AN INTERVIEW WITH FELIPE ARCILA

AN INTERVIEW WITH FELIPE ARCILA

By Jessica Sheridan

200Hr Reserve

My grandmother’s father also used to grow coffee, so four generations of growers,” Colombian coffee producer Felipe Arcila told me as he described how long his family had been coffee farming.

On a chilly winter day in Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to hop on a phone call with Felipe Arcila, the producer of our upcoming Reserve offering, 200 Hour Supernatural Colombia. Having started our partnership with Felipe and his exporting company, Cofinet, last year, we were already aware of how special their coffees were. If you have the opportunity to try the 200 Hour Supernatural Colombia that is from Felipe’s farm, or have had the opportunity to try the other two Reserves we sourced in 2020 from Cofinet, Pink Bourbon Natural and Gesha Natural, it will be apparent to you that the coffees from this group of people speak for themselves.

With some of the most wildly fruity, yet notably clean natural processed coffees that I’ve ever tried, to some very solid washed regionals, it’s impressive that Cofinet is only about 5 years old. Tasting their coffees and listening to Felipe’s determination, however, it’s no surprise that they have risen to meteoric success amongst roasters in Australia and elsewhere–their coffees are special, and you’ve never tasted anything quite like them. Speaking with Felipe this January, as in the past, it is clear that though he is humble, he is a pioneer at what he does, and we look forward to seeing where the next 5 years take both Felipe and the producers he works with at Cofinet.

FARM TO CUP INTERVIEW
with Jessica Sheridan & Felipe Arcila

JS: Tell me a little about yourself… What led you to a career in coffee?”

FA: “My grandfather and my father both grew coffee and worked in the industry their whole lives. My dad worked for an exporter for over 40 years. While they were working in the coffee industry they were also growing coffee. Since I was young I was surrounded by coffee. I was not encouraged by my family to grow coffee due to the changing C price. One year could be awesome, then you could have two or three really bad years consecutively in a row. After being pushed by my family to do a BA in engineering or anything that wasn’t growing coffee, I did a BA in Civil Engineering, then moved to Australia to get a MA. I was shocked to see how the coffees were sold in Australia, and kept wondering why don’t we have these in Colombia? That forced me to start doing experiments with my family farm in Colombia. Then after that, I got hooked by coffee, and there’s no way out. After I started processing and tasting coffee every day, I don’t see myself anywhere else.”

JS: “What’s your oldest coffee memory?”

FA: “One – just walking through the plantation with my dad when I just about 5 years old. It was the blossoming week of the year and the smell was just insane. Second – my brother had an accident in the wet mill.”

JS: Where is your farm(s)? Altitude? Harvest size?”

FA: Jardines del Eden – Pijao, Quindio, 1700-2001 masl.”

JS: “What varieties do you grow?”

FA: “Castillo was the original variety; these days we went a bit wild. Wush Wush, Sidra, improved Typica from Ecuador, Red Java, Maragesha, and more.”

JS: “What processing methods do you use?”

CLR: Since I lived in Australia I had the opportunity to taste other coffees that were natural processed, and wondered why we couldn’t do that in Colombia, so I had my dad start running trials. Drying naturals in Colombia is a headache because of relative humidity and the rain that we get is absurd. 90% of days during harvest are rainy…which makes it almost impossible to dry a natural. Although…I did not give up…experimenting with naturals every year, eventually sending our first lot to Australia. Roasters started reaching out to us, asking for specific flavors, which encouraged us to keep experimenting. We now do 10-12 different natural processing methods…By way of doing drying…adding yeast…adding microorganisms…adding mandarin skins. [ and more]. Always trying to push the boundaries. Doing our best to keep it very interesting for roasters, and it’s not easy.”

JS: What kind of risk is involved?”

FA:This year we harvested a big batch of Pink Bourbon with eucalyptus leaves and no one wanted to take that coffee even though we liked how it tasted. [So]…there’s a lot of risk involved. We are aware we can only do this in small quantities unless roasters commit to bigger quantities.”

JS: “Tell me about Cofinet… What’s the mission of this project of yours? How many producers do you work with in total?”

