Sweet Maria's Weblog
Sweetness, Dear Sweetness. If there is one quality of good coffee that can't be underrated, it is sweetness. You might not notice it at first (especially since bittering flavors are intrinsic to any coffee), but an absence of sweetness is akin to the absence of acidity. The cup is lacking without it. To illustrate how much sweetness can be a good thing we present one of our all time favorite coffees around these parts Costa Rica Helsar Organic Naranjo. When you smell the aroma as it brews, you can find lemon and citrus, piquant, delicate sour notes. But paired with that is a clean, articulate sweetness in the cup. Pay attention to the finish, the aftertaste, and I hope you will find a refined sweetness as the coffee flavors fade. If you don't, it is time to clean your coffee brewer! We could have chosen many extreme coffees that are aggressive and unsweet, Indonesia wet-hulled types, an Aged coffee, Monsooned, etc. But that wouldn't be fair. While the differences are more subtle, we wanted to chose a wet-processed coffee from the Central America neighborhood, one with a modicum of sweetness, ranging toward the baker's chocolate roast flavor. For this coffee I select the Guatemala San Jose Pinula -La Trinidad. Again, pay attention to the finish' this coffee has a lot of body, and a very attractive chocolate bittering aftertaste, not without sweetness, but certainly more in the realm of "pleasant bittering" flavors. I know, this is not a "hit you over the head" obvious difference. But I think you can observe the difference if you evaluate them side-by-side. As for the roast we have taken the Guatemala to a nice City+ roast with a very gentle roast profile with greatly reduced heat at the end of the roast cycle. The Costa Rica Helsar was roasted just a shade lighter, still in the City+ range to highlight the wonderful sweetness in this lot. This pairing should be an outstanding example of the degrees of sweetness available in two Central American coffees, Sweetness, we love you.
There were some coffees listed while I was away (well, ones I had reviewed before I left for Africa for 3 weeks) - here they are ...
2/27: Yet more arrivals! To the tune of 3! It's the return of a rare region: Ecuador Puyango Loja, a medium cup with floral, apple and peach notes; Another organic central is added: Costa Rica Helsar Oganic Naranjo, with cocoa and orange tastes; and lastly, Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul, with caramel, black tea, cinnamon tones, it does well along a full range of roasts.
2/18: We have three more arrivals! ... Our new Espresso Workshop Blend: Espresso Workshop #3 Basaltic Bourbon blend, a lively and clean blend of Bourbon varietals; Colombia "Dos Payasos de Tolima" (3-star), a lightly spiced cup with apple and caramel, it's a new offering from our Tolima project; and finally a great coffee from Burundi, clean and sweet, similar to a Rwanda Bourbon: Burundi Kayanza Bwayi No. 7
2/17: We have three new arrivals today: El Salvador Matalapa Estate Bourbon, becoming a classic Bourbon offering for us, nicely balanced with orange and praline; Ethiopia Organic Kemala "Korito Koran", , A new certified-organic direct trade coffee, great for dark roasts, SO espresso and blends: thick body, fruit finish, chocolate; and finally... from the Southern region of Sulawesi: Sulawesi Enrekang "Mount Alla", a more 'Sumatran' profile chocolately...
I arrived in Nairobi for the Kenya leg of my trip ... the longest coffee trip I have taken actually, at 20 days. It's nice to have a travel day, some hotel time here in Nairobi, and a chance to reflect on Ethiopia. Having gone to both the West (Dire Dawa, Harar) and the South (Sidama, Yirga Cheffe) was interesting. They are so different! One thing is clear, that the crop is small in all areas, and that the new Coffee Exchange that replaces the Auctions, called the ECX, has everyone confused. (http://www.ecx.com.et/) I am not even going to try to explain it here, but the consequence is that the entire coffee supply chain is constipated. Nothing is moving; cooperatives and private mills aren't delivering coffee, the Addis Ababa dry mills are not running, and nothing is shipping. That's not good for the coffee either, to sit in parchment when it ready for hulling, sorting, and export. So we'll see how it plays out in the next couple weeks, which are critical. I was able to do a fair amount of cupping of new crop lots, alongside some of my compadres, and am happy with the quality of both the wet-process and dry-process coffees. Koratie is cupping really well, and the raised-bed Harar project lots were ranging from really good to fantastic! While I have been to Ethiopia several times, it was my first real trip to the south and that leg was so rewarding. I have uploaded a few preliminary pictures to flickr (see the sidebar to the left) and am still sorting through a bazillion more.