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Thumbs Down
- Commercial grade coffees for your cupping contemplation

It seems like a bad idea to sell bad coffee on purpose. But here's the story behind it...

I was sitting around with a bunch of roasters and coffeeshop owners, bemoaning the low coffee market prices, how it hurts farmers, lowers coffee quality, and ultimately hurts the entire coffee trade. Some people profit in the short term, but these are big companies that use coffees actually priced at New York "C" market levels. When the coffee market dips, their retail prices don't follow. As a group, the roasters and cafe people I was chatting with hadn't dropped prices much either, because we don't buy cheap coffee, and we don't pay low prices.

My idea was for coffeehouses to offer a free taster cup of market grade coffee next to theirs, and let people decide for themselves what they want the coffee farmers of the world to grow. Well, there were no takers, except me of course. When I can, I buy a cheap crappy coffee and offer it for whatever we pay for it. This is and "educational experience" so we linit it to 1 lb. because I would rather be hung by my toes than seriously sell unscrupiously cheap coffee, the kind that is breakling the backs of repectable coffee producers throughout the world.

Now, for a caveat --- it is actaully hard for me to get coffee as bad as the kind many big roasters use. These coffees often come in polyethylene "super sacks" (they are not even worth putting in a burlap bag), and they are sometimes not even whole seeds, but broken bits called "triage coffee." They often contain moldy beans, lots of dead "black beans", and a lot of rocks and sticks. Large roasters use equipment called destoners and scalpers to remove foreign matter from ultra cheap coffee. So what we offer here is the lowest grade coffees I can get from the port of Oakland without buying supersacks. Another fact: many cheap coffees originate with old, past-crop green coffee. So not only is it bad, its not from the current crop. There are coffees in warehouses in New Orleans... I have seen them ... that are 5, 8, 10 years old! These coffees are traded over and over again without ever being roasted. These are commodity coffees.

I have modified the idea of our Thumbs Down to include Specialty Coffees that are sub-par. The intention here is to offer a "calibration coffee" that reminds us how good our "usual" home roasts are, that there are really awful coffees being offered out there with all the same markings, in the same get-up, as good lots but they are as abyssmal as cheap dreck.


Our Unroasted "Thumbs Down" Coffee Offerings: Please refer to our Reference Page for definitions of terms and cupping numbers used below.

We are currently out of stock. The review below is provided for your reference.

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Panama "Dry Process Experiment Gone Awry"

Here is a very controversial coffee, because it flies in the face of tradition. Hmmm... flies might actually like this coffee! I know I hate it. Why? This is a full natural, a dry-process coffee, from Hartmann farm in Panama. It's non-traditional dry-process, and not really a typical dry-process that you would find from regions that DO have a dry-process tradition, like Harar and Sidamo in Ethiopia. I noticed in my travels that rarely do dry-processed Centrals get thoroughly dried ... they have more of a raisin-like, soft skin when the whole cherry is intact, and the colors of the parchment layer inside is a deep red-yellow. Ethiopia naturals are dried until the pod (the whole intact coffee cherry after it is dry, with the green bean "seeds" still inside) has a very hard shell, and I know this influences the coffee flavors as well. If you can't dry a whole coffee cherry quickly, things get musty. The Hartmann's called this (scrambled) WCB, which was supposed to mean World Champion Barista, because they wanted the Panama competitor in the WBC to use this coffee. Right now, it's the last coffee I would run as espresso; too fruity, medicinally so. But the thing that really sent this lot over the edge was the packaging. It wasn't dried well, and wasn't fully dried (I believe) when they packed it in mylar non-vacuum packing bags. I believe in Grainpro liners and VacPack 100%, but only when it is right for the coffee! Dry-process in impermeable bags is do-able, if the coffee is really well rested. Here is a textbook example of a coffee NOT to put in a barrier bag. It's is also a great example of dry-process you might find from Brazil or Ethiopia that was not processed well. Maybe it rained on the coffee on the patio, re-wetting it. Or it shipped without resting. Or the container was waylaid in the tropics for a few months! This is also a flavor found in some low-cost commercial coffees. Anyway, coffee cuppers and home users should know the difference between fruited coffee, and fruity-musty coffee like this. Here's your chance to learn! The dry fragrance of lighter roasts gives you an indication, there is definitely a musty odor in there, along with fruity-pulpy scents. With darker roasts, you can convince yourself that this coffee is passable ... well, at least for about 2 seconds. The aftertaste will let you know, this is not a clean coffee flavor profile.





