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Mexico 

Mexico Organic Nayarit Terruno
Country: Mexico Grade: Alturra Region: Nayarit Mark: Terruno
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: It's late in the season to be receiving a Mexican coffee shipment, but I was charmed by this sweet, simple, mild cup. It's from an area that is new to me, too. it is from the state of Nayarit, more specifically, west of the capital, Tepic. The 260 small-holder farms in this group are clustered around Cerro San Juan, an extinct volcano, so the soil type and altitude contribute to the cup quality. Nayarit is fairly low (the city of Tepic is 3000 feet) but the volcano immediately rises to 7000 feet, providing sloped terrain with good altitude, drainage and climate for the coffee. The lighter City roast of this coffee has a sweet, mild dry fragrance, and soft caramelly wet aroma. Take the roast a bit darker and, not surprisingly, you get dark caramelized sugar notes, with cocoa and a bit of pungent spice. The body of both the City and the Full City + roast was impressive to me, since Mexican coffee in general, and particularily northern ones, are not known for this. Flavors are (again with this word) mild, with a little burst of brightness and nutty tones, then cleanly disappearing. Darker roasts change the tonality of flavors, but not the overall effect: short, comressed flavor experience, but pleasant and mild. But why should mild be a bad word? And after weeks of having your senses overstimulated by crazy-fruited Ethiopias, brutishly earthy Sumatras, bright and prickly Kenyas, well ... here is the perfect antidote. Your palate just may thank you for the break ... for me, it's like pushing a reset button, a "zero degree" for what good mild Specialty coffee should taste like.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Snappy, crisp, simple cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City+ . Also, I blended a light City roast with an FC+ roast 50-50 and had a nice, multi-dimensional cup.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: Mild, clean, light-bodied coffees.

Mexico FTO Chiapas -Special Lot
Country: Mexico Grade: SHG Region: Chiapas Mark: UDEPOM Cooperative Special Lot, Fair Trade, Organic
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 90% Typica; 10% Caturra, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 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. UDEPOM is located in Motozintla, Chiapas, in the southern part of the state, and the 850 member/farmers are in Motozintla, Huixtla, Tuzantan, Escuintla, Siltepec and Amatenango districts in Chiapas. This coop was started in 1992 and actually has the incredibly long name of Union de Ejidos Profesor Otiliio Montano (which just doesn't fit on our labels, so now we are using Udepom. We did stock this same coffee for the past 3 years so if you have purchased a Chiapas, it would have been from the same cooperative!) Special Lot? Yes ... there was intensive damage from the hurricane season this year in Chiapas, with roads in the coffee areas wiped out, damage to trees, and even the loss of a village in a mud slide. All this affected the Udepom cooperative very directly. With the Special Lot we paid a premium above Fair Trade and Organic pricing to help with the rebuilding effort. We also received extra hand preparation of this lot, and it comes from the "heart of the harvest" when the highest altitude trees are picked. The result: well, fruity! The dry fragrance has an almost mango-like tropical fruit smell, with passion fruit and floral hints. Add the hot water and there is a distinct spice that emerges (Clove) with sweet dried fruit and vanilla. The aromatics and cup have a rustic quality, coffee pulp, and, oddly, remind me of Organic Papua New Guineas (that's a heck of a long way away)! The cup has that same coffee pulp fruit, with distict starfruit flavor too. There is green pear too, and a short bright nippiness to the cup with a finish equally as pronounced and short, with anise as a sort of bookend to the fruit flavors. That's an interesting Chiapas for you!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/Complex fruited aspects  
add 50 50 Roast: This lot takes a wide range of roasts: I get the most complex fruits at City+ to FC, but really enjoyed the roast flavors at a light Vienna roast too!
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Chiapas is similar to some Guatemalan coffees (heck, it's at the border with Huehuetenango), less so than Oaxaca or other Mexican producing regions.

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 2006 Arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17 -18 Screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 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. But this coffee (and especially the exceptional 2006 crop) is a real treat with a very light City roast treatment ... through 1st crack and stopped as soon as 1st crack conculdes. At this level of roast, the body is light and the sweetness, clarity and delicate floral notes of this cup are as good as it gets in a Mexican coffee. Comparisons with the best Kona typica are not at all undue. The dry fragrance is very sweet and floral, a theme throughout the cup. The aromatic adds an herbal hint that becomes rosemary/sage in the cup. Overall, it is a crisp, light-bodied, transparent, clear cup character. Roast it to FC+ and this descriptioon no longer applies, although it has a nice tangy roast pungency that develops.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / crisp, sweet, light-bodied cup
Add 50 50.0 Roast: My favorite: a City roast stopped just after 1st crack concludes. But this takes dark roasts quite well too
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Typical Oaxaca Pluma cup with light body, fine acidity, good chocolate roast tastes, Great espresso potential too.

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 -Udepom Co-op
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Chiapas, (Motozintla area) Mark: Udepom Coop, HG Grade
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late March 2005 Arrival Appearance: .5 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. UDEPOM is located in Motozintla, Chiapas, in the southern part of the state, and the 850 member/farmers are in Motozintla, Huixtla, Tuzantan, Escuintla, Siltepec and Amatenango districts in Chiapas. This coop was started in 1992 and actually has the incredibly long name of Unión de Ejidos Profesor Otiliio Montaño (which just doesn't fit on our labels, so now we are using Udepom. We did stock this same coffee for the past 2 years so if you have purchased a Chiapas, it would have been from the same cooperative!) The cup? Light body, mild, crisp, a bit nutty, with just a hint of a rustic aromatic woodiness in the cup. This is the character I look for in a good Chiapas - it is never going to be a Kenya! A really nice Chiapas is a great breakfast coffee, and provides relief from other "over the top" cups like Yemens and Harars and Kenyas with it's simple charm. This particular lot really beat all others hands down on the cupping table this year. The coffee is mild, like all Mexican coffees, and has a just a bit of a rustic note lingering in the finish. The body is fairly light, but I really enjoy the zingy, pointed high tone in the cup (especially at City to City+ roast). You can also go to the other end of the spectrum with this coffee to good effect: I really like the sharp, sweet pungency of the darker roast with this Chiapas.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Firm bright cup, sweet, light body. Sweetly pungent in the dark roasts.
add 50 50 Roast: This is versatile coffee ; I had very good roasts at City+ and pleasantly sharp carbony tones at Vienna roast.
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Compare to: Good mild Chiapas coffee from high altitude.

Mexican Oaxaca Pluma -Tres Oros
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Oaxaca Mark: Tres Oros (Mill Mark)
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: April 2005 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Oaxaca Plumas are getting harder to find … well, good ones are. The low prices paid to farmers just doesn't make it worthwhile to put care into the agronomy, milling, or preparation of coffee for shipment. Should we expect farmers to do all the extra work to hand-pick, pulp, ferment-wash, patio-dry, mill, hand-sort and bag our quality coffee just because of pride and tradition? The romance of coffee is nice, but it has its limits. Luckily, we work with importers who, while not offering all fair trade coffees, pay fair prices and have long-term relationships with growers and exporters. This ensures sustainable prices, premiums paid for quality coffee, and enough money to do it again next year and the year after, into the future. The Tres Oros is a brand, meaning not a specific farm but rather a family of farms in the Oaxaca highlands that are milled together, and that sell under this name. Many of these farms produce too little to sell their coffee separately. We cupped various lots and this one was really the best. The preparation on it lets an occasional odd bean through, but the overall appearance is really excellent, and most importantly it's clean and sweet in the cup, with vanilla, maple, caramel and hazelnut hints (depending on the roast treatment it gets). The body is light but it seems to intensify as the cup cools. It is very delicious as a mild-sweet straight espresso, aromatic and with a great aftertaste. For that I keep the roast towards the lighter espresso spectrum (N. Italian) by letting it go about 20 seconds in to 2nd crack. For brewed coffee I like this right at 2nd crack, though many use these coffees in blends as a dark roast component.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: My favorite for straight roast: stopped right at 2nd crack, without going more than a few snaps into it . But this takes dark roasts quite well.
Add 50 50 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) 83.8 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / balance, subtlety

Mexico Oaxaca Tres Oros WP Decaf
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Oaxaca Mark: Tres Oros
Processing: Wet Process Crop: February 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Along with the really good, small-farm coffees from Chiapas, Oaxacan coffees are my favorite. This coffee originates from the mountainous Mixteca area of Oaxaca, in the North and West of the state, with Huajuapan as the main market city in the area. And I actually was really excited when I cupped this coffee … even if a bid decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of coffees to evaluate. This was a real standout on the table, even if it had an exceptionally light body. It was the nuances in the cup that I rarely find in decafs, and especially a suggestion of orange-tangerine in the finish. The roast taste at a City+ roast is excellent; vanilla with a bit of almond nuttiness, and the brightness in the cup is there too, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Oaxaca. This also does quite well with a Full City + or light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
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) 84.5 Compare to: A bright Mexican Oaxaca cup profile

Misc. & Blends

African Highland WP Decaf (Blend)
Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda Grade: AA Auction Lots, A, Gr 2 washed Region: Sidamo, Mt. Kenya, Masaka Mark: Various
Processing: Wet- Process, then Water Process Decaf Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Typica, Kenya Cultivars, Rwanda Bourbons
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 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 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Great aromas and floral brightness, light body  
add 50 50 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 City+
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian decaf you will probably enjoy this too...

