The search for the perfect cup of coffee is almost like seeking out the perfect martini, or the best roasted chicken recipe, with one, notable difference. Unlike an expertly crafted cocktail or a properly proportioned recipe the perfect cup of coffee is elusive, finite, fleeting. Like that ripe tomato from one’s own garden or wine. These treasures come only once in a while and there’s no guarantee from year to year that the ideal result will be achieved again.
In the coffee world there are an increasing number of places where this romanticized commodity has become more than just a drink. Seattle has, and continues to be at the forefront of this coffee boom, or Third Wave, as people in the barista and roasting end of things like to refer to this trend. A less likely locale, or not one that leaps to mind when one thinks of great coffee cities is Lincoln, Nebraska.
For those unfamiliar with the state’s capitol Lincoln, it is the second largest city in Nebraska, bursting with 251,000 people. It is the home of the nation’s only unicameral (one house) legislature and the location of Cultiva Coffee Roasting Co.
After working in the coffee-covered hills of Belen Gualcho, Honduras with the Peace Corps owner and operator Jon Ferguson returned to Lincoln to open his roastry. Ferguson is an active member in the Cup of Excellence program and has been Nebraska’s lone member for international cupping juries. He trained at the legendary Zoka in Seattle and did a short stint at the much touted Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. “I worked in San Francisco,” said Ferguson in our recent conversation, “but I felt I could learn more on my own in Lincoln where there was room to grow and it was more affordable to do so.”
Ferguson is also a wholesale distributor and budding consultant to organic roasting facilities.
“It’s all about how you roast, how you prepare coffee,” says Ferguson, “consistent quality is the only way to create premium coffee.” By using only the highest quality coffee from around the world and fresh roasting, Cultiva is regarded as the best cup of coffee in the state. They do this without compromising their commitment to the environment or the communities where Cultiva sources their beans. “The most important part of the coffee making process takes place on the farm and is done by the time the bean is processed and on the boat,” says Ferguson. “When it gets to me it’s my job to change consumer awareness.”
In effect Ferguson has the tough task of retooling the local coffee crowd who is used to flavored coffees or coffees from beans that have been poorly roasted. “I’m changing the local coffee scene one cup at a time,” he says.
Cultiva is a Fair Trade and Organic Certified Coffee Roasting Facility that believes in putting social & environmental issues at the forefront of their sourcing decisions, providing the highest quality coffees available, precisely roasting each batch. All bean roasting is done on-site at the Cultiva retail location on Lincoln’s southside. The location serves as a roaster, retail space and cafe. Presently Cultiva is looking to relocate to a larger facility within Lincoln. “Cultiva loves living in Nebraska. We love our community and believe we can participate in progressive change, starting in the heartland of the United States.”
Cultiva also offers a library of information and instructional workshops including: Roasting, Cupping, Organic Certification, History, Logistics and small business management. They specialize in catering to wholesale accounts, general coffee and espresso equipment repair, coffee shop consulting, and barista training with one of two on-staff US Barista Competition certified judges.
Cultiva Coffee Roastry
Address: 1501 South Street Lincoln, NE 68502