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Blends

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Espresso Workshop #19 - Indo-Afro-Outro

You might call this blend a classic Mokha Java because it is equally divided between Indonesia coffees and those from the Horn of Africa. That's explains part of the name I suppose. The Outro was something I kept thinking about when tasting this long, long finish on this blend. Chocolate-cocoa, rustic fruit notes, and this pleasant bittering quality just go on and on and on. Like the long "Outro" track on an album, this blend seems less about the Intro (aromatics) than the aftertaste. There is a twist; the dry process Ethiopia provides most of the rustic fruit, while berry and winey notes come from a small portion of a wet-process Yirga Cheffe coffee. The Indo is Sumatra Aceh Bukit, which is not a traditional wet-hulled coffee, but is dried further and hulled like a wet-process coffee woudl be. Confused? Well, all I am saying is the blend is as much a mix of different origins and cultivars as it is a mix of different post-harvest processes. This affects the resulting flavors greatly.

Aromatically, this coffee has an unusual mix of sweetness with exotic notes of fruit roasted nuts. Cocoa and bittering chocolate dominates the wet aroma. The cup flavors are very complex, with both refined and rustic elements. Initially, floral hibiscus notes, melon, and blackberry strike the palate, a tropical fruit salad of flavors. Dried apricot emerges, along with winey fruit notes and grape skins in the finish. The aftertaste shows a more rustic side, with the dried fruits dominating, cocoa nibs, roasted almond, and a hint of leather. The cocoa-chocolate character intensifies in the long-lingering finish, as a pleasant semi-sweet bitterness. The flavors translate well with the dense mouthfeel of this espresso. We have done Workshop blends like this in the past (#8 comes to mind), but not lately, as the blends have tended toward the clean and acidic side of things. This has a brightness to it, but prefers a darker roast treatment which downplays the higher tones for tenor-to-bass flavors. I liked the Full City roast, but Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack is where things start to really work. As with most espresso, it benefits from 48+ hours of rest after roasting.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Yes, it's from a Martin Denny LP cover.
Country: Various
Grade: Tops
Region: Indo and Africa
Processing: Mixed processes
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival, GP and VacPack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Ethiopia Heirloom types,
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Floral, fruit and rustic flavors, dense body
Roast: This blend works well at Full City+ roast.
Compare to: Rustic fruit, Chocolate, Heavy Body.
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Espresso Workshop #18 - Hypno-Tiki

Sometimes when you are tasting coffee, magical moments happen, the coming together of words and flavors in delicate syncopation, roast tones become tone poems, aromas linger in the air like hanging notes, tuned perfectly for the picking. This was not really one of those moments though. I was playing around with Kenya coffees in espresso blend bases, something that rarely works because of the acidic nature of Kenya coffees, and I hit on a blend that really astounded me. Tropical fruit, almost candy-like sweetness in the finish, where did this come from. Anyway, I was thinking it was exotic in flavor, so I plowed through some records looking for some similitude from our lastest blend name theme (my records from the '50s and on) and the classic Exotica record "Hypnotique" (1959) by Martin Denny popped up. Of course, not content and needing a higher corny-ness factor, I made it Hypno-Tiki. Of course it's silly and does no justice to how delicious this blend is, but what coffee name ever does? So why not have some fun with it... at least the name will be done with when the blend sells out, which given the limited lot sizes of the ingredients, might be soon.

The dry fragrance from the grounds has ripe sweet fruit and tons of chocolate. Lighter roast has tropical fruit aromatics, then perceptible winey notes emerge fading into a curtain of bittersweet backdrop. I had several roast levels within a pretty tight range, and each pulled quite differently, but all were super impressive. A bracing brightness from the light roasts, with pink grapefruit puckeryness, effervesces into sweeter mandarin orange, spice, jammy bright berry, sweetened cranberry, and finally a cocoa powder bitterness. A slightly darker Full City+ roast has intense-yet-refined chocolate from tart to finish, still quite a bright shot, but with the fullness of darker fruits emerging as it fades on the palate. The roast level cools to a blackberry syrup favor and extremely long aftertaste, accented by chocolate bittersweet twangy notes. The body is not thick, but very satiny. As usual I preferred longer pulls, and at near 200 fahrenheit brewhead temperature. This blend turns from sweet, winey fruit to bittersweet chocolate-dominated shots at FC to FC+ roast. Try a couple roasts in that range to see what the blend can do. Both interpretations are nice, and if it seems too tangy, or too bright, give it a few more days of rest and try again.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Tacky, but at least the name is as limited as the blend.
Country: Various
Grade: Tops
Region: Africa and Central America
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival, GP and VacPack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Intense and tangy chocolate, accented by brighter fruit notes
Roast: This blend works well at Full City. I would not take it to 2nd crack unless you feel it is too bright at FC roast
Compare to: Intense chocolate and fruit. Long aftertaste. This shares more qualities with traditional European espresso styles than some of our other workshop blends.
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Espresso Workshop #17 - Ethiopiques

Ethiopiques, an all Ethiopia coffee blend for espresso, is our 17th Espresso Workshop blend. These are limited edition, lot-specific blends inspired by the ingredients, rather than imposing a fixed idea on the result, then looking at the coffees to achieve it. This is a blend of wet-process coffees from the West and the South, from Limu and from Yirga Cheffe specifically, that we sourced for espresso use. They are balanced but nuanced, and while they are moderately bright, the resulting espresso isn't too puckering. In fact there is very intense chocolate roast taste formed by this specific coffee blend, and that is the dominant character of the cup, topped with brightness. What does Teddy Afro, famed and shamed Ethiopia music star have to do with this blend? Not much, but he does have an amazing voice. Millenium song! And you really should check out the Ethiopiques compilation records to appreciate the rich jazz and pop music traditions of that great land.

By standard cupping methods for brewed coffees, these ingredient coffees are quite mellow, but extracting this blend in an espresso machine produces something quite different, and very intense. The dry fragrance has fruit suggestions, over more pungent chocolate notes. The wet aroma follows in the same footsteps, with more clarification of fruited notes, raisin and plum, with slight acacia floral hints. The espresso shot is surprisingly syrupy. The chocolate roast taste is pungent, aggressive, bittersweet, and long-lasting on the palate. But it is also very clean, succinct, not earthy or rustic. On top of this are piney resinous notes, lemon oil and rind, raisiny ripe fruit. The body seems bolstered by the intense cup flavors, and has the effect of satiny chocolate. It's fantastic! The ristretto shots were interesting and very intense. As usual I preferred longer pulls at around 202 brewhead temperature.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Teddy Afro luvs Ethiopia coffee.
Country: Various
Grade: Grade 2
Region: All Ethiopia Coffees
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival -GrainPro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopia cultivars
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Intense and tangy chocolate, accented by brighter fruit notes
Roast: This blend works well at Full City. I would not take it to 2nd crack unless you feel it is too bright at FC roast
Compare to: Intense chocolate and fruit. Long aftertaste. This shares more qualities with traditional European espresso styles than some of our other workshop blends.
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Espresso Workshop #16- Lenny Dee-spresso

Lenny Bruce, rebel. Lenny Kravitz, wanna be. Lenny and Squiggy, hilarious? No... But Lenny Dee. Now that's culture!!! After our espresso blend #15, Les Baxterizer, a tribute the the ineffable Les Baxter, we had to honor the mellow organ tones of Lenny Dee next. And with album names like Dee-Lightful, Dee-Lirious, Dee-Licious, Dee-Most!, Hi-Dee-Fi, Dee-Beat! and Dee-Day, I think he would be happy with an honorary blend called Dee-spresso. (We almost had it as Lenny Dee-presso, but that seemed a bit off). This is a mix of all wet-process coffees from Latin America and Africa that is very sweet, very clean-tasting, bright, and complex as well. Frankly, it knocked off the sox of those who tasted it here at the warehouse, and of course mine (Tom) as well. Subtle changes in roast level and extraction pull out different qualities in the cup, but it also seemed to work under a range of roast from a heavy City+ (rested for several days at least) to the more recommended Full City - Full City+ range. It works well roasted into 2nd crack, but I found the sweetest and brightest cups all in pre-2nd crack roasts.