African Highland WP Decaf Blend
Country: Rwanda, Ethiopia Grades: AA Auction Lot, 2 Regions: Aberdare, Yirgacheffe Mark: Asst
Processing: Wet-processed, then decaf by Water Process Crop: Jan 2005 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 1.
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) 1 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) 86

Myanmar (Burma)  

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

Nicaragua 

Nicaragua FTO Lozahoren (Dipilto)
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Dipilto, Nueva Segovia Mark: Losahoren/Lozahoren, milled by Prodecoop Cooperative
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This lot of coffee was part of an effort to re-cup special, small lots that (for some unknown reason) were bounced out of a certain coffee competition. The Losahoran coffee Dipilto immediately jumped out at me on the cupping table, and when we flipped over the cards to reveal the farms/origins of the lots, I recognized this one. It was the No. 5 coffee in a previous year, and is from Pablo Vanegas in the Dipilto region of Nueva Segovia. I admit, based on the cup, and having judged Nicaragua this year, I was kinda shocked this coffee didn't make it, because I feel it might have done exceptionally well. But sometimes it just takes 1 bad bean in 1 cup in the prescreening, and a coffee is out. Anyway, the Dipilto coffees are receiving a lot of attention, and done extremely well in the competitions, because of their bright, snappy acidity that makes the cup quite lively, and delicate fruit notes. That is a perfect description for the Lozahoren lot I am cupping here ... in other words, this coffee has excellent origin character (you can call it "terroir", if you like). Here we have crisp, malty dry fragrance, with nut and toasted grain hints, transformed into a really unique wet aroma in the cup: sweet rye. Cup flavors are snappy, with that very delicate but persistent acidity giving the cup and effervescent sparkle. It has a definite floral character in that brightness; paperwhite lily. The body is fairly light, and peach tea tones underscore the sweet grains which, for me, suggests a really excellent, well-hopped brown beer character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/elegant, light-body, bright, nuanced  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is recommended; this is a mild cup and roast taste eclipses the floral and delicate aspects of it.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Dipilto is unique among Nicaraguan coffees - less body, less chocolate, more brightness, more sweetness.

Nicaragua Matagalpa - Pacamara Peaberry
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Mierisch Estates
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: late June 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen PB Varietal: Pacamara
(Pacas x Maragogype Cross)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Pacamara in itself is an oddity ... this large bean is grown on few farms since the requirements to process it, and tolerance for this low-yield cultivar are both rare. But here is something even stranger: Pacamara Peaberry. And beyond the shape of the seed, the coffee has a unique cup character from a standard Pacamara lot. Some background: Pacamara is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of the large bean Maragogype and Pacas, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a sponaneous variation of Typica. 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 and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara 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 Pacamara. Pacamara 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 unique Peaberry lot has cup qualities that are brighter, more dynamic, and unusual than the flat bean Pacamara lot from which it is derived. Mierisch family farms has Pacamara chiefly on the Limonocillo farm in Matagalpa, and they grow enough to save the very small percent of Peaberry just for us. In fact, there is a floral note that reminds me of the longberry Ethiopia-derived Gesha coffees from Panama, not in the citric aspects of the Gesha, but in exotic secondary flavors. It harkens to the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe floral dimension; I feel I could fake this cup profile by blending a really good Central with a Yirgacheffe or wet-process Sidamo. But why do that when you can get the same cup from a pure, single-farm cultivar! The aromatics are pronounced; sweet, syrupy and a touch herby. The cup flavors have an unusual sweetness to them, floral at first and then sage, cola (and a bit of smokiness). It's not one of those simple, sweet clean Centrals, and it isn't one of those weird earthy Indonesians, but this coffee has a different kind of funky cup character ... but somehow it works and the flavors knit together quite well. Roasting, as with other Pacamara and Maragogype coffees, should be attended to carefully since the large bean will not move in the roaster the way other coffees do.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Unusual cup flavors and aftertaste

add 50 50 Roast: I like the City roast the most - very dynamic cup flavors. But even the light Vienna roast had plenty of "origin character" as did the 2 FC roasts I did.
Score (Max. 100) 87.7 Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general due to this unique cultivar. This is a unique lot, with exceptional cup character.

Nicaragua Limoncillo Estate Var. Java
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Limoncillo Estate
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Traditional Java Seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This is an exotic selection: grown in Nicaragua, pure old-type Java cultivar. How did this come to be? The story is a bit piecemeal, but here is how it goes. There was a private coffee research laboratory that had experimental gardens, including a selection of traditional Ethiopian and Indonesian cultivars. During the unstable political years in Nicaragua, it went out of business. A coffee farmer who happened to know the main researcher there was aware they were working with old heirloom seed stock, but did not have access to the seeds ... well, until the place shut down. Then somebody surprisingly showed up at their door with 20 Lbs of prepared coffee seed, no questions asked, marked "Variedad Java". What a risk! Planting an unknown seed stock without knowing the full results of the lab testing. But that's exactly what happened, and the results are quite extraordinary and, as I mentioned before "exotic". Why? The cup character is unlike any other Nicaragua coffee I know of, especially in the light roast when you get a complete representation of the "origin flavor" of this coffee, unmasked by roast. You will notice immediately the unusual seed shape: a longbean form with tapered ends, almost like a football (uh, US football). This is actually unlike modern Java offerings that are hybrids, and more like old Java seed stock originating in Kaffa, Ethiopia, and traveling a circuitous route via Holland to the "East Indies" in the hands of the Dutch. And you may know, it was the Dutch that planted all that coffee in Java! Now to the cup: The dry fragrance is sweet, and has an undecideable fruit suggestion in it, as does the wet aroma. When I break the crust in the cupping process, a distinct green tea note comes forth, as well as green fruits and starfruit. In the cup, the dominant flavor is lime! But what a unique citric zest, because it is not directly tied to the acidity in the coffee: this Java is not that acidic. It is, plain and simple, a lime cup flavor. The body in the cup is very light, and it might seem a bit unbalanced at the light City to City+ range where all these flavors are at their peak. I experimented with darker roasts (Vienna) and felt the roast taste became carbony, while the special fruited flavors were completely masked. FC roasts were nice, but I still feel that the light-bodied-but-fruited City roast was my favorite.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / at darker roasts - complexity, body, ripe fruit and chocolate, at lighter roastslight caramel, floral and lime.
add 50 50 Roast: I like Full City+, for brewed and press coffee, and a bit darker too (Light Vienna, about 15 seconds into 2nd crack). The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright. At a City + roast, light body, light caramel, floral, starfruit aromas with lime and mint cup flavors.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Distinct from typical Nicaraguan coffees

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence #17 - San Antonio
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Telpaneca, Madriz Mark: Cup of Excellence #17, San Antonio Farm
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: This lot was one of my favorites when I was at the 2006 Cup of Excellence competition in Granada, Nicaragua this year. It wasn't a coffee that conked you over the head, and I was afraid that other judges wouldn't take note of it's unique, sweet character. The owner is a young woman, Ofelia Vasquez Funes, who inhereted the small farm (just 10 hecatres) from her father. It was her first time entering the CoE competition, and so getting into the auction is a great result. The farm is located at 1250 meters, 17 km from her hometown of Telpaneca in the department of Madriz. For me, Madriz has some fantastic coffees and is another overlooked producing region. The dry grounds have a strong anise aromatic, and like the neighboring Nueva Segovia coffees is sweet with slight fruit hints (berry). The cup has a soft milk chocolate bittersweet (City+ roast) and that clean sweet herbal note, between anise and sassafras, lingers ... very nice! The body here is thicker than other coffees from the region, and gives the cup a rounded mouthfeel. In the finish there is a thyme note, but anise prevails in the long aftertaste - basically this is a bouquet of fresh, sweet herbs, with a bittersweet tone.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/mild chocolate and sweet herbs-spices  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is recommended; darker roasts have a nice tangy bittersweet chocolate but suffer some loss in nuance and complexity.
Score (Max. 100) 87.8 Compare to: Madriz region coffees have a sweet character with soft chocolate notes

Nicaragua Prodecoop Dipilto
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHB Region: Dipilto Mark: Prodecoop Cooperative
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: June 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unsure.
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Proodecoop is a dry mill in the Esteli region of Nicaragua that helps groups of small farms and farm-cooperatives to market their coffee. It also has been the source for some of the finest cooperative, small lot coffees in Nicaragua and the winner of many top spots in Cup of Excellence. This lot doesn't have that pedigree; it is a pooled lot from the Dipilto region. Oftentimes at the mill there are farms and coops so hopelessly small that their coffee cannot possibly be sold distinctly. Prodecoop buys the coffee, and combines it with others from the same region to form a cup character that tipifies the origin characteristics. This is not simply blended coffee; it is Dipilto regional coffees and has flavors that tipify excellent coffees from this area. The dry fragrance of this coffee hints at the sweetness and delicte floral aspects in the cup. There's caramel and a berry note in there. In the wet aromatics the sweetness is distinctly honeyed and has a sweet floral aspect. The cup has a very fine acidity, fresh cherry brightness, mild citrus hints, and an fresh cedar suggestion in the finish. More than individual flavor aspects, its a very elegant, well-defined cup. Coffees from Dipilto are very distinct from other Nicaraguas in this way; brighter, juicier, lighter bodied.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/elegant, sweet cup with floral notes.  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is recommended; this is a mild cup and roast taste eclipses the floral and delicate aspects of it.
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Dipilto is unique among Nicaraguan coffees - less body, less chocolate, more brightness, more sweetness.

