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Making Coffee with Lucia Solis
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Making Coffee with Lucia Solis

Author: Lucia

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A behind the scenes look at what goes into making one of the world's favorite beverages. Lucia is a former winemaker turned coffee processing specialist. She consults with coffee growers and producer all over the world giving her a unique perspective into the what it takes to get a coffee from a seed to your cup.
40 Episodes
As many of you know, we've started doing live hang out after the episodes on Discord a week after the podcast comes out. I find this valuable because I get to hear from listeners and we create our own podcast after the podcast together.In the most recent gathering I had Felipe, Jose and Lucas from Ep 38 on the discussion so listeners of the podcast could ask them questions directly.A few things stuck out to me from that conversation that I want to share here because what started as a fun hang out turned out to provide a key insight for coffee producers. In this episode we talk about:Tank Additions: Mango, lemons, cinnamonWine additions: sugar and acidTransparency: what does it mean and who benefitsEnzymes vs Microbes like yeast and bacteriaHow fermentation is like gravitySupport the show on Patreon to join our live Discord hangouts.And if you don't want to commit, show your support here with a one time contribution: PayPalSign up for the newsletter for behind the scenes pictures.Resources:Bean Scene ArticleGravity Explained at 5 difficulty LevelsCover Art by: Nick HafnerIntro song: Elijah Bisbee
Today's episode features Lucas, a Patron and exporter with Unblended who sold a Kombucha coffee. I invited him and the producers he works with, Felipe and Jose to talk about their experience reverse engineering a $5 castillo. They started with the end goal in mind, the picked the price, the flavor profile they wanted and then created a process to hit their target.In this episode you'll hear from 3 passionate coffee professionals about:What a successful relationship looks like between producers and exportersThe true cost of experimenting, 80 kilos vs 1 tonThe price the farmer gets vs the roaster priceTheir exact process: preparing and caring for the kombucha SCOBYTheir tracking: ph values and number of fermentation hoursSupport the show on Patreon to join our live Discord hangouts. And if you don't want to commit, show your support here with a one time contribution: PayPalSign up for the newsletter for behind the scenes pictures.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerIntro song: Elijah BisbeeContact:For special collaborations, samples, or inquiries about USA and HK on-spot inventory from Felipe, Jose and UVI: or through Instagram: @UnblendedcoffeeFor connecting, learning more, or suggesting experimentation ideas: Instagram: @Ventolacoffee and @joalherb
Today I am joined by Jamie Isetts, Sourcing Consultant. In this episode we cover:What a green buyer doesHow Jamie became a green buyerHow to organize a coffee contractCommunication red flags between producers and green buyersStrategies for long lasting relationshipsGet in touch with Jamie IsettsSupport the show on PatreonAnd if you don't want to commit, show your support here with a one time contribution: PayPalSign up for the newsletter for behind the scenes pictures.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerIntro song: Elijah Bisbee
Today's episode is another in a series hearing from coffee producers from all parts of the world. I think one of the common traps we can get into is thinking and talking about "The" coffee farmer. Or "The Average Coffee Farmer." As if coffee farmers are a monolith. The average doesn’t exist. The people who grow and produce coffee are a very diverse group who do it for different reasons in very different conditions.It’s our nature, that when we learn something new, to compare it to what we already know, we learn by grouping and recognizing patterns and assigning categories. We take large amounts of information and shrink it, and distill it until it’s a small enough unit that we can attach a label. My hope with these episodes is to take a microscope to the group, get to know the individuals, how they think and what they think about.Today we get to visit India through the eyes of Pranoy, a 5th generation coffee grower. His family got into the business in 1953 where they have grown different produce in biodiverse, multi-cropped conditions.Support the show on Patreon and get access to research papers.Sign up for the newsletter for behind the scenes pictures.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerIntro song: Elijah BisbeeMentioned in the Episode:Pranoy's InstagramKerehaklu WebsiteECRE Podcast
 Our sugar journey is almost complete as we round out the third installment in the Brix series. I hope the previous podcast episodes helped open your mind to some of the challenges we face in talking about sugar in the coffee industry.Today's episode focuses on ripeness and how counterintuitively sometimes measuring Brix can lead to lower quality coffee.And to help illustrate this point I'm sharing a lesson from one of my favorite industries: the cork industry. Specifically cork wine stoppers. In 2013 I was invited to visit Portugal as part of a Quality Control trip on behalf of the winery I worked for.In this episode we will talk about Brix and fruit maturity (ripeness), I will discuss the results of research done on a Brazilian coffee farm and we will see if there isn't a better instrument than a refractometer to help us look inside the coffee fruit and determine what will make a quality cup of coffee. Support the show on Patreon and get access to research papers.Sign up for the newsletter for behind the scenes pictures.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerIntro song: Elijah BisbeeMentioned in the Episode:Worms and Germs Video PresentationComedy Skits: these are weird but hey, maybe you're weird too.SNL Cork Soakers Skit John C Riley Sweet Berry Wine SkitFree conference by The Barista League:High Density Digital Conference
