CROP TO CUP Three new niche coffee subscriptions showcase the best of Brazil, Asia, and vinyl?
By Peter Szymczak
The “Purple” part of this twofer’s name refers to the color associated with musicians like “Purple Rain” Prince and “Purple Haze” Jimi Hendrix, while the “Llama” comes from the song “Ride My Llama” by Neil Young. Based in Chicago, the coffee shop and record store hybrid is jockeyed by Joel Petrick, who founded Purple Llama after spending a decade in the corporate world, and General Manager/vinyl buyer Adam Hirzel, who brings 13 years’ retail beverage experience to the turntable. Dylan Connell is Director of Coffee, moving over from Sump Coffee in St. Louis where he won first in the 2017 National “America’s Best Espresso” competition. “We love the ritual of brewing and enjoying coffee in the same way we love dropping the needle on a record,” Petrick says. “We feel that these two processes enjoyed together heighten the experience of both.” Purple Llama's first release was “El Progresso,” a microlot of coffee grown by Julian Palomino in Colombia and roasted by The Barn in Berlin. The boxset ($50) also included "Spagat Der Liebe," the new record by Swiss garage rockers Klaus Johann Grobe, released on Trouble in Mind, one of their favorite Chicago labels.
“Casa Brasil” gets its name from a Brazilian Cultural Center in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas. The center helps support the local Portuguese-speaking community and promotes Brazilian culture. Long-time local roaster Joel Shuler of Little City Coffee Roasters helps support the center’s mission by importing the best beans from Brazil he can find. “Just like fine wines, fine coffees now have their place among consumers who value the uniqueness and origin of the products consumed,” Shuler says. Shuler spearheaded this project in partnership with the Cerrado Coffee Growers Federation to bring the first Brazilian Designation of Origin coffees to the United States. He sources coffee directly from growers in Brazil and imports to his facility in Austin, Texas, and roasts in small batches. The project includes five new micro-lots and the Sweet Cerrado Blend, produced in the Cerrado Mineiro Region by Gil César de Melo, and another by Yuki Minami. “For me and my family it is an honor to be part of this project,” Minami said. “It unites local and global through this universal drink which is the coffee.” Subscribers can sign up for every other week ($14) and monthly ($15) delivery options.
This ferret-like creature known for its curiosity serves as the spirit animal and mascot of Deric Loh and his Singapore-based coffee subscription service, currently in Kickstarter mode. Since being turned onto specialty coffee in Bali in 2010, Loh the polecat has sussed out artisan coffee roasters from all over Asia— China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia—such as Lam Yeo Coffee, which has been roasting in Singapore since 1959. One of the few traditional coffee powder grinder companies remaining that still specialize in "Nanyang" Coffee or "Kopi," Lam Yeo has started venturing into single-origin coffees from around Asia, Africa, Central America, and India, under second-generation roaster Tan Peck Heo. Trading on his background in e-commerce and marketing, Loh hopes to launch the service this September. “Roasters tend to have their own styles, but sometimes large regions of the world can fall into similar roasting trends,” Loh says. “This is a chance to experience coffee roasted by craftsmen across the world’s largest continent.” Monthly subscriptions start at $22 and include 7–8 ounces of coffee, which can be shipped to Singapore and the States. The Starter Pack Special includes a hand grinder and drip coffee bags.
50 | JULY 2018 » freshcup.com