Costa Rica

Shokunin Coffee Collective

All the way from Rotterdam, Netherlands, we’re happy to welcome Shokunin to our June’s box! We had a chat.

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How did Shokunin start and what's the story behind the name?
We already had an existing brand called Stielman, which is an old Dutch word for a craftsman. But I wanted to take big steps with the company, aimed at both quality and direct trade. Doing amazing projects in origin and here in Europe alike, I felt that we needed to present these accordingly. So I decided to start an upgraded version of the brand: Shokunin. It's a Japanese word for someone who's a master of their profession and does nothing but striving for perfection. They do this to such an extent that the entire community benefits from it. This very much resembled my mindset on coffee, and seen as how it felt like an upgraded Stielman, it was a great match. People also know me as a perfectionist who is overly caring about his product.

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Many of our subscribers are tasting Shokunin for the first time. How would you describe coffee roasted by Shokunin?
I want to present the unique flavours in an accessible way. My coffees are always as sweet as I can get them, but not too tea-like or sour. I want to make sure that anyone drinking my coffee finds it interesting but especially enjoyable, with nothing negative to say about it. Even though I have about sixteen different coffees right now, each with a unique flavour profile, they are all pleasant to drink. This should make it easy to choose between my coffees depending on what you feel like, and it will be a good brew every time, no matter the filter or espresso method you use.

How do you think Shokunin will evolve in the future? Have you got any set goals?
Our projects in origin are developing every week, and we're trying to communicate these to consumers in order to create a connection across the chain. Our flavour portfolio is already diverse enough, so now we want to focus on improving the quality of the producers that we already work with. I'm hoping to connect more roasters and baristas to our vision and to increase our volumes, just so that we can make a bigger impact on operations. For instance, we managed to reserve the entire Argote harvest this season, which gives us a lot more freedom to decide on processing and investments.

For those of us who's never been to Rotterdam, how's Rotterdam's coffee scene?
I feel that Rotterdam's coffee scene is actually very, very small. There's many lunchrooms and cafes that take their coffee somewhat seriously, but most still work with the same generic blend by a relatively big roaster. Which is already a lot better than any commercial brand, but there's no vibrancy or fun to it. It can be easy to find decent coffee, but there's very few cafes that actually serve multiple coffees with unique flavour profiles and that focus on coffee instead of having it as an important side product.

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What can we expect from this month's coffees (El Nido, Intango and El Bueyerito)?
It's a very diverse flavour package. El Nido is an excellent example of why I love Colombian coffee. It's so diverse, sweet and with enough body, perfect for my roasting style, and this one actually tastes like an Ethiopian coffee. Intango is sort of a classic Rwandan profile, but with more sweetness and body, also fitting my flavour preferences. El Bueyerito is an interesting coffee that started as a kickstarter. I've never really liked Costa Rican coffee, but when I tasted this sample, I actually found a lot that I could appreciate. After talking to the importer, I realized that with such a good start, and with our mutual mindset about sustainability and involvement, this would not only be a tasty, easy-going coffee now, but become even better in the future. You can read more about the stories behind these coffees on my website!

We sent the following coffees in June's box

El Nido

Origin: Urrao, Antioquia, Colombia
Producer: Daniel Hernandez
Process: Fully washed, 72hr dry fermentation, dried first in parabolic, then in gas drier.
Harvest: 2018
Altitude: 2,000 MASL
Varieties: Caturra Chirozo
Tasting notes: Light and floral aromas like jasmin and bergamot. Bright, sweet flavours like peach and lychee. Soft body like earl grey tea.

El Nido is a rare Caturra Chirozo variety, a natural Typica-like hybrid, farmed by Daniel Hernandez in Antioquia, Colombia. The special variety gives this coffee a very Ethiopian-like flavour profile. Last year, this coffee earned the first place in the Youth Cup for young farmers, as well as a second place in Cup of Antioquia. Colombia has always been a favourite of Shokunin Coffee Collective due to its high supply in quality coffee and its diversity in flavour profiles.

