The Hardcore 4x4 Coffee professional Rock Star: An endangered species  

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The Hardcore 4x4 Coffee professional Rock Star: An endangered species  

“People don't want to see the guy next door on the stage, they want to see a being from another planet. You want to see somebody you'd never meet in ordinary life”.

Lemmy Kilmister

Rock music is an extremely important constant at our coffee company.

Looking at the past summer music festival’s line ups and the current season in Europe and North America one can only keep wondering why the same solid rock and heavy metal acts from 4 decades ago are still on the top of the chain?

It seems that such resilience and consistency have kept them on their feet regardless the many and constant changes in the music industry… Sure they (Solo artists and bands) have been receptive to new trends, new techniques, ideas and technologies; but nevertheless, consistency and stubbornness have obviously paid off. Thanks to it longevity is something celebrated in the world of alternative music. An attitude that should be embraced by anyone regardless their profession, vocation or lifestyle… In words of Lemmy Kilmister (RIP): "I'm not too old, and until I decide I'm too old I'll never be too f***ing old." 

As romantic and inspirational it may sound, we believe that we are also witnessing the sad disappearance of such breed of charismatic musicians. A great deal of new artists seem to offer nothing but what already has been done. It is like that generalized pursuit of fame, money and popularity has overpassed the genuine desire of doing something different, of creating a new sound or simply having fun and enjoy the intensity of the rock-n-roll experience for what it is in itself… Challenging the system of rules is no longer an option which is sad as the soul of Rock-n-roll was exactly that… To be rebellious, to challenge the dogmas!

Such spirit seems to be dyeing with Its agonizing heart bits still beating with the old and veteran bands that are still rocking like they did 30 or 40 years ago…

Nikki Sixx Flat White Specialty Coffee

“Celebrities, Movie Stars and Rock Stars are losing their Mystique”

Nikki Sixx

What is the point of this rockanrolla introduction?

It is probably us and our own world but at Connection the Coffee industry feels no different to the music industry.

Not long ago the coffee industry went through a whole revolution. 20 years in the past a bunch of typical names in the industry used to control what we were drinking in Australia.

The Italian wave of coffee was at its peak and so its heavy and punchy espresso profiles, fluffy milk cappuccinos and the humble beginning of the mighty “Latte”.

Baristas, roasters and operators were submerged in a very profitable industry but without a clear north to follow in terms of coffee of premium quality. Back then coffee was still treated as mere commodity. A product grown somewhere, most probably at a second or a third world country then exported to a mysterious warehouse where coffee blending and coffee roasting secrets were hiding inside the head of a very traditional (Most likely Italian) old man.

The pillars of today’s coffee industry were just about to start being built and for such task a breed of tough and resilient rockanrolla coffee professional was needed.

Those were the days when rules, dogmas and traditions were challenged. Espresso equipment was pushed to its limits and baristas became this magical and enigmatic beings from another planet.

The first World Barista Championship occurred in Montecarlo in the year 2000. Proposed and managed by Scandinavian hands. By the year 2003 Australia produces its first champion and from that moments the Australian Wave of espresso hits a point of no return.

Former young and revolutionary coffee roasters started to show us a different way of doing things. Baristas turned into roasters, bean buyers and alchemists working in improvised labs trying to unlock hidden secretes inside rare and exotic beans… Some of those young entrepreneurial enterprises became the main players of today’s specialty coffee industry.

Everything felt exciting and supercharged with innovation and rebellion against that old and boring way of treating coffee as a brown commodity… And just like the music industry a good bunch of baristas, roasters and other coffee professionals got overwhelmed by popularity. Rebellion and the questioning of rigid methods slowly faded and everything went from excitement to a new stage of repetitive procedures where the magical coffee professional who seemed to come from another planet turned into a serious and emotionless robot unable to think outside the box or even remember its costumers’ names or orders.

Suddenly competitions went from being events full of joy and fun to very strict processes of selection of power and superiority. Almost like a carnival of influence and networking… Innovation, rebellion and curiosity has been hijacked by influence… The Rockstar barista is an endanger species replaced by a push-button operator unable to solve problems, always at the mercy of what its deity-roaster is commanding them to do… And as in Rock-n-roll only the veteran and most daring of coffee professionals are still standing being able to materialize its magic though a single boiler entry level machine and a basic decent set of grinders as well as through the most advanced and expensive espresso equipment. Their coffee is solid enough to stand variations on brewing.

