2016 was a great year for Volta's staff to get exposure to the larger coffee world. In the spring William and Maddison were able to travel to Atlanta for the US Barista Championships and the SCAA Event. In the fall Dina and Faith traveled to Chicago to work with Intelligentsia on a prototype single origin espresso program, then continue on to visit with our primary roasting partner Ruby in rural Wisconsin. Anthony traveled to Colombia to judge in the Mejor de Narino/Best of Narino coffee competition, and then successfully landed three of the top 20 coffees for the shop, including the 2nd place coffee. Finally, baristas Jessica and Lyana accompanied Anthony to El Salvador to participate in Perfect Daily Grind's Micro Festival El Salvador, a project to bring Salvadoran farmers together will exporters, roasters from around the world, and the baristas that serve their coffee. In addition to experiencing the entire harvest process, our baristas led a workshop to show farmers and coffee workers how we serve their coffees in our shop. We finished our time in El Salvador by closing the coffee production loop: Jessica, Lyana, and Anthony were able to cup just-harvested coffees from Finca Talnamica with farm owner Hermann Mendez, Ruby's Jared Linzmeier, and the staff from the wet mill at Sicafe.
You can find out more about Team Volta's role in the El Salvador festival over at Perfect Daily Grind.
Fest is one of our favorite weeks of the year-- not only to we get to serve bands and fans from around the world, it gives us a chance to bring in an amazing selection of guest coffees and espresso selections. This year we will be offering new coffees from:
-San Francisco's Linea Caffe
-Wisconsin's Ruby Roasters
-Victoria BC's Bows X Arrows
-New York's Toby's Estate
All over four days! Look for extended Fest hours to be posted next week. We will not be able to hold a public cupping during the Fest weekend.
PechaKucha GNV, full speed ahead! The next PechaKucha Night in Gainesville will be held on January 24th, with a deadline of January 15th for submission of proposals to participate. More details from the PechaKucha website:
What is Pechakucha Night? "PechaKucha Nights are informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps -- just about anything, really -- in the PechaKucha 20x20 format. PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images. Good PechaKucha presentations are the ones that uncover the unexpected -- unexpected talent, unexpected ideas. Some PechaKuchas tell great stories about a project or a trip. Some are incredibly personal, some are incredibly funny, but all are very different." If you have ideas, art, research, or projects that you'd like to present, please consider taking part! All you need are 20 images and a story to tell.
A quick head's up that we will not be holding a coffee cupping for the next two weeks. Volta is ground zero for Fest, a sprawling music festival that takes over downtown on the last weekend of October. We will be in prep mode next week, then in full-on Fest mode on the weekend of Oct 31-Nov. 2. Cuppings will resume the following week on November 9.
We're turning 5 on Saturday, April 27. Seems like a good excuse for a party. We're starting off at 11 with a very special coffee cupping with the latest coffees from Intelligentsia, Toby's, Sightglass, and Bows & Arrows. Later, we'll fire up the smoker for hot dogs and cake on the patio. At some point Anthony will start churning out ice cream for a round of affogatos. At 2 pm we'll have a set by Ricky Kendall, and at 6:30 we'll have a performance by Sad Scout. Other guests musicians might be playing throughout the day.
All week long we're going to have our own version of an espresso festival, celebrating new single origin offerings and blends from some of our favorite roasters. 10 different espresso offerings over 6 days. We're bringing in two blends from London's Square Mile Roasters. A Colombian and a blend from Victoria BC's Bows & Arrows. A new Ethiopian espresso from Toby's Estate. New espressos from Sightglass and Intelligentsia. Each coffee will only be available for a limited time.
A rare concert at Volta: join us as we welcome Walter Salas-Humara back to Gainesville.
