Home / News / Tagged: coffee

Subscription Spotlight No. 3: Bernardo Chaves

Similar to our last subscription spotlight, our latest Roaster’s Choice and Single Origin sneak peek also comes from the steep hills along the Andes Mountains— even coming from the same family! We’re excited to share with you: Colombia Bernardo Chaves.

~~

[Bernado along the hillsides of his Palo Seco]

Over the last three years, we’ve developed a relationship with Nelson Chaves, a producer Xavier (our co-owner and green buyer) describes as a “quiet and humble spirit.” On Metric’s most recent trip to Colombia, this rapport led to not only another year of delicious coffee from Nelson but also a new partnership with his father, Bernardo.

After working with the son in this talented coffee-producing tandem, Xavier knew Metric needed to form a relationship with Bernardo as well. X persistently requested samples throughout 2017 and 2018; however, Bernardo was difficult to contact. He had an ongoing contract to deliver a specific yield to a commodity coffee buyer, so he lacked the crop and time to correspond with us. Bernardo became this mythic figure in our minds. “Up until this year, [he] was like the Wizard of Oz— I knew he existed but never saw him or knew anything about him other than his name,” X articulated.

[The fantastical, steep terrain that makes up Nelson and Bernardo's land]

Last November, a human gave our expectations life. With Nelson’s help and with an earlier, abundant harvest, Xavier managed to visit Bernardo in person at his farm, Palo Seco. “I believe, had we not been persistent” we wouldn’t have been able to “pin Bernardo for a face-to-face.” Although difficult to track down, once there, Bernardo welcomed Xavier with warmth. He invited Xavier to his farm and into his home (the very home our friend and liaison Nelson was born). A stout, strong man who “smiles with his eyes,” Bernardo may be seventy plus years old, but whether playing with his white, poodle-type farm dog, Nino or developing his coffee practice to keep up with his son, he exercises an infectious energy. Sowed into a life of farm work, this energy pays dividends: Xavier was blown away by his crop of castillo and caturra.

[Nelson playing with Nino]

Trying to secure a portion of the crop, Bernado was at first skeptical of the prices Xavier offered. You see, Bernardo had almost exclusively sold to one specific commodity buyer on a contract basis and at market price, a wage that is “low and unsustainable” long-term for most family-sized producers like the Chaveses. Bernardo’s logic derived from valuing a “committed buyer, no matter the price.” Even though his coffee scored far above commodity grade, Bernardo was settling for the guaranteed consistency of what he knew. Xavier understood that to gain his trust “Bernardo had to see how well Nelson was doing” before accepting our earnest offer for his beautiful coffee.

[Nelson, Nino, and Bernado Chaves]

Xavier poignantly tied a bow to recounting Bernado and his first of what will be hopefully many trips to Palo Seco: “Our intention is to be fair every step of the way, which isn't a new concept or something re-invented by us (or anyone for that fact), but it’s a chance to be mutually good to one another with the result being good coffee for all.”

Whether you’re a subscriber getting a sneak peek or you awaited the coffees official launch, we’re excited to share this good coffee and story with you. Here’s to family, sustainable trade, and radiant coffee!

Subscription Spotlight No. 2: Nelson Chaves

In November, we launched our first subscription spotlight highlighting a pair of experimental lots from our friend, Alma Pineda. Today we’re excited to share the newest entry in our ongoing series of previews for Single Origin and Roaster’s Choice Subscribers, Colombia Nelson Chaves.

