Written by Sarah Ann Noel
Deep in the heart of Colombia, at least ten hours from the major metropolis of Bogotá, a farmer harvests green coffee beans, boxes them up, and then ships them elsewhere to be roasted. He toils over this coffee. The coffee is his livelihood, and it is his life. The shocking truth, however, is that this farmer will never actually get to taste the coffee he has given his existence to.
Nicolás Anzellini, Nico, came to the United States from Colombia chasing love. He moved to Denver. He found a job. He put his mind to creating a life, just like the coffee farmers. And then he experienced the profound terror of loss.
“I had surgery on my shoulder,” he said, and he had taken some time off from his corporate job to recover. “On the day I got back from my surgery—in a sling, taking the bus because I couldn’t drive—my boss called me in and said, ‘I’m sorry. This is bad timing.’” Nico had been laid off.
“I went home. I called Suzy, my wife. I cried. But she said, ‘Take this as an opportunity. If you don’t make decisions, life makes them for you.’”
Because life is serendipitous, while Nico was held in this tension, he attended a wedding, and there he met a man who roasted coffee beans in his garage. The man’s story hooked Nico.
“I got excited,” he said. “I thought, I would love to make for my unborn children something that is representative of their culture, something from where their parents grew up.” The moment he had that thought, Nico was invested in more than just making great coffee; he was building a legacy, and he couldn’t do that without understanding the story behind his product. His heritage would be the heritage of White Tale Coffee.
He traveled back to Colombia, and he hired a retired member of the National Growers Federation to tour him around the coffee farms throughout Colombia, to meet those farmers who tirelessly grow the plants that fuel our caffeine addictions. He met them face-to-face, asked them questions, shared meals with them.
“I had a really good reception because most of the time these farmers don’t meet who is buying their coffee. They ship it green and the buyers never send them a sample back.” Nico is working to change that standard and build relationships. “The farmers have so much wrapped up in this culture. It’s a consuming lifestyle. The infrastructure in your house, your land, how you live your year—it’s all devoted to coffee.”
This is the reason White Tale was born. To tell the tale of the coffee, not just to sell it.
“People care about coffee. They’re starting to care about the nuances.” This is something Nico understands better than most. He is knowledgeable in the science of coffee—in the processing and the sugar contents; in how certain elevations effect the flavor because of different extractions from the soil; in how it is packaged and the best practices for managing shipment.
Also, he’s versed in the roasting process, which he does himself, in Buena Vista. He speaks of coffee as a sommelier discusses wine, as a devoted drinker and an expert. Plus, the flavors of White Tale’s roasts are rich and exceptional, indicative of Nico’s passion.
“But it’s way more than the beans,” Nico said. “These farmers wake up and they think about coffee. They go to bed thinking about coffee. It’s the backbone of the rural economy in Colombia. It’s a hard way of life, but it’s achievable. And it’s fulfilling.”
Nico wants to increase the satisfaction of the lifestyle by connecting coffee drinkers to the farmers through subscriptions.
“Subscribers can know where their coffee is grown—the elevation, the rainfall, the sunshine. They can essentially track the life of their coffee through the growing season. But they can also know the name of the farmer and know about him.”
You can learn all about the coffee making process and recommendations for grinding and brewing at whitetalecoffee.com. And you can also read the tale behind each roast, immerse yourself in the hard work, culture, and great journey behind the delicious brew in your morning cup. Samples and customizable monthly subscriptions available here.