Tiny Joy

Oct - Nov 2003: Acidity is Your Friend!; The Holidays … (oh no!)
tinyjoy-oct-nov03-1.jpg

Acidity is Your Friend!
Acid is the coffee world’s four-letter word. I hate to put it that way, but you know it’s true! I dance around it in my coffee reviews. I call it brightness or sharpness. I call it liveliness. When a coffee has none, I call it flat, like flat soda pop. But after all this time I still worry that “acid” is a bad word, and nobody will try a coffee if I write it. When people hear about acidity in coffee they reach for their stomachs. In the world of Slurpeesized coffees and pot after pot of office-brewed swill, everyone knows that gnawing feeling. Sometimes it seems our culture really doesn’t want to enjoy coffee… that we almost want it to be a miserable experience. We drink it when we are stressed, when we haven’t had enough sleep, we drink it for its effect, not for its taste. (Of course, I refer not to refined “connoisseurs” such as you and I, dear reader. We of course never drink coffee for the caffeine!) We drink it in haste, not taking time to ponder the complexity of flavors it might offer. And we drink it on an empty stomach, triggering our digestive system to produce digestive acids when there is nothing in our system to truly digest. While there’s nothing that can be done about how people use coffee, if they chose to chug it or not, it’s worth addressing some myths about acidity in coffee. After all, acidity is one of the primary positive qualities in truly great coffees, but it is maligned explicitly and implicitly, everyday on TV ads for Rolaids, or in coffees promoted as low-acid. Yes, there are people who are so sensitive to acids that the good type of acidity we find in the best coffees affects them badly, and there are also good low-acid coffees (such as the Indonesians). But low acidity from most origins (for example, any Central American coffee) means inferior quality; so it is acidity that separates low-grown mild, innocuous coffees from their high-altitude counterparts. There is good acidity and bad acidity in coffee. The types of acid in coffee are too numerous to list, but the
primary ones are called chlorogenic acids, as well as acetic, malic, citric and quinic acids. All these are organic components in raw coffee that, while degraded during roasting, still survive to contribute positively to the cup (they are organoleptic components in the cup quality of coffee). But in bad combinations or high quantity they can also produce bad cup quality. In fact, robusta (coffea canephora), the cheap low-grown species of coffee, has more of the primarily positive organoleptic acids, that being the chlorogenic acids! That explains why your supermarket blend of cheap coffees will gnaw
at your stomach. Bad acidity might be higher in quantity and lacking in taste quality. How do we explain that lower concentrations of acids produce good flavor without giving us ulcers? Well, that’s the million-dollar question and if you happen to know the answer, Procter & Gamble, Nestle and Kraft would really like to speak to you! Good, bright flavors come from a balance and interplay between the chlorogenic acids that are difficult to reproduce in a lab, which is why bad coffee cannot be improved chemically after it is picked from the tree. Let’s take Kenyas for example; Kenyas are the powerhouse of good, bright acidic coffees and a Kenyan coffee without acidity is not a Kenyan. In fact, I started thinking about all this with the recent arrival of our Kenya Thunguri coffee; not the brightest Kenya we have had this year (Rugeju gets that prize) but with a unique midrange, ripe-fruit acidity. I always think of highly acidic Kenyas as being nippy, piquant, citrusy, grapefruit-flavored. Thunguri reminds me distinctly of well-ripened orange, sweet and full acidity, complimented by wonderful body. This flavor is married to the acids, to the brightness in this cup, which only registers around the midrange, but works perfectly to deliver this lush, delicious ripe-fruit flavor. I have never had a Kenyan coffee that strikes this perfect balance between fresh fruit, and wineyness, two poles of the Kenya flavor range that are often referred to. Thunguri is right in the middle: ripe. Space and time limit me from babbling on, but I hope this makes you reconsider the sense that the term acidity has in coffee. I will continue to call it other things (liveliness, brightness) but you know I am just scared to use that four-letter word: acid! -Tom

The Holidays … (oh no!)
To paraphrase from Charles Dickens, the holidays are both the best and worst of times for us here at Sweet Maria's. We have been lucky enough in past years to have successful holiday seasons (thanks to many of you!), and this year will probably be the same. This means, however, that we work longer hours and the stress level is pretty high. Actually I am surprised how well the last seasons have gone, and basically there were only delays in shipping just after the Thanksgiving break. But some troubles result from the fact the UPS and the Post Office hire a lot of temporary labor, people who seem to punt packages, and get lost in their own parking lot. So if we take longer to get back to your email or ship your order, know that we will get to it as soon as we can. The inevitable mess-up or broken or misplaced package is bound to happen, and I know that can be especially irksome at holiday time. So please be patient with us during our busiest time of year, and hopefully we will all (including folks who work in retail!) will have a glad and peaceful holiday season. –Maria

