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Crossing the Damen Divide: Goose Island x Metic Coffee

This Saturday (3.23.19), we’re excited to tap into our latest coffee-beer collaboration: Damen Divide! This Dunkelweizen coffee-beer is especially exciting because it marks our first time teaming up with friends and neighbors, Goose Island, not only to produce a coffee-beer but also to learn from their extensive expertise and resources.

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Our relationship with Goose began mostly across the counter. Located just down Fulton and across the titular Damen Ave, members of Goose’s team frequent our #metricwestfulton cafe; we, their taproom. After some pleasantry and product trading, their team invited us down to kick the tires on something more than just a pint. Paul Cade, one of the brewers who led the project, commented, “the value in collaborating is working and learning from a group of people with a different set of skills.” Paul gets at what attracted us to developing Damen Divide. Having crafted delicious coffee-beers in the past, this was our first time working at this scale and bringing our coffee to a new style they wanted to explore. Dunkelweizens are a less well know wheat beer with rich-coloring, dark malts: a beer that was frankly foreign to most of our team. With Goose's help, we learned from their set of skills what we needed to find the perfect coffee pairing.

[Goose Island's Paul Darnaby Cupping in our Lab]

Due to its darker Vienna or Munich malts, Dunkelweizen profiles traditionally consist of toffee, banana, and clove notes. Our coffee palates immediately drifted to Central America in search of a traditional but nuanced flavor to compliment this style's robust body. After a group cupping, all parties landed on a coffee from one of our relationship producers in Honduras, Denis Enamorado. Working with Denis going on four years, we already knew his 2018 lot was special; it burst with pear, mango, and molasses notes that also just so happened to pack the perfect sweet characteristics we sought for this beer. Rather than competing with the “malt base… and the hint of banana from the yeast,” as Paul put it, Denis provided a soft pop to the Dunkel's depth. From there, the Goose flock took to point but generously kept us involved, even allowing us even to help brew the mash (the base) of Damen Divide and experimenting with different recipes of how exactly to introduce the coffee into the brew.

[Metric's Connor, @kondorfalcon, (me!) Stirring Malt at Goose]

[Metric's Jess, @jess_salgado, Assessing Damen Divide Variations on Goose's Tap Deck]

Now several months later and with a lot of consideration, work, and relationship churned into this beer, we’re ecstatic to share Damen Divide with you. Helping commemorate the launch, we'll have retail bags of a custom Damen Divide blend available as well as the opportunity to add a Hellion cold brew sidecar to your 16oz pour of Damen Divide (while supplies last). And if that's not enough, Goose and ManBQue’s own, Jesse Valenciana will be barbecuing German-style brats with a Honduran twist. So this Saturday at 5 pm, join us at our neighbors to share some good times and flavors!

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.

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[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)

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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!