My Passion is Sourcing Incredible Coffee

Posted by admin in Coffee Trails

Here is a personal note from Paul Golding our Green Bean Buyer about his recent trip to Toby’s Farm, Finca Santa Teresa.

“It’s come to the last day of what has been a fair marathon of origin sourcing. I left Australia at the start of January, was home for a few days, then out again for the best part it. It’s a fantastic privilege for me to be able to represent Toby’s to our producers and exporters, and I’d like to share some of the experience with you. This will explain why we have an origin sourcing program, and why it’s essential for us to maintain a regular presence in the growing regions, building our knowledge and experience in growing, processing and selecting premium coffees.

So, why do we source direct from origin? In the early days at Toby’s we bought our coffee from the local importers in Australia like everyone else. In those days there was less competition, and the expertise of Toby and Chris in cooking up superior blends from the available coffee was what kept us a leading roaster.

As we grew, the amount of coffee we required began to stretch the capability of the importers to keep us well supplied. Also, they had to buy coffee to satisfy an increasing crop of new roasters, which were often not of the standard we required.

It’s not much fun finding a great coffee one week and being told it’s run out the next-or having to substitute with something you wouldn’t personally want to drink. Since we also had a strong desire to get more involved at the growing end, the answer was to take control of sourcing the most important raw material in our business.

The success of this venture now sees us with the ability to choose exactly the coffees we want, and organise the import flow so we don’t run out. In addition, we are able to go out actively looking for unusual, rare, high end coffees through our network of suppliers, importing them on our own logistics chain. This is an ability that few boutique roasters share, and one of the great strengths of our business.

To origin..

January saw Toby, myself and Billy Ballard together with Heather Sheppard in Panama at Finca Santa Teresa. In our second year of having a farm in the family, we were better prepared for the task at hand. The crop at FST was looking excellent, with none of the rust problems plaguing many farms in Panama and the rest of Central.

We look to produce about 6 containers of coffee this year, the majority of which is already sold. Our task was to identify the lots to be used for La Trinidad blend, and Billy came up with the idea of creating a washed blend of the best lots for us to incorporate into the Toby’s range. There was a great deal of cupping while we camped onsite, and Toby pegged out the farm lots to be devoted to Toby’s Estate.

This is a very important moment for us, as it finally gives us a true presence in every aspect of coffee, from production through cafe. This factor also lends strong credibility to our sourcing program, as we can begin to understand the realities of farming, and can talk to producers from a base of experience. With the new raised drying beds Toby has installed, the farm is producing natural and honey coffees in addition to washed.

We are able to experiment with different processes, and on this trip completed a traditional fermentation washed coffee which we can cup to compare against the friction washed coffee that makes up the bulk of the crop.  We are producing some very classy Gesha once again, and will have natural, honey and washed variations coming in.

The Batista Honey Gesha has been grabbing attention this year with a vote as “America’s Best Espresso” recently, and a second place in the National Brewers Cup semi-final last month. The farm itself is in great shape, with young, healthy trees being well managed by the agronomist, Rodolfo.

New trees have been planted on the Batista farm, and the lab has been improved with the addition of a Rocket espresso machine. All in all it’s a great start to our farm stewardship. We stand to gain a great deal of knowledge and experience from FST and it’s staff, while they will certainly benefit from our fresh perspective as an Aussie roaster, and the energy we bring with guys like Toby, Chris and Billy putting forward new ideas and techniques.”

Paul Golding