Intango

Origin: Kibaya, Musasa, Gishyita, Karongi, Rwanda
Producer: Gilbert Gatali
Process: Fully washed, overnight fermentation, dried on raised beds
Harvest: 2018
Altitude: 1,500 – 2,000 MASL
Varieties: Red Bourbon
Tasting notes: Bright yet thick aromas like pineapple. Juicy sweetness like strawberries. Silky body like hazelnut and black tea.

This coffee is the first one from the Rwandan entrepreneur Gilbert Gatali. He owns coffee shops in the capital Kigali and is known for his sustainability work in coffee exports from Rwanda. Gilbert recently bought a washing station where this coffee is produced. In 2012, Gilbert won the Most Notable Producer Sprudgee award.

Our tasting box members also received…

El Bueyerito

Origin: Miramar, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Producer: Roberto Jimenez
Process: Fully washed
Harvest: 2018 / 2019
Altitude: 1,100 – 1,400 MASL

Varieties: Caturra
Tasting notes: Bright and sweet aromas like tangerine. Sweet and soft taste like plums and brown sugar. Strong body like chocolate and nuts.

The micro-mill El Bueyerito, located in Miramar, Costa Rica, is owned by Roberto Jiménez. This coffee is a product from the crowdfunding project Planting Costa Rica. The project wanted to reinvigorate specialty coffee from Miramar. With the project, they will help Roberto to develop the infrastructure at El Bueyerito as well as improve the know how.

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Nero Scuro

For the month of April, we have our very first Italian roaster in the box. However, these coffees are very far from traditional Italian coffee. They are way better. Say hi to Nero Scuro!

How did Nero Scuro start?

Nero Scuro started out of a passion for coffee and hospitality. Silvia after a career in communication agencies, became a Cordon Bleu graduated in Patisserie, and managed operations and customers for several top-level pastry and coffee shops in Australia. Paolo, a coffee passionate, born industrial engineer, discovered that roasting comes down to manage chemical reactions in miniature scale. He started attending roasting courses and seminars all over the world since mid-2000 and eventually became involved with the Nordic roasting approach. At some point, in 2013, he bought a Probat roaster, only to eventually realize he would need a proper place to install and operate it.

At that point, we both thought it was a good idea starting a specialty coffee roastery as we could fruitfully combine our experiences, and so Nero Scuro was born. In reality, it took more than 6 months to find a proper place, and the guys at Probat were so kind to store the machine in their warehouse for the whole period.

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Left image by @aryanjoshani on Instagram

What drove you to the specialty coffee business?

We actually started with specialty coffee from day one, as we were already aware of this trend having lived overseas and being in touch with the Nordic roasting style. We used, at the time, the exact same partners for green coffee that we use today, and the roasting style is pretty much the same as well. However, the market was pretty much non-existent in Italy at the time, and we had to struggle a lot during the first year to explain our concepts and to get the first customers.

Italy has a well-known coffee culture. How have you seen the specialty coffee scene evolve?

The majority of the Italian market is still focused on the classic dark roasted espresso. Nero Scuro started at a time when there were just a very few micro-roasteries, so it is fairly known in the segment. In the last 1-2 years, however, there has been a growing interest in the segment, with the opening of various independent coffee shops and also numerous roasting facilities. However, the segment is still very small.

Many of our subscribers are tasting Nero Scuro for the first time. What can we expect from this April’s coffees?

The coffees are a good example of Nero Scuro’s diverse coffee line-up, although they have in common the extremely high quality of the green, ethically sourced through our partner Nordic Approach. We believe you cannot achieve an outstanding roasted coffee if the green is not outstanding as well, therefore we always choose outstanding greens!

The coffees are roasted with specific profiles for filter and espresso: our filter coffees are roasted light yet well developed, while the espresso profiles are not nearly as dark as the traditional Italian espresso. In any case, we target a roast level just right to ensure a proper extraction while preserving all the sweetness and pleasant acidity of the cultivar. Finally, we like to work with coffees prepared with different processes, and they are all sampled in the April coffees. Qore Magarissa is a classic fruity fully washed Ethiopia, Costa Rica El Llano is a honey processed coffee and Burundi Sehe Collective is a natural processed lot. The latter appears, over the last months, the preferred preparation for many customers.

