This huge list of posts are older comments I had made about the roasted batches, before we switched to the weblog format…. 

  • The last 2 weeks have been some really enjoyable coffees, not too outrageous. The Honduras FTO Cocosam Cooperative had great nut tones and the Nicaragua Limoncillo Estate Var. Java was nicely rounded, with milk chocolate texture and a bit of lime hiding in the background. These are coffees I brought home for the weekend too, just nice drinkin’ coffees!
  • Mmmm… Costa Rica Dry-Process Dota is outstanding. We just cupped a sample pulled from the first batch we are roasting tonight for shipment tomorrow morning. Chocolate, tangy, thick body, nuts, fruits – both bright and rustic (mildly). What a nice cup. The new Kenya Auction Lot Peaberry Decaf is great too: super bright!
  • The Decafs get a bum rap, and they really deserve so much more these days. We have had a whole string of Ethiopia Decafs that have been simply awesome. We are roasting a Guatemala Huehuetenango decaf this past week with the fruity brightness of the best estate Guats.
  • What a solid coffee the Bolivia Organic Peaberry is … I mean, it’s one of the older green coffees in our stock in terms of arrival date, and the cup is as sweet and clean and bright as the day it arrived. This was the Cenaproc “La Montana” lot, and that is the coop that won so many of the competitions (CoE, etc). Clearly, when a coffee stands up this well over time it is due to really good processing techniques at the mill, so hat’s off the Cenaproc.
  • I played a little trick on the Ethiopia Fair Trade Organic Yirgacheffe this week: I did I very slight version of a melange roast. I roasted half the batches to City+ 435 on the Probat. I roasted the other half to 442 f (Full City) on the Probat, then blended them. I was looking to pull some range and depth out of the coffee, which is an incredible bright, zesty lot of Yirg. I just didn’t want it to be too thin. I like the results but they are a little uncanny: bright citric and chocolate.
  • Kenya Mchana Peaberry , in my humble opinion, was fantastic. We roasted this to 437 in the Probat L-12 and there was a lot of brightness and fruit, but good rounded mouthfeel and complexity. Maybe this was our under-rated Kenya offering this season. But it is tough competition this year because the overall quality of our auction lot offerings is extraordinarily high. By the way, we are roasting some of the espressos, Moka Kadir and Monkey Blend, just a hair lighter to bring out some more fruity brightness and aroma. The change is from 464 f to 460-462, so it is incredibly slight.
  • Brauna Natural: This week we roasted a rather experimental coffee . We had Brauna Estate in Araponga region of Matas de Minas Brasil prepare 2 bags of natural coffee for us. As far as we know, this is the first natural coffee ever produced in Matas de Minas region … coffee from this area has always been pulped natural. The region does not have the patio drying capacity for this type of process, which is found in many parts of Brasil with more clearly delimited rainfall seasons.We took this roast a bit darker than usual, to a FC+ roast, a bit into 2nd. We hoped to acccentuate the chocolate notes in the cup. I have mixed feelings about the results: it has lots of body, chocolate, ans a husky caramelly sweetness … but is it too husky? Is the acidity too flat and the huskinesss too, well, husky? Is is a little dirty? Everyone here loves it, and I like it okay but I have a little seed of doubt. Well, it is an experimental coffee, and I hope customers don’t mind that we unwittingly made them a part of the experiment! -Tom
  • The decaf coffees have been appearing darker than they truly are in recent weeks; for example, the past weeks Ethiopian WP Sidamo Decaf. We wated a ripe fruit taste in the cup and chose the finish temperature accordingly at 438, but the coffee looks oily after a day! This is not due to heavy roast, but the nature of WP decafs. Taste the cup, I think you will see it does not have a starbucks flavor.

    I wanted to keep the Rwanda Gatare A as light as possible to preserve the orange notes, but some tests at 415, 418 and 425 degrees finish temperatures left the cup with a burr in the aftertaste. I ended up choosing 433 as the finish temp. because it developed a very attractive black tea character, almost Earl Grey, but preserved the brighter end of the cup flavors. The “unfinished” flavor from the lighter roasts was gone too, and the body seemed a bit greater.

