Long Beach's Growing Coffee Culture Brings National Competition
Photo courtesy of the Rainforest Alliance.
In striking similarity to the bourgeoning craft beer culture, Long Beach is beginning to rightfully separate itself from the Bay (and L.A.) as a caffeination destination.
Los Angeles's coffee scene has been turbulent, with its clutch Intelligentsia (hailing from Chicago so not technically an Angeleno creation) now falling wayside to shops carrying Inland Empire-based roaster Klatch or Bay-based make-it-bright pioneers Blue Bottle or simply roasting themselves like Bru. And Handsome Coffee Roasters, the Downtown L.A. startup from Intelligentsia alums, though good, is not quite the blow-your-mind many were expecting. Same goes for LA Mill and Cafecito Organico.
Though we have yet to score a Roaster of the Year (Klatch got that honor in 2009) and we don't have the amount of spaces that our northern neighbors do, Long Beachers Rose Park and True Beans have both come to town with astounding beans—last year's Ethiopian Goji from Rose Parks and the Amaro Gayo from True Beans were undoubtedly superior to anything else served in the city—and coffeeshops like The Greenhouse and Lord Windsor are providing various styles of brewing that are altering the concept of coffee here.
To top it all off, we are home to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). And their laboratory was host to this year's tenth Rainforest Alliance Cupping Competition, where nine of the non-profit's certified coffee regions provided a variety of beans that were tasted and rated by some of the nation's leading coffee experts. And the coffees were roasted by southern Californians Ted Vautrinot and Shawn Anderson of Kean Coffee as well as Long Beach's own Andrew Phillips of Rose Park.
Cuppers Yesenia Villota, InterAmerican (left); Adam Kline, Atlantic Specialty (center); Jay Isais, International Coffee & Tea/Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (right). Photo courtesy of Rainforest Alliance.
The SCAA's cupping protocol determines whether or not a coffee is considered "specialty," and that is having a score of 80 or higher. Of the 51 coffees sampled, more than 90% of them received such a score, with the number one coffee going to the Ndumberi Factory based in Kiambu, Kenya with a score of 87.41.
Rounding out the top ten were:
- Tunki, Peru
- El Silencio - Luis Fernando Arias Alzate, Colombia
- Tegu Factory, Kenya
- Quechua, Peru
- Santo Tomas 2; Eibar Jose Rojas Pajoy, Colombia
- Gichatha-ini Factory, Kenya
- Ibonia Estate, Kenya
- Coop Sol & Café, Peru
- Yadini Estate, Kenya
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