Friday 17 March 2017

A little progress!

This last week we had a wonderful team from Judson University here to help us get a head start on getting everything with the community center and coffee shop going.

We were able to get the foundation poured for the coffee barn. We had to get a little creative because we ran out of water about half way through, but we ended up pulling water from about every source we could think of in order to get the job done.---- The joys of putting up a building in the middle of dry season!

After we were done pouring all the concrete it decided to RAIN... and HAIL. (haha) So we have a non slick surface instead of something completely slick.

It was slightly emotional to see the first big project complete for the community center and coffee shop complete. So many months of dreaming, planning and organizing and things are finally coming together!

We were also able to get the paint on the walls in the actual community center and coffee shop! Now, we are beginning to paint the logos on the wall. In about a month we hope to be able to start getting the furniture and get things set up!

Also, started painting the round building behind my house. We are going to be using that (hopefully soon) as the church building. This will allow us to be in town and be more convenient for people to get to church!

The team also was able to help us continue the relationships with the schools. At each school we did an english rally!

Lots of exciting things happening here. Please be praying for all the details and money to come together. =)

Tuesday 28 February 2017

A little update....

To catch you up... Brock, Heather and I went to receive training on the field to cup experience of a coffee shop. We learned so much that is almost hard to put into words. Now we are busy with plans to get everything ready. We hope to launch on Saturday June 10th. Prayers are much appreciated as we are very aware of how much needs to happen, along with all the other ministry stuff we have going.

11 hours of being home from Guatemala, I left to go recruit at Grace University for Camino Global

After about three weeks away, I was so thankful to come home and see these wonderful faces...

Currently, I am working like crazy to make sure we can get the proper equipment and stuff for the coffee shop/community center. And trying to figure out how to get green coffee beans up to us pronto!

We are also trying to create a list of coffee farmers in Oaxaca and Chiapas at the right elevation and price for what we want.... nope, thats not overwhelming at all ;)

Right now, lots of english classes are going on... kind of as a kick off to La Cima ministries (the community center). Two different rural public schools, in my house twice a week and at the church building once a week. It is amazing to start getting to know people of the community and look forward to the day when I know everyone!

On Saturday a group is coming from Judson University. They are going to help with teaching english, painting the community center and coffee shop, painting the roofs, doing rallys at the two schools, and laying the foundation for the coffee roasting barn. I am excited to have them, and excited to see what God does through them! 

Then there is a bunch of random ministry stuff coming up... its a super busy time of year here. We (the Amealco team) appreciate your prayers for everything... including rest and relaxation in the midst of crazy! 

Thank you all for your prayers and support. =)

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Last day!

Well, today we wrapped up our last day of coffee bootcamp! We finished up learning how to maintain the machines. Well, ok... Brock mostly learned that. I just helped at the coffee bar and learning some new drinks.

We finished our time with a great lunch by Mike and Adele and then they even gave us the coffee certification... we are certifiable folks!

Anyways, we are very thankful for the new knowledge we acquired and the experience we received here in Panajachel, Guatemala. We are very grateful for Mike and Adele Roberts at Crossroads Cafe for being great hosts and sharing all their trade secrets with us.

We are absolutely exhausted. But excited for the future.

Tomorrow we fly back to Mexico and get in very late! Then less than a 12 hours later i turn around and head on to another trip. Prayers for rest and safety and great travel days!

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Coffee bootcamp: over 1000lbs roasted.

Oh man, after several days of roasting we have (successfully) roasted over 1000 lbs of coffee. Thats crazy!

We can successfully...
- go to farm and pick out the best quality beans based on the plant, the smell and then cupping the coffee beans
- create relationships with the farmers and know how to get them shipped to us (by the 150lb bag).
- Set up a successful roasting room
- We can roast different coffees based on the bean.
- We learned how badly you can be burned by a coffee roaster and how you can really easily break limbs when you are not paying attention.
- We can pick out flavor profiles in the beans and know which to buy, which to mix and which to leave.
- We know fair prices for beans
- We can make espresso blends from several different beans to create a great taste and complexity
- We can cool, grind and serve the beans in several different way
- What we want and what we do not want in a coffee shop experience.

