We are at the tail end of the '07 crop of Ethiopian coffees and this Special Selection Sidamo was one of the best lots from a less than stellar crop cycle. Processed using a labor-intensive method similar to the Misty Valley, this coffee has loads of character and a rainbow of bean colors at the Full City roast that we targeted for today. You may have seen our recent Tiny Joy newsletter that breaks down the whole Quakers in coffee phenomenon and this is the coffee that led to that newsletter. I spend a good bit of time culling out as many of these little light colored devils in the cooling tray but it is impossible to spot them all and some of them are even desirable for this cup to retain its true character. This coffee has wonderful blueberry notes and spice in a complex cup so we kept it in the City +/Full City range. That meant a final thermo-probe temperature of 440 and a roast time of 16:20. First crack happened around the 13:00 mark at 415 degrees. As a fun experiment try brewing a pot of this coffee with no lighter beans and then brew a pot with some of the lighter beans left in, there should be quite a difference in the cup characteristics and you might find that you like one better than the other.
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We have an array of new arrivals. An early new crop Central, El Salvador Matalapa Estate is cupping excellent, with that buttery Bourbon-type body and balance, and floral citrus accent notes. From Brazil we have a full natural single estate arrival, Brazil Cachoeira Yellow Bourbon Dry-Process, with heavy body, low acidity, fruit and brown sugar sweetness. And we have 2 Tanzania arrivals from the Southern districts. Tanzania Hassambo Macro-Lot Peaberry is from a single cooperative and has a winey fruit tone, lower acidity, and good depth. The brighter lot is the Tanzania Nyamtimbo Peaberry lot, which is more in the "alto" range, but has dynamic winey accents too. As our special guest cupper Saul Goodyawl says, "S' all good, y'all".
I spent last week in Guatemala cupping new crop coffees and checking out a few farms that we really liked from last year. My Guatemala travelogue doesn't have a lot of comments, but there's a few nice photos! Above, checking out ripe Yellow Bourbon cherry as it comes into the mill after a day of harvesting.
We sample roasted this lovely coffee from Rwanda to four different levels on Thursday and cupped it this morning. Everyone knows that roasted coffee tastes way better after a few days of resting right? So, it is always crucial to think ahead when we are targeting roasts. Derek and I agreed that the middle two roasts were much better than the lightest and darkest roasts. It just so happened that the darkest roast clearly contained a bean with the dreaded potato defect and the whole cup tasted like drinking coffee through a paper towel roll, gross. Rwanda coffees sometimes contain this type of defect and if you brew up a cup at whatever level roast with a defective bean look out, you'll need a palate readjustment afterwards. The two middle roasts that we liked were incredible with the sweet and sour fruit notes Tom mentions in the review. What I liked about the second lightest roast was the fruit and finish and what Derek like about the second darkest roast was the bittersweet and berry. So, to achieve the best of both roasts I targeted the final roast temp. at 438. The first batch was almost exactly the same color (after grinding, of course) as the darker roast so I dialed it back to 436 for the remaining five batches. Total roast time clocked in at a whopping 17:50 for this dense coffee. It doesn't really expand as much as some other coffees and ends up looking a little blotchy, but we know this isn't a beauty contest, it's all about taste. Speaking of taste, I mentioned at the top of this post how roasted coffee can really change over the span of a few days and this applies particularly to the light roasted coffee we often offer up to our customers. Patience is more than a virtue when it comes to home roasting, it is a necessity to truly enjoy the fruits of your labor. Tom was gone all last week in Guatemala and when he returned he remarked how some of the coffees he'd cupped in a marathon of sample roasting last Saturday tasted this Saturday, some of them were so much better after even a full week of resting. Now, we all know you can't wait too long, then you've got stale coffee and missed the window. But next time you do some roasting try keeping some around for as much as four or five days and notice how the taste changes over that time period. Fresh is just a word, don't get hung up on drinking things too soon, you will be missing out on whole worlds of flavor.
Today we are roasting a pooled Colombia lot from a hundred or so small growers at elevations ranging from 1,600 to 1,900 meters. This is an interesting coffee because it has good qualities at a wide range of roasts from C+ all the way to Vienna. We roasted the samples to four different levels and chose the darkest version which was Full City. When I tried to replicate this roast on the Probat the first batch hit first crack at 405 degrees near the 14:30 mark. Final roast time was 17:00 and I stopped the roast when the thermo-probe hit 438. After grinding up a sample of the target roast and my first batch I compared the color and it looked like I went a little bit too light. Subsequent batches are being taken up to 442 degrees and I'll blend in the slightly lighter first batch--you might want to know that I am roasting 11 total batches today (not to mention 6 batches of Espresso, and 2 batches of Decaf!) so the light beans will be less than 10% of the total beans roasted. The nice thing about a coffee like this is blending a few different roast levels together sometimes yields better results in the cup than just having one roast level. I'm hoping to succeed in getting that dynamic cup Tom speaks of in the review that is both bright and balanced.