Cauca Best Cup


We really like coffee in case you didn’t know. Brewing, roasting, and sourcing tasty coffees that not only make us happy but also makes you happy. We’ve been traveling to coffee producing countries for quite a few years now but this was our first trip to Colombia. We arrived in Bogotá late and met up with our importing partner, Café Imports, a specialty coffee importer based out Minneapolis, MN and other specialty coffee roasters from the U.S.A., Canada, South Korea, Singapore and Russia. The following morning, we all flew out to Popayán, the capital of the Cauca department. We met up with the rest of the Café Imports team and Banexport, an amazing exporter who, in conjunction with Café Imports, put together the annual auction, Cauca Best Cup. Over the next eight days that followed we would cup the best coffees that Cauca had to offer in the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia’s (FNC) facility in Popayán, visit some farms, meet with producers and participate in an auction for the coffees that we cupped and scored.


Cauca Best Cup is an auction that pulls together producers from all around the Cauca department. In its first year the auction had 200 producers, the second had 500 producers, and this year there were 700 producers who entered their coffee, all of which were small micro-lots. This auction is kind of like a regional Cup of Excellence that helps buyers connect with the best up-and-coming coffee producers in the region and it continues to grow each year. The auction is, in the words of Andrew Miller, Café Import’s founder and President, “Basically finding top quality coffee and paying great prices to the farmers that produced them.” That’s not to say that we cupped 700 coffees, although that would be pretty amazing. Instead we cupped the top 30 coffees of the auction; Banexport did some pretty intensive work and cupped all 700 entries up to 10 times to pre-screen the coffees from the region.

Outside of the auction coffees we also cupped and scored regional select coffees, large blended lots of micro-regions throughout Cauca, and some experimentally processed coffees and unique coffee varieties primarily from the Huila department. To sum up what went down on the cupping table, we cupped and scored 60 coffees over the course of four days. The top 30 micro-lots went to the live auction at the end of the trip, the regional select coffees became immediately available to buyers after scoring, and a silent online auction for those experimental and unique coffee varieties. It was pretty amazing to taste through all of these coffees, they were all truly fantastic.


When we weren’t cupping we’d be visiting coffee producers and get the chance to learn about their operation, listen to them share their expertise on farming, and find out how they go about producing the best cup. The size of these farms typically range between 1 to 10 hectares; a hectare is a common metric unit of square measurement used throughout various agricultural industries (1 hectare equals approximately 2.471 acres). Although there are some farms that are larger then 10 hectares, most are around 1 to 2 hectares. The most common varieties on these farms are Castillo, Caturra, and Colombia although Bourbon and Typica can still be found in the region. Castillo in particular is very popular right now over older varieties like Bourbon and Typica as it’s a rust resistant variety. There have been debates that Castillo, although it’s rust resistant, isn’t as tasty of a variety as something like Bourbon or Caturra because it’s a hybrid of Arabica and Robusta. This competition really championed Castillo as not only a rust resistant variety but also as an amazingly delicious variety on pare with others. Jairo Ruiz from Banexport, our host for the trip, mentioned on multiple occasions that the reason behind their success and the producer’s success with Castillo was due to leaving the cherry one the branch for a longer period of time so instead of picking the cherry when it was red they would advise producers to pick the cherry when it was purple. These purple cherries would have a higher brix measurement (Brix is a unit of measurement for sugar content) which isn’t surprising but typically picking a cherry when it’s purple isn’t desirable as it is typically overripe but Castillo is an exception to this practice. In short, Castillo is really really delicious.


Cauca Best Cup wrapped up with a live auction of the top 15 micro-lots. The auction had the majority of the producers along with their families and friends and many residents of the community attend to see what the top lot would sell for. This was a strangely surreal and overall humbling experience. We arrived in style in our Chiva, an artisan rustic bus, to an ecstatic crowd eagerly awaiting our arrival so that the auction could begin. It’s hard to say many people were there but maybe 500 attendees would be a fair guess. Once the auction began we all timidly began raising our paddles for our preferred lots but once we began to get closer and closer to the top lot the crowd began to become quite active and urged us to bid higher and higher. We abided. The bidding began at $3.50 per pound and by the end of the auction the top lot went for $22 per pound which is pretty expensive. The coffees that make it to this auction can be life changing for these producers as they’re likely to fetch a higher price then they have in the past through traditional channels of commerce.

The crowd’s enthusiasm was a little overwhelming and the support for the auction was humbling. As an industry we rightfully talk highly of our producing partners for their hard work and in a way place them on a pedestal in our minds. It was strange to experience to be a buyer where the tables are turned and the producers seem to perceive you in a similar manner. Everyone that attended was excited not only for the producers but also for the buyers that purchased the fruit of their labor. There was a general sense of coffee not only being a linear seed-to-cup experience but a cyclical industry where one component can positively affect the supply chain and create a positive feedback loop that raises not only coffee quality but also the quality of life for those involved.

We picked up one coffee from the auction and two that placed in the top thirty. We always want to find delicious coffees to bring back home but we also want to work with producers that we can grow with and this auction has given us and the producers access to each other for that kind of growth if we both decided to pursue it in the coming years. All of the coffees we picked up are phenomenal but more importantly they offer a glimpse into a possible relationship that can produce not only better coffee through stable and consistent purchasing but also a healthy business relationship that can benefit all parties involved. We’re pretty fond of the auction and the positive impact that it can bring to everyone involved but we’re also very excited to take that next step in what the future might hold for possible relationship coffees. We’ll be sure to announce when those coffees land here at our roastery so be sure to keep an eye out for some delicious coffees from Cauca some time in November.






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New Coffee – Renato Aguiar Paiva, Brazil

We’re excited to announce that we’ll have an award winning fresh-crop Brazilian coffee from producer Renato Aguiar Paiva available this Monday, the 28th, which will be replacing our coffee from Fazenda Rainha, Mogiana. Renato’s natural processed coffee, comprised of yellow bourbon, mundo novo, yellow catuai, and other coffee varieties, has raspberry aromas, butterscotch flavors, chocolate aftertastes, a mild acidity, a buttery body, and a balanced sweetness. We’ve brewed this coffee as an espresso, drip, and with several other manual brewing devices only to find that our taste buds were happy from start to finish each time; we’re sure that your taste buds will thank you as well.


Renato is a member of AFASA, a small scale producing group based around the municipality of Santo Antônio do Amparo in the Campos das Vertentes region which is south of Minas Gerais. Brazil, the worlds largest coffee producing country, is well known for its large Fazendas (farms) that can range from hundreds to thousands of hectares which are often fully mechanized. Getting coffee from a small scale producer like Renato isn’t only exciting for the coffees positive flavor attributes but it’s also exciting because finding a coffee this delicious from a small producer in Brazil just isn’t that common. Our importing partners for this coffee, Atlas Coffee Importers, recently held their third cupping competition for AFASA in which Renato’s coffee took first place. We’re really excited to be able to offer this coffee so be sure to check out our website or drop into our Coffee Lab to pick up a bag.



Origin: Brazil

Region: Campos das Vertentes, South of Minas Gerais

Producer: Renato Aguiar Paiva

Process: Natural

Drying Method: Patio and Mechanical

Varieties: Yellow Bourbon, Mundo Novo, Yellow Catuai, Catuai

Altitude: 900 to 1,200 masl


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New Bags!

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2016 is already an exciting year for everyone here at DOMA Coffee Roasting Company. As always, we’re not only working hard to source and roast great coffee but we’re staying current with industry trends. This means seeking out new ways to improve our packaging so that it’s not only (highly) functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

Starting in February, after many months of work, we’ll be transitioning to new packaging for all of our 12oz retail coffee bags. These bags will be nitrogen flushed prior to being heat sealed. The new bags are made with Biotre Film. Biotre Film is made from 60% (by weight) renewable wood pulp. The wood pulp portion is biodegradable. Third party testing per ASTM tests D-6868 and D-6400 confirmed that nearly 100% of the wood pulp portion will disintegrate into healthy compost in 84 days. The bags have an industry standard one-way degassing valve and a nifty ziplock feature, so resealing the bag will be a snap. Or in this case, a zip.

This change, like many other changes over the years, is quality driven. We want our coffee to have a longer and fresher shelf-life which means that you are going to have a better and tastier brewing experience. That’s not to say that we weren’t happy with our kraft bags, we love them, and will continue to use kraft bags for wholesale bulk orders.

