From Crop to Cup: Lessons from Origin

Almost 2 weeks ago, a group of us set off for Costa Rica – a trip to origin. This trip was meant to deepen our understanding of the coffee supply chain and the role Urnex plays within it. It did just that…and much more.

Upon our arrival, a white Euro-style minibus awaited curbside with two of our hosts for the trip: Francisco Mena, owner of Exclusive Coffees and visionary/influencer of specialty coffee in Costa Rica; and Ronaldo, the trusted driver of our adventure mobile. After a 6-hour flight, we were able to relax for the rest of the evening, excited for our upcoming itinerary.

Farms_Origin_minibus

Day 1: Central and West Valley

The following morning, we gathered for a traditional breakfast of gallo pinto (a Costa Rican dish made with rice and beans) before heading off to the Exclusive Coffees location. Exclusive Coffees connects producers with resources by coordinating, exporting, and communicating with buyers and traders on behalf of the growers. As coffee production in Costa Rica is increasing, these guys are busy, and we feel fortunate to have experienced a detailed itinerary arranged by such experts.

Exclusive Coffees is engaged in the final stages of coffee-processing, as their facility is home to a dry-mill and a device that separates the beans into lots by size and color. Their space houses an impressive QC & Cupping Lab, administrative offices, a café, and even a small roaster.

Exclusive Coffees is engaged in the final stages of coffee-processing, as their facility is home to a dry-mill and a device that separates the beans into lots by size and color. Their space houses an impressive QC & Cupping Lab, administrative offices, a café, and even a small roaster.

We wrapped up at EC with a blind cupping. Having tasted defective coffees alongside fabulous ones, we are proud to say that we could truly taste the difference. It wasn’t even noon, and it was evident that there was so much to learn and discover about the production of coffee in Costa Rica.

Farms_Origin_Cupping

Soon after the cupping was our first farm visit. We jumped in the back of a truck and were driven to Brumas del Zurqui Farms, near the town of Heredia in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Later immersed in rows of coffee trees, we picked coffee cherries alongside migrant workers, aka coffee pickers, who travel from farm to farm during harvest season. In those few hours, we developed a tremendous respect for the individuals who take part in this hard labor, and we carried that respect with us to each subsequent stop on the trip.

Urnex team and pickers picking coffee cherries at Brumas del Zurqui Farms – a major highlight of the trip.

Urnex team and pickers picking coffee cherries at Brumas del Zurqui Farms – a major highlight of the trip.

Our next stop was to Helsar de Zacero Micromill, a wet-mill in the West Valley growing region. Here, coffee from their own farm (Organic Santa Lucia) as well as other high-quality producers from Lourdes de Naranjo and Llano Bonito de Naranjo (both micro-regions in the West Valley) is de-pulped and then moved to patios and raised beds to dry.

Farms_Origin_Drying

Day 2: West Valley

The next day began with a tour of the farm belonging to our host, Francisco Mena. His “Beneficio” is a joint effort with an outside investor and is called Sumava Lourdes. Coffee trees here sit in perfectly neat rows, organized by variety.

Farms_Origin_Trees

From there, we went to Herbazu Micromill and had the pleasure of being introduced to Tono Barrantes. Legend goes that a coffee-growing father had split his land between his children and encouraged them to invest in their own wet-mill. In spite of some reasonable fears, the children took a loan to build the mill and have succeeded beyond expectations or neighbors’ skepticism. The coffee here has won first place in the Cup of Excellence challenge – the most prestigious competition and award for high quality coffee – and got the attention of buyers at Starbucks.

Farms_Origin_Tono_02

Our last stop for the day was at Sin Limites Micromill, a small farm with a yellow dry mill in which we had to trek through miles of plots of seedlings, making sure not to crush any. Jose Jaime Cardenas developed his prize-winning coffees with the help of his wife, Maibel Barrantes and her sister. Their whole family is quite proud of their combined accomplishments.

