Recently, one of our customers, Ubaldo Lopez, contacted us with a special request: “Hey, I’m headed to Costa Rica. Can I visit one of the farms you purchase coffee from?”
It’s back-to-school season, even at CREMA. Starting September 21, our popular coffee classes are back in session. This six-week fall semester offers a thorough coffee education—from espresso basics to tasting notes—with classes taught by our own knowledgeable CREMA baristas.
We have recounted in past blog posts the level of dedication and skill it takes to produce coffee of this calibre, and we’ve written of the high import we place on compensating our farmers well. But we haven’t touched on where exactly, once we (and you!) pay top dollar for our coffee, the money goes. The livelihood of our farmers and their employees is important to us, so on our last visit to Panama we talked to Wilford about the culture of Elida Estate, and more specifically an organization he has partnered with called Casa Esperanza.
We Crema folk spend a lot of time with the coffees in our shop. We get to know what each one looks like – the size, the color, the shape. We can distinguish many of them by sight. But this fruit that we take such pride in, that we feel we know so well, have a past life. Four consecutive years of travelling to origin, this time to Costa Rica and Panama, have shown us this. Varieties, strategically selected by the farmer to both grow well and be tasty, are planted and nurtured into bloom. They grow up in the rainforest and spend their earliest days basking in the Costa Rican sun and a flurry of Spanish, Cabécar, and Bribri. Each and every cherry is sought out by a discerning eye and plucked by practiced fingers. The pickers, sorters, and dryers - they know these same coffees, but in a different way.
Mayme Gretsch is the brains, the brawn, and the buttery fingers whisking the batter of Utterly Nashville, her fine pastry project she founded in 2014. Before crashing the local confectioner's party with her classic treats (cannelé! pies!), Mayme worked in kitchens across the Midwest (and Spain!), and helped open The Catbird Seat as pastry chef. Utterly Nashville's doughnuts, macarons, and cannelé live at CREMA Friday through Sunday, while Mayme's pies and other dazzling delectables set up shop at Dino's all week long.
It’s inevitable, coffee has to go in cups. Too often in paper cups. Those cups need lids. And those doughnut-smudged faces must be wiped clean with paper napkins, so many, many napkins. When our cargo pockets bulge with croissants and our fanny packs bemoan another muffin we must carry our secret joys in a more conspicuous paper container, our happy box. Our joys add up and all those gleefully soiled papery and used plastic thingys become something. A big something. To be exact, it’s 50 tons of something… each and every year at CREMA. We checked, and it turns out that’s a rather MASSIVE pile.
Yemeni coffee exporters Mokhtar Alkhanshali and Andrew Nicholson couldn’t have known what would befall them on their voyage to Seattle for the SCAA Expo in April of last year. Upon attempting to leave Yemen’s capitol city of Sana’a, the two friends found themselves in the midst of an airstrike, unable to fly anywhere. Determined to present their coffees on the industry’s largest stage, Alkhanshali and Nicholson committed to drive seven hours to the city of Mokka, where they then convinced a fishing boat captain to tote them and 100 kilos of coffee across the Red Sea; all this, only to be detained by the Djibouti national coast guard. After Djibouti Port Authorities contacted the U.S. Embassy, the travelers received the go-ahead and were able to catch a 3 A.M. flight from Kenya to the U.S.
People are always asking us how much coffee we drink per day: "Workin' here, you guys must slurp it right up!" Most people, it seems, assume we slug enough coffee each day to power a fleet of commercial jets.
The real answer is: much less than you'd think. A cup or two a day, with maybe an espresso thrown in there for good measure.