When I do my monthly cuppings, the coffees on the table are always different but one thing hasn’t changed for years. I am still using the same old cupping spoon that Paul Arnephy from Lomi in Paris gave me many years ago when I was visiting the French capital and Paul invited me to join a cupping to choose which of their coffees I wanted to feature in my coffee box at the time.
Since then, I’ve always had Lomi in the back of my mind when reaching putting together my coffee boxes although it was going to take a good while before this pioneer of the French specialty coffee scene would make another appearance.
Last year, Paul and I were in regular contact while he was in the process of introducing his gorgeous new retail bags – the previous ones didn’t have valves – and we constantly tried to find the right moment when a new collaboration could happen but it wasn’t until recently that Paul felt ready to take a plunge into the world of Coffeevine again.
If you don’t know Lomi, then you really should. Founded in 2010 by Paul and his French business partner Aleaume Paturle, Lomi began life as a humble specialty coffee café in an up and coming Arrondissement – the 18th to be exact – at a time when specialty coffee in France was still a real curiosity.
French people are generally known to have one of the world’s richest and most exquisite food and beverage cultures, and, I might add, a very traditional café culture too. Who isn’t able to picture that typical Parisian street scene in their mind’s eye of an older French gentleman sitting in his local bistro, reading the newspaper and drinking a big café au lait?
Yet, it took a couple of Aussies and Americans to kick off a completely new café movement in the capital and elsewhere around the country that would be slow at first but then, grow at breakneck speed once people had determined that specialty coffee was not just a fad but here to stay.
Paul explained to me during our live Q&A on Instagram (you can watch the recording here) that they recently set up a big roastery in the south of France with a 60kg Giesen roaster while still operating a small roastery in the back of the same café where I first met the team many years ago.
This is testament to the incredible growth that Lomi has seen since then and that has allowed them to increase their range of customers from local coffee lovers in Paris to big commercial clients like hotels, offices and restaurants. Naturally, covid19 has had a huge impact on Lomi’s business too and it was interesting to hear how Paul and the team have been able to adjust to the new reality that we’re finding ourselves in.
He said: “We’re in the process of reopening now and we want to offer something that makes people happy. Just filter coffee, espresso, cappucchino and a cookie or something. Something that released endorphines.”
France has, by European standards, had one of the strictest lockdowns and this has significantly impacted tourism, a large part of Lomi’s source of revenue at the cafés but also, hotels and restaurants that would normally be fully booked.
Like all other roasters, Lomi has had to completely rethink its approach and is focusing much more on B2C, including the imminent launch of its own capsule range.
For Paul, who is a certified Q grader, it is extremely important to have a good mix of coffees that appeal to a variety of tastes. Not everything, according to him, has to be super funky and out there. At the end of the day, he said, the goal should be that specialty coffee becomes the norm instead of what most people currently consider ‘good coffee’, i.e. supermarket quality stuff.
To get there, education is the key and one of the interesting effects of the current crisis has been that people are spending a lot more time discovering specialty coffee and investing the necessary time to learn about brew methods, discovering different single origin coffees and sharing their experiences online and with close friends.
We’re very excited to have Lomi back in one of our boxes after such a long absence and the coffee that Paul will be roasting for us is a real treat.
It’s a washed Indonesian coffee from Frinsa Estate on the island of Java. A coffee that really surprised me during my recent cupping session in which I tasted my way through a bunch of samples to pick the three winning coffees that I wanted to feature in the upcoming June box. You can watch a recording of this here.
The state has been run by Wildan Mustofa and his family since 2011 although his decision to grow specialty coffee was not immediately supported by members of the local community. Previously a potato farmer himself, he quickly understood that only focussing on the best quality product would allow him to feed his family and support the local community.
Villagers in this part of Indonesia often left their homes in search of better work with the men becoming low-paid construction workers in the cities and the women migrating to other countries to work as nannies and cleaners. This left many of the local children without parents and put a great strain on the social fabrics of the local communities.
It is thanks to people like Wildan who are offering these locals a new source of income that many of them have returned and are now working on his and other estates in the area picking and processing super high quality specialty coffees.
This particular coffee really stood out on the cupping table thanks to its vibrant acidity, clean cup profile and super clean mouthfeel. I am generally sceptical of Indonesian coffees that often have a more earthy and vegetable-like taste but this example of Java’s finest shines with notes of dried fruits and pomegranate.
Get this delicious coffee from Lomi alongside exquisite picks from Goat Story and Obadiah as part of our forthcoming June ’20 coffee box.