If you started the season with me in October you’ll remember that I started exploring the topic of what we lose when we take a plant from its native environment. Episode #25: A California Coffee Farm & Native vs. Local Yeasts looked at the relationship between coffee trees and the fermentation.Dr. Aimee Dudley’s research showed that the native microbes do not travel with the plant material and therefore all coffee fermentations outside of Ethiopia are non-native fermentations.Episode #26: Do Coffee Trees Talk? How Underground Fungi Affect Coffee Quality showed that when we take a plant from it’s native environment the microbes it needs to have strong immune response are also left behind.So we’ve touched on the above and below ground microbes that we leave behind.But is it only about microbes?Are microbes the most important thing we leave behind?I argue that it is not. As important as I think they are, I think there is something more valuable that is lost.Today, in part 3 I want to talk about another aspect we miss out on when we take something from its native environment.Support the show on Patreon and get access to research papers.Sign up for the newsletter for new podcast releases.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerInto song: Elijah BisbeeMentioned in the Episode:Podcast: How Not To Travel Like A Basic BitchDr. Aimee Dudley's Research LabMaca Pirate VideoThe Nagoya Protocol 
 We usually hear about coffee from roasters or even people like me, who work with coffee producers but we are not producers ourselves. One of my podcast goals is to bring you directly to the source. Whether it's scientific research or hearing directly from coffee producers.Often we leave it to coffee professionals and educators to speak about coffee producers but it’s rare to hear directly from coffee producers about their motivations and challenges. And even when we do hear from them on their social media channels, there is a hidden pressure to present a rosy version of reality. Today’s conversation is with Mark from Finca Rosenheim in the Villa Rica region in Peru.  This conversation is an honest look at some of the challenges producers rarely get to talk about. I asked Mark about organic certifications, climate challenges, coffee competitions, crop diversification, and what happens when markets can’t rebalance themselves. To get samples or buy coffee from Mark:Website: www.fincarosenheim.comEmail: Info@fincarosenheim.comInstagram: @fincarosenheimSupport the show on Patreon and get access to research papers, transcripts and videos.Sign up for the newsletter for new podcast releases.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerInto song: Elijah BisbeeMentioned in the Episode:Vox Video: Coffee Crisis in Colombia
What is left behind when coffee moves to new locations. What is the trade off for innovation?  This episode looks at what else we potentially leave behind when we introduce new plant material to non-native locations.The inspiration for this episode was a beautiful book by Peter Wohlleben called The Hidden Life of Trees. In it, Peter talks about native forests vs planted forests and the differences we (humans) are able to perceive.One of the example trees in Peter's book are oak trees. This was an interesting cross over for me because oak is very important for winemaking. Most of red wine is aged in oak barrels and many Chardonnay's too.This episode is filled with wine information on barrels, tastings and stories of my time in the wine industry.I enjoyed putting this episode together and I hope you enjoy listening to it. If you would like to support the show and help me make more episodes, join the Patreon community.Support the show on Patreon and get access to research papers.Sign up for the newsletter for new podcast releases.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerInto song: Elijah BisbeeMentioned in the Episode:Video: How A Barrel Is MadeVideo: Dr. Susan Simard Ted Talk
This week I want to talk to you about where native coffee yeast come from.  If you are concerned about coffee flavor manipulation by yeast, I hope by the end of the episode you have a broader understanding of where "native" yeast originally came from.To help illustrate the point, we start with non traditional coffee growing regions like Southern California.In the episode I will also be sharing research from Dr. Amiee Dudley.I met Dr. Aimee Dudley in 2017 during SCA EXPO in Seattle when we were on a Re:CO Panel together talking about yeast. I was offering the perspective of practical application of yeast, how coffee producers in situ could use it and Dr. Dudley was presenting her research on yeast genetics. She runs a lab at Pacific North West Research Institute and she is an expert on yeast genetics.Support the show on Patreon and get access to research papers.Sign up for the newsletter for new podcast releases.Cover Art by: Nick HafnerInto song: Elijah BisbeeMentioned in the Episode:The Coffee Podcast: Jay RuskeyFrinj CoffeeDr. Aimee Dudley's Research Lab
