So, here’s what happened. In the spring we cupped some coffees at the Toby’s Estate cupping room at their roastery in Williamsburg. Among these coffees was a Geisha (a terrific variety of coffee that we have never had the pleasure of serving at the shop). La Batista Geisha was delicious, to the point that by the end of the cupping I was no longer being even remotely professional in my cupping, but rather just sipping it from a spoon as if it was soup. Now, Geishas are very expensive, and the way we decided to obtain this very expensive coffee is somewhat different from how we have, up to this point, obtained most coffees for our single origin board*. This wasn’t a coffee that Toby’s was already offering that we could just order from them. Rather, this was a coffee that we would agree to buy, and then Toby’s would source it exclusively with us in mind. This was exciting, but it also led to a little more waiting than we were used to. Instead of just ordering from a roaster and having them immediately roast and ship us the coffee we wanted, we had to wait for the green (unroasted) coffee to take a longer trip. La Batista traveled by boat from Panama to California. In Oakland, it took its time clearing customs. After clearing customs, it had to be transported to the East Coast in a truck (though I told everyone who asked that it was "on the rails", first because I thought that was true and later because I thought it sounded cooler). Finally, upon arriving in Brooklyn around two weeks ago, it had to be sample roasted and profiled by Deaton and the team at Toby’s to make sure they got the best out of this awesome coffee. Meanwhile, both our staff and customers were getting very, very hyped. I couldn’t walk into a shop without a barista asking me "what’s up with the Geisha?" and, more often than not, pointing to a guest who had asked him or her the same thing. After weeks of non-answers, I was thrilled, last Thursday, to finally be able to say, "we’re getting a sample roast tomorrow; we’re getting the order in next Wednesday. It’s happening.\” I rolled into Toby’s Estate in Williamsburg on my way into work on Friday morning to pick up the sample roasted bag and briefly chatted with Adam, the co-owner of Toby’s Brooklyn, and Deaton, their green coffee buyer and roaster, the whole time thinking something like "I really like talking to you guys but I also really need to get out of here and start trying this coffee". I hopped on the L and stopped by our training center to do some distribution. The plan was: Greg and I would hit the shops trying to get as much concentrated time with the baristas as is possible during store hours and occasionally double back to the training center to assist Bailey, our Director of Education, in leading longer training sessions. I left some coffee for Greg and Bailey and headed up to the 46th Street shop. On a slow, long weekend Friday, I was able to get a few baristas off to the side for a tasting and some talk about variety, La Batista, and how to explain a $7 coffee to guests. I brewed an Aeropress of La Batista and upon grinding it and inhaling the floral, zesty, fruity aroma I already got a grin on my face that would stay with me for most of the day. "You look so happy," said Tom, our very perceptive assistant manager. Upon tasting it, I was thrilled, and also somewhat relieved. I trust the folks at Toby’s to roast a coffee as much if not more than I would trust any other roaster but, after months of waiting, there develops, for me, no matter what, a very small but present fear of disappointment.
La Batista was not at all disappointing. It didn’t taste exactly the same as it did when we cupped it in March, but there is so much flavor, so much complexity in this coffee, that it was never going to. I’ve never heard more different reactions to the flavor and aroma of a coffee that I could all honestly relate to. The reaction was tremendous, and it peaked at our last tasting of the day which, because it was scheduled for an hour before our intra-company latte art throwdown, drew over twenty people to the training center. Our baristas have never been more excited about a coffee. Talk to them about it. Make them tell you what they taste in it and why they love drinking it. It’s a truly special coffee and it’s finally here.
Director of Coffee
*If you’ve had our French Press or Single Origin Cold Brew lately, you’re familiar with another coffee that we’ve since taken an even-more involved route with, the San Juan Microlot.