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2004 - 2004 Sweet Maria's Coffee Cupping Reviews Archive: G - K

Guatemala 

Guatemala Organic Coban -El Tirol Estate (Aurora Lot)
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Alta Verapaz, Coban Mark: Finca El Tirol
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Early November 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Coban has everything going for it, except the rain. Ask anyone who has traveled in Guatemala about Coban, and superlatives about the lush cloud-forests and extraordinary wildlife will follor. But Coban is an incredibly rainy environment year-round, rain being a big problem for the patio-drying of coffee. Coffee also benefits from a dry season in the yearly cycle of growth for the coffee tree, and growing coffee in a wet environment takes more care, more pruining, and more knowledge to avoid fungi and plant disease. Coban coffees have historically been tainted in the processing, tinged with wild slightly moldy flavors. Furthermore, Coban is also a remote (and lush, and beautiful) area, remote in terms of transporting coffee to the port, far away from the capital Guatemala City. Great coffee can be ruined in so many ways, and I think that's what happens to carelessly-processed Cobans. El Tirol is something different. It's actually a pair of sister farms, El Tirol proper and Aurora, located in the Alta Verapaz department of Coban. The average altitude of the Alta Verapaz zone is 5000+ feet, and rainfall is 2,500 millimeters distributed evenly throughout the year. (That's 98.42 inches per year, Gringo!) El Tirol Estate processes all the coffee for both farms from start to finish. That means they control the quality of their coffee from start to finish without intervention; a good thing. The coffee must be mechanically dried (you just can't patio dry in Coban without ruining coffee). The cup ... aromatically sweet, sweet spice, fruited (slightly winey fruit), lighter body (heavier as cup cools), and the fruited aromas follow through in the cup flavors. There's good intensity in the finish, a lot of "follow through" on the palate which shifts from sweet fruit to milk chocolate, with a hint of pleasant smokiness in the finish. It's hard for me to pin down the fruit; in one cupping is was like the cherry of the coffee tree itself, and next time it was Fruit Loopy (not artificial-tasting though!), a combination of tropical fruit. There's a more pungent, bitter chocolate to the cup which develops around Full City+ roast stage if you prefer a darker roast "interpretation" and a good "rounded" cup profile in the dark stages too. I cupped this against four other Organic Guatemalas in the same offering (La Laguna, Bella Cruz, Nueva Armenia, as well as 2 from San Marcos area) and it came out as the strong front runner. This lot is a special late crop harvest, our 2nd lot of El Tirol of the year. In other words, we are not selling old coffee from early in the season! The Aurora Lot, as they call it, cupped out really well, fresh, fruited, and will hold its chracter without traces of old, baggy flavors through new crop 2006 (May-June arrivals).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild - Medium Intensity/ Fruited
add 50 50 Roast: City+/ Full City+. A versitile coffee for sure, it can be kept quite light (even City) or taken into the 2nd a little bit.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Coban is unique among Guatemalan coffees for the quality of the fruited flavors and secondary flavor subtleties.

Guatemala Barillas - Nuevo Bullaj Coop
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Nuevo Bullaj, Barillas (N. Huehuetenango) Mark: Coop Nuevo Bullaj
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: October 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Barillas is a town I visited some time ago, a northern agriculture center for Huehuetenango where the Asobagri coop is located. This coffee is from a new and unique coop from the Nuevo Bullaj area. Their story is rather tragic - their town was a target of right wing paramilitary during the civil war which was especially intense in the '80s and lasted until '96, and many of the adults were masacred. The rest fled with the children across the border into the state of Chiapas, Mexico, and formed an agricultural co-op. After the civil war, the co-op migrated back to their old town of Nuevo Bullaj to reclaim their coffee lands. Most of these people were the adult children who had lost their parents. Anyway, this is the way that the stories of other peoples lives are intertwined with the cup of coffee we enjoy. And speaking of that, I think this is a fantastic Guatemalan cup: it has sweet and piquant vanilla/caramel aromatics. It has a fairly light body, but a buttery quality to the mouthfeel nonetheless. There are floral accents to the cup flavors, a bit of butterscotch, and a crisp (but not tart) brightness that punctuates the finish. The cup is really delightful. I want to call it "melodic" but hesitate because you can't smell or taste "melodic" ... but you know what I mean. It just seems to play a nice, sweet little jingle on the palate. As it cools it becomes a bit tangy with a milk chocolate bittersweet, but overall this has very clear, clean cup flavors. It's a flavor profile that rings like a bell...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Great piquant, nippy, sweet cup
add 50 50 Roast: City or City+ is my favorite but this may be too bright for some folks. This coffee is awesome at Full City+ too - really, it takes a very wide range of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 87 Compare to: A refined, clean cup profile, - just an excellent Central American coffee!

