blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The rest of the trip photos

I am gradually posting more commentary and pictures on the trip, and I am post-dating the entries to correspond to the day of the trip when the picture was taken. So be sure to revisit January 15-21 entries to learn more about our trip to Costa Rica.

If you would like to see all the trip photos, you can go to the shutterfly site where they are posted:

Sarah's pictures:

Elizabeth's pictures:

Caitlin's pictures:

Andrea's pictures:

On Tuesday February 27th at 7 pm at Heights Arts Gallery at the Cleveland Hts Library west wing, some of the Costa Rica travelers will be doing a presentation on our trip, including pictures and stories.

Monday, January 22, 2007

From Scott Crawford

Monday, January 15, 2007

Here is Sarah Dallas holding freshly hulled coffee "beans", which are actually the pits of the coffee cherry. Sarah had just scooped them out of this moving waterway full of beans, that being moved from the initial hulling step down into the fermentation tanks. In the fermentation step, the beans sit for a day or so while the mucilage on the outside of the pits degrades enough to be washed off.

Removing the hull from the coffee cherry

This is a close up of the machine that removes the hulls from the coffee cherry. It's kind of like a huge cheese grater.

At Coope Llano Bonito, not all of the parchment coffee is dried in the big drying chambers that are powerd by macadamia nut shells and coffee cherry pulp. Some is dried by laying it out in the sun on these big patios, which are pictured above. The coop workers have to come out every few hours and turn the coffee, so that it dries evenly. This is not as scientific or precise a way to dry the coffee, but it does get the job done. While we were visiting one of these patios, I learned that one can "measure" the moisture level of the coffee bean by chewing on it. Beans that have a moisture level over 12% will still be chewy and elastic, and when they are very moist you can even bite all the way through them. Beans that have a "shippable" level of moisture, around 11%, will be hard and will try to break your teeth if you bite into them. This is how the cherries arrive at our roastery.
In this other picture, Caitlin and Sarah Dallas were standing near a chute that was full of hulled coffee cherries that were being propelled by a stream of water (Sarah Dallas has her hand in the chute) into the fermentation compartments, where they will sit for a few hours to allow the mucilage on the outside of the cherries to ferment and erode for easy removal.

Visit to our first Costa Rican Coop!

Coope Llano Bonito is set in the beautiful Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. The coffee was chocolatey, nicely acidic, and had the most body of all the coffees we tasted. There's a reason why the Tarrazu region has such a good reputation for quality. The coop managers were very proud of their new sustainability certification, resulting in part from the fact that they have converted over their dryers (which dry the cherries after wet processing and before the dry processing, where the parchment is removed) to be fueled by the skins of the coffee cherries as well as macadamia nut shells. Due to language barriers, we weren't able to absorb much more about how the plant was organized, but the coffee spoke for itself.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Airport and arrival in San Jose

We did madlibs while waiting at the Charlotte airport during our layover. We then had a little scare when the US Airways agents detained Caitlin, Jeremy, Marcie and Sarah Dallas from going thru the jetway TSA check by armed gaurds before getting on the plane and then told us that the Costa Rican government policy says that folks with a "hippie or gypsy like appearance" are not allowed in the country. They also told us that if Costa Rica deports us, they fine the airlines $5,000 and that they had just deported someone. So I freaked out a little bit, got my adrenaline flowing, and prepared for battle when we arrived in San Jose. After warning us, the US Airways agents did let the four baristas on the plane, however. Sarah Dallas and Jeremy also removed all their piercings and Caitlin tied back her dreds. So in the picture of us, once we safely arrived in San Jose (they did not deport us) you can see the cleaned-up Phoenix crew, with no piercings or visible dred locks. The guy hanging out the window of our soon-to-be tour bus is Andres, who turned out to be an absolutely amazing tour driver, negotiating "I-don't-even-want-to-look-over-the-edge" narrow, twisty, sometimes muddy roads with ease. It was nice to know that the bus was in very good hands, even in tricky situations, like where an there was a car headed right at us in our lane, trying to pass another car. You know, stuff like that. Plus, he was just a lot of fun.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Preparing for Costa Rica

So it's two days before we leave for Costa Rica and it's finally becoming real that YES, WE ARE GOING!!! Everyone has their passport (after two last minute scares) and tickets. We sit down at the Lee Road cafe for a pre-trip meeting. Marcie reads to us from her Costa Rica guidebook, which says that we shouldn't bring jeans, and that we need synthetic, lightweight pants, which none of us have. Also, the guidebooks stress to bring our own toilet paper, especially in rural areas. We all make note of that. Somehow, I figure, even if we all just show up in our bathing suits, we'll find a way to have a good time. I think I have forgotten how going to a foreign country can seem pretty scary the first couple times you leave the states.