It has been one heck of a year. It seems that this year has simultaneously flown by and dragged on as a ceaseless eternity. Within the incalculable mass of tragedy that has defined 2020, there have been bright spots.
One of the bright spots in our 2020, that hopefully we share with you, is the expansion and increased notice given to the Black Oak Tasting Club. We’d like to share some of the highlights from this past year and give a bit of a glimpse into next year’s coffee club offerings.
Our favorite single origins from 2020
Sourcing delicious coffees from diverse regions of the world is one of our favorite things. Each of our selections is meticulously screened and yes, the process of selecting the best of the best is as fun as it sounds. Selecting favorites is like choosing among children, however, a few coffees are notable for reasons beyond our cupping table.
Bella Vista - Chiapas, Mexico
We haven’t generally featured coffees from Mexico, but when we tasted coffee from a small group of female farmers in Chiapas, we knew we had something special in our cups. Bella Vista was one of those coffees that was not only delicious, but just exquisitely balanced. It is rare to find coffees that are not just balanced in profile but exceptional in their balance.
Kivu - Democratic Republic of Congo
Bright and floral coffee from East Africa, Congo Kivu, was another of our favorites. It was the first coffee from the Democratic Republic of Congo that we’d been able to offer. This past year was the first that we received a number of good, even great quality DRC coffee samples. This indicates that issues that have long undermined quality coffee production in the DRC are improving. Hopefully this means that the world will have a new source of high-quality coffee and that the people of the DRC will have a new economic driver to spur development of infrastructure and healthy institutions.
Bensa Natural - Ethiopia
Another positive in the dark morass of 2020 was the arrival of the natural process Ethiopia: Bensa. It’s among the best coffees anyone here has tasted and has a level of depth and complexity that we’ve found truly remarkable. We were able to purchase enough to (hopefully) last through the middle of the year when new fresh crop Ethiopian coffees begin arriving.
Thirteenth Sun - Ethiopia
Last but certainly not least, the 2020 version of our Thirteenth Sun has been an absolute favorite. The natural and washed Ethiopian coffees that go into the Thirteenth Sun are amazing in their own rights, but the blend of these coffees together creates something that makes for at least as good a cup as either alone. It's exciting when adding two great things makes something unique and great in its own right.
Two New Coffees Each Month
Perhaps the best thing to happen to the Black Oak Tasting Club was the addition of a second new coffee every month. Prior to this we would typically feature one new coffee per month with another coffee lot that was featured earlier. While in many regards this change literally doubles the amount of work we put into The Club, it is some of the most fun work we do, and we, like many of you, enjoy tasting double the number of coffees we otherwise would. The large number of customer requests for us to make this change contributed in a large way to this decision. We take your feedback seriously and always value it as a way of improving.
We’re currently looking forward to new coffee offerings arriving from the southernmost origins: Papua New Guinea, Peru, Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, the DRC and Indonesia. Equatorial coffee producing nations are also currently shipping their fly crop, so we should have another lot from one of our favorite female farmer cooperatives on the menu shortly.
You Make It All Work
The last bright spot on which we would like to comment are You: the individuals that participate in the Black Oak Tasting Club. Coffee cafes are among the businesses hardest hit by the economic ramifications of the pandemic and Black Oak was and is not exempt from this. While we in no way want to discount the efforts and sacrifices made by our staff to create and maintain ethical, living-wage, jobs here and at coffee origin, all of those efforts would have amounted to nothing were it not for our customers. So, we extend our most sincere thanks to you for helping us achieve these aims.