Sweet Maria's Weblog

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Hello hello from Santa's Busy Workshop.  All the elves here getting a wee bit tired.... but the holiday is fast approaching!  To keep the stress level at a tolerable level, please keep in mind the following dates for Christmas delivery for UPS Ground and SM Shipping Special options. We will be  shipping air orders the next business day that the order is placed.

East Coast Coast (roughly Eastern Time zone states)  Order by Thursday Dec 13th
Midwest (Central Time zone) Order by Friday Dec 14th
Rockies (Mountain Time zone) Order by Sunday Dec 16th
West Coast (Pacific Time zone) Order by Dec 18th

If you have cut it too close, we also have gift certificates available.

Five new coffees

Costa Rica Hernan Solis Villa Sarchi with fresh cream, toasted sugar and loads of plum flavor.

Guatemala Puerte Verde Bourbon is a well structured cup with tartaric acidity and milk chocolate.

Nicaragua Maragogype Finca Los Angeles has weighty body, honey, chocolate cake, and walnut notes.

Kenya Nyeri AB Gaturiri a "big" coffee with blackberry, concord grape juice, and sweet lemonade tones.

Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul has great rustic sweetness, fruit and chocolate flavors and black tea character. Enjoy this bounty of new offerings.

Why I Travel with an Aeropress

Water boils a little too easily at 3650 meters. That's where I am in the photo, after a rainy night at Chennak camp in the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia. Given the fact that any coffee would taste pretty bad brewed at low temeratures, the Aeropress did a pretty good job at making an decent cup.

I remember I was able to use the Aeropress make an acceptable, but not entirely delicious, cup of coffee with hot tap water direct in South America. Granted it was exceptionally hot water since as there was a 220v heater precariously perched inside the shower. And the fact that using any tap water in any coffee origin country is like playing Russian roulette with your gut health. But it was totally quaffable and far better than the fermented and foul coffee in the hotel restaurant.

In terms of convenience on the road, I have a grudging respect for Starbucks Via instant coffee because, given what you need  (a mug of hot water)  the resultsare pretty good. Those damn things are hideously expensive per cup though. And giving money to "big green" also has other costs, like besmirching some little part of your soul. On the flip side we have the rather annoying pour over craze.

Don't read that wrong. I love dripper brewing. I always have, and sold the rather cheap and simple stuff to do it for 15 years. But the latest frenzy in pour over risks getting it wrong while trying so hard to get it right. First there is the fact it takes something so simple and relegates it to a mechanical technique of overbearing "do's and don'ts". You must have this filter and that holder, made of the right material, with the proper kit now setting you back the price of 6 old melitta holders and 2 years supply of filters. My mom uses a plastic cone, chemex filters and a mason jar with hemp twine at the neck so you can handle it hot. It works. If she stopped roasting to 3rd crack it would taste a lot better. I know we sell fancy stuff and it costs more that it should. But in my heart I like basic and simple approaches.

These technique-dependent cones like the hario, with its gaping drain hole, require a curvy spouted watering can or you just can't regulate the flow. It takes a simple method and re-mystifies it, so much that the brew bar fad at coffee shops can make a simple and direct method into a professionalized and inaccessible spectacle. If you price out the grinders and scales and kettles and hot water towers that are being used to create this coffee performance, it's several thousand dollars minimum....

Pre-Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

It's an understatement that we are busy during the holidays. With a big increase in the amount of coffee and merch orders placed and fulfilled this week, we still found a way to offer some new products and finally posted Part 2 of our choosing a roaster series. We blogged a bit about what it really means when coffee has apple notes. Also, the crew presented Tom and Maria with some nice gifts recognizing the fact that we have been in business for 15 years. Thank you Tom and Maria for being such wonderful people to work for.


We are shutting down the warehouse for Thanksgiving and the day after so we are expecting a mountain of orders to fill come Monday so please be patient if it takes us an extra day to ship your order. Please have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.


New Products:

-The Small Clever Brew Kit comes with Filtropa filters, a Hario Slim Mill and a Small Clever Coffee Dripper.

-The Baratza Esatto scale is an attachment that works with your Baratza scale to give you accurate doses.

-The BonaVita Replacement Thermal Kettle replaces the thermal kettle that came with your BonaVita brewer.

Taste Testing: Apples to Apples

 When we talk about apple-like flavors in coffee, they're usually the result of presence of malic acid. Malic acid is one of the organic acids that our found in coffee that lends certain flavors and characteristics. Sometimes when we talk about apple like flavors, we name specific apples. The apple can a a broad range of characteristics depending on the variety. 

I imagine that you already realized this, but I wanted to look at a couple different varieties of apples to try to draw out how those particular flavors or characteristics show up in a coffee. Sometimes it's more of the sweetness, or tartness, or even the mouthfeel which leads us to the apple descriptor.

The 4 apples that I looked at were: Gala, Rome, Honeycrisp, and Fuji.

Gala: This is one of the softer type of apples with the meat of the fruit being more mealy than crisp. There is stil a good deal of sweetness, but very little tartness. This apple has some similar qualities to a pear, but without being as syrupy sweet. It has just the slightest bit of tartness, but is much more sweetness. In a coffee review there's a good chance you'd see them together, such as this one in the archives or the Ethiopia Wet Processed Kebado: www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.archive.new.php

Rome: THis was the dries of all 4 apples, almost astringent with very little sweetness. This apple was both mealy and a little waxy, there was a really slight cider-like apple flavor just in the middle of the palate, but the finish almost had a vegital bitterness. This was one of the deepest red apples I've ever seen. I found Rome Apple used as a descriptor for the 2005 Cup of Excellence in Bolivia where there's also some citrus rind and other sharp flavor descriptors used: www.sweetmarias.com/boliviaCoEresults2005.htm

Honeycrisp: The honeycrisp is a modern apple variety developed by the Univ. of Minnesota to be an apple that could be grown in cooler climates. The honeycrisp I had in this tasting was one of the smaller ones, where as the bigger ones tend to exceptionally crisp, as per the name, and incredibly sweet, the smaller one on the table today had a texture that was just a little more crisp than the gala, but not quite as the Fuji. It was indeed super sweet, syrupy and juicy, with a long lasting sweet finish. The Costa Rica Finca Salaca Las Brisas is described as having crisp apple and white grape nots...