This new retail packaging will give us a platform to share more information, like farmer profiles, tasting notes, roast levels and brewing information. And while we’re no longer printing our retail bags on our 1928 12×18 Chandler & Price letterpress, we will continue to use it to design and print promotional and educational materials. This transition will be completed by the end of February, so you can expect to see our new bags soon.

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Winter Wonderland 2015

Things are abuzz at DOMA Coffee Roasting Company headquarters.  The Autumnal Equinox is long over and as the air grows chillier, everyone is busily preparing for the next big seasonal coffee release:  Winter Wonderland.  The winter coffee has been a special tradition at DOMA, involving custom artwork from some of our favorite artists and some spectacular coffees for a time when a warm beverage is all the more meaningful.  This year, some special parallels with the Seasons’ Cycle emerge as a number of elements from the past have come full circle in this year’s offering.

Most importantly, we’re thrilled about the coffee.  This year, Winter Wonderland will be fully-washed, sun-dried organic coffee from Huehuetenango, Guatemala.  Comprised of caturra, catui, bourbon, and pache varieties from 350 smallholder farms under the umbrella of the CODECH cooperative, the coffee has aromas of brown sugar and dried fruit, flavors of lime and grape, aftertastes of chocolate and spice, a nippy acidity, smooth body, and balanced sweetness.   We’ve been enjoying the coffee as pour-over and drip but it would also make an excellent single origin espresso.

This excellent coffee is complemented by custom artwork from Missoula-based illustrator and designer Josh Quick.  Josh has collaborated with DOMA Coffee on a number of projects over the years, and you will recognize his hand on this year’s bag artwork.

The bags will be printed on DOMA Coffee Roasting Company’s vintage Chandler and Price letterpress by Brianna White of TypeBee, who has printed many a coffee bag with DOMA over the years.  We hosted an Open House in the press room yesterday to kick-off and celebrate the printing process.  In the spirit of connections to the past, Rebecca was excited that the brown ink used for the Winter Wonderland bags this year happens to be the same as the brown used in the original DOMA Coffee Roasting Company logos!

We’re looking forward to sharing this awesome coffee and cool artwork with you.  It is fitting that the coffee for a time when folks reconnect with people from their past over the holidays has so many connections to people and elements in DOMA Coffee Roasting Company’s history.  There is a lot of craft, warmth, and connection wrapped up in this package – one that we know you will enjoy opening soon!  The coffee has launched so you can pick it up in our Coffee Lab or order it on our website:


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Good Coffee – The New Can In Town (early September)

We are very pleased to share with you the re-design of Good Coffee, available in 12 ounce cans.  The coffee inside the can is the same tasty, dark-roasted blend as before, but a number of updates have been conducted with regard to design and the donations supported by the sale of the coffee.  For those unfamiliar with Good Coffee, it is inspired by the phrase “Clean Water Makes Good Coffee.” Proceeds from the sale of this organic and fair trade coffee support the work of local WaterKeepers.  We now have three affiliates in our area:  The Spokane, Lake Coeur D’Alene, and Lake Pend Oreille.  They work hard to keep our waterways swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.  You can read more about them on the can (or see their websites, listed at the end of this feature).IMG_2721

The redesigned artwork is based on Chris Dreyer’s original design, but updated to include new graphics and color palette while featuring our new WaterKeeper partners.  The can wraps were printed in-house on DOMA Coffee’s vintage letterpress.  Rebecca and Shelly’s eye-catching, three color design is raised from the high quality, recycled cotton paper offering both visual and tactile sensations.  (Your humble blogger even made a modest contribution to some verbiage.)


Along with an updated look, new ways to contribute are also being put into place.  For wholesale accounts that wish to contribute directly, a program will be implemented which will have a local RiverKeeper speak or present along with a coffee demo by DOMA Coffee staff. This would include sales support material, such as posters and window clings, that will define your business as a WaterKeeper Supporter.  All of this can happen for a one time contribution of $25-75 (sliding scale).  For wholesale accounts who carry the coffee, DOMA will still be making contributions for every can sold.

Non-profit organizations don’t have many avenues to raise money.  In this way, you can drink good coffee and help to support clean water by simply purchasing a can of coffee.  You can find this coffee in our Coffee Lab, online, and in select retailers, or you can join the WaterKeeper in your area and purchase a can from them.  With summer winding down, now is the time to get out to swim, fish, and drink coffee.