Lenny Dee-spresso is a bright and sweet espresso in the so-called West Coast espresso tradition. The fragrance at Full City roast has a lot of sweetness and balanced bright and almost-savory/sweet scents. The wet aroma has an unusual fresh cedar and rindy orange quality. But there is no cedar in the cup. It has cola-like roast tone and syrupy sweetness, with a bracing and vividly bright fruited flavor. It alternates between green apple and orange peel high notes, part of why the changing fruit flavors add to the complexity of this espresso. But with a little deeper roast level (FC+) it has a berry-like flavor come to the forefront. Sweet, bittersweet and sour rapidly change places in the multi-layered aftertaste. At one moment it has a root beer like sweetness, the next a Bakers chocolate bitterness, turning more toward creamy chocolate mousse. I recommend a long resting time after roasting: it seems to hit its stride at 4-5 days post roasting. I get a lot of chocolate-dipped orange from the aromatics and cup flavors of well-rested Lenny D. If you have control of brew head temperature, I would pull this at around 200-202 f. I also prefer well-flowing shots, not strangulated, ristretto-type pours.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The Lenny Dee-spresso: The 16th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Country: Blend; a mix of origins
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of regions
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Complex sweet-bittersweet-bright qualities
Roast: Full City to Full City+ is recommended
Compare to: A sweet, bright, yet-balanced blend. Here is more on Lenny Dee.
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Espresso Workshop #15- Les Baxterizer

There's Les Paul, there's Les Claypool, there's Les Miserables ... but what about Les Baxter? Yes, the master of the easy-going organ sounds and some of the best B-movie soundtracks (Wild in the Streets, Hell's Belles, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs!). Anyway, this blend reminds me more of Que Mango! and Bugaloo in Brazil. It's is soft and zingy, and it will leave you feeling certifiably Baxterized. I think this blend strikes a nice balance, still with a floral and citrus accent, but a fairly silky mouthfeel. The roast should be even at the recommended FC to FC+ level, with some slight bean-to-bean color variance. You could get a very occasional quaker - just pick it out. If you see more than one in a roast I would be very surprised, but it is the nature of the coffees involved here. Hopefully it will start and finish with mellow and exotic moods, with a few racy riffs in between! This blend has similar qualities to our 12th edition but with some small-yet-significant changes.

Les Baxterizer is a balanced blend in terms of body and brightness, and the aromatics reflect this. The dry fragrance has nice chocolate roast taste at FC to FC+ roast levels, caramel malt hints and a touch of sweet citrus, pineapple and herbs. Wet aroma has fruited-floral sweetness, again with the malt, caramel and maple syrup as well. Espresso is really about the sapid flavor and mouthfeel, and this blend delivers: Silky smooth initially, creamy on the back end. The flavors of sweet and bittersweet are in balance, accented with orange citrus, on the floral side. It has a refreshing finish and long, articulate aftertaste. There's honey sweetness as well as a bit of striking bittersweet, pine needle note that comes up in the aftertaste. I recommend a long resting time after roasting: it seems to hit its stride at 4-5 days post roasting.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The Les Baxterizer: The 15th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Country: Blend; a mix of origins
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of regions
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Silky mouthfeel, floral and fruit accent
Roast: Full City to Full City+ is recommended
Compare to: A balanced blend in context of our other workshop offerings of the past, but still with quite a bit of brightness. Here is more on Les.
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Sweet Maria's El Papuma SWP Decaf Blend

There is no place called El Papuma. I made it up. It's a combined form for El Salvador, Papua New Guinea and Panama, the three coffees that make up the El Papuma blend Swiss Water Decaf. While you cannot know for sure how a decaf will turn out, I had a pretty strong feeling that these would be ideal, and result in a sweet, syrupy, moderately bright coffee. After all, if you send really good coffees for decaffeination, there's a fine chance you will get a great result like this. A few years back there were importers and brokers who sent good coffees for decaf, when the market was low. But the added cost of the decaf toll charge on top of record prices has made the big guys shy to do this. Most decafs sold in the trade are nothing we would consider buying as a non-decaf for our offer sheet. Do decaf drinkers deserve worse quality than the rest? That's why we have started sending our own coffees whenever possible, ones we have proudly offered on our site. This is the first time we have sent a blend though. I would say we opted for a blend, but the idea sprang from necessity; we didn't have enough bags of one coffee to send to Swiss Water to meet the minimum for a decaf batch. We looked for a mix of coffees that would work really well as a regular (non-decaf) blend, and selected based on that. Papua New Guinea from the famous Sigri plantation, El Salvador Finca La Florida, and Panama Finca Camiseta form the makeup for El Papuma.

The coffee grounds have an interesting sweet-savory scent, with slight plum fruit, Brazil nut, and molasses accents. Adding hot water, the coffee aroma is emphatically molasses like, or dark brown sugar in the lighter roasts, and apple and baked peach as well. Darker roasts have a tarry sweetness in the aroma, the smell of burnt sugar and still quite fruited as well. The cup has a clear sweetness from light to dark roast levels. Apple and melon fruit hints come through in the lighter roast, with a dark cherry note at Full City. I notice that the sweetness and brightness give this coffee a palate-refreshing effect. The cup has a rather bracing brightness at the lightest roasts (City) but more integrated high notes at City+. The mouthfeel has a syrupy quality but the body is not super thick. When the roast is really fresh, it can taste a bit papery, so I recommend 24-48 hours rest after roasting. I really like this coffee as decaf espresso. It might be on the bright side for some (my roasts were in the FC range, no second crack. Darker levels would tone down the high notes a bit). It is very sweet, even if it is a bit tricky to dial in the grind.





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Since I had to choose one of the three coffees in El Papuma, coffee cherry in El Salvador earlier this month.
Country: Blend, Central America and PNG
Grade: Top Grade
Region: El Salvador, PNG and Panama
Processing: Wet-Process, then SWP Decaf
Arrival Date: Late February 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, Typica, Others
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Sweetness, fruited notes, syrupy mouthfeel, brightness
Roast: Takes a wide range of roast, from City to FC+. As with all decafs, color is difficult to judge during the roast. So attend to the roaster and stop the roast manually if possible to get it just right. Roast preference with espresso is up to you. I like mine brighter, at FC to FC+.
Compare to: Very sweet decaf, origination with 3 single estate coffees from the Sweet Maria's offering sheet.
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Espresso Workshop #14 - El Santo and Johnny

Okay, you might be asking yourself about the name. If you have followed the history of our lot-specific Espresso Workshop creations, you know that we have followed various schemes based largely on my own whims. We had geology. We had sonics. Now we are just going freeform: El Santo, Luche Libre, and my collection of dustbin records. Santo and Johnny Farina, is this not the audio equivalent of liquid gold, shimmering steel guitar, reverberating, sweet, vibrant, pleasing? El Santo, the silver Luche Libre, dynamic and bold. Makes sense to me! This is a blend of Central American coffees (mostly Bourbon from El Salvador, some Caturra from Guatemala, with an Ethiopia aromatic component. All of these are traditional wet-processed coffees, so the flavor profile is very clean, the body a bit light, and on the bright side of things. But the intention here, expressed by the title, is balance, sweetness, and some sparkly brightness too. Don't know what sparkles taste like? Well, roast this to Full City and find out!

