Two arrivals mark a first and a last. The first of many new crop Costa Rica lots is here from Cafetalera Herbazu, a fully washed coffee with prickly acidity, so bright and lively it might inspire an aria or two.. And the last Kona of the year, another excellent lot from Kowali Farm in Honaunau area of the Kona coast has arrived and is cupping very, very well. -Tom
Sweet Maria's Weblog
Because I have so much spare time and hardly any coffee samples are arriving at this time of year (LOL) I took on the crazy frozen coffee cherry experiment. These are 07-08 harvest coffee fruits that were picked ripe and frozen whole. I had tried cupping thisnonce before and nearly vomitted but the results from these 6 samples by Aida at Kilimanjaro were really nice. I was surprised mostly by the body. Tons of it. No doubt there has been some physical breakdown of the coffee that results in more solids iin the cupbut the flavors were good. Funky but good. - Tom
I have had the opportunity to cup our Hacienda Esmeralda Gesha vac pack lots (#2, #10) from last year against the new crop, and was surprised at the quality of the '08 coffees. I took the most expensive coffee from the '09 auction home for the weekend, and brewing it every which way, I made coffee I thought was "nice" but nothing that really popped out, nothing I would pay $117 a pound for! It made me think about what I really would pay for a very special coffee, and during the long Memorial Day weekend I came up with a figure, $45 per pound, as a reasonable amount for really top notch, award winning coffee. At that rate, each cup is about $2, which seems like a fair price. And if I roasted a batch that really "nailed it on the head" and another that was a shade too dark, or too light, I wouldn't be all broken up about it. So I decided, given the fact we have a few expensive coffees in vacuum pack that are not selling in this down economy, why not have a $45/Lb. sale? We are offering our formerly $125 Panama Esmeralda Gesha Lot 2 for $45/Lb (without the pound of Lot 10 we were previously pairing it with), and we also have the $92 Guatemala Cup of Excellence #1, El Injerto Pacamara, a blistering-good coffee, at $45 per Lb. We are also reducing the price on Panama Esmeralda Gesha Lot 10 to $13/Lb in anticipation of the '09 lot we bought, which will sell for around $35 per Lb when it arrives. We bought only about 300 pounds of Esmeralda in the auction this year. We have cupped all of these vacuum pack coffees and they are fresh as they day they came in!
More arrivals to post to the list, two South Americans and a surprisingly drinkable robusta: Brazil Cachoeira Yellow Canario Bourbon, a complex cup with a velvety feel and malted/cocoa at lighter roasts. Again, our recommendation is to keep this somewhat atypical Brazil light in roast. Next up, the fruits of our continuing Colombian Microlot project: Colombia "Platos Fuertes de Huila" MicroLot Mix, a blend of smaller micro-lots from Huila, light and effervescent with apricot tastes. And lastly, an interesting and relatively clean Robusta for your espresso blends: India Robusta - Jeelan Estate Nirali. And you can see new coffees listed on the weblog over in the right column, and subscribe to new coffee announcements via RSS.
Roast Coffee Pairings #3: Africanized: Taste the Future. Wet-process coffees from Africa can be surprisingly different: Kenyas are over-the-top acidic, while Rwandas have clean and balanced flavor profiles. The Burundi Kayanza Bwayi No.7 lot is quite similar to the latter: it is sweet, faultless, and has the beautiful aroma you might find in Rwandan Bourbon coffees. Ugandas are something quite different; generally available as large, homogenized lots, Ugandas have a rustic fruity sweetness. I happened to find this large lot (Uganda Organic Bugisu) with really nice lemony cup character, a rarity in Uganda. For this pairing, I thought it would be interesting to look at these two, very different lots side-by-side to compare the cup flavors, and to see a bit of the future. Within the next few years I think we will see micro-regional Uganda offerings, as we have this year for the first time from Burundi, and as we did beginning several years ago from Rwanda. While these are both wet-processed coffees, roasted to the same City+ level (424 f bean temp measure on Probat roaster), they are quite different. The Uganda is a nice cup, and more typical of East African coffees. It's a little funky, has heavier body, fruit and a slight herbal quality. The Burundi really shows the potential of East Africa; it's a bourbon cultivar (like much of Rwanda coffee) and a very dense bean. It has zero defects (the Uganda had some under-ripes, some quakers, which we manually removed to some degree), and a refined cup. It reminds me more of a wet-process Central than an African coffee, with clean crisp brightness, raisin fruit note, lighter body. I wouldn't score one of these higher than the other because in their own right, each cup is excellent. But the Uganda tastes more like a dry-process coffee with it's definite fruitiness, and the Burundi is a very well prepared wet-process from a great varietal. - Tom