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April 2023: A COE Winner and A Disputed Origin Story

Howdy coffee friends!

And welcome to spring. This past month was spent visiting old and new partners in Mexico and Guatemala, and we are incredibly excited about some of the offerings we’ll be bringing to Austin over the next few months. These include fresh lots from all-time favorites like Santa Felisa and Finca Fatima, plus some exciting new partnerships that we can’t wait to tell you about. Keep an eye on our blog for full trip recaps and origin reports, but for now let’s focus on our featured coffees for April. One is a very limited Cup of Excellence lot from Brazil, and the other is one of the most delicate and refreshing blends in our year-round lineup. And both are excellent options to pair with the warmer days ahead. 

Featured Microlot: Terracota Farm (Brazil COE #18)

Back in October I had the pleasure of serving on the international jury for Brazil’s Cup of Excellence. In my blog recap, I wrote not only about the high quality of the competition coffees, but also the impressive diversity of profiles, regions, genetics, and processing. In a nation known historically for its quantity over quality approach to coffee production and a singular chocolatey/nutty profile, the new generation of Brazilian coffee grower is putting quality at the forefront and utilizing advancements in technology and marketing to diversify and scale their offerings to meet the world’s growing demand for specialty coffee.

One shining example of this “New Brazil”’ is Felipe Luiz Ramos de Carvalho. Felipe acquired Terracota Farms in 2019 and immediately began to improve quality by planting new varieties, introducing new processes, and focusing solely on specialty coffees. In 2022, his first year participating, Felipe placed 18th in Brazil’s prestigious Cup of Excellence competition and took 4th in the Mogiana regional competition that same year—no small feat in a country with over a quarter-million coffee farms! We were honored to place the winning bid for Felipe’s COE #18 lot and are excited to be the first roaster in the U.S. to carry Felipe’s coffees.

Felipe Ramos spreading freshly picked and fermented cherries onto an African bed for drying

About the coffee: This lot from Terracota farms is 100% Catigua, a cultivar bred through a cross of Yellow Catuai IAC 86 and the Timor Hybrid by Brazilian researchers in the 1980s. The variety is known for its cup quality as well as resistance to disease, and in recent years it has become a favorite among growers in the Mogiana region. Felipe’s award-winning lot was hand-picked and held in woven bags for a day and a half before transferring to shaded African beds for slow and even drying. When the coffee reached 18% moisture content, it was transferred to a warehouse to rest and homogenize, then finally finished on concrete patios until the moisture reached 11%. According to Felipe, this process, known as intermittent drying, can help stabilize the green coffee to extend its shelf-life and can also add complexity in the cup. In this case, it has produced an intensified version of the Mogiana region’s finest coffees—sweet, clean, and citric with creamy milk chocolate and ripe yellow fruit notes. 

Roaster’s Choice: Violet Crown 

violet-crown-lc-coffee-bag-beige

One of Austin’s many, and surely its most regal, monikers is “City of the Violet Crown.” Likely referring to the atmospheric phenomenon known as the Belt of Venus, where the dawn sky lights up in hues of purple and pink just before sunset, the term was long believed to have originated from the 1894 O. Henry short story Tictocq: The Great French Detective, In Austin, in which he writes:

“The drawing-rooms of one of the most magnificent private residences in Austin are ablaze of lights. Carriages line the streets in front, and from gate to doorway is spread a velvet carpet, on which the delicate feet of the guests may tread. The occasion is the entrée into society of one of the fairest buds in the City of the Violet Crown.”

In recent years O. Henry’s origination of the nickname has been disputed as historians note that there was actually an earlier reference to the “Violet Crown” published in The Austin Daily Statesman (now The Austin American Statesman) on May 5, 1890. Furthermore, some also argue that the name is a reference to another City of the Violet Crown, Athens, Greece. As the University of Texas began to grow at the end of the 19th century and academics became an important part of Austin’s identity, many of its residents began to refer to their city as the “Athens of the South,” and some interpret O. Henry’s use of the moniker as an attempt to satirize central Texans for their ambitious attempt to compare themselves to the great thinkers of ancient Greece.  

The Belt of Venus, an atmospheric phenomenon responsible for Austin’s legendary sunsets and (maybe) its “Violet Crown” nickname

Like the origin story of Austin’s nickname and the city itself, our Violet Crown blend is far from one-note, and its complexity (or weirdness) is what makes it so intriguing and attractive to curious outsiders. Ripe berries, fragrant flowers, soothing tea leaves, and intense citrus fruits are a few of the many flavors we get from its East African components, currently a washed coffee from Guji, Ethiopia and a fruity natural from the Sidama region, just to the north. Light-roasted to highlight, and not mask, its delicate bouquet, Violet Crown is a house favorite at Little City. It is excellent as an everyday drip coffee or an out-there espresso.

Products mentioned in this post

Brazil Terracota | COE #18

$21.99
Microlots

Brazil Terracota | COE #18

$21.99

Violet Crown

$14.99 or subscribe and save 10%
Blends

Violet Crown

$14.99 or subscribe and save 10%
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