Maybe “Unsung Heroes” is misleading – it is more like “Commonly Overlooked Coffees” or “Under-Appreciated Coffees” or “Perfectly Good Coffees without an Effective Marketing Campaign.” We might as well call it “The Dark Side” as it is also a couple of coffees that we will roast past our usual City+/Full City roast. First we have the Bali Kintamani which is wet-hulled – the processing method used widely in Sumatra - it has that earthiness in the cup and it takes a dark roast well. Expect some chocolatey-ness and fruit. And then we have the Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza – a cleaner and balanced cup. We will go a hair darker on the Rwanda than the review mentions – just to push the point. You could even blend the two for a sort of Moka Java. Each batch was roasted for 15 minutes to a final temperature of 435 degrees.
Monthly Archive for May, 2010
Three new coffees to end the week and the return of some old favorites… So, guess what we’re drinking today… Moka Java! More specifically, our Sweet Maria’s Puro Scuro Blend. Finally we have the components again for this big-bodied drip or espresso blend. Look for dark caramel-molasses and spicy tones. Next we are adding another favorite from a co-op we have liked over the years… Honduras Organic Marcala -Cocosam Coop. It’s a buttery and malted milk flavor profile with tamarind fruit in the profile as well. And lastly it’s another popular coffee making a return: Costa Rica Lourdes de Naranjo -Finca Genesis. This is a bright and sweet cup with a syrupy body and rounded mouthfeel. Look for dried fruit, raisin and honey-lemonade in the profile.
Here is a reprise of a pairing we had last year; two wet-processed African coffees that are different both from each other and from other wet-processed Africans. The flavors of both the Tanzania and the Uganda seem related to their powerhouse coffee neighbors (Kenya and Ethiopia) but then different. The Tanzania Nyamtimbo Peaberry is Kenya-like in that it has some citrus-y acidity, but is more rounded, with a creamy mouthfeel and better body. The Uganda is more rustic and sweet, a surprise for a wet-processed African coffee, in a way that always makes me think of Indonesian coffees like Sulawesi or Java. Here we kept the roast rather light to highlight the origin flavors, both were roasted to City+ at around 14:30 roast times for the rather small batch size. Each of these coffees excel at darker roast levels but for this lighter roast level be sure to cull any quakers out of the Uganada to keep the cup as sweet as possible!
In this pairing we will offer two different Brazilian coffees that were processed by two different methods, one a pulped natural and one a dry process. This will highlight the influence of processing method on the coffee you taste in the cup. Both coffees come from the same region of Brazil Alto Paranaba, Cerrado, Minas Gerais. The pulped natural Brazil Joao de Campos Yellow Catuai was roasted to Full City+ and is a balanced cup with chocolate caramel harmoniously evdient. Brazil Dry-Process Rodomunho was roasted to a bit lighter degree, around Full City and reveals a sweet and somewhat fruity cup low in acid. There is definitely a striking difference in the body of the two with Rodomunho having a softer mouthfeel and Yellow Catuai with sharper bittersweet notes. Roast times around 15:30 with final thermoprobe temperatures of 430-433 degrees.
5/10: Happy Monday, it’s the arrival of three favorites at Sweet Maria’s … 1) The Guatemala Fraijanes – Finca Agua Tibia: an exemplar of a Guatemalan cup profile with maple syrup sweetness at light roasts and tangy chocolate at darker roasts with a rounded body and mouthfeel. Try this also as a single-origin espresso. … 2) Costa Rica Finca La Ponderosa 100% Bourbon: a classic Bourbon with bittersweet milk chocolate and raw sugar tastes.This is another candidate for espresso. Look for blackberry and rich caramel-chocolate in your shots! … and 3) Costa Rica Cafetalera Herbazu: It’s the return of the Villa Sarchi cultivar, with classic CR profile and high flavor notes that give a lemon zip to the cup. This has a balanced profile with a well-defined sweetness; just rest the darker roasts longer to develop the body. Check the links for the full reviews with farm information and photos!
Yawn. Double Yawn. I feel like it’s groundhog day, except this never-ending story is about exciting and fresh-faced coffee roasters who are obsessed with quality and decide to open up shop in NYC, or SF, or some other glamorous place. Never Kokomo, Indiana or Dayton, Ohio. Search “coffee” on the New York Times web site and read the same story, rewritten, over and over. It’s the basic premise of “God in a Cup” the gawd-awful book about personality-driven business. Without any substantial information about coffee itself, these stories are just a new type of consumer fetishism, but instead of being on the scale of the grand corporation they are the “humble neighborhood small-batch roaster” makes good and grows, but darn if they don’t do it in their own anachronistic quality-driven way. No matter how you wrap it, it’s a story about conspicuous consumption, about “where do you get yours?” as if it is a triumph of personal character to know which is the best shop to walk into and ask for coffee. If we substitute “coffee” for “perfume” or “Rolex” or typical, highly fetishized luxury goods, does it take on a new aire? And yet it is the same conversation, but with coffee brands. I am only peeved because each time I see a coffee headline, I hope that it contains some small bit of good information, planting some seed in consumer consciousness to change the way they think about coffee a bit. But I fear what we get, repeatedly in the cast of the NYT, is a basic shopping guide for those who want to be “in the know”. Unfortunately, they miss that coffee itself is more interesting than the business about business, even if you dress it up in trendy fashion. That’s too bad, I think. The odd thing is that these are some really good roasters too, offering good coffee. The roasters they reference and others are worth writing real coffee stories about. Not fluff. -Tom
Seasonal coffee season started this weekend! [According the the Dogs of Coffee calendar.] Here are the new offerings this week… First we have a favorite Kona from Moki’s Farm – we will limit it to 2 lbs. per order since it is a small lot. This one is very versatile, with everything from City+ to Full City+ roast recommended, and try it as a SO espresso. Look for floral aromatics and dark chocolate — this is a great arrival this season! Next we have some nice arrivals with the Costa Rica Cafetin San Martin and Colombia Tolima Florestales – Maximinio Gutierres. the Costa Rica San Martin is from the Tarrazu region and has been ranking well in the CoE. Look for sweet caramel and nutty roast flavors with an apple brightness on this limited lot. Some folks might remember the Colombia Maximinio Gutierrez from this past season. This is a sweet berry profile with cinnamon and apple accents; we have very little of this one and so are limiting sales to 1lb. Rounding out the new coffees is Kenya Kiambu Peaberry – Riuki, a citrusy coffee with lemon and mandarin orange in the cup. This Kenya can be very bright at light roasts and has a plum note at darker levels. And another great decaf! Sumatra Sidikaland WP Decaf is another coffee that we had custom decaffeinated – it is a great coffee in its own right and makes great decaf. Look for caramel sweetness, spice and hints of papaya and mango. Take some time to read Tom’s full cupping reviews at the links above!