Monthly Archive for July, 2009

New arrivals – Ethiopia Org DP Guji Sidamo, Panama Carmen 1900meters, Panama Carmen “Siete Dias de Bellota”

Finally! We have a new Ethiopia Sidamo Dry Process to offer: Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Guji Sidamo, fruited and spicy, nice balance of flavors and can take a dark roast. And we’re adding two excellent coffees from Panama Carmen Estate First it’s Panama Carmen Estate 1900 Meters, a new high in both flavor and altitude level for this great varietal. Look for a rounded mouthfeel and some sweet caramel tones. Secondly, it’s Panama Carmen “Siete Dias de Bellota” a versatile dry-process offering that also makes a nice SO espresso!

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Compak K3 Elite and K3 Touch


After a few months of testing various mills (honestly, we started about the time of the SCAA conference and just finished a week ago), we have found an espresso mill we really like – the Compak K3 Elite and K3 Touch. The Elite is the version with a doser, the Touch is the same grinder in doser-less form. In practice, we tend to prefer the doserless grinders for their ease of operation and the potential to be used as a dual-purpose espresso and brewed coffee grinder, but the doser model has substantially fewer clumps, and may be a better choice for dedicated espresso users. Both Compak mills are priced at an attractive level – a step up from the Rocky, but still substantially cheaper than the Mazzer Mini. We think the Compak mills offer a great value for the money, and are really pleased with the results we are getting in the cup. It is well known that a fantastic espresso machine is nothing but overpriced eye-candy for your kitchen counter without a serious espresso mill to back it up. Some recommend budgeting more for the grinder than the actual espresso machine! With the Compak, we think you can get results similar to a Mazzer or a Macap and save a bit to spend elsewhere.

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New arrivals – Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul, Sumatra Onan Ganjang, Costa Rica Genesis Miel, Costa Rica Helsar de Zarcero, and India Org Jasmine Estate Yellikudige

Five new coffees today: First off are two Lintong-region Sumatras: Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul with rustic sweetness and black tea and Sumatra Onan Ganjang Cultivar which is a thicker body cup with tobacco and clove. Next up are two centrals: Costa Rica Helsar de Zarcero from the West Valley region- with chocolate milk and hazlenuts and the Costa Rica Genesis “Miel” from the Naranjo region- a bright honey-process coffee with dried red berry flavors. Lastly, we are adding the India Organic Jasmine Estate Yellikudige a mildly rustic wet-process coffee with molasses-like sweetness.

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Roast Coffee Pairing #16: Costa Rica Pulped Natural v. Washed

Here we offer a reprise of our very first comparison, Wet-Process versus a Pulp-Natural coffee, this time from two different Costa Rica micro-lots.   With our micro-lot offerings, we have really pushed to expand the range of flavors that we experience from an origin, and I think you see that here, from the cleaner, crisper wet processed cup to a more rustic pulped natural. The Wet-Process is a refined coffee, more dynamic with vivid brightness and lighter body. The Pulp Natural has thicker body, quite evident, with fruited and chocolate backdrop to the cup and lower acidity. It shows how processing influences the final cup flavors, and helps the taster to define their palate preferences by presenting two clear differences. The Pulp Natural Lourdes de Naranjo-Genesis was roasted to City+ with final thermoprobe temperature of 425 degrees, total roast time: 15 minutes.  The Wet Prcoess Helsar de Zarcero was roasted exactly the same. We hope you are enjoying comparing both similar and dissimilar coffees side by side.  It is one of our favorite ways to learn about a crop and all the wonderful aspects processing can contribute to the cup. These two lots represent a couple of our favorites and have just arrived at the warehouse so if you are hip to our roast coffee pairings you are the first of our customers to try these lots, quite outstanding in my opinion.

