Colombia San Jose
Under the towering Nevado del Huila lies the village of Inzá, to the east the Paez river runs through the valley. It is here where many smallholders produce mainly Caturra variety coffee growing at a soaring 1900 MASL. Three villages make up the portion of this coffee, Pedregal, San Antonio, and the town of Inzá. Back in 2004, the small-holders that produce coffee in this region were tired of selling coffee at a very low price, (see the Coffee Crisis of 2001) prompting them to form Asorcafe, which provides aid to members through subsidies for education, job training, and healthcare.
THE COFFEE CRISIS OF 2001
In September of 2001, the coffee commodity price hit $0.41/lb. The lowest it had been in 100 years, creating a real emergency in coffee-producing countries around the world. This dramatic price dip caused a crisis not just because it cut into producer's profit margins (which are frequently razor-thin) but because it passed this crucial threshold that is called the cost of production. The cost of production is a number that is contested and debated around the globe, and in reality, it differs pretty widely from region to region, producer to producer, and country to country. We have seen a range from $1.05 - $1.40 /lb, which given the .40 cent market price in the summer of 2001, puts the price of coffee well below what it takes for farmers to produce it. In short, farmers were losing a lot of money to grow coffee. Much of the world's coffee is grown by small-holder producers, people or families that own a small farm. They're particularly vulnerable to low prices due to their limited buying power and their limited access to financing. Something crucial for making investments in procuring fertilizer and other essential things which will improve crop quality for the following harvest.
When farmers can't invest in their farms, the effects snowball year after year. Lack of income leaves them open to things like leaf rust, a coffee tree disease which can decimate coffee farms and production. This oftentimes leads producers away from growing coffee and into food production like Hass avocados or bananas. Its effect can also drive the younger generation away from farming coffee, which drives the question; who will grow our coffee when the current generation of underpaid producers are gone?
One thing is certain; this generation of coffee drinkers have not felt the consequences of the 2001 price crisis. Coffee is as ubiquitous as ever, but with coffee commodity price around $1, the consolidation of farms and reduced production due to disease and climate change, that may not be the case for very long...
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER – Clever Coffee Dripper
22g Coffee : 360g Water 205°F
~3:30 Drain Time
This coffee is rich and interesting. A great sipping coffee, we especially enjoy this coffee with a hearty breakfast. The Clever Dripper brings out more body and sweetness, giving us white grape, tobacco, and caramel on the palate. If this coffee under-extracts, we taste tart lemon and earthiness, that wasn’t bad in milk, but not as enjoyable as a neat espresso. If this coffee over-extracts, we taste dry bitter grape.
ESPRESSO – Modbar EP
Brew Temp: 198°F, Line Pressure: ~3.5 bars, Max Pressure: 9 bars
Pressure Profile: 0 sec to 4 sec - line pressure, from 4 sec till done - 9 bars
19g in : ~45g out @ ~24s
This espresso makes us happy. Not as much of a fruit bomb, as some other coffees. Instead, we found this was an espresso with a richness that we enjoyed sipping on. As an espresso, it’s bright, like lime, white grape, with tobacco, and caramel sweetness throughout. With milk, it tasted like a sweet pecan pastry and clove. If you under-extract this coffee, it tastes tart and salty and lacks long-lasting sweetness. If you over-extract this coffee, it tastes very bitter like unroasted nuts.
Colombia San Jose
We bought this coffee from Aleco over at Red Fox Coffee Merchants. We purchased all thirteen bags of this coffee for $3.65/lb. We scored this coffee at an 86. We have been buying from Red Fox for years. Not only do they do great work in Colombia, but they are also behind some of the tasty Peru and Ethiopia offerings you might have seen. Cheers to Aleco, Chloe, and the Red Fox team!
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.06/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as the final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.