by Justin Matheny
For me, sourcing coffee is a lot like curating a playlist. The coffee offerings in your lineup are your songs that tell a story through other people's hard work. Hopefully, they inspire you to keep digging around, find more songs by the artists you discover, or more coffees from an origin you'd never tried. Hopefully, they taste great and leave you wanting more.
To bring in a new offering, especially one that will stay live in your roster for a bit, can be a nerve-wracking experience. It's a lot of what-ifs, will-they, won't-they. Luckily, bringing Spark back was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. In fact, I was looking forward to it because I had the perfect coffee in mind - one that inspires me and, I hope, inspires you as well.
When researching options for a new Spark, I remembered not a coffee, per se, but a story. Years back, I heard what sounded more like a legend than truth: A woman in Chiapas was personally driving her family's coffee all the way from Mexico to a coffee storage facility in the Bay Area. On top of that, she was an outspoken champion of women coffee growers and Mexican coffee in general. Her name is Rosalba Cifuentes Tovia.
Rosalba Cifuentes Tovia, courtesy of Mayan Harvest
This was roughly ten years ago, long before the coffee industry took Mexican coffee seriously. No one knew anything about it; I'd heard other roasters at the time refer to it as "Guatemala-lite." But the moment I tasted Rosalba's coffee while working as a roaster in San Fransisco, my eyes were forever opened to Mexican coffee's potential. It was sweet, playful, and in a category all its own. I knew then that one day I'd have to roast that coffee.
These days, Rosalba leads Mayan Harvest, a coffee project made up of women producers in her hometown. She's committed to providing higher premiums and a better life for female farmers in her community. Using connections from my Bay Area days, I procured a small sample of the group's coffee this past spring for Greater Goods, with a very narrow time window for approval. Their coffees have become very popular in the intervening years, so we were very fortunate to get our hands on this beautiful lot.
Present-day Spark, freshly french-pressed
Finally, all this time later, it tasted just as sweet as I remembered. The labor of love from seed to cup is clear from the first sip, which I guarantee will reignite your Spark and keep you inspired all year long.