  • Mmmm…. Brazil Santa Helena is a pulped natural coffee with orangy notes when roasted carefully just into 2nd crack. It makes great espresso and actually we used it for some very full-bodied drip. But expect every so often for us to insert a single-origin coffee roasted expressly for espresso usage, like I did with the Brazil Fazenda Santa Helena this past week. The regular coffee, regular by no means, is Ethiopia Dry-processed Ghimbi. This is as wild as it gets. Fruited, spicey, hidey. There is a slightly random nature to this coffee (denoted by the light and dark beans in the roast). We made a pot and it was incredible! We made another and it was not. 9 out of 10 will be great, so we like the odds. But some of those light beans give an off flavor. Pull the very lightest ones for best results.
  • The Kenya Mbaranga turned out deep and sweet. roasted to 440 degrees, to the edge of 2nd crack. The Sulawesi Toraja as single origin espresso is, IMHO really nice too! I pulled shots on the Andreja and found great subtlety as well as overall power.
  • I kept the Mexican Organic Oaxaca Pluma -El Olivo on the light side, roasting to City/City+ at 430 probed bean temp. on the Probat. This was thoroughly through 1st crack and about 15 degrees and 1 minute shy of 2nd crack. But I also slowed the roast progreesion starting at about 410 degrees, toward the tail end of 1st crack … I just edged it forward very slowly for about 1:30 up to my 430 degree finish. I think we’ll get more brightness this way, with a crisp roast taste (toasty, not too chocolatey) and caramel sweetness in the cup.
  • Kenya Mbwinjeru from last week outcupped all the new samples I received from brokers the past several weeks – it had a remarkable sweetness in the cup that all others lacked.
  • We are back roasting on the Probat again – you just can’t beat that timeless German craftsmanship. I liked the Diedrich and the larger batch capacity was cool, but I feel like I am using a finer quality tool when I roast on the Probat, and have a better sense of roast control.
  • Okay, we did it … we moved and we installed the other roaster, the Diedrich. And this weeks roast, Guatemala Tres Marias, was our first offical Diedrich batch (after a bunch of throw-away test roasts). The roaster has the new stack from Ponderosa Roaster Maintenance, and is real slick – runs great after quite a lot of restoration work … lord knows how long it was stored in the semi truck, under the water tower (that’s another story). Cupping this coffee, it comes off very clean, classic cup profile, balanced. I think the Diedrich brought out some more body in the cup.
  • Took the Brazil Cerrado Lot 144 – Edson Nobuyasu to a true Full City, meaning right to the verge of second crack. There was only the slightest suggestion of a 2nd crack as the coffee entered the cooling bin. I was trying to maximize the chocolate roast taste in the coffee, but keep the mild fruited /winey notes in the cup. I am brewing a test batch right now and it smells mighty fine … well, it’s a bit too soon so the body will probably not quite be there yet.
  • Last weeks Indian Pearberry Pearl Mountain was the exact opposite of this weeks Kenya AA Auction Lot Ithima. (I try to mix it up here). While the India PMPB has good body, and a great roasted peanut character, it is not a sweet coffee and fairly low aroma. People who like Indonesians like this – the Kenya Ithima is a bright acidity coffee and I kept the roast lighter (430 finish temperature on the Probat) to accentuate this.
  • Yep, I bought a Diedrich! It is the usual 12 Kilo infra-red burner model, similar to the one I had before. We are going to set them both up, so eventualy I will chose which coffee is best suite to which roaster (I prefer the espresso blends and Indonesian in the Probat … deep coffees with an accent on body, and I prefer the lighter, brighter, cleaner coffees in the Deidrich. It will take a month to get it all cleaned (it was used) and set up a really good vent system (which alone costs about $2500). Did we need another roaster? Heck no! But I love roasting, and there it was, and I couldn’t help myself!
  • I took the Mexican Chiapas to 440 degrees, to the verge of 2nd crack as it reads on my Probat, but without entering it. Looking forward to cupping it in the morning! I think this roast makes the coffee a bit more complex, as Chiapas is so nice, but rather simple too.
