Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Last day!

Well, today we wrapped up our last day of coffee bootcamp! We finished up learning how to maintain the machines. Well, ok... Brock mostly learned that. I just helped at the coffee bar and learning some new drinks.

We finished our time with a great lunch by Mike and Adele and then they even gave us the coffee certification... we are certifiable folks!

Anyways, we are very thankful for the new knowledge we acquired and the experience we received here in Panajachel, Guatemala. We are very grateful for Mike and Adele Roberts at Crossroads Cafe for being great hosts and sharing all their trade secrets with us.

We are absolutely exhausted. But excited for the future.

Tomorrow we fly back to Mexico and get in very late! Then less than a 12 hours later i turn around and head on to another trip. Prayers for rest and safety and great travel days!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Coffee bootcamp: over 1000lbs roasted.

Oh man, after several days of roasting we have (successfully) roasted over 1000 lbs of coffee. Thats crazy!

We can successfully...
- go to farm and pick out the best quality beans based on the plant, the smell and then cupping the coffee beans
- create relationships with the farmers and know how to get them shipped to us (by the 150lb bag).
- Set up a successful roasting room
- We can roast different coffees based on the bean.
- We learned how badly you can be burned by a coffee roaster and how you can really easily break limbs when you are not paying attention.
- We can pick out flavor profiles in the beans and know which to buy, which to mix and which to leave.
- We know fair prices for beans
- We can make espresso blends from several different beans to create a great taste and complexity
- We can cool, grind and serve the beans in several different way
- What we want and what we do not want in a coffee shop experience.

Bottom line: We can do this! 

We are not experts but we have the head knowledge and a lot know is relationship with people and putting all of our knowledge into practice.

We have one more day of training, which is mostly wrapping up everything and last minute questions.

We are excited and cautiously optimistic at this point... but we are also very tired. So, talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Coffee Farms

Today we got to experience coffee farms. This was an incredible experience for all three of us. We learned more than I could possibly post on this small blog. But, we now know and understand what questions to ask, what equipment to bring with us to the farms and what it looks like to see good and bad beans. 

We were able to see a cooperative farm and then a single farmer and his shop. It was fun to see the difference in quality and the difference in the process. 

We knew nothing starting the day and know we feel confident in taking our trips to the farms in the next few months. 

We were talking today about how God has totally changed our lives (ministry wise) and how He has been lining up things for the coffee shop and the connections and this training. It is pretty amazing! 

The first day or two of training we felt we were trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. Ever tried that, im sure its hard! But now we keep thinking... this is crazy but we can do this. Which, in and of itself, is amazing. 

We ask you continue to pray for us. Lots of work has happened... lots of work to do. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Day off!

Today we got to be tourists in this beautiful area of Guatemala! We were able to do a tour of the surrounding villages on Lake Atitlan. Super touristy but fun! 

We also took some time at one of the villages, Santiago, to visit a Mayan/Catholic idol in the town called Moshimo. It was fascinating and gave us an inside view of the religion in that area.

Tomorrows plan is to visit the coffee farms and learn how to pick the coffee we are going to use at the coffee shop. But for now, we go to bed early! 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Just keep swimming- I mean roasting!

We are trying our very hardest to retain all the information that is being thrown at us every single day. Sometimes we have to ask a few times to understand the information, but we are at least trying and maybe possibly improving our skills.

Today was less roasting, 144 successful pounds. Actually, I am proud of us. We can, almost every time, know what level to roast to and where we should pull the beans out. We know the process the bean has in order to fully develop and about how long in between cracks and levels. etc. etc. We are well on our way to be confident! 

Heather and I also switched off in learning the barista part of things. Learning how to use a manual espresso machine, serving different lattes, americanos,  etc. It was also good to be able to see what was useful for them and what they would change if they got to start the coffee shop all over. 

After lunch we spent more time testing the beans that we roasted and looking up equipment on the internet, searching for prices, etc. 

The things that have overwhelmed me about this process have been changing this week. I am confident that we can roast beans, I am confident I can run a coffee shop... of course both of those things will still take time in perfecting. 

But, I am more overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort that it is going to take us to set up the coffee shop. I may be the only person that is overwhelmed at the thought, but seriously... so... much... work....

Anyways, with our new information and knowing that we now have to BUILD A BUILDING for the roasting machine, spend a significant amount of time searching Mexico and possibly the US and maybe even Italy for stuff AND going to many coffee farms... we decided to push the 'open' date for the community center and coffee shop to June1. We will still do normal ministry stuff and teach english at the schools, but all the other free time will be consumed with the new project before we can launch correctly. We also decided to hold off on some other projects we wanted to accomplish before summer, in order to focus more time and energy on doing this project well. 

Anyways, I think it was a good day, even though the overwhelming feeling has kicked in. We are ready for tomorrow where we get to kind of "rest" before jumping back in on Monday. By rest--- I mean that we are going to be tourists and go to the different villages around. We are looking forward to it! 

Thank you all for your prayers and we appreciate your continued prayers and support of this crazy plan that God has very clearly laid out in front of us. It will be a lot of work and we know that He will use it for His glory in Amealco and Mexico!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: roasting masters!

Well the good news is that we do not feel like we have been through the ringer as much today, although at one point we thought: "wouldn't it have been fun to come here on vacation rather than on a work trip". Ok, ya, would have been more fun but we are so fortunate to be learning what we are learning. We are also thankful we got to do this all together, because we truly have fun together and we each have different strengths and each will be great at different things in the coffee business.

This morning we were left, basically alone, in the roasting room. The task: Roast four different roasts, each three different loads of 18lbs a piece. Total of 216 pounds of coffee this morning. And guess what?!?! We did it!! Not only did we do it, but it was absolutely acceptable for coffee shop use in a quality shop. This was a giant success... not that we won't ever make mistakes but it gave us the confidence that we really needed to be able to say..."we can do this and we can do it well". We still need lots of practice but everything related to roasting is "clicking" and its fun to see it happen.

This afternoon we learned the art of cupping. Again, something we need to keep practicing but even so we learned the methods, how to rank coffees and which to pick and which not to pick when testing different beans from different farms. Even Brock, who is truly trying to enjoy coffee for the first time in his life liked one of the ones we roasted! Success!

It was a fun day to do what we learned and then try them in the form of cupping and then drip coffee. Tomorrow we plan on doing the same thing again (plus the beginning of barista training).

And then because our trainer, Mike, has a fun sense of humor... he gave me this cup...

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Roasting Edition

Today was the first day of official coffee bootcamp. Phew. We ended hungry and tired but we learned ALOT! 

The morning was spent learning the ins and out of roasting. By lunch we walked away with a little more of an attitude of "we can actually do this". 

Time, temperature, cooling, color, texture... all important part of the process and if any one of those things is off, you have lost all quality of the roast. 

We kinda figured the higher in elevation the coffee grows the better.... NOT TRUE! The sweet spot is between 4000-6000 feet. 

We also realized how much work we will be putting in visiting coffee farms and getting samples and testing it all..... and to that we were kinda like....

It was a productive day where we each got more excited about the idea of having this shop... which we believe will be amazing. However, while we knew it would be work. We had a little more of an idea of the work that will need to go into it. Also, we were able to see what was and was not functioning as well as it could or should here and talked about ways where we can tailor things to allow us to not have as much work. 

Although we were kind disappointed in the lack of coffee we were able to drink today, which equaled zero. We were happy with the amount of encouragement we received when we realized we can roast coffee successfully!

Now to bed before we learn some more roasting techniques and cupping tomorrow.