What happens when the best in the world can't tell if a wine comes from the Willamette Valley in Oregon or Burgundy, France? What happens when the experts can't tell if the bubbles are from Champagne or California.Does a place really have a taste? Can we find it in the glass?That is the premise of terroir, tasting the land, localizing the product. But often, when put "terroir" to the test it cannot be found. Today's episode starts with the story of the 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting, a famous part of wine history that pitted French terroir-driven wines against terroir-less California wines. The competition had a blind tasting for red wine and for white wines. The red wines were predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and the white wines were the Chardonnay variety.We are also going to see what happens when Terroir is used as a basis for certifications. I'll share with you some of the limitations of the "geographic protectionism" and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system.Certifications are usually protective tools but sometimes they can work against the producers they are meant to protect.How can such a romantic and noble concept, tasting the land, respecting nature - work against producers?To pick future podcast topics, get access to the scientific papers, ask questions that I answer on the podcast, and help me continue making episodes: consider supporting the show by Joining Patreon HereMentioned on the podcast:The historical origins are from the book Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing by Mark A Matthews.Bottle Shock MovieA CougarRacist Champagne
Welcome to the next installment of terroir in coffee.This one little word contains a whole world of history and has an important role in the economic viability of certain agricultural products.After the last episode I heard from some of you who wished I had talked about soil minerals and plant nutrition from soil. Others also asked about the wine making regions like Bordeaux where Terroir is regulated by french law. I cover both of these concerns in todays episode before we get to discuss what I really wanted the episode to be about: microbes and morality.There is an unspoken understanding that products that express terroir are more moral than others.I wanted to give you an episode that focused on microbiology, that talked about the yeast and bacteria that contribute to a "taste of place" but I couldn't do it without including the human perception that products that express terroir, products that are "transparent" are superior.  I think we need to be really careful because science doesn't support this view. Any moral component of terroir is a choice to see it through a religious and political lens.I want to challenge your views on "transparency" and "intrinsic quality".To pick future podcast topics, get access to the scientific papers, ask questions that I answer on the podcast, and help me continue making episodes: consider supporting the show by Joining Patreon HereMentioned on the podcast:The historical origins are from the book Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing by Mark A Matthews.How to Use a Pressure ChamberDemeter Fragrance Library
I'm so excited for you to join me in this discussion about terroir. Terroir comes from latin, for terra - soil. Also translated as land, or “taste of the land”.Terroir is predominantly a wine concept, so why are we even talking about it in reference to coffee?If you’ve listened to other episodes, you’ll know that there are certain concepts that the coffee industry likes to borrow from the wine industry. We’ve talked about some of the really bad ones, like using wine or beer tanks to ferment coffee or how a Q grader is not like a sommelier.From the outside we see the concept used in wine to justify the high prices of a French wine, perhaps we associate it with valuing the land, a sense of place. We know it’s connected to soil, so maybe we assume that terroir also has to do with soil health. This makes terroir seem like it would be a positive concept to adopt.I see how tempting it is to think that coffee could benefit from adopting this way of speaking about coffee farms and how it can help sell the coffee beverages at higher prices. Also, it sounds so romantic, and the specialty coffee industry loves romance.But similar to my argument about “anaerobic fermentation”, terroir faces a similar problem- the word is vaguely understood at best, and then repeated and made familiar by sheer repetition, not by true understanding. Many of us have a hard time defining this word if we are asked.I have made this episode to give you a background into the origins of the word so that before we dive head first into regular use in the coffee industry, we have a better understanding of what it means.While most student of winemaking take terroir for granted, as a given, I was lucky that one of my UC Davis professors challenged the idea. The historical origins are from the book Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing by Mark A Matthews. I highly recommend this book for those wanting to go deeper after today's episode.To pick future podcast topics, get access to the scientific papers, ask questions that I answer on the podcast and help me continue making episodes: consider supporting the show by Joining Patreon HereThanks to Patron Brodie for casting the deciding vote!
