Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saving Haiti One Bean at a Time

Whenever Regina come back from Philly we take the scenic route up through Lancaster County (stopping at Talula's Table in Kennett Square), going up through State College (stopping at Wegman's) and then continuing on west on I-80.

Don't get me wrong, I think Talula's Table is an absolutely fantastic place. In fact, they've opened a new spot in Philly called Talula's Garden (in partnership with Steven Starr) that just made Bon Appetit's list of Best New Restaurants of 2011. Anyway, my wife goes nuts in this place. Amy Olexy has the ability to push every last one of my wife's "Cheese Buttons". The cooler fills and the cash register whirs as she runs the gauntlet of the cheese case along the back wall. [This Toy Cow Creamery post was first hatched by a visit to Talula's Table]

While she was in the midst of another cheese binge, I started to read a story about La Colombe Torrefaction's Atelier coffee from Haiti. Now mind you, I guzzle coffee like it's air. And whenever I'm in Philly, my drug of choice is La Colombe. Thankfully the days of walking all the way from Old Town to 19th St. are over since more cafes and bakeries have begun pouring their coffee. There's even a few in NYC and one in Chicago now.

So whenever I was in La Colombe's shop I'd see this pricey bag of Haitian coffee called Atelier. I don't remember exactly what it costs, but it wasn'tt cheap and I had to wonder if the price was a third world sympathy tax or it was actually that good. Well, while the family cheese addict was working her magic, I had a chance to read the story behind this coffee.

I'm not going to rehash the whole thing (you can read it here or even better watch the video below), but imagine "The Most Interesting Man in the World" (It's not often I drink coffee, but when I do - it's Atelier. Stay thirsty my friends.) hunting for coffee in the mountains of Haiti. The story seriously follows that kind of storyline. Essentially this guy found an old coffee bean that was grown way back in the day. These coffee trees were growing wild on this financially devastated country. You really do have to read the story - I found it very interesting.

Needless to say, I bought the coffee. Always a sucker for a great story, I really wanted to see if it was everything the story said it was. When I got home I ground some up and cranked up the Technivorm. Just the smell of the steam coming out was incredible. I poured about half a cup, thinking I might have to doctor it up a little bit with another stronger batch. If I've had a better cup of coffee and can't remember it. On this occasion there would be no doctoring going on. Absolutely fantastic stuff. No cream. No sugar. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I do remember angels singing momentarily. This was about as perfect a coffee as I could ever hope to drink.

If you have the funds. If you have the curiosity. If you love a good story. If you root for the underdog. And most importantly, if you love great coffee - La Colombe's Atelier is one of my favorite things.

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