The aromatics are orange slices dripping in chocolate. You pick up hints of it in the dry fragrance of this blend roasted to Full City, it comes through in the espresso aroma, and you get it in the cup. Darker roasts tend toward a very, very tangy and piquant chocolate. I would almost call it "zested with chocolate," if that was possible. I liked the roasts I did around City+ although this is too bright and acidic for some people. Full City was it, dead on, a balance of sweet and bittersweet chocolate notes that strike the center of the tongue like a whip (in a good way). For that alone, I find it one of the few workshop blends that can take a dollop of milk; it makes an outrageously good macchiato. It also cools really well, but that might be irrelevant since 2 ounces is usually gone before it hits room temperature. The aftertaste is extremely long and well-defined



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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El Santo and Johnny is the 14th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Country: Various
Grade: Top grades
Region: Various
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: December 2010 Arrival Grain Pro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Mostly Bourbons, and friends
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity / Sweet-bittersweet balance, chocolate, orange notes
Roast: Full City roast is the perfect roast here, on the verge of 2nd crack.
Compare to: A gloriously sweet-bittersweet espresso, ideal for the espresso classicist, and quite good as macchiato too.
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Espresso Workshop #13 - Grace Note

A Grace Note is a musical ornament, left to the performer in terms of how long it is sustained, and how it relates to the note that it accents. In keeping with our recent music themes, Grace Note seemed to be the perfect name for our 13th Espresso Edition in the Workshop series. These are limited edition, lot-specific blends inspired by the ingredients, rather than imposing a fixed idea on the result, then looking at the coffees to achieve it. In coffee, I first read Grace Note used by Ken Davids many years ago, and thought it was an interesting way to describe the delicate accents in coffee, that are perhaps difficult to articulate, are variable, but add so much to the cup. And it seemed like wet-process Ethiopia coffees are the epitome of this, with their high tone bright flavors, that have elusive and transitory qualities that are like floral scents on the wind. And if that sounds a little too poetic, you might want to taste this coffee. We have mated 3 different coffees here in proportion; a Shakisso from a bit west of the usual Southern Ethiopia growing areas, a Sidama coffee from Shilcho Cooperative, and a Guji region wet-process lot from Welena producers group.

If bright espresso is your thing, and sweetness, fruit and floral notes top your list of desirable attributes, Grace Note is for you. A roast level of Full City (no 2nd crack) is recommended. The dry fragrance has a deep caramel sweetness, with clove and cinnamon spice notes. But, more telling of its Ethiopian roots, are the sweet floral and lemon blossom citrus scents; magnificent! The wet aromatics speak volumes as well; bergamot orange citric notes, jasmine accents, and dark caramel-chocolate candy notes (remember those dark See's Suckers?) Of course, the most important factors are the espresso flavor and aftertaste; intense, piquant, soaring high notes, long and layered finish. I had lemon, pink grapefruit and orange peel written down as the citric fruited flavors, fading to a pleasantly bittering bergamot-Earl Grey tea in the finish. Rose and Violet floral notes were present in some shots. The sweet/bittersweet flavors and aftertaste were very sapid and intriguing to the palate; they alternate from syrupy mouth-filling caramel to baker's chocolate to dark, thick stout notes in the long aftertaste. While the results are highly dependent on small differences in roast, the machine brewhead temperature and your pressure settings, I found most every shot I pulled utterly enjoyable. When all the variables are dialed in, it's one of the most elevating shots I have had in a long time. This blend also makes great drip or presspot coffee!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Grace Note is the 13th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Country: Various
Grade: Grade 2
Region: Southern Ethiopia
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: October 2010 Arrival -Grain Pro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopia cultivars
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity / Bright, high-toned espresso, floral, citrusy, long clean aftertaste
Roast: This blend works well at Full City. I would not take it to 2nd crack, not a bit of it. Yes, it is made to be citrusy and bright.
Compare to: Bright, floral, citrusy, espresso! Not for milk drinks, folks...
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Espresso Workshop #12 - Consonanza

Consonanza is the quality of harmony in a chord, notes played together, well-knit and compatible. Consonance. I guess it just sounds better in Italian, and I am not above dressing things up a bit! Anyway, it seemed to express my aim in this blend well. It's summer; I want something from espresso that is light, breezy, not brooding. But I also was tired of bright blends that were a bit too thin. I think this strikes a nice balance, still with a floral and citrus accent, but a fairly silky mouthfeel. The coffees here are mostly wet-processed with one exception. The roast should be even, with some slight bean-to-bean color variance. You could get a very occasional quaker - just pick it out. If you see more than one in a roast I would be very surprised, but it is the nature of playing with other processes than just washed coffee.

It's a balanced blend and the aromatics reflect this. The dry fragrance has chocolate-almond roast tones, malt and caramel, with s slight orange fruit note. Wet aroma has a syrupy sweetness, again with the malt, caramel and a bit of maple as well. Espresso is really about the sapid flavor and mouthfeel, and this blend delivers: Silky smooth initially, creamy on the backend. The flavors of sweet and bittersweet are in balance, accented with orange citrus, on the floral side. It has a refreshing finish and long, articulate aftertaste.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The 12th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Country: Blend; a mix of origins
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of regions
Processing: Various processes.
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Silky mouthfeel, floral and fruit accent
Roast: This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City+ to Full City+. If you can handle the brightness of City+ then I suggest it for the effervescent brightness.
Compare to:
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Sweet Maria's Liquid Amber Espresso Blend

I wanted an espresso blend that was potent, sharp, intense; but without excessive mustiness, fruitiness, or earthy flavors. But I wanted it also to be complex and hint at all of those tastes, and more! Here's the product of a lot of overly-caffeinated days of experimentation: the Liquid Amber Espresso Blend. It is named for the rich color and multitude of crema it produces. The blend was fairly complex to come up with ... after I found the general tastes I wanted, emerging from aroma and first sip through the very long aftertaste (if I don't cleanse my palate with water I will taste this coffee for 20+ minutes) I needed to play with the exact percentages. The specific blend, hey ... it is my secret! But I will tell you that the 5 coffees that really worked toward the flavor goal I imagined ended up surprising even me! I will say that there are Dry-processed, Wet-processed, and Monsooned coffees in here. I will also admit that there is a modicum of quality Robusta. And to keep this a mystery, the blend contains some coffees not on our list. Extracted in a properly-functioning, clean espresso machine the blend produces a lot of crema, making the mouthfeel very thick and creamy. The sharp pungent bite to the blend is not bitter, and fades into a rich tobaccoy-milk chocolate aftertaste. If properly roasted (not scorched) the blend will not be ashy, something I really don't like in espresso. (With any espresso, if the aftertaste turns acrid and bitter after 3 minutes or so, clean the heck out of your machine.) In the Liquid Amber Blend there are hints of fruit, mushrooms, sweet smoke, caramel, and cream in the extended aftertaste. This blend works extremely well in milk drinks, meaning by that a true cappuccino (6-9 oz.) or machiatto. I make no claims for Latte ... is there any coffee that tastes potent mixed down 8:1 in a Slurpee-sized cup of milk?Please note: on 1-05 I changed the type of Monsooned coffee. It is paler, sweeter, and is not a coffee we offer on our list. It's a special purchase for the blend to increase sweetness and reduce mustiness. -Tom

Liquid Amber Note:If the coffee arrives and doesn't appear evenly blended, this is because of the vibration during loading and shipment. I can positively guarantee your that the blend was packed in the exact, correct proportion (we are extremely careful about this), but the difference in size/density of the Monsooned/non-Monsooned can make them separate a bit with vibration. Just give it a stir....





Country: A secret!
Grade: All top grades
Region:
Processing: Dry-processed, Wet-processed, Monsooned
Arrival Date:
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Arabica and Robusta
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Pungency, Power, Aftertaste
Roast: I advocate a Northern Italian style roast (lighter espresso roast, really a Vienna roast, stopped 30-45 seconds into 2nd crack), but the blend works very well at the darker Southern Italian style roast (a full French roast actually, at the peak of a rapid 2nd crack). Either way, get this into 2nd crack and allow proper resting that espresso demands: 48+ hours is best. This blend works great in air and drum roast machines and I developed it testing-roasting on both. If you notice a tingly "baking soda effect" in your mouth, then the coffee could use more rest.
Compare to: Very potent espresso blends … Illy has a blend that is somewhat similar but is not domestically available. Other blends with monsooned have a much higher percentage of monsooned coffees and are lighter in body, and a little more musty in flavor.
 