  • I did a fairly light roast on the Timor Organic Maubese – an Agtron 62 or 60 or so, a City roast. The finish temp was 432 degrees F on the Probat measured by my termocouple probe into the beans. It might be surprising but you actually get more intensity from the cup at a lighter roast than darker with this coffee, I think. The Puro Scuro is, as always, a light Vienna roast, 458 F finish temperature.
  • On the Arokara AA from Papua New Guinea, I am going for a true Full City with no sign of 2nd crack. This will mean a finish temperature of about 438 to 440 degrees F on the Probat, measured by the digital probe I added that directly measures the coffee (not the air in the drum).
  • Special Guest Roaster last week was Scott Reed from Royal Coffee who used to roast down at PJ’s in New Orleans. Mr Tom was in Colombia for the Cup of Excellence competition. I tasted his fine work, and he really nailed the roast on the Indian Pearl Mountain MNEB Nuggets – very nice.
  • Looking foward to roasting the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe today which will get a very light roast treatment (not under-roasted). I don’t want to over-develop the roast flavors because these interfere with the very clear, pure, delicate flavors and aromas of this Yirgacheffe.
  • The Sumatra Mandheling I roasted was our standard Dry-Processed lot, and has very low acidity. But I thought the true Full City roast (meaning just a snap or two of Second Crack. It had a very developed flavor, but after a few days resting I had some very pleasantly “winey” cups – nice!
  • Sorta special offering this week- one of our exclusive Cup of Excellence lots, and this time, no fancy prices! I have just been dying to roast one of these in the big roaster. I chose the large bean El Savlador Pacamara lot #15 from the La Montanita farm. Should be a very complex and interesting cup.
  • The Honduras Organic Marcala is really a much nicer coffee than the numbers indicate. For this I will do a Full City roast without letting it get into 2nd crack at all, It has a very nice caramel sweetness to it and I don’t want to lose that behind too much bittersweet. (Post-roast note – this cup amazed everyone here – it’s true, this coffee was a hidden gem
  • The Guatemala Huehuetenango – Finca San Vicente was really nice, in fact, it surpassed my expectation based on the air roasts I had done on it. It is really a very balanced and bright cup, just solid SHB coffee.
  • I am roasting the Guatemala Antigua Los Pastores to a City+ roast and no darker, to try to highlight the “Antigua” cup profile wihout introducing roast bittersweetness…
  • I did a “melange” with the Mexican Pluma Hidalgo – a blend of 2 roasts. One was roasted to 430 degrees, a City roast and the second to 449 degrees and a Full City roast. The result was a very nice, wide range of flavor in the cup, floral aromas and flavors backed by a really nice almond-hazelnut bittersweet. The body seems light but as I write this the coffee has only rested for 6 hours! So these comments are not final, and in fact when I write reviews they are based on multiple cuppings in multiple roasters over a range of resting times… complicated!
  • I hate to admit it but I think I went about 5 degrees too high on the Moka Toba Blend last week. I think a lot of people will love that deep, carbony complexity but I might have lost a little of the fruited/floral note in it, and a tad of sweetness. 5 degrees sounds like a little, but it can make a difference. That represents about 20 seconds in the roaster. Anyway, I am probably my harshest critic but I will go a little lighter on the blend next time. The Rwanda Masaka was (I think) excellent. It had a nice bittersweet that is intrinisic to the coffee, not the roast, and a really nice bright note with orange hints hiding behind it.
  • The Colombian Caucano is a personal favorite, a deep and rather husky cup with nutty and fruited tones. I brewed some the next morning but it wasn’t at it’s peak. A couple days later it really balanced out, the body came up – a very nice and unique Colombian cup profile!
  • Our espresso blends – a few of these are getting the packages too quickly and your espresso is, in a sense, too fresh! Espresso needs longer to rest to properly extract. There are a couple blends where I prefer it after a full week and up to 3 weeks after roasting!

