ROASTERS Written by Kevin Biggers Photography by daniel garcia
e’re in that peak coffee moment right now where everyone vaguely understands why “good coffee” is better than “bad coffee” and everyone vaguely understands the key words and concepts that determine coffee quality. This, more or less, can be considered progress. However, as high-quality artisan coffee completes its ascension into the mainstream consumer economy to become, simply, “coffee,” it will become ever important for the voices and ideas of the roasters, makers, and people behind good coffee’s ascension to remain loud and visible, and to uphold the values of all that makes “good coffee” great. Therefore, the ability to gain a first-hand understanding of a coffee’s quality and to tell a coffee’s story is why having Campbell-based Tico Coffee Roasters at our SJMADE events is so important. By approaching Mariana Faerron and Thomas Goepel, the married couple behind Tico Coffee Roasters, anyone has the opportunity to learn: not just about the high-level handcrafted roasted quality of Tico’s coffee but also to learn—really, meaningfully learn—about the concepts that go into how one determines the quality of coffee. Tico feels they must start with a deep-level engagement and understanding of a coffee’s total life cycle. “I love nature and always wanted to follow a career that allows me to be in contact and working with nature, and at the same time make a contribution to sustainability,” said CEO and co-founder Mariana Faerron, when asked about Tico’s origin. “I studied Agricultural Economics at the University of Costa Rica. There I worked with coffee farmers who taught me a lot, and I also learned to respect and admire the dedication they put into growing their crops.” When asked what the essence of Tico Coffee Roasters is— that special quality you get when you buy Tico coffee, which
also means you support their ideas and mission—Faerron explained, “Our essence is that we work directly with the farmers and support them by paying double what Fair Trade prices are for their harvest. In this way they are rewarded for their hard work and we get the quality of coffees we are looking for.” Sustainability is a key concept for Tico when it comes to determining high-quality coffee. According to their website, Tico Coffee Roasters has maintained a commitment to sustainability, and as a result, over 75 percent of their coffees and teas are Certified Organic, Direct Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified, or some combination of all three. For Tico, this isn’t merely marketing strategy. For cofounders Faerron and Goepel, Tico’s CEO and master roaster, as well as a cupping judge at the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, “each type of certification has value and is a testament to the improved conditions in which a certified coffee is produced, thus increasing the chances of a quality yield.” Tico displayed their latest prized coffee, Colombia la Esmeralda, this past spring at the SJMADE Maker Residency at Whole Foods Market in Silicon Valley, where it won the 2015 Cup of Excellence award. It’s very telling of Tico’s values that they put the farm, Finca la Esmeralda, and its owner and producer, Luis Hernando Morales, up front and center. They show due respect and celebrate the person and the practices that undergird the very beginning of their process. The Colombia la Esmeralda coffee itself has a brilliant chocolate complexity to its body, with sparks of tropical fruits in the finish. A delicious and interesting coffee-drinking experience is like great art; it needs no explanation—and yet it’s all the better with the story Tico shares.
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