Monogram, Timor-Leste, Letefoho Organic
|Roaster Tasting Notes||Dried Apple, Chocolate, Cardamom|
|Varieties||Timor Hybrid & Typica|
If you were schmoozing around the Canadian or World Barista Championships around 2013-2015, you probably know these two Canuck lads:
Jeremy Ho and Ben Put.
Although they have several barista champ title belts they could wear around their waists, these days they focus on sourcing, roasting and serving great coffee in Calgary.
Today they share a coffee from a place that is quite unfamilar.
Our crack investigative journalism team was able to score a two-on-one interview with Ben and Jeremy to get all the facts about their roasting company Monogram and this interesting coffee from Timor-Leste.
Chronicles: Hey guys! Thanks for coming on Chronicles. So do you get a lot of Ben & Jerry's jokes since your names sound like theirs? Can I get a single scoop of Chunky Monkey in a cup?
Ben: Believe it or not, we actually don't get many Ben & Jerry's jokes, although I'm more of a Cherry Garcia man myself.
Chronicles: First of all, tell us how you came to have this coffee. We didn't even know coffee from an island in SE Asia could have this much clarity.
Ben: Coffee from Timor-Leste was a new experience for us as well! We have a great friend at Royal Coffee, Caitlin McCarthy-Garcia. She is a fantastic cupper and whenever something special crosses her table, she lets us know. She strongly recommended we check out this coffee and sent us two samples. I think that there has been an unfair bias towards Pacific coffees that I admit I also carry–especially given that this lot has Timor Hybrid in it (i.e. 50% Robusta genetics). To try to minimize that effect on the cupping table, I built a 20 sample, blind table with as many diverse origins and varieties as I could muster. This was an attempt to create a more level playing field where my personal biases have less of an impact on scores. There were two coffees on the table that stood out as they were chocolatey and floral at the same time, which is a rare occurrence to me. Those two coffees had the highest scores on the table. They were both from Timor-Leste! That was a big wake up call for me both in terms of assumptions around variety and origin.
Chronicles: We had to Google this island for reference . . .
Timor-Leste, or East Timor, takes up the eastern half of the greater Timor island, part of the Indonesian archipelago and not far from the northern coast of Australia. It is a young republic with a long and chaotic political history, having only achieved full independence in 2002, after almost 500 years of consecutive occupations by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and Indonesia.
Chron: What should our readers know about Timor Leste coffee?
Ben: Timor-Leste has produced coffee for many years. One of the things it is most famous for is the Timor Hybrid variety. This is a naturally occurring cross between Robusta and Arabica, that has the cup quality of Arabica and the hardiness of Robusta–specifically, it is resistant to leaf rust. This hybrid variety is a huge gift to the coffee world as many people use it when creating new disease resistant varieties. It’s easy to get swept up in the contribution of the Timor Hybrid’s global impact and lose sight of the quality of the hybrid at its origin, Timor Leste.
Chronz: What do you know about the hands who grew, processed and exported this green coffee?
Ben: This particular lot comes from 10 small producers organized by Café Brisa Serena (CBS). CBS is a social enterprise and exporter that was founded with assistance from Peace Winds Japan, an NGO that has been on the ground since Timor-Leste’s independence. CBS assists producers both with education and infrastructure, with a current focus on improving drying techniques. This work has led to higher prices for producers, with producers making roughly 60% more than they did previously.
Chron: Once you selected this coffee, how did you develop the roast profile?
Ben: When it came to roasting this coffee, we had purchased it to fit within our “Warmth” category, which are coffees that are on the more approachable side, while still exhibiting some acidity and not taking the roast too dark. With this in mind we roasted the coffee with a little bit more development time than our super light filter coffees (1:40), but kept the speed of the roast on the lower side to ensure that the end temperature didn’t go too high. This gives the coffee a good solid backbone of chocolate with a heavy body, but preserves some of the fruit and florals that made it pop on the cupping table.
Huge thanks to Caitlin at Royal and everyone at CBS and Peace Winds Japan for getting this coffee to us. We can’t wait to try more coffees from Timor Leste!
Chronicles: We had no idea about this place or the coffee production there. Thanks for introducing us to a new origin.
Chronicles: So Mister Ho, tell us about Monogram and what you guys are about.
Jeremy: We're Monogram Coffee from Calgary, Canada. We're excited to be featured in such a fun collection of some great roasters. So happy you are enjoying the coffee. We do our best to be sourcing coffees that are flavour intense with really unique varieties, processing or stories and do our best to bring out their beautiful flavours and balance through roasting.
Chronicles: How did Monogram get started?
Jeremy: Ben, Justin and I all worked together before coming together to start Monogram. We all shared the same vision of coffee that inspires both wonder and warmth. We started out as a small coffee cart that we built ourselves and through our amazing team have grown to be several cafes, roasting facility and a growing wholesale and online business! At Monogram our purpose is to positively impact people's lives through coffee and we hope to be recognized not just for the wonderful coffee we have, but as a company that deeply cares for our communities, producing partner relationships and our team.
Chronicles: We noticed that you offer coffee from other roasters, very uncommon for a coffee roaster's shop. What is up with your Atlas Coffee program???
Jeremy: Our Atlas Program is all about Exploring the Wonderful World of Coffee. Even though we are a roaster ourselves, we are big fans of the work of other incredible roasters from around the world. We thought it would be amazing to feature some of these roasters alongside our own coffees in one of our shops to do 1-2 month 'residencies'. This way our customers can discover new coffees and roasting styles from roasters that they may never have the opportunity to try, and continue to have coffee spark their imagination. We also vacuum seal and freeze the coffees we bring in for our by the cup program and have built an incredible menu of some of the world's best coffees from the world's best roasters!
Chronicles: Seems like you guys are keeping busy. What is in the near and distant future for Monogram?
Jeremy: We are opening a couple new cafes including a new concept called Soon Coffee in the next couple weeks. Also hoping to continue to evolve and grow our online and subscription programs!
Come back tomorrow for part 2 of this 3-part interview!
(Just kidding. That's the whole interview. Thanks for making it this far. We might start a podcast.)
How'd it taste?
The writer's desk found the aroma to be straight up cocoa nibs. The taste was nuts, dry also, exquisitely balanced and nuanced. Complex. Fruity undertones, relaxed sweetness. Royal Coffee used the note "lemonade" and we can absolutely see why. It holds up as it cools, a sign of nice roast development.
Revolver HQ had more fruity tasting notes for this gem
A combination of fresh apple and dried mango in the aroma. Taste is a comforting dark chocolate and the finish is cacao nibs. When it cooled I tasted green apple acidity. This coffee can be a new member of your everyday coffee line up.
What did you think of today's coffee?
We would love to hear from you ❤️
Feel free to share with us any comments below and use #coffeechronicles on social media so we can follow along.
We've been all around the world and now we can stick a new pin in our map.
What do you think is in store for Timorrow as we savor our last five coffees?
Come back here tomorrow so Leste we find out.
– Coffee Chronicles
- Read: Royal Coffee profiles the project that brought this coffee from Timor Leste
- Read: The Coming of Age of coffee in Timor-Leste
- Peep: MonoGramsInstaGrams
- Get: June Coffee Chronicles preorders are available now! Claim your $30 off by emailing your May order number to sheriff (at) revolvercoffee.ca
Shipping starts later this week.
- Did you like this coffee? Get some more at the Revolver Web Shop here.