New Bean - Tanzania Mwalyego

Hey everyone, Mark here.  

I'm pretty excited about this bean for a few reasons.  

1) It's unique and it's good (that's two reasons combined as one)!  This coffee presents a distinct melon/cantaloupe/citrus combination with nice acidity.  Okay, that's technical talk, sorry.  But its good, and also often described by our baristas as "interesting".  We will have this on pour over and retail bags soon!  Come give it a try. 

2) The second reason is because I have some refugee friends that lived in refugee camps Tanzania for over 10 years after fleeing civil war in Burundi.  Whenever I see or hear that name I think about them and what they went through.  A refugee is a displaced person that has been forced to cross national boundaries and cannot return safely.  .  If you don't know about refugee camps - it's not what you might be imagining.  Refugee camps in Tanzania had/have at least 40,000 people in them.  They aren't really camps - they are cities.  Most refugees spend the majority, if not their entire lives in the camps.  Mostly because they can't find asylum in safe countries.  The supply (countries accepting refugees) is not meeting the demand.  

The Mwalyego Cooperative that we are getting the beans from is in the South and I believe most of the refugee camps are in the North, near the Burundi border.   I realize that the refugee camps are very likely completely unrelated to this coffee farming cooperative but here's to hoping some lives might be touched, in one way or another, by us buying and selling this coffee.     

Cheers to you Baptist, Pierre, Silas, Jainess, Parfait, and Esther. 

  ** Pictured above is Edison Mwakalasya, the leader of Mwalyego. 

Solid's Guide to Roasting: Step 1. Importing

Coffee is often overlooked as a product. The statistics vary, but experts agree that somewhere around 1 Billion people in the world wake up with a cup of coffee every single morning. It's one of the few things shared by so many us on this planet, yet we rarely think about where it comes from or how it's made. The abundant availability and mass conglomeration of the coffee industry makes it seem almost mundane at times. For so many of us, it becomes a part of our daily routine, and we forget about the many countries and people that go into crafting the perfect cup. 

The coffee product itself is actually about as varied as wine. Much like wine, the altitude, soil, climate, farming practices, and processing of the coffee bean can produce thousands of varietals and tasting notes in the final product. For many years, getting top quality product was very expensive and logistically difficult, but with recent increased interest in specialty coffee and the rise of third wave coffee companies around the world, more and more people have access to this product every day. Solid Coffee Roasters in no exception. 

As we grow and try to carve out our own little niche in the Southern California specialty coffee industry, we want to put an increasing focus on excellence and authenticity. As a result, we would like to let you - our customers and extended family - in on the details of how we roast our beans and deliver quality product to you everyday. The process of growing coffee as a product is endlessly fascinating and the science can get incredibly complex. Personally, I’ve working in the coffee industry for over two years now and there’s still a great deal I don’t know about coffee on this scale. And while I would love to write about the growing and harvesting process of coffee (and go on some origin trips in the near future), for all intents and purposes, our part of the process with the coffee product begins with our relationship with coffee importers. That being said, I've included a nifty graphic here about the harvesting schedule of beans if you'd like to check it out:

 Harvesting Schedule of Beans Around the World! 

Harvesting Schedule of Beans Around the World! 


We try not to just work with importers; we are also currently in talks with direct trade farmers in both Ethiopia and Nicaragua, and we are looking for ways to expand the direct trade side of our business soon.

The way we get our beans now is fairly simple, although it does involve logistical co-ordination and co-operation. We work with two importers who start by sending their coffee experts all over the world -directly to origin-: Ally Coffee & Crop to Cup. From there, they test all the harvested beans for quality before purchasing the un-roasted product from the farmers growing that crop. We are then sent samples by the importer. These samples come in small amounts, and they are green, which means they aren't roasted yet. We get to see if the green coffee is good for our roasters and the product we want to offer. If it's an offering that we are looking to add to our lineup (and the price is right) we will sample roast it, cup it (taste it) and and then begin further discussions with the importer.  We then make a commitment to a certain amount of bags or pounds and figure out the best way to offer this bean depending on what our clientele (retail, espresso, wholesale, pour over, drip, etc.).  The beans are then shipped to a warehouse in Long Beach where we pick them up and prepare them for roasting. 

 Our Roasting Facility/Machine at our HQ in Artesia, California. 

Our Roasting Facility/Machine at our HQ in Artesia, California. 

As we continue this series, I will attempt to break down the various roasting processes we use in creating Solid’s final coffee been product. As I mentioned before, the science and logistics behind Coffee’s worldwide report is endlessly fascinating. I hope that you enjoyed this little blurb on how we get our coffee, and I hope that you enjoy reading more in the future. 

Take it easy and, as always, drink great coffee! 

Ryan 

Meet Team Solid: Mark, Owner/Managing Partner

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Mark's journey with business, entrepreneurship, and coffee has been somewhat unconventional.  After college, Mark began his career in commercial real estate in San Diego where he gained valuable business experience and learned from some of the best in the industry.  After realizing the corporate grind was not what he wanted, he knew he needed to work for himself.  "I remember the first time I went to Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park in San Diego.  After visiting that place, I knew I was going to eventually work in coffee".  Mark spent the next few years selling real estate and honing in on coffee. Over time, he became great friends with Daniel Kam and Kevin Kim, the founding owners of Solid. Eventually, he became the third owner and Managing Partner.  On the experience, Mark says, "We all kind of knew right away that it would work out.  We joke and call ourselves the triple-braided cord: 'for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.'"

Meet Team Solid: Jo-Jo, Store Manager

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Jo-Jo is our retail store manager at both the Artesia and Santa Ana Locations. She wears a lot of hats: from day to day you can find her placing stock orders, scheduling, working behind the bar, etc. Ultimately, we rely on Jo-Jo for a lot, and she plays a huge role in making sure Solid runs smoothly day in and day out.

Jo-Jo is very easy going, and she's really fun to work with. A self described Jack of All Trades: she's got experience with calligraphy, graphic design, event planning, cooking, etc. All of her experience comes into play when running the storefront. 

What's one of your favorite things about working at Solid?  

"I think it's all about the environment. I love working in an atmosphere where you can grow & be innovative." 

We're definitely grateful for Jo-Jo and all that she does. If you see here at either location, be sure to stop and say hi!