Monthly Archive for March, 2010

New arrivals- Colombia Planades Tolima Rojas Microlot,Burundi Kayanza Bwayi,Ethiopia FTO DP Sidamo Shoye Union,Nicaragua Pacamara Mama Mina

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Today is “Baggy Wednesday”, according to our Dogs of Coffee calendar, which is now sold out. On an altogether opposite note, we are adding some fresh new arrivals starting with: Colombia Planadas Tolima, Roberto Rojas Microlot, a notably sweet flavor profile with caramel, peach, and apricot; has a very elegant finish and buttery body. Next up is an interesting Bourbon-like coffee from East Africa: Burundi Kayanza Bwayi with mild citrus, honey and creamy body. Try this one as a single-origin Espresso too. We are adding a new Sidamo today too: Ethiopia FTO DP Sidamo Shoye Union with intense fruit and brown sugar. The profile also has strawberry and cinnamon tones with a sweet finish. The last addition today is Nicaragua Pacamara Mama Mina Microlot, a great coffee from a great farm that we’ve seen before. This is a larger bean with spicy sweet tones of clove and cinnamon. As ever, …make sure to check out the full reviews!

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Roast Coffee Pairing #32: Farmgate Highlights

Here we have two coffees from Guatemala from our Farm Gate program, the Acatenango Finca La Soledad and a Bourbon San Diego Buena Vista, also from Acatenango. I have visited both of these farms in early 2010 and can attest to the care they take with the coffee. Both farms have their own mill, so they control every aspect of their coffee, from the tree to the cup, and they do a very good job. The San Diego Buena Vista is a very well rounded cup, with great body and balance. The Finca La Soledad is also another example of a great, well balanced Guatemalan coffee, this time a mix of cultivars. Both batches were roasted to 427 degrees by thermoprobe, total roast time 15 minutes. This yielded a City+ roast level which highlights the wonderful high notes of these well rounded coffees. The best of classic Guatemala flavors from two oustanding farms!

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New arrivals- Costa Rica El Puente Tarrazu Caturra, Ecuador Zumba Microlot, Brazil Joao de Campos Yellow Catuai, Kenya Nyeri Gathaithi Peaberry, Ethiopia Organic Yirga Cheffe-Koke Coop

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Five arrivals! Let’s start with Costa Rica El Puente Tarrazu Caturra, with sweet glazed almond in the profile. This should tide us over until new harvest in a month or so. Next is a small lot from a region we haven’t seen in awhile: Ecuador Zumba Microlot Especial. The profile has caramel and panela sweetness and a clean finish. We are also adding the nicely balanced Brazil Joao de Campos Yellow Catuai with chocolate and caramel throughout; also makes a great espresso component! Lastly we have some exciting African additions. Kenya Nyeri Gathaithi Peaberry is a clean cup with Meyer lemon brightness and an Oolong tea note. Keep it at a light roast! Lastly we’re adding another coffee certain to be popular: Ethiopia Organic Yirga Cheffe, Koke Coop. This coffee has a silky body, with a combination of fruits, fruit preserves, and a hint of almond. More info at each of the links.

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Aeropress Coffee Brewer: Looks Awful. Works Well

A 10 minute video about using the Aeropress medical device uh, coffee brewer. It looks a bit better in HD and a larger video area on youtube. Again, a quick and boring video with no production value, but some decent information. -Tom

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Espresso as excuse…

I was posting on a “blog” (has no better term come up yet?) about the idea of Single Origin espresso, and thought I would make my points here… The question James Hoffman posed was roughly, “Do we think less of a coffee if it does not work both as brewed and as SO espresso.” Or something like that… and I don’t really have any response to the original post because I think it’s a miss. If a coffee doesn’t work well as a SO espresso, I think nothing less of it. I also don’t assume I am the only person that could make it work a espresso; if I can’t maybe someone can. But if it is so difficult, why force it?

I would flip this on it’s head, and I will, since I don’t live in an espresso-centric universe: Is it a failure of my tasting ability to say a balanced and “restrained” coffee is only good for espresso? Am I unfair to say, “you are pretty boring, mr. coffee, but maybe as espresso …”

Then again, if we all follow the logic of Kevin Knox, espresso was a conspiracy by Italians who had no good access to good acidic coffees to make up for the soft character of low-growns by giving them some punch in a pressurized brewing process. Espresso, in that frame of reference, is a “fix” for mediocre coffee. And to go further, imagine if you could invent a machine to make so-so coffee taste better, instead of the reality of the roast machine which can only make coffee taste worse by improper use, rather than improve the character. In my view, coffee can only be ruined in all the hundreds of processes from crop to cup. Is the espresso machine the exception?

