Sweet Maria's Weblog

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...

Three of Our Latest Coffee Additions

Hope you had a chance to check out our latest offerings. If not, here they are...


Ethiopia Dry-Process Gr. 1 Aricha has that strawberry/blueberry jam-like sweetness that fans of Dry-Process coffees crave, this is a small lot so we're limiting the offering to 1's and 2's only.


Kenya Nyeri AB Gatomboya our second arrival of Gatomboya AB is packed with stone fruit flavors and is sweet and complex at various roast levels.


Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend is back! Folks have been wondering if we'd offer this again, and we finally have the right components on hand to revive this dual use blend with a brooding cup profile, intense syrupy body and bittersweet chocolate notes.

Dreary Wednesday Espressos

The weather has finally turned to fall here in the Bay Area, leaving us in the  warehouse dragging a bit.  Time for mid-afternoon espressos! The Ethiopia Goma Duromina is a delicious shot. - Maria

Two Great New Additions This Week

Kenya Nyeri Karogoto AB is one of our top Kenyas of the year, loaded with fruit, substantial sweetness and a long, honeyed finish.


Sumatra Pak Lintong Joner has great rustic sweetness, Concord grape notes, and mulling spice in the finish.

Oh So Clever

 Last Friday, Oct 26th, I participated in a brewing event at the SCAA headquarters in Long Beach, CA. There were 7 stations/brew methods and 2 coffees. The coffees were a Costa Rica from the Helsar mill roasted by Verve Coffee Roasters and a Washed Ethiopia Yukro from Portola Coffee lab. The brew methods were: Chemex with Able Kone filter, Press Pot, Aeropress with paper filter, Hario V60, Clever, Fetco batch brewer, and Espresso. The discussion was less about a straight up comparisson of the brewing methods, but rather was centered around the sweetness of a coffee and how the different brew methods delivered the sweetness of the coffee. The people working each station also talked about the pro and cons of each method and what was necessary to brew well with them at home, excluding the larger batch brewer and espresso machine.

For me personally, I felt that for the Costa Rica that the Fetco batch brewer really did the best job of showing the sweetness of that coffee. For the Ethiopia, I was very pleasantly surprised at the brew in the press pot! The press pot has been getting poo-poo'd quite a bit these days in specialty coffee circles, very unfairly if you ask me. The common misconception is that you can't brew a "brighter" coffee with the device, that it will become much too aggresively acidic. In this brew there was tons of the honey-suckle floral notes of this coffee present, and a really lovely and long finishing sweetness. If anything, I found this brew to be the most balanced of the set except for one other method.

The Clever dripper was most everyones' favorite brew out of all of the methods for both coffees. Most people also found that the Clever brew was also the sweetest iteration of both coffees. I mention this because there were a handful of folks who's favorite wasn't what they considered to be the sweetest cup. 

During the discussion following the tasting there was really just a little bit of talk about comparing one method to the other, outside of talking about what the favorite cup was. The conversation that was more actively participated in was about the moods of the different methods. This was really interesting, with the Chemex having a social mood, and the Aeropress was both technical yet playful at the same time. We also compared methods to different shoe styles, with the Clever being a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors, the Fetco being a steel toed work boot, and the Aeropress being those sort of creepy toe shoes!

These kind of conversations can be really fun...