Day 3: Tarrazus

The next morning, we stopped at Cafe Don Mayo, in the Tarrazu region. This is the only farm and micro-mill with its own cupping lab! Our guide, Francisco, even grabbed small bags of green coffee samples from Cafe Don Mayo to take back to the Exclusive Coffees offices. When multiple labs are cupping and grading the same coffees, it is important to stay calibrated.

Our second to last farm visit was to Beneficio Don Oscar. Don Oscar is a stately farmer and a true patriarch of coffee, with two sons following closely in his footsteps. Coffee was at peak harvest and they planned to begin picking coffee the next day. In terms of acreage, this was by far the largest farm we saw.

Don Oscar and his two sons, who are learning to be the next generation of producers on his Beneficio. The effort and commitment to keeping in the family is truly honorable.

Don Oscar and his two sons, who are learning to be the next generation of producers on his Beneficio. The effort and commitment to keeping in the family is truly honorable.

The last farm we saw was Beneficio Juanachute, whose owner, Mr. Tacho Castro, spent many summers living and working in East Hampton, New York. After working as carpenter in the United States, he realized that is passion was in coffee, and he returned to his homeland of Costa Rica.

For most on our team, this was their first trip to origin. As professionals, we know the passion and dedication required by those at the farm level to produce high quality beans is widely recognized in the specialty coffee industry, but there is nothing like witnessing the entire process first-hand.

Farms_Origin_Group

Although we have all resettled back into our lives at Urnex, we will not forget the amazing experience that this trip has taught us. We can’t wait for our next trip.

New Eco-Friendly Package from Urnex!

As we continue to remain environmentally conscious and adapt to market changes, we are excited to share that our Original Urn and Brewer Cleaner will now be manufactured in 100% post-consumer packaging!11-PAP_URN1_Before & After_Jan 2016 copy

The kraft paper is 100% recycled from post-consumer fiber. The material is unbleached and processed with low water consumption; it is also compliant with FDA regulations for contact with dry foods as well as compliant with CONEG, RoHS and proposition 65 guidelines.

The Urn and Brewer Cleaner is designed to remove stale coffee oil residue and ensure consistently great tasting beverages! It is used on a wide range of equipment including coffee urns, airpots, thermal servers and glass bowls.

For close to 80 years this product has been part of the original Urnex® portfolio. The newest environmentally friendly package now has a similar look and feel to the original product launched by Josh Dick’s grandfather back in the 1940’s!

Urnex Brands have been manufacturing specialty cleaning products for coffee and espresso equipment since 1936. Today, the portfolio of Urnex® Brand liquids, powders, tablets, and capsules are distributed in over 70 countries around the world. With headquarters in New York, the Company ships from distribution centers in Holland and Hong Kong.

For more information about Urnex Brands, LLC or our offerings, please feel free to contact us by telephone at +1.914.963.2042, or via email to info@urnex.com

We’re Back from Origin

Return_Origin_header

The Urnex team of 12 is back from a life-changing 4 days in Costa Rica. Not only did we become closer as an organization, but we also gained a fuller view of the specialty coffee industry – an industry that is so important to us and our business.

While in Costa Rica, we visited 9 coffee farms and micro-mills. This gave us a better appreciation for the intense efforts involved in harvesting coffee ­– the best 85+ coffees in the world. More importantly, we came to know the people of the coffee industry. We met multi-generational producers and migrant workers who allowed us to “help” pick the ripest cherries. Our hosts, Exclusive Coffees, are a team of coffee advisors who are changing the world and industry for the better by educating the producer and advising on best practices.

Return_Origin_collage

Next week, we will begin to feature a follow-up on all the amazing farms and micro-mills we visited. For now, we applaud the passion and dedication, the love and preparation and the effort and commitment that is in each harvest.

We remind you all to savor the pleasure of your daily cup and Pura Vida!

-Josh

We’re Going to Origin

22From January 10 -14, the Urnex Senior Leadership Team will be traveling to Costa Rica. It is not to explore a new surf camp or relax at the latest posh beach hotel. The truth is, we will be learning about agriculture, business, passion, and coffee at origin.