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence #3 - El Cipres
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Dipilto Mark: Cup of Excellence, #3 El Cipres Farm
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: This small farm has been a Cup of Excellence auction coffee in the past, so this year's #3 ranking was not a surprise. But for me, a farm that has repeated CoE success proves that their quality is no fluke. At CoE, this coffee received the Presidential award, scoring over 90 points (my scoring system here is a bit tougher, especially for refined, delicate coffees). The owner is Domingo Herrera Ruiz, and the farm is in Dipilto, Nueva Segovia. If you can tell by our offering list, and if you do a little CoE research, you will notice that Dipilto is a name you see often. El Cipres is an 1100 meter farm (medium-high altitude for Nicaragua) that grows the respecable Caturra cultivar, and uses only sun-dry patio processing This coffee has a very sweet dry fragrance, mild butterscotch, honey. There suggestions of sweet herbs (basil, fennel) and red grape and (in the wet aroma) green apple. The roast I enjoyed most here was City (just through 1st crack, and stopped) where the fresh fruit notes were at their zenith. Besides the grape that was suggested in the aroma, there is also berry (strawberry in one brewing, more raspberry in the next.) This interesting sweet basil hint remains in the background, and overall it is a crisp, clean cup. The brightness intensifies as the cup cools, giving it a more hefty overall impression than the more mild character of the cup when it is hot. In the aftertaste there is a cedar note, and the cup ends with bittersweetness (not chocolate though, at least at City roast) as the lingering flavor. Cups like this make me wonder why Dipilto and Nueva Segova coffees don't have the reputation of better Guatemala coffees; they certainly are as refined, as sweet, and as complex, and deserve more consideration than they currently get.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / a refined and nuanced cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City roast - darker roasts than this have a good tangy chocolate roast taste, also pleasant.
Score (Max. 100) 88.8 Compare to: Dipilto character here, as expected, refined, nuanced, approachable coffee.

Nicaragua Matagalpa -Placeras Estate Miel
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Las Placeras Estate
Processing: Pulp Natural (Brazil Style) Process Crop: May 2006 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Placeras Estate is located in Matagalpa, and is not exceptionally high altitude ... but it is a true estate with a complete mill on site. What this means is they are able to experiment in processing using new techniques, and the pulped natural Brazil method is a perfect match for the lower-acid Placeras cup profile. . "Miel" (meaning honey) is rare (and risky) in Central America. When it was good, this coffee had great body, a husky sweet "wild-honey" cup with moderate acidity. It is great as a brewed/press coffee, it is great as straight espresso (if the brightness/acidity in the cup can be moderated by roasting technique), it is great in espresso blends, especially with top quality Brazils. To do this method, you pulp the skin off the coffee cherry, and without removing the fruity mucilage layer, sun-dry the remaining seed on raised beds, called air drying or African beds in other places. The long contact the fruit has with the parchment layer changes the character of the green coffee inside the parchment, and has this unique effect on the cup. The result is a very balanced cup with great body. The dry fragrance has cedary-sweet character, and this turns into a wonderful beeswax quality in the wet aromatics. Cup flavors are served up against a background of a medium thick body, with a rustic hint in the sweetness (a la Brazil): lightly malted barley, sweet hay, maltose, raw honey. I really enjoy this moderately floral, herbal, minty aftertaste.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Malty, honeyed, low acid, balanced
add 50 50 Roast: I like City + for brewed, and Full City+ works too and a bit darker too (Light Vienna, about 15 seconds into 2nd crack). Okay - you get it, this coffee works on several levels, and at different roasts. The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Distinct from typical Nicaraguan coffees: similar to Pulped Natural Brazil coffees. This is a unique coffee for single origin espresso or for an espresso blend component.

Nicaragua Matagalpa WP Decaf
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Placeras Estate
Processing: Wet Process, then WP Decaf Crop: Dec 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: Typica, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.5 Notes: This lot of coffee is from the Placeras estate in Matagalpa. It is the same group of farms where our Mama Mina comes from, as well as the Matagalpa Maragogype. So we originate with a good, verified specialty coffee here, and it is sent off to the water process plant in Mexico. (See links in the header to explain the differences and similarities in processes). You can send great coffee for decaffeination, and it comes back terrible, and the reverse rarely happens (to my knowledge). What you hope for is a coffee with 80% of the original character ... and we have definitely achieved it here. This cups like a good, solid specialty coffee from Nicaragua, and what really impressed me most was the body. It has an almost silky body at Full City roast level. The fragrance and aroma are nutty, with fruit hints.. I get a pleasant woody note in the cup flavors, and the finish has a kinda oaky quality. But body/mouthfeel is the defining quality with this cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Good body  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City+ - best body is attained at FC roast.
Score (Max. 100) 83.6 Compare to: Good Nicaragua character for a decaf, with nice body.

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence -La Esperanza
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Madriz, El Ojoche, San Juan de Rio Coco Mark: Cup of Excellence, La Esperanza Estate, José Armando Zeledón Centeno
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: September 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Pacas
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: La Esperanza won the #8 position in the 2005 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition - consider that the competitions start with 600-800 farms entering, and getting anywhere in the top 30 is remarkable! The final International Jury score was 88.0, and I was just a shade below that at 87.6. But, decorated as this coffee may be, for me it is just a really, really nice Nicarguan coffee with the right cup profile for the origin. The farm is located at 1300 meters and is Bourbon and Pacas cultivar. (La Esperanza means "The Hope", a name that, I suppose, would be appropriate for every small farm). Bourbon is the traditional cultivar that you don't see much in Nicaragua anymore, and Pacas is a natural hybrid dating from the '50s that is Bourbon-based. The altitude, cultivar and origin really speak directly in the cup character here. It's a very well-structured cup, not overly sweet, not fruity ... a lean, angular flavor profile. The acidity is more pronounced than you will find in the vast majority of Nicaraguan coffees. There are hints of cedar in both the fragrance and the cup flavors, with a crisp brightness in the initial sip (or slurp, as the case may be in cupping). Bittersweet chocolate and nuts follow through from start to finish, and an almost piney note lingers. If I say this coffee is "brothy, beefy" will anyone try it out? I hope so, because this savory, brothy quality is something I find as a very positive attribute in great Nicaraguan coffees. It just doesn't sound like something people want to find in their coffee! But that's just something I am reminded of here, and I think mostly a brisk cup profile, chocolate, nuts, and cedary notes are what dominate here.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Well-structured, bright, nuts and chocolate
 
add 50 50 Roast: City: Full City/ Full City+. Takes a wide range and is a dense coffee that can take darker roast treatment too.
Score (Max. 100) 87.6 Compare to: A neo typical Nicaragua cup profile that is angular and well-built

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence -La Pinauete
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Nueva Segovia: Las Manos, Dipilto Mark: Cup of Excellence, La Pinauete Farm
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: September 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Here is the other lot we had to get in the 2005 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition, La Pinauete. (Pinauete is basically a local term for a type of small pine found at high altitude). It is a different coffee from La Esperanza, and from a very different region. Mild, sweet, rounded body, silky, cleanly disappearing - this is a seductive cup with a very classic Central American cup profile. Now, it is not going to electrify your socks and light fire to your senses. It will, I hope, grow on you though. This is from a very small 7 Hectare farm in the sub-region which has produced most of the top-placed competition coffees in the last years: the Dipilto area of Nueva Segovia. And it has that Dipilto cup quality. Here are some of the comments from the CoE jury: "sweet, clean bright acidity, rich body, velvet mouthfeel, deep flavor, caramel syrup, long finish, beautiful aroma, winy, clean, uniform, sweet honey, great body, delicate, mellow floral note, mandarin orange, passion fruit, round balanced acidity, sweet, vanilla blossom aroma, exceptionally sweet, bright, lively, Asian pears, creamy, chocolate, orange, crisp melon, concord grape, slight sage, black currant, blueberry, blackberry." Okay, some of that is far too effusive for me, and the fruit notes in this cup are very subtle. But it gives you an idea of what a bunch of coffee people think of this cup, when each offers a word or two. For me, the cup has a very charming, sweet, milk chocolate fragrance to it, and the wet aromatics are sweetly nutty, with a subtle oaky hint (I differ from our esteemed panel here). The cup flavors are sweet, mildly hazelnut, balanced, and there is a very subtle strawberry suggestion to the cup, for me. The mouthfeel is rounded. It's just a nice, mild, friendly cup of coffee ...that's all.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Sweet and mild
 
add 50 50 Roast: City to City+ is ideal for this coffee.
Score (Max. 100) 87.8 Compare to: An excellent, mild cup profile that typifies the Dipilto region.

Nicaragua Matagalpa Maragogype
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Matagalpa Region, Mierisch Estates
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ 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. 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. And to that end, this is a very unusual and unique cup. The aromatics are more floral than Nicaraguan coffees, with citric highlights. As mentioned, the body is light, and there are herbal suggestions to the cup, green tea, lime, pepper. It is reminiscent of a wet-processed Ethiopian coffee, or the funky cousin of one, at least.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / light body, unusual cup flavor5s and aftertaste
add 50 50 Roast: I like the Full City roast, but expect the coffee to appear a bit patchy and variegated in color … it doesn't develop a smooth surface in terms of color or texture until it gets to a fairly dark roast level. Ignore appearance, keep it lighter!
Score (Max. 100) 85.3 Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general due to this unique cultivar.

