We just received the new crop lot of Rwanda Duhingekawa Women’s Cooperative coffee from this Fair Trade group, and it has the same balanced, slightly citric profile as last year’s great delivery. Read more about their unique group here. We also have the classic Sulawesi Grade One Toraja, a traditional semi-washed Indonesia with great bean preparation (few defects, and oddly, almost no chaff when roasting). And I am off to the SCAA conference in Minneapolis. Actually, Josh and Derek are coming too, so watch out Minnesota! Maria and the crew are holding down the fort and keeping the orders rolling.
Monthly Archive for April, 2008
Wow – this Brazil is such a beautiful coffee, dark opal green color, remarkable preparation, fantastic to roast in the Probat. I used a roast profile where I reached 1st crack in 11 minutes and dropped the heat at the first pops to extend the time until target temperature of 430 f was reached. The Probat has a lot of steel in the drum and end plates, meaning that there is a lot of conduction of heat to the coffee, so you can drop your flame and “cruise” quite easily in this roaster. That’s not the case with roasters like the behmor, which is mainly radiant and convective heat, or air roasters that are pure convection. But the idea is the same, and roast profiles can be matched between different types of machines. It’s too early to really cup the coffee, but my goal is to preserve brighter tones in the cup, which should emerge as the cup cools down in tasting. The Colombia decaf was fairly light but colored quite heavily and had a loud pop. I think we’ll see oils emerge even though this is a fairly like 430 f roast, but that’s a way in which decafs can be weird. The Moka Kadir was a 460 f roast that I slowed considerably at the finish. Should have a lot of chocolate tonality!
New crop Central American lots are starting to come in. The first new crop Guatemala is from Fraijanes: Guatemala Finca La Florencia 100% Bourbon, a classic, balanced old-cultivar cup with surprisingly dense body. We also have a very limited amount of Jamaica Blue Mountain. Okay, not really. The JBM from Jamaica has cupped out flat as a board this year, but we have Hawaii Kowali Blue Mountain (JBM Cultivar) grown by this excellent small family farm in Kona.
I decided to stay a little lighter on the Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza than I might have, based on some test roasts I did. I roasted pretty much full heat until the very beginning of 1st crack; average of 1:30 minutes, 403 f. Then I brought the flame down to the minimum amount I could to draw out the roast time and yet not too little to stall the roast. This is critical, because when coffee goes exothermic during 1st crack, you must be providing enough heat to the roast charge in order to keep things moving along. It makes sense in terms of pyrolysis in other types of cooking, and it makes sense in coffee. The key browning event in coffee is the Maillard reaction, an interaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, and it’s the same that occurs in the browning of beef! And it definitely wouldn’t be good BBQ technique to achieve a nice brown meat by letting it go cold when it’s half done, then crank up the flame again and finish it. Anyway, the Probat takes care of warm-up phase with the roasts quite well – we don’t have to diddle with the air and gas controls from the green-to-yellow-to-tan phases. We do make adjustments for the finish phases of roasting, and this is true with the Costa Rica La Libertad decaf this week, because you can easily race to the finish temp. of 428 f on this with too much “momentum”. So I also back off the flame severely at the start of first … in fact I make sure with decafs that I approach first gingerly. Classic Italian is our darkest roast for espresso, darker than Puro Scuro and Monkey and Moka Kadir. That said, we are still on the light side compared to other roasters. If you want shiny black pieces of carbon, look elsewhere. The fact is, we put such nice coffees in our blends, I just can’t abuse them with roasting until everything tastes like charcoal. 463 f is the highest finish temperature on the Classic, and it does depend a little of the atmosphere and “speed” and which you approach 2nd crack. That’s where you need the human in front of the roaster. In coffee, the numbers always DO lie, at least just a little bit. The thermocouple can shift a little, the air can be a little more humid, the gas valve can be set a tad more open or closed … that’s where an experienced roaster-person is so important.
Things are starting to even out a little more with the heat on the Probat and our roast times are back in the 15-16 minute range, which is ideal for this Full City roast. Dry-process coffees tend to produce a wide range of color once roasted and this Golocha is a perfect example. There are a few quakers to cull out but leave the just slightly lighter beans in there to really enjoy the origin characteristics of this coffee. First crack came on around 402 degrees and final roast target temperature was 440 degrees.
this is pretty much the highest level of hand-sorting, when coffee is visually sorted at a desk, not a conveyor, and not just machine color-sorting. You see this a lot in Guatemala. In one day, a person might do just 50 Lbs. of green coffee. It’s another of the behind-the-scenes tasks between the tree and the cup that is too often taken for granted.
When Tom re-cupped this Kimel peaberry he noticed that a Full City roast seemed more apropos than a lighter roast. Going a bit darker brings out the complex spice palate in this vibrant coffee, in fact, I totally forgot to change the label to reflect this reassessment, so my apologies. For today’s roast we took each batch to 440 degrees and they timed out at about 14 minutes–first crack began at 402 degrees. The reason these batches finished a couple minutes faster than normal is: I cleaned the jets on the gas fired Probat and WOW did it make a difference. I’d become accustomed to roast times more in the 16-18 minute range and every so often Tom would say “we really should clean those burner jets soon, it’ll make a big difference”. The Probat has a basic layout of 26 gas jet burners that each have a flared tip, by unscrewing each of these I was able to thoroughly remove any build up of carbon that was blocking the pathway for the gas. Now it is running hotter than before and I had to monitor the heat level much more carefully to keep each batch in the same ballpark time-wise. It was a fun challenge and a good way to learn more skills to provide a quality roast for everyone to enjoy.
Yemen Coffee Bonanza! It’s a first; we currently have 4 distinct Yemeni coffee selections at Sweet Maria’s, and one tea. Yes, tea … coffee tea … made from the dried skins of the coffee fruit! It’s called Yemen Qishr Tea and is a very unique experience. These Yemeni coffee lots are clean and balanced compared to selections from the past, and at least 2 (Ismaili and Sharasi) result in some of the best Single Origin Espresso I have had this year! Yemen Mokha Ismaili is spicy, lush, velvety, and a bit more earthy than the others. It’s the best Ismaili in 2 years. Yemen Mokha Mattari has winey fruit and chocolate, my favorite brewed cup. Yemen Mokha Sharasi is a lot I found in Yemen last November, delicate, fruited, refined, and an incredible SO espresso. We have other arrivals too: Indonesia Flores “Jade” is unlike the previous offers from this tiny island, rustic, intense, more Sumatra-like. Speaking of Sumatra, we have a great Sumatra Organic Mandheling that cups better than the numbers indicate. Read the review. And here’s robusta you can drink as a French Press brew! (Although we still recommend it chiefly for espresso blend use: India Robusta- Jeelan Estate Sitara.Â