Entre Montañas – A conversation with a Guatemalan coffee farmer

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Just south-east of Guatemala City in the rich volcanic soil of the Fraijanes Plateau coffee region of Guatemala you will find Finca Las Victorias. It is a shade grown coffee farm that has been passed down generation to generation by Carlos Letona’s family for more than 130 years.  “We have been producing coffee as it has been a long time family business since former Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios in the late 1800′s,” he tells me. Barrios had taken steps to make coffee production Guatemala’s key to survival. He distributed a million seedlings to farmers and by 1880 coffee made up 90% of it’s exports. Las Victorias was born and operated unofficially for about 70 years until Carlos’ grandfather legalized the business and began exporting his crops to Belgium until the time of his death in 2001. For a time the farm remained out of operation until 2011 when Carlos (who attended school in Houston and who’s mom works as a teacher in Alief) inherited it and began undertaking the task of getting it up and running again.  Continue reading

A bit more to it than that…

“You know what I like about coffee…it’s simple, you roast it, you grind it, you make it, done.” I think this statement is a pretty good summation of how most people view where their coffee comes from. For some it might even be more simpler than that: you pull up to a window and someone hands you a cup of coffee in exchange for a couple of bucks. Who cares where it comes from.

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Mercantile Montrose

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I stopped by the Mercantile’s new Montrose location this morning while they are having their soft opening this week and sampled a shot of their Espresso.  It was well prepared by David and accompanied by a nice chat about what the new location will have that the Rice Village location doesn’t (parking and indoor seating.) The shot I had was from Houston’s Amaya Roasting Company but they plan on having beans available from other National roasters as well like Portland’s Stumptown and Chicago’s Intelligentsia. Mercantile Montrose is located at 3321 Stanford, just off of Montrose Dr. The place looks great and I’m looking forward to their grand opening!

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Coffee Price Apocaplypse

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In the past week or so I’ve come across a number of articles in the news about coffee prices rising. “Pay UP or Perk Up”, and “Gulp! New coffee prices due to big dry will be hard to swallow” are just a couple of the “creative” shocking headlines I’ve run across. The stories remind me of Houston’s recent “Snowcaplypse” news reports. (I can’t believe we survived it!) Continue reading

Chiapas Onix – Boomtown Coffee

 

Onix Bag

Disaster struck this morning as my girlfriend and I woke up and realized we have used the last beans the night before. Fortunately we were able to leave early enough to stop by Inversion for a morning cup. On my way home from work I stopped by Boomtown Coffee in the Heights to pick up some new ones. They had a few freshly roasted origins to choose from but I had to go with the Chiapas Onix because I love Mexican Origin coffees. Continue reading

Coffee.Espresso.Houston

French Press at Black HoleI am a coffee bean junkie. As soon as the last drop of my current cup hits my taste buds I am already pondering where my next cup will come from.  At night as I lay down to go to sleep my last thoughts are plans for my next cup in the morning. Without a doubt I am hooked. I even appreciate the bad cups of coffee that I have to endure sometimes because they make me enjoy the good cups of coffee even more.

Since I love coffee so much it is a good thing that I live in Houston. Recently there have been many new coffee shops and cafes opening around town that really understand coffee. They don’t just get some beans and brew them. They craft them. A good cup of coffee is an art and not just a set of instructions followed. Following instructions will get you a good cup, but crafting a cup will get you amazing results. I am very happy that Houston’s “coffee scene” is exploding right now and I am excited to see what the future has for coffee and our city.

This blog is my look into Houston’s coffee shops, crafters, roasters, and drinkers. I hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy producing it!