One of our most recent releases is a radiant single-origin, Honduras La Comunión. In addition to being a delicious cup full of dried fruit and lemon-lime acidity, there's a beautiful story of collaboration and humanity behind it. Check out Xavier's (Metric Coffee Co.'s Co-Owner & Sourcer) side of developing this new offering in tow with our producing partners of Honduras. Enjoy!
"La Comunión was born out of a visit to one of our favorite producing groups in Colombia, Azahar. Their pickers project (Los Recolectores) is lead with a simple mission: to pay smallholders microlot pricing for a single-origin, community blend. This program incentivizes smallholders to take a % of their profits to pay higher daily rates to their pickers (in this case, usually each other's neighbors). In addition to offering more support to one another, paying pickers adequately for their hard work helps maintain and build a high level of quality. After several years of bearing witness of the direct impact this program had in this community, it became clear to me the importance that we can make by replicating this program at other origins.
With that in mind, I connected with our good friend, Benjamin Paz, whom we've had a great relationship since 2015 harvest! He helped us create a Santa Barbara community blender project with a group of producers already in our fold. The result: La Comunión, a new project focusing our efforts with 3 of our current producing partners (Alma Pineda, Dionisio Rivera & Cecilio Aguilar) and giving us the ability to purchase their crops in their entirety while also ensuring a minimum price paid to the producer of $4.00 F.O.B.
For Metric, the goal of La Comunión is multi-faceted. Bulking coffees from smallholders allows us to purchase entire crops; this guarantees higher premiums with the understanding that the increase in pay will result in better payment to the picker. On the flavor-side, this project allows us to craft a regional blend based on variety and processing, resulting in a profile with uniqueness and quality of a single origin at the consistency of a blender for what will be a surefire crowd favorite"
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!