    An interesting side note: The Brazil Carmo Estate I roasted for espresso weeks back was a bit too lively for a while – it gave me a tingling bright sensation on my tongue. But now it is quite old, 3 weeks! and what a great espresso. While I have never tasted a 3 week old coffee for other brewing processes (drip, french press etc) that was better than a fresh 5 day old roast, it can happen with espresso.

  • I roasted the Guatemala Coban El Tirol last week and it turned out really, really nice. Only a really good quality coffee from the current crop (2003) would roast so well at this time of year, as new 04 crop is imminent. We will definitely stock the El Tirol next year, what a great cup!
  • Ah, Kenya Thunguri. I think this was everything the coffee shgould be- it had a ripe, deep fruit to the cup, a lower acidity than the other Kenyas, a very balanced cup overall. I am happy with this roast treatment, which was 15 minutes and stopped right at the verge of 2nd without entering it at all, a real Full City. I roast the Brazil WP Decaf just a bit darker, letting it into 2nd crack just barely, barely!, and really like the cup we got from this. It’s something I will remember with the Brazil decaf in the future… The straight Sulawesi Toraja Espresso was really interesting – a sweetness in the cup but a very pungent, mollassesy sweetness. I think we should do more of these straight-roast espressos in the near future.
  • The PNG Kimel is on the menu this week and I am going to a roast treatment very similar to last weeks Bolivian roast, trying to to overdevelop the roast flavors and focusing on maximizing the fruit notes. Expect very good things from this cup…
  • Wow, the Bolivia Organic Cenaproc came out amazing – it was a City+ roast to avoid overlaying the fresh fruit flavors and aromas in the coffee with too much roast tastes, and not “overdeveloping” the coffee flavor in general. I was really happy with these results – the roast was stopped well short of any sign of 2nd crack at about 438 degrees (my drum roast probe does tend to register about 10 degrees higher than other roasters, so keep that in mind – my temps are 1st crack starting at 395 to 403 and 2nd crack starting at 443-449 degrees f).
  • Kenya Kanake – what a great cup. To preserve the delicate floral and fruit notes I am going to be keeping this a bit on the lighter side – about a 438 finish temperature and a City+ roast. Looking forward to roasting the excellent Bolivia next week too… what aromatic coffees these are!
  • It seems like with the winter weather (yes, it is cold here in Northern California -we don’t have any indoor heat!) I have been choosing coffees to roast to a tru Full City or Full City + … the heavier bittersweet roast tastes just make sense in this gloomy weather. I am very excited about roasting the Brazil Impanema Dulce tomorrow, taking it to the brink of second, holding it there momentarily, then cooling the roast as quickly as possible. And next week the India Pearl Mountain will get nearly the same treatment, just a few degrees lighter, to maximize the bittersweet roast flavors.
  • Zimbabwe Salimba is really good with a slowly developed, tru Full City roast, so I am going to draw out the roast time a little bit and try to bring down the temperature for a slow finish at about 448 degrees, with just a snap or two of 2nd crack audible.
  • For regular coffee, it’s been a long time since we have done an Indonesian. I miss the flavor of a really good, intense Full City + roast of a Sumatra … so that’s what we’ll be doing. And for espresso (really, this is an excellent drip coffee to for those who like a bit more roastiness) I am doind a really nice Moka Java blend that is going to make a fruity, syrupy espresso. Personally, I can’t wait! -Tom
  • We are going to pare down the roasting to Tuesday only …. Tuesday will be the roast day from now on. I (Tom) do so many other things, especially test-roasting and cupping, that the Friday roast day has become impractical. My apologies… Also, for those who might order just roasted coffee, you might want to consider Priority Mail shipping (like our new subscription service above.) If it ships Tuesday it should reach you anywhere in the U.S. by Thursday, Friday at the latest. And if the P.O. messes up (not that they ever do … L.O.L.) they will still be delivering Saturday, unlike UPS.
  • The Elida Estate Panama was a little better with a lighter roast (437 degrees ext bean temp) than a darker roast. I did 437 on Wednesday and 444 on Friday. I think they were both nice but prefered the Wednesday to the Friday batch. A few degrees sounds like nothing … but its part of the constant experimentation that a roaster undertakes!