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Looking ahead, what can we expect from Nero Scuro in the future?

Short term: install a bigger roasting machine and keep increasing the quality of our coffees. We’ve just bought a new small 500gr roaster for competition lots and for the more expensive coffees available on our website, like Panama Geshas.

We’ve just redesigned our logo and changed our coffee pouches with a more modern and distinguishable look.

We’re always working on new projects and ideas, stay tuned for what’s ahead ;-).

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Nero Scuro’s new design and logo





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Keen Coffee

The Netherland’s coolest roastery Keen Coffee has delivered some splendid coffees. Let us introduce you to February’s box!

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Keen Coffee has one goal: to lift the coffee scene to an even higher level. This is seen in everything they do. Keen works directly with their farmers and only roasts the highest quality coffees, looking for the most unique flavor profiles.

Located outside of the capital, Keen Coffee follows their everyday quest, to strive for perfection and not settling for it. We hope you enjoyed February’s box! 

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SHEMBATI
Origin: Burundi
Altitude: 1800 MASL
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Process: Washed
Flavour: Citrus & Berries

The team of Shembati washing station are working hard to produce and process the high quality coffee you are about to drink. It is a great example of a Burundian coffee, which are known to have a great sweetness. When brewed you will get a balanced cup with fresh citric notes and berries, together with a sweet chocolate finish.

LOS VASCOS
Origin: Colombia
Altitude: 1950 MASL
Varietal: Caturra
Process: Washed
Flavour: Caramel & Chocolate

Included in the 2x250 and 3x100 Tasting box.

Los Vascos’ coffee farmers originates from Spain's northern regions. Los Vascos translates to “The Basques”. The coffee importer of this coffee is known for investing a lot in the local farmers as well as in mills and cupping labs. With their aim at sustainability we hope you like this coffee which has notes of sweet caramel, milk chocolate and red fruits.

DANILO
Origin: Costa Rica
Altitude: 1800 MASL
Varietal: Caturra & Catuai
Process: Anaerobic Fermentation
Flavour: Cinnamon & Sugar cane

Exclusive for the 3x100 Tasting box.

On top of a mountain ridge in West Alley, you will find the beautiful location of Danilo’s plantation. Danilo has previously delivered the coffee that Keen Coffee has used in the World Brewers Cup. The cinnamon notes are very distinct in this microlot. You will also find notes of sugar cane, yellow stone fruit and passion fruit.

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Cloud Picker

How can a year possibly start better than with great coffee? Our first roaster 2018 is the fantastic coffee roaster Cloud Picker Coffee from Dublin, Ireland.

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From Cloud Picker we sent three fantastic coffees from Rwanda, Guatemala and Costa Rica. What a month!

Don't miss out on our next box!

September's Shipment

For the month of September we shipped coffees from the German roaster JB Kaffee! We hope you will enjoy them just as much as we did. These are the coffees we sent.

 

LA LUCHA
Origin: Colombia , Antioquia (Jardin)
Producer: Los Andes Coop
Process: fermented for 36 hrs, washed and sun dried
Harvest: 2016
Soil:
Altitude: 1800m
Varieties:  Caturra & Colombia
Tasting notes: grapefruit, lemon, thick

Included in the 250g coffee box

LAS LAJAS PERLA NEGRA
Origin: Costa Rica, Los Angeles, Sabanillas de Alajuela
Producer: Chacón Solano Family
Process: natural
Harvest: 2016
Soil:
Altitude: 1300 – 1500m
Varieties: Caturra
Tasting notes: dried tropical fruit, sweet, smooth

Included in the 2x250g coffee box

NYERI NDAROINI AA
Origin: Kenya, Nyeri County, Central Kenya
Producer: Gikanda Farmers Cooperative Society
Process: Fully washed & dried on African beds
Harvest: 2015/16
Soil:
Altitude: 1600 - 1700m
Varieties: SL28 & SL34
Tasting notes: stonefruit, apple, gooseberry

Only included in the 3x100g tasting box

August's Shipment

August’s box was sent last Thursday! Great coffee from Koppi is now on its way to you people! We hope you will enjoy what we selected for this month. These are the coffees for August:

 

BIFTU GUDINA

Included in the 250g and 2x250g box.

