What does it take to create something that truly deserves to be called special? We know that it requires careful, deliberate, and unrelenting effort. Making coffees that are extraordinary in every way is an endless challenge, and is only possible when there is real collaborative effort between farmers, roasters and baristas.
Success is measured both in taste and in the benefit obtained by everyone whose hands helped turn latent potential into manifest quality. It is measured also by progress, in recognition of the fact that developing expertise takes time and there is always more to do.
Our formula has always been a simple one—work together, in close partnership, with coffee farmers who share a desire to do something great. Learn together, experiment together, and grow together. Obsess about detail and pursue quality together with a curiosity that will never be completely satisfied.
That’s it. Amazing coffee is the product of amazing people working as a team; the magic comes from the synergy that is enabled when growing, processing, roasting and extracting coffee are connected in a single ecosystem. For nearly 15 years we have been working hand in hand with farmers around the world; this thing we’ve called Direct Trade is the result. Nowhere is the meaning of Direct Trade more evident or more tangible than at our Extraordinary Coffee Workshop, or ECW—an annual gathering of the Intelligentsia producer community who come together to exchange knowledge, share experiences, and unite in the pursuit of ever better quality.
Every year at ECW new ideas are born. Since 2009 we’ve been using this forum as a place to learn and a place to strengthen our collective resolve to push coffee quality forward with all of our might. We move to a different place each year, visiting farms around the world together to study different approaches to coffee production and quality management in search of ways to get better at what we do. There is no substitute for direct visceral experience. It is not easy to get dozens of farmers from all over the globe together in one place, but the outcome is worth every ounce of effort it takes to make it happen.
This is Quality. This is Community. This is Direct Trade in action.
The 2015 Extraordinary Coffee Workshop was held November 2 – 6, 2015 in Guatemala.