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What this dry-process coffee might have looked like, if it was laid out and then was rained upon.
Country: Thumbs Down
Grade: SHB
Region: Santa Clara, Piedra de Candela
Processing:
Arrival Date: June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 1.0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal:
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bizarre and Bold intensity/ Fruit, fruit, fruity fruited, wine, vinegar, musty, your sweaty sneakers.
Roast: Light roasts are intolerable. With darker roasts, you can convince yourself that this coffee is passable ... well, at least for about 2 seconds.
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We are currently out of stock. The review above is provided for your reference.


A note: Sometimes people want to order our Thumbs Down selection to test out a roaster. They don't intend to drink the coffee. Well, this is not a great idea since the roast characteristics of the coffees I chose are not ideal, and your goal is to roast GOOD coffee, not just turn coffee brown. Coffee itself is a part of your roast system. Good high-grown coffee takes on and distributes heat differently than lower grown or defective lots. Would you install a sub-par thermal control on your roaster to test it? Would you install a motor that you know doesn't have the right RPM? Coffee is an integral component of the roast process, just as there are mechanical components. So I highly suggest buying an economical good coffee so you can see proper roast development. Also, we do limit this to 1 lb. because I don't exactly want to be known in my trade as a guy buying awful coffee! Also, we offer this coffee at cost, which is below what a good Sulawesi costs, so we just can't actually sell coffee like this and expect to stay in business. This is offered, altruistically, for the education of the palate.

Past "Thumbs Down" Selections:

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Sulawesi Goo Goo Muck

What is bad coffee? Have we become so spoiled by great lots that we forget how good our home roasts are? What part of the picture might be eluding you, Mr and Mrs. Home Roaster, from the perspective of a buyer who must cup many awful coffees to find a gem? Well, it's not exactly like that ... let's say that I cup many mediocre and average coffees to find good ones. But occasionally I get a genuine stinker, offered to me as Specialty Coffee, that I am sure some roaster is buying as Specialty Coffee, and it is horrible. So I finally found a new "Thumbs Down" lot to provide a good "educational experience" in this respect. Indonesians range from the triple pick premium lots of Tawar, Iskandar and Blue Batak, loaded with rustic sweetness, to lots that have bittersweet earthy, to musty coffees with just rank bitterness. Technically, many coffees we accept as being "positive" earthy are in fact technically defective. But there is a consensus about "good" rustic flavors and bad over-the-edge rustic, ie: dirty swampy muddy tasting dreck. I would call it a fine line between the two, but a confusing distinction for many. So what I have dredged up, literally, is Swampy Sulawesi, a cup that perfectly embodies nasty algae-like, musty, decomposing swamp rot. Compare it to even the most funky Mandheling we stock (the "classic") or the Tawar or the Batak, or our good Sulawesi Gr. 1 and the difference will be clear, I hope. And to illustrate the point, as you sip it, consider that the seller of this coffee told me there is a roaster on the coast in California who features this as the "best Sulawesi in 20 years", letting you know what you just might get if you walk into their shop and order a cuppa. Oh joy! Seriously. it is hard to taste this coffee and chalk up the flavor to "a matter of taste". It is nasty, but necessary, to understand the difference between available Indonesia lots.