Bottom line: We can do this! 

We are not experts but we have the head knowledge and a lot know is relationship with people and putting all of our knowledge into practice.

We have one more day of training, which is mostly wrapping up everything and last minute questions.

We are excited and cautiously optimistic at this point... but we are also very tired. So, talk to you tomorrow.

Monday 13 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Coffee Farms

Today we got to experience coffee farms. This was an incredible experience for all three of us. We learned more than I could possibly post on this small blog. But, we now know and understand what questions to ask, what equipment to bring with us to the farms and what it looks like to see good and bad beans. 

We were able to see a cooperative farm and then a single farmer and his shop. It was fun to see the difference in quality and the difference in the process. 

We knew nothing starting the day and know we feel confident in taking our trips to the farms in the next few months. 

We were talking today about how God has totally changed our lives (ministry wise) and how He has been lining up things for the coffee shop and the connections and this training. It is pretty amazing! 

The first day or two of training we felt we were trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. Ever tried that, im sure its hard! But now we keep thinking... this is crazy but we can do this. Which, in and of itself, is amazing. 

We ask you continue to pray for us. Lots of work has happened... lots of work to do. 

Sunday 12 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Day off!

Today we got to be tourists in this beautiful area of Guatemala! We were able to do a tour of the surrounding villages on Lake Atitlan. Super touristy but fun! 

We also took some time at one of the villages, Santiago, to visit a Mayan/Catholic idol in the town called Moshimo. It was fascinating and gave us an inside view of the religion in that area.

Tomorrows plan is to visit the coffee farms and learn how to pick the coffee we are going to use at the coffee shop. But for now, we go to bed early! 

Saturday 11 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Just keep swimming- I mean roasting!

We are trying our very hardest to retain all the information that is being thrown at us every single day. Sometimes we have to ask a few times to understand the information, but we are at least trying and maybe possibly improving our skills.

Today was less roasting, 144 successful pounds. Actually, I am proud of us. We can, almost every time, know what level to roast to and where we should pull the beans out. We know the process the bean has in order to fully develop and about how long in between cracks and levels. etc. etc. We are well on our way to be confident! 

Heather and I also switched off in learning the barista part of things. Learning how to use a manual espresso machine, serving different lattes, americanos,  etc. It was also good to be able to see what was useful for them and what they would change if they got to start the coffee shop all over. 

After lunch we spent more time testing the beans that we roasted and looking up equipment on the internet, searching for prices, etc. 

The things that have overwhelmed me about this process have been changing this week. I am confident that we can roast beans, I am confident I can run a coffee shop... of course both of those things will still take time in perfecting. 

But, I am more overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort that it is going to take us to set up the coffee shop. I may be the only person that is overwhelmed at the thought, but seriously... so... much... work....

Anyways, with our new information and knowing that we now have to BUILD A BUILDING for the roasting machine, spend a significant amount of time searching Mexico and possibly the US and maybe even Italy for stuff AND going to many coffee farms... we decided to push the 'open' date for the community center and coffee shop to June1. We will still do normal ministry stuff and teach english at the schools, but all the other free time will be consumed with the new project before we can launch correctly. We also decided to hold off on some other projects we wanted to accomplish before summer, in order to focus more time and energy on doing this project well. 

Anyways, I think it was a good day, even though the overwhelming feeling has kicked in. We are ready for tomorrow where we get to kind of "rest" before jumping back in on Monday. By rest--- I mean that we are going to be tourists and go to the different villages around. We are looking forward to it! 

Thank you all for your prayers and we appreciate your continued prayers and support of this crazy plan that God has very clearly laid out in front of us. It will be a lot of work and we know that He will use it for His glory in Amealco and Mexico!

Friday 10 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: roasting masters!

Well the good news is that we do not feel like we have been through the ringer as much today, although at one point we thought: "wouldn't it have been fun to come here on vacation rather than on a work trip". Ok, ya, would have been more fun but we are so fortunate to be learning what we are learning. We are also thankful we got to do this all together, because we truly have fun together and we each have different strengths and each will be great at different things in the coffee business.

