Saturday, June 1, 2013

Motown Throwdown Debuts IN the D!

May 2013
It was great to be part of the MoTown Throwdown IV in the big D! (Detroit). Artisan Coffee Imports sponsored tasting of the delicious decaf Colombian Los Idolos roasted by Anthology Coffee,, (Detroit City's finest roaster!) And Ruth Ann was one of three judges for the specialty drinks competition. Fantastic drinks were presented by all contestants!

The Organizers

The Winners (1st, 2nd & 3rd place)

Late photo of fine latte art!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Burundi and Haiti Coffees Storm Espresso Royale

Monday, May 13, 2013
Landmark coffee roasting co. and multi-location cafe, Espresso Royale, launched a new "single origin" initiative today in SE Michigan. Owner/founder Marcus Goller is introducing what he calls two single-origin "gems" -- one from Burundi and the other from Haiti. They are "gems" because they both create a direct connection between an Espresso Royale customer and a coffee producer or specific small group of producers half-a-world away. 

Crop to Cup - Burundi Single Origin Training @ Espresso Royale
In a staff training event at the State. St. store in Ann Arbor, MI, Goller invited Crop to Cup representatives to deliver a workshop on the topic "what is single-origin coffee?" and the story behind the Burundi Buhorwa coffee that Espresso Royale will now carry. After all the words and talk, it was time for some tasting. The Burundi coffee was brewed with several different brew methods by staff working in teams.

Crop to Cup has been engaged with Burundi farmers since 2007. Jake Ester, one of C2C's partners, explained his story of how he got started learning about coffee in Uganda, then moved to neighboring Burundi. He describes a pivotal moment where he and his partner were standing in an export warehouse and a colleague pointed to the 2 or 3 pallets that were shipping to a café that is heavily marketed as "helping farmers by buying direct." Jake explains how in that setting, with aisles of coffee stacked floor to ceiling, and a football field length long, it did not seem like 2 or 3 pallets of coffee could possibly make much of difference at all. That's when they decided as a company that they would do "whole crop" purchasing. The Burundi Buhorwa coffee Espresso Royale is now selling is part of that whole crop project.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Coffee Week: Women in Coffee Highlighted by NPR

April 25, 2013

NPR's Morning Edition has been highlighting coffee week with some excellent reporting! Allison Aubrey reported this morning on the International Women in Coffee Alliance (IWCA),, an organization I have been supporting with my volunteer hours over the past year. Click here and listen to this great short story.

 I've been supporting IWCA in spirit since 2007, when I first went to their fund-raising breakfast, and finally this year "I got involved."  Contrary to what you might guess, IWCA is much more than a bunch of women sitting around drinking coffee! The NPR story does a good job of describing the organization's purpose - to help women working in coffee around the world to organize and develop leadership skills, thereby finding strength and voice to make changes.

One example of what IWCA has done so far (it's only 10 years old) is a leadership training conference held in Nairobi for about 15 women from 3 or 4 African nations. All the trainers' donated their time and travel costs. Once they were done in Nairobi, they brought 4 or 5 of the women to the U.S., including a visit to Washington D.C. and then they attended an International Trade Commission (part of the United Nations) meeting in Mexico City, which included a trade show of women's businesses. Not surprisingly, these women in coffee now have much bigger and more solid ideas of what their coffee businesses can be.

To support my business, (which is a woman-owned coffee importing business) go to and ask your favorite roaster to check us out!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Great Coffee, Cafe and Ideas in Chicago

Thu., Mar. 21, 2013
Had the opportunity yesterday to be in Chicago and check out a great coffee, a great cafe and a truly great example of community building with a coffee connection.

Great Coffee: during my stop at Metropolis' roastery on Clark St., I was treated to a delicious Bolivia Bo-Linda from the Caranavi region hand-poured by roaster Sean Capistrant. To make it even more enjoyable, owner/founder Tony Dreyfuss discussed the importance of setting a vision for your business. He and accountant John White are big fans of Zingerman's philosophy: Building A Great Business . Also mentioned a TED talk by Simon Sinek, "The Why of Business."

Great Cafe: thanks to an acquaintance I was meeting, I was introduced to a wonderful cafe in the Roscoe Village neighborhood -- Victorys Banner. Sorry to say I did not get the background story on how this place came into existance, but it was wonderful. It's got the classic 'corner cafe' feel, not only because you literally enter from a door on the corner of the building. As soon as you enter, feelings of peace and contentment begin as you see the waitresses swish about in their Indian saris and hear the soft, chanting of Indian music played from a hidden speaker. I was there around 8am so the place was also flooded with morning sunlight, seeming to make the pale blue walls shine. Refills of decaf coffee were great! I enjoyed a ramaquin of fresh fruit and homemade muffin. My friend had a bowl of gourmet oatmeal.

Community Building: My next stop Misericordia was inspiring! This beautiful campus of trim red brick buildings and white fences is home to 600+ residents -- all disabled adults. I was treated to a visit to the room where one of the many workshops is -- the coffee room! Here about 6 or 8 workers were packaging coffee for Crop to Cup.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Decaf Coffee Feature in Barista Magazine

Mar. 17, 2013
Barista Magazine did a great job in the current issue highlighting the sensible part of the industry -- decaf. A whole article by Andrea Piccolo (from Swiss Water Process) on a wide variety of things baristas and roasters need to know. She even stayed relatively neutral to the Swiss Water branding/marketing. Until she was talking about the other processes available -- her description of precision processes like methylene chloride had very little promising to say. This isn't the case, though.