(Coffee Producer and fellow Bears fan, Nelson Chaves)

~~~~

Nelson Chaves is a producer we’ve developed a rapport with over several years of collaboration. Speaking with our co-owner and green buyer, Xavier described Nelson as a “quiet and humble spirit,” who at least initially was cautious of an anonymous, American roaster (like Xaiver). Now, four years later and with the precedent set, X ruminates about the gained trust and comfort the two shared on his most recent visit to Colombia. “Revisiting Nelson and shaking his hand [most recently], I felt more firmness in his embrace, one that reminds me of any time I circle back with a friend from long ago; a connection I quite cherish with the relationships made across my years of travel.”

(View from Nelson's La Esperanza)

This most recent trip came with more than just mutual “confidence and excitement.” Xavier noted the development of Nelson’s craft since that first, skeptical meeting. “A few minor, but important changes were made since we last saw each other. One of these is a new de-pulper [for processing] which was an investment made in part by Metric and Azahar and the addition of building a parabolic dryer with African-Style raised beds.” These advancements in Nelson’s process bring a whole new nuance to his coffee. This year, his lot of Caturra and Castillo varietals pop mirroring almost Kenya-like juiciness and radiating lush notes of raspberry tea, rosehips, and orange zest.

Beyond amazing coffee, this most recent origin trip also offered an opportunity for us to connect with Bernardo, Nelson’s father. Until this year, “[Bernado] was like the Wizard of Oz- I knew he existed but never saw him or knew anything about him other than this name.” The mythic Bernardo operates a coffee estate, Palo Seco, adjacent to Nelson’s. Like his son, Bernardo produces some fantastic coffees; however, Bernardo’s are often seldom available. Without going too far into spoilers, we’ll simply tease, that while you’re sipping your Nelson Chaves, you should start to get hyped for even more radiant coffees coming soon from these hillsides and their shared, family craft.

(Nelson and Bernardo, son and father)

Today, we’re excited to start sharing Nelson’s newest crop with you! It encompasses so much of what we love about working in coffee. It’s a product of our humans mending relationships with other passionate humans to yield beautiful coffee through an evolving, collaborative process and trust that’s imperative to healthy direct trading. Now, if you’re enticed to grab Nelson Chaves as soon as possible, stop by our #metricwestfulton cafe, where it’s currently featured on drip AND single origin espresso.

Not in the neighborhood? Check out our Single Origin & Roaster’s Choice Subscriptions to see if there’s an option for you! If you’re taking the patient route, expect to see the fruits of Nelson's work available next week!

Introducing Mark Mann, Metric's Director of Operations.

To help introduce our newest Metric family member, we sat down with Mark and asked him a series of hard-hitting questions about Chicago, his love for coffee, and Malort:

~~~~

What are you most excited about living in Chicago?

Just about everything. I'm originally from Wheaton, IL and even though I've spent nearly half my life in Denver, this move feels like coming home. All of my family is from this area since way back in the late 1800s when they immigrated here from Germany. There's a tradition that I'm excited to discover and explore. As far as actually being in Chicago, I'm very looking forward to the food, the beer, the culture, the diversity, the actual seasons, the abundance of classic dive bars, lakes, music, and so much more!

What's your favorite thing about coffee?

Coffee has the unique ability to bring people together much like other hospitality establishments (like a bar or restaurant). The direction that the industry is heading is exciting and innovative, and it's a fun time to be involved!

What’s your go-to coffee drink?

Usually, drip coffee, but my old-school go-to is an iced Americano in a cortado glass.

Outside of coffee, what gets you excited?

Music, eating, biking, walking, cooking, animals, writing, crosswords, and dreaming of solutions to everyday problems.

I hear you have "cat children"… Can you elaborate on the species of your offspring?

Evelyn is a cross-eyed sassy lady. She's a mutt of probably a Siamese and a Calico, but she rules the roost and isn't afraid to tell you! Charlie is our spirited little fella. He's an orange tabby, and we think he's majority Maine Coon. He is a tender soul but sometimes plays just a little too hard. I have cat pictures... SO MANY CAT PICTURES... want to see them? :)

Lastly... Malort?

I love Malort. In the world of being a conscious taster, it's one of the unique taste experiences. So seldom do we as Americans get to taste something one-note bitter. Other cultures use tamarind or some other more bitter ingredients to cook with, and I think everyone should spend more time with the bitter portion of their palette. It's a nice break from sweet bourbons and salty french fries!