Coffee is shipped whole bean to ensure freshness and flavor.
NEAT Coffee,based inDarien, Connecticut
We're so excited for this one, not only because of their rooted connection with their farmers, but because our July Roaster of the Month happens to be our very first showcase from the East Coast! NEAT Coffee, founded in 2009 in Darien, Connecticut, offers only seasonal, single-origin coffees that are distinctive, exceptional, and approachable. They are also one of the few pioneers of specialty coffee in Connecticut, which makes them even more of a destination for coffee adventurers! What began as a multi-roaster shop nearly 10 years ago has transformed into quality-obsessed precision in sourcing, roasting and brewing coffee...and despite still being quite small of a company, they have attracted wholesale and retail customers from all over the country.
Kyle Bellinger, Partner and Green Buyer, shared with me his story on the progress of NEAT over the course of his career. After his first stint in coffee as a Starbucks barista in college, Kyle was brought on with NEAT in 2010 and trained rigorously in tasting, learning, improving, and educating. When the company decided to open up their own roastery in 2012 and shifted away from operating as a multi-roaster shop, Kyle took on all of the roasting responsibilities, and shortly after in 2014, began traveling to Colombia with the goal of buying coffee from one farmer for the long-term, in hopes of making a deeper impact on their lives. During his travels, he had the privilege of meeting an exporter that introduced him to a variety of growers, and Kyle ultimately chose to work with the farmer that he felt the strongest connection to, José from Finca el Mirador in Huila, Colombia. Fast forward 6 months, when that same farmer presented an opportunity for Kyle to buy a large portion of the farm. Kyle admitted that he hardly knew a lick of Spanish at the time, and although his decision to buy was made without any prior experience in farming, he shared that it was one of the best decisions he's ever made. "Owning a farm has been my masters education in coffee," he said.
NEAT is now part of a fully vertically-integrated business and is sistered with their exporting firm, Osito, based in Garzón, Huila, Colombia. They source, export, and import all of their Colombian coffee themselves and use no other middlemen. This allows them to better control the supply chain and work closer with growers with whom they maintain longstanding relationships. They not only source coffee for NEAT, but they connect other small to medium-sized roasting companies to single farmers and farmers associations in Colombia and help facilitate long-term relationships.
NEAT Coffee has just opened their brand new roastery in Stamford, Connecticut and roast on a new Loring S15 Falcon. If you ever find yourself on the East Coast, don't leave without stopping in for a cup!
The Farmer / Esnaider Ortega, Huila, Colombia
The particular Colombian coffee we are featuring, La Esperanza, comes from a grower in Huila that NEAT has worked with for the past few years, Esnaider Ortega.
Pictured: Esnaider Ortega with Kyle Bellinger
NEAT works directly with Esnaider and negotiate pricing in language he understands (Colombian pesos per carga of parchment coffee,) not in US dollars per pound, the way most green buyers negotiate through importers and exporters. He is a young man who is very passionate about cultivating excellent coffee, and most of the earnings he gets from their purchase of his coffee, he has reinvested into his farm to grow the business over the long-term. Kyle and Esnaider are actively engaged in communication throughout the year and NEAT buys about 95% of his entire harvest!
Pictured: Esnaider and Kyle looking out over the farm in San Agustín, Huila
The Coffee / Words From The Roaster
"Esnaider Ortega is one of few young people who are deciding to take up coffee farming as a living. For many, the hard work of owning and operating a small farm is simply not worth it, based on global coffee prices. At the end of the day, the bottom line wins out and for many, coffee farming is not sustainable. It is for this reason that we pay Esnaider a handsome price for his coffee. It is our hope that he would be able to build a sustainable business for himself and, one day, maybe for a family.
That said, the quality that Esnaider delivers is impeccable and we could not be happier with this coffee. This lot is actually a combination of two lots from his two farms, la Esperanza and el Progreso. The average elevation is 1750 masl. The majority of this lot is yellow Caturra with some of the red variation mixed in. All coffee were dried for 20+ days on raised beds."