Nicaragua - Mama Mina Estate
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Mama Mina Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen Varietal: 75% Caturra,
25 % Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Mama Mina is a small farm that is a true estate, having a miniature milling operation to process all the coffee on site. It is owned by the Mierisch family, named after their maternal matriarch, grandmother Mina McEwan. The farm has 75% Caturra and 25 % Catuai seedstock. All the coffee is sun dried to 11% moisture content before it ships and rested in parchment until stable. Since Erwin Mierisch actually runs the Cup Of Excellence program for Nicaragua, the family knows about quality coffee preparation (unfortunately, since he works for CoE they cannot submit their coffees to the competition). The farm ranges from 1260 - 1350 meters, which makes it one of the higher elevation estate coffees in Matagalpa. I have cupped this coffee for the past several seasons and. while it's always good, it never really came together in the cup for me. This year is different. The coffee is solid, well-built, with a really good bright end, strong cup flavors and a sweetening and long aftertaste. It's classic Matagalpa in the cup: bittersweet tang, bright accents, aromatic woodiness, black walnut, and herbal flavors of sage and rosemary that linger through the finish. All this is enveloped in a generous mouthfeel, making for a very balanced cup overall.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Good body, brightness and complex cup flavors.
add 50 50 Roast: I cupped it at City+ roast and a bit darker, prefering the lighter roast. Not to be obtuse, but the lighter roast cups like a slightly darker roast taste, so I suggest giving City+ a try before taking it to the darker roast levels, or into the 2nd crack (which is quite good but some of the subtlety is lost.
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: Classic Matagalpa flavor profile.

Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Gesha
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La esmeralda Estate, Jaramillo Plot , Gesha Cultivar
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: October 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: Gesha Cultivar (longberry, Ethiopia-related), also (incorrectly) spelled Geisha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.5

11/1/06: We first bought this coffee this year through the Best of Panama competition as noted below- and since then future pickings have become available. When we got word that 10 bags were available from the tail end of the crop, we jumped at the chance to buy them. The coffee came air freight to SFO, so coffee that was at the mill two weeks ago now is in our warehouse - which is pretty cool. We have a limited stock of this coffee - so there is a 1 lb limit per order. Notes: It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Gesha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. You remember Gesha, it was the cultivar responsible for the $25/lb La Esmeralda Jaramillo we offered in 2004. This year we paid a mere $50.25 for it per lb in the Best of Panama Coffee Auction, as part of our buying group the Small Axe Coffee Alliance (I prefer "Small Acts" myself). Anyway It won the Panama competition again in 2005 and 2006. It is what I refer to as an Exotic: Ethiopian coffee grown in Panama, and not your traditional Panama cup profile. Nonetheless, judges ask themselves"Is this good?" and (as a judge at BOP this year) my answer was YES! Another funny judging issue; The Esmeralda Gesha makes blind cupping almost senseless, since I can identify its amazing fragrance, aroma and cup flavors immediately when I come upon it in a "blind" cupping! It is that dry fragrance that lets you know right away what is coming when the water hits the cup: incredible sweet floral, citrus blossom, sweet honey perfume atomized into the air. This is our "regular" lot of Gesha from the Jaramillo plot, and I am the first to admit that it is a bit tamer than the 120 Lbs of Gesha from the competition. But the emphasis is on "a LITTLE bit" because this lot still would have blown the doors off the other coffees at the cupping table. It also won't set you back $50 or $60 bucks. We are basically part of a small buying group for this coffee, with a much bigger company (Peets) having rights to the bulk of it. We asked for double the amount we were allotted, but nomatter, there simply isn't enough for even the priveledged buyers given a chance at the coffee. That's why I think it's kind of neat Sweet Maria's can spread this around a bit, allow many people who truly are the most motivated coffee enthusiasts (home roasters) experience the Gesha cultivar. Yes, in terms of intensity, fruited and floral aspects, wet-processed Ethiopians and Kenyas are more in league with Gesha than any other coffee. But it is difficult to price this sort of cup character, and when it is as exotic ...no, extraterrestial ... as The Esmeralda Gesha, it is even more hard to quantify. The dry fragrance is intensely floral, jasmine and sweetly herbal. When it hits the burrs of your grinder, you know right away this is an extraordinary coffee. Citrus, jasmine flowers, cherry, passion fruit, and mango; these are some of the flavors that come to mind as they essentially leap out at you. It's very much an herbal-floral infusion and I think those who eschew coffee in favor of such teas might do a double-take. There are tea-like, Earl Grey, zesty notes I get sometimes too. A basket of fruit, a bouquet of flowers; no description seems too sappy, sentimental or ridiculous for a coffee that is so obviously unique.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers  
add 50 50 Roast: Pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City+, or a Full City, without letting it hit 2nd crack at all. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color - don't worry about it. Just grind, brew and enjoy!
Score (Max. 100) 91.8 Compare to: Not your typical Central coffee - more like a Yirgacheffe on steroids: bright, citrusy, light body, unique.

Panama WP Decaf - Panamaria
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Panamaria, WP Decaf
Processing: Wet-processed, Water-process decaf Crop: July 2006 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Red Catuai, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 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 preparation of several farms in Boquete 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.The fragrance and aroma have both citrus and floral elements. The cup has a light body, and great zesty brightness. Lemon and jasmine blossom come through. The aftertaste is crisp and brief, which suits this bright, refreshing cup character quite well.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Bright, crisp  
add 50 50 Roast: City + is ideal to keep in the strong suit of this cup profile: crisp and bright.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: Floral and citric Central with light body.

Panama Boquete - Maunier Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB, Strictly Hard Bean Region: Boquete Mark: Maunier Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Oct 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Maunier Estate is a small farm with a long history, going back to the original Europeans who came to Boquete in the mountains of Panama to cultivate coffee, It is now owned by the Ruiz family, and processed at their mill. The farm ranges from 4,750 to 5,100 feet (1,450 to 1,550 meters). It has placed well int he annual Best of Panama competition for years, but has never reached the top spots. I think the reason is that Maunier has a milder acidity than other Boquete coffees, and perhaps the winey character is a bit out-of-character in the minds of some judges. For me, these two qualities, low acidity and winyness, define the unique personality of this coffee, and speaks to the special soil and climate at the farm that imbue the cup with these attributes. The dry fragrance has soft milk chocolate tonality with hazelnut (in the lighter roast), and more aggressive dark chocolate at FC or FC+ roast. Add hot water and the wet aroma reveals a fruited note, a bit winey, but with berry and currant suggestions, as well as nut and chocolate. The cup flavors are (again) fruited and winey. I get currant (red currant initially), raisin, and a very mild sweetness in the finish that offsets the winyness and gives the cup some finesse. Mild milk chocolate is present in light and dark roasts, but I like th almond oil/ hazelnut in the City roast. But Full City seems to be the best spot for maximum complexity: just at the verge of 2nd crack without entering it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild (City roast) to Medium (FC roast) intensity / Winey fruit, mild chocolate and nuts, moderate acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: City roast has more nuttiness, FC has more chocolate, but both will reveal winey fruited notes, red currant in the light stages, becoming raisin and dark berry at FC.
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: Unique among Boquete coffees for it's wine and fruit, as well as lower acidity than other farms in the area

Panama Organic Los Lajones
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Los Lajones Estate, Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Los Lajones is one of the few certified Organic coffees from the Boquete region, not that the so-called conventional coffees from the area are produced using many (if any) agrichemicals. In fact, besides soil ammendments, nitrogen, etc, there is little need to treat coffee grown at the right altitudes (a lot of pest problems like the Broca boring insect are found in Panama only with low-grown coffees. Anyway, it's got the certificate, and thats worth a comment. The real reason I snapped up this coffee was the cup character. You can't get much pleasure brewing up an Organic certificate, but this coffee is a delight! The lighter roasts have a very sweet cup, most notably marked by a ripe orange character. This coffee is not as acidic as the Lerida Peaberry, nor as bright as the Carmen Estate 1800+ meters. But it has a really refined clean citrus character, and the roast taste is very caramelly. The darker roasts (FC to FC+) have a strong anise liquor character that is pleasant, but usurps the other cup flavors too much to my liking. So I am going to (once again) recommend keeping this roast light; just through first crack (C), watch bean development a short time (C+), then stop the roast well before any immanent 2nd crack.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, crisp Central character  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most of the aspects of this cup which make it so special. I thought my FC roasts of this coffee were too "roasty" and didn’t have the sparkle of the C to C+ cup.
Score (Max. 100) 86.6 Compare to: Classic bright Central, but not overly acidic (sourish)

Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Gesha
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La esmeralda Estate, Jaramillo Plot , Gesha Cultivar
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: Gesha Cultivar (longberry, Ethiopia-related), also (incorrectly) spelled Geisha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.5

