How Saxbys Sources Intriguing and Approachable Coffee From Farmers Around the World
David Amos and Josue Morales have a friendship that goes back nearly a decade.
David is a long-time coffee buyer and roaster. Josue owns a mill in Guatemala and works with hundreds of the best coffee producers on the planet. David and Josue have spent countless hours cupping premium coffee, touring coffee farms and sharing valuable knowledge. The relationship has upsides for both of them: Josue has introduced David to the best coffee producers in Guatemala and educated him on the finer points of coffee farming. Meanwhile, David shares the perspective of coffee consumers in the United States and offers insight into strategies that other farmers are implementing around the world.
After long days spent in the sweltering sun, David and Josue often knock off for a beer together.
“One time I flew down for his birthday. It wasn’t a business trip at all. We’re legitimately friends” said David, the new Vice President of Coffee at Saxbys.
The deep bond between David and Josue is just one example of how personal relationships are driving the new Saxbys coffee program. David’s relationships with farmers in places like Brazil, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Colombia give him an incredible advantage when sourcing the best possible coffee for Saxbys. For Saxbys guests, it means better coffee in their cups.
"We go to origin to find exactly the coffees we believe our guests will enjoy. We're putting the same time, energy, and resources into every single coffee that goes into a blend that is normally only reserved for single origin releases," David explained. "All coffee that goes into our core blends, our decaf, and our single origin releases are sourced by me at origin and based on a relationship. That makes us really different."
Josue Morales in Antigua, Guatemala. David Amos sampling coffees in Kenya.
One of the best perks of his job is working with farmers who have a deep understanding of the types of coffee David seeks to find for Saxbys’ guests.
“They get to know your tastes. There might be 100 lots on a farm and that’s too much to dig into, but when I get there, they’ve narrowed it down to what my taste profile we’ve set out to achieve for our guests,” said David.
Another one of David’s favorite challenges is cupping coffees at origin and figuring out how they might taste when roasted alongside coffees from other parts of the world. It’s an arduous process that requires a keen palate and plenty of creativity.
“When I’m in Ethiopia, Guatemala and Brazil, I’m basically guessing how these coffees are going to work together,” said David. “I recently bought a Kenyan coffee thinking it would be really good in espresso, and I bought an Ethiopian coffee to use in Cold Brew. Back at the roastery in Philly, we ended up swapping them. The Kenyan coffee adds a crisp clean flavor to the back end of the Cold Brew and the espresso worked beautifully with the Ethiopian, so you don’t really know until you get it back to our roastery.”
Coffee is a seasonal product and constantly changing. That means David is constantly hunting for new coffees that fit the flavor profile he’s built for Saxbys.“Every time I go to origin, I’m excited to try what’s new that season. Perhaps one part of the farm is producing well compared to last year. Having that relationship and honest dialogue is super important. I’m convinced that you get the best coffee by having great relationships at origin,” said David. “I know farmers set aside the best coffee for their friends.”
Eli Espinoza (and family) with David Amos in Cajamarca, Peru