Sweet Maria's Weblog

Cupping Sumatrans With Brasilians

Bruno and Chiago came by, two real Minieros ...ie coffee guys from smack dab in the center of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Bruno runs Beccor in Portland and we get some coffees from him, including the really nice Carmo de Minas lots from Sertao; my favorite of last year, the La Esperanca, and the Fazendo do Serrado we just added to the list. The odd thing is to cup Indonesia coffees with coffee people from ... well, anywhere but Indonesia. It completely baffles them. They think we're insane. How can we accept Sumatra wet-hulled coffees with fruity notes, earthy flavors, a rustic finish, then turn around and reject a Brazil lot with those same tastes? How can a Central America coffee with no acidity be sold at commercial prices, yet a Sumatra with no acidity attains healthy specialty prices? These Indonesians are defect coffees right? Yes and no. As consumers we have decided we don't want one flavor standard for all coffees. It's a specialty trade, right, and like a specialty store we want 15 types of mustard and 20 olive oils and just as many balsamic vinegars. Some of those push the envelope on "good taste" as well, in order to discover a wider range of flavors, some produced on the tree, some influenced heavily by the processing methods after the coffee is picked. Purists may cringe, but I think it's important to represent a wide range of coffee "characters" with the exception of those which are downright revolting or, quite possibly unsafe (moldy and musty coffees are indeed unsafe!) We look to each origin to perfect their own techniques, to "do what they do best" with their coffee. We don't want a Sumatra coffee from Panama, and we know for sure we cannot get the classic Panama cup profile from a Sumatra. What this says about our Gesha lots, our Nicaragua Java, our dry-process Centrals from Guatemala and Mexico ... I will leave that for further discussion. -Tom

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. Here's the new lots: Costa Rica Violeta -Don Teófilo Estate A clean, bright coffee with honey toast aromatics, bright lemon tea liveliness, hints of raspberry and strawberry, nutty roast tones, medium body, crisp aftertaste. El Salvador Los Luchadores Pacamara Tropical fruit aromas, lychee and passionfruit, with chocolate bittersweetness, baked peaches, mango, papaya, and anise seed. Kenya AA Auction Lot - Ndaroini A balanced Kenya with restrained acidity, grape, berry aroma and flavor with winey hints in the finish, syrupy sweetness, creamy body. Brazil Carmo de Minas - Fazenda do Serrado Lighter roasts have nut, caramel and orange rind hints with creamy body. FC+ roasts have chocolate, caramel, dense mouthfeel, minerals in the long finish. Great as SO espresso!

Roast Pairing #5: Sumatra North vs. North Sumatra

The district of North Sumatra is actually SOUTH of Aceh Province. Does that make sense? Both Lintongs from the North Sumatra area around Lake Toba and Aceh coffees from the much smaller Lake Tawar have been sold as Mandhelings in the past. And the Mandheling area doesn't even have coffee! But the flavors of these two are quite different; Lintongs have herbal notes and have been much brighter as of late, while Aceh coffees have classic body and flavors, but are perhaps less complex and more of a "blender." How do two great lots from these areas rate side-by-side? We compare our Sumatra Grade One Mandheling and one of our great Sumatra Lintong Blue Batak coffees this week.  Both coffees were roasted to the same final temp: 435 degrees by thermoprobe on the Probat, with roast times around 15 minutes.  I was trying to roast a bit lighter than even the review recommends for these coffees to ensure we highlight the distinct differences in these two lots.  And after cupping the results I am impressed with the herbal and almost sweet quality of the Blue Batak contrasted with the spicey and more bass-note Grade One Mandheling.  You may notice how much lighter the Grade One Mandheling looks compared to the Blue Batak, part of this is due to the overall uneven roast color of the Mandheling and part is due to the fact that when I applied the same roast profile to both coffees, the Blue Batak ended up more in the Full City range instead of the target City+ roast.  This just proves that roasting is not an exact science and the information from thermoprobes is only one indicator a roaster should use and not an absolute guage. The coffee pairing program has really put me to the test and we encourage all of you to grab a pair of coffees and try your hand at matching roast levels and comparting the results.  The fun thing about this pair of coffees is that, on the one hand the Grade One Mandheling couldn’t look more motley in the green stage, while the Blue Batak could win a beauty contest it has been so carefully processed and sorted.  No matter, once roasted, they both are stalwart examples of Sumatran coffee. -Josh

The return of Moka Kadir and Liquid Amber

In case you had not noticed, we are able to offer the very popular blends Liquid Amber and Moka Kadir again, since their ingredient coffees are back in stock. While we are really enthused about the new "Espresso Workshop" limited edition coffees, it's nice to have our Standards. But when we can't find the correct ingredient coffees for the Standards, we chose not to offer them. In this case, there was a gap in time where a really good Yemeni coffee for Moka Kadir was not available, and that is a key component. With the Liquid Amber, the trouble was with the quality of India Monsooned lots, and with a perfect Robusta component. Both of those lots, while available from any number of coffee brokers any time of the year, are very difficult to find at high quality levels. We have a new Rwanda Robusta, the first time we have ever had one, and it does the trick perfectly for the blend! We'll be offering it as a selection on our list soon as well, so folks can experiment with it in their own blends. -Tom

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. Hawaii Kona Lehuula Farm is a new Kona farm for us this year, owned by Bob Nelson. This coffee placed in the top 10 in the cupping competition and makes a nice single origin espresso. Also just added are: Guatemala El Injerto 100% Bourbon - a farm we have carried for many years, a classic Bourbon; Bolivia FTO SHG EP Caranavi, a lively, light-bodied, bright, dynamic coffee; and Brazil Cerrado DP Fazenda Aurea, a balanced coffee with great body with lots of espresso potential.