Notes: It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Gesha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. You remember Gesha, it was the cultivar responsible for the $25/lb La Esmeralda Jaramillo we offered in 2004. This year we paid a mere $50.25 for it per lb in the Best of Panama Coffee Auction, as part of our buying group the Small Axe Coffee Alliance (I prefer "Small Acts" myself). Anyway It won the Panama competition again in 2005 and 2006. It is what I refer to as an Exotic: Ethiopian coffee grown in Panama, and not your traditional Panama cup profile. Nonetheless, judges ask themselves"Is this good?" and (as a judge at BOP this year) my answer was YES! Another funny judging issue; The Esmeralda Gesha makes blind cupping almost senseless, since I can identify its amazing fragrance, aroma and cup flavors immediately when I come upon it in a "blind" cupping! It is that dry fragrance that lets you know right away what is coming when the water hits the cup: incredible sweet floral, citrus blossom, sweet honey perfume atomized into the air. This is our "regular" lot of Gesha from the Jaramillo plot, and I am the first to admit that it is a bit tamer than the 120 Lbs of Gesha from the competition. But the emphasis is on "a LITTLE bit" because this lot still would have blown the doors off the other coffees at the cupping table. It also won't set you back $50 or $60 bucks. We are basically part of a small buying group for this coffee, with a much bigger company (Peets) having rights to the bulk of it. We asked for double the amount we were allotted, but nomatter, there simply isn't enough for even the priveledged buyers given a chance at the coffee. That's why I think it's kind of neat Sweet Maria's can spread this around a bit, allow many people who truly are the most motivated coffee enthusiasts (home roasters) experience the Gesha cultivar. Yes, in terms of intensity, fruited and floral aspects, wet-processed Ethiopians and Kenyas are more in league with Gesha than any other coffee. But it is difficult to price this sort of cup character, and when it is as exotic ...no, extraterrestial ... as The Esmeralda Gesha, it is even more hard to quantify. The dry fragrance is intensely floral, jasmine and sweetly herbal. When it hits the burrs of your grinder, you know right away this is an extraordinary coffee. Citrus, jasmine flowers, cherry, passion fruit, and mango; these are some of the flavors that come to mind as they essentially leap out at you. It's very much an herbal-floral infusion and I think those who eschew coffee in favor of such teas might do a double-take. There are tea-like, Earl Grey, zesty notes I get sometimes too. A basket of fruit, a bouquet of flowers; no description seems too sappy, sentimental or ridiculous for a coffee that is so obviously unique.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers  
add 50 50 Roast: Pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City+, or a Full City, without letting it hit 2nd crack at all. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color - don't worry about it. Just grind, brew and enjoy!
Score (Max. 100) 91.8 Compare to: Not your typical Central coffee - more like a Yirgacheffe on steroids. Limit 2 Lbs folks, we want it to reach as many people as possible. Ordering more than 2 Lbs will just delay shipping your order while we correct it/contact you!

Panama Boquete Lerida Estate Peaberry
Country: Panama Grade: SHB, Peaberry Region: Boquete Mark: Lerida Estate 2006 Crop
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: July 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai Rojo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Lerida Estate is synonymous with Boquete, and with fine Panama coffee. The farm is owned by the Collins family, as it has been since the beginning. And these people are serious about coffee and about Lerida. Compliment John Collins that his Lerida is the archetypal Boquete cup profile (bright, clean, nuanced, sweet) and he will look at you with disdain. "Lerida is NOT a Boquete coffee: Lerida is LERIDA." What does that mean (besides the fact that a certain somebody needs to spend a little more time among human beings rather than coffee trees). I don't know what it means really; I guess Lerida is incomparable. And I agree, it is more than a benchmark for Boquete, but with the auctio-winning Lerida lots we bought 5-7 years ago I learned what truly great Central coffee was about. And here it is again: Lerida at it's best. The dry fragrance has clear floral and citric character, as well as a malt-like sweetness verging on caramel. This sweet character, with hints of hop flowers and jasmine comes through in the aroma, and cup flavors too. What a nice, crisp, lively, floral and fruited cup. This is the the definition of fine, clean Boquete coffee! Well-defined lemon essence lingers above an unobtrusive caramel sweetness, and right through the aftertaste. Refined but in no way uninteresting, citrus blossom aftertaste lingers, making me wonder who sent the bouquet of flowers and hid them somewhere in my cupping room?!?
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 10
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / delicate but persistent citrus and floral elements  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most citrus and floral aspects of this cup, which is, after all, what makes it so special.
Score (Max. 100) 89.5 Compare to: Classic bright Central with an extremely refined (but not boring) character.

The 2006 Best of Panama Green Coffee Set- Limit One set per Customer

Panama Auction Lot 1st Place -Esmeralda Gesha
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La Esmeralda Estate, 2006 Best of Panama Lot
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: June 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: Gesha Cultivar (longberry, Ethiopia-related)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 5 Notes:It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Gesha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. You remember Geisha, it was the cultivar responsible for the $25/lb La Esmeralda Jaramillo we offered in 2004. This year we paid a mere $50.25 for it per lb in the Best of Panama Coffee Auction, as part of our buying group the Small Axe Coffee Alliance (I prefer "Small Acts" myself). Anyway It won the Panama competition again in 2005 and 2006. It is what I refer to as an Exotic: Ethiopian coffee grown in Panama, and not your traditional Panama cup profile. Nonetheless, judges ask themselves"Is this good?" and (as a judge at BOP this year) my answer was YES! Another funny judging issue; The Esmeralda Gesha makes blind cupping almost senseless, since I can identify its amazing fragrance, aroma and cup flavors immediately when I come upon it in a "blind" cupping! It is that dry fragrance that lets you know right away what is coming when the water hits the cup: incredible sweet floral, citrus blossom, sweet honey perfume atomized into the air. It's unreal, it is exotic. When I break the crust with my cupping spoon, there is a rush of jasmine into every part of my olfactory. I get lemon peel, jasmine flowers, tart fresh cherry, passion fruit, and some mango in the finish. It's very much an herbal-floral infusion and I think those who eschew coffee in favor of such teas might do a double-take. There are tea-like, Earl Grey, zesty notes I get sometimes too. The list of descriptors is potentially endless! This is extraordinary stuff.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 4 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers This Coffee is sold only in the 2006 Best Of Panama Set - See Below.
add 50 50 Roast: Pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City+, or a Full City, without letting it hit 2nd crack at all. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color - don't worry about it. Just grind, brew and enjoy!
Score (Max. 100) 95.9 Compare to: Not your typical Central coffee - more like a Yirgacheffe on steroids.
This Coffee is sold only in the 2006 Best Of Panama Set - See Below.
Panama Auction Lot 2nd Place - Bambito Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Bambito Area Mark: Bambito Estate, 2006 Best of Panama Lot
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: June 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Bambito Estate is like a coffee garden fallen from heaven and plunked down in the highlands of Panamas coffee growing region. It is near the well-known Bambito hotel (no relation, the area is called Bambito) on the way from Volcan Panama to Cerro Punto. It has been in the family of Rafael Amar G for a few years, but dates back many more, as you will find with the old growth trees. Interplanted with fragrant citrus bushes, ornamental trees, and shade-giving varieties, it really is like a stroll in a beautiful garden. Best of all, the soil here is one of the richest in all of the Volcan coffee growing area, and the altitude is super high: 1750 meters and more. The farm extends up the hill in a topography that makes it appear to have its own little valley. As mentioned, there is a mix of traditional old-growth trees; Typica, Bourbon and Caturra primarily, many over 50 years old. 2006 was the first year Bambito Estate entered the Best of Panama Cupping Competition, and 2nd place is a helluva result! This coffee has remarkable, potent floral and citrus fragrance in the cup, and those qualities follow through the wet aroma and cup flavors. There are some interesting aromatics that might sound a bit odd until you experience them yourself: tangy barbeque sauce in the dry fragrance? Lemon drop sweetness in the wet aroma? Balancing the citrus blossom brightness is a very clean, cane sugar sweetness, and a bit of citrus skin zestiness. The cup has a magnificent purity and transparency about it, a perfect palate cleanser. It's fun, like a tangerine. It makes me want to drink it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 10
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Super-clean cup, bright citric acidity, floral This Coffee is sold only in the 2006 Best Of Panama Set - See Below.
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most citrus and floral aspects of this cup, which is, after all, what makes it so special.
Score (Max. 100) 92.7 Compare to: Classic bright Central, but in this case, on steroids. This is very lively, very bright, and intense.
This Coffee is sold only in the 2006 Best Of Panama Set - See Below.
Panama Auction Lot 3rd Place -Carmen Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Paso Ancho Mark: Carmen Estate, 2006 Best of Panama Lot
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: June 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Catuai, some Typica, some Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: Carmen Estate is a small farm located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own, but this was done for more than increasing the volume. The fact is, La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate roughly another 500-600 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi Aguilar (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independent mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees using new techniques. This farm uses the de-muscilage process where the muscilage is stripped off the parchment layer using friction, rather than traditional fermentation. I was very impressed with the high altitude and excellent practices of Carlos and Finca Carmen. This coffee won the #3 spot in the Best of Panama competition in 2003, 2004 and #2 in 2005 and then there is this lot, #3 in 2006. The entire farm is very high altitude; it starts at 1450, an altitude many farms don't even reach, meters and goes up from there! We have a special arrangement to buy this coffee each year from the 1800+ meter altitude on the farm, a very small amount of coffee. Altitude matters, with coffee, and you can taste the difference here. Altitude allows coffee to ripen slower, creates greater bean density, and results in higher concentrations of bright, snappy, acidity in the cup. I also notice stronger aromatic attributes compared to the lower altitude coffee from the same Estate. The cup has sweet and toasty aromas at City roast, with clean fruited aromatic components; peach, apple. The wet aroma is crystal clear and bright, with grain and nut hints at this light roast stage. These become more distinct in the cup flavors: lightly malted barley, a sweet nuttiness, and (while the body is light) a very buttery mouthfeel. The finish is piquant, clean, and leaves a sharp, distinct aftertaste. This is a very crisp cup at City to City+, the roasts where the "origin flavors" are most distinct. If that is too snappy, too acidic for you, you can get great sharp pungency with a "toned down" acidity from an FC+ roast.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Outstanding clarity and brightness, crisp cup profile This Coffee is sold only in the 2006 Best Of Panama Set - See Below.
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + is ideal. See the notes above about brightness and acidity.
Score (Max. 100) 91.7 Compare to: Brighter and (therefore) bolder than other Panamas. Almost Kenya-like brightness! See my Best of Panama travelogue for pictures of the 1800+ meter plot where our coffee comes from.

