At Longboard, nature rules. Everything is done by hand. All of our lots are dried by the sun. Our farms are managed free of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The result: superior representation of the unique, natural characteristics of the varietals planted into the diverse microclimates and rich, unadulterated soils of our farms.
Not having come from a generational coffee family or background, but rather drawing from a degree in Natural Resource management with a focus in tropical studies and a passion for permaculture and the palate, has allowed us to create our own approach, to think outside the box when confronting the myriad challenges associated with the production of ultra specialty coffee, with the final cup always our ultimate goal.
At Longboard, we do a lot of things different. It starts with our approach to harvesting. We realized early on that paying harvesters the traditional way, by volume (“lata” or 5 gallon bucket), directs the incentive away from harvesting the perfect cherry, toward filling volume. To our knowledge we are the first to pay our harvesters by the hour instead of by weight or volume so their primary incentive is for picking perfect red cherries at peak ripeness, not filling latas. At certain times of year a harvester will work 8 hours to pick under two latas of perfect cherry. At the end of harvest season, the first cash bonus of the year is given. Next, instead of a few sweeping harvests per season, we harvest almost every day from mid December through mid April, bringing in over 90 lots of only 2-10 lata per day of cherries at peak ripeness.
At the end of the day when the coffee arrives at Fennario, the harvest is measured and recorded. Coffees that are going to be washed are de-pulped by hand and fermented naturally in small individual tanks. After fermentation is complete the coffee is carefully washed by hand and laid out in the sun to be dried naturally either on African beds, or if they are full, on the cement patio. We never use mechanized de-pulpers, de-mucilage equipment, or machine dryers. All of our Naturals are sun dried on African beds for 18-21 days and turned by hand three times per day. At each turning, imperfect cherries are selected and removed. The only time our coffees touch a machine is during milling and sorting, but we sort again by hand after that. Of course these and many other methods we employ are much more expensive and time consuming than the norm, but our primary objective at Longboard is not to increase yield, save time, or even to save money- it is to produce the finest cup of ultra-specialty coffee in the world- period.
We believe the mechanization, chemicalization and industrialization of modern farming, while increasing yield saving time and money, has polluted our soil, air and water resources, centralized land ownership into the hands of a few, and has ultimately detracted from the nutrition, healing qualities and importantly the flavor profile of our food and beverage. Just taste an organic sun ripened tomato compared to one off the supermarket shelf and you’ll know what we’re talking about. We embrace the organic, non GMO, farm to table movement and are excited to form a part of including coffee as an integral facet of this awakening.