Q&A With Ben’s Beans

ROAST FEATURED

Ethiopian Limmu Burka Gudina Estate

  • Farm: Burka Gudina Estate
  • Farmer: Ibrahim Hussein
  • Region: Oromia Region, Ethiopia
  • Varietal: Heirloom Varietals
  • Elevation: >1800 masl
  • Process: Sun dried on raised beds
CUPPING NOTES: A fruit forward cup with a prominent candied strawberry profile and silky chocolate undertones

This grade 3 Organic coffee comes from Ibrahim Hussein at the Burka Gudina Estate (which means “where the blessings grow”). This estate is located in the Limukosa district within the Jimma Zone in the Oromia Region, Ethiopia. This estate handles both the production and processing of their coffee allowing for control of the entire process which shows in the cup. This is a “natural” or dry-processed coffee, meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit, encouraging a flavor profile that is rounder and lower-toned than the more familiar wet-processed floral- and citrus-toned Ethiopia profiles.

D.R. Congo Virunga (Kahondo Station)

  • Farm: Kahondo
  • Region: Oromia Region, Ethiopia
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Elevation: >1700 masl
  • Process: Wet fermentation for 18-24 hours, then shade dried
CUPPING NOTES: A nicely balanced coffee with notes of apple, spice and caramel.

This Organic coffee comes from the Kahondo washing station run by the Virunga Coffee Group in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kahondo was established in 2012 and is one of 5 washing stations belonging to the Virunga Coffee group. Coffee contributing to this lot is entirely Bourbon variety and is shade dried after an 18-24 hr fermentation. Altitude at Kahondo is 1742 masl.

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Q: How did you get involved in the coffee business?

We got involved in coffee a bit by accident.  We were at a point in our lives where our children were grown and we wanted to get involved in something that could impact the local community and had an opportunity to take over a startup coffee roasting business.  It seemed a perfect fit because it was located in the local community and the business mission included giving back.  So we ended up jumping in with both feet.

Q: Can you explain your mission a bit?

Our motto is “Great Coffee, Helping People”.  We believe that it is part of our responsibility to help others both locally and worldwide.  We do this in several ways.  First, we look for coffees that are ethically sourced and pay a premium knowing that those funds will help support those coffee growing communities directly.  We also give to our own local community through fundraising efforts and by supporting the local foodbank.  On a more global level, we set aside $0.20 for every pound of coffee that we roast to support charities that are focused on helping people in the coffee growing regions of the world.

Q: Is there a meaning behind the name “Ben’s Beans”?

The couple that started the business named it after their son so that they would never lose sight of what is really important and always make choices regarding the business that would reflect well on his name.  We loved the reason behind the name and decided that since this philosophy matched our vision, it felt appropriate to keep it going.

Q: What would you say distinguishes your coffee?

We like to think we are specialty coffee for the average person; we are not pretentious and like to use tasting notes that the average person can relate to.  We also understand people have different preferences and tell people all the time, it doesn’t matter how you like your coffee, just make sure you are drinking quality coffee. 

Q: How do you decide which beans to source next?

We generally try to contract for a mix of coffees from different regions and different processing methods, but are always looking for high quality certified and ethically sourced coffees.  Since the coffee harvest schedules vary by region, we are constantly communicating with our import partners to see how coffees are cupping at origin well ahead of their anticipated arrival.  This gives us a slight edge to know which coffees we should be targeting when they do finally arrive.

Q: Can you share some stories about the farmers you work with, and the families that are impacted by your mission? – Or the specific missions you give back to?

We are currently working with three (3) charities.  Two of them have a larger reach and one provides a more localized impact on their community.  On a larger scale, we currently support both Mercy Ships and Water.org where they are really doing some great things in some of the poorest coffee producing regions.  To see a more direct impact with the support we give, we also work with a small orphanage in Haiti that missionary friends of ours are affiliated with.  More information about these can be found on our website.

Q: What do you like best about your line of work?

Our local community is loaded with large chain coffee businesses, so people in this area didn’t really understand what good coffee is.  But since we have introduced specialty coffee into the area, we are seeing an awakening in the expectations of what coffee should taste like.  We work really hard at sourcing coffee that not only tastes great, but also is ethically sourced.  Then we take an obsessive approach to roasting to get the most out of the coffee we select.  Seeing someone’s eyes light up the first time they taste good coffee makes all the hard work worth it.  

Q: What’s next for Ben’s Beans?

As we continue to grow, we are looking to build some direct trade relationships with some quality farms that can allow us access to fantastic small lot coffees while providing the greatest impact direct to the farmer. 

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