FA: “Cofinet started with the idea of being able to sell our family coffees for a more stable price. As I was telling you…growing coffee for my family has been hard over the past 15 years, and we had two or three really bad financial years in a row. We always heard our dad complaining about the price and how hard and risky it was to keep growing. The USD fluctuated a lot over the years, and the fertilizers and the labor keep increasing in price, while the C prices remain [relatively similar] for the past 40 years, so our idea was to sell our family coffee. When we started sharing our family coffee in AU the first time, it was that it was not that great. At that time my dad was growing 1400masl commercial coffee, and they were cupping it next to 2000masl coffees from Panama with aerobic fermentation, and we were out of our league… So we started to experiment and work, and with feedback, we realized fast that we could not only help our family but include other people who wanted stable prices throughout the whole year. It’s also been important to share what we’ve developed at our processing center. The 200hr naturals, next year a lot of growers in Colombia that we’ve been working with for over 3 year now will be doing the same. It’s rewarding to be able to replicate that and share the work and have it turn out really well. Cofinet is [about] sharing.”

JS: “How has the pandemic affected you, your farm, and your business?”

FA: “The first semester was very rough, especially in Colombia. It was very challenging, but after June, it got much better. We did face a rough year in regards to labor…in my case I believe we were quite lucky. We had about 80% [of pickers] turn up, but in other parts of Colombia, much less did. […] cherries were being left to fall on the ground. For the business it was a rough year…things got a bit stuck, but it also encouraged us to be more efficient, more competitive…helped us identify who wants to work with us long term.”

JS: “Do you feel exploring alternative processing such as naturals is one way to mitigate climate change and environmental impact?”

FA: “One of our main principles is to use the least amount of water as possible. [When we process coffee], 1/4-1/5 [the amount of water is] used than normal. I believe the less water we use, the more helpful.”

JS: “We’re about to launch your 200hr natural Castillo from your farm, Jardines del Eden. What’s special about the 200hr natural processing method?”

FA: “We do a lot of effort to maintain temperatures between 20-22*C. We also hand sort the cherries. When you push fermentation too much and have overripe or underripe, the flavor can go significantly wrong. So for long fermentations we need the best of the best, otherwise the taste can go off.”

JS: Are you working on anything new/exciting? What are you looking forward to in 2021 and beyond?”

FA: “We’re looking forward to the first proper crop of Jardines del Eden, which has our exotic varietals. Sidra, SL-28, Papayo, and more. Cannot wait to cup and share those coffees with our customers around the world. We’re going to start working with a few Peruvian growers as well. I’m going to travel to Peru in April and stay there for a few months to try to apply the processing techniques we’ve learned in Colombia in Peru as well.”

JS: What’s something important you would want people drinking your coffee to know?” 

FA: “I would love them to know there is a lot effort behind the cup. It’s everything my grandfather, grandmother, learned… it’s many years of work and growing coffee. We’re very happy for you to drink our coffee all around the world. We’re very proud of ourselves and to be able to have our coffee in front of you.”


200 Hour Supernatural Colombia launches January 14th at stonecreekcoffee.com, with a few bags available at each of our cafe locations as well. We only purchased four 35kg bags of this super limited offering, so be sure to grab some while you can — it won’t be here long!
This Reserve offering from Felipe’s farm, Jardines del Eden, is nothing short of a masterpiece. This coffee was exposed to an anaerobic fermentation of 150 hours, placed inside grain pro bags maintaining temperature below 22 degrees Celsius by placing the coffee inside a water tank. Later, it was placed on raised beds until 18% moisture content was achieved. Afterwards the coffee was placed inside grain pro bags again for 50 hours and later left to dry below 40 degrees Celsius on raised beds until 10.5% moisture was achieved. This microlot is 100% Castillo variety. 

In a mug of 200 Hour Supernatural, you’ll experience a medium body reminiscent of a natural processed Garnacha wine paired with a deep fruitiness akin to fruit snacks, notes of Cacao nib, and the juiciness of watermelon and lime. And cheers to producers like Felipe, who make our tasty cups possible to enjoy!

Click the button below at 7:30am on January 14th when this coffee officially becomes available online to snag a 12 oz. bag for $30. And as always, get this truly unique coffee shipped straight to your door with free carbon neutral shipping via UPS Ground.

At Stone Creek Coffee, social responsibility is a foundational element of our identity. We believe that a commitment to the environment must coexist with other elements of social responsibility for a holistic approach to doing our best for the world and others.

