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A Time for Humans: Metric & Chicago Community Raise over $1,000 for Kaleidoscope 4 Kids

With a lot of us wrapping up holiday travel and time with others, your Metric humans find ourselves reflecting on our recent Holiday Throwdown. On December 18, 2018 at Caffe Streets, as the cafe’s day concluded, we made our way into the shop repurposing it. We hung tinsel streamers. We polka-dotted the lighting fixtures with ornaments. Most importantly we crammed nearly a hundred people into Streets.

Metric and other coffee companies can’t operate without communicating with other humans. Coffee is an inherently social industry, with people at every level of the coffee chain: from producing partners at origin to the humans serving at their given restaurants or cafes. However, the social interactions often stop at coffee talk. Our Holiday Throwdown was an exercise in trying to buck this trend looking passed coffee or business delineations. Rather than seeing brands as restrictions, we looked for the event to pull resources from like-minded sponsors (such as Oatly) to build a gathering centered on the community and the humans at the core of our work.

Our Partnerships and Projects Manager, Jess Salgado, headed the event coordination as she collaborated with other humans on our team and our sponsors. Throughout the event’s development, she continued to reiterate an intention of making the Holiday Throwdown an inclusive celebration focused on “uplifting” and “supportive” themes. As a team, we looked to manifest this direction in a variety of ways. We fashioned our company GoPro to project a the pours so those outside the baristas and judges could see the work. We developed a raffle with prizes outside of having exclusively worth in coffee, such as a First Ascent climbing package, tattoo gift certificate to Time Being. We utilized banners loaned to us from Kaleidoscope 4 Kids’ to help decorate Caffe Streets.

This attention to planning went equal parts into intentional re-commitment of our relationship to, the aforementioned, Kaleidoscope 4 Kids. Having worked previously with Kaleidoscope, their cause of uplifting Chicago youths has lingered with us. (For those unfamiliar, Kaleidoscope 4 Kids provides programming for children to cope with trauma through artistic expression [see the images below]). We invited them to come and be part of the evening as well as the recipients of the evening's proceeds. Their executive director, Kathy Grzelak's presence and opening words were a pertinent extension of the humanistic themes at the heart of the event allowing us to fully actualize the party as a benefit for a beyond worthy cause.

With textual reminiscence aside, it only seems fit to conclude this year and this recap with some humanity. Please enjoy the following images of the humans that made this event so special for us:

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(Bess, Kathy, [from Kaleidoscope 4 Kids] and friends)

(Banner from Kaleidoscope 4 Kids made by the kids)

(Jonathan Parnell [our Volunteer Event Bartender])

(Katie Thomas & Mickey Kennedy)

(Ivan and Will)

(Harris Nash with Uprise's donated Jesse Neuhaus Bonsai board)

(John Petrenko)

(Paul Octavious, Mike Duesenberg [Holiday Throwdown poster co-designer], Ty Banks [Metric Barista, Educator, Throwdown winner]).

Images courtesy of Matthew Schwerin.

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Full Sponsor List (in alphabetical order): Able BrewingAsrai GardenCandid WinesFederal MotoFirst Ascent ChicagoHopewellKaleidoscopeLa MarzoccoLonesome RoseMahlkönigOatlyPastoral ArtisanRancilioRhine HallSolemn OathSpirit TeaTrade Coffee CoTomorrow Never Knows FestivalTopo ChicoUprise SkateshopVirtue Cider, & Wayward

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.

Subscription Spotlight: Pineda Pack

This blog is the first entry in what will be an ongoing series highlighting a unique group of special-release coffees. Before making their way to other avenues, these especially radiant and limited coffees will be available to our coffee subscription humans; this new perk allows us to offer a special thank you to all our immensely important subscribers!

Introduction aside, let’s get to what’s important, the coffee and the humans behind it.

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Over the last several years, we’ve been lucky to develop a relationship with Alma Pineda. The matriarch of a talented coffee family (her husband Evin Moreno also a prolific producer), Alma runs her own, small farm in Honduras’ Santa Barbara department.* This year in particular though, Alma and her colleagues have decided to push the boundaries of her Paraneima coffees.

In the past, Alma has focused her resources into producing delicious washed coffees. Washed in this context refers to the coffee’s processing, i.e., the process in which the coffee seed undergoes from coffee cherry to bean. To wash process coffee is to rid the coffee seed of any residual mucilage entirely, i.e., the fruit sediment remaining from the coffee cherry. Asking what if..., Alma decided to venture down other routes opposed to simply continuing to fully wash all her coffee.

To walk us down the two innovative routes Alma took, we had Xavier (co-owner and green buyer) write up his first-hand account of Alma’s work:

Experimental, aka Weirdo Fermento--

The Weirdo Fermento's impetus sprawled out from a conversation between Evin Moreno, Alma’s husband, and Benjamin Paz. Their question: What happens if you bag up a cargo of cherries and dunk it into cold water? Further, what happens after milling them? Paranima’s profile verges on the bright and usually yield citrus/lime notes when washed. Understanding this trend allowed Alma to imagine where they could take her coffee with experimentation. After 2 days floating in water, the coffee was pulped and left in its own mucilage for up to 72 hours. This experimental semi-washing developed an aroma reminiscent of rose water and pineapple. The final result, a really clean and complex cup that exhibits a cornucopia of fruity depth.”

Honey--

“No, Alma Honey is not the follow up to Pablo Honey (though this coffee certainly is a jam). Much like Weirdo, Alma Honey was born out of a desire to push the boundaries of this lot-- to see what other flavors they could muster from this Melado, Honey process. The result, amplified sweetness, which would usually be expected from a natural process, remaining balanced with creaminess and floral notes. This year, Alma and Evin produced only about a bag’s worth of raw coffee. But with how well this coffee is cupping, we’re eager to see them produce more honey processed lots in the future.”

 

*Santa Barbara is an area near and dear to as its the home to other partner/friends of ours, such as Benjamin Paz and Denis Enamorado.

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Due to both coffees having an experimental nature for Alma, as X mentioned, she only produced a tiny yield. We’re proud to have secured one bag of each (only approx 150 lbs), and we’re now excited to share them with you.

Whether you sign-up for a subscription or risk waiting for them to hit our website next week, make sure you give yourself the gift of tasting these special-release micro-lots!