The 2006 Best of Panama Green Coffee Set

The set includes

  • 1 pound green coffee of Panama Auction Lot 1st Place -Esmeralda Gesha
  • 1 pound green coffee of Panama Auction Lot 2nd Place - Bambito Estate
  • 1 pound green coffee of Panama Auction Lot 3rd Place -Carmen Estate

This is a fairly limited chance to own the top 3 coffees of the year, the Esmeralda Gesha being the highest price ever paid for a coffee in an auction ($50.25 per lb, just for that lot!) Is this a lot to pay for 3 Lbs. of coffee; definitely! Will you find top flight coffees in this price range that have superior cup quality to these three? I say no. These are three extremely special coffees. Will they come packed in silk bags and a handcrafted, dove-tailed mahogany box? No ... it is not the Sweet Maria's way. We sell what's in the bag, not the bag. We will ship them securely packaged, and include a print of the cupping and roasting notes for each.


Panama Carmen Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Paso Ancho, Volcan Mark: Carmen Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Catuai Rojo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

Notes: Carmen Estate is a small farm located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own, but this was done for more than increasing the volume. The fact is, La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate roughtly another 500-600 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independant mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees usign new techniques. This farm uses the de-muscilage process where the muscilage is stripped off the parchment layer using friction, rather than traditional fermentation. I was very impressed with the high altitude and excellent practices of Carlos and Finca Carmen. This coffee won the #3 spot in the Best of Panama competition in 2003, 2004 and #2 in 2005. The entire farm is very high altitude; it starts at 1450, an altitude many farms don't even reach, meters and goes up from there! We have a special arrangement to buy the coffee each year from the 1700+ meter altitudes, a very small amount of coffee. We sold out of that lot rapidly this year, but the entire crop is so good (a testament to Carlos' innovations) we set aside this Estate lot from his later shipment to the US, based on sample approval once it got here. Well, the sample was great, so once again we have Carmen Estate coffee this '05 season. The cup is bright, very lively, very nippy. at a City + roast, this acidity is knotted together with a very distinct golden raisin flavor. It is a unique, specific kind of bright, zippy raisin flavor, that is. When it cools it has a tart cherry fruitiness to the cup. The acidity is remarkable, in the realm of Kenyas. (A note to those who think they don't like acidic coffees; saying a coffee is acidic does not mean it has an acidic effect, but rather it has a high range in the cup flavors due to flavorful acids - think of hop flower brightness in an IPA ale.)

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers
add 50 50 Roast: City + is ideal. I think this cup got better and better as it rested more, with a peak at about 5 days. You can roast a bit darker to help moderate acidity and a drum roast draws out more body.
Score (Max. 100) 87.4 Compare to: Brighter and (therefore) bolder than other Panamas. Almost Kenya-like brightness.

Panama Jaramillo Geisha Blue - Full Review Coming Soon Here are some comments ....Sweet Maria's was one of 7 companies that shared the winning lot of coffee in the 2004 Panama Coffee Competition. The coffee sold at a record price for any auction, and there was good reason why based on the unique cup character. The coffee is grown on a farm called Jaramillo operated by the well-known Finca Esmeralda and the Peterson family. The coffee has an extraordinary character, quite out of place for a Panama, that comes from a combination of unique environment, high altitude and a little-known Coffea Arabica cultivar called Geisha. By appearance and cup character , I suspect Geisha has an Ethiopian lineage - there are extraordinary floral and herbal qualities in the cup that are reminicent of Yirgacheffe. After the record auction price, there was talk about how to offer this coffee in the future, and a groupe of companies decided to split the crop in 2005, paying not the outstanding auction price but something that still is about 8x the norm for Panamas! As it turns out, Jaramillo Geisha cultivar won the 2005 competition too. What we offer here is not from the auction, this is our portion of the regular Geisha crop ... well, if the term regular can be used here at all. The cup character of this coffee is not only unique among Panamas, it is unique among all Central American coffees, with floral aromatics, a fresh citrus flower brightness, light body, herbal and honeyed cup. It's a very buoyant coffee, lively and not overbearing. You will notice a very unusual long seed shape, much like ""longberry Harar"" but this is a fully wet-processed coffee. You don't want to roast this too light - it is quite bright and easily turns too sourish with a City roast. I prefer City+ and darker. The best cup I had was a melange - a blend of two roasts. I did a Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack, and a City+ roast. Rested a couple days, this cup is awesome and has better body and more depth. Aromas are more lively after a shorter 12-24 hour rest though. This is quite a pricey coffee due to the very limited amount available. When you consider we sold the auction lot of Geisha last year for $24.80 per lb, it's much more reasonable this time though! -Tom


Panama Auction Lot -Don Pachi "Geisha"
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Don Pachi Estate, 2005 Best of Panama 2nd place lot
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: Geisha Cultivar (longberry, Ethiopia-related?)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes:It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Geisha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. You remember Geisha, it was the cultivar responsible for the $25/lb La Esmeralda Jaramillo we offered last year. It won the Panama compeition again this year, but my coffee compadre at Stumptown (Portland) and I disagreed - we liked the #2 coffee, this lot, the Don Pachi, better. Now, tas far as I know these are the only 2 farms with Geisha cultivar in Panama, and it is a bit unfair. After all, this is NOT the classic Panama cup (see the Eleta Estate lot for that). This is way off the beaten path. But I can't blame the judges, this is brutally good coffee. (I couldn't make it down this year). At a City roast, the cups is extremely aromatic. When I break the crust with my cupping spoon, there is a rush of citrus flower and honey. At a darker Full City+ roast, the coffee turns very pungent and (like a Ethiopian Yirgacheffe) this darker roast level is not to my liking. I want to roast this coffee to the peak of its "origin flavor" which is citric, floral, and screaming bright. I don't want to obscrure that with too much roast. The body is fairly light , which pairs nicely with this cornucopia of fruits and flowers in the cup. I get lemon peel, jasmine flowers, tart fresh cherry, passion fruit, and some mango verde (immature mango) in the finish. There's a slight gamey quality, maybe a bit like unfiltered raw honey, and a tea-like tightness in the finish. It's very much an herbal-floral infusion and I think those who eschew coffee in favor of such teas might do a double-take with the Don Pachi. In any case, and nomatter what you find in this cup, you will be inspired to describe this coffee, and there will be no shortage of words that come to mind. This is extaordinary stuff.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers
add 50 50 Roast: I feel that the pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City+, or a Full City, without letting it hit 2nd crack at all. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color - don't worry about it. Just grind, brew and enjoy!
Score (Max. 100) 90.1 Compare to: Not your typical Central coffee - more like a Yirgacheffe on steroids.

Panama Auction Lot -Café de Eleta
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Piedra de Candela, Chirqui. Mark: Eleta Estate, 2005 Best of Panama 6th place lot
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen Varietal: Catui Rojo, Caturra, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: This lot of Café de Eleta was a winning coffee in the 2005 Best of Panama competition, coming in at 6th place in the judging. For me, it was the best lot with true Panama cup character (as opposed to the 2 "Geisha" cultivars in the competition … see the Don Pachi review.) Eleta estate has been in the same family for 30 years now, and is on the opposite side of the Volcan Baru from Boquette, near Piedra de Candela. The farm ranges from 1300 to 1700 meters, and judging by the brightness of this auction lot, you can bet it was from the 1500 - 1700 meter band. Eleta does sun-drying on patios the traditional way, down to 11.5% moisture content, and rests the coffee in the parchment for 60 days in wooden silos. This means the coffee is very dense, stable, and the cup quality will not erode prematurely. This cup is in the vein of a traditional, classic, clean Central coffee, well-structured, compact, bright flavors. The aromatics have sweet grain, malty, with hints of hibiscus and citrus. As the cup cools the citrus becomes more intense, along with fresh raspberry. The finish of of special interest as it turns from the bright notes to a creamy hazelnut, milk chocolate, and spice accent. While it is a fairly light-to-medium body cup, there is something very creamy about the mouthfeel. The long aftertaste has an intensifying coffee bittersweet ... which makes me curious about what this would do as espresso. But this City roast I am cupping is too light - back to the roaster for more tests!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / classic cup profile, balance
add 50 50 Roast: Very versatile coffee, dense. But a City+ to a true Full City roast seems to be the "peak of flavor" for this coffee, with great complexity between roast tastes and origin flavors.
Score (Max. 100) 88.6 Compare to: Classic, clean, bright cup profile. Great Centrals! From my experience at international cupping events, I am surprised someone from the Japanese market didn't push me even harder in the online auction for this lot. This is the flavor profile they go goo-goo over...

