I love being in the right place at the right time. Especially when the right place smells like coffee beans.
The right time was Tuesday afternoon at Tacoma's Satellite Coffee Co. As I slurped my Americano, a gray Stumptown Coffee van pulled up and out clamored a dozen coffee farmers from Costa Rica.
Stumptown, the revered Portland coffee roaster, organizes its "meet the producers" events a few times a year, says Satellite owner Pat Brown. Satellite, in the cat-bird seat above Wright Park at Division and North I Street, is the only Stumptown purveyor between Seattle and Portland. Lucky for us.
While the Costa Ricans got down to the business of ordering their drinks – cries of "cappuccino!" from all corners – several of the farmers talked about how Stumptown's direct trade program has improved the lives of their families. (You can check out more about Stumptown in this article we did back in March.)
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Basically, Brown explains, Stumptown sends bean buyers straight to the farms to hone in on the best varietals. Roasting those varietals in microlots preserves their unique flavor. And because the varietals bring higher prices from coffee junkies, the farmers in turn reap the profit. Brown loves the naturally sweet Montes de Oro strain he French-presses in his shop.
"What Stumptown enabled them to do was to experiment," Brown says of the growers. "Trying new varietals, new techniques."
Satellite would like to do more cuppings, or coffee tastings, in the future. I'll let you know the dates and times when I get the word.
Satellite Coffee Co.
817 Division Ave., Tacoma