Episode 15: Coffee Specialist Katie Gilmer Pon

Description: Katie Gilmer Pon has fallen for both coffee and cocoa; over the past decade she's spilt her professional career between both industries working with companies such as Sustainable Harvest, TCHO Chocolate, and most recently as General Manager of La Minita Coffee.  On this episode of Well Tempered, she leads us through what makes specialty coffee unique and distinctive to cocoa, and also similar as an agricultural crop grown in at times the same regions, drawing from day-to-day learnings and what she's witnessed in the field. Her strong suites include: sensory analysis, green coffee buying, and community projects. We thank her for sharing her passion and knowledge. 

Photo credit: Katie Gilmer Pon

Photo credit: Katie Gilmer Pon

Themes discussed in this episode: 
(in a nutshell: Raw Ingredient Evaluation, Farmer Equity, Machines, Community, Product Innovation, Millennials)
- Her work with the 'TCHO Source Program' - and how her coffee knowledge then and now prepared her sensory skills for both worlds
- Means of evaluating samples of cocoa and coffee
- Direct trade: & how generally the blanket term doesn't encompass the nuances of operating a commodity in logistic based societies
- Landscape is changing; 15-20 years ahead of cocoa, coffee is going through a resurgence of small roasters after some major acquisitions in recent years
- Trends in the industries: ceremonial cacao (Jonas of Firefly Cacao), bullet proof coffee/cocoa, cold brew, 100% cacao bars (sugar free confections)

Other links: 
Uncommon Cacao 2016 Transparency Report  
Taza Chocolate 2016 Transparency Report 
Kokoa Kamili (cacao) social enterprise in Tanzania, distributed by Meridian Cacao
- #shestheroaster recognizing female roasters in coffee

Various key takeaways:

In coffee, elevation has an enormous impact on maturation and acidity
In cocoa,  while terroir impacts flavor, genetics, fermentation (and other post-harvesting processes) have an even greater influence on final taste (later comes the maker's touch, which will also play a role)

The fruit is the coffee cherry (shape of a small grape) & like cocoa the 'beans' are covered in a mucilage
- Washed, Natural, and Honey-processed (outer fruit is removed, but mucilage is left on when dried) coffees are the most commonly sold variations of 'green coffee
- both mechanical and sun-dried means are employed in various climates to dry the coffee (same as cocoa with a preference falling on sun-dried for most chocolate makers)

Tasting & Evaluating
Counter Culture flavor wheel

Coffee upping protocols by the SCAA 

Q Grader system by the Coffee Qualtiy Institute  

FCCI 'Cacao Grader Intensive' with Dr. Carla Martin; upcoming course is January 17-19, 2018 in San Francisco, CA
- read about Greg D'Alesandre of Dandelion Chocolate using the FCCI Protocol at origin

International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting: courses in tasting and sensory analysis

TCHO Chocolate's sensory methods profiled by Megan Giller of Chocolate Noise

Spider graphs in relation to roasting profiles of cocoa from Chocolate Alchemy


Where can one learn more about cacao genetics? 

Juan Carlos (JC) Motamayor
- Geographic and Genetic Population Differentiation of the Amazonian Chocolate Tree
- The Genome of Theobroma Cacao

The cacao Criollo genome v2.0

The C-Spot: Chocolate Strains

The Genetic Diversity of Cacao and its Utilization by B G D Bartley

The New Taste of Chocolate Revised by Maricel Presilla 


Fine chocolates Katie would take to the Comos: a classic Ecuador, Fruition Chocolate's 100% bar, TCHO 53% Milk

Find more from Katie:
- writings at Medium
- previously at TheCocoaRising.com

Lauren WKND