Who is Walter? From his bio: Chasing the punk prairie fire from Gainesville to New York just in time to sift through the ashes, Walter formed The Silos in 1985 with guitarist Bob Rupe and violinist Mary Rowell, plugging the main cable of American rock idiom into the jerry-rigged soundboard of Velvets-era feral experimentalism. The unlikely result, as evidenced by About Her Steps (1986), the seminal Cuba (1987) and their RCA debut The Silos (i.e., The One with the Bird on the Cover, 1990) was a loose-limbed conceptual country-rock that in turn influenced (if not outright inspired) the alt-country No Depression movement just around the corner. The band was voted Best New American Band in Rolling Stone Magazine's Critics' Poll of 1987 and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1990. He forged connections in Austin, another lost outpost tailor-made for his particular set of influences, where he formed the poor man’s supergroup the Setters with songwriters Michael Hall of the Wild Seeds and Alejandro Escovedo of the True Believers. Moving to Los Angeles, he recorded and toured with Tom Freund, Manny Verzosa, Jon Dee Graham, Gary Sunshine and Darren Hess. Those middle records – Hasta la Victoria! (1992), Susan Across the Ocean (1994), Heater (and its remixed mutant twin Cooler) (1998) validated the early acclaim and expanded Salas-Humara’s reputation as one of the finest songwriters working in the American vernacular.
Walter will be performing a solo show at Volta; cover is $5, show starts at 8pm.
Nice video report from The Tampa Bay Times on the first Tampa Bay Barista Jam, hosted by Buddy Brew Coffee. Anthony went down as a judge as is featured in the new report.
It's easy to get a little lost looking at our brewed coffee menu. That is why on Saturday mornings at 11 Volta staff hosts free coffee cuppings - think wine tasting, but with coffee - to help you understand what to look for in a coffee and how to better choose one.
By the end of the cupping, you will learn how to detect the flavor notes and other complexities of the coffee bean and about the cupping process. Every week we'll sample different coffees from roasters across the United States, and on special occassions, from around the world. If there is a particular bean our staff and customers enjoyed, we will bring it in to serve at the shop. Don't be intimidated. No prior knowledge of coffee (or wine) is necessary. We look forward to see you there!
Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for any cupping updates.
If you'd like to learn more about the cupping process:
Our winter break is over and it's time to make more coffee.
Mon - Fri: 8 am to 9 pm
Saturday: 9 am to 9 pm
Sunday: 9 am to 5 pm (no change)
[flickr-photo:id=5811441259,size=""]Finca Buenos Aires is something of a miracle coffee. The farm is located just outside of the small town of Nilo, in an area just now recovering from years of neglect thanks to Colombia's civil unrest. It is situated in the small department of Cudinamarca, north of the more famous coffee growing region of Huila-- not exactly a region known for producing specialty grade coffee. The coffees are grown in the foothills of a series of volcanos in a national park; the terrain is rugged and undeveloped. Single-track jeep trails wind up steep mountain sides, and the farms run wild under the cover of rain forest vegetation and banks of clouds. Unlike other regions with clearly delineated farms with neatly planted rows of coffees, the farms outside of Nilo are very small and draw upon both recently planted coffee and over-story fruit trees along with legacy coffee trees growing wild up and down the sides of the mountain trails.
Farmer Carlos Vargas is undertaking a herculean task of producing amazing coffees under very difficult situations: unusually heavy rains, almost no infrastructure, and crazy single-track trails in and out of the farm.
Amber Fox, writing about the farm, notes "the well-being of the environment and the workers are intrinsic to the approach Carlos Vargas takes to sustainability and further improving quality, and the results of his holistic approach sing in the cup."
The coffee is a bit wild, like the farm itself: dark red berry notes under layers of tobacco and cinnamon, but it picks up the flavors of mulled red wine as it cools. Ecco describes it as juicy pineapple and citrus with florals and red fruit flavors as it cools.
The coffee from Finca Buenos Aires is also of very limited supply-- Ecco was only able to purchase 7 bags of green coffee from Vargas this year. Try it soon, because it will be another year before coffee from this farm will be available again.