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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!

A Full Bouquet: Lonesome Rose Pop-Up

How we partner with others is a common theme at, here, Metric Coffee. As an eclectic group of individuals, you can usually find us discussing our various interests. A through-line, connecting our idiosyncratic tastes, is the humans who unabashedly express themselves through their craft. Collectively we admire the confidence that comes through others’ work, and we work to apply it to our own, whether it be at origin, at HQ, or beyond.

[Image courtesy of @lonesomeroseforeve]

Lonesome Rose (one of the beyond) is a partner of ours we’ve been crushing on for a while now. From confident design to flavor, we're proud to be associated with Lonesome Rose's specific service of "approachability and openness." Since opening last year, we’ve proudly provided LR with their custom “Lover’s Blend,” and now, furthering our rapport and admiration, they’ll be slinging a curated menu of their tacos at our cafe this Saturday (from 8 am to 3 pm).

Along with these delicious tacos, our wild bunch of #metricwestfulton baristas curated three signature-drinks exclusively available for the pop-up! I sat down with Dom (@domrod7) and Ty (@honeyprocessed.destruction), two of the humans who helped craft the drink menu and after sharing some smiles about the excitement for Saturday, they laid out the details. “I was envisioning the perfect fusion of Tex-Mex heat and spices with coffee,” Ty explained: the coffee needed to provide a complimentary backbone to fuse properly. Dom simply recalled an image he had in mind while experimenting: a cowboy out in the plains just stewing and drinking coffee. This imagery and intentionality helped corral delicious ends:

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A Prickly Pear Tonic

A sparkling balance of Proyecto Cabanas espresso, prickly pear concentrate, citric acid, and a little sweetener all for a concoction Ty likened to your morning “juice.”

A Hot Horchata (with an optional shot of Quantum Espresso)

Dom insisted that LR’s signature horchata be featured on the bar, articulating, “chai goes perfect with breakfast and tacos with horchata,” so think of it as your morning, Tex-Mex chai.

A Draft Horchata Aguilar

A delicate but nutty cold-brewed coffee harmonizing with the spice of the horchata over its rice milk’s round sweetness.

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We’re thrilled to be sharing our space with such inspiring humans! “Saturday morning, I want [West Fulton] to feel like it feels at Lonesome Rose on a Saturday night,” Dom eloquently summarized all of our sentiment. Come by #metricwestfulton between 8 am to 3 am for community, creativity, and a carefully-thought menu— just like Lonesome on a Saturday night.

TNK x Metric Coffee Co: 2019 Reissue

As they have it, Tomorrow Never Knows Fest is a celebration of “rising local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts, including both musicians and comedians… a city-wide event, uniting six independent venues.” From its 2005 inception onward, TNK has been an annual, persistent celebration in the middle of the most brutal season giving Chicagoans reprieve through music and comedy. This 2019 iteration was no exception. With nearly sixty acts over five days, TNK again had a little something to warm everyone’s heart this January. For us specifically, this year was extra special because 2019 marked our third year pairing with Auditotree to fill their TNK mugs.

TNK focuses on community and independence, making it an exceptional collaboration for Metric. TNK’s Talent Buyer Patrick wrote about these common priorities: “Unlike most cities, the Chicago music scene remains very independent and I think it's extremely important to highlight that.” Not exclusive to Chicago’s music scene, our coffee culture shares this independence-- Metric independently owned since its establishment in 2013-- and throughout our second city’s resilient roots. Look no further than our shared persistence through harsh winters (as I type this it feels -15). Speaking to that persistence, Patrick affirms that the promoters involved with TNK work very hard to bring Chicago a special experience during a typically slow part of the year” because they understand our communal hustle can’t hibernate.

As previously mentioned this is our third year with the privilege of caffeinating TNK fest. I asked Jud, Audiotree’s Director of Business Development and Sponsorship, why Metric?; he kindly responded, “we’re just fans of what Metric does… the Metric family has been really good to us over the past few years...As a company, [Audiotree] wants to align [itself] with cool companies doing great work, and Metric has always been that.” Such generous sentiment made us all the more stoked to re-up our partnership in 2019. We crafted custom pouches of a personalized TNK Blend (notes: milk chocolate, cashew, raisin) for each of the sixty acts.

[Metric's Harris Nash, @harrisnash, w. our TNK Blend]

Also, at the Audiotree owned venues, we were excited to take our partnership further in the form of a cocktail with a kick. “It’s hard to serve coffee at a late night show,” Jud qualified. “We’d met with Jess Salgado [Metric’s Partnerships and Projects Manager] and Mark Mann [Metric’s Director of Operations]...Creating a cool cocktail was a high priority, but we weren’t sure which direction it should go. Thankfully, we have a super-talented cocktail genius by the name of Adam Jevne…He created the idea of doing a White Russian, but infusing Deep Eddy vodka with coffee beans.” Priority achieved (read as, drank).

Such creative projects with an emphasis on cultivating taste and design reinvigorate us over here at Metric. The desire to work with “cool companies” is mutually present and part of why we love this specific relationship with Audiotree’s TNK Fest. Their humans, such as Jud and Patrick, put into action ideas of fierce independence and community. With it a week in the rearview, we’re still excited by 2019’s smash and are already looking forward to what 2020 has in store for all our fellow, resilient Chicago humans and us.