  • I don’t mean to toot my own horn but…I have to say, the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence Co-op 22 de Septiembre roast was really awesome. I think I managed to coax extra sweetness out of the cup, and the finish was just fantastic. I tasted it with another roaster who had split the lot with me, and he liked the results, finding them very similar to what he was getting in his Diedrich roaster.
  • Next week’s Cup of Excellence roast is the El Salvador Finca San Francisco – I think this was my favorite cup from Cup of Excellence, just an awesome 100% Bourbon coffee and I think the Probat results will be really stellar!
  • People have been asking us to roast our very limited Auction Lot coffees, and since we have the largest selection of these competition-winners, I though it was a good time to try this out. Unfortunately, they cost us 2-5x what other coffees do so we must charge a little more.(and believe me, the farmers receive the same increase in price – these coffees benefit the winning farmers VERY directly!) Post-roast note: this coffee turned out really well in the Probat – complex, fruited, spicey.
  • The Costa Rican La Magnolia was a tad lighter in Tuesday’s roast than Friday’s … the difference was between a 440 degree finish temperature Tuesday and 444 on Friday. I wanted to cup the two, and after a proper resting the difference was a tiny bit more nuttiness on the Friday roast, and a little more brightness on Tuesday. Incidentally, we brewed some in a French Press and it was really bad – I tasted it and knew right away that the bitterness was a dirty French Press. If you taste this coffee (La Minita is another good test coffee) and get any hint of bitterness in the aftertaste, it is a dirty coffee brewer. We cleaned it well with Clearly Coffee liquid and it tasted very good, nutty and clean -Tom
  • I am roasting the new Kenya Auction Lot Mbwinjeru we just received – very good, deep complex Kenya cup. I usually wait till we have had a coffee in stock a while to put it on the roasted coffee menu but I couldn’t resist this time. It will be a true Full City roast, right at the verge of 2nd crack without entering it (although Kenyas darken more then other coffees at this roast stage, so bean appearance may seem very dark brown!)
  • The Brazil Vargem Grande was carefully roasted to a Vienna with a very slow warmup time, a bit more heat as the coffee entered 1st crack, then backing off again as it entered 2nd crack. The resulting roast was really sweet/bittersweet chocolatey espresso, wonderful! We are offering this same single-origin espresso upon our return from vacation too: it was too good to do it just once…Tom
  • The Nicaragua Pacamara is a special varietal and can be difficult to roast in some of the small air roasters – it will be no problem in the Probat and I am going to try to maximize its unique citrus and fruit notes. (Post-roast note: This coffee was awesome! The more it rested, the more I loved this cup – it wasn’t with the first sip that it impressed, but over time a sweet, spicey, slightly winey character emerged that was really really attractive! -Tom)
  • I am looking forward to a real City+ roast on the Costa Rican La Laguna to preserve all its delicate bright fruit … don’t want too much heavy roast taste to interfere with this flavor profile.
  • The El Injerto is a Full City stopped just on the verge of 2nd crack, 442 degrees- really has a great, fully-developed cup character at this roast, although I was tempted to keep it lighter at around 437. The Moka Kadir Blend really works well as espresso of drip/press coffee … if you like a darker roast taste. The espresso is really fruited and spicey, but I admit I don’t like it in milk drinks -cappuccino etc. For that I like the Liquid Amber or Classic. This is for straight espresso. really.
  • With the Guatemala Asobagri Huehuetenango, I am going to look for that sweet spot between City an Full City roasts were the coffee has a fully developed sweetness but develops no interfering darker roasty flavors.
  • The Kenya AA Mika is just and incredible coffee, and you can roast it to Fully City or City with remarkable cup results. On Tues. I am roasting it Full City, which will have a deeper cup profile and more pungent, almost tarry flavors. On Friday I am roasting it City to accent the brighter notes, and the cup will have a more high-toned, effervecent profile.
