. Alpha. Bravo. Coffee?

2015 January 22
by Michael Sheridan

I have a lot of travel in the coming months, and have been spending more time than usual dealing with the alphanumeric reservation codes that airlines use.  As I recently Alpha-Bravo-Charlied my way through a conversation with airline staff, a random thought occurred to me: what would a coffee version of the phonetic alphabet look like?

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444. B is for Business model

2015 January 20

The B in “Certified B Corporation” stands for Benefit.  But the B Corp certification may be the best one out there for consumers who want a holistic assessment of a company’s Business model.


B Corp logo read more…