Today we see the return of a number of favorite coffees: the Tanzania Mbinga Ruvuma Flatbean is a classic Tanzania, with acidity more muted than a Kenya, but with intense and rather creamy body. The Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita is a bit brighter and more lively than most Sumatras, but with the thick body, molasses and spice notes that are characteristic of this origin. El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro is back again this year, and it remains a great example of what really high grown Central coffees can be. It is an intense fruity, winey coffee, a special preparation produced by Aida Batlle. This farm is planted with 80% Kenya cultivar, and it shows in the cup. Also from Aida’s farm, we have El Salvador Cascara Coffee Tea, a coffee husk tea – called qishr in the Middle East but cascara in Central America. It makes a fruity tea, with hibiscus and jasmine aromas. Great as iced tea with a little sweetner.
Who would have imagined five years ago that a coffee wonk who announced proudly “I make coffee in a French Press!” (or perhaps even more so, a “Cafetiere” or “Melior”) would be so unfashionable these days. With SF coffeehouses all switching en masse from French Press brewing to pour-over techniques, who would think the method you use for making a good cup of coffee would be so trendy? Maybe next you will need to consider whether your apparel matches your brewer.
I have always had some reservations about the french press; namely, it can be tough to get the right grind to avoid the gritty “fines” in the cup, and the long steep times generally means you see a steep temperature drop while brewing. The fact that cafes would brew in French Press and then dump into a big commercial Pump Pot (that draws coffee from the bottom, where the sediment accumulates) always seemed ill-conceived.
But the fact is, French Press didn’t suddenly become a bad way to brew coffee, and it’s still the method that guarantees “full immersion,” a complete 4 minutes, or 6 minutes, or whatever, of coffee soaking in water. The problem there is temperature drop; you don’t get full flavor extraction if the brew is too cool. You can pre-heat your press with hot water as a small measure. You can wrap the press in a towel. A few even come with a jacket. Better yet, you can use an insulated French press. These come in both all stainless, which are beautiful and unbreakable, but you can’t see the brew. You can also opt for a glass double-wall French press, more spendy than the single wall, and definitely breakable, but it turns out great results but I wouldn’t count on either of these to keep your coffee hot. If you like coffee hot, I say, drink fast.
I think the best results in a press can be with longer steep times and slightly coarser grinds. It takes some experimentation, but I have achieved the best extraction levels at 6 minutes in an insulated press. To deal with fines and avoid grit in the cup, I plunge slowly, then wait an additional 3 minutes and pour cups slowly and gently. That extra 3 minute wait allows particles suspended in the brew to settle out. The bottom third of the press is going to always be a little nasty. Just make sure the person who creams their coffee gets it.
This week we are roasting two coffees from Tanzania that are markedly different, partially due to their selection. Nyamtimbo Peaberry is a lot from the South of the country, far from Kenya but with some hints of malic (apple) acidity balanced against a spicy, caramelized sweetness. We roasted this to Full City level, final thermoprobe temp 435 and roast times around 15 minutes. Mbinga Ruvuma Flatbean has even wilder notes of black pepper and dark berry alongside the aforementioned acidity. Roasted to Full City+ level, final thermoprobe temp 440 and roast times around 15 minutes. Both of these lots have an impressive creamy mouthfeel that help set coffee from Tanzania apart from its African neighbors. Flat or round? You decide.
Tom returned from his trip to Sulawesi and Java, a couple of very special coffee origins. Coffee picking, processing, cupping, funerals, spelunking, surfing…. something for everyone. We have a new way to showcase photos from Tom’s trips, essentially using a database instead of static html pages. We will will be migrating past trips to this format so we can tag images and make them more easily accessible.So you will notice Tom posted photos from a Costa Rica trip he took in early 2010 too.
Check out our great new coffees! : Yemen Mokha Ismaili, Costa Rica San Marcos Tarrazu, and Guatemala Antigua Puerta Verde Bourbon. Let’s start with the eagerly anticipated Yemen Mokha Ismaili. This coffee is limited to 5-lb because of the dwindling lot size but expect a huge variety of complexity in flavor profile with caramel, spice, and even leather in the taste. Try this at a range of roasts or as a step (mixed roast) blend for the full story. Next up is Costa Rica San Marcos Tarrazu, a very fine micro-lot that should be kept at a light roast to bring out the origin tastes. Look for soft chocolate, sweet honey, and a slight citric aftertaste in this exceptional Central. Last on the docket is the Guatemala Antigua Puerta Verde Bourbon. What flavors lie behind the ‘Puerta Verde?”… look for classic Bourbon qualities with balanced brightness, creamy body and juicy mouthfeel. Check out the dark berry flavors at darker roasts too!
Are you loving our Guatemalan offerings as much as us? We are roasting two exceptional Guatemalan coffees that you can compare and enjoy. First up is a classic Guatemalan cup in the Bourbon Finca San Diego Buena Vista. Look for the balanced body and syrup tones from this classic profile. Contrast that against the Finca La Bella JBM Cultivar, an unorthodox Jamaican Blue seed stock preparation grown in Guatemala. Look for a pronounced milk chocolate taste and a bit of acidity in the cup. After tasting them side by side on the cupping table the Buena Vista has a nice bright snap with a light finish, while the JBM is a bit more rounded with apple skins and apricot and the aforementioned chocolate tones. The Bourbon SDBV was roasted to City+ final temp. 425 degrees, and the JBM to Full City final temp. 430.