About 5 years ago, I had the chance to travel to El Salvador and experience coffee at origin with my hosts from Intelligentsia. On that weeklong trip, I experienced first-hand the challenges of coffee production and the amazing passion of the grower. I observed the challenges of every step of the process and the commitment made to product excellence, which I found to be similar to my own dedication to the Urnex business.

The experience in El Salvador on the farms and in the wet mills brought me closer to the coffee community and gave me a sense of the role Urnex plays in this world of coffee.

33

Here’s something to think about:

A pound of green coffee has a commodity price of around $1.25 per pound. Think about all the work that goes into maintaining the plants:

    • Hand harvesting the cherries to the perfect point
    • Depulping
    • Drying
    • Packaging
    • Shipping

It makes you reflect about the ecosystem of coffee and the incredible challenges involved in making it a viable business.

More SortingAs part of our learning process, the Urnex team is about to embark on what I hope will be a life-shaping experience, and a chance to come one step closer to the industry we love and support. We will gain an appreciation for the challenges of the farmer and operational process involved in bringing every bean of green coffee to its destination local or global.

This year is our 80th Anniversary. Throughout four generations of family management, our mission at Urnex continues to be about helping our partners make better tasting coffee. From cloth filters to coffee-specific cleaning products, we have a lot to be thankful for and are excited to continue to grow our expertise in the industry.

Live the origin with us, and follow our trip on social media –

[facebook] [twitter] [instagram]

As our host and the trip organizer Francisco Mena of Exclusive Coffees S.A. ends every email:

“Pura vida!”
-Josh
CEO/President of URNEX

Latte Art Throwdown at Variety Coffee in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Latte Art Throwdown Variety Coffee Crowd

On your mark, get set, throw down!

Each month, dozens of professional baristas commune at a coffee bar to participate in a single-elimination latte art tournament. Being a spectator sport, live images of latte art are projected onto a wall Jumbotron-style so that everyone in attendance can watch the magic unfold. Judges determine the outcome based on all kinds of factors like symmetry and contrast, even surface tension.

IMG_0727At Variety Coffee Roasters last week, over the course of four hours (yes, four hours) the most skilled latte artist advanced to win the cash prize. Thankfully, these part-competition-part-social events are such a blast that by the end of the night it feels like everybody won.

When the clock strikes eleven, it’s time to clean.

Empty mugs are washed, beer cans are tossed into recycling and a broom swept the floor. Urnex Brands Puro Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder restored the equipment to pristine condition. Tomorrow morning’s regulars will never suspect that this place was packed and trashed the night before.

VC_Throwdown_02_smallUrnex Brands loves being a part of the local barista culture which fosters friendship, creativity and professionalism for so many. Thanks to Variety Coffee for hosting, and our friends at Gregory’s Coffee for organizing.

See you next month!

IMG_0731

This post was contributed by Ally Raber (pictured left), Specialty Coffee Sales Manager. Ally can be reached directly at allison.raber@urnex.com

The Definitive 5-Point Checklist for Preparing Great Coffee This Holiday

Holiday_Tips_coffee_preparation_serving

Preparing for the holidays is all consuming – a labor of love is still labor.

Getting things prepared ahead of time is the only way to make it through without a snag. Coffee can present some unique serving challenges especially when it comes to timing – Grandma wants a cup in the afternoon. Parents and teens will want an after-dinner cup. And everybody who stays over will want at least one good cup every morning. Making sure there is always fresh coffee available is challenging.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get your coffee setup ready-to-go ahead of time:

1.clean all coffee equipment

You can do this well ahead of the main event but it must be done. Whatever your daily coffee ritual might be – French press, filter coffee, melitta pour over, et cetera – you probably don’t use a big Holiday urn every morning. Cleaning your equipment does not mean polishing silver, we’re talking about cleaning the inside of the brewer where grinds and hot water combine and rest. We’ve all been to a holiday party, wedding or work event where the coffee tastes “stale” or “off.”

The most common reason for funky tasting coffee: Coffee oil buildup.

