Friday, December 30, 2011

It's been a busy Fall

Things are finally settling down after the holidays... we hope all our customers had a great holiday season!

Here is an update on new coffees and specials:

In 2012 we will be launching our new Home Roaster page... we will have fabulous green, unroasted beans from some of our best sources in Sumatra, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Watch for Kopi Luwak specials this week to celebrate the New Year.

We are working to bring in some new brands from Vietnam, new coffees and brands that are making waves.

We will be expanding our selection of Philippine coffees and blends. We continue to be impressed with the quality of our Philippine coffees and have asked our suppliers to bring us more. We will have a new Excelsa that we will be blending, and some other high-altitude coffees to share with you during the next three months. The harvest for the 2012 crop happens in January, so by February we hope to have some exciting new coffees.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update October 2011

We are settled in to our new digs at 9 Jerome Street and have resumed our Brewology Seminar events.Our seminars are being successfully promoted on Groupon, Google, and other coupon companies!

The Sumatra Lintong and our own blend of Philippine Liberica and Lintong (Lenberica- ouch!) have exceeded expectations on how quickly people have been adopting these coffees. The Lintong has an amazing aroma that brings exclamations of "I want you to bottle that aroma!" We don't know if the Lintong itself is totally responsible or the really fine roasting job Mystic Coffee Roaster is doing for us on this coffee. We are running down on our initial supply of this coffee but we have reserved 10 60-kilo sacks of green from the new harvest that should be arriving in November.

Lately you may have noticed we have been out of many coffees. During the move we did not make any large orders, and we assumed that the usual summer slowdown would kick in. Instead, August and September kicked up gangbusters and orders were running 200% of the same time last year, quickly depleting our supplies of some coffees. Some people, when they see these shortages, make large orders to avoid the expected next shortage, but we want to advise everybody that we do have a lot of these coffees on order, and we also expect that in December there will be some price reductions on favorite items due to much lower shipping costs. Apparently there is a dearth of international shipping right now and rates are at almost a record low, so since high shipping costs have been driving our recent price increases, we will see improvements. So don't feel the need to stock up, the trends are improving.

We are excited to be receiving new week our first shipment of Indochine Estates prized Dalat Bourbon Arabica in green unroasted beans. We will be experimenting with special fresh roasts using these high-body, low-acid, rich-tasting Bourbon Arabica beans, so watch for some new blends and announcements.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We are moving!

Our mixed-use office building at 200 Boston Ave in Medford, MA has never been ideally suited for what our company needs, so we are proud to announce that we are moving to a free-standing building about a half-mile away at 9 Jerome Street in Medford as of July 30, 2011. Other than a street address change, all contact information will remain the same.

The new building will allow us to have more control over our own space, so we can customize our seminar room and create workspaces that meet our needs better.

We hope our customers and friends local to our MA home office will come by to visit us after the move and try something special, brewed just for them. In the meantime, the disruption from the move might result in some later deliveries, and we will be allowing our stock on some coffees to drop off because we have limited our incoming stock. We hope that everybody will be patient with the changes during this time. Thank you!

Sumatra Lintong is in!

We have just received three 60-kilo bags of Sumatra Lintong from the same supplier as our Sumatra Kopi Luwak. This is an incredible coffee, with all the characteristics we search for and love: Heirloom stock, long history, unique regional practices, and rich, full-bodied taste. We have been disappointed by some Sumatra coffees we have sampled over the years, but we fell in love with the Lintong immediately. We put it on the July email circular and had to roast it three times to meet the orders! We hope everybody loves it as much as we do.

We will have it up on the main site soon, after the initial rush is over.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Product and Pricing Update

We have some great new products. Some are on the site now, others will be posted shortly.

Highlands Traditional Blend - This is one of Highlands 5 blends, and the only one we did not buy from the start of our distributorship. Highlands has 4 espressos and 5 ground coffees, and we thought that was too may options to spring on people in a new product line. However, when we sampled the Traditional Blend recently at our open houses, everybody was very enthusiastic, so we have just gotten in a new shipment that includes the Traditional Blend. This is a Robusta-based blend that is roasted in the style of small cafés and roasters as you might find in the countryside in Vietnam, a product tradition extending back almost 100 years. Very nice!

G7 Passiona Instant - Yes, it's true, Trung Nguyen has finally created a sugarfree and lower caffeine instant coffee with the same fabulous taste as traditional G7. They envisioned this coffee as the perfect "alternative" coffee with a health-promoting twist. The ingredients are famous G7-dry-process naturally low caffeine coffee, non-dairy creamer (vegetarian), "dietary sugar" (sugar alcohol, most likely Erythritol or Xylitol - we are waiting for the exact translation), and a small percentage of artichoke and chrysanthemum, included for their mild health benefits and relaxing properties. Why drink this coffee? The taste is simply amazing. Dark and deep, yet substantially guilt-free (if sugar or caffeine makes you feel at all guilty!), it's a fabulous taste experience you can get from just an instant packet that you can take anywhere and enjoy with just hot water and a cup. We will be including a free sachet in our G7 sampler pack, but really, spring for the cost of buying a box if you have any interest at all in this type of product. You will NOT be disappointed. And if you ARE trying to cut your caffeine or sugar, so much the better.

