Category Archives: Colombia

Interview: Chuck Patton – Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

Name: Chuck Patton
Title: Owner, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, La Jolla, CA
Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Hometown: Pacific Beach community. Went to elementary, junior high and high school within a few miles of present day Bird Rock Coffee Roasters retail location.

La Jolla Light festivities.

La Jolla Light festivities.

Background

Cafe Hound: Where does your passion for specialty coffee come from? When was that?
Chuck: I started drinking a lot of coffee in high school just for the buzz.  Several years ago, my wife got me a home roaster and I spent a lot of time experimenting with different beans from Sweet Maria’s until the hobby grew into a business.
CH: Tell me about your entry to coffee industry.
Chuck: I bought a one pound fluid air roaster for about US$3,500 and began a home delivery service. I also sold my coffee at the La Jolla farmers market.
CH: How many years of experience do you have in coffee industry?
Chuck: I started the business in 2002.
CH: Did you work for other coffee establishments before starting your coffee business?
Chuck: No. I was self taught.
CH: What was the first location of your business?
Chuck: I did not have a location at first.  I roasted out of the VFW on Turquoise because they had a health permit.  Then, I rented space in a restaurant that is now out of business on La Jolla Blvd.  I converted his wine bar into a coffee bar for morning business but it did not do well.  I chalked it up to a learning experience.  Then, I rented a coffee kiosk on Turquoise behind Albertson’s and operated out of there as the smallest licensed coffee wholesaler in California.  Then, I bought the business of a guy who was burnt out.  It included a list of wholesale accounts and a Probat L12 but, operated out of Miramar.  So, we did that for about a year until we moved here.
CH: Who were your initial clients?
Chuck: Most of our clients are from Bird Rock, La Jolla, and Pacific Beach.


Pony spotting at BRC

Bean & Drink Talk

CH: Where do you buy your beans from?
Chuck: Different brokers. If we are buying directly from farmers, we still need to work with an importer and exporter.
CH: Do you roast your own beans?
Chuck: We roast our own.
CH: Do you sell wholesale or online?
Chuck: Yes, we do wholesale and also sell online.
CH: How often do you order beans? How often do you roast?
Chuck: We roast 5 days a week and order coffee at least twice a month.
CH: How do you name your blends?
Chuck: We only have two blends. We focus on single-origin coffee.
CH: What are your top 3 favorite roasts of the recent past?
Chuck: First, Ethiopia Amaro Gayo city roast. Second, Panama La Esmeralda city roast. And third, Costa Rica Micro-lot full city roast.
CH: What is your favorite drink?
Chuck: Coffee.
CH: What drink is the most sold at Bird Rock?
Chuck: Lattes.
CH: Are there any interesting stories behind your drink names?
Chuck: Trophy wife and sugar daddy are self-explanatory considering the area our café is located.

P1000231

Looking Ahead

CH: Do you have any plans for expansion?
Chuck: Secret.  No comment.
CH: So…what’s next?  Beyond the business, what else you would like to do through your work?Chuck: We are currently working on a water filtration project for some of the farmers we are working with in Huila. I will return to Colombia next month to install the second generation of prototypes in a few of the farmers’ homes. I believe we have a responsibility to the farmers we buy coffee from that goes beyond simply purchasing “Fair Trade” coffee so we will focus on projects like this in the future.
CH: What else do you want to tell our reader?
Chuck: We are continuing to seek out and purchase high quality coffee directly from farmers so we are increasing our travel time as we begin to develop relationships with farming groups.
CH: Thank you for sharing your interesting story with us.

Business Information

Bird Rock Coffee Roaster 5627 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037 Tel. 858 551 1707 www.birdrockcoffeeroasters.com

Special Thanks

We would like to thank Chuck and the good folks at Bird Rock Coffee for roasting the beans used in the first release of Kris/Maher Blend. Maher also wants to thank all of the employees for keeping him caffeinated and happy over his last year of residence in Pacific Beach, especially Hector, Jocylynn, and Tony. Maher knows he’s forgetting the two dudes that used to make sure he got his morning espresso as he rushed to school – unfortunately, the key word was “rush”.

Photo credits: cafehound.com and http://www.lajollalight.com/life/258652-taste-of-bird-rock

 

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

http://www.birdrockcoffeeroasters.com

5627 La Jolla Blvd.

La Jolla, CA 92037

858 551 1707

HRS: Mon-Fri 6am-6pm; Sat-Sun 6:30am-6pm

Background

Name: Chuck Patton
Title: Owner
Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Hometown: Pacific Beach community

· Went to elementary, junior high and high school within a few miles of present day Bird Rock Coffee Roasters retail location.

