Happy New Year, Ironclad community! As we count down the final hours of this year and look forward to the best of what the next may bring, we wanted to recap some of our brightest moments of 2018.
February – Sourcing Expedition to Antigua, Guatemala
As dedicated specialty roasters, we take great care in our sourcing practices. We only work with importers who can guarantee us a high standard of traceability to a coffee’s origin. Additionally, when we can, we reach out to the farmers and their representatives themselves.
In February this year, our roastmaster Mike and I traveled to the famed coffee-growing Antigua region of Guatemala for four days. We spent our time with the Falla family of San Miguel Coffees, touring the farms, observing their various cultivation and processing methods, and tasting loads of different coffees. During our time there, we selected the four coffees that stood out to us the most on the cupping table to bring back to our roast lab in the U.S., and even had them prepare a custom red honey process for us at their own San Sebastián farm (a coffee which subsequently won us a Golden Bean medal; see below).
It was an unforgettable experience, and we can’t wait to make many return visits as we grow our relationship with the Falla family and their company.
July 13 – Grand Opening of the Ironclad Café
Perhaps it goes without saying, but the biggest event for us this year was the long-awaited opening of our Richmond, VA café in July. Nestled in the historic Shockoe Bottom district, the café is housed in the interior of a late nineteenth-century firehouse that we spent months renovating. With abundant seating, natural lighting and a cozy, inviting atmosphere, the café has quickly become a destination for locals and visitors alike! It was featured in Sprudge Magazine’s Build-Outs of Summer, in Departures Magazine’s Where to Eat, Sleep, and Shop in Richmond, VA, and named as a favorite among blind taste testers in Richmond Style Weekly’s Coffee Issue. We’re open for business seven days a week at 1805 E Grace Street – come and visit if you’re near us!
Bronze Medals in Four Categories
2018 Golden Bean Awards
This September, we were thrilled to find out that each of our entries to the 2018 Golden Bean Awards – the world’s largest roasting competition and conference – won medals in their categories! The winners were our red honey-process Guatemala Antigua San Sebastian and our washed-process Kenya Nyeri Ichamama AA, which both received Bronze in the Filter category, and our Bare Knuckle Espresso, which received Bronze in both the Espresso and Milk-Based categories. We’re delighted to see some of our star selections play so well on the judging stage – look for more competition entries (and hopeful victories!) from us in 2019.
August and September – Meet the Farmer Events
This year, the producers of two of our favorite coffees came to visit us in person! On August 11th, Yolima Taborda Rojas from Paisa Coffee LLC spoke to our café patrons and crew about one of our most winsome and versatile coffees of the season, a single origin selection from her La Maria farm in the Antioquia region of Colombia. On September 29th, Ben Weiner of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers paid us a visit to tell us about one of our exquisite Tolliver’s Reserve selections, a Black Honey Process single origin from his farm, Finca Idealista, in Nicaragua.
These were both valuable moments for us – opportunities for our customers and staff to interact with and learn from some of the experts involved in the cultivation and care of these beloved coffees. We thank Yolima and Ben for coming all the way to Richmond to spend time with us, and we look forward to hosting more of these events in 2019!
September 27 – Latte Art Competition
After a stormy weather-induced rain check in August, our inaugural latte art “throwdown”, in conjunction with the River City Coffee Cooperative, was a rousing success! Baristas, shop owners and spectators from all over central Virginia converged for an evening of good-natured, spirited competition, with merchandise and a cash prize going to the winners.
Events like these are part of what makes specialty coffee stand out among industries: they foster a genuine sense of community, collaboration and good will among local business-people, and remind us of our shared interests and goals. Thanks to everyone who attended for making it a fun, memorable evening. We look forward to further collaboration and festivities with our fellows in specialty coffee!
As 2019 fast approaches, we are excited and overjoyed to deliver the standard of excellence in our products and service that defines who we are as a company, and eagerly anticipate coming new additions to our café and retail offerings. Be on the lookout for exciting new single origin coffees, an expanded breakfast and lunch menu, community and educational coffee events, and more!
We are honored to serve you, our customers and community, now and for many years to come! From our family to yours, we wish you a joyous and prosperous New Year and look forward to seeing you soon.
For the Ironclad crew,