Rounding out the South American offerings – we have are adding the Peru FTO Apavam Coop Typica today. This coffee is a nice example of Peruvian coffee, with a clean flavor with balanced brightness and body. One of nicest Peru coffees I have come across lately, it is not “knock your socks off” coffee; just a nice all-around, solid cup.
This pairing is the inverse (or obverse?) of what we usually do when we try two different varietals from the same region. Here we are interested in what the varietal character contributes to the flavor of coffees grown in two different regions. We’ve roasted two Bourbon coffees, one from Guatemala, the other El Salvador. The Guatemala Bourbon -Finca San Diego Buena Vista is a classic cup, with all the body and balance you would expect in a Bourbon. The El Salvador Siberia Estate Bourbon again has good balance and body, but it is interesting to compare to the Guatemala to see what the growing region brings to the cup. Both were roasted to City+ and I think the Guat SDBV has a little more balance overall. The El Salvador Siberia has a bit more bite in the acidity, both are excellent examples of the Bourbon cultivar.
The Hearthware i-Roast2 is back… and I wish I was more excited. It is a neat little roaster that has worked well for many, many people. But it can be flaky, and results can vary from one machine to the next. And you have to keep the top screens super-duper clean or the roaster overheats. The source of most of my uneasiness though stems from the company that makes them, Hearthware; basically they could not produce them for what was it? two years? And they ran out of replacement parts too and could not cover warranties. But, to their credit, when they did get machines, they generally made good on replacements. They say they plan to keep making and supporting them.
So, it’s a mixed bag to say the least. But the folks who responded to my forum post urged us to carry them – so we are – with caveats. Like all home roasters, it has it quirks and it not quite as good as the marketing says it is. The programming can be helpful – though, overtime, I think Tom tended to use the presets. It is functionally the same as it was previously, no better, no worse. -Maria
Five New Coffees: Panama Jurutungo Gesha, Panama Jurutungo Caturra X Gesha, Ecuador Organic Espindola Small Producers, Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling and Brazil Cerrado WP Decaf We have some exciting offerings today, including two limited Geshas from the Jurutungo farm in Panama! The Panama Jurutungo Gesha is as one would expect in a Gesha: complex floral, honey, caramel, and vanilla tastes. The Panama Jurutungo Caturra X Gesha is a Gesha-Caturra hybrid that is a little harder to pin down with its syrupy sweetness and lesser florals. These hand-sorted lots are extremely small; please limit 1lb per customer so all can try. The Ecuador Organic Espindola Small Producers is an interesting origin blend with stone fruit, caramelized sugar and root beer in the cup. Again, we limit sales to 2-lbs max. Next is a familiar, the Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling with its bass-note body and dark chocolate. Of course, it’s also perfect for espresso/blends. Last up is the Brazil Cerrado WP Decaf with mild fruits, creamy body, and chocolate biscuit. Be sure to click through to the full reviews and also Tom’s espresso/blend suggestion for the Brazil.
Well, today I can’t taste. I have had a bad cold, not that intense but just deep-seated, with sinus headaches and such. I normally don’t get that, and I wouldn’t write about it unless it lead to some thoughts about taste. (Note to self: Next time maybe I should NOT go surfing in the rainstorm on a 49 degree f day). Anyway, I don’t feel that bad, and have continued to work. Yesterday I cupped just fine but today I was quite frankly shocked when I set up a mixed table of Kenya, Brazil and Ethiopia coffees, 12 in all.
The dry fragrance from the Kenyas seemed so flat. The Ethiopias were being re-cupped from a day ago, and they seemed so different. When I hit the Brazils and couldn’t sense a huge difference, I realized the problem. I really could not smell today. Since the majority of your sense of taste hinges upon your olfactory, and mine did not show up today, this has actually become a very interesting experience. In the Kenyas I sense the acidity as a reaction from papillae on my tongue, but can’t discern the flavor at all, or whether it is citric or malic brightness. I am getting a sense the Kenyas have a clean cup, and the body is sorta medium and pleasant; that’s about it. Bizarre. My awareness of body and mouthfeel is greater, perhaps because it’s one of the few things I can perceive. The Brazils seem very viscous, thick. But I am getting some sense, retro-nasally and on the tongue, that they are slightly more bitter than the Kenya and earthy or unclean.
One technique for tasting is to pay attention not only to the aromatics you draw it, but also to close your mouth and breath out through your nose to aid in circulating volatile aromatics via the rear of your palate (access to the olfactory is nasal and also from the rear of the palate). The fact I can’t pick out any actual flavors in the Brazil to differentiate it from the Kenya is pretty unbelievable, for you can’t find two more dramatic extremes in the world of coffee flavors. The Ethiopias are quite thin in mouthfeel, and the acidity is aggressive at these lighter cupping roasts. I know exactly how good these Ethiopias are – I scored them near 90 yesterday. Today they are completely unappealing, stripped of their floral and fruit qualities, and without any great sweetness.
What a different a day makes; it’s like seeing the world in black and white, tasting only a small portion of what is available in these stimulating coffees. But it reminds me of the huge physiological factors involved in taste. We speak about it like it exists. We even talk about “good taste” like those who have it can wave a wand and bless it upon one thing or another. But how relative it all is to the tinted lens through which we view these tasteful things, a lens that, even on a good day, is always present.
Last summer, Tom was interviewed by The Splendid Table, a radio talk show that covers everything relating to food and drink. They had aired his first interview that covered coffee brewing. We are now excited to hear that his interview covering home roasting is being aired this weekend. Tom will put some focus on roasting at home using a popcorn popper. Starting Friday, January 14th, you will be able to listen online or download a podcast from their website. Depending on where you live, you may be able to listen via a local radio station. Here’s a list of stations that will broadcast the show.
Two exciting arrivals! Ethiopia Dry Process Limu -Nigusie Lemma and El Salvador Finca El Majahual. We’re excited to add a late-season Ethiopia Dry Process Limu -Nigusie Lemma, with a fruit salad of flavors: blueberry, apricot, mango and brown sugar. This is still our favorite Ethiopian in the past year, and Misty Valley fans should take note! The El Salvador Finca El Majahual, like the Nigusie, is another versatile coffee that cups well for the whole roast range. Look for almond and floral tones balanced by cocoa in this Salvador. Try it as a SO espresso too!
Every dog lover knows another dog lover. Why not send the gift of a 2011 Dogs of Coffee calendar to your dog (and coffee) loving comrade? Starting today, we are offering our wonderful calendars with a Two-For-One special. Which means, when you buy one, you will recieive a free one to give to your family member, friend, enemy or pet. Get them while they last! Fifty percent of the purchase price will go to the following charities: Coffee Kids, Nica Hope, Grounds for Health, Doctors Without Borders, Animal Aware and APAMAR.
Click here to purchase 2011 Dogs of Coffee Calendar.
Say hello to “Sancho” (Mr. July). Tom shot this photo near Finca El Injerto, Huehuetenango, Guatemala