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A sample of the latest shipment from St. Helena has come in, and the the news is not good. The broker warned "it's baggy" - but having tasted it, that was putting it nicely. The coffee is just bad - which just goes to show that good trees, soil, and weather, and proven ability to produce great coffee in the past is no guarantee of even passable coffee. It is a real disappointment considering that we were waiting on the coffee all year, since the 60#s we received last year about this time, and had committed to 6 bags of it. Future shipments are very iffy as we have basically written them off, and who knows when they will be able to produce the kind of coffee they are capable of once again. At this point we don't have a lot of faith in their quality control. If they will ship us old baggy coffee and think we would accept it just to stock this limited coffee, they underestimate us. Cup quality comes first - the rest is incidental. I will warn you away from this coffee as, even on a small scale, you are risking similar results. - Tom
(3/06: Nothing has changed in terms of the limited availibility of Saint Helena coffee. In fact the situation has only deteriorated and the prospects for good quality coffee from this source are slim to none. If you read a history of the island, it's waning fortunes, and the melancholy that pervades its culture, these inconsistencies seem par for the course! But we want to keep our Saint Helena pages here as a remembrance of the couple o' good years we had there with this coffee -Tom, 2004


Our Unroasted Saint Helena Offerings: Please refer to our Reference Page for definitions of terms and cupping numbers used below. Check out the Sweet Maria's Coffee Home Roasting Forum for more conversation about home roasting this and other coffees.

We are currently out of stock. The review below is provided for your reference.

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Isle of Saint Helena

St Helena is the very small island in the South Central Atlantic where Napoleon was banished to, and died. The island is just 8 miles long and 6 miles wide, but was a small but productive coffee producer owned entirely by the Dutch East India Co. until recently. Because the cost of production was so high and the shipping costs so outrageous (St Helena has only 1 boat, the RMS Saint Helena, servicing the island every every 2 weeks) the farms was left largly abandoned for decades. Only in the past 10 years has the coffee production been revitalized under the care of one David Henry, and the current output is about 4,500 lbs per year. We have the only 2 bags of this coffee in the U.S. from the '01 crop. Compare this to a small Central American estate that can produced 2 containers, or 75,000 lbs per year, and you understand that this is a very rare coffee indeed. And why else is it special? Because the seedstock used to cultivate it is pure heirloom varietal Yemen brought to the island in 1730. Mr. Henry revitalized the production with meticulous care by nursing new seedlings from the aged 100 year old trees. The coffee looks like a wet-processed Sana'ani: a light opal color, small, roundish, flat with a well-defined edge. The coffee is guaranteed by Mr. Henry to be non-certified, but 100% Organic, sustainabley grown. The cup? The acidity is bright, citrus-berry but not sour, the body is medium light (let is rest and the body really comes up), and there is a distinct spicy-pepperiness in the cup. In the finsh there are flavors ranging from cola nut to a pungent creosote and chocolate notes in the darker roasts. The brightness is very roughly similar to an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It's a clean cup, balanced too when the coffee is allowed to rest 24-36 hours after roasting (recommended), deep. .... Its expensive! ...but for obvious reasons of high production costs. And it is unique ---there is no coffee like it!You can read more about the coffee on our additional Saint Helena Pictures page, and on the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal's cover article on Saint Helena, April '01

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Country: Saint Helena (British Protectorate)
Grade: 1
Region: Sain Helena
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: 2003
Appearance: .2d/300gr - Flatbean/Peaberry Mix
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock: "Green-Tipped Bourbon"
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast: City to Full City. If you like the brightness, keep it lighter. If you are willing to mute the brightness for the sake of complex roast tastes layered with the origin tastes, take it a couple snaps into 2nd crack. This coffee will take a little longer to enter 2nd crack than others. There is lots of character, this coffee will not get obliterated by a little darker roast tastes. I prefer the slightly heavier roast on this coffee. The coffee shows intense roast color, but does not expand as much as you would expect for a specific degree of roast.
Compare to: The Citrusy-berry notes of a Yirgacheffe, the balance of an island (Kona) coffee, the complexity (spice and chocolate) of a Yemeni dry-processed without the ferment or earthiness.
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We are currently out of stock. The review above is provided for your reference.

You can read more about the coffee on our additional Saint Helena Pictures page, and on the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal's article on Saint Helena, April '01

Archived Reviews

To view reviews for out of stock coffees, visit our St. Helena Coffee Archives.

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