In late spring I got to hang out with Stumptown head of operations Matt Lounsbury at the Stumptown house behind the original Southeast Division cafe. Lounsbury started at Stumptown in 2003 as a barista at the Downtown cafe.
It was a hot afternoon and Lounsbury's dog Mabel lay on the floor between us as we cracked open a couple beers and talked bean and recent Stumptown developments such as its popular Meet the Producers events. Stumptown regularly helps the growers it works with travel to Portland, Seattle and soon to New York (their cafe in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan is due to open any day and the roastery in Brooklyn is already up and running) so that they can hold open to the public informational events, slide shows and tastings. According to Lounsbury it's often very emotional for these growers to see their coffee labeled with the name of their farm and town in cafes and shops. It's usually a first.
While I met with Lounsbury Stumptown's green coffee buyer Aleco Chigounis was busy getting all his beans in a row at the cupping laboratory next door before setting off to Rwanda for two weeks, a week in Columbia and a few days in Ecuador. An average year for Chigounis entails seven months of travel time visiting Stumptown Coffee growers and potential growers around the world.
Chigounis follows a strict regimen that involves checking on the ripeness of the beans at harvest, inspecting the washing stations, making sure the coffee is kept separated by harvest day and more. If Chigounis has his way Stumptown will completely walk away from Fair Trade with 100% direct trade coffee in the near future. The hardest nuts to crack in terms of farm direct are Africa and Indonesia. This summer Stumptown welcomed its first farm direct Indonesian coffee.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters www.stumptowncoffee.com Locations in Portland, Seattle and New York