Cafehound.com: Where does your passion for specialty coffee come from? / When was that?

Chuck: Started drinking a lot of coffee in high school just for the buzz.  Several years ago, my wife got me a home roaster and I spent a lot of time experimenting with different beans from Sweet Maria’s until the hobby grew into a business.

Cafehound.com: Tell me about your entry to coffee industry.

Chuck: I bought a one pound fluid air roaster (~US$3,500) and began a home delivery service; selling my coffee at the La Jolla farmers market.

CH: How many years of experience do you have in coffee industry?

Chuck: Started the business in 2002.

CH: Did you work for other coffee establishments before starting your coffee business?

Chuck: No. Self taught.

CH: What was the first location of your business?

Chuck: Did not have a location at first.  I roasted out of the VFW on Turquoise because they had a health permit.  Then, I rented space in a restaurant that is now out of business on La Jolla Blvd.  I converted his wine bar into a coffee bar for morning business but it did not do well.  I chalked it up to a learning experience.  Then I rented a coffee kiosk on Turquoise behind Albertson’s and operated out of there as the smallest licensed coffee wholesaler in California.  Then, I bought the business of a guy who was burnt out.  It included a list of wholesale accounts and a Probat L12 but, operated out of Miramar.  So, we did that for about a year until we moved here.

CH: Who were your initial clients / client profile?

Chuck: Most of our clients are from Bird Rock, La Jolla, and PB.

Bean talk

CH: Where do you buy your beans from?

Chuck: Different brokers. If we are buying directly from farmers we still need to work with an importer and exporter.

CH: Do you roast your own or purchase from a wholesaler?

Chuck: We roast our own.

CH: Do you sell wholesale? Online?

Chuck: Yes/Yes

CH: How often do you order beans? How often do you roast?

Chuck: We roast 5 days a week and order coffee at least twice a month.

CH: How do you name your blends?

Chuck: We only have two blends.    We focus on single-origin coffee.

CH: What are your top 3 favorite roasts (country, degree of roast, specific origin/farm if possible) of the recent past?

Chuck:

Country

Most specific Origin

Roast (degree of roast)

Ethiopia

Amaro Gayo

City Roast

Panama

La Esmeralda

City Roast

Costa Rica

Micro-Lot

Full City Roast

Drink talk

Favorite Drink: Coffee

Most sold at Bird Rock: Lattes

CH: Are there any interesting stories behind your drink names?

Chuck: Trophy wife and sugar daddy are self-explanatory considering the area [our café is located in]…

Looking Ahead

CH: Any plans for expansion?

Chuck: Secret.  No comment.

CH: So…what’s next?  Beyond the business, what else you would like to do through your work? (Training initiatives, Farm visits, Educational programs, Environmental programs, etc…)

Chuck: We are currently working on a water filtration project for some of the farmers we are working with in Huila.  I will return to Colombia next month to install the second generation of prototypes in a few of the farmers’ homes.   I believe we have a responsibility to the farmers we buy coffee from that goes beyond simply purchasing “Fair Trade” coffee so we will focus on projects like this in the future.

CH: What else do you want to tell our reader?

Chuck: We are continuing to seek out and purchase high quality coffee directly from farmers so we are increasing our travel time as we begin to develop relationships with farming groups.

End of interview.

Special thanks to Chuck and the good folks at Bird Rock Coffee for roasting the beans used in the 1st release of Kris/Maher Blend. Maher also wants to thank some the employees for keeping him caffeinated and happy over his last year of residence in Pacific Beach: Hector, Jocylynn and Tony. Maher knows he’s forgetting the two dudes that used to make sure he got his morning espresso as he rushed to school – unfortunately, the key word was “rush”.

Photo credits: Cafehound.com and http://www.lajollalight.com/life/258652-taste-of-bird-rock

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Beyond Coffee: ZERI Foundation

“The Pavillion” in Manizales, Colombia

The most important work of the ZERI foundation and its “Eje Cafetero” project in Colombia was the construction of the ZERI pavilion, thanks to the magnificent design of Simón Vélez and the technical support of Marcelo Villegas.

  • The first objective of this initiative was to prove that Guadua (American bamboo) is a material fit for use in construction, competitive with the most rigid standards of civil engineering.
  • The second was to discard the stereotype of poverty associated with the use of this material, in preference of branding Guadua as a symbol of the Coffee Growing Region, of innovation, sustainability and of practicality.

To strengthen the objectives of the ZERI foundation, it decided to invite Colombian architect  Simón Vélez to design the pavilion for the Hanover Expo 2000 in Germany.  The foundation was invited by the German authorities to present its vision of “humanity, nature and technology,” a modern pavilion among the likes of the pavilion of Japan.

