Sweet Maria's Weblog

The Mini-500

One of our regular home roasting customers (and super nice guy) Henry Chang dropped by today to show us his Mini 500. No, not his sub-compact sports car...his mini-shop roaster. Henry personally imported it from Taiwan a few years back. It looked very cool parked next to our much larger Probat roaster. The Mini 500 is a propane burning drum roaster that has can roast 500 g. (just over 1 lb.) per batch. It’s essentially a sample roaster or small-scale commercial roaster, with a variable cast iron drum, needle gas valve for flame adjustment and an external cooling tray. Henry vents his roaster using dryer tubing, which attaches perfectly to the top of the chaff cyclone. It’s a fun roaster to use, but we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone without a good deal of roasting experience under his/her belt. Are we going to sell it on sweetmarias.com any time soon? No way. Hottops, Gene Cafe's, Behmors, FreshRoasts, Nescos and popcorn poppers are more our speed. 

 

Here's some Mini 500 stats...
  • 500 g. capacity (just over 1 lb)
  • cast iron drum
  • chaff collector
  • variable drum speed
  • adjustable damper for exit air
  • gas burner with needle valve for fine adjustments
  • cooling tray with powerful fan
  • bean probe & ambient temperature readout

A New Coffee Cavalcade

Brazil Sertao Carmo de Minas is one of the cleaner and sweeter Brazils we've cupped lately with honey sweetness, nut roast tones, and versatility in espresso blends or as SO.

Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca Regalito has stewed peaches and balanced sweetness, also great for SO espresso.

Nicaragua Finca Santa Elena Caturra is clean and crisp with peach notes, succinct malty finish, and a juicy mouthfeel.

Hawaii Kona Kowali Farm Typica has a wonderful brightness that is sometimes lacking in mild Hawaiian lots, white grape notes, cane sugar, and a long lasting honeyed finish.

Kenya Nyeri Kagumo-ini Peaberry is vibrantly tangy, with sweet mandarin orange acidity, caramel sweetness and a pleasant citrus zest finish.

Sulawesi Seletan Peaberry has honey and caramel sweetness with apple, green grape and kumquat notes at light roasts and bittersweet cocoa at darker levels.

Five Very Sweet New Coffees

Bolivia Buenavista Organic Colonia Villa Rosario has dark fruits like raisin, black currant, and tamarind in a balanced cup.

Colombia San Antonio Lot #230 has raw sugar and caramel sweetness with stone fruits and silky mouthfeel; good SO espresso.

Peru Organic Lot #16 has caramel mouthfeel, crisp apple notes and nice sweetness; a great daily drinking coffee.

Kenya Kiawamururu AB is a tongue-turning cup with intense brightness, red currant acidity, winey ripe fruits, and vanilla notes.

Rwanda Karongi Gitesi is an amazingly "complete" cup with delicate brightness, mandarin orange notes, cane syrup, apricot, acacia blossoms and clean clover honey.

Tasting: Cupping vs. Filtered Brewing

Last week I took part in a coffee event, a barista competition of sorts, in Denver. CO. I had been asked to come down and deliver an interesting tasting experience. I was scratching my head for the better part of the week trying to decide what I might do for this particular event when I was lucky enough to receive some coffees from a roaster in Chicago who had purchased the coffee via Coffee Shrub. Among the coffees were two different roasts of the same Kenya, a coffee that I was already familiar with through my own tasting so I though it could be a great way to gather some notes for the roaster from a decent sized crowd as well as serve the purpose of the talking point coffee for the event.

As many of you have probably read here and otherwise in the Sweet Maria's Library, I've done plenty of side by side comparisons of different roasts of the same coffee. In order to make this particular tasting a little more interesting I added one more element. We would look at the two different roasts side by side via cupping, but then we would also look at the coffees side by side via a Chemex brew with a paper filter. How would the paper filtration affect our ability to taste the difference between the two roasts of the same coffee?

Now, the difference between the two roasts appeared on the surface to be a rather small difference, about 30 seconds of time during the first crack. During this point of the roast there is ongoing caramelization.  It's the point of the roast where the cellular structure of the coffee is at its most elastic and the cellulose is breaking down into non-sugar complex carbohydrates that can lend themselves to perceived mouthfeel.

The testing was blind but the results were quite telling and almost universal in terms of preference. Most people who took part in the tasting preferred the slightly longer roast, saying it had more sweetness, more potent of a dry fragrance, and a longer more fruited finish. The shorter roast was still very nice but had more aggressively bright acidity in the front of the palate with a drier, shorter finish. The preference was overwhelmingly the longer coffee. The really interesting part is that the differences between the roasts were much more evident through the Chemex brew with the paper filter. Generally, the sweetness, the perceived acidity and where they were perceived on the palate were much clearer in the filtered brew.

The cupping brew is much closer to a press pot brew and the thicker liquid can in some ways make it difficult for some...

...As Promised, A Few More Before The Weekend

Bolivia Organic Buenavista #1738 is very sweet with almond notes and Bartlett pear flavor.

Peru Organic Puno - Lot #33 has subtle acidity, red apple and walnut skin tannins.

Java Sunda Mayang has a fruit jam quality and a savory/umami quality that pairs well with the juicy body.

Sulawesi AA Tana Toraja with balanced sweetness, crisp green apple, melon, and a slightly earthy quality, a very unique cup.