Camilo Merizalde has experimented with some of the most rare culitvars in the world. His desire to create something so uniquely authentic has driven him to design and plant five farms in the last decade and a half. Precision, traceability and collaboration have been paramount in his approach to create farms of outstanding capabilities.
Camilo teamed with his childhood friends the Holguin family, and utilized the amazing quality team at Banexport to help bring intensive quality checks to the entire process. Camilo, the Holguin family and Banexport have created a diverse eco-system of trees, plants and coffee atop one of the highest points outside the city of Cali, Colombia in Valle del Cauca.
From his first varietal garden back in 2001 to what he has now accomplished with his farm Santuario, Café Inmaculada and now, Las Nubes, Merizalde and the Holguin family are trying to capture the best growing conditions for each cultivar they have planted, learning from how they grow in a nursery setting, to how they behave once planted in the ground. This care and this thirst for knowledge has led Camilo to become one of the most talked about producers in the world.
Years ago back in 2008, we tasted the Sudan Rume cultivar from one of Camilo’s first gardens; a small production of a few kilos was harvested. The intrinsic flavors were unlike anything we had tasted before; the variety intrigued us, and its story even more.
A wild mutation of Bourbon, first isolated on the Boma Plateau in southeastern Sudan, Sudan Rume is a low yielding plant, but produces exquisite flavors. This creates a variety that has hardly seen the light of day in the industry.
The other variety we are presenting is the much-fabled Gesha. A formidable contender for “best coffee I’ve ever had” no matter where it’s grown, Gesha from Las Nubes farm in the impeccable Valle del Cauca region is almost too good to be true.
We bring you these coffees from the first ever harvest at Las Nubes in an attempt to highlight two of the most outstanding coffees we’ve ever tasted, but also to highlight one of our most cherished farmer relationships. Please enjoy this exclusive selection of Gesha and Sudan Rume from Las Nubes, roasted exclusively in North America by Verve Coffee Roasters.
We hope you enjoy them immensely.
For more information and to purchase these coffees click here
With Central American buying season in full swing, we thought we would take a moment to reflect on one of our favorite producers to visit.
Maria Zelaya is a woman with history. Owner and manager of Hacienda Carmona and its mill, Pulcal, for the past 50 years, she has been collecting tradition and reinforcing it with everything she has to give.
She’ll smile with a candor that is rare when you mention her farm, her garden, her flock of cows grazing in the field outside. She believes in authenticity and observing the things that have come before us.
She grows Bourbon and Typica, her Typica trees are just older than she is (79 years old), and is some of the best, most authentic coffee being grown in Guatemala. The Typica trees produce less coffee each year, but seeds taken from the cherries have created a nursery of promising trees that will soon carry on the tradition.
Maria showed us a ledger that her great-grandfather began the moment he bought his first cow. She turned to the beginning, and there was an entry dated “19 de Mayo de 1913” for a cow named Primorosa. The first cow purchased by the Zelaya family. She turned to a page somewhere midway through the book and showed us another cow; her face instantly gleamed with light, she said, “this is my hand writing.” Her pride in her experiences and her life is remarkable. She has won numerous competitions for her cattle, including the first-ever bovine competition in Guatemala. She doesn’t keep a stable of cows because they were her childhood fascination. She keeps them because they are important to the history of the farm, and she has grown to love them with her entire heart. There have now been over 500 cows to grace the humble stables of Carmona.
We sat in the ornate dining room drinking “coffee essence” her staff brewed in the kitchen. We drank her coffee roasted by her nephew, as well as some her coffee that we roasted in Santa Cruz. We sat with mouths agape as she recounted the king of Spain giving her grandparents the coat of arms that hung above the mantle.
Even the roses in the garden are impeccably authentic. Brought and planted in the astoundingly gorgeous grounds, they came from Paris in the 1920s where her mother bought heirloom rose seeds.