Country: Sulawesi
Grade: 1 !!!
Region: Sulawesi, Torajaland
Processing: Indonesia style Dry Process
Arrival Date: 2006
Appearance: Typical Grade 1 Appearance and Prep.
Varietal: Arabica
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast: This coffee has a very light brown roast color even at FC roast. I would take it to the verge of 2nd crack so you can honestly judge the green coffee quality. At this stage, it will be a lighter brown than you might be used to, and still somewhat patchy in surface color and texture. This is not unusual for a Sulawesi, good or bad.
Compare to: If you like this coffee, don't tell anyone: the fact is, you might be part Klingon.
 
 
Vietnamese Robusta Grade "1" - An Educational Experience - 1 Lb. Limit Please
Country: Vietnam Grade: 1 Region: n/a Mark: n/a
Processing: Dry-processed, and Semi-Dry Crop: 2005 -2006 Appearance: cruddy, but actually it gets much worse than this lot! Varietal: Coffea Canefora
        Dry Fragrance: awful

Notes: We offer Vietnamese Robusta as an educational experience for our customers and ourselves. When you hear that the coffee market is at 60 cents, this is the coffee we are talking about. This is the coffee that has become the second largest coffee producing nation behind Brazil in a short course of 8 years, and all this crappy coffee is coming to the U.S. for use in low-grade canned coffee, and freeze-dried or spray-dried usage. But it is also used in some medium-quality commercial blends and is hidden quite effectively using a new technique: steaming. In fact, this process of steaming robustas was first implemented in Germany and is spreading widely through Europe. Europe, a consistent consumer for decades of medium quality high grown Central Amercian coffees, has started to replace these with steamed robustas, meaning the European coffee quality is sliding, and there is a great lack in demand for these high grown "marginal specialty coffees". You can see how this would severly affect the coffee market, and be a huge part of the low prices coffee farmers are receiving for their crop. The costs of production are fantastically low in Asia, compared to Central America. And you can bet you booty that any type of highly processed coffee beverage made from a powder at your local coffee boutique, such as Mochachino and Caramel Iced Frappelatte are made with Vietnamese Robusta. And all those bizarre "cappuccino machines" and truck stops... you guessed it. Institutional coffee suppliers use this for large, low quality office coffee. so give it a try, but we ask you to respect our 1 Lb. Limit, for your safety and for our reputation! Now think about it, this is GRADE ONE coffee. Makes you think, eh?

Wet Aroma: worse
Brightness- Liveliness: lacking
Body- Movement: pathetic
Flavor- Depth: fecal Roast: Robustas need a lot more roast to force them into the first and second cracks. Cracks are very hard to hear! This is partly due to the low density of the coffee since it is grown practically at sea level altitude. If anyone wants to play around with steaming them before roasting, re-drying them, and seeing if you can soften the robusta flavor, let me know.
Finish- Conclusion: appalling
Score: hellish Compare to: Dirt clods, cardboard, truck stop coffee... need I go on. For educational purposes only. (Or perhaps fiendish torture). Don't tell anyone you got it from us! Actually, this is not at all the worst Viet. robusta being brought into the country -in fact this lot is quite clean compared to what I have seen being undloaded at the terminal when we pick up our coffee.

Ugh! This is BAGGY!
Country: Mixed Origin Grade: Top grades (this was good coffee!) Region: N/A Mark: N/A
Processing: Wet- and Dry-processed Crop: 2003-4 Appearance: Decent arabica mix Varietal: 100% Arabica
        Dry Fragrance: clear baggy smell (straw, cardboard)

Notes: Okay, so what's the "lesson" behind a mix of various coffees like this? Well, it is define the term BAGGY, so the fact that this is blended from different lots is primary flavor attribute of the coffee. The primary flavor is BAGGINESS, and you can learn by comparison how this differs from the musty-earthy flavors of Indonesian coffees, the almost leather-hide flavors of some natural Dry-Processed coffees (Ethiopia, Yemen), and even the carefully aged coffees, like our Aged Sumatra offering.

