A coffee company, coffee farm owners, the world’s best coffee brewer, an RV, and a dream – the second installment of Counter Culture Coffee’s annual “Works In Progress” series has now come to an end, and this is a look back at the wild times what once was.
Counter Culture Coffee, along with World Brewers Cup Champion Erin McCarthy and Finca El Puente owners Moises Herrera Maryasbel Caballero toured the United States in a big old Recreational Vehicle to speak on botanical coffee varieties and the science and mystery of coffee brewing. Events took place in Durham, Atlanta, Asheville, (a stopover in Dollywood), Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City. Finca El Puente is one of Counter Culture Coffee’s longest running relationship coffees; they’ve worked with Marysabel and Moises since 2006. There coffees have become legend in the specialty world. They’ve won countless awards and accolades for their beautiful coffees – and for good reason.
Moises, once a Guatemalan banker, is forward thinking – always experimenting with new varieties and processes. Part driven by a desire to explore new things and pure curiosity, El Puente is home to a growing number of coffee varieties. Last year, Counter Culture Coffee’s green buyer Timothy Hill took notice, and asked Marysabel and Moises to separate small samples of their Catuai, Yellow Catuai, Bourbon, Typica, Javanica, Mokka, Robusta, Lempira, Pacamara, and Gesha coffees.
Some varieties, like their Mokka, represent but a few plants (with an annual production of maybe a pound of coffee.) Others, like their Gesha, have been cultivated since Stumptown Coffee’s Duane Sorenson brought a handful of seeds to them “from somewhere in Panama” in 2006. Guests at each Variety Show event were treated to short talks lead by the stars of the show and given the unique opportunity to taste ten varieties grown on the farm, brewed by Counter Culture staff in the new Espro brewers. You can call Espro “the next wave of press pot”, utilizing a finer mesh than traditional French presses. They’re perfect for large-format tastings, and less cumbersome than an enormous public cupping.
What has become a staple of Works In Progress events, an enormous spread was offered to participants. At the event Sprudge attended in Chicago, beer was Daisy Cutter from Half Acre – a local brewer. Cheese and charcuterie were from Marion St. Cheese Market, and an assortment of sweet bites were from Bad Wolf Coffee.
Counter Culture employee Chad Little organized a nice selection of biodynamic wines from Chicago distributor Red & White. Mr. Little focused on single grape varieties as a tie in with the event. Mr. Little gave us more information about the flight:
The Variety Show was an event geared towards coffee education culminating with the tasting of eight varieties side by side from the same producers farms. So I wanted the focus of the wine tasting I set up to reference such an unusual experience. I picked 7 wines, 6 from Louire Valley, one from Beaujolais. I included the Beaujolais because the last three wines were leading into a Beaujolais profile. Two of those were of the same producer, one being a blend of Gamay, the second was 100% Gamay, which is a Beaujolais grape, so I wanted to wrap up the tasting with a Gamay from Beaujolais so the people present could get a glimpse of the role terroir plays in variety. The tasting progression was laid out with cards displaying the vineyard, vinter, variety, and vinification. I poured tasters for gorups of people who came to experience the tasting. The spectrum was pretty massive in vinification and variety. The stunners were the Domain De La Pepiere Muscadet Granite de Clisson, Domaine De Huards 100% Romorahtin, and Domaine De La Lovetrie Atmostpheres.
A raffle was held at each event – offering prizes like Kalita brewing systems adorned with limited edition Erin McCarthy denim vests (pictured above), and the grand prize a brewing date with Mr. McCarthy. A fellow in Atlanta named Ryan Van Kirk took top prize and will enjoy an in-house and hands-on brew demo from the world’s best brewer. The money from the raffle benefits World Coffee Research.
Folks, these Works In Progress tours represent what’s fresh and new and exciting in our industry, and we’re honored to be involved in them alongside our longstanding friends and partners at Counter Culture Coffee. Relive the magic with our photo set up above. And below, check out some of our favorite webisodes produced by CCC at select events. You can view them all right here.