This morning we were left, basically alone, in the roasting room. The task: Roast four different roasts, each three different loads of 18lbs a piece. Total of 216 pounds of coffee this morning. And guess what?!?! We did it!! Not only did we do it, but it was absolutely acceptable for coffee shop use in a quality shop. This was a giant success... not that we won't ever make mistakes but it gave us the confidence that we really needed to be able to say..."we can do this and we can do it well". We still need lots of practice but everything related to roasting is "clicking" and its fun to see it happen.

This afternoon we learned the art of cupping. Again, something we need to keep practicing but even so we learned the methods, how to rank coffees and which to pick and which not to pick when testing different beans from different farms. Even Brock, who is truly trying to enjoy coffee for the first time in his life liked one of the ones we roasted! Success!

It was a fun day to do what we learned and then try them in the form of cupping and then drip coffee. Tomorrow we plan on doing the same thing again (plus the beginning of barista training).

And then because our trainer, Mike, has a fun sense of humor... he gave me this cup...

Thursday 9 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Roasting Edition

Today was the first day of official coffee bootcamp. Phew. We ended hungry and tired but we learned ALOT! 

The morning was spent learning the ins and out of roasting. By lunch we walked away with a little more of an attitude of "we can actually do this". 

Time, temperature, cooling, color, texture... all important part of the process and if any one of those things is off, you have lost all quality of the roast. 

We kinda figured the higher in elevation the coffee grows the better.... NOT TRUE! The sweet spot is between 4000-6000 feet. 

We also realized how much work we will be putting in visiting coffee farms and getting samples and testing it all..... and to that we were kinda like....

It was a productive day where we each got more excited about the idea of having this shop... which we believe will be amazing. However, while we knew it would be work. We had a little more of an idea of the work that will need to go into it. Also, we were able to see what was and was not functioning as well as it could or should here and talked about ways where we can tailor things to allow us to not have as much work. 

Although we were kind disappointed in the lack of coffee we were able to drink today, which equaled zero. We were happy with the amount of encouragement we received when we realized we can roast coffee successfully!

Now to bed before we learn some more roasting techniques and cupping tomorrow. 

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Coffee Bootcamp: Trying to get here!

Well, overall we traveled for 24 hours to get to Guatemala! On Monday we made it to Ixtapaluca with enough time to hang out with the Fry family for a bit before heading to the airport to spend the night... time in travel.... 5 hours. 

The next day was the killer. We expected two very short flights. The first one to Cancun was easy and we got there on time. The strange part was as soon as we were off the flight someone from our airline was waiting for us. He shuffled us around the airport like we were infants and he was afraid we would miss our next flight... which we almost did. The guy also informed us that we had an hour, and we didn't so we heard our names over the loud speaker! HA! 

The next flight left early.... we knew it would be a short, little over an hour flight.... on our descent into Guatemala the pilot came on and said, in Spanish of course, something to the tune of.... "There was some sort of accident at the airport in Guatemala. All we know is the airport is closed for two hours. But, don't worry we have enough fuel for 1.5 hours." 


Turns out it was a helicopter crash, and a doozie of one at that! We were told that it flew up from somewhere and then crash landed at the airport. Kinda a miracle it landed there instead of anywhere else in the city where it could have killed even more people. 

Very shortly later they told us they were turning around and flying back to Cancun to refuel. The entire time we had hope that they would just fuel and fly back. 

Well, no. They got us all off the plane and for the next 6 or 7 hours they changed the planes, times and gates about four million times. But, they did give us food coupons, so thats a plus!

The biggest positive that we saw in this whole situation is..... there were two new mommies on the flight. One with a seven month old and one with a two month old, both traveling alone and both frazzled. We were able to help them in several ways over those hours that allowed them to get some food, get organized and have people to talk to. One mom (of the seven year old) was about to lose her mind and when Heather asked if we could help she basically threw the baby at her. He is a cutie! She ended up, without knowing anything about us or even our names (and i add we didn't know the babies name or hers at this point either) leaving us with her baby for at least a half hour alone. Of course, we knew the baby was safe, and apparently she trusted us, but... wow!