Some background and personal notes on green coffee and bagginess: Baggy flavors are the result of several factors: the fats in the coffee absorbing the smell of burlap, the loss in moisture content as the coffee ages, and other chemical changes. Green coffee is physically dense, and stores quite well (depending on the origin, the altitude/density of the seed, etc) ... but all things have their limits. We used to talk about green coffee lasting 2 years from arrival date. Pish! For some origins theses changes in flavor can emerge in 1 year, 9 months, even 6 months for some decafs! Add in poor storage conditions (too much humidity, exposure to freezing temperatures, too dry, etc) and there are really no set time guarantee for green coffee. What we do is make sure every coffee has an arrival date in the review, and that we are sold out or refresh the lot with a new arrival within 4-6 months, which will allow at least 6 months storage for the buyer with NO shift in flavor. After that, bagginess might be detectable in some coffees, whereas others will be solid as a rock. We are really obsessed with the freshness of our green coffee stock and everything here turns over very rapidly.

Now to the cup: You might not note the age of this coffee by appearance (I really can't, the yellower coffee is simply dry-processed). You might notice a slightly lower 1st crack temperature. You might notice a flat smell after roasting. You WILL notice a haylike smell when you grind it, provided your roast is to a City-Full City level. You will find the same smells in the wet aromatics as you brew it. And then the taste. You might find it a bit like a DP coffee, Sumatra, a Yemen, at first. But note how the rustic flavor finishes. It smells and tastes like wet cardboard, papery, hay-straw, grass (old, dry), and yes, burlap cloth. Welcome to the world of bagginess! Now, a few might find this coffee not too offensive, especially roasted to a Vienna or so. Fine ... but ask yourself, is this coffee attractive? Do I want another cup right now? Do I want to wake up tomorrow to this coffee? If you answer yes, well, I just can't help you!!!

Wet Aroma: wet cardboard, burlap
Brightness- Liveliness: hard aromatics
Body- Movement: good body
Flavor- Depth: Getting very bad as it cools down Roast: For the full effect, dn't hide the bagginess behind the roast notes (as a professional but unscrupulous roaster would do if they got stuck with a baggy lot). Roast it only to a City roast. Later, try Vienna and see if it is "passable" - it certainly is more bearable but the ageis still easily detectable.
Finish- Conclusion: do you really want another cup?
Score: This coffee scores 70 on my form Compare to: Take a decent low-acid DP coffee, put a handfull of old hay in with the coffee when you grind it, and brew it with a wet burlap filter, and a cardboard filter holder - there you have it.

Ugh! (The Coffee) - India Cherry Robusta aka Truck Stop Coffee
Country: India Grade: Cherry Robusta Region: Southern Mark: None
Processing: Dry-processed Crop: 2004 Appearance: high commodity grade Varietal: Coffea Canephora (Robusta)
        Dry Fragrance: very "robusta"-y

Notes: We offer this past crop coffee as an educational experience for our customers and ourselves. This time around we have a Indian Cherry Robusta. Cherry Robusta is a category of coffee that refers only to India Robusta, and only to those of the dry-processed variety. There can be some interesting high grade cherry robusta, but in general this type of coffee is not picked discriminately, not sorted well, and has many overripe and immature seeds mixed with it. Even at it's best it is a cup with some edges to it. And what we have here, while not the best I have had the pleasure of trying, is nearly that ... it gets A LOT worse than this folks. This has no foreign material in it and no black beans. There are a lot of under-ripe immatures in there though. What we hope you identify in this cup, in the smell when you grind it, brew it, and the cup aroma and flavor, is the experience of Truck Stop coffee. This is the typical robusta experience here, and can provide a contrast not only from good arabica coffees but also from the premium robusta coffees we offer for espresso blends.

