OUR STORY by [S]antiago Bedoya
Coffee has been around forever; we haven’t discovered anything new per se BUT what we are trying to do is rather different. Our goal is to share coffee with you the way we believe it should be enjoyed. Like a fine wine or a craft beer, coffee too has its special craft; families that have spent generations perfecting their product. Our promise to you is simple: We will never sacrifice our quality in pursuit of profits. Sure revenue is important to continue sharing our passion with you, but for us at M.A.S. Café it is not our primary objective. We measure ourselves by the change we make in Colombia, the beautiful country that has given us all this natural goodness. We measure ourselves by the culture we are able to bring to America, the country that has given us so much opportunity. Along with other specialty coffee shops and roasters we are part of a new movement, conscious of all the time and effort that goes into the final product. For too long farmers in my native country have been working at cost while major shops profit off their crop. Think about it; coffee is made from a cherry just like wine is from a grape and beer is from wheat. We want to change that just as wine has been transformed and more recently craft breweries with beer. So what sets us apart? How are we positioned to make a lasting impact?
The answer is simple, yet complex. It always starts and ends with the coffee. Just think about that for a second. The coffee we buy is cultivated by the farmer. The taste that you enjoy is a product of the farmer’s work. So the logical answer has to lead to the farmer. That is how we set ourselves apart. The success stories are there for you to see. Take the family of Diofanor Ruiz, the farmer of La Divisa in Buena Vista. Prior to working with us he was seriously considering getting rid of the coffee crop and switching to something more profitable such as plantains. Thankfully Cafe Jesus Martin showed him another way. By no means is it easy, but we believe people will value the extra work we all put in. This is where you come in; by understanding how much effort and work goes into your coffee you are ensuring its survival for generations.
Here is the problem and why the answer is not so simple. It’s far too easy to do things just to get by. For instance, planting coffee trees really close to each other; using chemicals; picking all the cherries; paying basic wages; the list goes on and on. And here we are telling you that there IS a better way and YOU can make a difference. Our trees have dedicated space to blossom; we don’t use any chemicals in our fincas; only the ripe cherries are picked; and most importantly our farmers are compensated for their hard work and quality control. You see going tree by tree, for example, in a 5 acre space, where there are hundreds of trees 5 feet tall is no easy task. Even more tedious is going branch by branch and only picking the red cherries, a process which requires patience and attention to detail. All of this is a value added service. We value their time; we value their effort; and most importantly we value their family.
Such a beautiful process and that is only the second step. Wait a minute; why start there? Let’s rewind to the beginning. Coffee starts off as a leaf; then blossoms into a flower and three years later it is a tree. Yup that’s right, three years! The first harvest takes three years and then after that the tree will produce a harvest every year until it no longer can. Now you can see why it is tempting to cram multiple trees next to each other; the yields will be much greater in volume. However, by doing so you are putting a strain on the soil in which they stand on; a critical component in the coffee’s properties. Another factor that affects a coffee’s properties are the chemicals used. Just think of bug repellent and that awful smell. Now imagine putting that in your cup of coffee next time you add sugar. Now stop imaging. Because you’re not imaging anymore. This is a reality in many coffee shops around the world. No wonder you need sugar. I invite you to enjoy a fresh cup of M.A.S. Café and taste the difference.
Oh no, we are not done yet. Far from it; remember we haven’t even taken the bean out of the cherry. So now the cherry is picked. Only the ripe ones and they’re taken to the tub. Yup, that’s right, the ripe cherries have to now prove their worthiness. By putting them in a tub of water we can note any impurities; the ones that float are no good. Once we separate the floaters from the sinkers we then dry them in the open. The majority of the beans are dried after removing the cherry and mucilage protecting the bean. One of our coffees from Santa Ana, aptly named Natural is dried with the bean still inside the cherry; additionally our other coffee from Santa Ana named Honey is dried after removing the cherry but retaining the mucilage. These different processes further contribute to the coffee’s various characteristics. Along the way any beans deemed not worthy are manually removed
Once the beans are dried, they have to be milled which will remove the final layer of the coffee bean. Once this is complete the coffee is referred to as green coffee. At this stage, again, any beans not worthy are removed manually. Before being exported to us, the green coffee is taste tested in what is known as cupping. Our cousin and owner of Cafe Jesus Martin, Jesus Armando Bedoya, sample roasts and cups every coffee personally to ensure only the coffees that meet his standard are sent to us. His standard is no joke either; this is a man who is well respected in the coffee community; a man whose coffees have recently won recognition in Paris, France. A man who without his help, guidance, and mentoring this whole mission would not be possible. A man who deserves his own write up, which will be coming up in another blog post. A man who makes M.A.S. Café possible.
Now the coffee is in our possession and it’s our duty to share it with our family. Friends, customers, coffee lovers; you all are our family. Together we make each other better. Your appreciation of quality coffee makes you happy. Your purchase of specialty coffee completes the circle and allows us to justify our insistence on quality and better wages throughout the whole chain. We all make a difference and that’s the beauty of it. It’s our job to leave this earth better for our children. Drink with us; toast to a better world and enjoy M.A.S. Café knowing you’re making a difference.
Dedicado a Chuchito; sin usted esto no sería posible. Sin usted, hubiera seguido ignorante a el café. Con usted estamos contribuyendo al desarrollo de Colombia. Gracias Angie, gracias Henry, gracias Carlos. Gracias por su paciencia; gracias por su tiempo; gracias por su enseñanza; más importante, gracias por su amistad.