Sweet Maria's Weblog

New Colombia: Pedregal Vereda Agua Blanca

Colombia Pedregal Vereda Agua Blanca with tropical fruit notes like asian pear, passion fruit, and a hint of guava. Darker roasts will give you a little marshmallow and cacao. This coffee serves as a very nice SO espresso too.

Three fantastic new coffees

Peru Organic Lot #20 Vicente Palero Roque a very small lot that is amazingly clean with almost Yirg-like raw sugar and brilliant acidity.

Kenya Nyeri Kagumo-ini AB is sweet and juicy with a ton of fruit flavors: red apple, ripe pink grapefruit, green grape, candied orange peel and guava.

Espresso Workshop #27 - Los Tumulos has complex stone fruits from apricot to peach, intense sweetness, syrupy body and fig butter.

Keeping it Fresh

Roasted coffee that's been sitting around for too long will lose a lot of flavor. You can fight this flavor loss by storing your coffee correctly. There are a lot of different options out there so we wanted to test a few and see what the results were. We compared a mason jar, one of the coffee tins that we sell and two other containers that claim to keep their contents fresh. Each container held 35 grams of coffee and we opened all containers about once a day for a month to simulate a someone opening the container to access their coffee. As expected the coffee we used tasted pretty bad (any coffee will taste this bad after a month). Our tin and the mason jar came in 2nd and 3rd in our flavor test. 1st and 4th places were held by the two newcomers. We are looking at offering the winner in the near future.

Look forward to future Sweet Maria's science projects where we compare coffee stored in paper tin tie bags, plastic valve bags and out in open air.

Here's an older article where we describe using a mason jar for coffee storage.

New Products: Hario Drip Station and Scale

Some would say that a pour-over stand is overkill, but for the rest, these two products from Hario make brewing at home a joy. They work well on their own but when paired together, make weighing your coffee dose and water very quick and efficient. When testing these products we found that they helped even the most reluctant weighers use an exact dose and pour each time. Your cup and the dripper both sit on the stand and the stand sits on the scale so once you tare (zero-out) the weight of the stand, dripper and cup, you can weigh both your coffee grinds and hot water individually. They both have great build quality and we appreciate the simple appearences...no funky edges or buttons.

Hario Drip Stand

Hario Drip Scale

Who I met at TED

I took part in providing the coffee service at the TED conference in Long Beach, CA  this past February. The TED conference is a collection of talks given by inventors, scientists, sociologists, programmers, teachers, entertainers, and people working on projects that could have dramatic impacts on society in both large and small scales, all built around particular themes (conferences.ted.com/TED2013/). A pretty heady time but honestly the majority of people seemed to be rather open, approachable, and genuinely curious about everyone, and really into the coffee.

The coffee program was put together by the Roasters Guild and Barista Guild of America, with the Roasters Guild sourcing the coffees from roasters all over the country and the Barista Guild providing the actual service at the conference. Eight coffees were selected from the 36 submissions. There were over 30 baristas from all over the world as well who volunteered to take part in this unique coffee set up at coffee bars throughout the event campus. There was even one DIY bar set up with various manual brewing devices and a one group La Marzocco GS3 which is a hot rod of a little machine.

When we talked about the coffees with the attendees we made a point to not just say where the coffees were from, but who had roasted them and what they had tried to bring out in the coffees through the roasting, talking more about the things that the attendees might taste in the coffee rather than details that they might not be able to identify in the cup. The idea was to really promote craft and the collaboration within the coffee community.

We also made a special point not to tell people that they couldn't have cream and sugar, and made them the drinks they asked for instead of correcting them or otherwise. I know that that sounds pretty simple, but it was actually a pretty big deal. Instead of saying no to sugar, we told them that we had selected a particular sugar because we liked the way that it brought out certain aspects in the coffee. The idea was to deliver service in such a way that it promoted being excited about the coffe you got instead of embarrassed for liking it a certain way.

One thing that I thought was especially cool about the conference is that I was approached by a number of home roasters.  I was so excited when they'd come up to chat about equipment and roasting. I'm not surprised as those of us with this bug come from all different walks of life, but it was really great getting to have these...