A driving force behind Asheville’s food culture is the tight local supply chain. But since coffee doesn’t grow in North Carolina (without reliable climate manipulation), Dynamite Roasting Co. is offering the next best thing. On Tuesday, April 12, the company will host two of its Honduran suppliers for a tasting and Q&A session at Pisgah Brewing Co.
“Not too long ago, farmers in Honduras decided that they wanted more value in their coffee,” says Dynamite co-owner Andy Gibbon. “So, you’re seeing a lot of innovation coming out of that country. The quality just keeps going up and up, and over the four years that we’ve visited, we’ve noticed an increase in quality just from this one co-op we visit.”
Gibbon and his business partner, Josh Gibbs, travel to Marcala, Honduras, regularly to source coffees from a fair trade organic growers cooperative called COMSA. There, the two whittle roughly 120 samples down to about half a dozen selections. (“It’s an intense couple of days,” Gibbon says with just a hint of trauma in his voice.)
“The growers are trying to find a way to add value to their product. … So, what [co-op leadership has] done is encouraged member farmers to grow microlots,” Gibbon explains.
The term “single origin,” says Gibbon, can refer to a source as large as a country. Microlots, however, are small plots that belong to a single farmer, and growers will often partition these specialty crops off from the rest of the farm, which typically produces beans to be used in blends. Experimenting with different processing techniques on a microlot often results in a higher-quality final product and extra income.
Microlot coffee grown on Oscar Omar Alonzo‘s farm, Finca Cual Bicicleta, is always among Dynamite’s top choices “because he’s a great producer,” Gibbon says. So after building a business and personal relationship with the enterprising grower, the Dynamite duo has invited him to meet Ashevilleans who consume the fruits of his skill. The co-op’s quality control manager, Liliana Cardona — who also presents samples and translates for Alonzo, a Spanish speaker, when he hosts potential buyers — will also speak at the event.
Aside from offering plenty of pour-over coffee samples from the co-op, the event will include an informal Q&A session with the visitors. The local roasters will present a slideshow of their travels and speak about the Honduran coffee industry’s momentum in addition to screening the trailer for Brian Olson’s documentary film La Finca Humana (The Human Farm). The filmmaker and former Asheville resident moved to Honduras and has been following the country’s organic farming movement spurred by visionary Alias Sanchez.
Before returning home, Alonzo and Cardona will meet with the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society and attend the Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo in Atlanta.
“Not many people have ever gotten to meet a coffee farmer. They’re usually interpreted through the roasters and resellers,” Gibbon says. And on the flip side, “A lot of times farmers don’t have any idea where their coffee ends up: They sell it, it disappears. So, for them to meet their customers, it’s just closing the loop.”
Dynamite’s meet-and-greet tasting event is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at Pisgah Brewing Co., 150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain. Visit dynamiteroasting.com for more information.
Fermented condiments class
A surprisingly high number of everyday foods are fermented, including cheese, coffee, bread and, of course, beer. Homesteader and bacteria superfan Chelsea Wakstein hopes to add even more probiotic foods to folks’ diets. At an upcoming workshop, she’ll lead students in concocting their own fermentable condiments, covering a brief history of fermentation and the health benefits of probiotic foods along the way. Lots of samples will be provided.
The condiments class is 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. Tickets are $15-$30 on a sliding scale. Visit forvillagers.com for details and registration.
Vegan pressure cooking book-signing and demo
“The pressure cooker is a vegan game changer,” reads an event description for Jill Nussinow’s upcoming demo. A registered dietitian, culinary educator and four-time cookbook author — including her most recent work Vegan Under Pressure — Nussinow has taught plant-based cooking for three decades. She’ll share techniques she’s picked up along the way and offer an in-store meal prep demonstration during her free book-signing event.
Nussinow’s event is at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Firestorm Books and Coffee, 610 Haywood Road. Visit avl.mx/2e8 for details and updates.
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project tells farmers’ stories
ASAP is the recent recipient of a $45,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Funds will support the nonprofit’s Communicating the Farm Story with Appalachian Grown project, which helps farmers and farmers markets in the Appalachian Grown network to effectively convey their unique backstories. “Stories are more than marketing,” says Molly Nicholie, ASAP’s local food campaign director. “They have the capacity to bring consumers closer to the processes of farming and food production, providing authenticity and connection to the Appalachian Grown brand.”
Visit asapconnections.org for more information.