About this Coffee
A versatile blend named for a customer’s ode to the perfect espresso, Jack the Bear features sustainably sourced coffees from Sumatra, Kenya, and Colombia.
Gentle acidity and creamy body with a hint of teak, coconut, and citrus.
This versatile blend is rich and smooth, highlighting a deep-toned coffee from small garden farms in the Lake Toba region of Sumatra, which offer nuances of sweet grapefruit and aromatic wood. This coffee, like most cultivated in Sumatra, is processed using the wet-hull method, contributing to its unique flavor profile.
Then, we add a fully washed coffee from Kenya that adds elements of brightness and helps bring out the flavor of other coffees in the blend. Kenya has one of the best systems for compensating the highest quality lots; registered buyers taste samples weekly and then compete at auction where the best tasting coffees are rewarded. Because the auction lots are so small, our partners purchase many lots of similar quality and then, through a complex grading process, create the consistency we need for use in the blend.
We finish the blend with another fully washed coffee from Colombia helps to round out the blend by adding silky hints of nut, milk chocolate and spice. The coffee is produced by 300 members of the Association of Women Coffee Growers of West Huila (Asociación de Mujeres Cafeteras del Occidente del Huila), whom make up the Las Rosas Women’s Coffee Project.
WHY WE LOVE THIS COFFEE
I consider coffee to be a religious discipline of sorts: it begins my day, like prayer does for some; is a sacrament at every familial function, friendly gathering, and every celebratory or solemn occasion. If I venture out for a walk in a strange city, the quest for it directs me along my way. I offer it to every soul who enters my house, and likewise I would never refuse its offer without due cause, any more than I would refuse someone’s handshake. It’s not so much a substance, I mean, as a way of life…a true habit of my being.
About eight years ago I made the switch to drinking nothing but espresso products and doubt now I shall ever again do other. Each pull is like a haiku: deliberate, focused, and to the point of revealing something essential.
As such, my switch to espresso sent me on a quest for a bean, a roast, and a roaster to which I could pledge my allegiance; and my arrival destination was Equator Coffees.
I tried all of the espresso roasts that Equator had to offer, and loved several dearly…becoming a zealot on behalf of Jaguar specifically. And though I never grew to be dissatisfied with it, I found I was experimenting with adding portions of other Equator roasts to my grinder’s hopper-even sea salt on occasion- in a sense working like a primitive at perfecting a new blend that would be completely singular.
I didn’t have to fumble in the dark of my arcane laboratory for long: following a meeting backstage after a performance of mine at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, co-founders Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell offered to work with me to develop my own custom espresso blend under their banner.
I began by writing a letter to both-nay, a poem in prose form-detailing my favorite coffee experiences, my disappointments; as well, what I most liked about each of their roasts as I had experienced them; but I ran off the rails at a point, and turned to music-my own true vocabulary-to finally connect my heart to my mind, and both of them to something that might offer us all some real and common illumination.
In the end, I sent Brooke and Helen a Duke Ellington collection culled from a revelatory few years in the early 1940s, when a shockingly young bassist from Chicago named Jimmy Blanton “wrote the book” on modern jazz bass playing that still stands as the Bible for practitioners of that instrument. In Jimmy’s hands, the bass spoke with subtle depth, even as it sprang to the fore with muscular melodic sophistication. For the first time, the instrument was speaking in complete sentences and above the din. It was not merely pulsing, but singing. And that’s what I want an espresso to do.
I pointed Helen and Brooke to a song in particular called “Jack The Bear,” which Duke had written expressly to showcase Jimmy Blanton’s revolutionary approach, and that seemed to close the circle on our experimenting.
Thus, Equator now offers Jack The Bear Espresso. This roast reminds me of Jimmy Blanton’s bass playing: deep and round, steeped in tradition, but not trapped by it; buoyant yet structurally sound; full of life, love and light, and dedicated to carrying our shared humanity-to quote Strayhorn-“ever onward and upward.”
What more do you want from a cup of coffee?
South Pasadena, CA
GOOD COFFEE, BETTER PLANET
Coffee production is used as the vehicle to drive important change and development. By prioritizing gender equality and inclusive decision-making in households and on farms, the group is able to receive credit and ownership. This empowers other women to join to the group and allows for many of the existing women in the group to take on leadership positions as cooperative members regardless of their status on the farm.
Over the past several years, the women of Las Rosas have showcased their ability to grow and prosper, becoming a source of inspiration for their community.