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!
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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
Coffee Cultivars: Here is a collection of images from my travels of many different types of varietals. I thought it would be interesting to pull all these together into one page ... well, 3 pages since there are so many of them. Central America Travelogues and pictures ...Ben and Maria met me in Costa Rica for a Central America Family Coffee get-together, and then we all went to the Best of Panama competition in Boquete. During and after the 2009 El Salvador Cup of Excellence, I visited some of our important coffee sources, such as Aida Batlle's Kilimanjaro farm, and Vickie Dalton's Finca Matalapa. Here's some photos of my El Salvador Travels . And here are the El Salvador Cup of Excellence 2009 photos. Woo!
We are launching our new Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting Forum in advance of the long weekend. It is meant to supplement the email home roast list and to preserve the good discussions we have on focused topics - discussions that are useful for the new roaster and the experienced roaster alike. Please take a look at the forum, sign up so you can secure your username, and let us know what you think! -Tom