Anyways, we ended up getting to Guatemala super late and then a three hour drive through the windy curvy mountains... motion sickness breeding ground.

Around 3am we were able to go to bed.... a little sick, tired and grumpy but thankful for a bed!

We planned today as a day off before starting to do training so we are thankful for that as well. Naps might be in the order as we still look a little zombie ish.

Until the next adventure...

Wednesday 18 January 2017

The Coffee Experience #1

The guy that is training us in "the coffee industry" has suggested that it would be interesting and fun to document the experience from now until we get back from training. He has given us a pile of books to read, some stuff to watch to watch on youtube, and some emails going back and forth.

During the e-mails he has been very clear that it is an intense learning process and we should start resting now for something that happens in three weeks!

The videos we are suppose to be watching explain the process of cupping coffee. I have seen this done in the past, when I was just messing around youtube, and I am super excited to be able to try that and see what is all about in person.  Coffee cupping is where you taste, smell, and examine coffee during different stages of brewing. I love coffee, so this won't be hard for me at all. =) However, a person on our team... does not enjoy coffee and I will also get the experience of him suffering through that a little!

The books. Although packed with a whole bunch of information that is probably pretty useful, its hard to sit and read... at least for me. It is full of information about how much moisture is in a bean, how fast and what temp to roast it. (see the thrilling images below) I know that I will need to learn all of that, but I think it will be more helpful to see it and talk about it in person vs reading a book while falling asleep.

This is going to be an adventure for sure, we don't leave for a few weeks, so i am going to continue learning until then... I keep thinking WHAT HAVE I GOT MYSELF INTO!

Tuesday 17 January 2017

And so it begins....

After taking some time to move, get my house ready, settle in the new members of my crew, learn my way around, get to know the church, and rest a bit... things are finally starting for me here in Amealco.

For the past few months we have been working with the Camino Foundation to get set up as a community center/ coffee shop. We are making progress on that and our expected "start" date is mid March to the beginning of April. Now really starts the fundraising, getting the plans concrete, finding the equipment we need etc.
In just a few weeks; Brock, Heather and I are headed to Guatemala to get trained on running a coffee shop. He is going to teach us everything from going to the farmer, roasting, managing and running a successful coffee shop. The guy we are learning from keeps telling us to get lots of rest because we will need it before we go, so we are wondering what we just got ourselves into! =)
Be on the look out for many blogs about this experience. Mike has suggested it would be fun to document this experience, so I am going to! Starting in just a few days! =0)
But, really we are excited about this opportunity and ask you keep us in your prayers. We are also a little short of being funded for this trip, if you want to help out, let me know.

This week begun tons of English classes in Amealco. English is a great avenue to get to know people and create a relationship with them. Before the community center is up and running we are still being proactive in building relationships in the community. Right now, that is in the form of two different things.
1. Teaching every morning at a local rural school. This school has 33 families and very few "extras". While still a government school, it doesn't get much help. The classes range from preschool to Junior high and then also teaching a class to the mothers.  We are also planning days of games and english activities to get the family involved. This will be a fun way to get to know these 33 families and hopefully beginning to build relationships with them!
2. The family that owns the house I am renting have been wanting to learn english. So twice a week, they come to my house for some classes. There are several reasons for this.... first of all, it is a desire that I can help with. Secondly, this is a large family that knows everyone in Amealco. So our circle of influence could become great.

Right now, I feel knee deep in making sure all of my things are legal in the new residence. Changing my address on my permanent residency card, getting new license plates etc. This is all seeming to take more time then I expected, but I am making progress!

As I look towards the next few months, we have a few teams coming, a few trips planned, lots of getting to know people and setting up the new ministries. I ask you pray for us here. Amealco is not as "open" as Ixtapaluca is and we have to be careful at the rate we expand and do ministry.