Sweet Maria’s Coffee
1455 64th Street, Emeryville CA 94608
web: www.sweetmarias.com
email: info@sweetmarias.com
Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee Offering List on Oct. 15 2003.
Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Costa Rican Auction Lot -El Legendario $7.50 $14.25 $33.75 $121.50
Costa Rican Tarrazu - Llano Bonito $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Costa Rican Tres Rios - La Laguna $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Costa Rican - La Magnolia $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Costa Rican La Minita Tarrazu $6.80 $12.92 $30.26 $108.80
Costa Rican Santa Elena "Miel" $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
El Salvador Cup of Exc. - San Francisco $6.60 $12.54 $29.70 $106.92
El Salvador Chalatenango- Zona Alta $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Guatemala Antigua -La Flor del Café $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Guatemala Organic Coban - El Tirol $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Guatemala Huehuetenango -Huixoc $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Guatemala Huehuetenango-La Maravilla $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Honduras SHG - Selin Recinos $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Honduras Org. SHG - Sebastian Melgar $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Mexican Oaxaca Pluma-Tres Oros 5142 $4.30 $8.17 $18.71 $66.22
Nicaragua Cup of Exc. - Co-op 22. $6.50 $12.35 $29.25 $105.30
Nicaragua Org/FT Segovia -Miraflores $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Nicaragua Matagalpa Maragogype $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Nicaragua Matagalpa Pacamara 19+ $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Nicaragua Matagalpa - San Martin Estate $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Panama Auction Lot -Elida Estate $6.20 $11.78 $26.97 $95.48
Panama Boquette -Finca La Berlina $5.40 $10.26 $23.49 $83.16
South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Bolivia Organic Caranavi "Colonial" $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Brazil Fazenda Vargem Grande $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Colombian Huila Supremo Lot 4286 $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Colombian Narino -San Lorenzo $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Colombian Organic Mesa de Los Santos $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Peru Organic Norte -Perunor $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Ethiopian Ghimbi Lot 5025 $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Ethiopian Harar Horse Lot 4338 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Ethiopian Organic Sidamo Dry-Process $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Lot 4452 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Ethiopian Organic/FT Yirgacheffe $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Kenya AA Auction Lot -Kihenia $6.00 $11.40 $26.10 $92.40
Kenya AA Auction Lot -Mbwinjeru $5.45 $10.36 $23.71 $83.93
Kenya AA Auction Lot -Thunguri $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Uganda AA Organic Bugisu $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Yemen Mokha Ismaili (Hirazi) $7.80 $14.82 $36.27 $124.80
Yemen Mokha Haimi $7.20 $13.68 $33.48 $115.20
Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Bali Shinzan Arabica $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24
Indian Monsooned Malabar Coehlo's Gold $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Indian Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Papua New Guinea -Kinjibi Estate A $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Papua New Guinea -Kimel A 4689 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Sulawesi Toraja Grade 1 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Sulawesi Aged Kalossi Toraja $6.00 $11.40 $26.10 $92.40
Aged Sumatra Lintong $5.80 $11.02 $25.23 $89.32
Sumatra Aceh Gold Super-Prep $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
Sumatra Mandheling DP Lot 8809 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Hawaii Kona-well Farms $13.80 $26.50 $64.17 $220.80
Hawaii Koa Kona "Baba's Beans" XF $15.20 $29.18 $70.68 $243.20
Jamaica Blue Mountain - Mavis Bank $19.40 $37.25 $90.21 5 lb limit
SM's Moka Kadir Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24
SM's Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
SM's Classic Italian Espresso Blend $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
SM's Decaf Espresso Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24
SM's Liquid Amber Espresso Blend $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
SM's French Roast Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
SM's Roasted French Chicory $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
African Highland WP Decaf Blend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Brazil Prima Qualita WP Decaf $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Colombian Huila Natural Decaf $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Colombian Santa Isabella WP Decaf $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Costa Rican Monte Crisol WP Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Ethiopian Harar Horse WP Decaf $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Ethiopian WP Decaf -Sidamo DP $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Kenya AA WP Decaf $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Sumatra WP Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Indian Organic Washed Robusta $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Uganda Robusta -Nanga Farms $4.00 $7.60 $17.40 $61.60
Vietnam Gr. 4 Commercial Robusta $0.70 1 lb limit! See review!