Netherlands

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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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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WHITE LABEL COFFEE

In June we will ship coffee from our first non-nordic roaster. We've hooked up with White Label Coffee from Amsterdam, Netherlands!

The story of White Label Coffee starts back in 2014. Elmer and Francesco both worked at the same café, Espressofabreik, when they decided to start something on their own. It was not a question whether or not they were going to roast their coffee themselves: of course they were! Elmer had some roasting experience from Espressofabreik, and Francesco did a lot of roasting there. White Label Coffee was born.

For Elmer and Francesco roasting is all about developing the unique characteristics and aromas of the coffee. They aim for full development of the coffee's aromas, without roasting it too dark. A coffee where you can feel the flavour of the origin, without any bitterness.

Elmer explains that “White Label refers to a blank piece of paper, still open to anything”. The core of their philosophy is openness: from the way they approach their guests, to their wholesale partners and the coffee farmers. When we ask Elmer about the future of White Label he tells us it’s about developing their product. They want to reach out to more people to show them what coffee can be about. They want to develop their knowledge and experiments in cooperation with both traders and farmers, and do more research themselves. In five years time they want to open a second (or even third) café.


We ship coffee from White Label Coffee in mid-June. Join us on or before 8th June to get your box of coffee! For the first time we also offer 250g-bags next to our tasting box. Subscribe now!