  • Bolivia Organic will be a true City roast – my cupping tests at this roast are excellent… with light fruit notes (peach, apple) and spice. -Tom
  • The Guatemala Arte De Maya was roasted to a true City roast with very even bean development -nice cup after 2 days resting! The Moka Kadir is a Vienna, preserving all the fruitiness and spice. As espresso, it needs a 2 day rest, then sharp chocolate flavors are fading into sweet caramel notes -really nice stuff as straight espresso.
  • The Zimbabwe Salimba AA roasted to a true City roast (no sign of 2nd crack) has turned out beautifully in both appearance and the cup. It’s amazing how a lighter roast can be MORE powerful and have more character than a darker roast with a coffee like this.
  • I changed the coffee from Colombian Organic Quindio to Colombian Organic Mesa de los Santos -sorry for any confusion! I did some cupping roasts of the Quindio and decided it is really best at a darker roast -darker than I want to offer from the Probat.
  • The Kenya AA Top was real sweet, light-bodied cup with rose petal perfume to the cup, especially after 2 days rest. We pulled shots with the Classic Italian Blend I roasted and they were potent! Then we did some small Machiattos with about 1.5 oz. espresso, 2 oz. steamed milk: incredible caramelly-butterscotch! I thought I was drinking a sundae!
  • The roaster was off for a week! If you order now, your coffee will be roasted and shipped Wednesday May 7th ! From 4/28 -5/6 I will be in Nicaragua for the Cup of Excellence competition. Sorry for the down time. -Tom
  • I am really excited about roasting the Kenya AA Top – it’s a “deep” Kenya, and my tests in the drum roaster indicate that the Probat is gong to do a really nice job on this coffee. I am going to do a profile with a slow warmup and a faster finish to pull out the dimension from the cup, and hand onto the bright notes too. But alas it will be 5/6 when I finally do this roast -it’s off to Boston now.
  • It occured to me that I should mention another factor that influences the quality of roasted coffee you might buy. It’s not only important that your coffee is freshly roasted, ideally the day it ships, but that it is freshly packaged. Coffee that makes it out of the roaster and into a valve bag in half an hour is going to flush out the staling oxygen from the package naturally, since the majority of CO-2 outgasses during roasting and a short period after roasting. We package the coffee within 10-20 minutes from the time it leaves the roasters cooling bin (called a Stirflex). Big roasters are going to have a lot of trouble with the logistics of packaging coffee into valve bags so rapidly.
  • Mexican Oaxaca -Fino Rojas: I did a lot of tests on the Probat roaster using the Mexican Fino Rojas – to my taste this was the best cup I ever acheived from this coffee, due mostly to an incredibly pleasant, sweet roast taste develops at a Full City + roast -a few snaps into 2nd crack.
  • Sumatra Mandheling Super Prep: There’s definitely something special about a really good Sumatra roasted in a drum roaster. It’s one of the few coffees that I think doesn’t see its full potential in an air roaster: the body never develops as it does in a drum roast. I eased this coffee through the warmup, and roasted it 13 minutes a few snaps into 2nd crack. The bean expansion is huge, really remarkable to my eye. The cup is more aggressive in a way than the air roasts, more Sumatra like with pungency, tons of body and deep (not quite as bright as the Hearthware Precision).
  • Espresso Monkey Blend: I had a bit leftover for my espresso the next day. I pulled a few shots on the La San Marco hand-pull machine: incredible. This is such a completely different espresso from the Liquid Amber. This is really a polished, sweet, fruited espresso, very caramelly. Good drinkin’ espresso.
  • Guatemala Coban: I was trying to slow down this roast to track about a minute behind the roast curve, to ease this coffee through the warmup gently -I wanted to preserve the more delicate aromas here. Coban is a somewhat rustic coffee compared to other regions that are nearer the capital. There are a light beans in the roast, but by testing them (that is, by eating a few!) its interesting that most possess a very positive character! I would not cull them out. The aromas as we packed this were very, very nice!
  • Liquid Amber Espresso: Very nice 13:30 roast, more even then my test roasts in Hearthwares etc so it looks unusual to my eye. I have a little leftover for my shots tomorrow!?
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