Stone Creek Coffee will regularly audit and identify areas of environmental strength and weakness within the overall operations of the organization.  We will attempt to reduce any negative impacts to air, surface water, ground water, public health, community quality of life, and employee health while producing coffee that is sweet, clean, and juicy. Stone Creek Coffee will strive for continual improvement in pollution prevention while meeting or exceeding all regulations.

Jessica Sheridan, Director of Coffee 
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As a mission-driven company, at Stone Creek Coffee, we believe in serving and enhancing the local communities we live and work in.

We believe that the socially responsible practices we apply daily in our internal operations can proliferate with the involvement of our stakeholders, customers, and our communities. In each community where our employees work and live, we — as Stone Creek Coffee and individual members of the community — actively create opportunities to play a positive role through various initiatives. These initiatives include support of important charitable organizations through monetary and/or material donations, promoting volunteerism, and more.

In line with our mission to be socially responsible, we also commit to the following: 

Serving Local Customers
  • We commit to serve at least 75% local and independent clients or customers. 
  • Local Hiring - As a company that is committed to its local community, at Stone Creek Coffee, we are also committed to local hiring.
  • Local Suppliers - We are committed to using local suppliers when possible.

Jessica Sheridan, Director of Coffee 
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SUPPLIER CODE OF CONDUCT

At Stone Creek Coffee, social responsibility is a foundational aspect of our identity. As such, we expect our partners and suppliers to conduct themselves and their business in an ethical, legal, and socially responsible manner including, but not limited to, their commitment to the environment, their employees, and the community. 

Legal Requirements

We expect that all suppliers know and follow the laws that apply to them and their business, as well as to treat the law as the minimum standard. 

Ethical Requirements - Integrity

At Stone Creek Coffee, we believe in conducting business with integrity and as a force for good. We expect our suppliers to operate fairly and ethically. Bribes, kickbacks, inappropriate gifts or hospitality, or other improper incentives in connection with Stone Creek Coffee are not tolerated. Suppliers are expected to avoid any conflict of interest relating to financial interests or other arrangements with our employees that may be considered inappropriate, and are to work with their own suppliers to promote business conduct consistent with the principles in this Code.

Labor Requirements 

Child Labor and Slavery - We do not tolerate child labor or slavery in our supply chain. Consistent with the United Nations Global compact principles, suppliers should avoid any sort of child labor in the business operations. 

Identification of Concerns - Suppliers are required to provide means for their employees to report concerns or potentially unlawful activities in the workplace. Any report should be treated in a confidential manner. Suppliers will investigate such reports and take corrective action if needed.

Wages and Working Conditions

Working Hours, Wages and Benefits - Working hours for suppliers’ employees will not exceed the maximum set by the applicable national law. Compensation paid to employees will comply with applicable national wage laws and ensure an adequate standard of living. Suppliers are expected to provide their employees with fair and competitive compensation and benefits. Compensation and benefits should aim at providing an adequate standard of living for employees and their families. Suppliers’ employees will be paid in a timely manner. It is recommended that suppliers offer their employees ample training and educational opportunities.

Diversity and Inclusion - Fair and equal treatment of all employees is expected to be a fundamental principle of all of our supplier’s corporate policies. Typical discriminatory treatment takes into consideration – consciously or unconsciously – irrelevant characteristics of an employee such as race, national origin, gender, age, physical characteristics, social origin, disability, religion, family status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or any unlawful criterion under applicable law. Suppliers will ensure that their employees are not harassed in any way. Stone Creek Coffee encourages its suppliers to provide an inclusive and supportive working environment while exercising diversity when it comes to their employees as well as in their decisions to select subcontractors.

Health, Safety, Quality, and Security

Health and Safety - In order to provide dignity and respect, we expect all of our suppliers to protect workers’ rights and provide safe and healthy working conditions. We encourage our supplier partners to foster an environment that is inclusive, and free of harassment and discrimination. 

Emergency Preparedness, Risk Information, and Training - Suppliers will make available safety information on identified workplace risks and suppliers’ employees will be correspondingly trained to ensure they are adequately protected. Suppliers will identify and assess likely and potential emergency situations in the workplace and minimize their impact by implementing emergency plans and response procedures.