Coffee farmers in the “Eje Cafetero” have long used Guadua to build bench terraces to prevent landslides and routine erosion.  It has also been used for similar purposes in shantytowns in that region of Colombia (hence the association with poverty).  Many have come to realize that it is quite aesthetically pleasing and also incredibly architectually reliable leading to increasing use of Guadua in construction of houses, terraces and more.

The collaboration of the United Nations Development Program, ZERI, Manizales Chamber of Commerce and German partners, the launching of Guadua onto the world stage never would have occurred.  This is also important because it has given agricultural workers in similar climates an additional resource that they can grow, use and sell.

The ZERI foundation was awarded the Sustainability Award from the SCAA in 2009 for its continued efforts to promote sustainability, environmental awareness and economic viability on a global scale. Their specific project was actually related to growing mushrooms from the  cumulative ‘waste’ of the coffee harvest – hence reducing the carbon footprint and adding value for coffee farmers much like the pilot program in Zimbabwe.

Finca Review: Alto del Naranjo – Manizales, Colombia

Finca1

And so was — the Alto de Naranjo coffee farm located just outside of Manizales, Colombia in the Caldas Department of the coffee growing region also known in Spanish as the “Eje Cafetero”.  I was wrapping up my 3-month stay in Nicaragua and arranged for a 10-day stop in Colombia before heading back to study in San Diego.

Caldas_CO_map

The trip to Colombia involved many mini-trips including taking a flight on Avianca from Bogota to Manizales where a friend picked me up and – the next day – took me to a farm southwest of Manizales in the municipal division of Alto del Naranjo bordering the Rio Rioclaro.

Specific Location of Alto del Naranjo

Specific Location of Alto del Naranjo

The trip to Horacio Montoya’s wonderful farm was an impulsive decision made the morning after a night out enjoying vallenato and Caldas’ very own Cristal licor.

The REAL Juan Valdez

The REAL Juan Valdez

The drive up to this series of farms that sit high upon the Colombian mountainside is always an adventure made more pleasant by stopping for some fresh cooked chicharrones, patacones (fried green plantains that are squashed and fried – best served with a bit of salt and perhaps salsa on them), beans, rice, and flank steak. Add a maracuya en agua (passion fruit diluted in water) and save your thirst for some freshly roasted/ground/brewed coffee on the actual farm.

Homemade Roasting Device for Stove

Homemade Roasting Device for Stove

Upon my arrival to the farm I realized that I wasn’t the only foreigner ‘aprovechando’ (taking advantage of) the owner Don Horacio Montoya’s charming hospitality and effervescent personality.  There was a delegation of about 15 Japanese tourists there from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce who were exploring the coffee plants, riding his horses, and enjoying the fruit of his labor – fresh coffee.  Rather than interfere with their visit, my colleague and I interviewed him shortly and then explored the fields ourselves.
It quickly became clear to me that Horacio Montoya is no stranger to … strangers.  He has foreigners, especially from Japan, visiting his farm all the time.  His son Diego is about 17 and a Facebook addict like the rest of the  world.  Montoya has been able to take profits and reinvest them in providing his wife with more sophisticated roasting machinery, improving the prospects of hosting families on his property (eco-tourism), installing high-speed internet for watching the Grade C coffee market prices and for self-marketing his product on top of what the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia does.
Although the quality of the coffee that is roasted and packaged on the farm is nothing to write home about, it is a novelty rarely seen in the coffee industry.  The farmer realizes that the maximum value added chain of the process flow is roasting and retail and so he attempts to capture that profit for himself by ‘vertically integrating’ in a way.  Considering he sells each package for 7.000 Colombian pesos, at the August 1, 2009 exchange rate this would equal roughly $3.42/pound.
He surely sells a better final product by selling it straight in green bean form in the traditional 70kg sacks that Colombian lights are so well known for. Visiting this region of Colombia is simply a necessity.  It’s safe, it’s beautiful, it’s continuously developing at a rate much faster than more frequented Central American locations and the Colombian hospitality will forever leave an impression.  Not to mention, this smooth and acidic coffee shares certain flavor properties with its neighbors but, there are some undiscovered gems in this region of Colombia.  So long as the weather keeps up, I expect some of the single-origins of Colombia to possibly migrate to this region as they have in Popayan, Cauca & parts of Nariño, Huila, etc…
Stay tuned because Santa Marta in the north has some interesting beans coming out of it that will require another on site visit and their own write up in the coming months.  Until then, I’ll leave you with a few pictures and details about the enchanting Alto del Naranjo farm in Manizales, Colombia.
Altitude: ~1,700 meters
Varietals: Caturra, Typica
Land: 4.8 hectares
# of plants: 25,000
Annual Production: Unknown
Harvest 1: Sept-November
Harvest 2 (mitaca): Late Jan-March
Proportion domestically sold: n/a
Proportion exported: n/a
Main avenue of getting coffee to market: Federcafe – National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia
70kg Sack for Sale to Exporters in Colombia