Origin: Ethiopia, Goma Woreda, Agaro
Producer: Smallholders
Process: Washed
Harvest: 2016
Soil:
Altitude: 1900 - 2000 masl
Varieties: Mixed Heirloom
Tasting notes: Floral, Tropical fruits, Black Tea

 

Koppi’s words about the coffee:

"The small co-operative Biftu Gudina is one of Technoserves projects that are set up to improve the work structure at the processing stations, the quality of the coffee and the lives of the farmers. Biftu Gudina is a new co-op that was established in 2012 and thanks to a strong management the co-op produced fantastic coffee already the first year. Most of the coffee has grown at an altitude around 2000 meters, which let the cherries ripen slowly and build up a high sugar, content.

The coffee cherries are hand picked and then hand sorted for unripes and overripes before they are being processed. After sorting, the cherries are mechanically pulped and the mucilage is removed with a Penagos Eco-pulper. The coffee is left to soak in water overnight before it is washed and dried on African beds for 10 days. The wastewater is naturally filtered through Vetiver grass before it is lead back into the ground.

Shade nets cover the coffee during the warmest time of the day and over night. This is to avoid that the coffee is drying too fast.

Biftu Gudina has a very unique flavour profile with a beautiful floral aroma and a taste of tropical fruits and black tea."
 

DON OSCAR

Included in the 2x250g box.

Origin: Costa Rica, Tarrazu, San Marcos
Producer: Oscar Solis
Process: White Honey
Harvest: 2016
Soil:
Altitude: 1600-1800 masl
Varieties: Mainly Catuai & Caturra
Tasting notes: Tropical, Milk Chocolate, Almond

 

Koppi’s words about the coffee:

"The micro-mill Don Oscar is run by the brothers Horacio and Alejandro Solis. It is situated in Bajo Canet in San Marcos, Tarrazu. They mainly grow Catuai and Caturra on their farms. The coffees cherries are hand picked and hand sorted before they are being processed as white honey. Through the white honey process 95% of the mucilage is being removed mechanically before the coffee is moved to dry on raised beds for around 15 days.     

The last couple of years the young brothers have put a lot of hard work into making the production more efficient but also to produce better tasting coffees. They have been changing their growing practises resulting in coffees that are cupping several points higher than previous years. We are very excited to start working with the Solis brothers this year and are looking forward to many more."

 

KARIMIKUI AA

Only included in the tasting box.

Origin: Kenya, Kirinyaga
Producer: Smallholders
Process: Washed
Harvest: 2016
Soil:
Altitude: 1600-1800 masl
Varieties: SL28 & SL34
Tasting notes: Black Currants, Red Berries, Grapefruit

 

Koppi’s words about the coffee:

"The Karimikui Coffee Factory was established in 1966 and rests on a 6 acres piece of land serving the villages of Githureia, Gituba and Kiamugumo. Currently it is affiliated to Rungeto Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS), in an area where most smallholder farmers are growing tea, not coffee. The farmers here are mainly growing SL28 and SL34, accounting for 99% of the total coffee production, while we see some occasional Ruiru 11 plants.

All coffees are pulped, dry fermented, washed, soaked and then sundried. Cherries are hand sorted for unripes and overripes by the farmers before they go in to production. A disc pulper removes the skin and pulp. The coffees are graded by density in to 3 grades. Grade 1 and 2 go separately to fermentation, grade 3 is considered low grade and processed separatly. The coffee is fermented for 16-24 hours under closed shade. After fermentation the coffee is washed and again graded by density in washing channels. The last step before drying is letting the coffee soak under clean water for 16-20 hours. The coffee is left to dry on raised beds between 14-16 days.

The long-term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, input access and Good Agricultural Practice seminars that are conducted year round. The wish is to establish a transparent, trust based relationship with the smallholder farmer, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya, whilst bringing premium quality to our customers, and premium prices to the farmers."

 

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