BA_Carafe

Coffee oil residue that is left sitting long enough (say, since last year’s holiday season) will go rancid inside of your brewer. Lingering coffee oils can even clog the inside of your machine and cause blockages. This happens because coffee oils are not removed completely with standard dish soap. A good cleaning with a specialty coffee cleaner will not just lead to great tasting coffee, it will also extend the life of your brewing equipment.

coffee_cleaning_products_by_urnex

These coffee and espresso brewer cleaners are quick and easy to use, they will get the job done and they are readily available on Amazon.

2. descale coffee espresso machine

Depending on the brewer you’ll be using throughout the holiday season, it is a good idea to descale too. It doesn’t take long to descale but it can make a big difference when it comes to flavor consistency and the amount of time it takes to brew a fresh pot of coffee.

descale_coffee_brewer_heating_element

Any coffee brewer that heats water internally should be descaled every month, especially single serve coffee brewers like a Keurig or Nespresso. Drip coffee brewers too. Failing to descale is the number one cause of weak and watery coffee.

coffee_descaler_products_by_urnex

These coffee and espresso descaling products are faster and more effective than vinegar. They are readily available on Amazon.

3.fresh

Coffee_beans

It might sound obvious but you need to stock up on fresh coffee beans or grinds. What starts as a holiday party can turn into a mini vacation for certain holiday guests. Running out of coffee would be a disaster. And besides, you don’t want to make any unnecessary trips to the store during the holidays, especially while the heat is on in the kitchen.

4.paper_filters

Holiday_Tips_Coffee_Filters

If you use paper filters, be sure to stock up on those too. Unlike fresh coffee grinds, filters don’t spoil and they don’t take up too much room either. So it’s better to err on the side of caution.

5. cups

Holiday_Tips_paper_coffee_Cups

 

While we recommend serving coffee in a warm mug (preheated with hot water, please) it won’t hurt to have a sleeve of paper cups lying around.

We all love the planet but something has to give during the holidays and it might as well be the cups because it saves you double on washing and machine space. Of course, a departing guest will always appreciate a cup of coffee for the road too.

Have a wonderful holiday full of great tasting coffee and satisfied guests!
And a happy New Year too!

Urnex Brands Hires National Sales Manager, Multi-Unit Food Service – Rob Puleio

November 23, 2015 (Elmsford, NY) — Today, Urnex Brands, LLC welcomes Rob Puleio to the team as National Sales Manager, Multi-Unit Food Service. Rob joins Urnex from Atalanta Corporation where he served as National Account Manager covering the US. Prior to this, Rob served in various key account and sales leadership roles at Rembrandt Foods, Aramark Corporation and C & G Food Brokerage.

Rob will assume responsibility for sales and business development within the Multi-unit Food Chain, Broad-line Food / Supply Distributors and On-site contract Foodservice Providers.

Rob

“We are thrilled to welcome Rob to the team,” said Don Eggebraten, VP of North American Sales. “The addition of Rob will allow Urnex to invest additional resources in an ever growing and expanding multi-unit food chain category. Rob brings an extensive network of contacts and experience to our growing organization.”

Rob will be based in Elmsford, NY and will regularly work with Urnex food service partners throughout the US and Canada.

Urnex Brands, LLC. has been manufacturing specialty cleaning products for coffee and espresso equipment since 1936. Today, the portfolio of Urnex® Brand liquids, powders, tablets, and capsules are distributed in over 70 countries around the world. With headquarters in New York, the Company ships from distribution centers in Holland and Hong Kong. Urnex Brands, LLC. offers a full R&D resource for custom development of machine specific cleaning and descaling products which are provided to over 40 different OEM partners.

For more information about Urnex Brands, LLC. or our offerings, please feel free to contact us by telephone at +1.914.963.2042, or via email to info@urnex.com.

Rob can be reached at: Robert.Puleio@urnex.com

Urnex Brands Hires Specialty Coffee Sales Manager – Allison Raber

Urnex Brands, LLC welcomes Allison Raber to the team as Specialty Coffee Sales Manager. Ally

Ally joins Urnex from Lamill Coffee where she initially supported the business as Operations Manager and later as Account Executive. Ally previously worked at Intelligentsia Coffee and Pannikin Coffee and Tea where she gained experience in customer service, sales, marketing and equipment as well as on bar as a barista.