So I guess it depends on how you frame the debate: If you believe espresso is the most pure form of coffee preparation, this point is anathema to your views. For that person, espresso must be able to fully express the outstanding character of a great green coffee, or the green coffee simply can’t be good. But we know there are many great green coffees that simply do not work packed into a portafilter! In the changing landscape of coffee, how do we find a way to judge quality while moving fluidly between brewing processes, so that there are multiple types of “excellent coffee” based on how they ultimately would be tasted by the person who actually ends up running it across their palate. In that way, to be able to represent a coffee at it’s best, we can’t just be “espresso people” or “brewed coffee” folks.

I think I am losing my train here, but one last point that matters I think: coffee drinkers vary greatly int terms of how conservative they are. In the past, I felt the espresso drinker was the least adventurous of all, wanting consistent blends roasted consistently darker. SO espresso has changed that, but still I find many people resistant to the varied experiences of SO espresso, which can not be held to the same norms as “balanced” espresso flavor profiles of well-designed blends. I personally will accept thin espresso if the flavors and aromas are exciting and unique, for example. So aside from if it’s brewed coffee or espresso preparation, the issue now hinges more on how adventurous is the palate. -Tom

PS: The original blog post is here.

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New arrivals- Ethiopia Org. Shakiso Sidamo,Ethiopia DP Sidamo MC Decaf,Colombia Cauca Ariel Buitron Microlot,Sulawesi WP Toarco FB

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We’ve got four new coffees and they’re all easy winners. Let’s start with the all-favorite Ethiopian additions. From a far-flung part of the Sidamo region is Ethiopia Organic Shakiso Sidamo “Maduro”, a heavily fruited cup for fans of Misty Valley. Makes a great espresso component too with butterscotch candy and hot chocolate in the profile! A nice counterpart is a decaffeinated coffee from Ogsaddey farm that we call Ethiopia Dry-Process Sidamo MC Decaf – orangey citric notes and syrupy finish! Next is a Cauca coffee from a farm that is up and coming in local competition: Colombia Cauca, Ariel Buitron Microlot, with floral and dark fruit flavors and bittersweet chocolate. Last up is the very exciting Sulawesi Wet-Process Toarco Flatbean… a non-traditional wet-process Sulawesi. It may sound strange, but this is a bright, balanced, and floral cup with dynamic sweetness; it might even be for fans of Guatemala, it’s that refined! Read the full review for the full story on this unique coffee and the others above.

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El Salvador, Honduras, Uganda, and two decafs

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Happy March! We are adding two microlots from Central America today El Salvador Matalapa – Puerta Zapa Microlot is a buttery bodied, sweet, high-toned lot from a specific part of the Matalapa farm, while Honduras Organic – Michelle Guevara Microlot is a honey-drenched cup with jasmine tea hints and a lemony bright snap. Also, we are pleased to add the outstanding Uganda Organic Mbale Bugisu suitable for a wide range of roasts with nice pungency and body, great as an SO espresso! Finally, a couple of welcome additions to our decaf selections: Sumatra Lintong Nihota KVW Decaf has a classic Sumatra flavor profile with rustic earth notes and molasses sweetness and Mexico Oaxaca Pluma WP Decaf is a mildly bright cup with malty roast tones and nice fruit with good bittersweet tanginess.

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Roast Coffee Pairing #31: DIY Melange

A version of a moka java, this pairing features two coffees that can be prepared either separately or as a blend. We  roasted the Java Kajumas Organic Wet-Hulled, a very deep toned coffee with tons of body. As a compliment to that – or to enjoy on its own – we have the Ethiopia Fair Trade Organic Oromia Yirgacheffe with a more rounded character. This is not one of the bright, citrusy Yirgs, but rather has some sweetness, some spice, and a syrupy body. This morning, after trying a cup of the Yirg, I’m tasting the 50/50 blend and the Java adds a nice dimension to the cup, with rustic earth tones complimenting the slight citrus snap of the Yirg. It is funny, but after drinking so many cups of single origin coffee, I plum forgot how great two top notch coffees taste together, especially when roasted seperately to highlight the best characteristics of each: in this case Ethiopia to City+ and Java to Full City.

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