Sweet Maria's Weblog

coffee conference melancholia

it is time once again for the scaa convention, this time down in happening long beach,ca . yes, the long beach near the oil fields, near the port, near l.a.; the long beach everyone talks about. (maybe i can sneak over to San Pedro for some excitement). i must confess a certain dread. it's a massive swarm of people from all over the globe, and Iowa too. And 94% of them have absolutely no relevance to what we do here at sweet maria's on a daily basis. well, the coffee business has never been much about coffee, sadly. and to the extent that it is, this includes a wide range of interests from flavoring extracts, to shiny designer accessories, from those hapless puck-polishers with sage-infused micro-foam to powdered chai latte pushers. then there is the Coffee Cognoscenti, the group of scaa insiders with rows of badges pinned to their sleeves, running around to speeches, forums, panels and workshops. Invariably, it's those who are selling something (themselves), either directly as a consultant, or with an eye to climbing the rungs in the coffee industry, or for general status. They have something to gain by appearing knowledgeable in front of others. And there there is me and the rest of my ilk, mildly traumitized, skulking around, keeping our heads down, trying to avoid conversations and glean what little there is from the trade show floor. i know, it's probably the same in your industry ... conventions are much alike. if you were on the student board in high school, if you went to the pep rallies, if you got your picture in the yearbook a few times, you probably have no problem with conventions. so hurrah for the coffee convention, the generic high-profile keynote speaker, the ribbon-wearers and panelists at "Pushing the Right Button: Choosing a POS System" and "Location? Predicting Potential Business Success". I will be issuing a facinating report on "dust-bunny size and location in the convention hall foyer" postscript: my grumpy 2007 scaa report has no pictures of dust bunnies, sadly. -tom

kenya aa kiambu -kimathi; mexico fto oaxaca pluma

Kenya has arrived. Our first lot of Main crop, Auction Lot Kenya is here: Kenya AA Kiambu - Kimathi. The initial cup results are outstanding (but the full review is not complete yet). Kiambu regional coffees, along with Meru and Thika districts, were the first to distiguish themselves in the cuppings this year, with Nyeri and Kirinyaga regions peaking a bit later. We have quite a few selections coming, but it takes between 6 weeks and 10 weeks to work out all the logisitcs and actually receive each lot. So this Kiambu is our first of many excellent lots we have already bid upon and won in the Kenya auctions. On a different note, it looks like it will be a fine year for Oaxaca, if our first new crop arrival is an indication: Mexico FTO Oaxaca Pluma. The light roast have a great toasted almond tone, while it turns to tangy bittersweet chocolate at FC/FC+ roast. We have another Oaxaca lot arriving late next week too, which will offer a contrasting cup (a fruited and winey hint). But in overall scoring this FTO lot remains on top for more dynamic brightness, and excellent aromatic character. Okay, we need more pictures here in this "blog" so here's my favorite tire photo from my last origin cupping trip -Tom

guatemala, nicaragua - more centrals unloaded

The roll call for Centrals continues with two new arrivals. Guatemala Fraijanes - Finca Agua Tibia is extra nice this year, tons of spice and tangy chocolate. And we have an outstanding Nicaragua FTO Esteli - Miraflor Coop, with almond roast notes, milk chocolate and clean fruit in the finish.

back from costa rica, brought coffee with me...

Not really; I can't pack 8000 Lbs of Costa Rican coffee in my checked baggage and bring it back. But it so happens that while I was in Costa Rica cupping micro-lot coffees, our first two new crop arrivals from arrived. They are well-known to our regulars. Some coffees we carry each year because they consistently perform so well on the cupping table. We just received Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu - Conquistador and Costa Rica Tres Rios - La Magnolia and they are true-to-form, exemplary lots. And we have another Yemeni offering: Yemen Mokha Haimi is an intense, spicey, fruited cup with fresh leather accents: sounds odd? Well, it is Yemen coffee, of course it is odd.

some new mokapots, cone filters, knock box, piddley stuff

We have some new products this week. We are stocked a new model of Moka Pot (i.e. stovetop espresso). The Bialetti Musa Mokapot is brushed stainless steel, remarkably sturdy and looks pretty sharp too. We have 3 different size; 4 tasse, 6 tasse and 10 tasse. We have a new Commercial Espresso Knock Box, stainess steel with a nice big non-slip rubber base. And as a preview (coming in a week), we have a new larger sized Porcelain #4 Cone Filter Holder (I have been looking for these for years!). We also have an elegantly simple Porcelain #1 Drip Pot Set, a filter cone and matching pot with lid. Once agian, these porcelain items come in a week or so.