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As we begin to wrap up 2023 and look forward to the holidays and the new year, we are thrilled to welcome back two limited edition classics and annual favorites here at the roastery: Myanmar Tha Pye Gone and Felicidad Holiday Blend.

Featured MIcrolot: Myanmar, Tha Pye Gone

Since 2016, Little City’s Joel Shuler has worked with several international aid organizations, including USAID, Winrock International, and the Coffee Quality Institute to help establish quality control systems and best practices for coffee growers in Myanmar. One group to implement these new systems was Behind the Leaf Coffee, an organization dedicated to bringing opportunity to the Pa-O people of Myanmar through agricultural education and fair wages.

Our 2017 interview with Melanie Edwards, Director of Behind the Leaf Coffee

The rural Pa-O community of Tha Pye Gone has been cultivating coffee in the hills outside of Nyaung Shwe for generations. Among other traditions, they are known for their colorful headdresses, which represent the head of the dragon from which all Pa-O people are descendents—a legend passed from generation to generation. The first coffee from Tha Pye Gone to be exported was available exclusively through Little City in 201,6 and this year will mark our eighth harvest working with Behind the Leaf and the coffee growers of Tha Pye Gone. 

Little City’s Joel Shuler visiting with Tha Pye Gone coffee growers in 2017

The community is located in the highlands of southern Myanmar a few hundred kilometers from the border of Thailand. At over 1,000 meters above sea level, the area is home to some of the highest coffee plantations in the country, where the cold nights contribute to sweet and complex coffees due to slow fruit maturation and longer drying times. Naturally processed and dried on raised beds, this coffee is an annual favorite and one of Little City’s most unique offerings. It’s wild and complex with notes of sweet cocoa, savory oolong tea, and bright tropical fruits.

Roaster’s Choice: Felicidad Holiday Blend

Last month marked the annual return of our highly-anticipated holiday blend, Felicidad. As with all of our blends, we attempt to create a consistent profile each year by blending different components. For Felicidad, the goal is comforting holiday flavors—dried fruits, nuts, spices, and cocoa. While this year’s profile is consistent with years past, we took a considerably different approach to get there.

In the past, we relied heavily on countries of origin and their traditional terroirs in order to achieve our desired flavor profile. For example, a chocolatey coffee from Central America blended with a fruity coffee from east Africa and a nutty coffee from Brazil. This is a very common way to create blends and can be quite effective, but this year we wanted to try something different. 

The Cerrado Mineiro of Brazil is one of the world’s largest coffee growing regions. Encompassing over 750,000 square miles, it is home to nearly 5,000 coffee farms and produces around 5 million bags of coffee per year. Once known for its quantity-over-quality approach to coffee farming, recent years have seen a huge shift toward specialty coffee production, especially among the younger generations of growers who are leading the way in science and technology with a focus on quality and sustainability. Among the most important changes, the growers in the Cerrado have begun to rely heavily on new and experimental post-harvest processes to create a diverse portfolio of different flavors to compliment the traditional chocolatey and nutty coffees for which they are most known. 

Pulped natural coffee drying at Fazenda Lavrinha in the Cerrado region

By combining three coffees from one region—a pulped-natural, a traditional natural, and an extended fermentation natural—we were able to showcase the importance of post-harvest processing and the diversity of flavors it can create. While multi-origin blends will always be an important part of our lineup in terms of the flavors and seasonal freshness they can offer, this single-origin method of blending is another way we can achieve our goals and represents the new wave of specialty coffee, where science and technology combine with tradition and terroir to create unexpected flavors from unexpected places. Perhaps next year we’ll take it a step further and create a single-farm blend.

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