Is More Than Coffee.
It’s a Story of Partnerships, People and Passion.
This Is That Story.
From bean to boat
The journey of a Project Sunrise coffee bean couldn’t be done without all the people we work with who dedicate their lives to coffee.
We could go on...and we will! It all starts with our partners, the Mujeres en Café (or Women in Coffee) of Huila, Colombia. These inspiring women are so many things to so many people—farmers, business owners, sisters, mothers, friends, teachers, leaders. (It’s an ever-growing list, so we’ll stop there for now.) Under their expertise, only the best beans make their way to First Watch.
The adventure North begins with strong and dedicated packers and shippers, who ensure every bag of single origin, Arabica coffee beans makes its way safely from South America to the United States. And then, of course, our talented roasters and tasters work their specialized combination of magic and science to transform those green beans into the roasty, toasty coffee beans we all know and love. For more information on all the steps taken before you have that delicious first sip of Project Sunrise, check out the process below.
Mujeres en Café
Coffee tree seedlings are planted into moist soil during Huila’s wet season. The coffee “cherries” are then handpicked by talented farmers, the Mujeres en Café, once they reach their ultimate ripeness. It takes approximately 3–4 years for the plant to bear fruit, but it’s worth the wait!
The “bull’s blood” red fruits are processed at the mill using “The Wet Method” to remove the pulp. This produces two beans from each cherry. The beans are then washed to get rid of their sticky “mucilage.” This process takes 18–24 hours during which the natural sugars liquefy, causing the beans to ferment and build flavor.
The freshly washed beans are slow dried over several days. Slowly drying the beans is necessary if you want the best tasting coffee… and we do! Once dry, a thin outer layer, called parchment, is removed, or hulled, from the beans to reveal a pale green bean. Each bean is carefully analyzed and inspected by hand. Only the beans that meet our precise qualifications are chosen for the long travel ahead.
Packed & Shipped
Large burlap bags are packed with only the best beans before being trucked to port for shipping. Even this part of the journey could take between 3–4 days. The burlap bags travel by sea all the way from Colombia to the Port of Charleston in the United States. Finally, the beans are transported to the Royal Cup facility in Birmingham, Alabama, where they will be roasted to our Project Sunrise specifications.
To ensure our roast is just right, expert tasters conduct “cuppings” to guarantee quality and consistency. It takes a trained (and lucky) individual to taste the nuances of each roast. Project Sunrise is meant to pair perfectly with our menu, so this part is very important!
Our well-traveled, exclusive, perfectly roasted coffee is ground, bagged and shipped to each First Watch location. Most of the coffee heads back to the kitchen, waiting to be brewed to order. But some Project Sunrise coffee bags are kept up front and are available for purchase and brewing at home!
The last step might be our favorite: You say, “Yes!” when a First Watch team member asks if you’d like coffee, and a bottomless pot of Project Sunrise is presented directly to you.