The coffee life comes at you fast, turns out. Nine months ago I didn’t know the difference between a cupping spoon and a teaspoon (not entirely true), and couldn’t tell a good coffee from a great coffee.
So fast forward to February 2016, and here Evan and I find ourselves in rural Colombia (the country), aproned-up as jury members for Huila Best Cup. Our task is, over a five-day period, cup (i.e. taste) the 30 best coffees from the state of Huila, Colombia, and identify the top 10 for auction on Saturday. It’s an amazing opportunity for farmers to receive way over market price for their crop.
So here I am, cupping with Andrew Miller, the CEO of one the biggest specialty coffee importers in the U.S. “Do you think coffee #6 is starting to turn?” Silence. Is he testing me? Does he genuinely think I can offer a worthwhile opinion on this? Here he is, one of the best cuppers in the world, asking the Summit boys for advice on the best coffees in the world?
As we cup these coffees, the farmers responsible for growing them — whose livelihoods could change all because of how the Summit boys score their crop — look longingly through the windows. It’s intense; it’s terrifying; it’s amazing.
side note: Colombians eat so much meat. Like, I really just want some bread and some vegetables and maybe a pizza. Also, so much beer. After cuppings, beer. Lunch, beer. Bus ride, beer. You got out of the bus? Another beer!
On Wednesday morning, after climbing some 800 meters up a steep bank, winding through coffee trees to find a Geisha lot, Evan said, “Two years ago, I certainly didn’t imagine we’d be here.” It’s been a ride. Sometimes bumpy, always speedy, never dull. To see tangibly how people respect Summit, the work we’re putting in and the skills we’ve developed, makes everything worth it.
On Saturday, Evan and I will have the opportunity to bid on the finest coffees Colombia has to offer. To shake hands with the farmers — scratch that, hug the farmers — and know that we’re both giving them the biggest check of their lives, and we’re bringing to the Summit portfolio a great coffee.
Now, time for more meat (ugh) and more beer.