Here we have a comparison of two very similar Colombian coffees, a peaberry and a flat bean (or standard bean). The Los Caracoles del Sur (“the snails of the south”!) is a medium intensity coffee, balanced and sort of a classic Colombian coffee with a very well rounded cup. The Payasos de Tolima (“the clowns of Tolima”) is so called because it is blended from three different small farms in Tolima. Here the cup is again very balanced and sweet, but perhaps a bit more bright and fruity. For this roast session both coffees were roasted as light as possible, City level, 420 degrees, 15 minutes to highlight the true origin character. The Payasos de Tolima is amazingly clear and bright, sweet through and through. Los Caracoles has a bit more spice to it, balanced with that brown beer sweetness Tom mentions in the review. Two amazing lots of coffee made up of small farm lots that are terrific roasted light or a bit darker.
Monthly Archive for December, 2010
Four new coffees to close out the holidays! We have Guatemala Antigua Finca La Folie , El Salvador Siberia Estate Bourbon , Panama Boquete Lerida -Las Chichicas , and Papua New Guinea AA Kimel. … read more Let’s start with the Guatemala Antigua Finca La Folie, a classic Antigua that placed highly at the CoE competition this year. Look for toasted bread and cocoa tastes and fruit juice. Next up is the El Salvador Siberia Estate, a classic Bourbon profile with citrusy chocolate and big body. Moving on we added Panama Boquete Lerida -Las Chichicas, a moderately bright Lerida with jam-like fruits and similarities to even pulp naturals. Last up is a great lot from a familiar name, Papua New Guinea AA Kimel. This is an exceptional lot with high-toned fruits and sarsaparilla and spice at darker roasts.
I had posted before about my great interest in this thing called the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative: GCQRI. (It’s a rare case where the full name is actually easier than the acronym!) Basically this Initiative is trying to pull together coffee roasters, importers, and anyone else in the coffee trade who cares about the future of quality. If we can pool resources and fund the kind of research we want, about improving the quality of coffee, and growing more quality coffee, then I think a lot of other goals that have to do with economic fairness, environment, and poverty are also addressed. Buyers pay for quality, that is what a “differential” is all about in the coffee trade. If that quality is generated at the farm level, then the farm stands to have the most economic gain. Whereas if coffee is sold as a bulk commodity but is “improved” by the magic of good dry-milling, the large company, often a multi-national, will get any premium for the coffee being better-than-average. Typically research aims toward two goals: to increase yields or improve disease resistance of the coffee. Those are important and they are part of the overall quality formula. After all, you can’t get by as a farmer if you grow amazing coffee but your yields are so low that no customer could actually pay for your price of production. Farmers need to grow a good quantity of high quality coffee. With the introductions of new Catimor high-yield and disease-resistant types of coffee, quality is becoming rare. Nobody can blame local agencies for these hybrids with Robusta in their genes: They are trying to help farmers make it. But when rigorous cupping becomes part of the evaluation, cupping done by the buyers who ultimately decide the value of the coffee, these hybrids fail. And yet there are other options, ones that take considerable cooperation by producing countries and their researchers, as well as impetus from buyers. For example, Ethiopia researchers could attract funding to work with original forest coffee varietals (which represent something like 90% of the genetic diversity of coffea arabica) to look for disease resistance to rust fungus, which destroys coffee in many countries. At the same time these Ethiopia types can have fantastic cup character, unlike the catimor hybrids now propagated for this purpose. Simple-minded notion, sure … but I doubt Colombian researchers at Cenicafe who face a huge rust fungus (roya) problem ever had an option to share research with Ethiopia’s vast facilities, and yet both would gain in funding and results.
Right now the Initiative is setting it’s structure and soon will be identifying 3 to 5 research projects for 2011 that best meet the communal Quality objectives of its members. Oh … members signed on so far are roasters large and small, and Sweet Maria’s has been an early enthusiast of this whole effort, and will be funding it as much as we possibly can. More information from the “congress” I attended (really, just a big brainstorming session) can be found on the Initiative web site: http://www.gcqri.org/ . Also, I posted the FAQ for the Initiative here so it is easily accessible -Tom
PS: Also check out the blog of another “fan of GCQRI”, James Hoffman. He has quite a few posts on the topic.