 
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Sweet Maria's Puro Scuro Blend

Puro Scuro is a Moka Java type variant, and a great French Roast type blend replacement. We have been working on this blend for a very long time. It started with a lucky accident about a year ago. I was working with some premium Sumatras and a combination of Yemen and Ethiopian coffees toward a Mohka-Java blend. But I didn't want it to be all bass note, all deep end. It is the problem with some blends intended for darker roast levels - there is a big "hole" in the cup profile, and that hole is located in the medium/bright range of the cup. I stumbled across a combination of coffees (no, I am keeping this one a secret!) that could do all this, and offer some nice aromatics to a darker roasted blend. Another key factor: I also wanted a blend that had a darkly sweet finish, not ashy, not carbony. With this blend I wanted to prove that I am not anti-dark roast! The problem is, too many dark roasts are simply burned. Roast this as intended and I think you will find the cup description and the name to be fitting! Oh, the name? I wanted to call it Barnabas Blend (from my favorite '60s TV show Dark Shadows) but Puro Scuro has a better ring to it, and says a lot about the cup: Pure Dark, in Italian. So the sole remnant of the Dark Shadows theme is our motif for the coffee, a bat. Overall, this blend boasts exceptional depth - yes it is one deep cup ... what we call "good coffee to brood by." The blend leaves a lingering, graceful finish on the palate. The target roast range is from Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack, to a Light French roast. In between those two, is a Vienna roast where this blend excels. My favorite is a roast stopped about 20-30 seconds after the first sound of 2nd crack. (Don't think that roasting it to darker French stage makes it more intense; it is most intense at a Full City+, but don't go lighter because it has odd baked flavors at the City+ stage). There is some variability in the cup results based on how long it is rested, how it is brewed and (mostly) because this blend involves a healthy proportion of dry-processed coffees. If you want every batch to be exactly the same, don't buy this coffee. If you like to taste a range of flavors, and enjoy complex shifts in character, then you will enjoy the Puro Scuro. The cup has intense sage and anise spice notes, with lingering plum and Concord grape notes. Alternately, I get intense spiciness in the cup; clove hints, over a darker sweet tobacco-y flavor. There is a sweet dark caramel-molasses note in the aromatics that reemerges in the finish. I think it makes excellent espresso too; a rare but accurately-named "dual-use blend." We have brought this blend back from the archives because we have some new lots that fit the bill perfect, and really liked the new blend results.





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SM Puro Scuro Blend: a variation on Moka Java for darker roasting
Country: Blend, Indonesians and Africans
Grade: Tops grades
Region: Indo and Africa
Processing: Wet-Hulled and Wet-Process
Arrival Date: New /current crop(s)
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-19 Screen
Varietal: Varies
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold intensity / Darkly sweet
Roast: Full City+ to Light French, with Vienna being ideal. That will be about 10-30 seconds after the first sign of 2nd crack, depending on the roaster. Here's what that looks like. The ideal final roast temperature is in the 450-465 farenhiet range. Now some of the "darkly sweet, non-ashy" cup results depends on the person doing the roasting: you can't burn this to a crisp and expect it to be sweet because it will simply taste like charcoal-soaked hot water. Here's what that looks like. But if you keep the roast within the target "window" between Full City+ and Light French, I think you'll find the cupping description to be quite accurate. Rest it a day and enjoy. Brewed coffee tip: best in a French Press! Espresso tip: allow 2 days rest.
Compare to: Overall, a deep flavor profile found in Indonesians, with the complexity of Yemen and Harar, and a sweet aromatic brighter note punctuating the cup.
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Espresso Workshop #11 "Tono Alto"

Our Workshop #11, Tono Alto, definitely deserves it's name; Tono Alto, high-toned, it is. Of course the final results depend on the roast level, but we target a Full City roast here to maintain the clarity of the bright notes. We don't want to obscure them with roast tastes, so we do not allow the coffee to enter second crack, not even a pop of it. It's a bright and light bodied espresso, and covering it with darker roast notes defeats the original intention of this blend. This espresso really amazed me when I approached the final formulation, and if you treasure citrusy brightness and floral aromatics like me, it might amaze you too! The fragrance from the dry grounds (FC roast) has a caramel sweet scent with floral accent. There's a touch of chocolate bitter-sweetness in there too. In the wet aroma, spices and sweet floral qualities are the first thing that hit the senses, and slight savory/umami hints. The cup, from first sip to last, is astounding. Sweetened pink grapefruit, vividly bright and so fresh, fading quickly from tart citrus to sweet caramel finish. It's a bright espresso, potent in a way but also surprisingly delicate and nuanced in the volatile aromatic scents and flavors. The body is fairly light, and suits this style of espresso quite well; a lively, piquant, effervescent cup. This is either a type of espresso you love, or don't. If you are still reading this description, I would say you should give it a try! But mark my words, this is a light roast espresso, and becomes quite ho-hum if roasted into second crack. Light ... Light, I say!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The 11th edition of our lot-specific Espresso Workshop series.
Country: Blend; a mix of origins
Grade: Top grades
Region: 100% African Coffee
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: April 2010 Arrivals
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 screen
Varietal: Bourbon and Heirloom Types
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity / Intense brightness, floral, citrus, sweetness, light body
Roast: This coffee works well at lighter espresso roast levels only, in the Full City area, or as light as you can go (C+) with espresso according to your tastes ...no indication of 2nd crack at all!
Compare to: Bright, dynamic espresso that you would never, ever ever use with additives (milk or otherwise).
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Espresso Workshop #10 Espresso Profundo

We have been doing the Workshop blends long enough now to see a couple styles emerge. We can roughly group the blends we have offered under the headings of A. dull-bodied, deep-toned, fruited, with rustic sweetness, and B. bright and piquant, high-toned and lighter body. I would definitely characterize Workshop #10, Espresso Profundo as belonging to the first group. It is loaded with rustic sweetness, has a dense and thick mouthfeel, chocolate and fruit. The dry fragrance from the grounds (FC+ roast) hints at what is to come in the cup: strongly fruited scents of chocolate-dipped banana, peach-apricot pastry, caramelized sugars. The wet aroma is sharper and more syrupy in its scent, with pineapple accents. Roasted to Full City (no second crack) the cup has a nice, articulated brightness, and has an acidic pineapple sapid flavor on the palate with caramel in the olfactory. As this lighter roast cools, it brightens in a surprising way, with citrusy red grapefruit flavors coming to the forefront. I like that FC+-roasted cup but I think the coffee works best with a bit more roast, allowing at least a moderate amount of second crack. At this stage the aromatics turn toward a pungent intensity. It's still sweet, with blackberry fruit evidenced in the finish, but a dark caramel scent dominates the fruits. The cup has a pungent spice aromatic, and deeper roast tones take over; dark caramelized sugar fading to intense bittersweet chocolate in the aftertaste. If you like 70% Scharfen Berger, you'll like this roast level on the Espresso Profundo! I think this roast level works well in milk drinks as well (uh, meaning cappuccino, basically). My only critical comment about the darker roast levels is that, while intense and enjoyable, I think it is a more standard espresso flavor, and masks some of the nice qualities of the green coffees we employ in the blend. But lighter or darker, the blend is more versatile than some of our super-bright espresso formulations, while possessing more body and balance. The last words in this review must be the flavor I have been tasting since I tasted my last sip of Espresso Profundo 15 minutes ago: DARK CHOCOLATE!





