The airflow in a Loring roaster is cyclical. From a single burner, hot air is sent through the roasting chamber and then returns to the burner, where it is purified, reheated and sent back around again, minus some exhaust. Around and around it goes, a great sealed circle of heat.
Great Circle Coffee — founded in Miami last year by Guatemala-born Sergio Boppel — depends on Loring’s circular flow for their high-quality product, though that’s actually not the circle reflected by their name. The company is even more concerned with the flow of goods from origin being returned in the form of wealth, of just compensation for a quality supply.
“We want to provide fantastic coffee and fantastic service, and offerings here in the U.S., so that we can support our growers directly back home, and have them focus on quality rather than producing volume,” Boppel told Daily Coffee News. “Incentivizing that quality at origin I think is key. It’s what will allow them to survive, by getting a premium for the coffee because of the quality.”
Boppel’s lineage was a part of the large immigration of people from Germany to Latin America in the late 19th century. In 1890, Boppel’s great grandfather moved from Hamburg to Guatemala, where he owned and managed coffee farms including Finca San Isidro and Finca Las Nubes, the latter of which was eventually sold off by subsequent generations.
Today, Boppel’s family manages Finca Teanzul, which continues to supply Great Circle with one of its small lot offerings, although good relations and livelihood-bolstering prices aren’t just a family concern for Great Circle. They endeavor to provide the same for all the farms and mills they do business with either directly or indirectly with help from importers such as Royal New York, Olam Coffee, InterAmerican Coffee and others.
In a 2,000-square-foot warehouse in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, the organic-certified Great Circle facility focuses on roasting for wholesale and online retail markets in such a way as to highlight the unique characteristics of each coffee they source. “It depends if we’re doing a drip coffee, if we’re doing espresso, if it’s going to be a component in one of our blends,” Boppel said of his goal at the controls of the Loring. “It’s to highlight what we found to be special about that coffee and where it comes from.”
While wholesale was the original strategy for the business and remains central to its plans going forward, Boppel said Great Circle is also prepared to evolve. “As we grow the business and we talk to people and we listen to the market, we are seeing the need for a small retail presence, where we can showcase the coffee the way we want to showcase it, and have that control,” he said.
Boppel thinks that a small café might be in order within the coming year, though it’s an ongoing conversation. In the meantime the overall goal remains simply presenting fine coffees at their finest, in the interest of supporting the people that grow it. “That’s the vision and dream,” said Boppel. “That’s what keeps us fighting every day.”