By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Most Brooklynites love their coffee, but even those who drink upwards of four cups per day probably think little about the origins of their precious pick-me-up. Right here in Brooklyn, Toby’s Estate – the only U.S. roaster featured in the beautiful, recently published Australian-produced book “Coffee Encounters: Adventures to Origin” (Smudge Publishing) – offers biweekly coffee cupping classes to educate people about the international journey of their daily cup of coffee. Each Wednesday (from 10 – 11 a.m.) and Saturday (from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.) the Williamsburg café holds public classes in its custom designed cupping room and espresso lab.
“Coffee Encounters”, co-authored by Jonette George and Tyson Hunter, invites readers to meet the farmers, pickers, importers and baristas who go to great lengths to produce a delicious cup of coffee. The classes hosted by Toby’s Estate aim to do the same, on an interactive level: organized to educate both coffee nerds and those with a newfound interest in the drink, each session is facilitated by a Toby’s Estate trained staff cupper who guides participants through the full sensory evaluation process, beginning with the smelling of fragrances to the tasting of coffee.
“Coffee Encounters” reveals the world behind Toby’s Estate coffee by following Toby himself. Toby Smith, who has opened roasteries and cafes in both Australia and Brooklyn, has traveled to exotic locales such as Ethiopia and Bali to purchase his coffee. After becoming an expert at cupping and trading, Toby returned to Australia and began roasting beans in his mother’s garage in Sydney.
But all this wasn’t enough for the coffee connoisseur. Toby wanted to go a step further and purchase his own coffee plantation, and his number one choice was Panama. He learned that Finca Santa Teresa was on the market, visited the farm, and discovered that Santa Teresa offers the perfect coffee-growing environment.
More central to Toby’s story, though, is his commitment to involving the wider community in his project. While the coffee industry is notorious for exploiting cheap labor, in Santa Teresa, the income generated from the sale of high quality coffee benefits those who toil in the fields. In addition to ensuring that workers earn comfortable wages, the Santa Teresa farm provides an on-site primary school for the children of staff and pickers.
As Toby explains in “Coffee Encounters”: “It’s about continually pushing for consistently high quality coffee sourcing, roasting, distribution, education, and appreciation to the consumer.”
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The public cupping classes at Brooklyn’s Toby’s Estate run every Wednesday 10am to 11am and Saturday 12:30pm - 1:30pm.
Class size is limited to five participants. All cupping classes are $5 and they must be paid in advance via Paypal. You will then have the ability to purchase a bag of retail beans at $5 off on the day of the class. Cancellation is only allowed 24 hours prior to the commencement of the class. Email: [email protected] to book a spot.
Toby’s Estate is located at 125 N. 6th St. in Williamsburg.