cups of excellences

Take a look over to the right column of this here humble "BLOG" and you see our latest arrivals of coffee. Lo and Behold! Actual lots from the Rwanda and Bolivia Cup of Excellence competitions. As the coffee buyer and cupper here at SM, even I can't quite believe they actually arrived. Sometimes it seems that the deliveries of these lots take longer and longer and longer. When was I at the Rwanda CoE? Last August? What month is it now, April? Lordy. The good news is this: we have been vacuum packing all of our CoE lots, and they are cupping incredibly good, super clean, vividly bright.

Trip reports from Central America

[caption id="attachment_277" align="alignnone" width="289" caption="Volcan Baru from the Volcancito side"]Volcan Baru from the Volcancito side[/caption]Tom's trip reports from the trip he made in late March to Panama,

weighing in, jinotega, nicaragua

A short video clip from last Saturday.

cupped out

Ugh! It's not the quantity of coffee samples you cup each day ... sometimes it's all about the way you cup them. When coffee is really good, it demands your full concentration. I started this morning at 9 AM, but by 4 PM (with no breakfast or lunch, just some fruit and bread between rounds) I am flat out finished.

Off, Again

I am off for an action-packed pre-ship cupping trip of Central America - Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua in 7 days. Whew. Mostly, this is to select micro lots and cup coffees that are nearly ready to ship. It will be a lot of cuppings with farmers we already work with and coffee "projects" we set up before the season. One thing I can note here, we are going to cut back a bit on the dry-process Centrals this year. That was "so last season" as the kids say. We'll have them for sure, just not to the degree of 2008.

The Kenya Coffee Auction

I had some interesting footage of the Kenya auction, and the amazing sampling room upstairs. Yes, those auction sound effects are real! I did not dub in sound from a '70s PONG video game!

Coffee Processing (Starting with the Cherry), a video

This is a monologue, quick and easy video done with a flip camera, showing coffee cherry fresh from the tree, and then discussing the resulting processing options; dry-process, pulp natural, wet-process, forced demucilage. It's not that pretty, but some good information. Sorry the background music interferes a little. I was trying to make it a tad more palatable!

oh boy, a long travelogue on ethiopia - blah, blah, blah

I finished (sorta) a long pictorial and commentary compiled from my travel notes in Ethiopia the past few weeks. There's a few good points in there, and if you have time to kill, check it out.

a kenya travelogue ...

I'm not finished yet. I keep generating material from this recent Africa trip. I was writing some actual commentary this time about both Ethiopia and Kenya. The later portion is done and I think it's worth a read, so click here! ... no .... here!

an odd day of cupping ...

coffee. It can be rough to cup mixed tables of coffee in one day, or mixed flights. Having just returned from Kenya, it struck me how efficiently, quickly, almost mechanically they cup coffee there. 223/2 . 323. 233. Body, acidity flavor. The cupper doesn't even write down their own scores. That would slow things down. But they cup Kenyas all day long, day-in-day-out, 650 per week, 2x per sample, plus 600 Tanzanias, plus re-cups, totaling 2,000 or even 3,000 coffees a week! wow. They have 3 sample roasters, 5 barrels each, running for hours each day. But oddly, they don't face my challenge.

Ethiopia & Kenya Pictures

T.O. returned from a trip to the East and South of Ethiopia, and then on to Kenya for Cupping and Farm Visits. Tons of nice pictures ... Wahoo! There's a travelogue for each too, but not finished yet, as well as 4 hours of video that includes some pretty sweet stuff. That comes later too.

ethiopia behind me, kenya ahead...

I arrived in Nairobi for the Kenya leg of my trip ... the longest coffee trip I have taken actually, at 20 days. It's nice to have a travel day, some hotel time here in Nairobi, and a chance to reflect on Ethiopia. Having gone to both the West (Dire Dawa, Harar) and the South (Sidama, Yirga Cheffe) was interesting. They are so different! One thing is clear, that the crop is small in all areas, and that the new Coffee Exchange that replaces the Auctions, called the ECX, has everyone confused.

back in black (from harar)

the title? well, i am just humoring myself. I have one clean t-shirt left and it's black. the fact is, i arrived in addis ababa on the unlikely on-time ethiopia airlines flight from dire dawa completely covered in fine dirt from the soils of east harar. we headed out at 5:30 am, before sunrise, to see the "raised bed project" we have been supporters of in a place called choma, way off the main road in the prime east hararghe growing region. it was one of those days in "coffee travel" that seemed perfect from beginning to end. how many coffee buyers go to choma? zero. were we the first there.

early morning ethiopia

It's way, way to early to be awake, but it's way too hard to sleep. The problem with traveling to Africa or Indonesia is you are totally flipped, time-zone wise. Nothing seems right, and I am not especially good with time zone changes. I brought this second hand book with me, The Devil's Cup, a coffee travelogue with lots of neat information (not all of it accurate - is Harar where  Robusta "evolved" into Arabica coffee? I don't think so). Along with mistakes, there's the general swashbuckling traveler narritive; dusty roads, broken-down trains, sweaty street-side cafes, bitter coffee.

New coffees, A new RSS feed

We added a new RSS feed to notify about new coffees. The link is feed://www.sweetmarias.com/rss/rss.php and it's easy to add to any browser (ie Firefox) or other device.

Konas, Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil

New coffees just keep coming. We have two Kona coffees to offer - a bit earlier this year than other years. With the economy the way it is, I know we will not sell a huge amount of expensive coffees, but for Kona fans, this is going to be a good year. Skip and Rita Cowell's coffee is back with the Hawaii Kona XF -Kowali Farm Typica, a classic Kona, big and sweet. Skip and Rita placed first in the Kona Cupping Competition this year with this coffee.

cupping room video

not the best quality, but it took a few minutes to make, and not much more to edit. I should really use my video camera instead of a point-n-shoot. next time.
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