An Artisan Reserve Update from Zoka Coffee
By Trish Skeie, Zoka’s Director of Coffee
It was last year around this time that we started brainstorming a new project at the Zoka HQ. We decided to make a point of getting some really incredible coffee, no matter the cost. This was the relatively straight-forward part, getting great coffee and sharing it with you, our customer. The hardest part was coming up with a name for these new single origins that everyone at Zoka approved of. After a few days and much discussion Zoka Artisan Reserve was born: … (keep reading for more)
“The Zoka Artisan Reserve is a selection of limited edition coffee with exceptional character offered at their peak of season. These rare finds are specific to their vintage and are only available for a limited time.”
For us it was a bit of a bold move into the unknown. Would customers get on board this flavor adventure train? Can we afford to pony up for these amazing lots, and expect our friends to enjoy the idea of a changing and expensive menu? We needn’t have worried. Our first run of Artisan Reserve took off like a rocket. When we had exhausted these limited lots, (we were conservative the first time out) it seemed like everyone came clamoring for more.
I’m happy to say that we are well prepared this season. We decided not to wait until the holidays, and have launched the new Artisan Reserve menu during our slowest period – the warm summer months. Take a look at what we’ve found for you this time:
Hacienda Alsacia Peaberry – Costa Rica Crop of Gold 2006
Seems like I’ve been to Costa Rica a lot this year. Not that I’m complaining. It’s a beautiful place and I’ve met so many great friends there! In March, they invited me back to serve on the panel of international cupping judges for the Crop of Gold competition. After scoring about 60 different coffees over the course of four days, we finalized a list of lots that went to the online auction.
Zoka came away with the only peaberry lot from the auction. It’s delightfully refreshing in its light body and has a sweet snappy acidity. We have just 10 bags of this lot.
Sumatra Lake Tawar – Grade 1, Triple Picked
You might remember this coffee from last winter. Lake Tawar became a favorite of so many on our staff. I remember being instantly saddened when I cupped this the first time. I thought, “This coffee is the perfect Sumatra! It will fly off of the shelves once people taste it, but it may not be the same next time around.” You see, Indonesian coffees can be inconsistent…for a few reasons. We weren’t sure if we would ever see a Lake Tawar like the 2005 vintage again. Sure enough, our supplier had us waiting to exhale for the next crop…they cupped it and rejected it. “Not even worth it for you to taste”, they told me. As our teeny supply of 8 bags ran dry, we broke into a collective cold sweat, not only from our own withdrawals, but because we knew a customer following had developed. So of course, we are all overjoyed that a new sample of amazing Lake Tawar became available. We more than tripled our lot size this time around, but you’d be well advised to not wait until the holidays to order Sumatra Lake Tawar.
Thatcher’s Reserve – Best of Panama 2006
The Best of Panama competition and auction made news again this year. We saw record numbers on cup scores and auction prices alike. This auction has become the most competitive and its winning coffees the most sought-after by specialty coffee purveyors worldwide. Jeff and Chris D get all the credit for finding and acquiring Zoka’s two Best of Panama 2006 lots, (as I was in Guatemala at the time of auction). But it should be said that all of our Artisan Reserve and auction coffees go through a few staff cuppings – where decisions must be unanimous – before we choose them.
Thatcher’s Reserve comes from a producer with a rich history of quality and best practices. This coffee is wonderfully aromatic and has an exceptional, elegant balance. This lot is extremely limited.
There you have just the beginning of Zoka’s Artisan Reserve offering for 2006-2007. Keep an eye out for updates. We have more in store for you. Coming soon: Cup of Excellence Nicaragua, Cup of Excellence El Salvador, and a truly special natural Yirgacheffe from the Adado Cooperative in Ethiopia!
Drink it up!