70kg Sack for Sale to Exporters in Colombia

Main aspiration of owner/farmer: Fetch a higher premium for his family’s hard work.  Send his children to the university and see his son Diego become fluent in English (we’re working on this part already).  A big part of this goal is for him to attract eco-tourism to this zone so that all of the farmers that form part of his cooperative can begin to economically benefit from increased spending and attention to this largely untapped area of natural beauty in Colombia.
Don Horacio Montoya Ponders the Future of his Industry

Don Horacio Montoya Ponders the Future of his Industry

Contact @ maher@cafehound.com
– Maher Hound
Horacio Montoya is somewhat of a celebrity
Articles in Spanish: El Espectador, El Pais, La Republica
Brazilian article: Nossa Cara
Japanese videos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

Ecotourism: Quindio, Colombia

I apologize in advance for those who cannot read Spanish but I was so excited about this article in Cambio that I had to share it with our loyal readers.

As some of you know, much of my passion for specialty coffee comes from my experiences at farms in Colombia.  The ecotourism business model has many shapes and sizes and its application to coffee first became a big deal in Costa Rica with the Cafe Britt tours. Similar models have evolved in Central America (such as Finca Esperanza Verde in Nicaragua) and elsewhere but in Colombia it has been difficult to really get one off the ground due to concerns (tourist more than local) about security.

It brings me great joy to share the development of a similar effort in Colombia.

Things are still getting off the ground at El Agrado but stay tuned for more information as I investigate.  Hopefully we’ll all be cupping coffee in the beautiful mountainside of Colombia before we know it.

–  Maher Hound

Source: Cambio

Desde hace poco menos de una década, los productores de vino chilenos y argentinos entendieron que una de las mejores maneras de consentir a sus clientes era abriendo sus viñedos a la visita de esas personas que por afición o trabajo quisieran vivir la experiencia vitivinícola de manera profunda. El resultado fue impresionante y hoy, muy orgullosos, los del Cono Sur pueden hablar de un turismo especializado en la vid.

De la misma manera, los amantes del café en el mundo entero estaban esperando que en Colombia -la tierra donde se produce el mejor grano del mundo-, algo similar sucediera. Y está sucediendo. Se trata del proyecto El Agrado, en el corregimiento Pueblo Tapao -en Montenegro, Quindío-, que nació como un gigante Centro de Análisis y Catación de Café de la Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia y que, poco a poco, se ha convertido en el lugar donde los expertos quieren ir a aprender todo sobre el café.

A 1.330 metros de altura, en la exuberante finca de 43 hectáreas, nació bajo la idea de “crear una cultura de taza en los caficultores del Quindío, para que ellos mismos hicieran ajustes en los procesos de recolección, beneficio, secado, almacenamiento y hasta preparado de café, para así asegurar la competitividad del producto de la región a largo plazo -según explica Jaime Duque, jefe del programa de Cafés Especiales y Aseguramiento de la Calidad de la Federación-. Sin embargo, el concepto se ha ampliado, ya que esta finca es el lugar donde los expertos en el tema pueden venir a ‘zambullirse’ en una experiencia completa de café”.

Con toda la tecnología de punta -inversión en maquinaria italiana y alemana para todos los procesos-, El Agrado seleccionó el mejor personal del país para capacitar a sus visitantes, incluidos los ‘patieros’ (que son quienes operan los equipos de despulpado y en algunos casos los de secado) y los recolectores de la zona, con el único fin de llegar al último resultado que es una taza de café de altísima calidad.

En busca de ver todo el proceso del café, desde la recolección hasta el cómo preparar un buen capuchino -al final del recorrido hay baristas que enseñan todas la técnicas de preparación-, a la finca llegan tres perfiles de visitantes: los clientes internacionales del café de Colombia, los propios caficultores colombianos que buscan educarse y aficionados de todas partes que quieren vivir la experiencia.

“La idea es que muy pronto se formalice un tour en el que podamos recibir a muchos visitantes del mundo que quieran vivir esta experiencia -explica Lucas Restrepo, gerente comercial de la Federación-. Por ahora solo recibimos y capacitamos a pocos, pero tenemos claro que hay que ir hacia un turismo de café, ya que seguimos empeñados en mostrar y demostrar que tenemos el mejor ingrediente del mundo”.