Wet Aroma: ditto
Brightness- Liveliness: low aroma, muddled
Body- Movement: decent body
Flavor- Depth: truck stop all the way Roast: For the true truck stop experience, you need to roast it to a City stage like your friends at the Big 4 (P&G, Kraft, Nestle and Sara Lee). You can make the experience a lot less harsh by doing a Full City + roast, but that's sorta cheating because you will NOT find that at a truck stop!
Finish- Conclusion: do you really want another cup?
Score: This coffee scores 62 on my form Compare to: You know, you have tasted it before .... and this will bring back all those bleary-eyed, late night, "120 miles to go" memories...

Ugh! (The Coffee)
Country: Guatemala Huixoc Grade: SHB Region: Huehuetenango Mark: Finca Huixoc
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2001-2002 Appearance: Pale green, not bad tho Varietal: Arabica
        Dry Fragrance: flat, dull

Notes: We offer this past crop coffee as an educational experience for our customers and ourselves. But there is something very important to keep in mid with this Ye Olde coffee offering: this was actually very good top-grade coffee to start with, and it simply got old. This is not a Huixoc lot we stocked but one I bought just for the purpose of showing folks what old coffee tastes like. The shocking thing is that people DO still sell coffee this old, both as green and roasted. Lots of businesses do not move coffee fast enough to keep their greens fresh, or they take advantage of a "broker's special" on an old coffee. It's a slippery slope. Sure, you can offer a coffee with a nice bag and an Estate name, but these do not mean the coffee is good! And age shows in the cup differently with different coffees; There are coffees that are old 1 year after their arrival date here in the U.S. and there are some that start showing age at 8 months! Good coffees too... The problem is compounded when something is wrong with the coffee. I cupped a Colombian of highest quality that had been poorly processed using the Aqua Pulp method, and the acidity had a metallic tone. Still, the coffee was good, but this burr in the flavor scared me off. I recupped it just 3 months later and it had completey unraveled, with an overt hard baggy flavor in the cup. What you can expect here is different roast times, different roast sounds, and a cup character with flat, papery, hard notes, and baggy (like a burlap bag). But you need to know this cup character, because I dare say that if you buy green coffee for home roasting, and you do it for a while, and you look to eBay and other sources, you will get stuck with a baggy coffee at some point. It used to be that roasters had to hold their brokers to account for bad coffee offerings, buy rejecting an arrival based on the sample, or by rejecting spot samples. Home roasters don't have the benefit of sampling. But they need to be able to evaluate coffees, and hold coffee sellers accountable for their offerings. In my mind, home roasters can only help the coffee trade improve by this process.

Wet Aroma: ditto
Brightness- Liveliness: some acidity, veiled by baggy flavors
Body- Movement: pathetic
Flavor- Depth: paper, burlap Roast: You will notice the dryness of this coffee during the roast. The snaps have a different sound, and different pace than a coffee with more moisture content. You will ahve different roast times, but the effect of old dry coffee is different in air roasters vs. drum roasters. Either way, it will roast different though.
Finish- Conclusion: ugh!
Score: This coffee scores 55 on my form Compare to: The flavor has a clear cardboard-woody aroma when you grind it. That follows through in the cup. Don't tell anyone you got it from us! And remember, this was good coffee to start with, and not that old. Imagine if you start with mediocre or bad coffee and it was 5 years old!

UGH! (The coffee) - 1 Lb.
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Fraijanes Mark: Bella Cruz Estate, Organic
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: Great Euro-Prep green coffee. Varietal: Coffea Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) Okay 2.6

Notes: We offer this coffee as an educational experience for our customers and ourselves. It's meant to introduce home roasters to the pitfalls of buying green coffee. There is a LOT of coffee out there. Just blocks from our shop are warehouses loaded to the rafters with coffee that, on the surface, all looks like it good be fine. But in fact there is very little excellent coffee (true Specialty coffee is less than 10% of the market) ... and ALL that coffee in the warehouses finds a home. There's lots of way to fudge too, to make a coffee seem like specialty when it is not. Cupping is the ultimate test, but without that you can add a few fancy graphics and a supposed farm name to a bag, and make it look really pretty. But the coffee inside is still the same swag.

