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2003 - 2004 Sweet Maria's Coffee Cupping Reviews Archive: A - F

Australia

Australian Mountain Top XF
Country: Australia Grade: XF -Extra Fancy Region: New South Wales Mark: Mountain Top Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Sept. 2004 Arrival Appearance: .7 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Bourbon-derived hybrid
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Mountain Top is a farm in SE Australia, about 2 hours south of Brisbane and 5 minutes west of Nimbin. This selected area is unique because of the altitude and unique volcanic red soils. The farm itself is on the slopes of the extinct volcano, Mt. Warning. The area is a lush, subtropical environment, and is unique in coffee since this is the southernmost growing area I am aware of. It's also unique in that this growing area is quite distant from where most Aussie coffees come from, at least the Skybury from Mareeba in the north, which is a fully mechanized farm akin to Kauai coffee. And this is the first time we have bought an Aussie coffee, after years of evaluating Skybury samples and finding the flavors to be somewhere between copy paper and plastic wrappers, this is such a relief. Now, for the preparation; it is a little embarassing to call this Extra Fancy because compared to a really nice Kona XF, the green coffee is not much to look at. It has a peculiar rounded form which is somewhat like Bourbon cultivar, and somewhat like Mundo Novo.My 300 gram sample has one broken bean, and a couple other oddities that won't affect the cup but make it seem that XF grade is a stretch. Nonetheless, we are not "eye-cuppers" here - we don't judge coffee by making pronouncements about the green appearance, since many perfectly prepared green coffees cup like cardboard. Now the cup ... the best part ... The cup is crisp and light-bodied. It's an odd term but very appropriate here: juicy! This cup is very juicy and has a very nice sweetness to it that is almost like pine sap, sharp sweet. In a way, it shares some cup qualities with Isle of Saint Helena coffees; the body is thin and their is this sweet clarity in the cup. How many times can I use the word "sweet" in describing this coffee? It would be a great training tool to show people what "sweet" coffee is... and it has brightness, something I have never truly experienced in an Aussie coffee. Overall, the flavors exist in a compact range, and the sweet aftertaste seems to linger for an appropriate amount of time given the lighter body.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / crisp, sweet, light-bodied cup
add 50 50 Roast: I like true Full City, just before 2nd crack. Even a bit into 2nd is nice - at this stage it is more bittersweet than sweet. I also notice that, with rest of several days, the body is much greater than I score here in the review.
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: Has Saint Helena qualities in some regards, a sweet and straightforward cup that is, nonetheless, quite incomparabale.

Bali 

Bali Shinzan Arabica

Note: 2004 samples of this coffee came in very poor, with an off "baggy" note, so we won't be stocking Bali until at least Sept '04 when new crop samples will be evaulated! -Tom

Country: Bali, Indonesia Grade: Grade One Region: Central
Mts.
Mark: Shinzan
Co-op
 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Sumatra typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: My friend visited Bali last year and raved about the hike they took in the coffee-forested highlands where small farmers tend their "coffee gardens" on slopes and terraces. I too wondered why I had never seen Balinese coffee offered in this country, so I jumped at the chance to sample Shinzan coffee when I saw it pop up on an offering list early this year. Bali coffee is indeed new to the U.S.: it was formerly sold exclusively to the Japanese market, and perhaps economic uncertainty is Asia is the only reason we are blessed with a shipment of it here. This new 2003 crop lot is really much more potent than previous years. It is brighter than other wet-processed Indonesians in the cup, and and fruited with a persimmon sweetness. The cup has clove and alspice. It has a definite Indonesia character akin to the more potent wet-processed Javas. The body is immense!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I prefer this at Full City +, a few snaps of second crack . Then rest it for 24 hours . It roasts well darker too but then some of the delicacy of the flavors is lost.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Java, Timor, PNG

Bolivia 

Bolivia Organic Cenaproc Co-op
Country: Bolivia Grade: SHG Region: Yungas Region, Central Mtn. Range Mark: Colonial Caranavi,
Cert. Organic
 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late 2003 arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: All Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: This lot of coffee has a unique story behind it. It is from the Co-op that won the #1 spot in the Bolivian Coffee Competition this past year. But just a week after we left the country, there was basically a coup and the president resigned amidst rumblings from the rural regions of Bolivia who believed he was selling out the country to foreign energy interests. In the meantime, there was a lot of uncertainty and perhaps jealousy against established organizations ...and perhaps Cenaproc co-op, having won the #1 spot for two years in a row, were a target. The Co-op's president decided to go into hiding, and since the coffee lot we had hoped to buy was almost ready for export, it too went into hiding! So this is a coffee I can truly call a "hidden gem", and a bit of a miracle it ever found its way to port in Peru and made it to the US. (BTW: Bolivia is stable, the Co-op is fine, nobody is hiding now). The cup is impressive, especially in it's sweet aromatics laced with a sharp spiciness - almost a cayenne hint. I am initially impressed with the caramelly sweetness in the cup, but as it cools the raspberry and grape fruitiness emerges. At a darker roast the darker fruits emerge (raisin, prune), but I really like the brighter berry-grape flavors at a City + roast. This cup profile is an excellent option for those who like Central American coffees, but want to try something new! I added a 1 cuppers correction; this really deserves it for its subtle charm.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: City + roast is best I think… you don't want to burden the sweetness and fruit notes with bitter roast notes.
add 50 50 Compare to: A very Bolivian cup profile: light, sweet, fruited, clean
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Aromatics, clean fruits

Bolivia Fair Trade "de Montana"
Country: Bolivia Grade: SHG Region: Caranavi, Yungas Mark: Fair Trade Cert.  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Jan 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4

Notes: Bolivian coffees are delicate, subtle, low-intensity coffees in general. And why should that be a bad thing? Sometimes, the intensity of some origins gets in the way of the coffee, muddles up the flavors on the palate. I "discovered" Bolivian coffees in 2002 with the samples arriving from the AECAR co-op. It was the first time I had a clean Bolivian cup. With the barrier of defective flavors (from processing mistakes, usually) finally lifted from this origin, I could taste a light-bodied coffee with pear and apple hints in the cup, sweet, aromatic, delicious! It happened to come at a time I was cupping a lot of earthy new crop Sumatra and Sulawesi samples, and this Bolivian cup was the perfect counterpoint: sweet, delicate, clean, lively. What a relief! After participating in the Bolivia cupping competition this year, we made a lot of contacts with people who, like me, believe there are now really nice coffees coming from the Yungas region of Bolivia, and here's the result of that. This coffee is actually a product of the Cenaproc co-op too, but is a distinct lot marked as "de Montana". I like this cup roasted just a tad darker than our other Bolivian offering, to a Full City but not into the 2nd crack. The aromatics are great: sweet apple with a spicey zest. the general tone of this cup is deeper than the Cenaproc Organic lot we have, with roasted hazelnut notes, and ripe apple flavors. Theres a hint of dark berry too.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City roast is best IMHO … you don't want to burden the sweetness and fruit notes with bitter roast notes.
Add 50 50 Compare to: A very Bolivian cup profile: light, sweet, fruited, clean
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / aromatic, fresh fruit and nut

Bolivian Organic - Aecar Coop
Country: Bolivia Grade: SHB Region: Western Mountains Mark: Aecar Coop, QIA Certified Organic
Processing: Wet Process Crop: 2002-2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Typicas, Bourbon, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This lot of Aecar Co-op coffee is a wake-up call: great coffees come from Bolivia! Bolivia is an amazing country with spectacular geography, and a history of being under-recognized for its coffee production. It's an origin counties that has all the topography to produce excellent coffee but the samples just never rate well. (Venezuela comes to mind too). I didn't expect much from this co-op grown organic sample either, and the first time I cupped it I was underwhelmed. I didn't even go back to dip my spoon in the cup as it cooled ... and that's where I erred. This coffee is not impressive upon the first sip when it is hot, but the sweetness, the cinnamon spice, and some serious body (for a S. American coffee) emerge as the cup cools. It is a delightful, low intensity, mild cup. The preparation of the green coffee is impeccable, and hints at the concerted effort to offer top-notch coffees from this origin. This coffee is from Cooperative AECAR (an acronym for Asociacion Ecologica de Caficultores Rosario entre Rios). The Co-op is made up of 164 small farmers averaging a mere 3 acres of land per farmer. This Caturra, Typica and Bourbon coffee is cultivated at an altitude of 4,900 - 6,000 feet above sea level from member-farms in Illimani, Villa Caturapi, Collasuyo, Buen Pasto, Magallanes, Alto Ascension and Chuma. The Co-op has put a lot of their earnings into improvement of their shared mill, built raised bed patios for coffee drying, started their own nurseries, and brought in coffee technicians to further organic agricultural training.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: City+ to Full City. This coffee works well with a wide latitude of roasts although Vienna or darker will wipe out the delicate flavors.
add 50 50 Compare to: "Classic" cup profile that really emerges as the cup cools -a sure crowd-pleaser.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3

Brazil 

Brazil Org/Fair Trade -Poco Fundo Coop
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Minas Gerais Mark: Fair Trade & Organic Certified;
Poco Fundo Co-op
Processing: Natural-Dry processed Crop: December 2004 arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai, Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: I don't really need another Brazil on the list, but I just could not pass up this lot of Poco Fundo. They ship multiple lots through the harvest season and I have cupped the various arrivals over the years. They are inconsistent. Some have this amazing, almost Harar-like fruit to them, and a very deep, slightly winey character with very low acidity and a rustic chocolate character. Others cross the line into musty/fermenty/foul flavors. So my strategy with this farm (like many others) is that when one of those remarkable lots comes in, buy all I can from that and forget the rest of the shipments. Folks, this it IT! This lot is exactly what I want from a heavily fruited, stand alone Brazil. It has a cocoa roast flavor in the lighter roasts, with almondy hints. A bit darker and the roast taste turns to bittersweet chocolate of the Sharffen Berger variety (my favorite). This particular lot was sold out at the broker within a couple hours after the "arrival sample" was cupped so I was pleased to get the first call on setting aside 14 bags; it looks like it will be on the list for a few months allowing more people to try it. The Poco Fundo last year from the first lot was excellent like this one, but the second lot wasnt good. Additonal note: We roasted this for our Roastmaster coffee of the week: awesome! I blended a City+ and A Full City+ roast together, then culled out the under-roasted seeds. These are occasional "quakers", underripe coffee cherry. These get skimmed out with wet-processed coffees but sometimes make it past hand-selection with the dry-processed. I would cull out the extremely light tan ones, but not those that are just a shade lighter than the norm for the roast. Brewing these quakers, you find they actually have a apricot frutiness and a strong seseme seed flavor. There's other great Brazils coming this year, (Peaberry from Carmo Estate, a pure Yellow Bourbon) but none are as rustic and fruited as the Poco Fundo.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: Full City: does well lighter too, and can certainly go darker. Note that the Poco Fundo is a bit low in acidity so there isn't much on the bright end of the cup profile so it is not the most balanced coffee taking into account this lack of acidity. Then again, all Sumatras and Sulawesi coffees are "unbalanced" by the same token. Consider a blend with a brighter coffee from another origin.
add 50 50 Compare to: Excellent complexity/depth and a unique origin flavors that shift greatly depending on roast...
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ / Body, fruity, low acidity

Brazil Cerrado Patrocinio Natural
Country: Brazil Grade: 16-17, SS, FC Region: Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: Joao Alberto Osso, Fazenda Bom Jardim
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: August 2004 arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: I have been looking for a good coffee from Cerrado for quite a while, ever since the Monte Carmelo and the Prima Qualita marks from Cooxupe sorta slipped in quality. Here is the results of the search, a dry-processed Cerrado coffee from a single farm (Bom Jardim owned by Joao Alberto Osso), with great "origin character." This coffee is, like the Fazenda Ipanema, prepared using the natural dry method where whole unpeeled coffee cherry is layed out to dry on the patios intact. Basically, natural dry-process is the old, traditional Brazil method. This means that the coffee has all the pulp, fruity muscilage and skin on it as it dries. Natural coffees have greater concentrations of organic components, minerals and soluble solids, meaning that they have more body in the cup, and more intense flavors. While these flavors are chocolate and fruit in flavor, there is a husky side to them, a natural honey or naturally-dried fruit aspect to them. Sometimes I get a character from the cup that nears the dry-processed Ethiopian Sidamo! I pursued this lot mostly for espresso purposes, but find that the French Press cup from it is deeply enjoyable. It has very low acidity (the flavors really miss the tongue, and register on the back of the pallatemore than anywhere). There are dark, somewhat husky-toned chocolate notes with hints of spice and winey fruit. I am reminded of Mexican hot chocolate (Ibarra, La Abuelita etc), rustic chocolate from Mexico spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg ... maybe because growing up in San Diego we used to bring this back from our trips to Tiajuana and Baja. It has a muted finish that some might find a little unclean ... at least those who like pristine, crisp wet-processed Central American coffees. But for those who can handle a tad of earthiness in the cup (earth in a good way, not dirt flavors!) I think this will be a perfect match. Now, for espresso, this is a great coffee, either straight or as a blend base. It produces tones of caramel colored crema, and has a very classic espresso flavor. You can punch up the cup a bit (add sharper, distinctions to the flavor) with either a good Bourbon-varietal Central (Guatemala, Salvador) or you can make a more exotic blend with Harar, or Yemen.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Bold intensity / Low acidity, heavy body
add 50 50 Roast: For Press Pot, I like Full City+, a few snaps into 2nd crack. This is a coffee that I actually like brewed with a very short rest time after roasting (4-6 hours) even though the body won't be fully developed yet. For espresso, Full City+ to Light Vienna.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Full bodied, dry-processed Brazil character: a little earthy, winey fruit, heavy body, low acidity.

Brazil Fazenda Ipanema "Dulce"
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Mogiana Mark: Ipanema Estate, Utz Kapeh,
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: Jan 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: For more information on Utz Kapeh ( a sort of "Fair Trade Lite" designation) see this article. The Fazenda Ipanema "Dulce" (sweet) is a traditional Brazil, prepared using the natural dry method where whole unpeeled coffee cherry is layed out to dry on the patios intact. I have seen other farms refer to their dry-process coffee as "Dulce" but i am not sure if this is a uniform designation. Basically, natural dry-process is the old, traditional Brazil method. This means that the coffee has all the pulp, fruity mucilage and skin on it as it dries. Natural coffees have greater concentrations of organic components, minerals and soluble solids, meaning that they have more body in the cup, and more intense flavors. While these flavors are chocolate and fruit in flavor, there is a husky side to them, a natural honey or naturally-dried fruit aspect to them. Some would call that "unclean" in cup character. Even Illy frowns upon the wild notes in these coffees. But these coffees have more impact, more character, than other Brazils. The "Dulce" has a raw honey sweetness to it great body, earthy chocolate tones. It has very low acidity too, which to some is ideal but it does make the cup seem a bit incomplete to me: it doesn't register on the tongue, and most of the flavors are sensed toward the back of the palate. For a infusion (French press) or drip coffee, a bit of a natural dry-processed Ethiopian (Harar etc) would add a great accent to this cup. But as espresso the top end of this cup really comes up, balancing out the overall profile: it is great straight espresso! (Like other Brazils, don't overroast or they become ashy as espresso: restrict it to Vienna or lighter.) There is also a soft winey fruit tone that lurks in the back of this cup, certainly not as pronounced as the natural Ethiopian coffees, but along these lines. I was so excited about getting this lot of coffee that we had it trucked across the country from New Jersey to California! This isn't usually the case: I would say that the port of Oakland is the premier specialty coffee port in the nation, and we are 5 minutes from the coffee warehouses at the port! But in this case the container was already bound for the East Coast... but I was determined to get some of this lot anyway!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I like a true Full City or Full City+ for this coffee, and a light Vienna for espresso. Like most Brazils you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Traditional, full bodied, Natural Brazil character: a little wild, mild fruit, heavy body, low acidity.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Body, mild fruits

Brazil Sul de Minas -Carmo Estate
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Sul de Minas Gerais Mark: Carmo Estate
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late 2003 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Yellow Catuai, Catuai, Icatu & friends.
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: This coffee is my choice for espresso blending base, in conjunction with another Brazil of the Natural -Dry Process variety. It's a really high quality farm-specific south Minas Gerais coffee with a lot of history behind it: the Junqueira family introduced coffee in this high altitude region 150 years ago. And it is still in the family; Tulio Junqueira, a fourth generation member of the same family, owns Carmo Estate. Carmo Estate has 525 acres (212 ha) which is fairly average for an Estate type Brazilian farm (they get a LOT bigger than this) and ranges from 3,000 to 3,800 feet . It is planted with quite a few arabica varieties - Mundo Novo, Catuaí, Catucaí, Bourbon, Acaiá and Icatú. This lot is Yellow Catuai, and in fact as a Brazil Specialty Coffee Assoc. certified lot, I can log into the web page and view the varietal information and grading provenance for this specific lot! We chose the Carmo Pulped natural coffees, prepared by the fairly recent demucilage system created in Brazil. Ripe cherries are pulped but the mucilage (fruity layer under with outer peel) is not removed. Parchment coffee (green coffee in the outer parchment shell) dries in contact with the sugar-rich mucilage which transfers natural sweetness to the beans and preserves the full body typical of the best Brazilian coffees. Illycafe has been using Pulped Naturals as a part of espresso blends for years now, in combination with other Brazils. While I think the straight espresso shot of Carmo is really great (Vienna roast, 3 days rest) I would say that as a brewed coffee it is a mild, nutty, but somewhat dull cup. We got it mostly for espresso usage ... but I have done some neat blend experiments with it for Full City+ French roasts brewed by drip/French press and it is a great base coffee. I did 50-50 blends with Carmo-Harar, Carmo-Mysore Nuggets, Carmo-Sumatra Iskandar. All of these had a really good roast taste (and I am sure there's a lot of other blends that would benefit from a Carmo base), and the other coffee provided the accent.


View of the valley at Carmo Estate

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: See notes above: In general Full City is best for Brazils in terms of nutty-chocolate-sweetness, and you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils) best for espresso blending and Vienna Roast drip blend bases. If Pulped Natural doesn’t sound so good, be assured that in the last 3 Brazil Cup of Excellence auctions nearly every winning coffee was a Pulped Natural! And Carmo Estate is used by one of the top espresso shops in the Pacific Northwest (you espresso people know who I am referring to... okay, his initials are D.S. ) alright, it is Espresso Vivace
Score (Max. 100) 86.3

Brazil Matas de Minas -Brauna Estate
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Araponga, Matas de Minas Gerais Mark: Fazenda Brauna  
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late 2003 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Catuai, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I had received the Fazenda Brauna sample from a specialized Brasilian importer and thought it was great stuff. We arranged to set aside some bags from the shipment,. And in the meantime the coffee placed high in the Brazil Cup of Excellence competition! (It was No. 2 in the general competition and No.10 overall ... that's from over 900 samples submitted! It fell just below the 90 threshold to join 8 other coffees for a special distinction.) The farm has been owned for years by Afonso Jorge Schmölz de Mattos, who overseas all the production and milling of the coffee on the farm. This lot is Catuai and Bourbon, and it is a Brazil Specialty Coffee Assoc. certified lot. That means I can punch in the certificate number to the BSCA web site and view the varietal information and grading ratings for this specific lot - very cool! Pulped Natural coffees are prepared by the fairly recent demucilage system created in Brazil. Ripe cherries are pulped but the mucilage (fruity layer under with outer peel) is not removed. Parchment coffee (green coffee in the outer parchment shell) dries in contact with the sugar-rich mucilage which transfers natural sweetness to the beans and preserves the full body typical of the best Brazilian coffees. Illycafe has been using Pulped Naturals as a part of espresso blends for years now, in combination with other Brazils. I spoke with Joao who works at the farm and he tells me that the experiments with other process methods on the Brauna farm were just not a good match for this coffee in terms of cup results (and with their 10th place prize I am sure he is right). I use the Brauna as a small percentage of espresso blends ... I don't want to use too much because this coffee is a bit brighter than other Brazils, and too much acidity in espresso can make a sourish tazze. It is a great single origin Brazil for drip/French press too. It has a lot of balance in the cup, great body, nutty tones in the Full City roast turning to chocolate bittersweet at Vienna. It's not a sweet coffee and some cups have an almost oakey hint.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: See notes above: In general Full City is best for Brazils in terms of nutty-chocolate-sweetness, and you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils). If Pulped Natural doesn’t sound so good, be assured that in the last 3 Brazil Cup of Excellence auctions nearly every winning coffee was a Pulped Natural!
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Simple nuttiness

Brazil Organic / Fair Trade -Poco Fundo Coop
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Minas Mark: Fair Trade & Org. Cert;
Poco Fundo Co-op
Processing: Natural-Dry processed Crop: Jan 2004 arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: At this time of the year, we need another Brazil coffee on the list like we need an Earthquake here in the Bay Area. We have tons of Brazils again this year, and we have 2 other Natural brazils, the Mogiana Estate and the Ipanema Dulce. But the way we run this business isn't by some overall theme (like stocking one coffee from every origin on earth) but by cup quality. We judge the cup in blind evaluation (cupping) and let the beans fall as they may. And in this case, we end up with a lot of Brazilian coffees right now. It's not that Brazil produces the most varied and intriguing coffees of all producing nations; it's that we have never had such a selection on independently good Brazil samples at our doorstep before. In the case of the Poco Fundo from Minas Gerais, I just could not pass it up. It is a remarkable Brazilian cup with great depth and a little fruity Merlot finish in some of the cups we had... but not all. If this had been in the Brazil auction it would certainly be a top 5 finisher, and in fact this is the type of cup character I would like to see from the Auction coffees. It is more true to Brazil, the the typical nutty-cocoa Brazil flavors, and this is because it is traditionally dry-processed as all Brazils have been for several centuries now. The bonus here is a toasted almond roast taste, and in some cups a deep, subtle winey-fruitiness , a low-toned flavor that makes this one a great coffee as a straight, unblended roast and french-press or vaccuum-pot brewed. Even if you don't get that fruit out of the cup (I had it from 1 out of 3 roasts we did) the almondy flavor is worth brewing this one straight. We had a very small amount of this coffee and I managed to weasel a few more bags out of the broker ... soi it looks like it will be on the list for a few months allowing more people to try it. The Poco Fundo last year from the first lot was excellent like this one, but the second lot wasnt good. We have a second shipment lined up for a little later in the year, but there's no telling if we will actually take delivery of it, or reject it. So if you like Poco Fundo get some from this lot to be sure. Additonal note: We roasted this for our Roastmaster coffee of the week: awesome! I blended a City+ and A Full City+ roast together, then culled out the under-roasted seeds. These are "quakers", underripe coffee cherry. These get skimmed out with wet-processed coffees but sometimes make it past hand-selection with the dry-processed. I would cull out the extremely light tan ones, but not those that are just a shade lighter than the norm for the roast. Brewign these quakers, you find they actually have a apricot frutiness and a strong seseme seed flavor,
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: Full City: does well lighter too, and can certainly go darker. Note that the Poco Fundo is a bit low in acidity so there isn't much on the bright end of the cup profile - if the cup has good flavors and body but seems a little flat to you, a 50-50 blend with Brauna will change that! Also consider a blend with a brighter coffee from another origin.
add 50 50 Compare to: Excellent complexity/depth and a unique origin flavors that shift greatly depending on roast...
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ / Body, fruity, low acidity

Brazil Cup of Excellence -Sitio Araucária
Country: Brazil Grade: CoE Auction Lot Region: Carmo de Minas, Minas Gerais Mark: Sitio Araucaria - Kleber de Castro Junqueira
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: 2003 Cup of Excellence, late Feb 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Yellow Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: We bought two Cup of Excellence Auction Lots this year, one exclusively for espresso, and this one, the Sito Araucaria, for brewed coffee. (To be clear, this coffee can be used as part of an espresso blend, but as an accent coffee, not a base). As brewed coffee this is my favorite, a character that is somewhere between a Huehuetenango from Guatemala and a Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia, provided you keep the roast on the lighter side. AT a City+ roast it has a predominate ripe orange-tangerine flavor (not an acidy flavor though) with a twist of rind in the finish. The long history of the land is interesting, so I included it on a separate page, but in brief this has been a Junqueira family farm for seven generations! It was part of a Land Grant, granted by the Portuguese Crown at the end of the 18th Century. It is a Yellow Catuai varietal, and the farm is very small, a mere 16 hecatres. As a pupled natural, it seems to have more of a bright end on the cup, although I would not call the acidity high. It has citrus qualities without being citrusy as we describe a Kenya or Yirgacheffe. After these flavors fade, there is a strong nuttiness in the coffee, cashew-almond, and a good, waxy-fatty body that goes with the nutty flavors. This leads to a nice finish on the cup. These flavors are maximzed at a fairly light roast with a good 24 hour rest after roasting. I mentioend espresso: this works really nice in a blend with the Laranja Cravo: 70% L-C and 30% Araucaria was great in my tests. For espresso I reached the best flavors at a light Vienna, about 40 seconds into 2nd crack in a Rosto. For drip-infusion coffee I recommend a City to City +.

brazil Cup of Excellence BSCA


Mr. Junqueria

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: See notes above for espresso and drip-infusion methods.
add 50 50 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Pulped Natural type with a cup that holds up as straight brewed single origin and as a portion of an espresso blend.
Score (Max. 100) 87 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / body, fruit and nut flavors

Brazil Mogiana Sul de Minas "Natural Dry"
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Mogiana Mark: Mogiana Sul do Minas Estate
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: Late 2003 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: The Mogiana Estate Sul de Minas is a traditional Brazil, prepared using the natural dry method where whole unpeeled coffee cherry is laid out to dry on the patios intact. This means that the coffee has all the pulp, fruity mucilage and skin on it as it dries. Natural coffees have greater concentrations of organic components, minerals and soluble solids, meaning that they have more body in the cup, and more intense flavors. While these flavors are chocolate and fruit in flavor, there is a husky side to them, a natural honey or naturally-dried fruit aspect to them. Some would call that "unclean" in cup character. Even Illy frowns upon the wild notes in these coffees. I think its delicious, a great straight roast Brazil for drip brewing, and a great component in espresso blends. Of the Brazil Naturals, this Mogiana Estate is of the more intense cup profiles, a bit on the wild side. It has great body, a "miel" natural honey character, nutty to chocolatey depending on degree of roast, and fruited with a winey, almost fermenty hint. It is not overly sweet, and in fact I did some neat blends with the Mogiana natural and Harar as an accent coffee (60-40 blend) with great results both as French Press/Drip and as espresso.

Natural Brazil coffee drying under the sun. Note the dark color due to the fact that this is whole cherry right of the tree, not the unpeeled/washed parchment you would see with a wet-processed coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I like a true Full City+ for this coffee, and a light Vienna for espresso. Like most Brazils you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Traditional, full bodied, nutty chocolatey Natural Brazils: Like the well-known Vista Alegre and Fazenda Impanema
Score (Max. 100) 86.7

Brazil - Fazenda Vargem Grande
Country: Brasil Grade: SS,2,FC Region: South Minas Mark: Vargem Grande
Processing: Pulped Natural Crop: 02-03 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Fazenda Vargem Grande is located in the southern region of the State of Minas Gerais, and is close to the southeastern region of the State of São Paulo, at the skirts of the Mantiqueira Mountains in a slightly undulated plateau with higher slopes The altitude of the plantation area varies from 1100 to 1200 meters, and the rainfall distribution at the farm greatly benefits coffee quality; between 1200 and 1600 mm. During the harvest period (winter), temperatures are relatively low (almost zero!) and tere is little rain, which naturally inhibits the activities of fungi and bacteria. All the coffee was hand picked on special pieces of cloth, thus avoiding contact with the soil and mixing the beans with those already on the soil which could contaminate and spoil the main lot. Coffee picked up in the morning arrives at the processing unit shortly after noon, and coffee picked in the afternoon, up to 5 p.m., is processed as soon as it arrives at the mill hopper. The process used is based on the pulped natural method, which consists of washing, reception, separation from the green beans, pulping and direct mucilage removal. After processing, the pulped natural coffee, green beans and the dry beans are immediately forwarded to the terraces, or as soon as the excess water has been drained, to the rotary dryers - which expose them to heat in a more uniform manner.

In terms of the cup character, it is what you would expect from a premium Brazil (and what makes them so good as a base for espresso blends -creamy body, nice bittersweet roast taste). In fact, many of the auction lot coffees this year don't taste much like Brazil at all, but the Vargem Grande (which was a winner in last year's auction) truly does. It has an interesting , slightly rooty flavor with some cups being more clove-like than others (we prepare 3 cups of each sample in this cupping session). Roasted a little darker the coffee becomes carbony which can give it better pungency for espresso.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: Full City (a few snaps into 2nd crack) is preferred over the lighter City roast.
add 50 50 Compare to: Interesting and unique pungency develops at the medium-dark roast settings.
Score (Max. 100) 84.5

Brazil "Cup of Excellence" Auction -Fazenda Boa Vista
Country: Brazil Grade: N/A Region: Patrocínio, Cerrado Mineiro, Minas Gerais Mark: Fazenda Boa Vista / Fazenda Tabuoes
Processing: De-muscilaged Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Yellow Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Fazenda Boa Vista was the lot we wanted from the outset of the 2002 Brazil C.O.E. Auction, even though the International judges didn't put it in their top 5. I cupped all the samples that were expedited to us in the days before the auction (December '02) and what surprised me was the uncharacteristic acidity in the top 5 coffees. Indeed, the Panel had chosen winning coffees that were more like Guatemalan and Costa Rican coffees than those with true Brazilian origin character. And in a cupping with Guat or CR those coffees wouldn't have ranked that well. I wanted a coffee with exceptional Brazilian character, and that was why we went after the Boa Vista (and it seems others did to because the bidding for this lot was fierce, changing ownership more than 20 times in the day. The BSCA provides a lot of information about this farm: Faz. Boa Vista is a part of the much larger farm, Fazenda Tabuoes. Tabuoes is run by an agronomist, and it quite an elaborate operation, with an amazing amount of land and variety of coffee cultivars growing there: 1,447.22 hectares, with the following varieties under production: Acaiá, Aramosa, Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, Mundo Novo, Yellow Icatu, Red Icatu and Catuaí. The Boa Vista plot is Yellow Icatu, and was selected as the best cup quality of the coffees from Tabuoes and entered into the Cup of Excellence auction. With an altitude of 1,150 meters and average temperatures of approximately 22 Celsius the region has well defined seasons during the year, enhancing the production of the best coffees. Harvesting in the fields is partly mechanized and partly manual. The harvested coffee is immediately transferred from production fields to washers. The water used to process coffee is from artesian wells, and after being used, it is treated and used for irrigation, eliminating any possibility of damage to nature. The beans are dried under the sun in concrete terraces for three days. Immediately after, the beans are transferred to the dryers that use hot water as their source of heat. The temperature of the dryers does not go beyond 30 Celsius. The beans are removed from the dryers when they reach 11 percent humidity. Initially, coffee is stocked in wooden bins for a period of approximately 60 days to homogenize bean humidity. Subsequently, the coffee is ready to be reprocessed and packaged in burlap bags. Drying under the sun is made in fine layers and the coffee is turned many times during the day to ensure homogeneity and to avoid any possibility of fermentation. Dryers possess an absolute temperature control that is in contact with the beans, allowing them to be dried uniformly and consistently. Beans are electronically selected using a SORTEX 90.000 equipment, ensuring their accuracy and consistency. The cup? It is very Brazilian: there is a pronounced dry-roasted peanut flavor in the lighter roasts, exceptional body, hints of dark fruit, and a pleasant smoke in the aftertaste. Its a cup that is subtle and doesn't really come into its own until the cup has cooled a bit. Roasted to a Full City + (a few snaps into second, and I prefer this roast) the origin character persists with more sharp nutty notes, and a pleasant carbony-smokey flavor that emerges in the aftertaste (which is quite long). It is exceptional as espresso, but not when roasted too light, in which case it is sour. Roasted to a solid Vienna, then rested 2 days, it is a great Ristretto (short espresso). Some cups seem to have more of these deep fruit notes, and sometimes I have trouble finding it. But this makes it a pleasure when it is there!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: My favorite: a Full City+ roast stopped 10 seconds into 2nd crack, and rested 24+ hours. For espresso, a Vienna roast rested 2+ days.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: A really good Brazil, of course! I actually had the chance to cup this against some other arrived 2002 Brazil Auction lots that other roasters won, and am really happy with our choice to go after the Boa Vista. This has that distinct dry-roasted peanut flavor that others totally lack. I have a page with this review and more pictures of the farm/our shipment.
Score (Max. 100) 87

Brazil Cooxupe Co-op -Prima Qualita
Country:BrazilGrade:SS/FCRegion:Cerrado, MinasMark:Cooxupe Coop
Processing:Dry-processed, Natural DryCrop:02Appearance:1 d/300gr, 17 ScreenVarietal:Bourbon
       Dry Fragrance:82Notes: Prima Qualita is actually a blend of Cerrado and other Sul de Minas coffees, among which there is a traditional Brazilian dry-process coffee. What's the difference? Dry-process means that the rip coffee cherry is picked by hand, laid out on patios to dry and then the outer pod and inner pachment layers are removed in one milling process to reveal the green coffee seed. But the old traditional Brazilian dry-process was dried on the tree, not on a patio! When a coffee is 100% tree-dried it can be too wild and have unpleasant off flavors. So this Prima Qualita infuses the best of the traditional tree-dry with the patio-dry and the result is outstanding. For filter drip or french press infusion brewing I think this is the best cup of Brazil I have had in several years. In espresso it is equally impressive and we have immediately included it in our blends. The cup develops chocolate roast flavors at city and full city stages, pungency in the darker roasts. There is a bit of wild, rooty flavor in the finish. There are some pleasant variables ... one cup had a herby secondary flavor, another had a vanilla finish. No fireworks here, Brazil is a mild coffee! But this is one that really holds up as a single-origin roast and not all can lay claim to that. Let this coffee rest at least 24 hours so the body can develop. Expect an occasional seed with berry-boring damage: this occurs on the tree with the natural-dry and doesnt affect overall cup quality: the critter is long gone!
Wet Aroma:80
Brightness- Liveliness:82
Body- Movement:88
Flavor- Depth:87Roast: See comments above. This is excellent for espresso roasted Vienna or lighter, and the best filter drip/french press Brazil -still an overall mild cup but with some neat subtlety and overall chocolate-bittersweet roast tastes
Finish- Conclusion:85
Score:84.0Compare to: Traditional dry process mild Brazil coffee, like Vista Allegre

Brazil Organic / Fair Trade -Poco Fundo Coop
Country:BrazilGrade:EstateRegion:MinasMark:Fair Trade & Org. Cert; Poco Fundo Co-op
Processing:Dry processedCrop:02-'03Appearance:.5 d/300gr, 17 ScreenVarietal:Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0Notes: At this time of the year, we need another Brazil coffee on the list like we need an Earthquake here in the Bay Area. We have auction lot coffees coming (the Boa Vista from the 2002 Cup of Excellence) and several other excellent ones: Vargem Grande, Prima Qualita, etc. But the way we run this business isn't by some overall theme (like stocking one coffee from every origin on earth) but by cup quality. We judge the cup in blind evaluation (cupping) and let the beans fall as they may. And in this case, we end up with a lot of Brazilian coffees right now. It's not that Brazil produces the most varied and intriguing coffees of all producing nations; it's that we have never had such a selection on independently good Brazil samples at our doorstep before. In the case of the Poco Fundo from Minas Gerais, I just could not pass it up. It is a remarkable Brazilian cup with great depth and a little fruity Merlot finish in some of the cups we had... but not all. If this had been in the Brazil auction it would certainly be a top 5 finisher, and in fact this is the type of cup character I would like to see from the Auction coffees. It is more true to Brazil, the the typical nutty-cocoa Brazil flavors, and this is because it is traditionally dry-processed as all Brazils have been for several centuries now. The bonus here is a toasted almond roast taste, and in some cups a deep, subtle winey-fruitiness , a low-toned flavor that makes this one a great coffee as a straight, unblended roast and french-press or vaccuum-pot brewed. Even if you don't get that fruit out of the cup (I had it from 1 out of 3 roasts we did) the almondy flavor is worth brewing this one straight. We had a very small amount of this coffee and I managed to weasel a few more bags out of the broker ... soi it looks like it will be on the list for a few months allowing more people to try it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10)8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10)9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10)8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0Roast: Full City: does well lighter too, and can certainly go darker.
add 5050Compare to: Excellent complexity/depth and a unique origin flavors that shift greatly depending on roast...
Score (Max. 100)86.5

Brazil "Blue de Brazil" '03
Country:BrazilGrade:EstateRegion:MinasMark:Finca Ipiranga
"Blue de Brasil"
Processing:Dry processedCrop:02-'03Appearance:0 d/300gr, 16-18 ScreenVarietal:Mundoi Novo, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0Notes: Blue de Brasil is a sun-dried, certified Organic coffee from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, grown at elevations between 2700 and 3700 feet on Finca Ipiranga. It is grown in the natural method of Brazilian coffee farming, which means once the coffee cherries are ripened and dried on the trees in the sun, they are picked by hand, de-husked then laid on terraces to dry. Blue de Brasil is stored for up to three months to rest before being bagged and transported to port for shipping. If you have bought peaberry coffees before, you realize that they are not 100% peaberry; Tanzanias are usually about 80% peaberry. Well, this one is probably about 50% peaberry (and in fact we are into our last bag of this now and down to 25% peaberry -so don't buy this if you are hung up on the peaberry thing...) But after all, bean shape does not have anything to do intisnsically with cup quality, and we judge coffee by the later. The dry fragrance of the ground coffee has a pronounced roasted peanut aroma -it's rare to have such a singular fragrance come from a particular coffee. (BTW: "Peanutty" aromas and flavors in coffee could be interpreted as a good or bad thing. I would designate bad peanutty sesnationas as "green peanut" or "rancid peanut", and that realates to unfavorable taints absorbed by the fats/lipids in the green coffee. And good ones I refer to as "roasted peanut" or just plain old "peanutty!") The first cup I brewed of this coffee outside of cupping was a bit weak and wasn't that impressive. But when I re-brewed it at proper strength in the French Press we enjoyed an excellent pungent cup with strong bittersweet Dutch Cocoa chocolate flavors and a long aftertaste. It has a mild rooty flavor in the cup too that compliments the other flavors... and I am looking forward to making some straight espresso shots on the SL-90 with this!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10)7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10)8.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10)8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0Roast: Full City: the roast flavors develop best by going beyond city. Allow this to rest 48 hours for best body. If you are making brewed coffee with this, I had the best cups when brewing a bit on the stronger side.
add 5050Compare to: A Premium Brazil coffee, with excellent typical Brazil Cup Character
Score (Max. 100)84.8

Burundi 

see the 2001-2002 Archive


Colombia 

Colombian Nariño del Abuelo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade/ Excelso Region: Nariño Mark:  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late May 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: The Nariño del Abuelo originates with the same coffee as the large bean Reserva Del Patron that we have carried in the past. As the coffee is separated, the large 18+ screen coffee goes to the Reserva, and the 16-17 screen seeds, goes to the Narino Del Abuelo. I had heard rumors that the smaller seed preparation actually out-cupped the large bean Reserva due to the botanical variations of all the seeds in the coffee. There's a good case that can be made for variety of screen sizes, including peaberry. Just as a vintner blends grapes from different elevations and exposures within the vineyard, the varied seed sizes represent a wider spread of coffee in their physical and chemical qualities. Is it possible this draws out more dimension in the cup? From judging the Reserva vs. the Abuelo, I would say "yes!" As with the reserva it is "heart of the crop" coffee from selected Narino estates. This means that certain areas of certain top smallholder farms are harvested to comprise this coffee. It is an extremely limited production, and the cup has great body and depth. There is a modicum of acidity to balance out the deep, milk-chocolate flavors and a hint of aromatic woodiness. The aftertaste is moderately long, and the coffee can take a very wide variety of roasts that emphasize a different dimension of the cup: brighter and fruitier in the lighter City roast, mildly chocolatey at Full City, more pungent at Vienna. 
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2.0 Roast: City; this has a mild roasty character even when it is roasted to a medium (City) roast, through first crack completely until the surface color and texture of the coffee has an even "complexion", but not into 2nd crack at all.
Add 50 50.0 Roast: Full City, although this coffee takes a wide latitude of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Like really good Colombians with a little more brightness. Tolima Colombians, San Augustin Colombian, ones with heavier body.

Colombian Popayan Supremo -Caucano
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Popayan, Cauca Mark: "Caucano",
Carcafe Exports
Processing: Pulped/ Wet-processed Crop: August 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra,
Colombia 6
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: I really like this cup; low acidity, deep, brooding, bittersweet, chocolatey, creamy body -awesome. This is a coffee from the Americas that someone who likes Sumatras and Sulawesi (Celebes) will go for. The Caucano is a coffee that I bought in a different way than our usual methods. It started with cupping an assortment of preshipment samples from smaller sources in Colombia, specific lots that had not been pooled together with other farms or grades of coffee. What emerged was a set of very distinct cup profiles that were remarkable for their dissimilarities more than anything. In this I found a couple samples that had really unique character ... but judging coffee this way can be dangerous; cupping pre-shipment and "type samples" (where a farm is representing what their coffee might be like, but not a sample pulled from an actually existing lot) has many problems. If the type sample is from a previous crop, forget it. Coffee changes too much from year to year, and these samples are often too "groomed" by the farm: hand-picking 100 crimson-ripe cherries, and culling out everything but the most perfect cannot represent an actual lot. But early type samples from the same crop do represent the future lot in a way, except that early-ripened coffee cherry rushed through a sample milling process tastes green and unsettled. So you have to project how these flavors will evolve as the full crop is processed and after it has rested at least 60- days in its outer parchment seed layer. We don't often buy coffee this way, because the change can be so dramatic and unpredictable. But with help from a cupper more experienced in this type of buying, I took a chance. And it paid off ... one coffee did not arrive as expected and I rejected it upon arrival. But the other, this Caucano, was just what I had hoped for. It's best as it cools so the first sip doesn't knock your socks off. But the aroma hints at a lingering fruitiness that pairs perfectly with a Dutch Cocoa flavor. It's a bit sweet, but laced with that bittersweet cocoa quality - simply a great balance between the two. as it cools it becomes very nutty, and the It's fairly soft in terms of acidity, but this works so well with the fruited cocoa flavors. It is a Colombian with unique character....

Popayan, Cauca
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City+ through Full City+ - and darker roasts work well too with this cup profile. This coffee works well under a very wide latitude of roasts, from medium through dark - very versatile!
Add 50 50 Compare to: Unique microregional Colombian character.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Depth, bittersweets

Colombian Huila "Mercedes Supremo"
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo 18 Screen Region: Huila Mark: J.A. Valencia/ Mercedes Supremo
Processing: Wet processed Crop: December 03 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Not Known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: We're proud of the Estate coffees we have from Colombia, but this doesn't stop me from cupping the regular Excelso and Supremo lots that come along. After all, the Estate coffees need to be better in the cup, no just by the fact that they have a fancier name. And once in a while a coffee offered as a non-farm-specific Colombian is really nice, and here it is! This coffee is from the Huila region, an origin we haven't stocked in about 4 years. The coffees are usually a little fruity with a light body, but since Supremos are usually pooled from many farms in the region, the resulting cup suffers from the effect of the "lowest common denominator". Well, this coffee isn't as generic as all that: it is from a specific group of farms and a specific importer that has offered some very nice coffees in the past, "JA Valencia". This is the third lot we bought from Valencia, a Supremo screen size of 18/64ths and up (bean size does not matter in terms of cup quality!!!). The cup has flavors like a spiced tea: apple, cinnamon, muted clove flavors. The thing is, I have had a few cups of this coffee that were, well, extra special. There were transitory flavors and aromas that were like sprinkled dry cocoa, super aromatic. The body is not as thick as you would think from a Colombian (typical lighter body of a Huila) but it works well with the cup character ... and after all, lighter body is not a defect. I know that the fruitiness in this cup is a particular coffee cherry scent that you can pick up if you visit a wet-mill on a farm, the sweet fruit as it, but that's not exactly the flavors I think about when I cup this coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: Full City: the cup can be a bit sour at the light end of city, and definitely holds up to a heavier roast. In fact, this cup is excellent well into the Light French stages.
add 50 50 Compare to: This is a traditional, excellent Huila cup profile, clean, fruited, lively!
Score (Max. 100) 85.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / aromatic, balanced

Colombian Huila Natural Decaf
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Huila Mark: Naturally Decafed in Colombia  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: June 2004 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Natural Decafs are actually chemically processed, it just so happens that the "chemical" is a naturally occurring byproduct of sugar-production called Ethyl Acetate, and that it is harmless when used to remove caffeine from coffee. It does the same thing as the old chemical processes (it bonds to the caffeine and extracts it from the coffee) but it is an infinitely safer substance than the old stuff. This coffee originated with a really nice lot of coffee from the Huila region of . The cup is well-fruited, a very lush, dark grape fruitiness. But paired with this obvious primary flavor, it has a full nuttiness and hint of spice. This is really quite a nice cup for any Colombian coffee, let alone a decaf. The brightness (acidity) of the cup is a little low, which balances the cup profile more towards a real South American cup profile (or even the really clean wet-processed Indonesians) than the Centrals. It's definitely a very flavorful cup, and an impressive decaf. Check out our article on decaffeination.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City - takes a wide range of roast, but at a really really light City roast it can be a bit sourish.
add 50 50 Roast: You can roast this darker than a Full City, but it becomes less fruited. I think it is best at the lighter end of Full City -let 1st crack complete, wait for the pause, then stop the roast when you sense 2nd crack is coming soon (440 degrees)
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Compare to: A well-fruited South American cup profile, good body, almost like a wet-processed Sumatra or other Indonesian

Colombian Huila - La Florencia
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Huila Mark:

La Florencia, VSV Reserve, Carcafe Exports

Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Feb 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: La Florencia is a special preparation of top grade farms from the Huila region of Colombia. Contrary to what the popular impression of Colombian coffee may be in the specialty trade, Colombian coffee is actually produced by a patchwork of very small farms that must combine their output to for exportable lots ... they are just too small to individually produce a shipment of top grade coffee. (Consider that less than 25% of the coffee harvested from a farm belongs in the top 2 export grading classes, the rest being sorted out and sold as blender coffee, institutional grades, and for internal consumption within the producing country.) Anyway, the result of this effort and the extra attention to preparation (hand-sorting, etc) is a cup profile with a lot of character ... and you need to watch your roast level with the Florencia to determine what that character will be! A Full City+ roast is a aggressively bittersweet cup with roasted nut flavors, turning to mild fruit hints as the cup cools down. If you back off on the roast a bit, taking it to a City of City+, the acidity emerges, and is formidable but not too piquant and nippy, and there is a firm coffee fruit flavor lurking behind a good bittersweet roast taste. It's floral at this stage, but not like a rose in a vase, but rather a camellia on a bush. Seriously. As the lighter roast cup cools, the acidity has orangy hints, and the roast taste turns nutty like well-roasted almond. For all purposes, this coffee has good intensity and might be a match for those who like a good Sumatra or Sulawesi, and find coffees from the Americas too thin and anemic in character. With either the heavier roast or lighter, it is a cup with excellent mid-range intensity!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 2.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City+ through Full City+ - see the notes above. An intriguing alternative is to blend 2 roasts, one at City and one at Full City+, to produce a melange with increased complexity (not that this coffee requires more complexity than a single straight roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Unique microregional Colombian character, more intense than most Huilas
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Depth, Aftertaste

Colombian Mesa de los Santos
Country: Colombian Grade: Estate Grade Region: Santander, Burcaramanga Pi? de Cuesta y Los Santos Mark: Mesa de los Santos, Organic-Shade Grown
Chops: 3/148/002
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica/Caturra

   

Dry Fragrance: 84

Notes: Mesa de los Santos is a pioneer in sustainable coffee agriculture: it is also the first farm in Colombia to produce and export specialty organic coffee. But the farm predates it's Organic certification by many years: it was founded in 1872! While a traditional Hacienda layout in all respects, Mesa de los Santos has also been agressive in improving their ability to grow, mill and esport the best quality, caturra varietal Colombian coffee. In fact they recently won a competitive World Resources Institute venture capital award for bio-deiverse business, an effort coordinated by manager Oswaldo Acevedo.

The coffee is what great Colombian was 20 years ago: caturra cultivar is used rathar than the inferior, high-yield, diseasew resistent Variedad Colombian. The farm altitude is a repectable 1650-1750 meters. And rather than following the typical Colombian sorting regimen of Supremo and Excelso preparations (which average out good coffees pooled with mediocre coffees into the lowest common denominator) this is a single farm, "Estate" preparation, wet-milled on the farm instead of a third-party beneficio. The cup reverberates with subtle spicey and fruity notes, excellent medium-heavy body, and in the darker Full City+ roast there are great bittersweet flavors. Along with the Santa Isabella coffee, this represents the high-end of what Colombia can produce!

Wet Aroma: 84
Brightness- Liveliness: 86
Body- Movement: 87
Flavor- Depth: 87 Roast: City, but this coffee takes a wide lattitude of roasts. It cups well throught the roast spectrum. MDLS requires slightly more roast time than comparable coffees -it's best to set the roast time a bit high and shut it down manually at the exact degree of roast you want...
Finish- Conclusion: 85 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Balance
Score: 85.5 Compare to: Like really good Colombians with a little more brightness. Tolima Colombians, San Augustin Colombian, ones with heavier body. You can learn more about the farm and their innovative ecological programs at http://www.cafemesadelossantos.com/

Colombian Huila Excelso
Country: Colombia Grade: Excelso 18 Screen Region: Huila Mark: Mercedes Excelso
Processing: Wet processed Crop: 02-'03 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Not Known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: We're proud of the Estate coffees we have from Colombia, but this doesn't stop me from cupping the regular Excelso and Supremo lots that come along. After all, the Estate coffees need to be better in the cup, no just by the fact that they have a fancier name. And once in a blue moon a coffee offered as a generic Excelso is really nice, and here it is! This coffee is from the Huila region, an origin we haven't stocked in about 4 years. The coffees are usuallu a little fruity with a light body, but since Supremos are usually pooled from many farms in the region, the resulting cup suffers from the effect of the "lowest common denominator". Well, this coffee isn't as generic as all that: it is from a specific group of farms and a specific importer that has offered some very nice coffees in the past, "J.A. Valencia". The cup has flavors like a spiced tea: apple, cinnamon, muted clove flavors. The body is not as thick as you would think from a Colombian (typical lighter body of a Huila) but it works well with the cup character ... and after all, lighter body is not a defect. The aftertaste turns a little to a sweet basil flavor, which sounds a little incongruous, but isn't when you are tasting it. In know that the fruitiness in this cup is a particular coffee cherry scent that you can pick up if you visit a wet-mill on a farm, the sweet fruit as it, but that's not exactly the flavors I think about when I cup this coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: Full City: the cup can be a bit sour at the light end of city, and definitely holds up to a heavier roast. In fact, this cup is excellent well into the Light French stages.
add 50 50 Compare to: A great cup by any measure, with the fruity flavors often found in Bucaramangas (like the Mesa de los Santos) and an overall "spice tea"-like cup character.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4

Colombian Nariño -San Lorenzo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade Region: San Lorenzo, Nariño Mark: San Lorenzo Transitional Organic
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Variedad Colombia
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: San Lorenzo is located in the coffee growing district of Nariño in the Southern Colombian Andean volcanic mountains. There 21 farms in three villages in Narino that contribute to the coffee. The towns of San Clemente, San Isidro and San Vicente are located in the highest mountains of the "Colombian Nest" or "Macizo Colombiano" between 1,600 and 2,300 meters high, enjoying of the most important water sources and of the indulgence of the Andean volcanic soil. This is actually a totally organic coffee (it is in transition to certified organic, a three year process in which the coffee can't be called organic, but is farmed organically). Their varietials are about 60% Caturra and 40% Variedad Colombia, and their pergamino is sun-dried whenever weather permits. This cup has the special Nariño brightness in the cup: it surprised me in the blind cupping because I thought, because of the acidity, it was a Costa Rican! It's no wonder that this exceptional coffee is being imported by Hacienda La Minita under their strict quality standards. The traditional Caturra varietal also contributes to the mild citrus in the cup, but the predominate character is spice. This is a wonderfully spicy cup, with clove and nutmeg richly abundant while the cup is hot, all the way through to the cool cup, paired with light Dutch chocolate. There's a sweet aromatic bark too, a root beer flavor if you will, as it cools. The finish turns buttery, paired with ample body. This is a wonderful, complex, classic cup: Colombian, Costa Rican, who cares! It's great: Cupper's Correction of 2.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2.0 Roast: City; this has a mild roasty character even when it is roasted to a medium (City) roast, through first crack completely until the surface color and texture of the coffee has an even "complexion", but not into 2nd crack at all.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Costa Rican in it's brightness (acidity), but complex like the best small farm Colombians.
Score (Max. 100) 87.9

Colombian Mesa de los Santos
Country: Colombian Grade: Estate Grade Region: Santander, Burcaramanga Pi? de Cuesta y Los Santos Mark: Mesa de los Santos, Organic-Shade Grown
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2002-2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica/Caturra

   

Dry Fragrance: 84

Notes: Mesa de los Santos is a pioneer in sustainable coffee agriculture: it is also the first farm in Colombia to produce and export specialty organic coffee. But the farm predates it's Organic certification by many years: it was founded in 1872! While a traditional Hacienda layout in all respects, Mesa de los Santos has also been agressive in improving their ability to grow, mill and esport the best quality, caturra varietal Colombian coffee. In fact they recently won a competitive World Resources Institute venture capital award for bio-deiverse business, an effort coordinated by manager Oswaldo Acevedo.

The coffee is what great Colombian was 20 years ago: caturra cultivar is used rathar than the inferior, high-yield, diseasew resistent Variedad Colombian. The farm altitude is a repectable 1650-1750 meters. And rather than following the typical Colombian sorting regimen of Supremo and Excelso preparations (which average out good coffees pooled with mediocre coffees into the lowest common denominator) this is a single farm, "Estate" preparation, wet-milled on the farm instead of a third-party beneficio. The cup reverberates with subtle spicey and fruity notes, excellent medium-heavy body, and in the darker Full City+ roast there are great bittersweet flavors. Along with the Santa Isabella coffee, this represents the high-end of what Colombia can produce!

Wet Aroma: 84
Brightness- Liveliness: 86
Body- Movement: 87
Flavor- Depth: 87 Roast: City, but this coffee takes a wide lattitude of roasts. It cups well throught the roast spectrum. MDLS requires slightly more roast time than comparable coffees -it's best to set the roast time a bit high and shut it down manually at the exact degree of roast you want...
Finish- Conclusion: 85
Score: 85.5 Compare to: Like really good Colombians with a little more brightness. Tolima Colombians, San Augustin Colombian, ones with heavier body.

-see all our reviews in the 2001-2002 archive and the pre-2000 archive

Congo 

see the Pre-2000 Review Archve
Costa Rica  

Costa Rica Dota Tarrazú -Coopedota
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Dota, Tarrazu Mark: Coopedota (Dota Cooperative Assn.)
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2005 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Dota is a subregion of Tarrazu. It is more remote valley than the greater Tarrazu valley itself, a high-altitude region (5000 - 6000 feet) that is more of a bowl-shape than a typical Costa Rican valle. The Dota Tarrazu region has a many small villages (San Cristobal, San Pablo, San Ignacio, San Gabriel, San Lorenzo, San Marcos) but the hub is the small town of Santa Maria de Dota, about two hours south of the capital city of San Jose. This lot is from the original coffee farmer cooperative in the area which as organized in 1960. Coopedota is the main Dota exporter and offers its members better crop prices, health care, savings accounts, technical support and low rate loans. This allows smallholder farms to combine coffees into exportable lots, and get a fair return for their work. Anyway, Dota coffees are distinct from other Costa Rican offerings and even from nearby Tarrazu coffees. They are tangy, bright ...very lively in terms of brightness/acidity. This character is a direct result of soil conditions and high altitude in the Dota region. This lot has nutty accents, bittersweet coffee flavor, slight praline roast taste, with apple in the finish ... but it's that acidity, that brightness, which asserts itself from start to finish in the cup. I noted a really nice floral/black tea aroma and also berry fruit in the flavor. The body, while not very heavy, has a very elegant, silky mouthfeel. At their best, Costa Rican coffees have a balanced, classic cup profile, but this lot of Dota adds sparkle and punch to that archetypal cup, and ranks higher in intensity (if it lacks some of the interesting subtleties) than the Dota Conquistador this year.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Bright, lively acidity
add 50 50 Roast: You can moderate the brightness in the cup with a bit more roast treatment, or (if possible) to extend the roast so it progresses slowly from 1st crack to the verge of 2nd crack. This coffee roasts darker too with good "origin character" still present, but body will seem a little thin on a French roast.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: A bright Costa Rican cup profile.

Costa Rican Dota Tarrazú -El Conquistador
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Dota, Tarrazú Mark: CoopeDota, El Conquistador
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late May 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Dota is a small subregion of the Tarrazú valley, more remote than the areas where most of the coffee is planted. And for years this particular coffee, El Conquistador, went to a single roaster in Germany. Great Dota coffees are fairly small sized seeds, with greater density due to the high altitudes they are cultivated at. Some roasters used to believe that the unique Dota cup character was the result of extra fermentation times at the mill during the wet-processing of the coffee. But it fact it is processed the same way that other Tarrazú coffees are, with the same fermentation times. The difference is in the unique soils that are found in the Dota micro-region of Tarrazú. We have stocked this coffee for several years now and in each blind cupping to new-crop Costas it is always a standout (but often in a slightly different way). This lot of Dota Conquistador is really exceptional, well-fruited, creamy and refined all at once. When this cup is piping hot, the first impression is a deep balance between low acids-brightness (especially for a Costa Rican from such high altitudes), and mild fruits. It is markedly different from other Costa Ricans; this is not a "nutty" coffee (a tough term to affix to coffees since it is dependent on the roast - some nuttiness is bad and is due to low-grown character or to the dreaded Catimor cultivar). The acidity is there, but it is very clean and registers itself in a very understated way. The body is exceptional and velvety, and cups range from milk chocolate to bittersweet depending on variations in the degree of roast. As the cup cools, it seems to reveal itself in layers. The brightness emerges a bit more. The caramel roast taste sweetens, and there's more than a hint of fresh berry in the finish. The berry in this cup is the clincher for me! It's subtle, it's very clean but it is there. And there's a slight winey quality to it too. This cup is mild overall (and that is meant in the best of ways), and infinitely charming - if you ever get tired of being clubbed over the head with the outrageous flavors from a coffee like Harar, turn to this casually cup seductive cup!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Great body, slightly winey and berry, clean.
add 50 50.0 Roast: City to Full City, a range of roasts work well on this coffee, and each reveal a slightly different roast taste that pairs well with the fruit: Roasted nuts in the lighter roasts, dark chocolate at Full City+ .
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Deep complex Costa Rican coffees, with distinct deep, clean character that makes it unique among the best quality CR coffees…

Costa Rica Tres Rios WP Decaf
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: West Valley Mark: Tres Rios, Beneficio La Laguna
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Nov 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Catuai, Caturra, Costa Rica 95
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: It used to be that water decafs were generic coffees; you really couldn't verify that the source coffee was a good cup, or even specialty coffee at all! It was possible for large roasters to send their own lots to Swiss Water for decaffeination, but that was impossible for everyone else. Now we have been able to buy coffees that we cup as regular coffees and verify the quality, then re-cup after decaffeination to see the effect of the process. This is from the Tres Rios region (where La Magolia comes from) and is from the La Laguna mill. It really has appropriate Costa Rica cup character: This comes through very well after the Water Process decaf in this cup. It is medium-bodied with a bright snap to it and good sweetness. What is most distinct about this cup is the nutty roast character that emerges at a City+ roast stage and is the dominant theme through the Full City+ stage. And Vienna roast of the El Sol is very nice too! It also makes a good addition to a decaf blend to add a higher note to the cup, for example, a blend of 50% Sulawesi or Sumatra for the bass notes and 50% El Sol for the brighter notes.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City + is ideal to maintain the brightness in the cup - Nuttiness persists from City+ to Full City+
add 50 50 Compare to: Bright, clean, nutty decafs like the Panama WP
Score (Max. 100) 83.7 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Nutty

Costa Rican Tres Rios - La Magnolia
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Tres Rios Mark: La Magnolia
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: April 2004 arrival  Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Catuai and Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5

Notes: This is going to sound ridiculous, but this coffee has a lot of "coffee flavor". I just don’t know how else to describe the clean, balanced charm of this cup profile, and it has been like this for years. We have been stocking the La Magnolia, a coffee milled to exacting standards, for quite a few years now. The coffee comes from a small beneficio, and used to be sold exclusively in Europe. And year after year this mill is producing a consistently excellent cup under the classic La Magnolia trade name. Each year I put it up against all the other Costa samples in a blind cupping, and it simply shimmers. By now it's no surprise when I turn over the I.D. card for the sample and see it's the La Magnolia. There are both mid-range floral and hazelnut hints in the dry fragrance, along with a mild secondary aroma of caraway seed. The wet aromatics turn much more lively and dynamic, with citrus-flower blooms and the smell of sweet bread baking. The cup has a light body and a mild intensity to match, a beautifully delicate and refined cup. It has nippy tangerine citrus flavors with just a twist of rind, a crystalline sugar sweetness, and a beautifully sweet finish. Roasted to a City+, this is one of the most beautiful and delicate coffees my palate has had the pleasure of enjoying. It is especially true with the La Magnolia that any dirtiness in your brewing system will show up very clearly in this cup, about as desireable as stepping on a thorn ... so keep your stuff clean and enjoy this sweet nuanced cup! I think it's a more complex cup than last year, but still has the top end of the flavor spectrum, that crystal clear brightness that defines the really good Costa Rican coffees.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Delicate acidity, floral and citric
Add 50 50.0 Roast: City Roast: You lose the delicate bright flavors if you roast this too dark. But if you want a tangy dark roast with a light body …go for it.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: More complex than the usual Tres Rios coffees, a bright, clean cup with good spice and fruit.

Costa Rican "El Indio" Tarrazú
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: San Marcos de Tarrazú Mark: "EL Indio" mark, CoopTarrazú
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late May 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Caturra, some Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: El Indio is the mark of CoopTarrazu located in San Marcos de Tarrazu. This is the geographical and cultural center of the Tarrazu coffee area, which coincidentally describes the cup character of the El Indio perfectly - classic Tarrazu cup profile! Why do we carry so many coffees from Tarrazu? Good question, and I am kicking myself right now because it is SO much work to offer you all so many choices. But the fact is, I can't help myself when I get a great sample, and Tarrazu coffees are the preeminent Costa Rican coffees. Now, there is a lot of bad coffee that comes from Tarrazu, and there are fine coffees from elsewhere (specifically, Tres Rios region). But Tarrazu has the climate, the altitude, the "cafecultura" (coffee culture; the people, the expertise, the history). El Indio is a profoundly balanced cup, with a slightly winey character that typifies Tarrazu from the central Tarrazu Valley area. The brightness has a ripe, mature lemon quality, not what I would normally call a citrus acidity (such as some Kenyas). (Have you ever had a lemon that ripens on the tree to the point it becomes quite sweet?) It has moderate milk chocolate and hazelnut in the cup, offset with a modicum of sweetness that intensifies in the finish - what a great finish this cup has! The body is medium, and has a silky mouthfeel. The aftertaste is chocolate-caramel, clean and mild. It is a very balanced and very refined cup (+1 cuppers correction for this intangible quality), which (having a decent amount of cupping experience at international competitions) leads me to wonder ... why aren't my Japanese counterparts buying all of this? Kentaro? Shinji? Yoshi? Hiroshi? Are you reading this???
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Classic Tarrazu cup, super refined.
add 50 50 Roast: I get very fine cups between City+ and Full City. I don't like this roasted into 2nd crack too much because the darker roast flavors interfere with the sweet, clean finish.
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: A very classic Tarrazu cup with balance and a sweet finish.

Costa Rican Tarrazú Peaberry -SM Select
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Tarrazú Mark: Prepared for Sweet Maria's
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late May 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, Peaberry screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This is something really unique; on our trip to Costa Rica this January we were looking for really small, special lots of coffee to offer. We went to an innovative beneficio (a mill) that is considered the best in the country. (Unfortunately, I cannot name this fine mill for you, but you get the picture - it is the best!) They were willing to hand-select peaberries from the best farms in Tarrazú and do a special preparation just for us. The project was overseen by a true "master cupper", Sergio Cruz, and this resulting coffee is more a tribute to his abilities than to anything I did (well, I had the good sense to start the project!) Just like a master vintner would combine wines made from particular parts of the vineyard, Sergio has created a really complex cup with a LOT of character. Pardon me if I am a bit effusive, but I truly think this is one of the most complex Tarrazu coffees I have had. It is what cuppers call a "juicy" cup, fruited like a spiced cider, with cinnamon stick and cardamom accents. The acidity is not too high-toned (I wouldn't call it citrusy) but is graceful and truly bold. It passes into a strong aromatic cedar phase as it cools, and a fascinating alternation between pleasant bittering and sweet balance. This is a cup that you would say "opens up" as it cools. The body rates as medium heavy, but for a Tarrazu it is considerable, and this adds to an intensification of the cup qualities as it cools. This coffee takes a wide range of roasts with ease, turning sharply pungent if you go to a Vienna roast, well into 2nd crack. The tendency is to over-roast peaberry coffees because of their unique thermal qualities in the roast chamber, so keep an eye on the roast at the end of the process, ready to stop it manually. But even a misstep in roasting this coffee turns into a happy accident; it takes a wide range of roasts with ease. What a fantastic cup!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Complex cup with fruits, spice, and higher intensity that most Tarrazu coffees
add 50 50 Roast: See the notes above - I prefer it at a true Full City, stopped right on the verge of 2nd crack without entering it. It is a great cup lighter or darker than that, either a City+ or a Full City+ …
Score (Max. 100) 88.2 Compare to: A bold Tarrazu cup, with great complexity and neo-typical Tarrazu character

Costa Rican Tres Rios - La Magnolia
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Tres Rios Mark: La Magnolia, Hacienda La Minita
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2003 arrival  Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Catuai and Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0 Notes: This is going to sound ridiculous, but this coffee has a lot of "coffee flavor". I just don’t know how else to describe the clean, balanced charm of this cup profile, and it has been like this for years. We have been stocking the La Magnolia, a coffee selected by the La Minita quality control team and milled to their exacting standards, for quite a few years now. The coffee comes from a small beneficio, and used to be sold exclusively in Europe. And year after year this mill is producing a consistently excellent cup under the classic La Magnolia trade name. Each year I put it up against all the other Costa samples in a blind cupping, and it simply shimmers. By now it's no surprise when I turn over the I.D. card for the sample and see it's the La Magnolia. This years crop is superb (and in fact I am seeing a general positive character trend in many Costa samples this year). The aromas have fruity hints, and spicy sharpness. In the cup it has a fresh, bright rose-petal acidity, excellent caramelly body, a pleasant bittersweet zest in the finish paired with a light dryness. The body is silky, and there's hint of sweet cinnamon as the cup cools. I think it's a more complex cup than last year, but still has the top end of the flavor spectrum, that crystal clear brightness that defines the really good Costa Rican coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: City Roast: You lose the delicate bright flavors if you roast this too dark. But if you want a tangy dark roast with a light body …go for it.
Add 50 50.0 Compare to: Tarrazu of past years… more complex than the Tarrazu-Tres Rios we had earlier this year.
Score (Max. 100) 87

Costa Rican Auction Lot -El Legendario
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: South Tarrazu Mark: 2003 Auction Lot -El Legendario
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: The bidding was fierce this year, and I wasn't the only one who decided that best coffee in the auction wasn't first place, but rather this lot from South Tarrazu Co-op: Coopetarrazu R.L. The Co-op has existed for 40 years and uses traditional fermentation to wet-process the coffee, and traditional sun-drying on patios. El Legendario is from a single high-altitude growing area that the co-op owns, and represents the best of the best that their mill produces, hence it was their choice as an entry into the auction process. The cup was unique among all the samples in the 2003 Cosecha de Oro auction set. It was deeper, more complex, and slightly winey when cupped blind versue the more straight-forward, acidic samples. The aromatics of the cup are darkly sweet, brown sugar with traces of vanilla. First sip is immediately fruited, with a hint of sweetness, backed up by soft nutty tones. As it cools the fruit becomes more distinct, blackberry - definitely on the winey side, and nuttiness fades. Acidity, unlike many Costa Ricans and especially Tarrazu coffees, is subtle, soft and full. The aftertaste turns raisiny, and remains sweet. Around the office here, this coffee sparks debate about the partiular nature of the flavors, and some cups make me debate my own findings with myself (as is the shadowy nature of taste and the senses). But this "alternation of flavors", flavors that reveal themselves in waves, soething you might sense when the coffee is 160, then fades at 140, then reappears at 90 .... this is all the mark of really good, complex coffee!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: I like this at a true Full City, right on that edge of first and second where you get a smooth, even surface appearance to the coffee, but it doesn’t actually enter 2nd crack. Yes, this coffee works well lighter or darker than that … but you get the best of all its flavors at true Full City.
add 50 50 Compare to: Similar to the Costa Rican Dota Conquistador in its subtle winey flavors, but more complex. Please note: this really is a different cup profile than other brighter, lighter-bodied Costa Rican coffees. I would go so far as to say that this is a Costa Rican for those who like Sumatra Iskandar Triple Pick: it is lower-toned, deeper than most CRs, and has an unusual character for this origin. That said, it is not as unorthodox as the Miel!
Score (Max. 100) 88.8

Costa Rica Monte Crisol WP Decaf
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Tres Rios Mark: Monte Crisol
Processing: Wet Process Coffee, Water Process Decaf Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: The advantage of knowing exactly what coffee goes into your decaf is great, and suprisingly rare because a lot of decafs are sold simply with an origin name, and not even a regional designation to boot. This coffee is a very nice cup in non-decaf form and I was able to cup this very lot as a regular coffee. I am astounded and a little bewildered by the great quality of the WP process on bright Central American coffees. I regularly cupped the Central American coffees that had undergone the SWP process in Vancouver, Canada. They had little to no brightness of the original coffee in the cup, and since that's what Centrals are about, no brightness means to origin character. But here we have a cup with remarkable brightness after decaffeinating. And a Costa Rican without acidity is like a dog without fur; it's un-natural!!! (Please, Mexican Hairless owners, take no offense). I roasted this coffee to my normal City roast for cupping and a bit darker to see how it held up with more roast character. The light roast was bright and clean, with a nice caramelly roast note, and a really good Costa Rican cup character (bright, balanced, lively sweet). The darker roast surprised me by how well it held up, well, actually it excelled. It developed a really clean sharp pungency that I enjoyed immensely. So here's a great decaf that can take a wide range of roasts, and deliver really good cup results on all.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: City+ to Full City to Vienna to French: works on a wide range of roasts. Remember to roast by sound and smell, since the deeper roast color of decafs can be deceiving.
add 50 50 Compare to: On par with really nice non-decaf, bright Centrals.
Score (Max. 100) 84

Costa Rica Finca Santa Elena Tarrazu "Miel"
Country: Costa Rican Grade: SHB Region: Tarrazu Mark: Finca Santa Elena Taparto, "Miel" 
Processing: Semi-wet process, sun dried Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0 Notes: The Santa Elena farm is actually fairly large, about 700 acres and encompasses 3 hillsides, with its own beneficio mill. The efficiencies of producing a greater amount of coffee cherry and milling it on-site means that the truly top 10% of the harvest -from the highest elevations, at the peak periods of ripeness, is more substantial. The unique coffee from this unique farm (footnote: it is the only woman-owned Tarrazu farm I know of) is sold as "Taparto", and is brokered by Erna Knutsen, the grand damme of Specialty Coffee, who actually coined that term! Now, at Erna's request, Santa Elena conducted a little experiment a while back, and set aside a small portion of the exclusive Taparto coffee. Processing it separately, they removed the skin off the coffee cherry and then, instead of fermenting off the fruity pulp (called mucilage) they let it remain on the outer parchment hull of the seed, and laid it out to sun-dry. Be warned that this is a very unusual Costa Rican coffee! This is called a semi-natural (or semi-washed -depending on which way you look at it) process and is done in Brasil and, in a crude way, in Sumatra. But it is unheard of in Central America. The result is a distinct winey-fruitiness in the cup, deeper tonality overall, and increased body. Not surprisingly, the character of the fruitiness reminds me of the aroma of the coffee flower and the fruity-winey smells of the coffee cherry itself, as you would experience them walking around a farm in the cherry harvest time. While still consistent with the sweetness and aromatics of the Tarrazu appellation, the "Miel" (honey in Spanish) is truly a different and exciting treatment of this coffee, and cups with great distinction against any other Tarrazu coffee! The lighter roasts of this coffee are just too funky for me -honeyed, but too "natural" and husky in character. I prefer this roasted into 2nd crack -either just a little for a Full City+ roast, or about 30 seconds into 2nd crack for a Vienna-light French. The later makes a very unique espresso!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: Full City-Vienna. A lighter City roast accentuates the fruitiness but the coffee is too husky for me. Full City+ underscores depth and chocolate roast tastes, while the fruit is tamed a bit. Vienna makes great, unique straight espresso!
add 50 50 Compare to: A very unusual coffee! Like the finest Tarrazu coffees of Costa Rica, but with greater body and unique fruitiness-honeyed-burly cup character.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5

Costa Rican SHB Tarrazu -Llano Bonito
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Tarrazu Mark: Llano Bonito Co-op 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0 Notes: I always "blind cup" all the new crop arrivals versus the coffees we have stocked in the past year, and their fresh pre-shipment counterparts when available. With some origins it is easy to recognize a truly good coffee, but with Costa Rican it is more difficult and comes down to hair-splitting. It's a lot of work. That's because the ideal to which all Costa Rican coffees are held is a cup that is super-clean and super-balanced. These are mild coffee characters, something that doesn't leap out and hit you over the head, but is infinitesimally incremental. So I break out all the cups, roast all the samples and wait for that mid-morning hour when my senses seem to function reasonably well. Of course, La Minita is always on the table, being the benchmark of Costas. In this session, I thought I had picked it out easily: a clean sweet cup (of course), with pronounced acidity, delicate, very sweet in the finish, silky body. I was wrong, and La Minita (a very nice coffee, and my #2 pick) was NEXT to this cup. It was (duh) Llano Bonito, a coffee from the backwaters of Tarrazu, on the west side of the valley. It's actually a cooperative coffee with each farmer having generally 5 hectares or less. The clean, bright, fresh acidity really struck me, with delicate candy-sugar aromas from the roast, lightly fruited (very clean), with such a delicate finish. I was impressed too with the green coffee appearance. After you have seen a lot of samples of pale, polished, machine-dried Costa, with a zippy character that rapidly deflates into flat bagginess in 3 months, you look at green Costa a bit differently. Here we have a totally unpolished, patio-dried, traditional, mostly Caturra coffee with a lot of silverskin attached (no silverskin can mean polishing, or dry-milling with too much friction which heats the coffee to damaging temperatures. Judge it by the cup character, and this is a winner. (P.S. I have noticed a few unripe beans in this, visible because of their greenish silverskin coating and wrinkley appearance. You migh want to pull these 1-2 beans out pre-roast.)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Bright, balanced, abundantly sweet Costas -better and better as the cup cools.
Score (Max. 100) 86.8

Costa Rican SHB Tres Rios -La Laguna
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Tres Rios Mark: Hacienda La Laguna
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: 80% Caturra,
20% Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: I was cupping new crop arrival samples and Kenyas over at the coffee broker's testing lab, and this 2003 coffee from Tres Rios arrived. I try not to be too influenced by the appearance of the green coffee ... sometimes the best cups come from suspicious -looking greens. But I couldn't help but notice the attractive dark opal color of this coffee. The appearance was distinct with oval, sharp-edged seeds that look like small Typicas (the traditional varietal) and it seemed to contain little to none of the newest, baddest Costa Rican cultivars. (You can spot these in coffees with pale complexions, a roundish, curved seed shape that comes up a bit on the edges. These are distinct to Costas that are pushed through the process by machine-pulping and mechanical drying at too-hot temperatures). In fact the cultivars are 80% Caturra and 20% Catuai, but the milling and preparation on this coffee is remarkable and I suppose that's why I was fooled into seeing "tiny Typica"! But it's the cup character that matters most to us . The cup has a sparkling brightness with a fresh raspberry acidity, clean and sweet. There's a bit of cinnamon backing up the fruit, and the body is light. (It's not fair to punish a coffee like this for being light-bodied ... it suits the overall cup character, so I add a +1 cupper's correction). The roast tastes in the lighter roasts are toasty, and lightly carameled sugar, without any baked-flatness. I would call this the Beaujolais of coffees...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Very lively, clean sweet Costa Ricans, like the La Magnolia.
Score (Max. 100) 85.5

Costa Rican Tarrazu -El Conquistador
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: Dota, Tarrazu Mark: Hacienda La Minita: El Conquistador
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.8 Notes: Dota is a small subregion of the Tarrazu valley, more remote than the areas where most of the coffee is planted. And for years this particular coffee, El Conquistador, went to a single roaster in Germany. Great Dota coffees are fairly small sized seeds, with greater density due to the high altitudes they are cultivated at. We have stocked this coffee for several years now and in each blind cupping to new-crop Costas it is always a standout (but often in a slightly different way). This year this particular lot of Dota Conquistador is really exceptional, heavily fruited, creamy and refined all at once. When this cup is piping hot, the first impression is a deep balance between low acids-brightness (especially for a Costa Rican from such high altitudes), and mild nuts and fruits. The body is exceptional and velvety, and cups range from a deep-roasted nuttiness, to chocolate bittersweet depending on variations in the degree of roast. As the cup cools, it seems to reveal itself in layers. The brightness emerges, eventually becoming a bit citric in flavor (grapefruit, but not sour at all). The caramel roast taste sweetens, and there's more than a hint of fresh berry in the finish. The berry in this cup is the clincher for me! This cup is mild overall (and that is meant in the best of ways), and infinitely charming - if you ever get tired of being clubbed over the head with the outrageous flavors from a coffee like Harar, turn to this casually cup seductive cup!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: City to Full City, a range of roasts work well on this coffee, and each reveal a slightly different roast taste that pairs well with the fruit: Roasted nuts in the lighter roasts, dark chocolate at Full City+ .
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Deep complex Costa Rican coffees, with distinct character … a real rarity.
Score (Max. 100) 86.1

Dominican Republic  

see the 2001-2002 Review Archive


Ecuador 

Ecuador EScafe Co-op (Transitional Organic)
Country: Ecuador Grade: SHG Region: Central Highland: Charguarpamba, Loja Province Mark: ESCafe Co-op 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Jan 2004 arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4

Notes: This is the first sample I have seen of Ecuadorian coffee that rises above average, decent cup quality. It has a character to it that is unique, and a bit rustic. This makes sense because this coffee is the result of 15 combined Co-ops and over 800 small farms ... very small, often less than 2 acres. The farms are promised prices between 25-45% more than they get on the local market, mostly resulting from a second payment made to them when the coffee sells in the US at an above average price to companies like Sweet Maria's. The Co-op has offered the coffee directly as a consignment lot, because it is difficult to get the established coffee brokers to take a risk on Ecuadorian coffee. That's a shame because the cup is excellent as are the Co-ops aims. Much of the price premium is reinvested in education and equipment improvements. In this way they can further improve consistency and cup-quality, and the Co-op can break the low-price cycle that has kept Ecuador from being recognized in the Specialty Coffee market. The cup has moderate acidity, fairly light body, and a fairly short aftertaste. But the dry fragrance of the cup is very sweet, caramelly and with spice hints. It drops a bit of that in the wet aromatics, but the sweetness and spice reemerge as cup flavors. As the cup cools the spice becomes more distinctly cardamom in character, and this pairs well with roasts tastes that are milk chocolate in tone. There is very slight husky note (and not unpleasant!) in some cups that reminds me this is a cooperative/organic coffee, but sweetness prevails...

This coffee is "transitional organic", meaning it is grown organically but the 3 year certification is not complete: they receive true Organic status in June this year. We bought this coffee with the false impression it was organic, and we don't call ANYTHING organic unless it is certified. But we decided to not reneg on the purchase because the cup is really so good...

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City: This coffee has a good range but retains the most sweetness right at Full City.
Add 50 50 Compare to: My first thought was that this reminds me of wet-processed Indonesian like Timor.
Score (Max. 100) 85 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Balance

Ethiopia 

Ethiopian Organic/Fair Trade Harar
Country: Ethiopia Grade: 4 Region: Hararghe Mark: Oromia Co-op, Certified Organic
Processing: Dry-processed Crop: December 2004 arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Heirloom Harar Moka seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.8 Notes: This lot of Harar Organic was a surprise, a real surprise: we often find the best Harars come from MAO Horse (although we must cup many lots of Harar Horse to find the real gems). Nonetheless, I always cup the other Harar sources including Bagersh and this, the Oromia cooperative. We bought Organic Dry-Process Sidamo and a lot of Wet-Process Organic Yirgacheffe from them last year but like all Ethiopian coffees there is a lot of variation lot-to-lot (and unfortunately sometimes there is variation within a particular lot number). Oromia is a huge cooperative spread throughout the country with something like 27,000 members! So at different times of the season, even from within the same region and from the same cooperative mills, they are shipping lots with very different cup qualities. Well, that's why we cup, and what makes the cupper's job so critical; you can't buy a coffee based on the name on the bag! I had a table of Harar coffees from all sources, not knowing which was which, and this lot screamed out at me with incredible berry and fruit aromatics. I had noticed already that this one sample had a strong fragrance of berry and apricot when I ground the sample. This has one of the best dry fragrances of a Harar that I have had the pleasure of smelling. It follows through into the wet aromatics where I find less blueberry and more apricot and a little mango. Now I must admit, this coffee smells so fine that the cup flavors are perhaps a notch below. But this is a typical experience with a really good Harar ... and hey, the aroma is an incredibly important part of the total cup experience. Cupping the very good Harar horse lot next to this one is a tough call, especially because of the variations from batch to batch that are endemic to natural dry-process coffees and Harar in particular. But I pick this one over the Horse about 60% of the time. So take note, fans of the Horse - good Harars can come from other sources too!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/Medium body and strong "natural" Harar character - berry-apricot
add 50 50 Roast: City+ and Full City have the most complete fruit character. It turns more to pungent spice when roasted darker. I think sometimes Harar can be unpleasant too light though, a baked flavor with soy sauce hints. If not that, the body seems thin in the really light roast giving it a more tea-like quality. For me, a real Full City stopped on the verge of 2nd is best.
Score (Max. 100) 88.9 Compare to: Dry-process Harar with tons of berry-fruit in flavor and aromatics

Ethiopian WP Decaf (DP Sidamo)
Country: Ethiopia Grade: 5 Region: Sidamo Mark: Horse, WP Decaf
Processing: Dry-processed Crop: November 2004 arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopia seedstock longberry
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: This dry-processed coffee from the Sidamo region has a husky character, more of the typical flavors that are inherent to natural dry-processed coffees: earthy, a little hidey, pungent, fruity, and with a very long aftertaste. When you decaffeinate a dry-process Ethiopian coffee, it tends to clean it up a bit, turning the flavors toward the wet process Ethiopians, well, slightly. This is still very much a Sidamo and that's the beauty of the new decafs -- I can't tell you how pleased I am with these new water process decafs; it's truly a breakthrough in cup quality. But the secret is the coffee sent down to the plant is really, really good lots of green coffee, and not whatever doesn't sell, or whatever the plant has laying around. That's the old way of thinking in decafs: they have usually been the lowest priced green lots, or the overstock. Here we have a lot of the MAO Sidamo Dry-Process Horse, sent to the plant in Mexico for the non-chemical, natural, water process method of caffeine extraction. This is a totally remarkable cup, with all the top-end bright notes and floral-fruit flavors endemic to a really good DP Sidamo It does taste less earthy and wild than a really good non-decaf Sidamo but in all other respects, the true Sidamo DP character is preserved: it has medium-light bodied, incredible aromatics of fruit, wild-honeyed roast tastes, with a long finish. If I cupped this blind I would never ever suspect it was decaffeinated.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Fruited Sidamo-esque cup with medium body
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City + roast is best: I like a more developed roast taste which aids some bittersweetness to the cup and compliments the fruit notes. I actually (accidentally) did a super, super light roast on this and it turned out very nice too - but a bit too "bright" in overall tone.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Classic Dry-process coffees of Ethiopia, perhaps a bit cleaner than the really earthy non-decaf Sidamo coffees

Ethiopian Harar Lot 7039 "Horse"
Country: Ethiopia Grade: 4 Region: Hararghe Mark: M.A.O Horse
#7039
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: August 2004 Arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 16- 17 Screen Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopian Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Harar is intense. A really good Harar is a coffee that is fruity (blueberry to apricot) and with flowery enzymatic aromas, jasmine tea, maple woodiness, exotic hide or fresh leather, mulling spice... in other words, good Harar is like the fragrance of an open-air arabic market! Harars have pungent rustic chocolate roast flavors and a range of winey to fermented fruitiness. But this is a highly variable coffee, not just year-to-year, but lot-to-lot and sometimes even bag-to-bag! Some years might contains the covented Blueberry character and another year it can be completely absent from all lots. Some years are cleaner and more tea-like and others are heavier, more wild and earthy. Harars are wild, natural coffees; two euphemisms for natural dry-processed. The reason MAO is included here in the title is that this importer in Dire Dawa (Mohamed Abdullahi Ogsadey -see his certificate found in each bag) is a really good source for Ethiopian coffees, often having the 1 or 2 really exceptional lots. But exporter's mark is still not enough, you have to choose from lot to lot. I love good Harar and cup many lots of Harar Horse from 2 sources, and from 3 other exporters. Early lots this year (2004 - they started arriving early this season in late Feb) really lacked the exotic fruit notes I expect in a Harar and I was worried the whole crop would be a bit off. I remember 4 years ago when all the Harars were just dirty tasting and had none of the intoxicating fruitiness in them. This is second lot we selected this year of the Harar Horse, one that sold out quickly when it arrived, and is a nice mid-to late-crop arrival from Harar. This has the wild fruited notes that I really like in Harar, from apricot and mango to blueberry. The fruit is not consistent though; This is the variable character for a hand-processed natural coffee like Harar, but hey, I will accept some inconsistency because all the cups are so intense and so good! Other cups are huskier, more darky fruited. The dry fragrance of this coffee is excellent. It is so intense it almost makes everything else disappointing (it's not, but when you grind this you will know what I mean.) Although this Harar lacks body if you drink it too soon after roasting (12-24 hours for example) it is hard to resist, and this is where the aromas are so powerful. The cup has a dark brown sugar sweetness too which turns to rustic dried black fig tones, with a cardamom spice note and earthy-humus background.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: High / Fruity flavors from natural-dried, to winey to fermenty, rustic flavors of earth and leather.
add 50 50 Roast: Harar is most fruity in a lighter City roast (completely through 1st crack, before 2nd crack), and turns deeply pungent in French roasts. Between the two, a Vienna roast can possess the best of both. I prefer Full City. Harar will roast unevenly! This is not a bad thing, but if there are extremely pale beans in the roast you might want to cull them (at the risk of removing some of the extreme (earthy-husky) flavors in the cup.
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: Harar is an extreme coffee, aggressively flavored and with some natural earthy flavors that some people adore and others despise.

Ethiopian Organic Sidamo -Dry Process
Country: Ethiopia Grade: 5 Region: Sidamo Mark: Oromia Co-op, Certified Organic
Processing: Dry-processed Crop: July 2004 arrival Appearance: 5 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Heirloom Moka Longberry seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: This dry-processed coffee from the Sidamo region has a husky character, more of the typical flavors that are inherent to natural dry-processed coffees: earthy, a little hidey, pungent, fruity, and with a very long aftertaste. Only in the past few years have Organic and Fair Trade coffees come from Ethiopia, and all are from a single huge cooperative called the Oromia co-op. They represent many small farms in many regions, and while the regions are certainly kept distinct (Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Etc) the individual farms are too small to sell each coffee as discrete lots. So some of these pooled co-op lots can be pretty good, and a few are excellent. It takes cupping to sort through all the offerings, and this year I found 2 lots that were really nice, one dry-processed coffee from Sidamo and one wet-processed coffee from Yirgacheffe (although both are totally different in the cup). My warning about this Sidamo, some cups are a little too funky for me, earthy, hidey and a touch musty. Others cups are pleasurably potent, with that touch of wildness but not too much. It is not at all unexpected to have variation batch to batch, bag to bag, and cup to cup with a natural dry-processed coffee like this. For me, it is not a drawback - I like to taste the differences between the batches I roast! All cups are heavily fruited, like dried unsulphered natural apricot. There's everything else in here too; exotic spice (cardamom allspice). It's intense stuff... As far as variable cups goes, this is true with all dry-processed coffees, and always true with the Ethiopian dry-processed. It's just part of the sun-dried coffee process where whole cherry is patio-dried, then the whole husk and parchment is removed in one step, and all defective coffee seeds are removed by visual sorting. That means a few decent-looking seeds will make it through the process that are indeed a bit over-ripe or under-ripe. Cull out any really, really light-colored seeds after roasting. I had to score this coffee low for flavor and aftertaste and then add points back in a cupper's correction ... this because some cuppers will hate this (ones who like clean, polite coffees) and me, I love it for its bold earthiness and heavyweight character. There were a lot of disappointing Ghimbi and Sidamo dry-processed lots I cupped this year, and this particular "chop" was the exception! Please note: This coffee does have a high defect count. It is not a "poster child" of good dry processed preparation. Nonetheless, the cup can be very good: I recommend removing the extremely light beans after roasting, before brewing. I am not talking about ones just a little lighter than the norm. It is expected for roasted color variation in this coffee! I am talking about the very, very light tan ones, and there might be 4-8 of them in a batch (note the defect count for this coffee). These are underripe cherries, "quakers" as they are called in the trade (why?). You can also do a neat experiment and grind these up separately and brew a cup from them - interesting!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/Heavy body and strong "natural" Sumatra character - wet earth, dark fruit
add 50 50 Roast: Full City + roast is best: I like a more developed roast taste which aids some bittersweetness to the cup and compliments the fruit notes
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Classic Dry-process coffees of Ethiopia and Yemen.

See all the older Ethiopia Reviews in the 2001-2002 Archive and the pre-2000 Archive

French Chicory  

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