Quality and Security - Suppliers are expected to have good security practices across their supply chains. Suppliers will maintain processes and standards that are designed to assure the integrity of each shipment to Stone Creek Coffee from its origin through to its destination and all points in between. Suppliers are expected to implement the necessary and appropriate measures in their area of responsibility to ensure that Stone Creek Coffee products, their workable components or raw materials as well as the corresponding know-how do not end up in the hands of counterfeiters or third parties and do not leave the legal supply chain.

Environmental Awareness 

Waste and Emissions - Suppliers will have systems in place to ensure the safe handling, movement, storage, recycling, reuse and management of waste, air emissions and wastewater discharges. Any of these activities that have the potential to adversely impact human or environmental health will be appropriately managed, measured, controlled and handled prior to release of any substance into the environment. Suppliers will have systems in place to prevent or mitigate accidental spills and releases into the environment.

Resource Conservation and Climate Protection - Suppliers are expected to use natural resources (e.g. water, sources of energy, raw materials) n an economical way. Negative impacts on the environment and climate will be minimized or eliminated at their source or by practices such as the modification of production, maintenance and facility processes, material substitution, conservation, recycling and material reutilization. Suppliers will engage in the development and use of climate-friendly products and processes to reduce power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Preference to Purchase from Local Suppliers and Suppliers with Ownership from Underrepresented Populations - At Stone Creek Coffee, we are committed to our community and the environment. As such, we have a preference to purchase from local suppliers when possible, as well as to purchase from suppliers who support other local suppliers. We also give preferences to suppliers with ownership from underrepresented populations.

Supplier Audits and Record Keeping - In order to make responsible, well-informed business decisions and disclose truthful and timely information to our stakeholders, we expect our supplier partners to maintain accurate and honest records.  In line with this, we expect our supplier partners to do the following: maintain books and records that reflect all transactions in an accurate, honest, and timely way; employ appropriate quality audit and compliance processes for matters such as product and food safety, worker health and safety, and labor and employment; to enable traceability, disclose the location of facilities and known origins of materials upon request/audit.

When screening potential suppliers, we screen for the following:
  1. Compliance with all local laws and regulations, including those related to social and environmental performance
  2. Good governance, including policies related to ethics and corruption, as well as diversity and inclusion
  3. Positive practices beyond what is required by regulations (e.g. environmentally-friendly manufacturing process, excellent labor practices, performance to the Core Commitments, etc.)
  4. Third-party certifications related to positive social and/or environmental performance (B Corp certification, Bird Friendly, etc.)
  5. Local suppliers should be given preference (within 250 miles of Factory)
  6. Suppliers owned by underrepresented populations should be given preference

Jessica Sheridan, Director of Coffee 

SUPPLIER LIST:
Aeropress
Ally Coffee
Alto Cold Brew
Amazon Business
American Solutions for Business
Ascentives
Atlas Coffee
AUI Fine Foods
Badger Distributing of Milwaukee LLC
Bodum USA
Boelter Companies
Britevision Media
BUNN
Cafe Imports
Caravela Coffee
Carmo Coffee
Champaign Coffee Company
Chemex Corporation
Clover Distribution
Complete Office of WIsconsin
Component Design
DWC Specialties
Economy Lamp Co
Englehardt Dairy
Espresso Parts
Evolve Snacking
Exclusive Coffees
FETCO
Flair Flexible Packaging Corp
Genuine Origin Coffee
Good Land Supply Co
Gordon Food Service
Grandstand
Gravity Marketing
Great American Spice Company
Greco & Sons
Green Bay Packaging
Halo Soap LLC
InterAmerican Coffee
Kallas Honey Farm
La Marzocco USA
Long Miles Coffee Int Ltd
Magellan Promotions, LLC
Marich Confectionery
Meadowlark Organics
Milwaukee Candle Company
Natures Flavors
NKG (Neumann Kaffee Gruppe)
notNuetral
Occhetti Foods
Olam Specialty Coffee
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Co.
Online Labels
Orchard Street Press
PBFY Flexible Packaging
Plant Guru
Polaris Specialty Coffee
Premium Water
Rishi Tea
Rockline
Royal Coffee
San Miguel Single Origin Coffees (Green Power Trade Inc.)
Sassy Cow Creamery
Shared Source Coffee
Sleeve A Message
Spice House
Sysco East Wisconsin
Tapped Maple Syrup
Terra Spice
The Chai Company
The Chef's Warehouse
Tony Machi Fruits & Vegetables
Uline
UNFI
V. Marchese
Valley Bakers
Volcafe
 
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