Squished but Inspired at Stumptown

Last night was a standing-room only crowd at the downtown Stumptown Coffee. It was hot, it was crowded but it was fascinating to hear directly from some of Stumptown’s best coffee producers: Daniel and Rachel Peterson from Hacienda Esmerelda and Ricardo Koyner from Duncan Estate, both Panamanian producers of some incredible coffee, were on hand and Steve and I managed to snag front-row seats, I mean, “standing spots.”

I don’t use the word “incredible” lightly in regards to these coffees. I managed to try a free sample of the organic Duncan Estate coffee, which was rich and dark and delicious even without my usually-required douse of cream. I didn’t make it through the dense crowd to try the Hacienda Esmerelda, unfortunately. That would have been well worth it as a half-pound roasted goes for $100. Stumptown has bought their green beans through the hacienda’s annual on-line auction for over $100 per pound! I figured one of the free samples they were giving out last night (a few sips in the bottom of a small cup) would cost retail more than a full-size regular latte from Stumptown but alas it was not meant to be for me last night.

Nevertheless Steve and I left inspired after hearing from both the Petersons and Ricardo about the painstaking processes they all follow to create such a fine product. Both families trace their coffee growing roots back to their grandfathers’ generation so this work is in their blood. They are innovators in the coffee world because they are constantly looking for new ways to not only produce incredibly delicious coffees but they also protect their native environment through organic growing methods and go above and beyond in caring for their employees through services including free medical care and childcare.

There’s something so human about meeting the people who produce what I consume. Granted I don’t pay $100/ half-pound for my coffee but the Duncan Estate organic coffee is far closer to my price range. When I meet people who create a product I consume I value that product so much more. It becomes more than a product, it becomes an extension of those people themselves when I understand how they pour their hearts and souls into crafting it. I may not have a cup from Hacienda La Esmeralda in my future but last night’s experience gives me a greater appreciation for whatever cup of coffee I enjoy.