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The 10th edition of our lot-specific Espresso Workshop series.
Country: Blend; a mix of origins
Grade: Top grades
Region: South America and Africa coffees
Processing: Dry Process and Wet Process
Arrival Date: April 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Syrupy body, Fruited flavors, Intense chocolate bittersweet
Roast: This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from Full City to Full City+ or light Vienna. See the review for detailed roast comments
Compare to: It is a complex espresso with strong fruit and chocolate character.
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Espresso Workshop #9 - Dénouemoi

Having completely lost ourselves in naming schemes for our new espresso blends, I have decided to wander even further into the wilderness with our 9th Edition of the Espresso Workshop Blends. We started with geology, we went on to acoustics, we lost it completely with "Waw, Bukan Main!" (a local Indonesian exclamation). And now Dénouemoi. And good luck googling Dénouemoi BTW, because I just made it up and it is senseless. Well, not entirely: It's a mix of "dénouement" the critical moment in a story, the climax of a narrative, and MOI, meaning ME! So I guess in a fancy way, I just want to say that this is my favorite espresso blend that I have tested in the last 3 months, the denouement of my recent coffee extractions. Silly, no? I also want to warn you that this is a very "fruity" espresso, and one that has a few quakers in the roast because it has dry-processed Ethiopia coffee from a particular lot (no, of course I am not telling!) Quakers are from under-ripe coffee cherries and are the bane of the roasters existence on a large scale, unless you mechanically color-sort after roasting, which I don't believe is even possible. Yet coffees with a few quakers can also be amazing, and its not too much trouble for a home roaster to pick a few tan-color beans out of a batch. The reward in doing so is an amazing espresso. The aromatics are spicey and a little resiny and camphoric, but with bittering chocolate and a peach-apricot fruit aspect. The cup is intensely chocolaty; thick, waxy opaque, dense chocolate. The fruit is perhaps even more aggressive, dried peach and apricots in the lighter levels, turning toward mango and melon (even some traces of blackberry in the aftertaste). It straddles the sweet/bittersweet divide, first toward the later and then, ion the long aftertaste, fleshy fruit sweetness emerges. The mouthfeel is pure chocolate syrup. The cup is greatly improved by the aforementioned culling of the very light quakers, but don't overdo it. Slightly lighter beans are normal for dry-processed coffees, as is a larger variation in bean size.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The 9th Workshop Blend; Dénouemoi . Another silly name.
Country: Blend; a mix of origins
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of regions
Processing: Various processes.
Arrival Date: February 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Syrupy body, heavily fruited favors, mango, papaya, melon, apricot.
Roast: This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City+ to Full City+ or light Vienna. If you can handle the brightness of the lighter roast level, the fruits are amazing!
Compare to: It is a complex espresso with strong fruity character. If there are light "quaker" beans after roasting, pick them out before grinding. If you like super hoppy IPA beer, this is the coffee equivalent.
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Espresso Workshop #8 - Waw, Bukan Main!

It has been a while since we have integrated a Sumatra component into espresso, for several reasons. Coffees from Aceh in the North can be great in espresso, offering bass note bittersweets, and thick body as a backdrop for other flavors. But finding the right Sumatra, and one with consistent and uniform processing can still be quite a challenge. We have very well-prepared lots from the Toba-Batak area, but much of Aceh is still sold as bulk Mandheling Grade One, with not enough care put into harvest, wet-hull processing (Giling Basah) or drying and final preparation. With this blend, I found a Sumatra I really felt would work, clean yet deep-toned, and consistent from cup to cup. In fact, this coffee had me so excited when I finally honed in on the final recipe and pulled test shots, the expression "Waw, Bukan Main!" came to mind ... that's what I heard an Indo cupper say when he tasted a really nice coffee, back on my last Sumatra trip. So breaking with all our audio-phonic and geologic name schemes, I had to interject "Waw, Bukan Main!" into the orderly (!) progression of our Espresso Workshop lot-specific blend project. And this cup really isn't about Sumatra flavor profile either, that really lays low, as a backdrop for fruited tones in the cup. This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City++ to Full City+ or light Vienna. It is a complex espresso with great bass to tenor range and an overlay of fruited bright notes. The dry fragrance from the grounds is very sweet, with jammy fruit notes, plum, fig, tamarind, raisin. The crema from the shot has a date sugar sweetness, and zesty nutmeg and cinnamon scent, which comes through in the finish as well. It's such a nicely fruited cup, with rich chocolate bittering notes and tannic tightness in the finish, but much sweeter up front. There is an amazing syrupy character and if you nail the degree of roast, just a few snaps into 2nd and no more, it's a blackberry syrup you will extract here (with 8.5 bars pressure, 203 f temp at start of shot). Darker roast deliver a compact flavor with a more tannic edge to it, and an intense chocolate tang in the finish. Lighter roasts, just at the edge of 2nd, can be surprisingly bright, but have great dimension from high fruited berry notes to deep chocolate layers.





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Our 8th workshop blend; Waw! Bukan Main! An Indo expression for Wow, Impressive!
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of areas
Processing: Various processes.
Arrival Date: September 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Syrupy body, blackberry fruited notes, nutmeg, layers of fruit and chocolate, long bittersweet aftertaste.
Roast: This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City++ to Full City+ or light Vienna. I prefer it just a few snaps into 2nd crack, no more. Note that Sumatra component looks lighter in surface color than it truly is at this degree of roast.
Compare to: It is a complex espresso with great bass to tenor range and an overlay of fruited bright notes. If there are light "quaker" beans after roasting, pick them out before grinding.
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Espresso Workshop #7 - La Tessitura

The 7th limited edition, lot-specific espresso blend we are offering goes by the name Tessitura. In music, the Italian term Tessitura (from the Latin word textura) describes the most musically acceptable and comfortable range for a given singer or musical instrument; the range in which a given type of voice presents its best-sounding texture or timbre. I thought that expressed quite well this lot-specific blend, where I feel each coffee is giving it's best, and is perfectly proscribed to the range of flavors they can deliver. We are covering a few continents on this one. We have coffees from Brazil, from El Salvador and Guatemala, and an Ethiopia "grace note" coffee that gives this a dry fruit accent. It's not as bright as our other blends have been as late, but of course the relative brightness has a lot to do with your degree of roast, and the pressure and temperature variables of how you pull your shot. We prefer this edition roasted just to the verge of 2nd crack, but not entering it. The dry fragrance is an interesting mix of austere fruited tones and chocolate alkaloids. There are suggestions of dried banana, plum, and some savory notes as well, even a bit of Tamari sauce. But it is sweet nonetheless, and this comes out in the shot aromatics; dry apricot, dark berry, Swiss chocolate. The cup has an amazing range, from alto to bass notes, with sparkling citrus brightness (especially as it cools and in the aftertaste), but flavors more along the lines of dried fruits and light-roasted cocoa nibs. It's an unusual flavor profile, brightening as it sits on the palate, but initially not biting. Ruby red grapefruit and fresh peach highlight the finish, along with a sustained and balanced bittersweet flavor, and some savory undercurrent. It's a hefty, powerful set of flavors this blend brings to bear, without needing darker roast levels, or the burnt or pungent flavors of darker roast levels. The mouthfeel and weight on the palate is medium, neither thin enough to be noted as a deficit or super thick either.





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Our 7th workshop blend, La Tessitura, meaning "range of a voice or instrument."
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of areas
Processing: Various processes.
Arrival Date: September 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium - Bold / Dried fruits, Swiss chocolate, citrus accents, long aftertaste
Roast: In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before any sign of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass just a tad into 2nd crack. Yes, it's supposed to be bright!
Compare to: Those who like properly fruited espresso will enjoy this.
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Espresso Workshop #6 - "Treble Response"

It's official, geology is out, acoustics is in. We have named our first 5 "Espresso Workshop" blend editions with geologic names. I still love my geology but the tongue twisting terms and their esoteric relations to coffee flavors was a bit heady. It was good for 5, but with Espresso Workshop #6 we are switching to audio-only, and the rich analogy between the sensory pleasures of coffee and those of the audible world. The appropriately named blend here is Treble Response, which is the the high frequency portion of an audio system's overall frequency response. In recording, you increase the sampling rate or tape speed to attain a better Treble Response; in coffee, you pair three amazingly bright African coffees to attain dynamic bright notes, paired with a medium roast level that is well short of 2nd crack, and a proper 48+ hour rest time post roast. The result is a highly aromatic beverage, broad-shouldered and bright. Dry fragrance from the ground coffee has a cocoa-nut roast tone, Nutella sweetness, caramel, black cherry, chocolate truffle. The wet aroma is spicy, with pepper and dark plumy fruit. This describes the primary flavors of the espresso, with richly layered brightness (hence Treble Response!) tapering off into intense and tangy chocolate bittersweet notes. Dark fruits, plum with suggestions of dried fig and black currant, zested by a bit of orange peel. There's a winey suggestion to the aftertaste, and a lingering and complex chocolate roast flavor that persists on the back of the palate. Like a high hopped ale, it has a bold intensity in the alto range, but also some superb kick in the tenor-to-bass range as well. The air roasts we do of the blend are more bright and fruity than the slower drum roasts, which have more intense chocolate finish. When the roast can be profiled, a slow finish tones the blend down in terms of acidity and brings out the chocolate bittersweets, and winey aspect in the fruit. We like slightly longer shots pulled at moderate temperature and around 8.5 to 9 bars pressure.





