Roastmaster John is in the News

Bad weather causes coffee prices to hit a 13-year high in commodities

Steve Butera Updated: 8/25/2010 6:43:38 PM Posted: 8/25/2010 6:35:06 PM

Sisters Marga Hinsley and Maureen Willis are making it a tradition to meet at Javerde, a West Knoxville coffee shop.

"This coffee shop happens to be equal distance from my house and my sister's house. So we can have a cup of coffee," said Hinsley.

However, getting that cup of coffee could soon cost more. Prices for a cup of java have gone up more than 30% in recent weeks, to about $1.89/pound. Experts said bad weather in coffee-growing countries in Central and South America is to blame. That in turn has some coffee shop owners keeping a careful eye on the markets.

"Across the board, coffee shops, it has made an impact," said Javerde co-owner Paul Grady. "If you look around, coffee beans are a commodity."

The caffeinated commodity has also affected local roasters. Maryville-based Vienna Coffee Company roaster John Clark, said he's made some changes to keep costs as low as possible for customers.

"We are modifying some blending so we can accommodate the same character in the end result by using different coffee beans," said Clark. Clark said three blends were affected, but coffee connoisseurs should not notice.

However, while costs stay low, customer said they will continue to come back.

"(Coffee shops) want to serve you, and they know that they're not going to be here unless we're here," Hinsley said. "So we're going to support that."

So far, only some store-bought coffee like Folgers and Maxwell House report that they will see a price increase over the coming weeks.

Home Sweet Home

John, Les, and Jamie are all back from a great trip in Guatemala.

There were so many great things that happened this trip that we will continue to update the blog with new photos and stories from this past month.

The first image is of Demetrio, one of the new farmers of La Armonia Hermosa Coffee. He is showing us his large arabica trees. He has a wide assortment of coffee trees of all ages and an assortment of shade trees. He's great! Incredibly animated, and very passionate about his crop.

The second image is Demetrio walking back from his farm to the path probably carrying about 40 pounds worth of jocote (a tropical fruit) on his back! The incredible part is he is 56 years old and barely broke a sweat!

Also incredible is this path that he and all the other farmers have to walk up with all of their products to go back up to Santa Maria from their farm! Wow... these guys are strong and fit! You didn't want to see us after climbing this hill without anything on our backs.

The last image is John and Les talking with Demetrio about his crop this year and eveything that goes into it. Very exciting!

Next edition: Juan's farm and family

John in Guatemala

John made his way from Atlanta to Guatemala city this past week in preparation to take an "origin" tour of different beneficios (coffee mills) and fincas around Guatemala with the Roaster's Guild.

Before his official tour John spent the weekend with Les, Jamie and the farmers of Santa Maria de Jesus. These are pictures of John depulping 250 pounds of coffee! Now that's a lot of coffee!

In the first picture Julio, Les and John are picking out the green (unripe) cherries before they go through the depulper. These exact beans were picked by some new farmers who have decided to join the co-op. We are excited to have them because they had some of the best picked coffee we've seen. "Solo rojo."

The second picture is of John actually cranking the depulper. The cherries go from the top and get squished along the copper grate which pushes the beans out of the cherry pulp. This is some tiring work. The stuff coming out at the bottom of the depulper is only the pulp that is later composted back into the soil.

The third picture is the beans coming out of the depulper. There are a few of the cherries left with the beans, but those will be sorted out in the washing process.

More updates from the field coming soon...

WEEKLY DEAL: Father's Day

Father's Day was yesterday, and since I (Roastmaster John's daughter) couldn't be there to celebrate Father's Day with him, I'm asking you to help me honor him. When you go into the Roastery this week please tell him Happy Father's Day (and if you are brave give him a big ole hug for me too). Then after you do that, send me an email at, and I'll send you a beautiful printed picture of Santa Maria de Jesus (home of our La Armonia Hermosa coffee).

Thanks in advance for helping.

And thanks Dad, for being great!!!