Ally’s primary responsibility at Urnex will be working with the specialty coffee community to develop and expand the Urnex mission of helping customers prepare and deliver the best tasting coffee. This will include managing key accounts and being a key representative for Urnex at barista events and tradeshows around the world.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ally to the team,” said Josh Dick, CEO. “We know that her passion, energy and enthusiasm will help the entire Urnex organization grow and evolve within the coffee community.”

Ally will be based in Elmsford, NY and will regularly work with Urnex partners throughout the U.S. She will report to Don Eggebraten, VP of North American Sales and be a part of our growing sales organization.

Urnex Brands, LLC. has been manufacturing specialty cleaning products for coffee and espresso equipment since 1936. Today, the portfolio of Urnex® Brand liquids, powders, tablets, and capsules are distributed in over 70 countries around the world. With headquarters in New York, the Company ships from distribution centers in Holland and Hong Kong.

For more information about Urnex Brands, LLC or our offerings, please feel free to contact us by telephone at +1.914.963.2042, or via email to info@urnex.com.

Ally can be reached at: Allison.raber@urnex.com

Urnex Brands Hires Asian Business Manager – Industry Veteran Bernhard Kuenzler

BernhardSeptember 29, 2015 (Elmsford, NY) — Today, Urnex Brands, LLC welcomes Bernhard Kuenzler to the team as Asian Business Manager. Bernhard joins Urnex from Eversys SA where he oversaw Customer Service and Product Management as CCSO. Prior to this, Bernhard served in various sales, marketing, and product development leadership roles at Schaerer AG, Solis, and HGZ/Rex Royal.

Bernhard will assume responsibility for sales and business development throughout Asia and intends to work with existing customers and distributors. He will also work to expand the Urnex customer specific product development business in Asia.

“We are thrilled to welcome Bernhard to the team,” said Josh Dick, CEO. “The addition of Bernhard will allow Urnex to provide a local training and development resource to our distributors and coffee machine manufacturers throughout Asia. Bernhard brings an extensive network of contacts and experience to our growing organization.”

Bernhard will be based in Zurich, Switzerland and will regularly work with Urnex partners throughout the Asian coffee community.

Urnex Brands, LLC has been manufacturing specialty cleaning products for coffee and espresso equipment since 1936. Today, the portfolio of Urnex® Brand liquids, powders, tablets, and capsules are distributed in over 70 countries around the world. With headquarters in New York, the Company ships from distribution centers in Holland and Hong Kong. Urnex offers a full R&D resource for custom development of machine specific cleaning and descaling products which are provided to over 40 different OEM partners.

For more information about Urnex Brands, LLC or our offerings, please feel free to contact us by telephone at +1.914.963.2042, or via email to info@urnex.com.

Bernhard can be reached at: Bernhard.Kuenzler@urnex.com

New and Improved Packaging for Full Circle Commercial Cleaning Products

FC_BA_Blog v2One of our core values here at Urnex Brands is to eliminate waste. Waste comes in many forms – there is wasted effort, wasted materials, and we especially hate wasted time. This was the primary reason for redesigning the packaging of our Full Circle commercial product line – speed.

All of the new labels are more clearly marked and color coded by function (cleaning powder, milk cleaning liquid, etc.) so that you and your employees can grab what you need more quickly without wasting time sorting through bottles and squinting at labels.

The new labeling also includes:
• OMRI and NSF certification logos to highlight Full Circle’s environmental benefits.
• Multilingual labeling for GHS compliance and expanded global reach.

There have been no changes to the product itself, just the labels. You’re still purchasing the best eco-friendly coffee and espresso equipment cleaning products on the market today.

Full Circle is the first environmentally responsible and effective portfolio of coffee equipment cleaning products. As always, we continue to strive to create products that meet our highest standards of cleaning power while considering the world around us. Full Circle ingredients are biodegradable, phosphate free, and odorless, and the packaging is 100% recyclable.

Thank you to everyone whose feedback contributed to the new packaging as well as your continued support of our products. For additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@urnex.com