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you introduced foreign yeast and bacteria into a coffee farm? Or maybe you're curious if we can speed up a long fermentation by warming it up. How does post harvest processing affect the density of the seed?In today's podcast episode I’m answering listener questions like these and also sharing how I approach designing a fermentation.When I was planning this podcast I knew that I wanted it to be a community supported project and that I did not want to rely on advertisements or sponsors that can be annoying or distracting to the information I want to share. The Patreon supporters are a group of individuals who care about coffee education and support me and this project. They made a monthly pledge to help keep this information free and available to everyone. With their help I can pay for equipment upgrades like a better microphone, I can pay the subscriptions for the editing software I use and cover the monthly hosting fees. Their contribution also allows me to take some time away from consulting so I can document and record these episodes. As part of their membership, Patrons submit questions—often I answer them privately in the message chats but today I wanted to share and record some of them here on the podcast so we can all learn from each other.Other resources:Christopher's BlogMy UCDavis Sensory Science ProfessorDr. Hildegard HeymannProducers I work with:Luiz—Fazenda California, BrazilAna—Finca Esperanza, GuatemalaSophia—Mapache, El SalvadorAndres—Cayro, El SalvadorTommy—Greenwell, HawaiiSam—Buff, RwandaImporters mentioned:Balzac BrothersCrop to CupTo Support this Podcast and become a Patron CLICK HERE
For those who know, it may not come as a surprise when I share how much I love tea. But professionally, today is the day I come out of the tea closet. I drink logarithmic levels of tea compared to coffee, and the more I confess that, the more other coffee professionals share with me that they too love specialty teas.Unfortunately I think coffee and tea are often lumped together in similar categories but they have very different histories and I think it’s worth trying to de-couple these beverages.Today's episode serves as an introduction the basics of specialty tea and will be the first of many episodes exploring the processing and history of this beverage.Our guide through the world of tea is my friend Aurora Prehn. She is a researcher of people and plants. Her undergraduate work was a double major in Anthropology and environmental studies. She worked at Rishi Tea and Botanicals as a tea educator. In 2018 she then left to do a masters in ethnobotany in Canterbury, England, which she finished last fall. Support the show on Patreon and get Aurora's curated tea flights.If you are inspired to learn more about tea check out the following resources:Tea Reading List 2020 located at, curated by Aurora PrehnThe True History of Tea, Victor H. Mair & Erling HohThe Tale of Tea: A Comprehensive History of Tea from Prehistoric Times to the Present Day, George L. Van DriemThe Soul & Spirit of Tea, Phil Cousineau & Scott Chamberlin Hoyt (Editors)Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties, Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, and Jasmin DesharnaisPlants, Health and Healing: On the Interface of Ethnobotany and Medical Anthropology, Elisabeth Hsu & Stephen Harris (Editors)Rishi Tea & Botanicals’s Lookbook to Store Tea, Tea Epicure Grown Tea, Specialty Tea Alliance
In today's Making Coffee Podcast episode, we're taking a deep dive into anaerobic fermentation and how language reflects values.Specialty coffee is a young industry. In the consumer space we have only recently started to differentiate between processing styles like natural, washed and honey and now we’re jumping off the deep end into the microbiology of these processing styles. I wanted to record this episode because many Green Buyers ask me what Coffee Producers mean when they label their coffee like this and Coffee Producers ask me what the Green Buyers mean when they ask them for an anaerobic process. Both parties expect the other one has the answers. Even if the words are poorly understood they are still copied, pasted and repeated so much that they become familiar through sheer repetition.We see them so much that we can sometimes convince ourselves that we know what everyone is talking about, or we assume that at least they must know what they are talking about.But in my observations, it seems like at this point everyone has their individual, personal, un-scientific definition. And this is a problem because when everyone defines the words differently, we undermine the point of language to communicate.To Support this Podcast and become a Patron CLICK HERE
Today's Making Coffee Podcast episode is a continuation of the theme of coffee pickers and their role in quality.In the previous episode I shared my surprisingly difficult experience trying to source red ripe coffee cherry. It was surprisingly difficult to pay the farmers more for a different quality than they were used to picking because of the established system, a system that developed over decades as a response to chronically low coffee prices.It's important for me to share this with you because I don’t believe enough of us who enjoy drinking coffee realize how fragile our coffee supply is. Coffee is such a staple in our daily lives that I believe we simultaneously revere it for making our mornings more enjoyable and take it for granted. For example, many businesses offer free coffee, free coffee refills or free coffee with food. If you look around hotels, restaurants and gatherings you can often find more than 1 “FREE Coffee” sign. We expect that there will always be coffee. It seems so abundant that there is a real disconnect between the effort it takes to get that cup into our hands and what we are willing to pay for that work. Many of us would be turned off by a $5 cup of coffee but have also likely paid $15 to $20 for a glass of wine. Additionally, it's a lot less common to expect free wine.To Support this Podcast and become a Patron CLICK HERE