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Our Limted Edition Espresso #6, Treble Response
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries
Grade: Top grades
Region: Blend (all-Africa)
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Medium body, dark fruits, spice and chocolate
Roast: In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped before 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can be roasted right to the verge of 2nd crack. See the roast notes in the review.
Compare to: Bright and intense espresso, and, if roasted properly, great winey fruit notes and chocolate
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Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend

This is a powerful blend of coffees from the Red Sea area, from Yemeni coffees on one side, and Ethiopian coffees on the other. I intended for the exotic espresso shot or filtered coffee. It incorporates three excellent Dry-Processed coffees that contribute to a huge body, strong bittersweet chocolate roast-taste, and intense fruity aromatics. Since all are Dry-Processed and have nearly equivalent denties and moisture contents, this an acceptable pre-roast blend (as opposed to blending coffees after roasting them separately). None these coffees roast to a uniform color individually, which is part of their character and complexity in the cup. My purpose here is to offer a precisely blended coffee I love, and save you from buying the coffees separately. The Yemeni, Sidamo and other coffees we use for our Moka Kadir are stocked just for the blend, which makes it hard (well, impossible) for you to recreate this though; and I feel the coffees need to be pre-blended and equalize moisture content with eachother, something that works well in large batches. ***The Cupping Scores are for filter-drip or French Press coffee, but this blend is great for espresso too. For espresso, let this coffee rest at least 48 hours ... I think it's best at 3+ days *** PLEASE NOTE: Because this blend has dry processed, hand sorted coffees in it, it is not unusual to get the occasional small rock. Be sure to cull through the green and the roasted carefully - one small dirt clod can really ruin a pot of coffee (and small rocks can get jammed in a grinder).





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SM Moka Kadir Blend
Country: Blend, Yemen, Ethiopia, Brazil
Grade: 4,5
Region: Hararghe, Sidamo-Limu, Yemen
Processing: Dry-Processed
Arrival Date: All current-new crop
Appearance: 1d/300gr,
15 to 18 scr
Varietal: Heirloom Arabica Moka, Mundo Novo
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Fruity, earthy, winey
Roast: Full City+, or Darker. Like other DP (Dry Process) North Africans, roasts are uneven. Lighter roasts than this can be potent and bright, but the brightness seems a little askew with the overall pungent cup character ---so I prefer a darker roast to tone down brightness and underscore chocolate roast tastes. Let the "vanguard" beans enter 2nd crack, and the lags will be at City stage.
Compare to: Eating a bar of bitterweet chocolate while sniffing flowers, or wild, DP, natural North African/Yemen coffees.
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Espresso Workshop #5 - The Breccia Blend

Once you decide there is some substantial similarity on two processes, the analogies seem to flow ... flow like igneous, pyroclastic magma. Yes, we continue to peddle this geologic theme in naming our 5th Espresso Workshop Blend. Breccia is Italian in origin, meaning breach, but refers to the angular rock fragments, whether from volcanic origin, tectonic, or otherwise, that are often metamorphisized into new rock. Of course, I am thinking of espresso. Grinding whole bean coffee into particles like so much Breccia fragmentary rock, then re-compacting it into the filter basket, like the pressures that form metamorphic rock, then percolating water through it under pressure. It's the rock cycle. It's endlessly geologic, uh, sort of. Anyway, it makes for fun names, and certainly sends a few people to Wikipedia to find out more, including me. Here we have a blend that does not have the scent of any rock I can think of; what it does have is citrus, flowers, light and elegant body, zesty brightness, slightly piney-resinous finish. The recommended roast level is light for espresso (as with most our Workshop blends), Full City to Full City+, stopping the roast before 2nd crack, or just at the verge of it, as you hear the very first snap of 2nd crack. Air roasts can be just a tad darker. Over-roasting makes the blend more bitter than bittersweet, especially in the aftertaste. The dry fragrance in lighter roasts has a lemony scent, cake-like sweetness, a hint of berry, with some plum emerging a tad darker at FC+. The aroma from the freshly extracted shot is sublimely citrusy, with some very nectar-like floral sweetness (honeysuckle). The mouthfeel is quite light, but suits the overall character well; a treble-toned shot, wildly bright and fruited. There is ripe, pink grapefruit, Meyer lemon, and the lightest roasts we tried have a squirt-you-in-the-face citrus peel kick to them. The floral notes turn to hop flowers, and the same resinous tone you get in the finish of a tongue-twisting IPA are found here. Initially you may think this light body indicates a mild flavor experience, but that will change as you live with the aftertaste of this shot for the next 5 or 10 or 25 minutes. You realize that you have been "beaten with a flower" indeed. Expect some sweet tobacco and piney resins notes to emerge long into the aftertaste. A roast note: one coffee we use in this blend is not perfectly prepared, and there can be some light-looking quaker beans in the roast. Cull these very light beans out or any other broken ones. This coffee is key to the blend, and we decided it was worth offering despite it's imperfect preparation.





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Our Limted Edition Espresso #5
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries
Grade: Top grades
Region: Blend (Africa and Indonesia)
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: April 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold / Light body but intense brightness, citrus, flowers
Roast: In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before, or exactly at the very first snap of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass 10 seconds after the first snap of 2nd crack. Yes, it's supposed to be bright! See the note about post-roast culling in the review too.
Compare to: Screaming bright espresso, and, if roasted properly, great citrusy and floral notes.
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Espresso Workshop #4 - The Dextral Strike-Slip

Dextral Strike-Slip ... when someone sucker-punches you with a sharp right jab to the abdomen? Or it might also describe the San Andreas Fault, a right-lateral transform fault that makes the Bay Area such an exciting place to live. When will the next big one come? Well, here it is ... our Espresso Workshop edition #4 with those crazy geologic-inspired names. Some may taste this and wonder if it should not be named "The Sinistral Strike Slip", but if you really nail the extraction, you will see it is Dextral ...totally Dextral. It's heavily fruited, with dense and satiny body, milk-to-bittersweet chocolate, spicy, and yes, earth-shaking in it's complexity. The fragrance from the dry grounds is heavily fruited, intensely sweet, chocolaty, with orange notes. The aroma from the extracted espresso has pepper, clove, anise and fresh fennel spices, and interesting pungency leveraged against a darkly fruited backdrop. The flavors unfold in complex layers amidst dense chocolate and satiny mouthfeel. Anise and fennel are still present, but a black currant fruit flavor dominates with citrus brightness throughout. Yes, it's another bright espresso ... well, if you don't over roast it that is. The fruit has a ripe, wine-like character (Cabernet Sauvignon), and amazingly thick, fantastically creamy and weighty residual mouthfeel; it lingers forever, or so it seems. Being that I have produced extractions of this blend with tectonic intensity, it is definitely a 9.5 on the Richter scale in my world. In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before, or exactly at the very first snap of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass 10 seconds after the first snap of 2nd crack. This coffee has a mix of dry process, wet-hulled process and wet-process coffee but roasts with a surprisingly even color. I don't advise darker roasting than this, and recommend a 48 hour rest after roasting.





