Sweet Maria's Weblog

A few new things for late summer

While Tom is in Rwanda - I have added a few new merchandise items; at long last we have Ibriks to sell again; we added a Double Wall Glass Bodum French press (which works great to keep the brew hot); and what our customers have all been waiting for.... a Sweet Maria's Soccer/Football! Okay - so no one was waiting for this, no one asked for them, but Tom thought they would be cool anyhow. We decided to sell them to help subsidize the ones we are giving away.- Maria

Race against time: 15 arrivals at once (ugh)

I am racing against the clock to add all these new arrivals before leaving for the first-ever Rwanda Cup of Excellence competition on Thursday night. I am going to split this into 3 parts: New Centrals; South America + a new DP Ethiopia; 6 new decafs arrive at once.
  • Part 1: A smattering of new crop Centrals from mid-harvest. Costa Rica Helsar "Typica Villalobos" is our second pure cultivar lot from this fine Micro-Mill, a balanced cup with soft chocolate tones. On the other extreme, a Central American that cups like a DP Sidamo; heavily fruited El Salvador Santa Rita Full Natural. (Note... I messed up; this lot arrives Thursday August 28). Then there is the famous one, #1 in Cup of Excellence for Bourbon last year, and for this cultivar in '08: Guatemala El Injerto Estate Pacamara (we will have the very spendy auction lot version later). We have a very high-grown Huehuetenango with a classic, bright cup: Guatemala Huehuetenango "Quetzal Azul". Like the Santa Rita Full Natural, we also have the Mexico Organic Nayarit Dry-Process, as we did last year. Dry-Process = Natural. Natural = Dry-Process. In Central America it means lower acidity, heavy body, fruit, and great intensity.
  • Part 2: Brazil -Colombia-Colombia-Ethiopia. It's an odd time to be getting a Brazil, with new crop 4 months out. But this lot was too distinct, with complex character: Brazil Pocos de Caldas -Fazenda Barreiro. The Colombia Organic Cauca Tierradentro (2-Star) is a really nice regional lot we found, whereas the Colombia "Perros Bravos de Huila" (3-Star) is a whole different beast, a lot we built through cupping around a hundred tiny farm-distinct Huila lots. And on a different note, a super wildly-fruited...

Mexico FTO Chiapas - La Union Coop

This week's Roastmaster coffee is a fine pooled lot from Chiapas that boasts a balanced sweet cup and can take a wide range of roasts. The first batch we roasted seemed to hit first crack rather violently, I missed backing off the heat right at 380 degrees like we've been doing and waited until 385. This caused the coffee to enter first crack with too much momentum resulting in a loud snap around 415, which is a bit later than most other coffees. For subsequent batches I was more on target and even pulled the heat back a little before it reached 380, first crack was still very loud and snappy which leads us to think the moisture content of this coffee is a touch lower than some of our other lots. Basically, roasting isn't an exact science, as you all know, each time out you need to get in "synch" with the coffee you are roasting and sometimes it takes a batch to do that. We settled on a roast in the CIty++/Full CIty range which meant a final thermoprobe temperature of 430 degrees.

Ethiopia Organic Sidamo DP Special Prep.

This Sidamo was taken to 438 degrees for a Full City roast. We used a profile that started with the heat at a very low setting then bumped it up as the coffee began to yellow. We then cut the heat dramatically near first crack, which draws out the roast and lengthens the amount of time it takes to complete first crack, especially on this dry processed coffee. Remember to cull out the lightest colored beans, called quakers, and enjoy the rustic blueberry and apricot notes in this outstanding lot. We've been enjoying the test roasts in our Technivorm here at the warehouse and hope that you like the results on the Probat.

a great assortment of new lots

Today I am listing a great assortment of new lots.
  • Perhaps the most unusual is Costa Rica RIP Red Honey Coffee. RIP? Roasted In Parchment. This coffee has not been dry-milled, the green bean is still in the outer shell. In perhaps the wackyest moment in Sweet Maria's history, we discovered you can roast coffee in the parchment shell, and it has a very unusual flavor. This is for experts only, since you can't really see the green coffee as it turns brown. See the review and the pictures of the RIP process.
  • Not quite as "out there" is our new lot of Kenya Thika Chania - French Mission Cultivar. This is a coffee lot from the original French Bourbon varietal as it was brought to Kenya by French priests in 1893, and it as a unique cup character.
  • Some will think I have gone to "the dark side" by offering a Hawaii coffee that is not a small-farm Kona. But we found the Ka'u coffees from south of Kona on the Big Island have greatly improved in recent years, none more than Hawaii Ka'u Wet-Process -Will & Grace Farm. We also got some miniscule lots from them of hand-processed Ka'u Dry-Process and Pulp Natural NanoLot coffees. Yes, NanoLots. Sub-MicroLots. Read the commentary for these...
  • For those who must have monsooned coffee in their espresso blend, we have a fine new lot of India Monsooned Malabar AA
  • Our Classic Mandheling is gone but we have a really good, traditional Grade One Lot to back it up: Sumatra Gr. 1 Mandheling. The preparation isn't pretty, but the cup has true Mandheling origin character.
  • And we have a nice lot of Sumatra Mandheling WP Decaf that scores quite well alongside it's non-decaf counterpart.