Today's episode is part 1 of a 2 part series talking about the people who pick our coffee.In episode 15 we went deeply into how a molecule of sucrose in the coffee cherry pulp becomes a flavor compound like banana or peach and gets into the coffee seed.Flavor is an accessible entry point for specialness.However, I don’t like talking about flavor and coffee too much.  I don’t think coffee flavor is what’s going to help the industry move closer towards long term stability. I think it’s most often a distraction of the larger picture. My concern is the coffee farmers, the people at the source of the value chain. I think focusing on flavor distracts us from the larger threats to coffee, like climate change, pests and diseases and—what I want to talk about specifically today—availability of labor.Sitting down to collect these interactions is possible through the support of Patreon. I’m grateful for the 31 individuals who currently support this podcast and it’s through their generosity that I can make it available to you all. As a thank you, I create additional resources on the Patreon account.To Support this Podcast and become a Patron CLICK HERE
Today's episode is very special because it was picked by the Making Coffee Podcast Patrons. I sent my patrons a poll on what they wanted to hear about next and the topic most people wanted to hear about was HOW fermentation impacts coffee flavor. How can the same yeast that makes bread rise also make my coffee taste like apricot or jasmine?Maybe you’ve thought that farmers added fruit to the coffee (and while this sometimes happens—it’s not the kind of flavor we are talking about today). Maybe you thought those flavor differences came from the different plant variety or that different countries of origin explains those differences. Those are important factors but that’s not the whole story.In this episode we will go deep into the biochemistry of how a yeast or bacteria can turn the glucose in the coffee fruit into various flavors ranging from lemongrass to mint to raspberries.There is also a question at the end about how baristas can communicate flavor in a simple way (without having to give a 30 minute science lecture) to their customers.To pick the next episode, get a copy of the scientific paper that I reference in this episode and ask questions that I answer on the podcast, check out:
Join me in listening to this conversation with George Howell, where we cover topics such as Cup of Excellence, coffee pricing, processing styles, craftsmanship, additives in processing, kamikaze farmers, and much more.George was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award from the SCA in 1996, even before he helped found the Cup of Excellence program in 1999. He's accomplished a lot towards improving coffee quality and educating consumers on several fronts. What I admire most is that he continues to be an advocate for quality. He's been in the industry 46 years and I was surprised to learn that he continues to travel to maintain his relationships with coffee producers, and visits Antigua every year.Even though George has had a longer career in coffee than me, and we approach coffee from different points of view and with different backgrounds, I was surprised to learn how much we have in common regarding coffee processing.Thanks for listening!
Hello friends,Today I want to share an interview with Sofia Handtke from Mapache Coffee in El Salvador. I recorded this last November at the end of my time with them. That was my second season working with them and designing fermentation lots at their mill. Over the last 2 harvest seasons we've done about 40 different batches combining 4 strains of yeast, 3 cultivars and various lengths (# of hours in the tank) in an effort to create additional flavor options.I wanted to interview Sofia and Jan Carlo together but they have a small mill team and a lot of responsibilities so I caught them when I could. In the interview with Jan Carlo we spoke about how Mapache is embracing vertical integration, how he believes this current generation is more open to sharing information, and some of his struggles like disease pressures and how climate change has impacted his farming philosophy. You can catch my conversation with him HERE.In this conversation I ask Sofia to share her Q Grader experience and talk about her background in coffee. She believes that getting coffee producers and buyers using the same standard language is very important but unfortunately it’s still out of reach for many producers in Central and South America—this is a topic that deserves it’s own episode and it's in the works. She shares what it was like growing up in a coffee farm and how she and Jan Carlo are engaging their two teenage children to inspire them to see the coffee industry as a career option, unlike her parent’s generation, many of which had to abandon the industry because it was no longer a viable way to make a living.She shares some fantastic insights about coffee branding and marketing and the coffee gear she takes when she travels.To Support this Podcast and become a Patron CLICK HERE
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