This blog would not have been possible without the assistance of Ben Weiner and the Gold Mountain team, and Tyler Zimmer.
Great Coffee Comes From Great Relationships
We don’t just source great coffee here at Kaldi’s Coffee. We build relationships with our sourcing partners, the importers and processors, the co-ops and the farmers, to ensure we can keep sourcing sustainable coffee year after year. We strive to know who we’re buying from, and there’s nothing better than coming back year after year to a supplier, watching them grow and improve, and being able to improve our offerings in turn.
Earlier this year, our Instagram featured a live discussion between one of our co-owners, Tyler Zimmer, and Ben Weiner of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, one of our longest established sourcing relationships. Kaldi’s Coffee & Gold Mountain go back to at least 2008, when Ben was still completing his thesis work in Nicaragua, and looking to sell a few bags of green coffee to us, the only independent coffee roaster he knew at the time. Ben had attended Washington University in St. Louis, and was very familiar with our original St. Louis cafe, Demun. He knew he wanted to partner with us to help develop the economic potential of Nicaraguan farmers in the small co-op he was working with.
Kaldi’s Coffee & Gold Mountain go back to at least 2008, when Ben was still completing his thesis work in Nicaragua.
Tyler Zimmer, Kaldi’s Coffee co-owner and resident Q-grader, agreed to sample the coffee from this new farming group in Nicaragua, and ultimately decided it was worth a shot. That first Kaldi’s Coffee purchase of 20 bags--almost the entire harvest that season for Gold Mountain!--was instrumental to Gold Mountain’s growth and success. In Ben’s own words:
“It was an incredible moment, and from there we added other farmers to our group and started really making a big positive impact, together with Kaldi's Coffee and other roasters, in the lives of farmers and communities.”
MUTUAL DRIVE, MUTUAL GROWTH
In the decade plus since that first purchase, Kaldi’s Coffee has continued to build its relationship with Gold Mountain, even as they grew to begin trading to other roasters across the world. Both Kaldi’s Coffee and Gold Mountain have benefited from our relationship, not only from the literal sale of coffee, but from the mutual drive for continual improvement in quality and our shared passion for sustainability. This relationship was on full display this past week on National Coffee Day at our Demun Cafe, where we sold some of Gold Mountain’s distinctive hand-painted burlap coffee bags, with all proceeds going back to their organization to help with future improvements.
Both Kaldi’s Coffee and Gold Mountain have benefited from our relationship, not only from the literal sale of coffee, but from the mutual drive for continual improvement in quality and our shared passion for sustainability.
Today, Gold Mountain features about 50 farmers, and boasts a top-notch staff of quality and traceability experts who help advise and assist on all aspects of the supply chain, from cultivation to harvest to processing to exporting. Gold Mountain’s goal is twofold: increase the quality and consistency of Nicaraguan specialty coffees, thus increasing their value; and to take out the import/export middleman, thus helping farmers and processors get more of the earnings. Kaldi’s Coffee is thrilled to help them achieve those goals, and we hope you are too.
IN THE MIX
Gold Mountain coffees are sometimes highlighted in our offerings as Single Origins, like the delicious Roger and Isabel Mairena Natural from August & September 2020. Even when Kaldi’s Coffee doesn’t have a specific Nicaragua Single Origin offer, though, we source Nicaraguan coffees from Gold Mountain to provide the vital, too-often unsung components to some of your favorite blends. For example, the washed coffee Nicaragua Jinotega was recently one of 3 coffees roasted together to make 700; at the same time, the Jinotega featured as the exclusive Dark Side component to our signature house blend, Cafe Kaldi.
Even when Kaldi’s Coffee doesn’t have a specific Nicaragua Single Origin offer, though, we source Nicaraguan coffees from Gold Mountain to provide the vital, too-often unsung components to some of your favorite blends.
Caption: To efficiently use what’s already available, and avoid artificial fertilizers that raise costs as well as pose environmental concerns, Gold Mountain practices use of coffee cherry pulp as fertilizer.
Even before the pandemic, Nicaragua’s future, and the future of its coffee, was a challenging one. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, and making coffee profitable for the farmers, pickers, processors, and many other workers whose hands shape coffee’s supply chain is a difficult path. One of Gold Mountain’s long term goals--a goal shared by Kaldi’s Coffee--is to continue changing consumer expectations about coffee, getting the public to better appreciate specialty coffee the way fine wines are.
FROM THEM, TO US, TO YOU
We at Kaldi’s Coffee are equally passionate about specialty coffee outreach, always looking to include you, our dear guests and subscribers, in our ongoing education about specialty coffee. We hope to extend the public’s understanding of and appreciation for the specialty coffees like Gold Mountain’s that are cultivated and crafted with great skill and labor.
Enjoying a sip of specialty coffee is the last link of a chain stretching all the way back to origins thousands of miles away from our cafes or your home, a chain that can be strengthened and be made to empower the farmers who make those wonderful coffees possible.
Written by Yosef Rosen
SOURCING AND ROASTING COFFEE DURING COVID-19