I've had an affinity for documental photography since I can remember watching a walter looss Jr. documentary in high school. Ive taken this passion for telling visual stories with me ever since I purchased my first camera.
I spent years in Chile, living there, photographing people in street scenes and in landscapes. Taking straightforward honest, photos. The love for coffee was always there, but I was just a guy who maybe made a pour over occasionally.
Luis the self proclaimed "Lord of The Dogs" in Santiago, Chile 2012.
After spending the last serveral years working as a Barista in Kansas City, I bought a Popcorn Popper on ebay, and started home roasting coffee. Some of the first batches were awful, tasteless, bland coffees. Of course since then I have moved on from the popcorn popper.
Its been a year, and recently I have had so many of my coffee industry friends, compliment my coffee, along with honest criticism that has pushed me to roast better and better coffee.
I roast coffee, out of a small room in my house in Waldo a neighborhood in South Kansas City.
When It came to approaching coffee, and roasting it and selling it, I wanted to be different. Ive always considered myself an incredibly visual person, a person who sees more than any of his other senses. Sometimes when I taste coffee, I will see a color that it reminds me of. Like an Ethiopia Sidamo that tastes "Purple."
To me coffee is such a narrative type object, for years coffee was roasted in pans around campfires, and consumed, before the invention of the folgers coffee can. I can only imagine that in some fire pits, people were experiencing incredible flavors before coffee became just a commodity we use to wake up in the morning.
Every single origin pourover coffee is like opening up a little story, Over 40 hands handle your coffee before you finally consume it.
Over 40 hands touch each coffee bean before it is ever consumed.
Each brew starts with a pre-infusion that we call a "Bloom" coffee and water collide, and it blooms up like a flower as the coffee begins to degas. So coffee grows from a coffee flower tree, from one bloom to a bloom finally in our coffee makers, and thats the beginning of our experience.
After acting like quasi chemists in our kitchens, we get to finally read the story, rich flavors fill our cups, we taste ripe fruits, and rich caramel, chocolate, vanilla or nougat. We taste floral notes, and spices.
We drink africans that take like blueberry juice, or a Guatemala that you could swear had actual chocolate in it. Nicaraguans that are sweet like molasses and tart like blackberries. We taste sun dried tomato, and dry spice, in a coffee from sumatra. Some Colombians are so complex we can't even begin to describe them. A Mexico from Oaxaca has so much rich sweet body, that it lingers on and on throughout your day on your tongue.
We embarrassingly have to look up what stone fruit is, the first time we see it on packaging. Like somber poets, coffee gets described as wine like, soft, fruity, round, ripe, rich, deep, light, tea-like, floral, full, chocolatey, with lime like acidity. We start to talk about things like Mouthfeel, in almost embarrassing ways. We say its creamy, buttery, silky smooth, juicy, and on and on the list goes.
During a recent cupping at Anthem Imports, I could have sworn on the bible that an Ethiopia Hambela tasted like Red Skittles.
Coffee lets our tastebuds dance their way into a sensual adventure.
It becomes an obsession.
As roasters we are allowed to tell the story, behind the coffee to the pallete of each person.
Yet it is more than just a story of flavor, coffee is a story of struggle.
In developing nations throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa and even little Papau New Guinea, coffee is a way of life for over 25 million coffee farmers.
Land passed and taken care of from one generation to the next, is toiled over, as blood, sweat and tears fertilizes the soil that grows the floral tree that produces a cherry, who's seed, when roasted well, opens up to bring great joy to our daily lives.
That is the heart of Cuento Coffee.
I wanted to use a word from my second language as a name for my company, and I wanted to tell visual stories with coffee.
The word Cuento is spanish for a tale, or a story.
My dream is to one day travel to coffee regions and tell the stories of each coffee through the lives of those who struggle and fight with the land to produce it. To put faces and names to each coffee through the lens of my camera.
To tell a Cuento that goes along with your brewing experience.
For now, as just a little roaster, I am buying imported coffee, and connecting with artists who have a connection to the coffee region, to help tell a cuento that goes with your bag of coffee.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure.