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2003 - 2004 Sweet Maria's Coffee Cupping Reviews Archive: L - P

Mexico 

Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Coatepec Mark: Cafiver
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: June 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Do not know
        Dry Fragrance: 82 Notes: This new lot of Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf reminds me of the coffee we got from this source about 3 years ago. It's a light bodied cup, pleasantly mild with a bit of acidity and a bit of fruitiness. Somehow, the coffee quality slipped for a couple years there, and we found other natural decafs to take its place. But we received this really nice sample of the Esmeralda and it is back to its former cup quality standard. This coffees has a very distinct, attractive aroma while it roasts and the cup is mild and has a very pleasant nuttiness. It has medium body and a light aftertaste. Because it is nutty and mild, its great as a crowd-pleasing straight roast or as a base for a decaf blend, either for drip coffee or espresso. This is decaffeinated in the same place (Cafiver): Check out our article on decaffeination. ...or some information from Cafiver in Mexico.
Wet Aroma: 81
Brightness- Liveliness: 83
Body- Movement: 84
Flavor- Depth: 84 Roast: This coffee has a very wide lattitude ...roast you your preference: City, Full City, Vienna or French
Finish- Conclusion: 81
Score: 82.5 Compare to: Mild, balanced Mexican Oaxaca coffees
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Nutty

Mexico Oaxaca Cafe Pluma - Hidalgo
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca Mark: "Cafe Pluma Hidalgo"
Processing: Wet Process Crop: August 2004 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Pluma Hidalgo is a Zapotec mountain village in Southern Oaxaca at 1,300 meters elevation in the Sierra del Sur, perched quite literally on the razor edge of a mountain ridge. The town population is around 4000 in the extended area, but basically it is a simple town with one main strip, paved with cobbles. It is a rural center with the local crops being a mix of market and sustainance products: coffee, corn, sugarcane, beans, pineapple, mangoes, lemons. Pluma Hidalgo is the center of Oaxacan coffee in a way, in both name/apellation and cup character. These are the light to medium-bodied coffees with very moderate acidity, delicate overall, and clean chocolate qualities. And this lot of Pluma Hidalgo is just that. It has a perfect balance of sweet-bittersweet, tangy chocolate that is not too overpowering or aggressive, and mild pleasant acidity/brightness. In other words, this is darn good drinkin' coffee, charming "house coffee". (And in that, it's charm gets lots in the numbers, hence a +2 cuppers correction for overall appeal) I can't say it enough; Oaxacan coffees are the classic Mexican coffees; better than the Coatepec coffees to the North, distinct from the (sometimes) excellent Chiapas coffees to the South. It has become increasingly difficult to find a truly excellent Oaxacan coffee like this. Why is the Oaxaca Pluma endangered? It's not that this is a rare coffee, or that there is a ton of competition for hich caliber Mexican coffees. The problem is chronically low prices that discourage farmers from investing in quality processing. A general hopelessness has become the norm, as the market has had its way and proven that what it wants from Mexico is cheap, bulk lots of coffee for blends and flavoring. And it is difficult for a green coffee buyer (me) when the market determines a price that is too low.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Bittersweet roast flavors and aromatic woodiness
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: A classic Oaxaca cup with attractive balance and light body

Mexico Organic/Fair Trade Oaxaca Pluma
Country: Mexico Grade: HB Region: Oaxaca Mark: CEPCO Cooperative, Organic and FT certified
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Oaxaca Pluma are the prototypical Mexican coffees in my book, better than the Coatepec coffees to the North, distinct from the excellent Chiapas coffees to the South. But it has become increasingly difficult to find a truly excellent specimen. Why is the Oaxaca Pluma endangered? It's not that this is a rare coffee, or that there is a ton of competition for high caliber Mexican coffees. The problem is chronically low prices that discourage farmers from investing in quality processing. A general hopelessness has become the norm, as the market has had its way and proven that what it wants from Mexico is cheap, bulk lots of coffee for blends and flavoring. Perhaps this is why the Organic and Fair Trade certification processes have taken hold here. And we definitely support these initiatives, but something is still missing, and many of the certified coffees are simply not good in the cup. The cooperatives have grown very large, and their ability (or desire) to make cup quality the top priority is flagging. Could certifications be part of the problem? If you know you can get premium prices for lots that are certified, is there still an incentive to perform all the added steps in processing, investments in better equipment, training in quality farm practices and rigorous quality-controls that high "cup quality" requires? I am not in a position to say, except that judging from samples I receive there are very few top quality "conventional" (non-certified) Mexican Oaxacas Plumas out there, and my hope for our old favorite, Fino Rojas, to send a good sample is dim. (Their coffee is not ready to offer yet). So I was really happy when this Organic/Fair Trade sample from the Cepco co-op came in. I cupped it against every other sample I had available and it really stands out; it's a mild cup (as all Oaxaca and Chiapas coffees truly are, unless you roast them dark), with a light body, and a really good aromatic woodiness in the cup. This is quite different than a coffee that has a bad/old/baggy woodiness. And it's not a mossy or smokey Indonesian wood either, but a cedar that finishes fairly dry. This really comes through at City+, and persists through the finish. Overall, the cup has caramel and vanilla qualities but is bittersweet rather than sweet, and on the break (in cupping, when you "break" the crust of grinds with a spoon) I get a very lively black pepper scent. All this adds up to a standout Oaxaca for me, and despite all the problems with the region, and with the broader coffee market, proves that good coffee is still available if you do the legwork and the cupping!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Bittersweet roast flavors and aromatic woodiness
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: A "classic Oaxaca" cup profile, mild, with moderate acids and light body. This is a nice, low intensity cup profile.

Mexican Organic Oaxaca - Finca El Olivo
Country: Mexico Grade: SHG Region: Oaxaca (Pluma Hidalgo) Mark: El Olivo Farm,
OCIA Organic Certified
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17 -18 Screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Oaxaca Pluma are the essential Mexican coffees in my book, better than the Coatepec coffees to the North, than the Veracruz, and distinct from the fine Chiapas coffees to the South. They have great balance, medium-light body, and wonderful flavor of soft chocolate tones and moderate acidity lingering through to the aftertaste. Grown with a Pacific weather influence, it is no wonder that many can be cupped beside (and outcup) a Kona coffee. The El Olivo is a true Oaxaca Pluma estate coffee and this year that in itself is remarkable (Due to years of low coffee prices, many fine Estate farms went under or were subsumed by large mills where the coffee is all pooled together, resulting in the lowest common denominator in the cup. Coffee prices are now quite healthy again, but with agricultural products the successive bad years really hurt, and better prices don't mean instant recovery). The man behind El Olivo is Arturo Lutan Cruz, and the farm is now a rare sight in Oaxaca, certified Organic Estate coffee with healthy trees and sustainable farm practices. The El Olivo coffee has an excellent preparation, almost blue-green in color, with only an very occasional aberration. You can see quite clearly from the long oval seed for that is is Typica cultivar. It works fine with a heavier roast treatment since it is grown at higher altitude and has great density: it won't turn ashy in flavor. This cup has great balance between creamy body, and moderate brightness. It's not as impressive when hot, but as it cools the cup sweetens a lot, and flavor nuances of vanilla and caramel are revealed. The floral aspect of the cup is reminicent of Hibiscus tea with a raspberry hint; keep the roast in the City or City+ range to highlight this quality.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
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. But this takes dark roasts quite well too
Add 50 50.0 Compare to: Typical Oaxaca Pluma cup with light body, fine acidity, good chocolate roast tastes, Great espresso potential too.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8

Mexico Chiapas SHG EP Jaltenango
Country: Mexico Grade: SHG Region: Chiapas, Jaltenango, Villa Corzo Mark: Strictly High Grown, Euro-Prep.
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2004 Arrival Appearance: 1.3 d/300gr, 17+ screen Varietal: 90% Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, at the Guatemalan border. The coffees are distinct from the Oaxaca Plumas and Coatepec coffees: they are a little brighter, sweeter, and bear some resemblance to the Huehuetenango coffees of Guatemala. Oaxaca is my other favorite Mexican origin, but the really good Chiapas coffees like this one have been consistently excellent, are a brighter and livelier cup. Many of the coffees from Chiapas are from small farms, cooperatively wet-milled and sold. Jaltenango is a town name; it is a supply center for coffee growers and other small farming operations in the region and is essentially "the end of the pavement" in this remote region of Chiapas. At this location, coffee is bought after it has been sun-dried by the small growers in the area, and milled to form this microregional lot of Chiapas coffee. Because these small producers often have less than an acre each, it would be impossible to offer coffee from the Jaltenango district by the farm, but because all the coffee is very high grown (SHG - Strictly High Grown grade), the quality from farm to farm is consistant. This altitude results in very dense coffee seeds since the cherry on the tree ripens slowly, and this improves roasting results, as well as adding to the bright end of the cup. The coffee is mild, like all Mexican coffees, and a rather rustic cup. In fact, over time I think it is even more rustic than my initial cupping sample. That's not a flat-out bad thing at all, just a flavor preference. The body is fairly light, but I really enjoy the zingy, pointed high tone in the cup (especially at City to City+ roast). It has a nice sweetness, but a rustic note dominates it, and what I really like is how versitile it is in the roaster - I prefer it very light roasted, but it develops what I would call a "classic dark roast" taste when you go into the Vienna or French stages, 20+ seconds into 2nd crack.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.1
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Firm bright cup, sweet, light body.
add 50 50 Roast: This is versitile coffee ; I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City and because it is a high-grown (dense seed) has a really nice dark roast character; pleasantly sharp carbony tones.
Score (Max. 100) 83.5 Compare to: Good mild Chiapas coffee from high altitude. A note: there are some defective beans in here, so you might want to cull a couple out before the roast. They are not serious defects that draw down the cup quality.

Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Coatepec Mark: Cafiver  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: April 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Do not know
        Dry Fragrance: 82 Notes: This new lot of Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf reminds me of the coffee we got from this source about 3 years ago. It's a light bodied cup, pleasantly mild with a bit of acidity and a bit of fruitiness. Somehow, the coffee quality slipped for a couple years there, and we found other natural decafs to take its place. But we received this really nice sample of the Esmeralda and it is back to its former cup quality standard. This coffees has a very distinct, attractive aroma while it roasts and the cup is mild and has a very pleasant nuttiness. It has medium body and a light aftertaste. Because it is nutty and mild, its great as a crowd-pleasing straight roast or as a base for a decaf blend, either for drip coffee or espresso. This is decaffeinated in the same place (Cafiver): Check out our article on decaffeination. ...or some information from Cafiver in Mexico.
Wet Aroma: 81
Brightness- Liveliness: 83
Body- Movement: 84
Flavor- Depth: 84 Roast: This coffee has a very wide lattitude ...roast you your preference: City, Full City, Vienna or French
Finish- Conclusion: 81
Score: 82.5 Compare to: Mild, balanced Mexican Oaxaca coffees
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Nutty

Mexican Organic Chiapas
Country: Mexico Grade: SHG Region: Chiapas Mark: Co-op de Profesor Montana, OCIA Organic Cert.
Processing: Wet processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, at the Guatemalan border. The coffees are distinct from the Oaxaca Plumas and Coatepec coffees: they are a little brighter, sweeter, and bear some resemblance to the Huehuetenango coffees of Guatemala. Oaxaca is my other favorite Mexican origin, but the coffees have had variable quality and in a "down" year, it can be very, very hard to find a really good, 100% Typica Oaxacan coffee. But the really good Chiapas coffees like this one have been consistently excellent. (We had the non-organic coffee from this same co-op in the '02 season). Many of the coffees from Chiapas are from small farms, cooperatively wet-milled and sold. The names of co-ops are quite elaborate: this coffee is "Union de Ejidos Profesor Otilio Montana" and has the environmental mission printed on each bag: "Por la Conservacion de Tierra, La Naturaleza, Y la Cultura." In my memory, this coffee is unique and cups a little more like the coffees of Nicaragua, but with more brightness in the cup. It has a rustic sage herbiness in the cup making it have herbal tea qualities. It is lightly fruited, and definitely has a character that emerges most as the cup cools. It develops a nice pungency as the roast turns darker, but you lose the bright snap that is in this cup, hinting at the higher altitudes at which it is grown (Strictly Altura, top grade high grown for Mexico). OCIA and Naturland certified organic.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City roast: You can take it darker to Full City (at second crack) or Vienna (30 seconds into 2nd crack or so), but the brighter notes and delicate flavors disappear.
add 50 50 Compare to: Interesting and unique sage flavors at City roast, and a nice sweetness, more like Nicaraguan Segovia. Roast well to darker stages too.
Score (Max. 100) 84.1

Mexican Organic Oaxaca Pluma - El Olivo
Country: Mexico Grade: SHG Region: Oaxaca Mark: El Olivo Farm, Organic Certified
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: all Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Oaxaca Pluma are the prototypical Mexican coffees in my book, better than the Coatepec coffees to the North, distinct from the excellent Chiapas coffees to the South. They have great balance, medium-light body, and wonderful flavor of soft chocolate tones and moderate acidity lingering through to the aftertaste. The El Olivo is a true Oaxaca Pluma estate coffee and this year that in itself is remarkable (we have reports of many coffees sold as Plumas that are not, and from "eye-cupping" some pre-ship samples at a brokers sample room, I must say these so-called Plumas do not have the appearance or quality preparation of a true Oaxacan. We do not expect to stock other Oaxacas this year based on these pre-ship samples). The El Olivo coffee has an excellent preparation, almost blue-green in color, with only an very occasional aberration. We have stocked this coffee in the past, but this year it has passed it's 3 year organic transition and can be offered as Certified Organic! The roast is very even and it accepts a wide latitude in terms of degree of roast to suit your taste. It works great with a heavier roast treatment since it is grown at higher altitude and has great density: it won't turn ashy in flavor. This cup has great balance between creamy body, and moderate brightness. It's not so impressive when hot, but as it cools the cup sweetens, and flavor nuances of anise and vanilla are revealed.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
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. But this takes dark roasts quite well.
Add 50 50.0 Compare to: The prototypical Oaxaca Pluma cup; It's both exceptional as a straight roast and as a blend base for light and dark roasts. Great espresso potential too.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5

Misc. & Blends

African Highland WP Decaf Blend
Country: Kenya, Ethiopia Grades: AA Auction Lot, 2 Regions: Aberdare, Yirgacheffe Mark: Auction Lot, MAO
Processing: Wet-processed, then decaf by Water Process Crop: June 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 scr Varietal: Various, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Bright, light bodied, full of character and "snap". I am not talking describing a person although a few come to mind. The new Water Process method used to decaffeinated this coffee leaves an astounding amount of cup character. I always felt that the SWP decaf was weakest when applied to bright, acidic high-toned coffees. They cupped like water flavored with cardboard. So this blend here is, to me, the ultimate triumph of our new Water Process decaf source (from Mexico, although the DO use the same method essentially as official SWP coffee -which is processed in Canada actually). It is an "indirect contact", non-chemical process that is truly a water filtration process. The other factor is that other decafs sometimes don't originate with the best green coffees. This is a true Auction Lot Kenya blended 50-50 with one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe lots from this season. As I mentioned, it is a coffee that is lighter in body, bright (striking the front of the palate and tongue in the center-front and front-sides), and very fruity. Although the scores are already very high for a decaf, I objectively felt the cup rates higher than a combined 86 so there is a "Cupper's Correction" of 2.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: While this coffee becomes sharply pungent in darker roasts, I really enjoy its bright, fruity character too much to roast it that way. I keep it light, stopping the roast at Full City, right at the verge of 2nd crack but not into it.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian MC decaf you will probably enjoy this too...
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 87

African Highland WP Decaf Blend
Country: Kenya, Ethiopia Grades: AA Auction Lot, 2 Regions: Aberdare, Yirgacheffe Mark: Auction Lot, MAO  
Processing: Wet-processed, then decaf by Water Process Crop: 2002 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 scr Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Bright, light bodied, full of character and "snap". I am not talking describing a person although a few come to mind. The new Water Process method used to decaffeinated this coffee leaves an astounding amount of cup character. I always felt that the SWP decaf was weakest when applied to bright, acidic high-toned coffees. They cupped like water flavored with cardboard. So this blend here is, to me, the ultimate triumph of our new Water Process decaf source (from Mexico, although the DO use the same method essentially as official SWP coffee -which is processed in Canada actually). It is an "indirect contact", non-chemical process that is truly a water filtration process. The other factor is that other decafs sometimes don't originate with the best green coffees. This is a true Auction Lot Kenya blended 50-50 with one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe lots from this season. As I mentioned, it is a coffee that is lighter in body, bright (striking the front of the palate and tongue in the center-front and front-sides), and very fruity. Although the scores are already very high for a decaf, I objectively felt the cup rates higher than a combined 86 so there is a "Cupper's Correction" of 2.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: While this coffee becomes sharply pungent in darker roasts, I really enjoy its bright, fruity character too much to roast it that way. I keep it light, stopping the roast at Full City, right at the verge of 2nd crack but not into it.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian MC decaf you will probably enjoy this too...
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 87

Myanmar (Burma)  

see our pre-2000 Archive and our 2001-2002 archve


Nicaragua 

Nicaragua Segovia WP Decaf
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Segovia Mark: Coop 20 de Abril; Prodecoop
Processing: Wet Process, then WP Decaf Crop: Dec 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: The Co-op 20 de Abril is located is in the state of Nueva Segovia in Northern Nicaragua, extending to the Honduras border. In fact, when I was there this year we were at a co-op farm that was just one mountain ridge away from Honduras. These coffees from the far north of Segovia have a different character than other Nicaragua coffees from Matagalapa and Jinotega (the larger growing regions). They are balanced, bright, sweeter. They aren't just mild mid-toned coffees but have a brighter note in the cup. It is a credit to the WP water process decaf method that this cup preserves that character in a decaf coffee so well. The brightness has an almost piney, aromatic character, the body is medium and silky, and the finish has a neat, husky sweetness ... sort of a dark, wild honey character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to medium intensity / Unique brightness in cup with honeyed sweetness
add 50 50 Roast: Full City
Score (Max. 100) 84.6 Compare to: An excellent Segovia character in a decaf.

Nicaragua Matagalpa -Maragogype
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Mierch Family   
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: July 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 21+ Screen!!! Varietal: Maragogype
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5

Notes: Maragogype (also spelled Maragojipe, pronounced "Mara-go-hee-pey") is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of Typica. It is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size. Supposedly the first Maragogype plant happened spontaneously in Brazil in the early 1900s. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Maragogype that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Maragogype. Maragogype coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. I was torn this year between a lot of Coban (Guatemala) Marago and this one, but after allowing the coffees a proper rest time of 2 days, the Matagalpa Marago really emerged as the best cup. The preparation is better on this coffee than it was last year -very clean-, with a very thick body, and aromatic cedar roast notes. After a longer rest time, body comes up, it becomes a very balanced cup with deep sweetness, and has a character that reminds me of a chocolate-dipped orange slice!

Be warned: The Maragogype is a bit different in the roaster. In most air roasters you need to cut back on the batch size by about 1/3 so the coffee agitates properly. It's better to underload the roaster than overload it, or the coffee will scorch or tip (burn in spots) during the roast, and the cup will taste skunky! With a smaller batch size you will have different roast times. I would set the roaster to a long roast setting, then stop it manually. Some roasters handle this coffee a lot better - drum roasters do well, and the Rosto is fine too. Z&D is okay. The Freshroasts - you need to take care with the batch size, and probably need to tilt or move the roaster to get an acceptably even roast. Roast appearance: the Marago's can appear variegated/mottled in color when roasted light, just as they do in the green form - this will not cause a problem in the cup!

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / body, balance, bittersweet
add 50 50.0 Roast: This is a very difficult coffee to roast in some machines: reduce the batch size so the coffee agitates properly and roasts evenly. I would set the roaster at a high setting and stop it manually at the degree of roast you prefer. I like this coffee at a Full City stage, a few snaps into second crack
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Very richly bodied cup, balanced.

Nicaragua Cup of Exc. Coop 15 de Septiembre: Organic and Fair Trade Certified
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: San Juan de Rio Coco, Madriz Mark: Cup of Excellence Lot #14, 15 de Septiembre Co-op, Organic and Fair Trade Certified
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Sept 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 80% Caturra, 15% Bourbon, 5% Catimor
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: This Cup of Excellence lot is grown cooperatively by small scale farmers in the Madriz area, Organic-certified, and milled by the excellent Prodecoop dry mill in Esteli. The cooperative has been transitioning to organic and received its first certification in 1999. This lot comes from the 11 farms that have already been certified organic and are members of the community group Las Segovias. A side note; this lot is Fair Trade Certified too, which is a little ironic because with competition coffees we pay far more for the lots than Fair Trade would require! The coffee is grown in remote areas with no roads ... it is carried to wet mill by mule or on the shoulders of their members. The coffee is a traditional wet-milled lot (depulped, fermented and washed with fresh water, then sun dried on concrete patios). Interestingly enough, there is a tad of Catimor in the blend of cultivars here, a cross between Caturra and a Timor Robusta - but there is too little of it to detect. (Pure Catimor from older trees can have off cup flavors). As for the cup, this is just really nice crowd-pleasing Nicaragua coffee and will really reflect the type of roast treatment you chose for it. This lot has two different characters depending on the degree of roast. At a true City roast, the aromatics on this cup are sweet and delicate, with honey and strawberry hints. In the cup, the sweetness follows through with a maple syrup quality. The fruits suggest raspberry and red apple, and as the cup cools it brightens considerably. In fact it reminds me of raspberry tea with a twist of citrus rind in it - very nice. This is a subtle cup ... at City roast. Now, I did roasts of the arrival lot at Full City and Full City+ ( a tad into 2nd crack ). At the darker level of roast, the cup really changes character, and unfortunately all the delicate fruit notes are lost. But the cup picks up a very nice milk chocolate bittersweet with pungent roasty/nutty notes as secondary flavors- very nice! Choose your degree of roast- choose your flavor profile.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Subtle, Classic cup profile; versatile
add 50 50 Roast: City through Full City+. This is a very versatile coffee so the lighter roasts are accented with brighter notes and fruit, the darker ones are chocolatey - it works either way...
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Intrinisc Nicaraguan flavors and balance, similar in some aspects to a really, really good Mexican Oaxaca.

Nicaragua Organic/Fair Trade Segovia
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Segovia Mark: Prodecoop Segovia,
OCIA Organic Cert.
Fair Trade Cert.
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
18 scr
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Nicaraguan coffees are unique among the Central Americans, with the closest "cup kin" being certain Colombians. They have great body and balance, whereas many Centrals are light- to medium- bodied. The great origins are Jinotega, Matagalpa and Segovia, both possessing the proper altitude for the highest grade (SHG: Strictly High Grown) growths. This Organic/Fair-Trade certified coffee (name of the best coffees produced at the Prodecoop mill in Esteli) is the epitome of balance and, as the cup cools, increasing power. But let it grow on you, and as the cup cools you get a greater sense of the dimension and great character. The aromas are spicey and sweet, but the cup character is not so mild ...It has a "big" flavor, milk chocolate with a pleasant bittersweet tang in the finish, while remaining balanced. The aftertaste has a slight dryness to it that really works well, and a hint of cedar. The alternating bittersweet tastes tinged with lightly carbony flavor at a Full City roast gives this coffee such complexity. (It holds up well to a heavier roast too, since the coffee seed grown at higher altitude has greater density.) Roasted from City to Full City, this cup will really grow in you as you spend more time with it, while being mild enough to be a crowd-pleasing "classic" cup too.
Sitting on the porch at the Prodecoop mill a few months back.

Leaves with dried coffee-flowers at a Prodecoop-member farm in Segovia.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ / balance, chocolate roast tastes
add 50 50 Roast: City to Full City: (see review).
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Compare to: Excellent complexity/depth emerges as the cup cools, and great long aftertaste. Similar to some Colombians but unique among other Central American cup profiles.

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence -El Regreso
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: La Laguna, Palo Blanco, Jinotega Mark: Cup of Excellence Lot #8,
El Regreso Farm
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Sept 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: This coffee was the 8th place in the competition, but was my personal #1 from the start. Later, I found out this was the #1 winning coffee in the very first Nicaragua CoE Competion, 3 years ago! It is from the small, private family-owned farm of Bernabe Garcia, in the Palo Blanco region of Jinotega. It is traditional wet-processed coffee with patio drying. Coffees from Jinotega are higher grown than most of the Matagalpa coffees, and have a brighter cup overall. Add to this the citrusy Caturra cultivar, and there is a more dynamic "top end" to this flavor profile. The aromatics and fragrance of this cup are a tad more intense than the Coop 15 de Septiembre lot, not as sweet but more pungent and aggressive. The Body seems fairly light after a 24 hour rest but does continue to thicken with longer rest periods. But with the 1 full day rest I get the best balance from the cup, and its main flavor note (aromatic woodiness) emerges. This is a flavor quality found in Nicaraguas that may take some time to appreciate, but is really unique. It is not sweet, but not bitter ... in this case it is most like Cedar and Redwood, like a walk in the forest! There is a subtle sweetness in the aftertaste of this cup, very nicely balanced with a black walnut hint in the finish. I don't think this cup will conk you on the head with outrageous and obvious character, but thats really not what the CoE process of finding "excellent" coffee is about. It is not about quantity. It is about quality. For example, the highest quantity of acidity in the cup scores lower than the best quality of that acidity. In this case, the flavor compontents add up to a very desirable overall flavor profile, thus Cupper's Correction +1. It's a crowd-pleaser, it is attractive ...and that's what it's all about!


Bernabe Garcia above, and family...

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Aromatics, unique flavors
add 50 50 Roast: Full City. I roasted my samples to varying degrees but came away with the best overall cup with a true Full City roast (443 f), to the verge of 2nd crack without entering it. BUT ... I really had very nice cups from the El Regreso at all degrees of roast, lighter and darker - this is a very versatile coffee.
Score (Max. 100) 88.1 Compare to: Just a really nice Nicaraguan cup profile, extraordinary "origin character" for a Jinotega coffee.

Nicaragua SHG Matagalpa - San Martin Estate
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: San Martin Estate, Ramacafe
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late 2003 arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Catuai Rojo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: San Martin is a medium-sized coffee estate in the highlands of Matagalpa. It is one of two farms owned by the Hueck family under their company name, Ramacafe. I met the ubiquitous Henry Hueck at the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition and in Honduras; indeed, Henry seems to be everywhere at once when it comes to coffee. It is this passion for coffee that translates to the farms; La Virgen (his other larger farm) is pristine, a model farm for its technique and care for the workers. Coffees from Matagalpa have a unique cup character that rarely falls into the sweet-fruited-clean-delicate category; they are bold, bittersweet, balanced, with hints of chocolate, spice and (as in this case) a nice aromatic woodiness. I tested this coffee at a variety of roasts and especially liked its range: it holds up well into the darker roast range making it especially nice as a French Roast base. It's a dense bean that doesn't get that ashy flavor at a darker roast setting. And it has great body that doesn't diminish with more roasting, as come coffees do. The acidity is fairly muted, and overall cup profile has a neat aromatic woodiness to it (cedar? a little oaky?) with a pleasant bittersweetness in the flavor through to the finish.

Coffee planted on steep hill at the Hueck farm.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: See above : City + is fine but the chocolate notes at Full City+ are best. You can take this coffee to Vienna roast with exceptional results, and on into French without losing body.
add 50 50 Compare to: Very Matagalpan cup character, balanced bittersweets, great body!
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / balance

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence - Co-op 22 de Septiembre
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: La Sultana,
Jinotega
Mark: 2003 COE
Auction Lot #14
 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: We were able to get a small quantity of this coffee that we offered earlier this year! The lot was one we bid on in the Cup of Excellence auction with 2 other roasters and the coffee consultant Willem Boot. Willem had extra bags from his allotment, so here it is again for a very limited time! The judging process for competitions is intriguing: a lot of different people, each who know coffee from their own perspective, come together and try to find agreement on what is the best cup of coffee from a particular origin. It would be so easy if we were cupping the worst cup of coffee ... repulsiveness is easy to identify and I think that cross-culturally humans find very similar sensations repulsive based on core physiological (and perhaps genetic) programming. But what is good to one person, perhaps a roaster from Australia who focuses solely on dark roast Espresso blends, an East Coast broker who is used to cupping at unbearably light degrees of roast, and a West Coast "it's not done until it's burned" roaster, are entirely different. I think we work through the differences with a lot of effort and extensive discussion, but a victim of the judging process can be some very, very nice coffees that have subtle character, and they end up scoring in the 10's or 20's back from the winning lots. These coffees are delicious, but don't rate as high numerically on the score sheets because the acidity isn't the highest on the table, or the body isn't the highest on the table, or perhaps in one session the water was a bit low in temperature. Whatever the case, these are the secret gems of the process, and when I get all the samples on my home turf in Emeryville and recup them under conditions I know well, they emerge. This lot placed at #14 with a respectable 85.33 score, but that alone is remarkable when you consider the competition was among 400+ samples submitted! #14 of 400! The cup is indeed charming, and takes some time to win you over. It is sweet, medium acidity, and has (in my opinion) a cup profile very similar to really good, higher altitude Konas -something I have never found in a Nicaragua before. Then again, we don't get offers of pure, unblended Jinotegas as often as we should. As a friend says, "this is great coffee ... if you like coffee." A postscript: this coffee was grown organically using only bio-organic fertilizers, but because it was wet-processed in a non-certified mill, it cannot be called Organic… silly, eh? To fight pests they use an innovative mix of minerals, garlic, butter, and chiles!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Unlike some of the other Centrals, this coffee develops a milk chocolate roast taste at a lighter City+ roast stage, just before second crack, while still having brightness to balance the cup, body, and this Kona-esque quality I like. So my recommendation is City+, just before 2nd crack. BTW: I think this cup benefits from a longer. slower roast. Drum roasts of it are outstanding!
add 50 50 Compare to: It has the incredible balance and body of really good Nicaraguan, distinct Jinotega flavor, and a lurking of Kona-like cup character.
Score (Max. 100) 87.4

Nicaragua Matagalpa -Pacamara 19+ screen
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHB Region: Matagalpa Mark: Erwin Mierch Farm 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen Varietal: Pacamara -Paca and Maragogype Cross
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: The Pacamara varietal is totally unique: it is the result of a cross between the Paca and Maragogype, the so-called "elephant bean." Paca is derived from the traditional old varietal Bourbón and Caturra, named for it's originator, a Salvadorean man. Maragogype is the extremely large bean from this low-production tree. The result is a very large bean coffee with exceptional flavors ... and it's not often that you can track cup flavors to the coffee cultivar as directly as with the Pacamara (coffee is quite unlike wine in this way). Perhaps the citrusy brightness in the cup comes from the Caturra, but we know for sure that the large 19+ screen size is from the Maragogype side. The cup has sweet aroma with a neat herby sage note. The body is medium, with pronounced citus flower sweetness, and a beautiful lingering aftertaste of the same. Sage and sweet red pepper emerges as thecup cools: this is simply a very, very attractive cup. But there is a caveat: Like the Maragogype it is hard to roast. In most air roasters you need to cut back on the batch size by about 1/3 so the coffee agitates properly. It's better to underload the roaster than overload it, or the coffee will scorch or tip (burn in spots) during the roast, and the cup will taste skunky! Some roasters handle this coffee a lot better - drum roasters do well, and the Rosto is fine too. Z&D is okay. The Hearthwares and Freshroasts - you need to take care with the batch size.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2.0 Roast: A very difficult coffee to roast in some machines: reduce the batch size so the coffee agitates properly and roasts evenly. I would set the roaster at a high setting and stop it manually at the degree of roast you prefer. I like this coffee at a City+ stage, stopped just before signs of second crack.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Bright, balanced, complex, interesting! (hence a +2 cupper's correction). This is what a really good Central with really good character should be like.
Score (Max. 100) 88.4

Nicaragua Matagalpa -Maragogype
Country: Nicaragua Grade: Pooled Region: Matagalpa Mark: Mierch Family   
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 21+ Screen Varietal: Maragogype
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Maragogype (also spelled Maragojipe, pronounced "Mara-go-hee-pey") is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of Typica. It is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size. Supposedly the first Maragogype plant happened spontaneously in Brazil in the early 1900s. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Maragogype, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in bling cupping, and just happened to be Maragogype. Maragogype coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. This is an especially good cup, with a very thich body, and aromatic cedar roast notes. Be warned: The Maragogype is challenging to roast. In most air roasters you need to cut back on the batch size by about 1/3 so the coffee agitates properly. It's better to underload the roaster than overload it, or the coffee will scorch or tip (burn in spots) during the roast, and the cup will taste skunky! Some roasters handle this coffee a lot better - drum roasters do well, and the Rosto is fine too. Z&D is okay. The Hearthwares and Freshroasts - you need to take care with the batch size.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: This is a very difficult coffee to roast in some machines: reduce the batch size so the coffee agitates properly and roasts evenly. I would set the roaster at a high setting and stop it manually at the degree of roast you prefer. I like this coffee at a Full City stage, a few snaps into second crack
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Very richly bodied cup, balanced.
Score (Max. 100) 85.9

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence - Co-op 22 de Septiembre
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: La Sultana, Jinotega Mark: 2003 COE Auction Lot #14
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: The judging process for competitions is intriguing: a lot of different people, each who know coffee from their own perpective, come together and try to find aggrement on what is the best cup of coffee from a particular origin. It would be so easy if we were cupping the worst cup of coffee ... repulsiveness is easy to identify and I think that cross-culturally humans find very similar sensations replusive based on core physiological (and perhaps genetic) programming. But what is good to one person, perhaps a roaster from Australia who focuses solely on dark roast Espresso blends, an East Coast broker who is used to cupping at unbearably light degrees of roast, and a West Coast "it's not done until it's burned" roaster, are entirely different. I think we work through the differences with a lot of effort and extensive discussion, but a victim of the judging process can be some very, very nice coffees that have subtle character, and they end up scoring in the 10's or 20's back from the winning lots. These coffees are delicious, but don't rate as high numberically on the score sheets because the acidity isn't the highest on the table, or the body isn't the highest on the table, or perhaps in obne session the water was a bit low in tempoerature. Whatever the case, these are the secret gems of the process, and when I get all the samples on my home turf in Emeryville and recup them under conditions I know well, they emerge. This lot placed at #14 with a respectable 85.33 score, but that alone is remarable when you consider the competition was among 400+ samples submitted! #14 of 400! The cup is indeed charming, and takes some time to win you over. It is sweet, medium acidity, and has (in my opinion) a cup profile very similar to really good, higher altitude Konas -something I have never found in a Nicaragua before. Then again, we don't get offers of pure, unblended Jinotegas as often as we should. As a freind says, "this is great coffee ... if you like coffee." A postscript: this coffee was grown organically using only bio-organic fertilizers, but because it was wet-processed in a non-certified mill, it cannot be called Organic… silly, eh? To fight pests they use an innovative mix of minerals, garlic, butter, and chiles!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Unlike some of the other Centrals, this coffee develops a milk chocolate roast taste at a lighter City+ roast stage, just before second crack, while still having brightness to balance the cup, body, and this Kona-esque quality I like. So my recommendation is City+, just before 2nd crack.
add 50 50 Compare to: It has the incredible balance and body of really good Nicaraguan, distinct Jinotega flavor, and a lurking of Kona-like cup character.
Score (Max. 100) 87.4

Nicaragua Segovia SHG Organic/Fair Trade -Miraflores
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Segovia Mark: Proodecoop Mill,
Miraflores Co-op,
"Sabor de Segovia,"
OCIA Organic
Processing: Washed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
18 scr
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Nicaraguan coffees are unique among the Central Americans, with the closest "cup kin" being certain Colombians. They have great body and balance, whereas many Centrals are light- to medium-bodied. The great origins are Jinotega-Matagalpa and Segovia, both possessing the proper altitude for the highest grade (SHG: Strictly High Grown) growths. This Organic/Fair-Trade certified "Sabor de Segovia" (name of the best coffees produced at the Prodecoop mill in Esteli) is not that impressive when you have your first sip of the coffee when its very hot. But let it grow on you, and as the cup cools you get a greater sense of the dimension and great character. The aromas are spicey and sweet, but the cup character is not so mild ...It has a "big" flavor, milk chocolate with a pleasant bittersweet tang in the finish, while remaining balanced, and the body is very impressive. The aftertaste has a slight dryness to it that really works well, and a hint of cedar. The alternating bittersweet tastes tinged with lightly carbony flavor at a Full City roast gives this coffee such complexity. Roasted from City to Full City, this cup will really grow in you as you spend more time with it, while being mild enough to be a crowd-pleasing "classic" cup too.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 6.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.5 Roast: City to Full City: (see review).
add 50 50 Compare to: Excellent complexity/depth emerges as the cup cools, and great long aftertaste. Similar to some Colombians but unique among other Central American cup profiles.
Score (Max. 100) 84.5

Panama 

Panama SHB Boquete -La Berlina Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La Berlina
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18scr Varietal: 100% old growth Typica trees
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: La Berlina is the epitome of classic Central American cup character; clean, moderately sweet, with a perfect balance of mild citric acidity, chocolate roast tones, and a refined finish. I have been to this farm two years in a row, and seeing the incredibly old 18 foot tall Typica trees makes it no wonder why the coffee bears this character. It does not have the liveliness of the Lerida estate coffee from Boquete - it is less acidic overall. But it makes up for it with this solid balance. And the Lerida Estate has replanted with new hybrids and the cup shows a bit in the cup. Berlina is 100% traditional Typica cultivar. It has remarkable brightness, complexity and depth for a clean Central American cup, easily as good or better than the best lots of Lerida I have had. Panama is basically an under-rated coffee in total, always playing second fiddle to the big name Costa Ricans and Guatemalans. But when you put this Berlina cup up against many of the Tarrazus from Costa Rica, it rates higher and has a more solid cup character overall. The coffee is expertly prepared, fairly large bean size for Panama of the longer Typica, the old arabica cultivars. The cup has a very "juicy" quality, not a drying finish at all, with sweet ripe fruit, and a medium-light body: bright citrus passes quickly to spice and sharp lively chocolate flavors. The aftertastes is moderate and thoroughly enjoyable.


View of La Berlina Estate from above, from my 2003 trip.


Flowering Coffee

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Classic Central American cup profile!
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City, through first crack and not yet to second. You will lose some complexity in this coffee in a darker roast, so I would keep it from going into second crack at all.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 85.3 Compare to: Other high-grown Centrals that have complexity: Guats & Costa Rican Tarrazus.

Panama WP Decaf -Panamaria
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Panamaria Prep, WP Decaf
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Red Catuai, Typica
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. Panamaria is a really nice Boquete preparation from several farms, that has placed in the Panama Coffee Competition in years past. As a Water Process decaf, it really preserves the primary cup character, the acidity and brightness of the cup.

This is a sweet little cup, delicate, floral, a little simple but really nice! It's just amazing how much of the delicate brightness of the excellent Panamaria coffee is preserved after the decaffeination process. I would call this a great morning "first cup" or a really good after-dinner coffee when you don't want to overwhelm yourself.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City + is ideal to maintain the brightness in the cup
add 50 50 Compare to: Similar in tone to the Costa Rican WP Decaf from this year, bright, delicate, pleasant.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Clean, sweet

Panama Finca Hartmann "Songbird"
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan Baru, Chirqui Mark: Hartmann Farm
Processing: Wet process, sun-dried Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: This coffee from the Northeast mountain state of Chirqui has a beautiful dark green-blue appearance (fresh, new crop), with a delicate light-bodied cup that will win over your friends and relatives to the merits of home roasting. The Volcan Chirqui is right at the Costa Rican border so it is not a wonder that the coffee cups like a bright, delicate Costa Rican. For more information on the Hartmann farm, see our review of the 2002 Panama Cupping Competition. The Hartmann land is a model of sustainable farming and bird-friendly, shade grown agriculture with much of the farm preserved as forest ... in a bitter irony it does not qualify as certified bird-friendly because of very limited use of nitrogen fertilizer! The cup has a very pleasant clean sweet taste with a unique cedar aromatic woodiness in the finish, that has almondy aspects too. Sr. Hartmann has a special lot of coffee that he dries in a special wooden Bodega next to the patios on the farm that gives it this aromatic woody secondary flavor. The humidity and native hardwoods give the coffee a characteristic flavor -very subtle but unmistakable. It's not a super complex coffee overall, just real fine and delicate. To get a full sense of this acidity, taste it hot and taste it cool too. As it cools the bright notes that make it so special are fleshed out, and you will fall in love with this coffee by the time you reach the last sip. I think this cup has some "intangibles" that make it deserve a +1 Cupper's Correction...


Sr. Hartmann on the farm


Thompson on a farm visit, 2002

Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.1
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild/delicate acidity, cedar tones, nutty
add 50 50 Roast: I prefer this at a light City roast to accentuate the moderate acidity and that unique woody note in the aftertaste. The allow a generous 48 hour resting period...
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Compare to: Medium-bodied delicate coffees, similar to Coast Ricans from the southern areas of La Amistad, the Boquete coffees of Panama, and also similar to some of the Chiapas coffees from the south of Mexico.

Panama Boquete -Lerida Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Lerida Estate
Processing: Wet process Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Catuai Rojo, Caturra, Catimor(?)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Lerida Estate is situated outside of Boquete in the Northwestern part of Panama, Chirqui. Surrounded by 500 acres of tropical forest on the slopes of the Baru Volcano. It has volcanic soil, an altitude ranging from 1600 to 1700 meters above sea level, adequate rainfall with a sunny and dry harvesting season. It is one of the highest altitude farms in the area, and really at maximum praticable growing altitude for Panamanian coffees. (Higher up, the fruit doesn't ripen and each tree produces very little fruit). It's a great farm: The coffee cherries are harvested daily and go through a meticulous wet process. The beans are sun-dried and set to rest for no less than 60 days. The coffee has won many awards and was the 2001 Panama Cup of Excellence Auction, where it was awarded the blue ribbon by the international panel of cupper's, and received the highest bid in the auction, paid by Sweet Maria's! The cup character of Lerida was a bit down last year - they have undergone an ownership change and they have replaced some of their older trees with new Catuai varietals. But this year the cup quality has rebounded and this lot is awesome! It is a bright, effervescently acidy coffee with sweet fruity/floral notes. The brightness has hints of fresh citrus and a touch of wineyness that rounds out the flavor in the finish. It is remarkable while on the palate, but light in body and medium in the aftertaste, as is characteristic of Panamanian coffee. The quality of this cup, in terms of high notes and complexity, surely ranks it as a Gran Cru of Central American coffee.

Finca Lerida
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium/ bright lemon acidity, clean cup!
add 50 50 Roast: To preserve the fruitiness and complexity, don't let this coffee get into the second crack much. A City roast is best, and a Full City with a few snaps of second crack will tone down some of the citrusy flavors and allow a black cherry flavor to emerge, with some light bittersweet caramelly notes.
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: Delicate, clean bright Central coffees, akin to some Costa Ricans.

Panama Auction Lot 2004 -"Leru"
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Auction Lot, #2 coffee
Processing: Wet process Crop: Late July 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Catuai Rojo, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5

Notes: This coffee placed #2 in the auction, and if the Jaramillo hadn't been such an unexpectedly extreme coffee it would have won. In fact, the Jaramillo is a very imbalanced cup, with extremely light body, whereas the Leru is really a "complete cup" and complex too. Okay, this is a little confusing since we also have Lerida Estate coffee in stock. This auction lot was also a special selection grown at Lerida estate (a very high-altitude farm in Boquete that has won many awards for its coffee) and then it was processed at the excellent mill of the Ruiz family. The difference between the two (which are both great cups) is that the auction Lot gets a lot more care and attention, above and beyond what any lot of coffee receives. And the results ... #2 in a very competitive field of coffees ... speaks for itself. Duane at Stumptown Coffee in Portland and myself (Tom) split this lot 50--50 after we did the 2004 cupping together at Royal Coffees cupping lab. We were both equally impressed with the standout aromatics in the cup, fruited, citric, a little winey. In the dry fragrance I feel the coffee has a very caramelly sweetness. This caramel sweetness persists through to the finish of the cup, and is more pervasive with a batch that has been well rested (I am cupping a batch that is 5 days out of the roaster right now). At this stage the coffee acheives a very balanced profile; aromatic, silky medium body, citrus flower aromas, sweetness; it's delicious! The finish has a winey note, but a clear, clean and upright wininess, not a fermenty or dull winey flavor. With a shorter rest it clearly has a lot more volitile aromatics, temporary floral scents in particular, that come and go; a very lively cup! I cupped it 12 hours, and 26 hours after roasting and at the expense of a little balance (body was lighter) this was a vivacious and spirited coffee! Fresher roasts like this have a clrystal clarity, bright and precise acidity, sweet finish, almost what I would call a brisk cup. In any roast or rest combination, the aromatics of this coffee are part of what sets it above the pack...

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium/ Lively brightness and balance, good complexity.
add 50 50 Roast: I like a City roast which doesn't look that pretty (before the creases are fully worked out of the coffee - it still looks wrinkley and textures a little on the surface). At this lighter roast the coffee has a remarkable clarity, sweet/souring balance between roast taste and acidity.
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: A very refined cup character, some qualities of the Dota Tarrazu, especially the Dota Conquistador.

Panama SHB Boquete -La Berlina Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La Berlina
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16/18scr Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: The great cup from this La Berlina was a surprise, even after visiting the farm last year and seeing the incredibly old 18 foot tall Typica trees. I had cupped it in the past, and while I found it always to be a nice clean cup it was always outdone by such coffees as the Lerida estate coffee from Boquete. But Lerida has replanted with new hybrids and the cup shows it. Berlina is 100% traditional Typica cultivar. It has remarkable brightness, complexity and depth for a clean Central American cup, easily as good or better than the best lots of Lerida I have had. Panama is basically an under-rated coffee in total, always playing second fiddle to the big name Costa Ricans and Guatemalans. But when you put this Berlina cup up against many of the Tarrazus from Costa Rica, it rates higher. The coffee is expertly prepared, fairly large bean size for Panama of the longer Typica, the old arabica cultivars. The cup really shimmers: bright citrus passes quickly to spice and sharp lively chocolate flavors. The aftertastes is moderate and thoroughly enjoyable. Just outstanding, hence and overall cupper's correction of +2 to communicate the attractiveness of this cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: City, through first crack and not yet to second. You will lose some complexity in this coffee in a darker roast, so I would keep it from going into second crack at all.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Compare to: Other high-grown Centrals that have complexity: Guats & Costa Rican Tarrazus.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 86

Panama Auction Lot 2003 - Elida Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Alto Quiel, Boquete Mark: Elida Estate, The Lamastus Family
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Auction Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Red Catuai, Bourbón, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0 Notes: My personal #1 coffee in the Best of Panama competition this year was the Elida Estate lot. This is a coffee with unique cup character from a farm that has been owned by the Lamastus Family since 1918! It also happens to be from the micro-region within the Boquete coffee-growing region producing some amazing coffees: Alto Quiel. The farm is very high altitude (one of the two-highest coffee farms in Panama) at 1,670-1,825m (5,500-6,000ft), with 1900 feet being about the highest you can grow coffee in Panama. The varietals are 85% Red Catuai, and 15% Typica/Bourbon. The coffee is shade grown in a cloud forest, and surrounded by a private virgin-forest reserve and the Volcan Baru National Park ...more than half of this farm is located within the National Park, a protected ecological reserve and sanctuary for exotic plants, birds and mammals. The Baru volcano is one of the highest volcanoes in Central America, with 14,000 ha and 7 different climate zones depending on the elevation. Elida Estate has a unique set of growing conditions for coffee: high elevation, rich young volcanic soils, low cloud forest temperatures, fog and mist during the dry season, and the nights that are quite cold ---it takes a young coffee tree from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 years to start producing (2 or 3 years longer to produce than average).

Cup Character: As for the cup, it is bright, with a Kenya-like quality in both the top-end notes in the cup and complex flavors. It is spiced with cardamom and muted clove notes, fruited with apricot initially, changing to golden raisin. I get a Black Walnut flavor long in the aftertaste. It's tough to pin down the flavors in this cup -this is a complex coffee and they shift as the cup cools. It's this alternation of flavors that lends itself to so much interpretation, so many adjectives; for me its the mark of a great cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: This coffee can be roasted to a medium City roast with no sign of second crack, up to a Full City + … the range will preserve these very unique cup characteristics I mention above.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Bright, balanced, complex, interesting! (hence a +2 cupper's correction). This is what a really good Central with really good character should be like.
Score (Max. 100) 88.8

Papua New Guinea 

Papua New Guinea -Kimel Plantation
Country: New Guinea Grade: A Region: Eastern Highland Mark: Kimel Plantation
Processing: Wet Process Crop: December
2005 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Caturra, Arusha, Nova Mundo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Papua New Guinea occupies the Eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian provice of Irian (no organized coffee production originates from Irian) There can be a huge range of cups from Papua New Guinea, and the so-called Plantation coffees represent the cleaner character of the coffee produced on the island... more like a good Central American than part of the Indonesioan profile. The Organic PNG coffees have the more natural, rustic cup character. The plantations are larger farms that have their own coffee processing wet mills, so they are able to control all the variables of production better than the small farm "coffee gardens." Kimel is offered broadly in the US now vial the brokerage Royal, and is a solid coffee. But some lots have cupped very "green" and underdeveloped in character, others a little old. You have to buy your PNG coffees at the "peak of the harvest," not too soon or too late in the season. This is a fairly early arrival from the Kimel Plantation but it has no "green" character in the cup. It is a very lively coffee with a lot of top-end character, and with so much clean fruity notes it is like a cornucopia of ripe fruit. After a good rest of 72 hours, this cup has a marmalade fruitiness in it ... really ... I am not kidding! It also has body and balance: a soft buttery mouthfeel, and acidity - flavors in very harmonious balance in the cup. In general, PNG estate/plantation coffees from the East seem out of charcater with the other Indonesians, and more in the vein of the clean cup, wet-processed Centrals. If I could nominate a country from this part of the world that deserves to be elevated by a Cup of Excellence event, PNG is truly the one! And this Kimel would fair quite well in such a competition I say.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City through Full City+, a very flexible coffee. This is coffee has fine, delicate fruit flavors that get obliterated in darker roasts. For an interesting experiment, try roasting one batch to a light City roast, another to a Full City+ (a few snaps into second crack) and then blend them together! It brings out interesting dimensions in the cup while keeping with the single-origin roasting tradition.
add 50 50 Compare to: Compares more to Central Americans more often than other Indonesians like Sumatra --Although Timor bears resemblence too.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Clean cup

Papua New Guinea -Arokara Estate AA
Country: Papua New Guinea Grade: AA Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Arokara Estate
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Arusha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

Notes: The sample from Arokara Estate impressed me again for the second year, and I picked it in a blind cupping lineup with some very good Java and Timor samples in the max.'s usual, I face the situation where we really don't need to offer multiple PNG coffees but I can't pass up something that is good, nomatter how little "business sense" it makes. I appreciate roasters and brokers that can put limits on their buys based on having a sensible "coffee menu" ... I have just found myself unable to do it when faced with a really nice cup. But the way we operate here is that I buy anything that is exceptionally good, and everything else is secondary; the sweet maria's "prime directive". Although I fear (with falling coffee prices paid to farmers) a quality dropoff in coming years, and some awful day when, following our credo, we stock 3 coffees because that is ALL that is good ... we're thankfully not there yet. Anyway, I halfheartedly roasted up Arokara samples and started cupping them way too soon, and in a backwards sort of way by brewing French Presses of it before doing the traditional cupping technique with a spoon. I had only allowed it to rest 2 hours(!) a bad thing to do to a PNG coffee and any others too. But the cup had body right off the bat, it wasn't sharp or bright but did have a medium-tone in the cup that you could sense while it was still hot, and in the aftertaste there was deep fruitiness. As the cup cooled the fruit emerged more; it is a baritone and balanced, lush plum and blackberry flavor. I cupped the samples the traditional way the next morning; same great results with more body. How could I pass this stuff up?

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: I roasted our cup samples the usual way: a City+ roast stopped near 2nd crack, but with no indication at all that it reached 2nd crack. That roast is ideal: it's a lower-toned PNG and doesn't have baked or other light-roast flavors. (of course, always make sure every roast has thoroughly completed 1st crack!)
add 50 50 Compare to: The body and deep fruit in this remind me less of other PNG (like the spicier Purosa) than of other origins. Tip: this makes a great "aromatic component" in espresso blends, something around 15-35% of the total blend.
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Balance

Papua New Guinea -Kinjibi Estate A
Country: New Guinea Grade: A Region: Waghi River Valley Mark: Kinjibi Estate  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: mid-late 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Typica, Arusha, Nova Mundo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a coffee grown on the 300 hectare Kinjibi Tribal Plantation, in nearby small plantations and local villagers "coffee gardens". The coffee grown on the plantations are of the typica (Blue Mountain typica cultivar from Jamaica), mundo novo, and arusha varieties. The village gardens range in size from 20 to 600 trees, exceptionally small compared to the size of farms in other producing nations. At a high altitude of 5500 to 5700 feet, the arabica coffee they grow is exceptional and of the typica (blue mountain) and arusha varieties. Kinjibi Plantation has its own processing mill which benefits quality in that the cherry doesn't have to travel great distances from the time it is picked to the beginning of the wet-processing; a very quality-critical part of the process that should occur within 12 hours. Kinjibi is imported by New Guinea Coffee Traders (http://www.newguineatraders.com/) into the US, a small family business focused on this one origin, and this one source, with the express goal of aiding indigenous coffee workers. We found the samples they sent to class right alongside the Eastern highland plantation coffee, with some interesting differences. I those have a more straightforward brightness in the cup, and the Kinjibi is more nuanced with spicey subtle flavors that emerge behind the dominant roast tastes. At these high growing altitudes, the brightness certainly is there, and provides an snap to the cup, the body is not overly heavy but very silky. Most of all, it's about a roast flavor in the cup that is very malty sweet, with floral subtleties afterwards. This coffee produces great cups throughout the City to Full City range, and a nice pungent cup at Vienna roast too.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: A flexible coffee: City to Full City to Vienna-see above. For an interesting cup, try roasting one batch to a light City roast, another to a Full City+ (a few snaps into second crack) and then blend them together! It brings out interesting dimensions in the cup while keeping with the single-origin roasting tradition.
add 50 50 Compare to: On par with our Eastern Highland Plantation coffees of PNG, but with perhaps more malty-sweetness.
Score (Max. 100) 85.3

Papua New Guinea Organic A
Country: Papua New Guinea Grade: A Region: Central Highlands Mark: OCIA Certified Organic
Processing: Wet Process Crop: 2003 Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Typica, Arusha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Organic coffees from Papua New Guinea are quite different from the Plantation coffees. They are more rustic (both in the preparation and in the cup), grown by local villagers in very small "coffee gardens" and pooled by farmer co-ops to sell in larger lots. The village gardens range in size from 20 to 600 trees, *exceptionally* small compared to the size of farms in other producing nations. This is one of my favorite organics from recent years, a balanced cup with spice, chocolate and pear in the mid-range of the palate. I wouldn't call it sweet, nor pungent: it strikes a great balance between these. It has a touch of wildness in the cup, characteristic of the more rustic organics ... but has much more polish and balance than I can remember in recent years. I would almost say this has the fruit character of a very very clean-tasting Harar cup, but is truly in the realm of wet-processed coffees, not the hidey strong dry-processed qualities. A warning: the preparation of the green coffee is not much to look at, but hey, we judge coffee in the cup ... not by "eye cupping" the green. (But I would pull out dark brownish seeds before roasting - you might find 5 of them in a pound. If we had the equipment to color-sort we would do this for you, but we don't). This is just a really neat cup with extremely distinct mid-range character. And it ends up with a finish that is very well fruited, and remarkably clean on the palate (with medium-chocolate flavors) long after the coffee is gone.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: A flexible coffee: City to Full City to Vienna-see above
add 50 50 Compare to: Organic PNG coffees are more rustic in the cup than the plantation coffees, and with interesting subtle earth and chocolate notes, and fruited character.
Score (Max. 100) 86

Papua New Guinea -Arokara Estate AA
Country: Papua New Guinea Grade: AA Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Arokara Estate
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2002-2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Arusha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: The sample from Arokara Estate showed up uninvited. Papua New Guinea is one of those under-unappreciated coffees: we don't go through that much of it during the year, even when it is an outstanding year. (And you'll recall we didn't have it for one season when it was an off year and the cup quality was low!) The smidgeon of business-sense I possess reminds me the last thing we need is to stock 3 Papua New Guineas. But the way we operate here is that I buy anything that is exceptionally good, and everything else is secondary; the sweet maria's "prime directive". Although I fear (with falling coffee prices paid to farmers) a quality dropoff in coming years, and some awful day when, following our credo, we stock 3 coffees because that is ALL that is good ... we're thankfully not there yet. Anyway, I half-heartedly roasted up Arokara samples and started cupping them way too soon, and in a backwards sort of way by brewing French Presses of it before doing the traditional cupping technique with a spoon. I had only allowed it to rest 2 hours(!) a bad thing to do to a PNG coffee and any others too. But the cup had body right off the bat, it wasn't sharp or bright but did have a medium-tone in the cup that you could sense while it was still hot, and in the afterstaste there was deep fruitiness. As the cup cooled the fruit really emerged; it is a baritone, lush plum and blackberry flavor. I cupped the samples the traditional way the next morining; same great results with more body. How could I pass this stuff up?
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: I roasted our cup samples the usual way: a City roast stopped near 2nd crack, but with no indication at all that it reached 2nd crack. That roast is ideal: it's a lower-toned PNG and doesn't have baked or other light-roast flavors. (of course, always make sure every roast has thoroughly completed 1st crack!)
add 50 50 Compare to: The body and deep fruit in this remind me less of other PNG (like the spicier Purosa) than of other origins. Some of this cup is like the Mesa De Los Santos, and if someone served it to me and said it was a blend of 70% neutral, clean, well-bodied Central and 15% Eth. Yirgacheffe, 15% of a blackberryish Kenya, I would believe them
Score (Max. 100) 86.3

Peru 

Peru Organic/Fair Trade WP Decaf
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Pangoa Mark: San Martin de Pangoa Coop, FT and Org certified
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: November 04 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Borbon, Pache
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Peru has an interesting cup character ... an brightness in the cup that is broad and sometimes blunt, interesting spicy notes, medium to lighter body. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad Peruvian coffee out there with green-grassy defects, and fermented taints. Being organic doesn't save it if the cup is bad! Luckily, Ive been able to fins some nice Peru coffees in the mid-crop harvest this year. The Chanchamayo lot we have came in excellent, and this Peru Pangoa decaf was a nice suprise. Decaf is always tricky - you can start with a good coffee and lose the character in the process. That didn't happen here. I think this is one of the best examples of a decaf cupping like its non-decaf counterpart - this really has true-blue Peruvian cup character. This comes from the San Martin de Pangoa cooperative that is located due east of Lima ... the coop has produced nice coffees over the years and has the right climate and altitude for excellent cup quality. Most impressive is the nice bright notes in the cup that define the "origin character" of the coffee. It comes from an altitude range of 1100 meters to 2000 meters, which explains the bright character. There's also a bit of cinnamon spiciness and clean fruit notes (apple) in the cup that are really nice. On top of that, this is the new non-chemical, water decaf process ...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / balance and subtlty
add 50 50 Roast: City- Full City. I like this Lighter, at a City roast, then rested 2 days. This preserves the brightness, and mild fruited notes, but it does hold up to a heavier roast quite well too.
Score (Max. 100) 84.5 Compare to: That distinct Peru flavor, balanced but bright, not that complex but very attractive overall!

Peru Organic/Fair Trade Chanchamayo
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Chanchamayo   Mark:
La Florida Co-op,
OCIA Organic Cert,
Fair Trade Cert.
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: November 2004 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3

Notes: Peru has rapidly become the leader in Organic coffee for South America, but a focus on volume isn't always a good thing! After all, are we who enjoy coffee interested that the cup in front of us came from a co-op that sells 20 containers a year at a lower price than, say Bolivia. Or do we want the cup in front of us to have the best cup quality possible? It is quality, not quantity, that is at the heart of Specialty Coffee, or else we would all opt for a cup of Folgers. So buying Peruvian coffees is a risk, and you have to cup a lot of samples that have serious cup defects before finding the truly special Specialty cups. This year the new crop lots have been mediocre. A lot were "rushed to market" and you can taste it in the cup; underdeveloped flavors with a "green" cast to them. I get green bell pepper in the cup with these early crop offerings. So I waited and this is what, eventually, I found that was really what a Peru should be. Once again, it is a Chanchamayo coffee from the La Florida co-op. Now, this co-op produces a lot of coffee and they send a lot to the US. The lots can vary, and they are not always good, so I don't want you to think that just because it is from a co-op we have had success with in the past that it is automatically good. What this Peru has, that many don't, is a sweet, bright, clean finish to the cup. When I taste that grassy or green pepper vegetable flavor in a Peru, I get depressed ... but not here- this cup is inspiring. It's what I call crowd-pleasing coffee, good "house coffee", not some sort of Gran Cru epiphany to write verses over ... but solid good coffee. It has spice hints and good acidity (not biting or sour, just moderate acidity to balance the cup). And, as I said, it finishes sweet and clean. You can do a lot with the roasting of a nice Peru: City to Full City+ or darker is fine - it definitely holds up to the dark roasts. So as they used to say at BK, have it your way ...

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Balance and brightness
add 50 50 Roast: City- Full City+. I like this Lighter, at a City roast, then rested 2 days. This preserves the brightness, and mild fruited notes, but it does hold up to a heavier roast quite well too. You can go dark, very dark, with this to good effect too.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Compare to: That distinct Peru flavor, balanced and bright; not that complex, but very attractive overall! A solid coffee, a crowd-pleaser.

Peru Organic/Fair Trade Ccochapampa
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Quillabamba, Cuzco Mark: Cert. Organic, Cert. Fair Trade
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Feb 2004
arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal:
80% Typica; 20% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Organic Peru ... you can get it anywhere. It is the cheapest certified Organic coffee on the market, it's the "blender" coffee of Organics, it's $4/Lb. roasted at Trader Joes. And it is threatening to lower prices for organic coffee farmers globally. The Peruvian coffee industry took note of the premium prices paid for Organic coffee, and realized they could produce Organic for less cost, focusing on quantity, not quality. They wanted to be to Organic coffee what Vietnam is to robusta. There are stories of forest being clear-cut for organic farm (it takes 3 years for an existing farm to become certified organic... not so with a "new" farm. I doubt the image of cutting forest to grow organic product is an image consumers have in mind ... then again, it's Organic and it's $4 per lb. roasted. Well, you get what you pay for. The problem is, the Peruvian organic coffee glut forces quality-oriented farmers within Peru and everywhere else too to accept lower prices for their crop in order to compete. And a farm that is trying to produce a truly excellent coffee in a conscientious way cannot compete with a larger quantity-oriented farm, whether its a co-op or not. Cup a Trader Joes organic Peru versus a high quality Organic Peru and the differences are profound: not only do the cheap ones have little to no positive qualities, they also have defective taints in the cup, grassy, fermenty notes in particular. These are the hallmarks of unripe coffee cherry (poor picking and separation of fruit) and poor wet-milling standards. Anyway, this particular lot 2099 was the hands-down winner among all the Perus this year, and among the other lots from this same co-op (COCLA). Ccochapampa is in the Cuzco region (south-central Peru): the co-op is located near the town of Quillabamba, on the Atlantic side of the mountains. The co-op has 150 small-holder farms, and the unusually-spelled Ccochapampa means "plain by the lake" in the Quechua language. That might be a bit misleading since the terrain is steep and the coffee is grown between 1600 and 2000 meters; quite high! The coffee area is adjacent the snow-covered peak known as Veronica, which feeds river Vilcanota that is fed year-round by snow-melt.This cup has a distinct, pleasantly sharp/bittersweet roast taste; very enjoyable. It almost reads like an acidity, it is so distinct. And perhaps it is a pairing of acidity and roast that forms such a specific and pronounced tang in a roasty flavor. But it is also a very distinct flavor that is hard to characterize besides sounding dumb and calling it "coffee taste!" It's not chocolatey bittersweet, it's not nutty roast flavor, although it has elements of both.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/tangy roast taste.
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+ (or darker) - this coffee is great at Vienna roast too.
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: A very true, clean Peru cup profile (meaning none of the off flavors of cheap Peru Organics). Less acidity than the Norte Peru -Perunor from this year.

Peru Organic Norte - "Perunor"
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Norte Mark:
Perunor Lot 5785
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: 10-2003 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3

Notes: Peru has rapidly become the leader in Organic coffee for South America, but a focus on volume isn't always a good thing! After all, are we who enjoy coffee interested that the cup in front of us came from a co-op that sells 20 containers a year at a lower price than, say Bolivia. Or do we want the cup in front of us to have the best cup quality possible? It is quality, not quantity, that is at the heart of Specialty Coffee, or else we would all opt for a cup of Folgers. So buying Peruvian coffees is a risk, and you have to cup a lot of samples that have serious cup defects before finding the truly special Specialty cups. This year has been especially tough. A lot of samples have had distinct grassy-green notes. The Chanchamayo coffees have not come in very well yet, nor the Cuzcos. But this Norte was really the winner, and exactly what I want in a Peru. Peruvian coffees can be a bit too rustic sometimes, yet it is a part of the "origin character" of this coffee. This Norte has an appropriate touch of that rustic quality, behind a very pleasant acidity (brightness) in the cup, and a clean finish. There's a bit of cinnamon and apple in the cup that is really nice, and that was the hook for me!

With every pound of this coffee you buy, we are donating .25 cents to Coffee Kids! So with 20 lbs, that's $5 that goes straight to Coffee Kids!

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: City- Full City. I like this Lighter, at a City roast, then rested 2 days. This preserves the brightness, and mild fruited notes, but it does hold up to a heavier roast quite well too.
add 50 50 Compare to: That distinct Peru flavor, balanced and bright; not that complex, but very attractive overall!
Score (Max. 100) 84.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Balance and brightness

Peru SHG Organic Chanchamayo-FT
Country:
Peru
Grade:
SHG
Region:
Chanchamayo
Mark:
La Florida Co-op, OCIA Organic Cert., Fair Trade Cert.
Processing:
Washed
Crop:
midcrop
2002-3
Appearance:
1d/300gr
16/17scr
Varietal:
Typica
 
Dry Frag./ Wet Aroma:
83/85
Notes: A complex coffee with a good punch to it too... Perus are very high grown and sometimes I feel the acidity is a bit too high and too removed from the rest of the flavor profile. The acidity can be a bit blunt in some lots. This was the case with something being sold last year as Andes Gold, whatever that means. The Chanchamayo samples last year were okay but this is much more powerful...so here it is, a year later and I have a good stockpile of Peruvian Chanchamayo (pronounced just as it reads). Good acidy component in darker blends too. I use this stuff "in-house" a lot. Really incredible price, and great character; if you like Centrals, try this for sure! Look for smokey flavors that are independent of roast.
Brightness- Liveliness:
85
Body- Movement:
82
Flavor- Depth:
85
Finish- Conclusion:
85
Roast: Full City, or dark in blends.
Score:
85.5
Compare to: Panama, Guatemalan, Costa Rican

Puerto Rico  

Puerto Rican Yauco Selecto AA
Country: Puerto Rico, U.S. Grade: AA Region: Yauco Mark: Hacienda
Santa Ana
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: late Feb '04 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 scr Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Yauco Selecto is the premium coffee from the small growing regions on the island. Production is limited and the last count I could find was 3500 bags per year …in the scheme of things its not much! Many other price factors bear on this coffee too: since it is produced in the US the price refelects what US consumers should probably be paying for all coffee, if origins enjoyed the protections that we grant our own. There is a long tradition of coffee from Puerto Rico that was destroyed by a combination of hurricane damage and market pressures. In Europe, PR coffees were considered the pinnacle, because they have unparalleled bidy for an island coffee, and ample flavor/complexity. The coffee is air-frieghted in small quantities to the US, so it is basically always fresh from the Yauco Selecto mill. To be frank, I didn't touch this coffee for several years because the cup was lackluster. A combination of weather factors and storm damage took its toll. But I was happy to find this cup from new crop sample to have the character I remember: first and foremost a creamy, buttery body with nutty tones. It is not a sweet coffee; it is softly bittersweet with a pleasant aromatic sweetness, lightly floral in the wet aroma with melon hints in the cup. It is pricey, but has the Jamaican "island cup profile", and in that repect it's half the price.  
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3 Roast: City to Full City. Please take note: I have noted that this coffee takes a little more roast time to reach a Full City roast than other coffees …take that into account, and considering the price I would set the roaster to a high number and manually stop the roast when you hear the first snap of second crack!
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Balance
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: Island coffee : has the mellowness of other island coffees, with more body and excellent soft, bittersweet flavors.

Puerto Rican Yauco Selecto AA - '02-03
Country: US; Puerto Rico Grade: AA Region: Yauco Mark: Hacienda Santa Ana
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2002-2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 scr Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3
Notes: Yauco Selecto is the premium coffee from the small growing regions on the island. Production is limited and the last count I could find was 3500 bags per year …in the scheme of things its not much! Many other price factors bear on this coffee too: since it is produced in the US the price refelects what US consumers should probably be paying for all coffee, if origins enjoyed the protections that we grant our own. There is a long tradition of coffee from Puerto Rico that was destroyed by a combination of hurricane damage and market pressures. In Europe, PR coffees were considered the pinnacle, because they have unparalleled bidy for an island coffee, and ample flavor/complexity. The coffee is air-frieghted in small quantities to the US, so it is basically always fresh from the Yauco Selecto mill. To be frank, I didn't touch this coffee for the last 2 years because the cup was lackluster. A combination of weather factors and storm damage took its toll. But I was happy to find this cup from new crop sample to have the character I remember: first and foremost a creamy, buttery body. It is not a sweet coffee; it is more bittersweet with a pleasant aromatic woodyness and some light spice in the aftertaste. It is pricey, but kicks most Jamaican in the rear, and in that repect its half the price.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3 Roast: City to Full City. Please take note: I have noted that this coffee takes a little more roast time to reach a Full City roast than other coffees …take that into account, and considering the price I would set the roaster to a high number and manually stop the roast when you hear the first snap of second crack!
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 85.0 Compare to: Island coffee with an attitude: has the mellowness of other island coffees, with more body and excellent bittersweet flavors

Central America: Costa Rica | Guatemala | Honduras | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | El Salvador
South America: Bolivia | Brazil | Colombia | Ecuador | Peru
Africa/Arabia: Burundi | Congo | Ethiopia | Kenya | Rwanda | Tanzania | Uganda | Zambia | Zimbabwe | Yemen
Indonesia/Asia: Bali | Flores | India | Java | Papua New Guinea | Sumatra | Sulawesi | Timor
Islands/Blends/Others: Australia | Hawaii | Puerto Rico | Jamaica | Dominican | Chicory | Sweet Maria's Blends
Decafs: Water Process, Natural Decafs, MC Decafs, C0-2 Decafs Robustas: India Archives: 2008-Current | 2007
2005-2006 | 2004 -2003 | 2001-2002 | Pre-2000
Tom's Sample Cupping Log | Moisture Content Readings

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