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Our Limted Edition Espresso #4: Dextral, totally Dextral!
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries
Grade: Top grades
Region: A mix of areas
Processing: Various processes.
Arrival Date: April 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Various
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Bright citrus accents, black currant fruit, dense body.
Roast: In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before, or exactly at the very first snap of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass 10 seconds after the first snap of 2nd crack. Yes, it's supposed to be bright!
Compare to: Those who like properly fruited espresso will enjoy this. (That means people who have had good results with Monkey and Puro Scuro in the past as well).
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Espresso Workshop #3 - Basaltic Bourbon

Our 3rd installment of the limited Espresso Workshop blend series is here. In keeping with our geologic name theme, Basaltic relates to the isle of Reunion, formerly called Bourbon, where the Bourbon cultivar gets it's name. Bourbon coffees are known for their balanced, but mining that potential to create espresso has not been widely done. The island is a volcanic hotspot, meaning an area of intense volcanism yielding basaltic-type rock; Reunion is over a hotspot, and subject to the same forces that formed the Hawaiian islands. Basalt soils certainly affect the coffee, and they are a great medium for coffeea arabica since they drain well. I can't say you will taste basalt rock in the cup, but I can say this is a very dynamic blend! This is a bright, lively blend with light body, partly owing to the fact it is created from all wet-processed coffees! Comments are calibrated to the FC+ roast we recommend for this coffee. The dry fragrance has strong berry fruit, a rich dark sweetness, and chocolate malt. The aromatics from the shot are sharply sweet, but have a custard-like "creme brulee" quality too, caramelized sugars, and dark berry-like fruit. The cup is bright yet resonant, with a wide berth of flavor from alto to tenor ranges. Fresh berry brightness lands first on the senses, with a twist of citrusy sourness, but it is followed by darker flavors of dark maple syrup, pleasantly burnt sugar. This is definitely a blend in the "West Coast Espresso" tradition; clean and bright ... and definitely not a traditional "continental" espresso.





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Our Limted Edition Espresso
Country: Blend, All Bourbon Coffees
Grade: Top grades
Region: Mixed
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: January 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon-type cultivars
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Very bright with berry and citrus, resonant syrup-burnt sugar notes
Roast: This coffee is intensly bright at lighter levels of espresso roast, meaning FC to FC+, but that is exactly what it is supposed to be! In my tests I roast until we hear the very first snap of 2nd crack and cool it immediately and quickly!
Compare to: Similar to Espresso Workshop #2 - Auriferous, in that both yield bright espressi with clean flavor profiles and light body.
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Sweet Maria's Puro Scuro Blend

We have been working on this blend for a very long time. It started with a lucky accident about a year ago. I was working with some premium Sumatras and a combination of Yemen and Ethiopian coffees toward a Mohka-Java blend. But I didn't want it to be all bass note, all deep end. It is the problem with some blends intended for darker roast levels - there is a big "hole" in the cup profile, and that hole is located in the medium/bright range of the cup. I stumbled across a combination of coffees (no, I am keeping this one a secret!) that could do all this, and offer some nice aromatics to a darker roasted blend. Another key factor: I also wanted a blend that had a darkly sweet finish, not ashy, not carbony. With this blend I wanted to prove that I am not anti-darkroast. The problem is, too many dark roasts are simply burned. Roast this as intended and I think you will find the cup decription and the name to be fitting! Oh, the name? I wanted to call it Barnabas Blend (from my favorite '60s TV show Dark Shadows) but Puro Scuro has a better ring to it, and says a lot about the cup: Pure Dark, in Italian. So the sole remnant of the Dark Shadows theme is our motif for the coffee, a bat. Overall, this blend boasts exceptional depth - yes it is one deep cup ... what we call "good coffee to brood by." The blend leaves a lingering, graceful finish on the pallate. The target roast range is from Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack, to a Light French roast. In between those two, is a Vienna roast where this blend excels. My favorite is a roast stopped about 20-30 seconds after the first sound of 2nd crack. (Don't think that roasting it to darker French stage makes it more intense; it is most intense at a Full City+, but don't go lighter becase it has odd baked flavors at the City+ stage). There is some variability in the cup results based on how long it is rested, how it is brewed and (mostly) because this blend involves a healthy proportion of dry-processed coffees. If you want every batch to be exactly the same, don't buy this coffee. If you like to taste a range of flavors, and enjoy complex shifts in character, then you will enjoy the Puro Scuro. The cup has intense sage and anise herbiness, with lingering dried apricot notes. Alternately, I get intense spiciness in the cup; clove with jasmine hints, over a darker tobacco-y flavor. There is a sweet mollasses note in the aromatics that reemerges in the finish. I think it makes excellent espresso too; a rare but accurately-named "dual-use blend." Update Jan '09: We have retired this blend in favor of our new approach to blending (see Espresso Workshop review notes). For customers interested in recreating this blend, basically you want an aggressive Mocha Java, so a blend of Ethiopia dry-processed and Sumatra. More comments and approaches to blending Mocha Java are on the blending.html page.





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SM Puro Scuro Blend
Country: Blend, All Indonesians and Africans
Grade: Tops …
Region:
Processing: Wet-, Semi- and Dry-Processed
Arrival Date: new /current crop(s)
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-19 Screen
Varietal:
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold intensity / Darkly sweet
Roast: Full City+ to Light French, with Vienna being ideal. That will be about 10-30 seconds after the first sign of 2nd crack, depending on the roaster. Here's what that looks like. The ideal final roast temperature is in the 450-465 farenhiet range. Now some of the "darkly sweet, non-ashy" cup results depends on the person doing the roasting: you can't burn this to a crisp and expect it to be sweet because it will simply taste like charcoal-soaked hot water. Here's what that looks like. But if you keep the roast within the target "window" between Full City+ and Light French, I think you'll find the cupping description to be quite accurate. Rest it a day and enjoy. Brewed coffee tip: best in a French Press! Espresso tip: allow 2 days rest.
Compare to: Overall, a deep flavor profile found in Indonesians, with the complexity of Yemen and Harar, and a sweet aromatic brighter note punctuating the cup.
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Sweet Maria's Classic Italian Espresso Blend

Espresso is a basic drink, not a fancy concoction. With a bit of dread that espresso is now being transformed into a wide range of drinks, from something squirted out of a dispenser at a gas station mini mart to a 8 ounce coffee that just happens to come from an espresso machine, we wanted to create a blend that was essentially espresso ...the rest is up to you. Espresso does not ask for much, but it demands that the basic requirements are met: You need a good fresh espresso blend, the right grind, the right amount of compacting of the grind into the filterbasket, and a machine that delivers adequately heated and pressurized water in a timely way. The result is 1 to 2 oz. of a aromatic, intense drink with a long, long aftertaste. Our contribution to your successful espresso-making is this fundamental espresso blend that you would find at a backstreet Italian espresso bar. It has excellent caramel, excellent body, great aromatics, and a strong, long aftertaste. This blend contains 12.5% Robusta which increases the caffeine content of the espresso slightly, and adds body and crema. Robusta also helps espresso to cut through in cappuccino, so this blend is recommended for milk drinks ...except Latte, which is simply the Big Gulp version of an espresso beverage and will hopefully fall out of fashion soon! Please note: on 11-1-03 I changed the lot/type of robusta. The new robusta is a premium Indian, has more chocolate, less wild flavors, with a nice clean chocolate-pungent aftertaste. We "retired" Classic Italian Espresso Blend in late 2008, as we decided to start our Espresso Workshop limited edition blends. I like Classic Italian, but don't get excited about it the way I do about the new blends. After all, it's a rather didactic premise; to demonstrate what Italian espresso would be like if it was local and freshly roasted. But espresso has changed a lot in the last 5 years, and there are new flavor models for great espresso rather than constantly referring to Italian types. Anyway, this is a very simple blend, as it should be. It is dominated by Brazilian coffee, but which? We chose 50% of a clean dry-process coffee (not fruity, not a Poco Fundo type natural) and 50% of a pulp natural (avoiding ones with too much acidity, like our fine Carmo de Minas coffees). Then there is a Central America component to add structure and some articulation; we greatly prefer a balanced El Salvador coffee of Bourbon cultivar here, such as the Matalapa Estate. Again, avoid acidity and chose a coffee that is balanced. There are balanced Guatemalas that work well too. Finally, there is the Robusta! It MUST be a clean washed type robusta that cups well on it's own. These are NOT easy to find, and are often more expensive than arabicas. We relied on India parchment robustas for this. Now, what percentages? Brazil: 70%, Central 15%, Robusta 15%. There you have it, the "Open Source" code for Classic Italian. Not that complicated, eh? Well, it comes down to a lot of work selecting the right coffees to optimize the cup quality and maintain consistency. That is the hard part my friends. If you want to build this blend yourself, just avoid sharp acidic coffees, avoid fruity coffees, and look for restrained, balanced flavor profiles. It will turn out well if you do ... -Tom