Sure modern technology helps to get better results of an already amazing roast. The real concern is that a lot of blends out there require to be brewed with the latest technologies and under strict recipes to only deliver an average decent cup of coffee…

I’m completely convinced that a band like Iron Maiden will sound great either using a custom Fender 1980s with hand-wired pickups and custom Marshall amplification or if they were using cheap $500 Epiphone guitars and entry level Peavey amplifiers… As a matter of fact, that’s how most bands have recorded their biggest hits: with very basic musical and recording equipment.

At the end what really matters is the essence, the core. In rock-n-roll terms: That rebellious attitude delivering a fresh and honest message to its public… It can always sound better but definitely not worse (If played properly). So is a great coffee brew… If an honest batch of roasted coffee tastes so great when extracted with very basic and simple equipment set up, its only fate, when treated through state of the art equipment, will be greatness, also counting with every individual involved in the process playing a vital roll in such mystical-yet transparent chain.

Improvement is not about forgetting about one’s roots and beginnings but to embrace them and make them better. Is about rescuing those elements that have always worked and most likely will keep working to our advantage…

We don’t want to see more robots behind the counters. We want to see more of those mythical creatures ready to brew magic for all of us… We need for Rock Star Coffee Professionals to come back…

 Cesar X Vela

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THE ORIGINS TRIP

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THE ORIGINS TRIP

Hello Mule’ readers!

As part of our groundwork, we travel every year to a magical coffee land, the place where our coffees come from, Colombia! We call it “The Origin’s Trip” as it is where our story, and the story of many of those who work and collaborate with us, begins.

This year was a special one as we had the opportunity to reunite with Diofanor Ruiz. He is a living testament of what a true coffee farmer represents. Diofanor’s experience , knowledge about coffee and ancestral harvesting practices are a big hope for those who believe we can live in a world that cares for mother earth and worries for the survival of the ecosystems that occupy the beautiful and diverse territories around the world, including us humans.

The increasing threads to our climate and ecosystems make it very challenging for all of us who want to live in a better world and leave behind a sustainable place for future generations. Multi-nationals, Corporations and large Companies have a big responsibility and enormous challenges ahead. The constant pursuit of profits puts enormous pressure to the whole supply chain from the origins/producers of the raw resources, through the manufactures, to the distributors/sellers of the final products. Independent of the economic activity, we all know products require resources to make them, and is not a mystery that the production practices are designed to maximize the rate at what those resources are cultivated, grown and harvested impacting the micro and macro systems we lived in.

As a small business we, Mule Coffee Roasters (AKA Colombian Connection Coffee), decided from day one we wanted to focus in sustainable and ethical practices. During this journey we have been very lucky to meet the teams from Cofinet and Kogi Coffee. Through their extensive network of genuine coffee growers, we have been able to reach those who are sacrificing volume for quality, immediate margins for sustainability, growth at all cost for ethical business. In our most recent trip, Diofanor explained how impacting and important it has been for him to join the specialty coffee program. In the past he was forced or tempted to focus in big volumes not looking at the impact that it was going to have on the ecosystem, his farm and to his financial future. After only 3 years of joining the program he has transformed his crops. He has gone back to the ancestral practices of growing coffee, letting the native trees provide the shadows, nutrients and microbiological defences to feed and protect the coffee trees. He uses all the organic material that the diverse vegetation produces to run his farm. Wood for cooking; fruits to feed himself and his family; leaves, twigs and coffee pulp to produce “abono” an organic fertilizer that is commonly used to grow new trees or to feed all the existing ones. In a nutshell this is what sustainability means and is all about.

The end result of this transformation is quality over volume, it is employment and ethical distribution of the margins, it is a micro system in balance and a macro system also in balance. His crops are now scoring higher and higher and this is just the beginning. Just like Diofanor, we have met so many other farmers and communities that are heavily involved in this transformation.

Supporting all of them have become a rewarding experience (and we are no talking about money). Our hope for a better world is alive and becoming stronger. You are all big contributors of this transformation when you buy a cup of Mule coffee in one of the many coffee shops or weekend markets, our advocates and ambassadors. We are all together, farmers-roasters-baristas-café owners-consumers making a big impact when consuming responsible produces.

Thank you Diofanor!


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