a week in the office

After one week in the office I have been averaging between 5-10 shots of espresso a day… The other day I did not have any coffee and got a headache. Withdrawal… I guess I am working for a drug dealer…

A Taste of New York

New York City is great this time of year–especially when it’s 98 degrees with 100% humidity and you’re running across town decked out in full business attire!

Our first stop was Excelco, one of Ferris’s coffee brokers, to learn about how coffee is imported. 95% of Excelco’s coffee gets shipped to Germany to be decaffeinated, and is then brought back to the US for sale. We met up with Christina, one of two traders at the company, and were brought to the bean-grading room down the street. There are approximately 45 people in the US certified to grade coffee, two of whom are women (Christina is one). A panel of at least 3 judges is selected at random by a computer to grade each batch of beans, which are then accepted or rejected for sale to roasters.

Our next stop was Zabar’s (http://www.zabars.com/) to check out their coffee and packaging. Zabar’s is sort of a mix between a very crowded grocery store and a flea market, but had a lot of character and a great product offering. Not only does Zabar’s sell a ton of great meats and cheeses, they also roast over 400,000 pounds of coffee beans a year!

On the next day, Lawson and I visited the Fancy Food Show at the Javitz Convention Center. Imagine 6 football fields packed with food booth after food booth and you get the picture. We met up with some of Ferris’s suppliers like Madelaine Chocolates, Marich, Jelly Belly, and Koppers. We also spent about 5 hours visiting a few of the 2,500 exhibitors looking for new products (Ferris loose-leaf tea anyone?? How about Vosges Chocolate? http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/). Somewhere in between our 100th cheese sample and a third helping of chocolate-bacon pancakes (Vosges again) we decided to head back to the hotel and call it a day.

Coffee Plantation

Plantation Panoramic

Gorgeous view from the top of a coffee plantation

So today we went to visit a plantation that was for sale. Let me preface this with a wow. We got picked up in a Land Rover Discovery outfitted with mud terrain tires and a winch on the front. It seemed like overkill until we saw the roads we would be going up. Over the next half an hour we crawled up steep and muddy terrain as we wound our way up the mountain through the plantation. I have seen the ruins of Ankor Wat, sunrise and sunset over the Sea of Cortez, and the northern lights over the fjords in Norway, yet the view at the top of the plantation made me grin stupidly and lost for words. Now to think this was on a cloudy and rainy day, which blocked the site of a nearby active volcano and two immense valleys… Even so, it instantly made my short list of cool things I have seen in life.

Everyday an adventure,

-Lawson

On the 7th day He rested…

It makes sense that God rested on the 7th day because earlier in the week he made the rain forests in Costa Rica. Saturday David and I went on a canopy tour through the rain forests here. Costa Rica has about .25% of the world’s landmass yet it contains about 5% of the world’s bio diversity. (The photos below are courtesy of google image searches. This is because we did not think it wise to bring the camera into a rain forest…)

The view was amazing during our tour and the rain rhythmically beat on the canvas roof of our tram. The two young women from Brooklyn who were also in our tram didn’t miss a chance to yell at our guide. They did not seem to understand that it rains in a rain forest and this could lead to getting wet. Also they were upset that our guide did not have total control over the animals. They seemed to confuse zoos as being accurate representations of nature and did not seem to understand that most of the animals were nocturnal or did not want to be out in the open during a heavy down pour. At first their attitudes were kind of annoying but slowing it became comical as they received the nick name “Brujitas” by the other tour groups and guides which means “witch” in Spanish.

A few of the more interesting things we saw are pictured above. We saw a dead moth with a parasite growing out of it which seemed rather Scifi-esque. A golden orb weaver spider that was about the size of my hand, they get their name from having a golden hue to their webs. Apparently their webs are the strongest webs on record and it is common that small birds get caught in them and eaten… Finally we saw a blue butterfly that seemed to radiate a neon blue light.

Following the lead of the Creator, on the seventh day, we too rested.

-Lawson

Just another day in the internship

Random fact of the day: The term “gringo” is said to have come from when some annoying Irish men visited Costa Rica and apparently were not liked very much and were told that the green must go which apparently turned into  “green go” I don’t know if this is true but this is what our guide told us.

So since the pictures pretty much explain most of what our day was like, I would like to give special attention to all of the statues of rather large women that appear all around our hotel and surrounding area. David and I expected that these statues were of some great cultural relevance to the people of Costa Rica… I will attempt to explain the significance of this large woman statue in poem form.

Oh large woman statue… you are such a mystery

Could you be someone’s grandma

Could you be the village cook

Would you read me a bedtime book

Do you give the warmest hugs

Do you help kill the scary bugs

Oh large woman, of what importance are you…

Well according to our guide it is of absolutely no significance to Costa Rica and must be just what some local artist likes to sculpt… Since my poem about this statue is not good at all I would encourage you to “comment” and write a poem of what you think this statue symbolizes.

Take a minute to let yourself laugh,

-Lawson

Cupping with the Best!

Lawson and I had our cupping session with Rafa today!! Very educational and very interesting.

Our visit to Tarrazu

Since we can’t fly you here to experience what we did, click here and order some Costa Rican Tarrazu coffee.

Interesting Fact: No matter how bad the coffee is at any given mill or plantation you say, “This is the best coffee in all of Costa Rica!” To say that you do not like someone’s coffee is like saying that you think their child is ugly and dumb, it is just something that you do not do.

Today we saw the biggest wet and dry mills in all of Costa Rica. To give you perspective we were told that the owner of the dry mill (something like a big warehouse with processing capability) makes 1 million dollars off of the coffee that spills onto the ground out of the burlap sacks every year! That is just the coffee that he sweeps up off the ground and repackages. And, the general manager of the wet mill has his mill running 24 hours a day for 3 months straight every year. During this 3 month span he does 10,000 coffee cuppings to ensure the quality of their coffee. What makes this even more interesting is that drinking coffee  is against his religion (he swishes it in his mouth then spits it out, he does not drink it).

The drive to Tarrazu, Costa Rica was beautiful. It consisted of a 2 hour car ride that wound through tropical forests. The higher we got in the mountains the better the view became as we were able to see for miles down into the valleys. We drove so high that we pierced the cloud canopy and emerged on the other side, overlooking a cloud-covered paradise. I think moments like this one are the reason that the word “joy” was created, because nothing else comes close to explaining the experience.

Enjoy living,

-Lawson