Papua New Guinea 

Papua New Guinea -Kimel Peaberry
Country: New Guinea Grade: PB Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Kimel Plantation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: October 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Not known (appears to be Typica)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 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 Indonesian 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 can be flat and uninteresting. 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 new crop lot (July 2006 arrival) from the Kimel Plantation. In fact, I have steadfastly panned the earliest PNG shipments for the past 5 years. And I do think we are lissing a little of the potential balance from this cup, but there are great aromas and livliness, with no "greenish" early crop flavors. It is a very lively coffee with a lot of top-end character (zingy fruited flavors). More specifically I get a marmalade fruitiness, and passion fruit. I get a really sweet waft from the dry fragrance of the grounds; maple, caramel, and orange honey at a City+ roast. Add water, and the wet aroma has a malty sweetness (light roasts contributes to this grain-sugar character too, as does the Kimel origin character). Here is where I start to get orange and tangerine hints, which emerge in the cup flavors as the aforementioned marmalade. This peaberry lot is a bit brighter than our previous A grade flat bean lot. Primary cup flavors are a crisp sweetness, again malty in character, with a floral dimension (honeysuckle), and that sweet orange finish. As it cools it is easy to key in of the floral and citrus factors, but that "fruit punch" (combined tropical fruit) descriptor seems very appropriate. A cornucopia of tropical fruit and flowers - in the cooling cup of Kimel, that is not an overy poetic description.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Sweet citrus, fruit, floral  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + acheives the malty sweetness and floral/fruit sweetness, but it certainly can stand up to Full City roast. I would keep this coffee out of second crack, personally.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: A very crisp, sweet and clean PNG, unique and not at all like its Indonesian cousins (Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java).

Papua New Guinea -Arokara Estate AA
Country: Papua New Guinea Grade: AA Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Arokara Estate
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: December
2005 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 this year. It was my 4th place PNG in the previous crop cupping cycle, so we did not offer it but this time around I picked it in a blind cupping lineup with some very good Java and other PNG Plantation coffees. Again, 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, very subtle but definitely there. I cupped the samples the traditional way the next morning; same great results with more body. In fact, I think this has as much body as the Organic PNG samples I have cupped, without the nasty side-effects ... the Organics tend to have an unpleasant barb in the aftertaste this season. I also like the Arokara as an aromatic component in espresso blends, or in fact as a straight, single-origin espresso. It terms of balance and acids, it has that soft, Island-like Kona profile, making very sweet, perfumy shots.

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 mild fruit is classic Eastern Highland PNG character. 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 -Goroka A
Country: New Guinea Grade: A Region: Goroka, Eastern Highlands Mark: Goroka Plantation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2005 Arrival Appearance: .7 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Not known
(appears to be Typica-based)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Goroka is a sizeable town in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, a traditional meeting place for Eastern tribal communities and now somewhat of a local commerce center. The Eastern Highlands is where most of the best Plantation (estate) coffees come from. Goroka is also the name of the Plantation, located at an average 1600 meter elevation. It differs from the Arokara and Kimel plantation coffees we have offered, having less overall acidity than the later, and a character that reminds me more of the rustic Organic New Guinea coffees; chocolate and spice. (And note there are a few preparation errors in the green coffee, but not much). The cup has hints of spice (between cinnamon and allspice) and rustic chocolate in the fragrance and wet aromatics, The cup has a very nice, balanced bittersweet, along with chocolate (an Indonesian chocolate quality, not overly refined. The body is substantial and creamy. Acidity is fairly low, as mentioned, especially compared to the Kimel Plantation coffees. The finish is chocolate, creamy. I wouldn't call this a sweet cup, more like 58%-63% bittersweet chocolate, and there are subtle fruit hints (when I break the crust on the cup there is a momentary passion fruit aroma!) but this is very subtle. It is very balanced overall. The best way to characterize it is great "house coffee", great crowd pleaser coffee, with Indonesian attributes but no musty, funky notes.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Chocolate and spice  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City + . Actually, I don't like the character of the lighter City and City+ roast here. I prefer the hefty chocolate of the Full City Roast.
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Compare to: More like Organic PNG with mild Indonesian rustic notes


Peru 

Peru Organic WP Decaf
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Norte Mark: Norte, Cepicafe Coop
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 07 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 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! On top of that, this is the new non-chemical, water decaf process. Luckily, I've been able to find some nice Peru coffees in the mid-crop harvest this year. The Chanchamayo lot we have came in excellent, and this Peru 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 Cepicafe cooperative that is located in the northern growing area of the country... 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 well-defined bright notes in the cup that define the "origin character" of the coffee. This is a lively cup! And it is precisely that brightness that used to get lost in the old decaffeinating methods. This lot comes from an altitude range of 1400 meters to 1800 meters, which explains the bright character. There's also a bit of cinnamon spiciness to the cup, and clean fruit notes (apple) in the cup that are really nice. The finish is pleasantly dry.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / brightness, 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. On the Probat drum roaster I roasted it only to 420 f for the best cup, a real City roast.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: That distinct Peru flavor, balanced but bright, not that complex but very attractive overall!
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Peru Las Delicias - Zenon Vargas
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Cuzco region Mark: ML (Micro-Lote) Las Delicias - Zenon Huaman Vargas
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I visited Las Delicias last year, and it was like walking into an enchanted forest. Corny but true. We wound our way up and up a long twisty road until we were at about 1600 meters, and a chill as in the air. When we finally leveled out a bit we came into something I can't describe as a town ... more like a tiny community where the home of this coffee producer Zenon Huaman Vargas, is the center. His coffee patio used for drying the pergamino was also where the locals met, had celebrations, and communally milled their coffee cherry. All round the hills were scattered small farms and two room houses, set in among the towering Typica coffee trees, with a heavy canopy of large overstory forest. It made such an impression on me, a place with no commerce, no store, and with such a strong multi-family group working together to improve their coffee, improve the quality of their lots to bring a better price, improve their lives. I imagine how groups of families bonded together homesteading the western US with the same spirit. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the coffee, and in another sense it has absolutely everything to do with the coffee. We have this lot, because they decided get together and improve their coffee quality, to work harder, to hope for a better price. and we paid it, well over fair trade, as we do with many, many lots. It's a very balanced cup. The fragrance is mild milk chocolate, and has a sweet almond aromatic. There some interesting pungent notes here in the aroma, fresh leather and sandalwood. But those are momentary and sweetness prevails as the cup brews. Flavors are mild and balanced: Soft chocolate bittersweetness, and a subtext of apricot and peach (dried fruit notes), with a winey aspect to them. There's a nice tang to the cup that develops at Full City, a roast I recommend. I also noted that the coffee passes quickly from 1st crack to second crack, so keep a close eye on this one in the roaster.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Mild balanced cup  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City, Full City+. Real light roasts are a bit vapid, too dark and you miss any complexity. See roast note in Description (short elapsed time between 1st and 2nd crack).
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: When a Peru is perfectly processed, it no longer resembles the gamey, off-notes we identify with this origin. This lot is more like a Central, with hints of a fine Oaxaca.
Peru Tunquimayo - Juan de Dios
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Tunquimayo Mark: AAA - Juan de Dios Villavicencio
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Juan de Dios is, (as his name, John of God implies), a bit of a nut. He is kinda intense, and I think he is on a "mission" that relates improving coffee quality on his farm to heavenly ascension. Needless to say, I like nuts, and I like John of God. His farm is perched on a fairly steep slope in a subregion of Cuzco called Tunquimayo. Cuzco is the Quechua region and home to fantastic Inca and pre-Inca sites, a fantastic, dramatic scenery. All this area is traditional coffee farming, with great altitude and nearly all traditional Typica cultivar. In the cup, I feel this coffee has great similarity in intensity and basic flavor components to the Zenon Huaman Vargas lot from Las Delicias, although they are separated by more than a few Kms. The dry fragrance has more of a rustic edge, and sweet note too with an odd fresh leather hint, just for a moment. It passes into hazelnut with floral aspects too. Leather? Floral? Hmmm... In the cup there is a tea-like quality (the dryness/astringency of black tea), a raspberry hint, as well as a good bright note with lemon rind twist. As the cup cools brightness comes up. City roasts were slightly bitter in the finish so I recommend the FC to FC+ roast range, where this note comes off more tangy and has a pungent, peppery aspect to it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Interesting acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: FC to FC+ roast is ideal. This coffee also passes from 1st crack to 2nd crack rather quickly
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: This is similar to the Las Delicias Peru lot, with a tad more brightness and some odd flavor aspects.

