Sweet Maria's Weblog

there is no "i" in gesha ...

... meaning, share with others: we want this lot to get to as many folks as possible, so there is a 1 lb. limit per person. anyway, we lucked upon a bit more of the hacienda la esmeralda especial, that is, the 100% gesha lot that we offered earlier. to get it here in good shape (being late crop, and with the seasonal change in boquete region) we flew the coffee here on continental airlines. however, high price air travel could not save our precious, expensive lot from being slashed by customs ... oops, now it is customs and border security. this esmeralda special gesha (no, not geisha) is in and the cup is consistent with the previous lot, meaning, excellent! -tom panama gesha bag, split by customs

not-so-recent coffee trips

Finca Agua Tibia schoolI slacked off after my quadruple header of Central Cup of Excellences (what is the plural of excellence?) Anyway, I never put the pictures up. I don't always make travelogs for every trip, but if I take pictures I ususally edit them, write something and put them up. But 4 competitions in a row (actually, 5 counting Panama) is just too much! Anyway, here are the pictures from the 2006 Guatemala Cup of Excellence and related travels, just a few hundred photos, scant commentary and some mopey musings mixed in. And here's a link to the pictures from the 2006 El Salvador Cup of Excellence, featuring "blinky man" and the wiggling butts video (how can you miss that)! If you didn't see it, the motherlode of travelogs is the 2006 Peru Trip, over 600 photos, and some good stuff in there too. And if you are wondering why you never saw all these links before on the sweet maria's site, it's because a. the site is labyrinthine, and b. you never made it to The Coffee Library page.

3 new coffee lots

New coffee arrivals yet again. We have a new lot of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe - Moledina 3993, traditional wet-processed floral and citrus, but not sour. This lot is remarkably sweet (think ripe tangerine). The name? It is from the exporter who brought this coffee to our attention, and 3993 is the final digits of the "chop" (ICO lot number). On a different note, new crop Indonesia continues to trickle in. No, not the Sulawesi (which we expect in December, a very short crop this season). No, not another Sumatra. This time a heavy-bodied Timor FTO Maubesse . This lot has more "Java-like" character, more rustic, foresty Indonesia funk than last year's peaberry lot, and a ton of think, viscous body. It also makes a great S.O. espresso at FC+ roast. And for you classic espresso hounds, there's a new lot of India Organic Washed Robusta. Organic from India is good since they have the habit of puffing methyl bromide into the containers before they seal them up. It's not as nasty as it sounds, and a strange choice to make since good clean Specialty coffee is not going to have little bugs crawling around in it (low grade coffees harvested from the ground are a better target for fumigation). Anyway, I have been researching methyl bromide and will write more about the fumigation issue a bit later.

new coffees (gran finales)

The final installment in the '06 Cup of Excellence chapter, our 2 lots from El Salvador have arrived. The most expensive coffee in the auction, the second place lot is El Salvador Cup of Excellence #2 - Los Planes, and exotic cup with Dutch cocoa, pine oils, green apple, marzipan ... now that's character! And our sleeper favorite was the El Salvador Cup of Excellence #12 - El Zapote, with marmalade, dried dark fruit, and blackberry sweetness. In another grand finale announcement, the last main crop Kenya of the season is here, and talk about ending on a high note. Kenya AA Auction Lot 764 -Ndaroini Nyeri is a sweet, citric cup, lemon custard, blackberry-currant fruits, spice (corriander) accents; a remarkabley lively cup.

fruit or ferment

I thought I had a good idea of what a fermented taint was but with discussions here and some of Tom's latest coffee descriptions I am just confused now. So the question is: when does Intense Fruit cross the line into a Fermented Taint? Thanks, David
Not an easy question, and exactly the point of offering these 2 coffees that push that limit: Ethiopia FTO Lekempti Dry Process and (to a much lesser extent) Juan Francisco El Salvador. Partly, it is subjective ... on the other hand, a truly fermenty coffee will fade within a few months, and just taste dirty. I just cupped a Sumatra today that is another "challenging" cup profile in the same way; very fruity, but remaining more on the clean side (when I taste mustiness or mold, that IS, by all standards, over the line). Take this same debate over into the realm of food and you find a lot of parallels. For me, the analogy is between very refined food (for example, white sugar sweetness) versus more "natural" food (for example, raw unfiltered honey, sorghum syrup, unsulphered blackstrap mollases). The later contain sweetness with other flavors many would consider earthy, herbal, groundy, vegetal, woody, etc. Now, I don't know where the line is between them: I don't want to subsist on a diet that tastes like fungus and rotting wood, but I also don't want to have a sanitized, boring diet of clean-flavored, homogenized food. The same goes for coffee. There are coffee cuppers who reject even the slightest suggestion of unorthodoxy, of the unexpected, in their coffee. Seriously, it is true ... they want "clean, sweet, floral, citric, slight chocolate note" every time. Even flavors like nuts, cedar, and spice can cause them to suspect a coffee of uncleanliness. Most on the other extreme (in my experience) accept really marginal flavors because they roast coffee heavily ... "west coast roast" types who can't live without DP Ethiopias and DP Sumatras. My opinion: we should try to be flexible, and open to new tastes. We want coffee with character, something surprising ... but not a coffee that can't be stored for 6 months green and still cup with the same quality. That IS important. But in general, the question you raise is something that is open-ended and should always be a matter for debate. And in a way it is good that cuppers don't agree on this; just another way the coffee trade is heterogeneous; that we don't all offer the same thing because we don't agree! -Tom