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Subscription Spotlight No. 2: Nelson Chavez

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 Chavez.

(Coffee Producer and fellow Bears fan, Nelson Chavez)

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Nelson Chavez 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 Chavez, 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 Chavez 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!

Field Report: Yacuanquer, Colombia

Like a lot of us traveling to family or friends' this season, Xavier (our co-owner and green buyer) is visiting the homes of our coffee family. Exercising our direct trade philosophies, X is currently in Ethiopia. Just a couple weeks ago, he was in Colombia, the heart of some of our longest standing relationship. Xavier stopped back by Chicago briefly in between the stints leaving us with the following story and images:

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"Field Report: Yacuanquer, Colombia

Let's go back to the future (or past). It was 2016 when I first met Nelson Chavez. Then, Nelson Chavez struck me as most producers in Narino do; he was laid back, humble and somewhat skeptical of my fellow travelers and I’s presence. But still being (somewhat reluctantly) hospitable, he showed us his work sharing what it means to him and farm aids.

The setting dominated my first impression of Yacunquer. It is majestic; a hybrid of Shangrila and a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, it’s definitely cinematic from sunup to sundown. There, Nelson’s farm, La Esperanza, is by far one of the steepest climbs I have ever managed to scale. I climbed slowly losing my breath at every step-- all the way up--, unlike Nelson who I witnessed ascend to the summit as if he levitated to the top without breaking a single drop of sweat.

Now, three years later (or present), I’ve seen Nelson grow, not only with his operation but also in the warmness. Seeming less skeptical and more optimistic all the while breaking side smiles as one does when surrounded by people he truly cares about. This to me, this development, is the meaning of the honest, equitable relationship coffee." -X

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Enjoy the following photo-essay and commentary for a visual of Yacunquer's majesty:

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Farm Gate! Literally, we pull up, and it was as if the gate opened to another dimension, nirvana, a place where peace and beauty both live in perfect harmony. Wish you were here! -X

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In Yacuanquer, there aren't too many places where most folks can stay. Lucky for us, we connected with some of the most hospitable farmers that let us stay in these sweet little cabins where the background noises are composed of birds, dogs, and a waterfall. -X

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Farm pups! -X

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Heaven is a place on Earth! -X

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These clay objects were found on site, which is possible to be an ancient tomb. Yacuanquer stands for “land of the tomb and sepulcher” in Quechua (the language of the Inca empire) which makes sense why they find clay pottery and bones in these parts. -X

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Wherever the home is that you're headed this season, all the Metric humans wish you happy holidays. May your travels be as beautiful of an experience as X's in Yacuanquer.

Destination Unknown

Recently Xavier Alexander, Metric's Co-Owner and Director of Coffee, traveled to Peru. While visiting David Flores' farm, he was particularly affected. Below is a short travel note Xavier wrote processing his journey: 

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"About 3 hours north from Jaen lies the sector El Diamanté, a district of San José de Lourdes (which is also a province of San Ignacio in the Cajamarca department).

To reach El Diamanté by vehicle, we crossed the river on a shanty river barge passing over choppy waters and into a beautiful, biodiverse region with one of the most stable microclimates (low, relatively stable humidity) I have ever had the pleasure to experience.

Here, young David Flores, 23 years of age, works his 5 hectares of land with incredible passion and drive which you can clearly taste in the product of his work.

In this photo, you see the path we took to reach the summit. There, we scoped out David's trees- with a pleasant surprise as we discovered he also had old Typica trees at a higher elevation. We excitedly recommended him to process them separately and send us samples from this.

Because of El Diamanté's unique environment, coffees here are extremely floral and show a complexity that is akin to Ethiopian coffees but has their own unique characteristics that run parallel to the work that David puts into his land.

My journey still continues here, learning more about this magical place, a place with food and coffee unlike any other, a country so rich in natural resources and farms that may take hours to get to on foot but are full of beauty and surprises."

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Image courtesy of the talented IG user @joshhockin, a fellow traveler on this origin trip with Xavier.