Peru Norte Especial
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Northern Peru Mark: Royal Norte Especial
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: December 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Every so often my "coffee knowledge" gets turned on it's head, and everything I have learned about sourcing great micro-lots of single-farm coffees seems pointless. It's a humbling experience, but the modus operandi here is "follow the flavors of the cup" ... i.e. I taste all coffees "blind" and only find out later if it was a primped little lot, or a big bulk shipment. Of course, the care put into coffees we source with direct contact from the farm win out in blind cupping over "pooled" lots from lots of farms, high and low elevation, mixed together. But here we have a Peru coffee that really impressed on the cupping table, and when the origin was revealed, it's not at all a single farm coffee. (It's not exactly a "bulk lot" either). This is a coffee from many farms, that has received extra attention at the mill, and is thus a virtually defect-free coffee. But beyond that, this particular lot has a really attractive cup character. The dry fragrance has an unusual sweetness, savory sweetness; saucey, brothy, somewhat pungent and with a touch of wine. I know that these foody smells do not sound like something you want your coffee to smell like, but I can only say it comes off well, and is attractive. All that savoryness changes with adding the hot water: there is a more straightforward butterscotch sweetness with spicey hints of pepper and thyme. The body is creamy, and helps deliver the sweet caramel finish, laced with traces of orange. I mention body first because the cup has such a nice rounded, full character. It reminded me of a Cuvee version of a belgian trappist ale I had, perhaps just in that the body, the syrupyness, was so extraordinary, in combination with the complexity. In the late finish there is a trace of lime, and clove. For a fairly common coffee (meaning, this is not a single-farm denomination), I think this lot is really appropriately named: "especial".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / rounded, complex cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ was preferred in my tests but darker roasts, while less complex, were pleasantly pungent.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: More refinement than Peru coffees of the past.

Peru Concurso Huallaga - 1st Place
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Lamas Mark: Peru Concurso de Calidad, Huallaga Competition,
1st place: Andreas Soberon Gonzales
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: This super, super small lot won the competition I was at in Peru late last year. (It always takes time to prepare and ship coffee, even with a tiny amount, hence the delay in offering it for sale). In fact, the size of this lot is so small, we are limiting it to 1 Lb per person please, and it still won't last more than a week, I bet. It's so small it couldn't be run through normal milling equipment and is practically hand-milled out of parchment. This is not a best-of-Peru competition but rather one that covered a sizable region in the central growing area, the Huallaga Valley and nearby coffee-producing areas. It is grown by a micro-producer: Andreas Soberon Gonzales. At the awards ceremony, it was incredibel to see him tear up as he thanked God, and said the "quality coffee" was the path to a more decent living for coffee farmers in his area, Lamas. I try to avoid being sentimental about things like this, but if you were there, you would see how much the recognition mattered to Andreas. And the lot was heads and shoulders above the rest through all the rounds of cupping with a combined score of 87.56. dry fruit aroma (apricot, pear), winey hint, good, tight brightness to the cup, City+ roast is ideal. The cup is bright and clean, finishing with a neat piquant spice note. It shows the potential of Peru, with all this incredible high grown coffee, traditional Typica cultivar, and an unfortunate history of bad processing, then mixing of great lots like this with mediocre and bad low-grown coffee. As we straighten out the problems, what emerges is a coffee like this, crisp, clean, effervescent on the palate. It finishes with mildly pungent spice, traces of clove and corriander. It's a nice cup: It's worth some serious attention.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, bright cup with fruited tones  
Andreas and Tom
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for a light-bodied, lively cup (allow 48 hour rest). But I enjoyed the balance and improved body at FC roast too.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Not typical Peru, this compares to clean Cup of Excellence level coffees from Central America.

Peru Organic "El Guabo"
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Southern; San Ignacio Mark: El Guabo Organic Certified, Bird Friendly Cert.
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: Feb 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1.5d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: El Guabo is a collective of 173 small farms in the San Ignacio - Cajamarca area, totaling about 450 hectares all together. That's about the size of one medium-sized Brasilian farm in Cerrado. The coffee is collectively wet-processed and dry milled, and the organic certification covers all the members. It's a typical arrangement for small-scale Peru coffee farming, which has the most Organic coffee of any other nation in the Americas. The problem is that some mills crank out lower-quality coffees with what was derogatively called "Peruvian" taste. It was something between a a fresh-mowed lawn, green onion and a fermenting apple; an unpleasant fruitiness in the coffee. Go to Trader Joes if you want to experience that flavor. Of course, you can roast that coffee dark and cover it up a bit; the veiled and apologetic dark roast treatment. Here is a really nice Peruvian cup, the El Guabo. The dry fragrance has a bit of interesting Indonesian quality to it (always odd when a displaced flavor aspect shows up on an unexpected continent!). It is sweet, caramel-like, too. These fragrances are expressed in the wet aroma too, along with a fruity note, close to papaya. I am surprised by a very unique spicey aromatic note, very dynamic piquant, peppery aspect that is like paprika in its effect. This comes through in the cup flavors, as well as a natural/raw honey sweetness. The body is quite silky, and aftertaste is not extremely long, but there are lingering sweet notes and, again, a hint of papaya. While bashing the unclean, nasty "Peruvian taste" I conceed that this is a funky cup too. But funky in a good way. Face it; funky can be body odor! Funky can also be offbeat, unique, and a welcome change.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Good Peru character, pepper notes.
add 50 50 Roast: City+ was my cupping roast, but Full City works well except that I could not find this interesting peppery note. But overall roasty character was good.
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Compare to: Positive Peruvian character.

Peru Organic Norte
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Norte regions Mark: Perunor OCIA Organic
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: November 2005 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: 90% Typica, 10% Caturra and Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Norte is a general description for Northern-district coffees as opposed to other growing regions in the lower parts of the Andes. What Norte really means in this case are coffee farms located at 1250 and 1800 meters in the districts of Yamon, Cumba, and Lonya Grande in the Department of the Amazons; and in Santa Rosa's districts and Cutervo in the Department of Cajamarca. These are all small, remote, family farms organized into a cooperative who markets and exports the coffee together, getting a premium price for the fat that it is OCIA Organic certified. Early Peru arrivals this year have not been to impressive and I was wondering if I would find anything at all to offer. Peru's are becoming the mass-marketed Organic coffee (used in blends, sold at many supermarkets, etc) so good quality in Peruvian coffee can be elusive. I mean, any day of the year I could pick up the phone and buy a Peruvian coffee from a broker; it is not rare. But a fine, clean cup, with good brightness is rare. Namely, there is a gamey-to-fermenty flavor present in many low quality Peru coffees, organic or not. That's why I was kinda floored by this Norte; it has great malty-sweet aromatics, and a brightly sweet acidity in the cup. The body is not huge (nor are Perus ever big body coffees), and the aftertaste is not going to linger for hours. Not every coffee is meant to have huge aftertaste, just as every wine is not meant to be a Syrah! There is a nice fruit in the top-end of the cup flavor range, sort of appley, paired with a cinnamon spice. It has a good, cleanly disappearing aftertaste with a touch of herb in it (the rustic part of this organic cup character).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Clean bright cup with fruited notes
add 50 50 Roast: My review notes are based on a City+ roast, but you can get very positive roast results darker with this coffee.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: Clean, bright, sweet, fruited Peruvian cup character.

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!

Puerto Rico  

Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto AA
Country: US Grade: AA Region: Puerto Rico, Mark: Yauco Selecto AA
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ screen Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 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, and the fact these are Kona-style 100 lb bags makes the crop that much smaller. 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, Puerto Rican coffees were considered the pinnacle of quality, because they have unparalleled body for an island coffee, and a soft low-acid flavor profile. The coffee is air-frieghted in small quantities to the US, so it is basically always fresh from the Yauco Selecto mill. For me, Yauco is not a year-round coffee, but rather has a seasonal peak that varies but is generally in the early part for the new year, through Spring. Too early in the crop cycle or too late and the delicate balance is upset by greenish cup flavors or by baggy old flavors. Then, there are whole years where we simply pass, when I feel that the weather has had a bad influence on the coffee. A mild cup can be easily ruined! 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. The dry fragrance has a very attractive caramel smell with almond hint. It fades into bittersweetness in the wet aroma, but resurfaces in the cup flavors. Yet I would not characterize this as a super sweet coffee in the scheme of things; it is softly bittersweet, and with previously mentioned buttery-creamy body. I find that the Cona vacuum brew method is ideal for this coffee, bringing out the body and some subtle aromatic herbal character that I missed in the paper-drip brew; an excellent rosemary herby note. Yauco Selecto is pricey, but has the Jamaican "island cup profile", and in that repect it's half the price. I like it at a fairly light roast for drip coffee, but at Full City+ this coffee makes a really nice straight roast espresso, with great balance and body. I highly recommend this coffee for single-Estate straight roast espresso.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Soft, balance Island coffee profile  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good tangy bittersweet roast flavor. It also makes interesting single estate espresso.
Score (Max. 100) 84.7 Compare to: Island coffee : Has the mellowness of other island coffees, with more body and excellent soft, bittersweet flavors.

Puerto Rican AA 19+ Yauco Selecto
Country: Puerto Rico, U.S. Grade: AA Region: Yauco Mark: Hacienda Santa Ana, AA grade, 19+ screen!
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March '05 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ 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, and with a buttery-creamy body. It is pricey, but has the Jamaican "island cup profile", and in that repect it's half the price. I like it at a fairly light roast for drip coffee, but at Full City this coffee makes a really nice straight roast espresso, with great balance and body. I highly recommend this coffee for single-Estate straight roast espresso.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 4 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) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Balance
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Compare to: Island coffee : has the mellowness of other island coffees, with more body and excellent soft, bittersweet flavors.

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