Origins

  • Burundi Coffee Tour - The Story Behind The Coffee

    BurundiTour

    In the Headquarters of Seattle Coffee Gear, we’ve been dying to put together a special package of coffee that would excite your taste buds. This couldn’t be any ordinary package of coffee. We wanted to take you somewhere—somewhere luscious banana groves sway in the wind and coffee tree rows stripe the earth. One ticket to Burundi, please.

    Olympia Coffee Roasting sent us an amazing selection of three coffees from Burundi with different processing techniques: washed, natural and honey. Each process changed our experience of Burundi. We noticed the washed was bursting with citrus notes and sugary tea. The natural—oh man—the natural, smelled and tasted like grandma’s blueberry cobbler. And the honey was, as the name suggested, thick bodied with notes of honey and fruit. As we leaned back in our chairs and relished each cup, we knew these coffees deserved a one-way ticket to Burundi—in the form of our Limited Edition Burundi Coffee Tour.

    Our Burundi Coffee Tour comes with three 12-ounce bags of Olympia Coffee Roastings Nkonge Honey, Long Miles Reserve Natural and Mikuba (washed) for the ultimate journey that you can share with family and friends. Or perfect for adventurous coffee drinkers seeking to experience and compare the different processing techniques.

    Olympia Coffee Roasting & Long Miles Coffee Project

    Of course, after blissfully sipping a toasty cup from our Burundi Coffee Tour, we grew curious about the origin of these delectable coffees and did a little more research. As it turns out, all three coffees were produced by the Long Miles Coffee Project, one family’s dream to change the local coffee industry. This project has captured our hearts and brought attention a side of coffee we don’t always encounter—the coffee farmers. At Seattle Coffee Gear, we work closely with our roasters to taste their latest blends or single origins. Our roasters, on the other hand, build relationships with the coffee farmers. Olympia Coffee Roasting has supported the Long Miles Coffee Project from the beginning of their journey to help transform Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world. This was a chance for us to understand the world of coffee farming—and they filmed it all to share with everyone.

    Video produced by the Long Miles Project and Olympia Coffee Roasting.

    While continuing to savor the warm aroma of blueberry cobbler coffee, we watched their 10-minute documentary of coffee in Burundi. The Carlson family; Ben, Kristy and their kids, Neo, Myles, and Ari, had a dream to produce amazing coffee and care for the community who grew it. It goes without saying, to have the coffee thrive, the community needed to thrive too. We’ve been following their journey through their blog posts, too, and there’s a connection between the family and the farmers that you can sense through their posts.

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    In the video, Ben explains one of the hardships Burundi coffee farmers face is the dreaded potato defect—where the coffee truly tasted like a raw potato and not the delicious, golden fried ones we all love. Over 20% of the crops are affected by this potato taste and it’s all because of this little bug, the Antestia, which bores into the coffee cherries and leaves a hole for bacteria to enter. The solution was simple. The Carlson’s moved their family to Burundi and started the Long Miles Coffee Project to collaborate with Burundi coffee farmers and educate them on how to maintain their coffee trees to reduce the Antestia bug. “Our challenge is actually our opportunity,” Ben says in the video.

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    From there, the transformation can only be described in the way this coffee tastes. You truly get to experience the fruits of their labor through the quality of these cups. Burundi, as we learned through reading the Long Miles Coffee Project’s blog posts, is in political turmoil. The coup d’état uprooted the Carlson family and it’s only this April that we saw another blog post from Kristy and learned they’re ready for harvesting their coffee for another year. We’re excited to see what next year's coffees will be. For now, we’ll continue to enjoy our Burundi Coffee Tour.

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  • Coffee in High Altitudes

    It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were wondering in the store how brewing coffee or pulling espresso differs at higher altitudes. We're basically at sea level here, but we'd been talking about the kind of coffee some of us have found in the higher elevations of Montana -- more bitter and like 'coffee water' than what we make and drink here.

    We found the answer in this interesting piece on coffee in Santa Fe, NM. A Qasimi discusses how the higher altitude affects brewing and roasting:

    I don?t drink home-brewed coffee in Santa Fe. I?ve often found it sour and lacking in the depth, robustness and natural sweetness that makes great coffee great. How does high altitude affect coffee and espresso quality at home and with the use of commercial equipment? Drip coffee machines that merely boil are convenient devices but they deliver water to the grounds at below the ideal range of temperatures, leading to underextraction of the beans and a sour, dull or poorly developed brew.

    Thus, the only way to compensate for altitude is pressure -- and that means espresso -- but pulling a proper espresso shot is not easy at this altitude either. Ironically, though the best coffee grows at higher altitudes, with water?s lower boiling point in elevated places, brewing can get tricky. Roasting, on the other hand, merely benefits from altitude: The best possible results come from roasting the beans at the same altitude as they?ll be used and particularly at high altitudes that allow for faster roast development at lower temperatures

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