Our current Thumbs Down coffee is particularily interesting to me, and challenges pre-conceptions about what is "good coffee" and what isn't. Why? Because this coffee has everything going for it. It is a fairly fresh, current crop Guatemalan coffee. It is from a true Estate: Bella Cruz. It is single-origin. It is certified Organic. It is shade-grown. It is the highest grade, SHB, Strictly Hard Bean, which means it is grown at the highest range of altitude. The preparation of the coffee is excellent, it is screened, and there are very few apparent defective beans (I rated it at .2 per 300 gram sample defects). And it's not even that the cup is that bad : it has acidity, it has a hint of sweetness, it has body. But it is not good. Not good at all. Not for a Guatemala at least (if you like coffee with off flavors you might just think it is fine!) The first hints come with the wet aroma. Smell it ... it's not that bad but doesn't it seem just a bit unattractive? It's got some sweetness and maybe a little floral, but more like a chemical smells floral than something truly attractive and enticing. Now, I don't find the first sip that bad, and I am more prone to find the good aspects of the cup at first. But as the cup cools, and as the coffee lingers on your palate, and especially in the aftertaste, well after the coffee has left your mouth ... do you get that flat, rubber flavor? There's also hay-like, straw flavors in there. When the cup is cool the aroma seems really off, and I can't get over the ultimate off aftertaste. It's just yucky. I am sure you could put sugar in it and it would be fine. I am sure this is a lot better than coffee served at many restarants and coffee shops. But that's no excuse. This is not a good cup.

Wet Aroma (1-5) Flawed but with some good aspects 2.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) some acidity, veiled by baggy flavors 7.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) Some sweet and floral aspects, but off notes lingering 6.3
Body - Movement (1-5) Nice body, velvety 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) Ends up with a thud- rubbery- bitter -ugh 5.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: This coffee roasts just like a good quality coffee should, and you can get the best sense of the flavors (good and bad) at a City or City+ roast stage
Add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Tainted Aftertaste
Score (Max. 100) 76.1 Compare to: A quality coffee gone bad - perhaps due to bad storage conditions, transit being delayed (a container that bakes in the sun/heat at port, waiting to ship), a taint picked up on the patio, or in the dry-milling stage.

Ye Olde1 Lb. of Coffee -2002 Crop
Country: Guatemala or Honduras* Grade: SHB Region: Huehuetenango or Marcala Mark:  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2002 Appearance: Pale green, a bit whitish Varietal: Coffea Arabica
        Dry Fragrance: flat, dull

Notes: We offer this past crop coffee as an educational experience for our customers and ourselves. But there is something very important to keep in mid with this Ye Olde coffee offering: this was actually very good top-grade coffee to start with, and it simply got old. This is not a coffee we stocked but one I bought just for the purpose of showing folks what old coffee tastes like. *another problem; I have 2 bags of this that is old Guatemala Huehuetenango, and then we are going to switch to an old Honduran coffee. Both perfectly illustrate the problem of age, of past crop coffee character. And both started out not with a commercial grade coffee, but with a top notch coffee. Another thing to keep in mind: this coffee is not THAT old, and many in the coffee trade would not refer to this as old at all! But that's something that needs to change. There are coffees that are old 1 year after their arrival date here in the U.S. and there are some that start showing age at 8 months! Good coffees too... The problem is compounded when something is wrong with the coffee. I cupped a Colombian of highest quality that had been poorly processed using the Aqua Pulp method, and the acidity had a metallic tone. Still, the coffee was good, but this burr in the flavor scared me off. I recupped it just 3 months later and it had completey unraveled, with an overt hard baggy flavor in the cup. What you can expect here is different roast times, different roast sounds, and a cup character with flat, papery, hard notes, and baggy (like a burlap bag). But you need to know this cup character, because I dare say that if you buy green coffee for home roasting, and you do it for a while, and you look to eBay and other sources, you will get stuck with a baggy coffee at some point. It used to be that roasters had to hold their brokers to account for bad coffee offerings, buy rejecting an arrival based on the sample, or by rejecting spot samples. Home roasters don't have the benefit of sampling. But they need to be able to evaluate coffees, and hold coffee sellers accountable for their offerings. In my mind, home roasters can only help the coffee trade improve by this process.

