In 2015, the Unorthodox Roasters spent over 10 months in all the major coffee producing countries in South and Central America.
Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia.
Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala.
What follows is a micro-fraction of all the photos from that journey.
Learn about our 10.5 month Latin America adventure which led us to open our own
coffee roastery in Scotland.
Here you can see our travel coffee gear and our first ever batch of pan roasted raw green coffee sourced from front-running cafe Coffee Lab in Sao Paulo.
After spending our time in Brazil completely entrenched in the magic of coffee roasting, we were hooked.
Next we decided to travel to Argentina, specifically Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is world renouned for it's heavy coffee culture. We just had to give it a go. Once there, we tracked down LAB Tosadores de Cafe, who shared some of their experience with us.
LAB Tosadores de Cafe kick-started our motivation for quality above all else.
Reinvigorated by our time in Argentina, it was time to take our new found focus and head to Chile.
More well known for it's tea than it's coffee, we struggled to find very many speciality coffee joints. That being said, the coffee industry is slowly growing, and there are a lot of micro-lots popping up every year.
Eventually we found Original Green. At last, we found somewhere that could satiate our coffee needs!
Although Chile was lacking in specialty coffee we found a stylish in-house roastery in Santiago - Original Green.
By this point, we had done our share of studying the roasting process - and sampling the results, too! The next challenge was going to be finding a plantation that would let us visit!
To achieve this, we travelled to Bolivia, specifically Caranavi. This is located in the Yungas region of Bolivia - a tropical range of valleys where almost 95% of coffee production occurs in the country.
Bolivia has all the ingridients to grow amazing coffee, the main problem is a lack of infrastructure and technology to help the farmers. Not to be put off, there are still many community owned farms in the area. We payed one such endeavour a visit.
Our first sight of real coffee plants began in Coroico's Munaipata plantation before we headed to the hub of Bolivia's coffee operations in Caranavi.
Now we had a taste of what plantation life might be like, we had to know more. The farm in Bolivia provided a light tour of the process, but we wanted to go further in depth.
Continuing our crusade we travelled to Peru, one of the top 20 coffee producers in the world. A little bit of research and we knew which spot we had to go to.
Coffee grows in many Peruvian regions but we chose to go north to the border with Ecuador. 24 hours by bus from Lima and we found ourselves in Peru's coffee warehouse.
Our thoughts were staring to turn towards where we should source our coffee from, if we were to pursue this crazy pipe-dream of an idea. Thinking on ideal growing conditions, Ecuador was next on the list.
In Ecuador they grow both varieties of coffee, Arabica and Robusta, someting that only 15 countries world-wide can claim. There are plantations from the Andes to the Galapagos and everywhere in between.
A little research and we found out about a place called Baños, right next to an active volcano. On paper, this should have been the perfect place for us to start.
The fertility of Ecuador's tierra was evident but finding quality raw green proved tricky.
After a mildly disappointing spell in Ecuador, our last stop in South America was to be Colombia. Burnt by our high expectations last time, we really weren't expecting much from this visit.
Much to our delight, Columbia completely surprised us. There were so many options of places to go and learn about coffee. We were luck enough to get a whole range of experiences, from the field right into the warehouses.
Colombia stunned us. What a place to educate yourself about everything coffee-related! We harvested coffee beans in Salento, Armenia, and made Aeropresses for warehouse owners in San Gil, Santander.
As we left South America and flew over the Darien Gap to Panama it seemed like we had learned all we could about growing and processing coffee.
Little did we know this was still the start of our coffee education.
Enter one of the most prestigious of coffee zones - Boquete - home to the legendary geisha variety.
Our next port of call was to be Costa Rica, but we were playing a risky game. We were due to arrive during the Costa Rican winter, otherwise known as the Rainy Season.
Armed with anoraks we marched on, hoping to discover some hidden secrets from the local people. There are some really crazy methods of brewing coffee in Costa Rica, one of which involves straining the grinds through a really long coffee sock!
Torrential rain cut our Costa Rican adventure short so we learned what we could from a passionate roastery housed in the main market.
Moving on up the continent, we headed into Nicaragua. By this point we had been travelling for quite some time, so communicating was getting a lot easier.
We were keen to get a sense of the history behind Nicaraguan coffee, as it seemed to be fairly ingrained in the legacy of the country. We wanted to see everything from the small family farm to the huge businesses - and how their differences might affect the coffee.
Using our now intermediate Spanish we organised a full coffee tour with a local farmer and a tasting with the cooperative Cecocafen.
Next up: El Salvador!
One of the worlds largest distributors of coffee - despite its small size, El Salvador has coffee woven into it's history. The farming industry and the governing people have been interlinked since coffee's introduction to the country, which has had positive and negative effects.
A good result would be that the drive to improve the coffee export is constant. El Salvador is the birth place of the Pacas and Pacamara varietals, which produce bigger plants and bigger cherries.
Taking all of that into account, it's safe to say we had a lot to learn.
By far El Salvador taught us the most. One man was responsible: Cesar Magaña. He showed us everything from his two plantations, to the washing stations to his own roastery and espresso training bar. His advice was invaluable.
We had one last stop before we were to return home, Guatemala. Originally we hadn't been sure what to do in this country, but a friend encouraged us to go Panajachel in the Wester Highlands of Guatemala.
Coffee beans grown here are known for their chocolatey flavour, with elements of toffee and acidity that meant we just had no other choice than to try some.
From a London tip off we headed to Panajachel to visit Mike's Crossroads Cafe. Neil was temporarily employed to sweep in return for free coffee.
And then we returned, laced with enthusiasm,
to set up a coffee roastery in Scotland.
Kinross and Stirling
What began as just a crazy idea has now transpired into a reality. Now we roast coffee for a living. We put all our effort into continuous improvement of our cafes and products. We create an atmosphere that keeps people coming back for more.
Our staff have cordiality.
Our cafe has character.
Our coffee has attitude.