Maria Zelaya fills our heart with hope. She produces extremely wonderful coffees in one of our favorite places in the world, and she just so happens to be an incredible person rooted in authenticity and love. As we first walked into the estate in Carmona this year she called us over and said to come quick. She pointed to the Acatenango Volcano and said “The cloud, it burns above the volcano, oh my, it’s just beautiful.” It, in fact, burned golden, and was an incredible sight.
A few weeks ago, OZY.com came out to talk to us about the numbers behind a cup of coffee. Their original question – why is specialty coffee so expensive? It’s a good one. This interview with Verve co-founders Colby Barr and Ryan O’Donovan is a window into where your coffee comes from, who is behind it and the incredible attention to detail that goes into every cup. We hope it answers some questions — and inspires even more.
A $15 Cup of Coffee Isn’t So Crazy
(by Jared Frazer, OZY.com)
Why you should care…Because there are plenty of reasons why your coffee tastes so expensive.
As I grow older I have begun to care about different things: Why does my back hurt? Who was onFresh Air today? Should I buy a boat? And, most incessantly, why is $5 coffee socially acceptable?
In case you didn’t know, we currently exist in the era that the coffee world refers to as third-wave coffee. And if you’re now thinking that those two first coffee waves you experienced this morning were enough … ew. Different waves, bro. Third-wave coffee means: Your local roasters know their beans. They know the country the beans grew in, they’ve been to the farm and, hell, they probably even know the farmer’s son who someday aspires to play professional fútbol. And have I mentioned yet that baristas now compete in coffee-making championships?
That level of attention to detail gets pricey. Think you’re used to $5 cups? How about $10 or $15 for a cup of coffee picked and brewed with the care that goes into making a fine wine.
The era of third-wave coffee … you’re living in it.
We went to sleepy Santa Cruz, California to interview the founders of Verve Coffee Roasters, the highly-rated bean purveyor and home to championship-winning baristas. In a town known for surfing, Mexican hoodie ponchos and, if you grew up where I did, its many weed dealers, Verve’s high-end brews are thriving. By combining an airy cafe design, perfectly poured drinks and beans plucked from the rarest coffee estates, Verve has developed an unquestionably unique taste palate.
As they explained to OZY, when you drink coffee from Verve or any other small-batch roaster, you are tasting their particular preferences, from bean to sip. So the next time you see a sign indicating a price north of $5 for a cup of coffee, remember the breakdown:
100 – The average number of trees cultivated by an Ethiopian coffee farmer (birthplace of coffee)
50 lbs – Annual coffee bean yield from those 100 trees
1,151 – Number of cups of coffee brewed from 50 lbs of beans
1,131 – Number of cups an average coffee drinker consumes each year
Meaning, if you drink artisinal Ethiopian coffee for a year, you can justifiably tell your friends that you have a personal Ethiopian coffee farm. Sort of.
So when you grind up those precious beans, do it with a little extra love and attention. The guys from Verve showed us how it’s done:
It’s no secret, we love where we live. Santa Cruz is as much a part of Verve as the coffees we source and serve. We shot this video tour to give a quick look at our hometown, our three stores across Santa Cruz, and the roastery and office we get to work at everyday. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Better yet, come and see us.
We are happy to announce cold brewed coffee on nitro-tap at our Pacific Avenue location! We are offering both Streetlevel and Ethiopia Kochere served in fluted Belgian beer vessels. The nitro-tap produces a very creamy and unique flavor profile that is unlike any other iced coffee you’ve had. Stop by our shop at 1540 Pacific Ave. in downtown Santa Cruz for a taste.
Serious Drinks just listed us in their Top 5 Coffee Blogs out there, so it is only fitting that we include that…. in a blog post!
They noted our VCR StreetSmarts Videos as “some real coffee smarts minus the pocket-protector geek set.” I’m pretty sure that was a compliment so be sure to check out all of our videos (with more to come very soon) by scrolling down the blog or clicking here.
On another note, we just announced that we will be doing a pop-up store in New York for the holidays, starting November. It will be in conjunction with some real tight buds of ours and is going to be a blast. More to come on that very soon.