Monthly Archive for December, 2007

Completely Unfair Last Minute Additions

We have some interesting new lots, and I realize it’s a rather unfair to add them today since we must close at noon to finish up all our outbound shipping. Well, it leaves something to look forward to later! The shopping cart is activated again on December 26th, and we start shipping again on January 2nd. Anyway …. The first is from unspecified farms in Antioquia district, a pooled lot we call Colombia Antioquia “13353″ Supremo that just happensto have great cup character. There are 2 late-arriving Kenya lots,our last until new crop. Kenya AA Giakanja Coop Coffee Mill is an oddball Kenya with a twist of Indonesia rustic fruit in the darker roasts. Kenya Muranga -Kianderi Peaberry is very floral, lemony, alto-range flavor profile, especially with a City to City+ roast treatment. And we have a new lot of Aged Sumatra Grade One Lintong that is complex, and surprisingly sweet for an aged coffee. We also have a really nice lot of Sumatra Lintong Nihuta KVW Decaf that truly cups like a good non-decaf Sumatra.

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Yellow Bourbon – Indonesia Flores

El Salvador Yellow Bourbon

We ran out of the Orange Bourbon, but the sister lot El Salvador Yellow Bourbon Cultivar is now here. Bourbon coffee is a classic cultivar, named for the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was originally cultivated. When we call it classic, we mean not just the fact that it is a lower-yield, heirloom plant, and that it has a very dense seed that roasts well, but also the cup character. Bourbon (pronounced Bore-Bone), especially those from El Salvador, are neo-typical Central American coffees. They are bright, aromatic, balanced, semisweet or bittersweet, chocolatey and have a creamy mouthfeel. Most of this cultivar have fruit that ripen to a red color, hence Red Bourbon, Orange Bourbon (rare), and then there is Yellow Bourbon too. Yellow Bourbon tends to be more fragile on the tree and in harvest, so in many areas (with Brazil as an exception) you do not see much Yellow Bourbon. We have special Yellow Bourbon from Guatemala (Finca Retana in Antigua) and then there is this lot of El Salvador. It is from a farm I visited last year called El Molino de Santa Rita. The cup has a toasty sweetness in the fragrance, and the wet aroma has clean fruited notes, with a touch of lemon in the lighter roasts. The cup flavors are bright and crisp at City to City+, and have honeydew melon hints at Full City roast. I like the complexity that emerges at FC roast where bittersweet notes mingle with refined, sweet fruit, and extend well into the aftertaste. Toasty sweetness is present from the start to finish in the aromatics and cup here. It has a great balance overall, making it a quintessential classic Central American flavor profile.

We also have new crop Indonsesia Flores – Bajawa Highlands, which is an interesting full-bodied cup much like our new lot of Bali arabica. Flores is a small island (360 km from tip to tip) in the Indonesian archipelago around 200 nautical miles East of Bali. Flores was known as Pulau Nipa (Snake Island) before the Portuguese arrived and they renamed it Flores (Flower Island). A very long thin Mountainous land with incredibly diverse terrain, and numerous active and inactive volcanic peaks. The Bajawa Highlands are one of the most traditional areas of Flores. Bajawa is a small town nestled in the hills and is the centre for the Ngada people of this high, fertile plateau. The coffee is grown between 1150 and 1400 meters, which is actually quite respectable altitude for Indonesian coffee farming. This is not the first time I have cupped coffee from Flores, but it is the first time I found it so (appropriately) floral, clean in the cup, and pleasantly akin to a good Timor or Papua New Guinea wet-processed coffee. It’s not easy to get smallholder farms in remote areas to process coffee carefully; the results from these hinterland growing regions usually reflect this. But here we can really taste the character of the area without defect. The dry fragrance is mildly floral and has a foresty note to it, suggesting it’s Indonesian origin. There are pleasant fresh woody notes wet aroma, and that comes through in the cup, but more like a good East Timor than like a funky, earthy There’s a huge difference between the City to City+ roasts here (nutty, drying mouthfeel, sweet, almost floral, bittersweet finish) and the FC roasts. FC and darker are exponentially more “Indonesian” in character, big body, chocolate, pungency, bittersweetness. And it makes great SO espresso too. The body seemed light after 24 hours rest but was much heavier after an additional 24. Both in the body and aftertaste, this coffee has a syrupy sweetness. It is not overly complex, which is why Timor and Java come to mind … but much more balanced than the later with a good range from bass to treble in the cup. �

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We have another late harvest Main Crop Auction Lot Kenya arrival, a bright, dynamic, fruited, slightly winey offering: Kenya AA Nyeri -Gachatha Coop. We also have an early Kona that despite being a mill-mark coffee (not a specific farm), is an outstanding cup: Hawaii Kona Greenwell Extra Fancy. And if our huge selection of Costa Rica micro-lots wasn’t already daunting enough, we have another addition. Costa Rica Dota Peaberry Special is a lot I hand-selected earlier in the season, and was milled just for us. It’s a bit winey, with good depth and chocolate tones.

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New Panama Lots & Extra Nice Brazil

It’s late to be receiving Central America coffees, but we had some lots of Panama squirreled away for later in the season, and they are some really nice coffees. Panama Organic La Berlina Estate is 100% old-growth Typica cultivar, and has solid balance and good body, whereas Panama Boquete Organic Los Lajones is a bright cup, like Lerida, with lemon accents. We also have a new crop, top quality Brazil from a Cerrado micro-region, that makes great brewed or extracted (espresso) coffee: Brazil Coromandel -Fazenda Sao Joao. In fact, I made one of the most stunning, floral, vibrant SO espressos from this Coromandel lot, roasted to Full City. And for you who need to detoxify a bit, Indonesia Organic SWP Komodo Blend is back in stock.

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The Coffee Haj: A first trip to Yemen

Yemen Saihi ValleyIt took a week to sort through all these 900 pictures, but my little travelogue for Yemen is ready more or less, just 350 photos or so. You can view it here at Sweet Maria’s, or on our new beta site Image Gallery. It’s one of the most intriguing coffee origins I have visited.  We  went to get the lay of the land, and get some sense of the very complex network of traders, collectors and importers within the country. I went with Duane from Stumptown (Portland/Seattle), and we bounced along the incredibly steep, rocky terrain for a week, breathed a lot of second hand cigarette smoke, chewed a lot of qat (see the travelogue to find out about qat), sat on the floors of the locals, a slept there once too. Hopefully this will mean some interesting Yemeni offerings for both our companies in March or so, when main crop Yemeni shipments start to arrive.

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