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Spring Saturday 05.16.15

Obviously, it has been too long since a blog has appeared here.  My colleague Jim was good enough to fill in with a post about our special prep Sumatra last month.  Now, it’s back to all those touchy-feely posts from your usual correspondent.  No Earth-shattering news today, just a portrait of a Saturday in town.

Day began at the Kootenai County Farmers Market.  Even before I picked up my morels and fern fiddleheads, I stopped by the DOMA stand for a cup of coffee.  Sarah brewed the perfect cup of our new Ethiopia Idido Yirgacheffe.  It’s funny because both she and I had admitted to one another that we had never really gravitated to Yirgacheffes, but this coffee has changed our perspectives.  It’s got that wonderful citrus element that you’d expect but also has a lot more going on – the tasting notes are not hyperbole.  Here you see Scott explaining its merits to some visitors while Sarah prepares for the next Kalita and Jenica takes in the information.


Later in the day, I took myself for a walk along the shore of the lake.  The sky was dramatic and the air was sweet with the scent of spring rain.  About midway through my walk the sweet scent got washed out by a spring thunderstorm and I was totally soaked.  IMG_2225

The Patanos hosted some staff in the evening to make some pizzas in their wood-fired oven.  Occasionally, I have a potential wholesale account who foolishly elects to go with some big corporate company citing their desire for some “Italian-style” espresso.  After my initial disappointment, I smile to myself and think about how I work for a family named Patano who have been roasting coffee for a decade and-a-half, who also happen to own a wood-fired pizza oven.  Seriously, the science and pleasure of food come together seamlessly in the owners’ backyard just as much as they do at the roastery.  Jim, the Head Roaster and I talked about homemade tonic, Shawn and I talked about the science of fermented grains, and Sarah demonstrated some dough tossing skills from her days at a pizzeria.

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If you are in the neighborhood, definitely stop by the farmers’ market on Saturday or the Coffee Lab on a weekday.  Ms. Rombauer had the vision to title her cookbook “The Joy of Cooking” but there is certainly joy to be had in brewing, too.

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Sumatra Special Prep Test Lot

Sumatran coffees, historically, have featured earthy, leathery, musty, sometimes dirty flavors and aromas.  This comes from a combination of growing conditions, weather patterns during processing and a unique processing method known as Giling Basah (or sometimes “wet hulled”).  Recently, we have been seeing cleaner, brighter cup profiles from Permata Gayo with delicate fruit notes and heavy sweetness.

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Permata Gayo Cooperative (October 2011)

Permata Gayo Cooperative (October 2011)

In October 2014, Cooperative Coffees led a cupping workshop with collectors from Permata Gayo Cooperative (PGC).  The goal of the workshop was to cup coffees from different villages and look at the relationship between the processing and the cup quality.  It was not about making final conclusions, but rather about creating a conversation with the collectors, PGC staff and Cooperative Coffees representatives (and ultimately generating a passion for quality).

Zukardi is a collector in Tanjung Saru community and Subahan is a collector in Ujong Gele community.  They are both proud members of Permata Gayo Cooperative, and they participated in the cupping workshop in October 2014.  They volunteered to prepare a small lot of coffee for us following the very specific protocol that was developed during this workshop.  Only 11 bags of this special preparation were produced this year (DOMA got one of these).  We will lead another cupping workshop in the fall with the rest of the PGC collectors and hope to continue this experimentation.

The coffee:

Cooperative:  Permata Gayo Cooperative

Altitude:  1250 masl

Varieties:  Catimor, Ateng Super & Bourbon

Harvest:  December 2014

Process:  Giling Basah (wet hulled)

Special preparation steps:

  •  When receiving the cherries from farmers, all overripe and green cherries were removed.
  • That same night, the red cherries were washed in a water tank and floaters were removed.
  • The red cherries were depulped in a clean depulper and fermented for 12h (overnight) in a tank with water.
  • In the morning, parchment was rinsed and mucilage was removed.
  • The parchment was put in a soaking tank for an additional 12 hours to increase complexity.
  • Parchment was spread out on drying beds & constantly rotated during drying down to 40% m.c.
  • Parchment was hulled at 40% m.c.
  • Immediately after hulling, the green coffee was spread on drying tarps on the ground (classic style).
  • When it reached 17% m.c., it was stored for 2 weeks in Bener Meriah and then shipped to Medan for final drying and hand sorting.



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