Five new ones!!! Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu -La Bisunga, Java Kopi Sunda, Kenya Nyeri Tegu AB, Espresso Workshop #14 – El Santo and Johnny, and Colombia – Tres Payasos de Tolima AAA Lot. Let’s give a quick rundown: First there’s the Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu -La Bisunga, a balanced cup with bittersweet cocoa, peach and green apple. The Java Kopi Sunda is a special small lot with an Island profile: balanced brightness and chocolate, fruit essence and raisin as the cup cools. Next is maybe this year’s top Kenya?… The Kenya Nyeri Tegu with raw sugar, fruit punch, and jammy flavors. Keep the roast on this one light! On the opposite end is the newest installment of Espresso Workshop #14 – El Santo and Johnny. Mexican Wrestling and Slide Guitar? This unlikely blend delivers an unheard yet sublime combination of orange dipped in tangy chocolate. This blend makes a great macchiato! Last up is a lighter profile Colombia – Tres Payasos de Tolima AAA Lot. This is a City roast recommended coffee with nectarine, apple, and toffee in the cup. This is a small lot so we are limiting to 5lbs. Happy holidays everybody!
The differences in processing method is something that we come back to over and over because it is one of the key things that determines coffee flavor. Here we have two Ethiopian coffees, one the dry process Weshi Jimma and the other a wet process Guji Oromo. The dry processed coffee is emblematic of dry processed Ethiopian coffees, strongly fruited in both aroma and flavor, good body. The wet processed coffee is less intense, more clear and clean, and sweet. In this case the dry process coffee requires a bit more roast to develop the body and tone down the fruit so we roasted to a Full City level, final temperature of 437, 15 minute roast time. The wet process was kept a bit lighter at City+, 428 degrees, and 14:30 roast times. Remember to cull some of the lightest colored beans out of the dry process lot, before brewing to help sweeten the cup!
…One more to add: Guatemala Finca La Maravilla SWP Decaf. We are listing a new decaf prepared especially for Sweetmarias: Guatemala Finca La Maravilla SWP Decaf. Folks will remember this hugely popular Guat. from years back and it’s just as good as before. This is a well-rounded sweet cup with caramel-apple. Use for espresso blends and from light to dark. Remember to rest this coffee for 24hrs too to let the flavors develop! Happy “Grounded” Day everyone!
New coffees! We are excited to add: Rwanda Cup of Excellence -Kopakama Coop, Kenya Kirinyaga AA Gakuyu-ini, Guatemala Finca La Florencia Bourbon, Costa Rica Hernan Solis Villa Sarchi, and Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry. We anxious to list our limited lot of Rwanda Cup of Excellence -Kopakama Coop. This cup has sweet lemon and clean berry notes. Be sure to let it cool a bit to let the flavors open up. The Kenya Kirinyaga Gakuyu-ini is a favorite from a great coop. Look for delicate fruits, vanilla tones, and silk body in this exceptional offering. Try as an espresso too! The Guatemala Finca La Florencia Bourbon is also great as a SO espresso. It has almond and chocolate roast tones with a creamy body, a real crowd-pleaser and sure you’ll agree. Up next is another big favorite, this year’s Costa Rica Hernan Solis Villa Sarchi with peace tea, lemonade rind and a syrupy body. And lastly Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry, with rustic honey-hickory, chocolate complexity, and cinnamon in the finish.
This coffee has a very distinct flavor profile with sweet spice notes, paired with tea, flowers and fruit. Keep your roasts to a fairly tight range of City to City+, since going dark on this coffee seems to obscure it’s prime attributes. From the dry grounds, jasmine-violet floral scents are clear, as well as ginger and dark honey. Light roasts have a graham cracker wet aroma. City+ level has even more violet blossoms, more honey sweetness, maple syrup on pancakes with sweet spice notes of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom….AND gingerbread! While the cup has a distinct sweetness, it is restrained; not a full, round sweetness. In fact it seems moderated by slightly bracing, tannin tea-like notes (Earl Grey). The body is fairly light, with a waxy mouthfeel and a suggestion of walnut oil. It’s a very aromatic, delicate and distinct cup. It’s not a powerful or aggressive coffee. Over-roast it, or, heaven forbid, add cream to it, and you can kiss that unique character goodbye.