G7 newest shipment - we are buying G7 "domestically" from our agent in Vietnam because we can place smaller orders more frequently, and get some variations of the product that we can't get through the export channel. One example is the new 24-sachet bag of G7 3-in-1. The bag is the favorite package among our customers, for reasons we don't quite understand... probably a slight preference for sachets over café sticks, and the flexibility of the packet for carrying in purses or storing at work. But in 2008 Trung Nguyen dropped the 24 sachets to 22 sachets in the bag. Now, we are able to get the original 24 sachets again on the domestic market. People who love the bag will rejoice! Watch for the return of the 24-sachet bag.


Prices! Everybody expects coffee prices to skyrocket. We heard reports of local diners here paying 50% increases for their coffee service. Well, they should be buying from us, or other contract grower representatives, because this is case when contract growing can actually save the consumer money. We buy 90% from companies using contract growing agreements with their producers, and we never use middlemen or commodity brokers, so in fact, the recent increases in coffee prices have not affected us. Our producers pay their growers the price they ask for, and the coffee is not placed on the open commodities market, so it is not subject to speculation due to shortages in countries that are not relevant.

We do not expect increases in our ground coffees for several months. We have had to pay increases in whole bean Trung Nguyen coffees because we buy those on the domestic market, and transportation (yes, the price of oil) has caused a 15% increase. Also, the devaluation of the dollar versus the dong has caused another 12% increase. So, you will see whole bean prices going up, but less than what is being experienced on the average international level.

Note that many branded retailers will simply buy lesser grades of coffee and pass them off as their usual blends, which results in poorer taste and quality. This is the standard response to sudden spikes. We do not do this. Because we do not buy coffees traded on the commodities markets, we are fairly immune from speculators and artificial pricing hikes. So, aside from an increase in whole bean due to transportation cost increases and the dollar situation, we will be holding the line for the immediate future.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Try a new Gourmet Instant Coffee!

We are always looking for new products in the Instant Coffee class. Instant coffee in Asia is nothing like what we grew up with here in the States (move over, freeze-dried Sanka!). It is actually possible to create a gourmet instant coffee that is not brewed and dried and doesn't get bitter and flat-tasting.

G7 was the brand created by Trung Nguyen years ago, using a totally dry roasting process similar to the way Macha Tea is made. The green, unroasted coffee beans are powdered and roasted in the same operation, meaning the coffee does not go through the depleting process of brewing before being made into powder.

The process is now being imitated by makers like Starbucks in products like Via, but of course, they are charging 6 times or more what the original costs. Many people feel that G7 is still the landmark and best gourmet instant coffee in the world.

However, some people do prefer the taste of 100% Arabica in their instant. G7 is primarily Vietnamese gourmet Robusta, which for decades has been considered to be the best base for instant. Arabica tends to get tangy and bitter when you try to convert it into instant. However, new dry processing methods have greatly improved results with Arabica coffee.

Q Cafe is a brand produced by one of the largest coffee companies in Vietnam, Nhan Minh. We enjoy dealing with the people at this company, they are super. Q Cafe is a second-generation gourmet instant that really has nailed the process of eliminating the bitters in Arabica instant.

It's very hard to describe the differences between G7 and Q Cafe or any gourmet instant in words. You really have to just taste it. To make that possible we have purchased a starter quantity of Q Cafe 3-in-1 (coffee, sugar, non-dairy creamer), brought in by air cargo, for our customers to try. It's available in small trial packets of 4 sachets of 20 grams each for just $1 . Each sachet makes one 7-ounce cup of coffee just by adding hot water.

There are two blends. "Good Morning" is milder, sweeter and creamier. "Strong Taste" is bolder.

Try some today!

Coffee prices going up?

Most of us who follow such things know that coffee futures have hit record highs and that price increases are expected across the board. Starbucks and other coffee service companies have raised their prices substantially.

We have seen the costs go up steadily over the last year also but we have managed to talk our suppliers into not hitting us with any significant increases yet. It's likely that we can continue the current pricing for several months. Beyond that, we can't say.

We have had to inch up a few prices on single bags/boxes of coffee, such as the Gourmet Blend. But these tend to be coffees that we have artificially maintained a low price on for some time. We try to keep the Gourmet Blend as reasonable as possible because so many coffee shops and homes drink this coffee exclusively. It is the lowest margin coffee for us, though.

In most cases if we raise the price a little on a single bag or box, we also create a 3-pack or 4-pack in which the price per bag has actually gone down. This allows people who have a favorite coffee to buy a little more at a time and get an "efficiency" price benefit. When we pack and ship multiples, it's cheaper for us and we can improve the price for you.

We are going to be watching things carefully over the next few months and there are not going to be any substantial price increases.

We love the Regional Rate boxes!

There is also a wonderful development on the shipping front. The Post Office has created new Regional Flat Rate Boxes. As a result we have been able to lower shipping prices to more than 30 states by an average of 12%. So in fact, an average purchase on our website costs less today than a year ago. We take pricing seriously during this recession and we want you to know that we are always looking for ways to reduce our costs and keep your prices as low as possible. Enjoy!