April Global Coffee Updates
By Oliver Stormshak
Owner, Green Coffee Buyer, and Roast Master
We all may be getting tired of hearing it, but here it is again - we are living in unprecedented times. Coronavirus has disrupted so much of our rhythms and systems. At Olympia Coffee we have seen our mail order business grow tremendously, while our wholesale and cafe business has shrunk to almost nothing. Patterns of what customers are buying have also shifted too. In normal times we roast and sell a lot of espresso for cafes around the world who brew our coffee, but today we are roasting more single-origin coffees than espresso as coffee drinkers shelter in place at their homes.
Colombia is also in a shelter in place recommendation throughout the country. Most areas of the country are not in harvesting or shipping this month. We expect mid-season main harvest to start late May in the areas where we work, including coffees such as San Fermin and San Sebastian projects.
In the roastery, we are moving through our Colombian Micro lots a little bit slower than normal without our cafes using up the majority of the volumes. We are currently roasting Clinton Ossa Micro Lot 11 and we have the following Micro Lots ready for release one after another, Johany Quilindo Micro Lot 3, Clinton Ossa Micro Lot 12, and Amparo Pajoy Micro Lot 24. Shipping wise, we should be receiving our new crop San Sebastian Reserva by the end of the month!
In early March we wrapped all the final selections for our Ethiopian 2020-2021 offerings. By mid-March, we knew our Ethiopian shipments would be delayed due to the global pandemic. Ethiopia has a few hundred cases of Coronavirus but shipments are already announced to be at least one month late. On an average year, we usually receive our Ethiopian coffees in July so we are now pushed back to at least August.
In our warehouse, we launched Gola in early April. This is the entire production from single producer Desta Gola, we have been buying his coffee exclusively for the last four years. In the past, our arrivals from him showed some drying issues after processing, but after working more directly on storage, and purchasing grain-pro liners for him to rest his parchment coffee, we have seen the potential fully realized. This coffee is near perfect.
We are fairly light on Ethiopian options in general and by mid-May, we will surely be out of single-origin Ethiopian offerings.
Our fly crop Kenya’s are now sold out, meaning we have no more Kenya’s till our new crop Gitwe Cooperative coffees arrive. Though, more bad news, our Gitwe coffees, almost a full container, is delayed due to Coronavirus. Our coffees are now scheduled to ship late April, hopefully, a late May arrival, with early June roasting.
The harvest is over in El Salvador and the country is also in a stay at home order. However, the coffee sector is exempt and classified as an essential business for the economy of El Salvador, producers are wrapping up the last of drying coffee if they have any remaining. El Salvador for us has always moved a bit slower than other countries, as generally there has always been a relaxed schedule around shipping times. We are supposed to ship all of our El Salvador’s this month with a full container sailing right into the port of Tacoma for us, however, I think we will only have about half a container full with just coffees from Chalatenango. I think our coffees from the Ariz family will not be ready in time for the shipment. Look for new crop El Salvador’s in our lineup in early June.
I haven’t been this excited about the arrivals of Guatemala’s in many years. I’m thoroughly impressed with our Guatemala’s this year so far. We started a new project in Huehuetenango that we are calling El Templo (The Temple) and the Sweetheart lot we built is so, so good. I’m excited to be back sourcing in the far north of Huehuetenango. These coffees fit the Olympia model so well, with small scale producer lots, that are totally traceable, and the flavors are so elegant, juicy, floral, and fruity. Again - I’m pumped. Our El Templo Sweetheart is on the water shipping now and should arrive early in May!
There are only a few cases of COVID 19 in Burundi. The harvest in Burundi is on schedule to begin early May so the situation in East Africa must remain safe. We miss Burundi coffees, we were able to source so little in 2020 it almost feels like we didn’t have any. We are looking forward to traveling there this coming summer during the harvest and sourcing some gems for the winter.