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Australia, Bolivia, El Salvador and Espresso Workshop Blend #6

Again! another four coffees to add! What’s with the number four?! I am not sure, maybe we should play the lottery. In any case, here are the coffees:
First is the return of Australia -Mountain Top Farm, a Fancy grade semi-washed coffee with a juicy sweetness. Next is a national auction winner from Bolivia, Bolivia Juan Coaquira Mamani Microlot, with brown sugar and stone fruit tastes. And the return of the classic El Salvador Finca Matalapa Peaberry versatile for light or dark roast with an orange brightness, And finally it’s a change in the naming conventions for our espresso blends, from geology to acoustics: Espresso Workshop #6 – “Treble Response”. Dry fragrance from the ground coffee has a cocoa-nut roast tone, Nutella sweetness, caramel, black cherry, chocolate truffle. The wet aroma is spicy, with pepper and dark plumy fruit. This describes the primary flavors of the espresso, with richly layered brightness (hence Treble Response!) tapering off into intense and tangy chocolate bittersweet notes. Tom and I enjoyed this iced this past weekend and it was lovely.

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Dolok Sanggul, Lake Toba, Sumatra

Green unripe coffee cherry from Dolok Sanggul area of Lintong,
Sumatra. While these branches are incredibly loaded with fruit, the
crop is smaller overall. Dolok Sanggul just arrived this week, and
we’ll be rolling it out in a few days after I finish the review. The Onan Ganjang sample that arrived at the same time is cupping really well, with that herbal, complex flavor true to the Lintong appellation.

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Sweet Maria’s Home Roasters’ Dream Camp


Today we are announcing our first ever Sweet Maria’s Home Roasters’ Dream Camp! The session will be held Saturday July 25th from Noon to 3 pm at our warehouse on East 21st Street in Oakland. This is not a class, but a gathering of home roasters, an occasion to compare roasts done on different machines, a chance to try out some new (or…er… new to you) roasters, cup coffee and share home roasting experience. More information and details on how to sign up for the camp, follow the link above.

We are also adding four new coffees today. Sumatra Organic Lampahan -Bonkawan Coop, with low acidity, raisin, fig and plum tastes. Next up is the return of Yemen Mokha Haimi, an aromatic cup from light to dark roasts; great also for SO espresso use! And lastly, we sourced some good decafs: Ethiopia Dry-Process Sidamo MC Decaf, with medium acidity, and sweet fruit notes and Nicaragua Jinotega SHG WP Decaf, a bright decaf with chocolate/malt at darker roast levels. Maria

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Roast Coffee Pairing #15: Same Coffee, Two Roasts

With this pairing, we are roasting the same coffee,  Burundi Kayanza Bwayi No. 7, in two different ways to highlight the difference the roast can make. This coffee can take a range of roasts, and you will experience very different things in the cup from one treatment to the next.   In this experiment – the degree of roast is the same, we will roast to the same finish temperature, but take two very different paths to get there, and different roast times.  For the first profile we measured out relatively small batches for the 12 K Probat:  about 20 lbs.  We started the batch with the heat setting fairly low, after about six minutes the heat was then brought up significantly which gave the batch good momentum going into first crack.  Final thermoprobe temperature was 428 degrees with roast times around 12 minutes to achieve a nice light City roast.  For the next profile we weighed out much heavier batches at about 28 lbs, which is nearly the maximum capacity of the roaster.  In order to draw out the roast times to almost 20 minutes we kept the heat low all the way through and even lowered it further as the coffee came through first crack.   The goal was to create two different roasts that essentially look the same color-wise but taste very different.  When Tom and I cupped the results there are definite differences, primarily in the body and the flavor profile.   The faster roast time yields a brighter cup with lighter body, while the slower roast had a much creamier body with chocolate tones balancing the citrus notes.  We could have more easily demonstrated this by using an iffy lot of coffee that would really reveal it’s shortcomings if roasted fast but might be mellowed out by roasting longer, but then you’d be stuck with one pound of so-so coffee and that just isn’t how we roll here. So, instead we chose one of our favorite lots and really pushed the roasts hard in two very opposite extremes.  This was a challenging excercise as a roaster because hitting the same target level via two totally different paths takes real concentration, I think we’ve suceeded in showing how two variables can contribute mightily to the final cup:  batch size and roast profile.

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