Wet Aroma: ditto
Brightness- Liveliness: some acidity, veiled by baggy flavors
Body- Movement: pathetic
Flavor- Depth: paper, burlap Roast: You will notice the dryness of this coffee during the roast. The snaps have a different sound, and different pace than a coffee with more moisture content. You will ahve different roast times, but the effect of old dry coffee is different in air roasters vs. drum roasters. Either way, it will roast different though.
Finish- Conclusion: ugh!
Score: This coffee scores 55 on my form Compare to: Dirt clods, cardboard, truck stop coffee... need I go on. For educational purposes only. (Or perhaps fiendish torture). Don't tell anyone you got it from us! And remember, this was good coffee to start with, and not that old. Imagine if you start with mediocre or bad coffee and it was 5 years old!

Vietnamese Robusta Grade 4 - An Educational Experience - 1 Lb. Limit Please
Country: Vietnam Grade: 4 Region: n/a Mark: n/a
Processing: Dry-processed, and Semi-Dry Crop: 2002 - 2003 Appearance: cruddy, but actually it gets much worse than this lot! Varietal: Coffea Canefora
        Dry Fragrance: awful

Notes: We offer Vietnamese Robusta as an educational experience for our customers and ourselves. When you hear that the coffee market is at 60 cents, this is the coffee we are talking about. This is the coffee that has become the second largest coffee producing nation behind Brazil in a short course of 8 years, and all this crappy coffee is coming to the U.S. for use in low-grade canned coffee, and freeze-dried or spray-dried usage. But it is also used in some medium-quality commercial blends and is hidden quite effectively using a new technique: steaming. In fact, this process of steaming robustas was first implemented in Germany and is spreading widely through Europe. Europe, a consistent consumer for decades of medium quality high grown Central Amercian coffees, has started to replace these with steamed robustas, meaning the European coffee quality is sliding, and there is a great lack in demand for these high grown "marginal specialty coffees". You can see how this would severly affect the coffee market, and be a huge part of the low prices coffee farmers are receiving for their crop. The costs of production are fantastically low in Asia, compared to Central America. And you can bet you booty that any type of highly processed coffee beverage made from a powder at your local coffee boutique, such as Mochachino and Caramel Iced Frappelatte are made with Vietnamese Robusta. And all those bizarre "cappuccino machines" and truck stops... you guessed it. Institutional coffee suppliers use this for large, low quality office coffee. so give it a try, but we ask you to respect our 1 Lb. Limit, for your safety and for our reputation!

Wet Aroma: worse
Brightness- Liveliness: lacking
Body- Movement: pathetic
Flavor- Depth: fecal Roast: Robustas need a lot more roast to force them into the first and second cracks. Cracks are very hard to hear! This is partly due to the low density of the coffee since it is grown practically at sea level altitude. If anyone wants to play around with steaming them before roasting, re-drying them, and seeing if you can soften the robusta flavor, let me know.
Finish- Conclusion: appalling
Score: hellish Compare to: Dirt clods, cardboard, truck stop coffee... need I go on. For educational purposes only. (Or perhaps fiendish torture). Don't tell anyone you got it from us! Actually, this is not at all the worst Viet. robusta being brought into the country -in fact this lot is quite clean compared to what I have seen being undloaded at the terminal when we pick up our coffee.

Before this, we offered Myanmar Arabica (Burmese coffee) and a different lot of Vietnam Robusta as "bad coffee" selection as a frame of reference to which you can compare good Specialty coffee.

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

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