Country: Brazil (multiple regions), Guatemala, India
Grade:
Region:
Processing: Dry-processed, Wet-processed
Arrival Date: All current-new crop
Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17 to 18 Screen
Varietal: Arabica and Robusta
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Balance
Roast: Full City+ to Vienna for Northern Italian Espresso. Also see our article on Blending for more about espresso. An important roast note: do not underroast this coffee: It should at least be roasted a few snaps into the 2nd crack. Robusta is terrible when it is underroasted. But conversely the Brazils will become ashy and began to bitter when roasted extremely dark. So try to stick to the Full City+ to Vienna window if possible, and rest the coffee 48+ hours after roasting. If you notice a tingly "baking soda effect" in your mouth, then the coffee could use more rest.
Compare to: Traditional Italian Espresso -this blend was developed cross-cupping green samples brought from Italy
 
 
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Espresso Workshop #2 - Auriferous Espresso

This our second limited "Espresso Workshop" offering. Briefly, we are going to divide our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The later are blends that are only offered for as long as we have the specific lots of coffee we used to design the blend, and then it's gone. In keeping with our recent geologically inspired names, Auriferous refers to "gold-bearing" as in the ancient Auriferous gravels of the Sierra Nevada that inspired the communal insanity known as the Gold Rush. While in fact many miners actually lost money in their fervor, I think the flavors here are more bankable. One reason is that this is a blend of only wet-process coffees, a first for us at Sweet Maria's, and something that even 5 years ago I didn't believe was possible for espresso. Things have changed, especially in this West Coast style of brighter, livelier espresso that favors high-note accents over body. We recommend FC++ roast here, on a drum roaster a mere 10 seconds into 2nd crack, or even less if the roast tends to "coast" a bit through the cooling process. On air roasters you can go a bit longer. And of course, rest is crucial although we consistently pulled nice shots with only 24 hours rest. Espresso always likes post-roast rest ... and after 6 days this blend just sparkles. That's the best adjective too, referencing our theme here; gold-bearing. The dry fragrance doesn't represent the cup flavors that well; chocolate cookie, some caramel. In the wet aroma after pulling the shot, there is a better indication of what's to come. Sweet floral and citrus blossom over bittering coffee aroma is evident. There is a wonderful relation between flavor and aftertaste; initial citrus brightness, lemon with hints of zesty rind, are followed by a wave of classic espresso bittersweet. Heavily caramelized sugars are a dominant taste of the later, with a slight vanilla accent. But there is also an initial sweetness delivered with the orange-lemon brightness, momentary and refreshing. The body is light for espresso, which might make you think the shot is over-extracted and thin. But of course the excellent flavors will indicate it is not. I prefer full espresso (not Ristretto) at a standard 24 seconds.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Our Limted Edition Espresso
Country: Blend, El Salvadors and Ethiopias
Grade: Top grades
Region: Mixed
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Multiple types
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Zesty citrus brightness, balanced by bittersweet finish, light body
Roast: This blend needs to be roasted between Full City+ and a very light Vienna. In drum roasters, this means 10 seconds into 2nd crack, and in air roasters a tad more. Do not French roast this! Allow proper rest after roasting and before use.
Compare to: Strikingly different blend in the West Coast style; elevating citrusy zest and sparkling bright initial flavors.
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Espresso Workshop #1 - The Ophiolite Blend

Several questions must be answered here. First, "Espresso Workshop"? We are going to divide our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The later are blends that are only offered for as long as we have the specific lots of coffee we used to design the blend, and then it's gone. When we maintain an Espresso Standard blend, like Espresso Monkey Blend, we have to find new lots to maintain the flavors of the blend as the coffee crops change. That can be a tough job, to optimize the blend and, at the same time, to maintain the "spirit of the blend" ... it's original intent. There will be shifts in the blend, inevitably. In a sense, Workshop Espresso editions are pure and uncompromising: specific coffees are found that inspire testing, and a new blend idea is born. Instead of maintaining the blend and making ingredient substitutions down the line, the Workshop editions follow the crop cycle of the coffee; they come and go. Second question will undoubtedly be "Ophiolite Blend?" Well,I have been reading a lot of geology for fun and having trouble remembering the terms. It sure helps to see the word in my day job! And an ophiolite is a good analogy; a remnant of deep sea oceanic crust, from a spreading sea floor center, that was scraped up and placed on the continental crust. Ophiolites located at high altitudes in the Andes or Alps proved to be a thorn in the theoretical side of geologists until plate tectonics came around, showing how a layered series of oceanic rocks could end up in mountain ranges, largely intact. Espresso has layers or strata, physically, but more importantly in terms of flavor, and this particular blend seemed to deserve the name; densely layered, exotic flavors from faraway and unlikely origins, discovered in a new context and providing plenty of stimulating flavors to think about. Digging down through the layers of intense chocolate, bittersweet, thick in texture, you come to ripe fruits (blood orange, Bing cherry) accented by peppery spice and clean tobacco. Superb body, and a wide range of flavors from the basement level to the fruited and spicy high notes, geology seems like a good analogy for this kind of depth and range of flavor. I am guessing we can offer this blend for about 4 months.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Our Limted Edition Espresso
Country: Blend, Ethiopias and Brazils
Grade: Top grades
Region: Mixed
Processing: Dry-Processed
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Multiple types
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Chocolate, ripe fruit, complexity
Roast: This coffee is intense at lighter levels of espresso roast, meaning FC+ or a tad more. That would be the equivalent of hearing a few snaps of 2nd crack, or perhaps 10 seconds into it, and stopping the roast.
Compare to: This will have some similarities to Espresso Monkey and Moka Kadir blends; heavy body, fruit and chocolate. It's truly fantastic espresso. (Note that we don't score espresso blends, since the categories are specific to brewed coffee).
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Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend

This is a powerful blend of coffees from the Red Sea area, from Yemeni coffees on one side, and Ethiopian coffees on the other. I intended for the exotic espresso shot or filtered coffee. It incorporates three excellent Dry-Processed coffees that contribute to a huge body, strong bittersweet chocolate roast-taste, and intense fruity aromatics. Since all are Dry-Processed and have nearly equivalent denties and moisture contents, this an acceptable pre-roast blend (as opposed to blending coffees after roasting them separately). None these coffees roast to a uniform color individually, which is part of their character and complexity in the cup. My purpose here is to offer a precisely blended coffee I love, and save you from buying the coffees separately. The Yemeni, Sidamo and Ghimbi coffees we use for our Moka Kadir are stocked just for the blend, which makes it hard (well, impossible) for you to recreate this though; and I feel the coffees need to be pre-blended and equalize moisture content with eachother, something that works well in large batches. ***Rating numbers to the left are for filter-drip or French Press coffee, but this blend is great for espresso too. For espresso, let this coffee rest at least 48 hours ... I think it's best at 3+ days *** PLEASE NOTE: Because this blend has dry processed, hand sorted coffees in it, it is not unusual to get the occassional rock or dirt clod. Be sure to cull through the green and the roasted carefully - one small dirt clod can really ruin a pot of coffee (and small rocks can get jammed in a grinder).





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SM Moka Kadir Blend
Country: Blend, Yemen and Ethiopia
Grade: 4,5
Region: Hararghe, Sidamo-Limu, Yemen
Processing: Dry-Processed
Arrival Date: All current-new crop
Appearance: 1d/300gr
15 to 18 scr
Varietal: Heirloom Arabica Moka
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Fruity, earthy, winey
Roast: Full City+, or Darker. Like other DP (Dry Process) North Africans, roasts are uneven. Lighter roasts than this can be potent and bright, but the brightness seems a little askew with the overall pungent cup character ---so I prefer a darker roast to tone down brightness and underscore chocolate roast tastes. Let the "vanguard" beans enter 2nd crack, and the lags will be at City stage.
Compare to: eating a bar of bitterweet chocolate while sniffing flowers, or wild, DP, natural North African/Yemen coffees.
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