Guatemala Huehuetenango WP Decaf
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Huehuetenango Mark: MAM 
Processing: Wet Process Crop: DEC 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: The advantage of knowing exactly what coffee goes into your decaf is great, and surprisingly rare because a lot of decafs are sold simply with an origin name, and not even a regional designation to boot. But with this Guatemalan we know the exact region (Huehuetenango) and cup quality prior to decaffeination. More remarkable is the cup after decaffeinating. It's great! I am astounded and a little bewildered by this: I regularly cupped the Central American coffees that had undergone the SWP process in Vancouver, Canada. They had little to no brightness of the original coffee in the cup, and since that's what Centrals are about, no brightness means no origin character (well... it means a huge part of what the Guatemalan coffee is about has been removed. Props to SWP who has made great strides forward in improving technique in the last 2 years too.) Here we have a cup with remarkable brightness intact after the decaf process. And it is a non-contact, non-chemical water process decaf to boot. It has a backdrop of almond in the roast taste to balance out the cup. It is a lighter-bodied cup with short, pleasant aftertaste. But it's all about the bright notes in the cup, and this one has them. Simply incredible decaf for an indirect-contact, non-chemical decaf method.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Bright, high-toned Guatemala character
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+
Score (Max. 100) 84.6 Compare to: A bright Guatemalan SHB (Strictly Hard Bean) coffee

Guatemala Organic Coban -El Tirol Estate
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Alta Verapaz, Coban Mark: Finca El Tirol
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: July 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Coban has everything going for it, except the rain. Ask anyone who has traveled in Guatemala about Coban, and superlatives about the lush cloud-forests and extraordinary wildlife will follow. But Coban is an incredibly rainy environment year-round, rain being a big problem for the patio-drying of coffee. Coffee also benefits from a dry season in the yearly cycle of growth for the coffee tree, and growing coffee in a wet environment takes more care, more pruning, and more knowledge to avoid fungi and plant disease. Coban coffees have historically been tainted in the processing, tinged with wild slightly moldy flavors. Furthermore, Coban is also a remote (and lush, and beautiful) area, remote in terms of transporting coffee to the port, far away from the capital Guatemala City. Great coffee can be ruined in so many ways, and I think that's what happens to carelessly-processed Cobans. El Tirol is something different. It's actually a pair of sister farms, El Tirol proper and Aurora, located in the Alta Verapaz department of Coban. The average altitude of the Alta Verapaz zone is 5000+ feet, and rainfall is 2,500 millimeters distributed evenly throughout the year. (That's 98.42 inches per year, Gringo!) El Tirol Estate processes all the coffee for both farms from start to finish. That means they control the quality of their coffee from start to finish without intervention; a good thing. The coffee must be mechanically dried (you just can't patio dry in Coban without ruining coffee). The cup ... Aromatically fruited. This received incredibly high marks at a group cupping with a bunch of other coffee people (9.25 on their 10 point scale) and the common remark was "fruit loops!" Indeed it has a real burst of clean tropical fruit, and for those who know the Coban cup character, it's the clean quality that is impressive! The aftertaste is a bit short, but for aroma and flavor this coffee is incredibly impressive, with Dutch cocoa flavors in the secondary flavor level, and a darker hazelnut hints. I get a pleasant smokiness in the finish too.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: This can take a wide range between City + and Full City ++, a bit into 2nd crack. The character really holds up throughout the roast range, and good chocolate notes develop a bit into 2nd with some muting of the fruit and acids.
Add 50 50 Compare to: Full-flavor Guatemalan, cleanly fruited, balanced.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9

Guatemala Atitlan -Santo Tomas Pachuj
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Lake Atitlan Mark: Finca Santo Tomas Pachuj,
ECO-OK certified
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: September 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Finca Santo Tomas Pachuj is located in the southeast side of Lake Atitlan - a truly breathtaking area in the shadows of Volcan Toliman. The farm ranges from 5,200 and 7,000 feet. We haven't stocked an Atitlan coffee for 2 years now, for no specific reason except that our sole contact there (La Voz) wasn't as impressive as it had been. The Santo Tomas howver is quite impressive, a sweet, lively cup! The finca is also a model of ecologic conservation and social responsibility; it has the Rainforest Alliance Eco-OK certificate. This is a innovative certification that covers a broad range of sustainable cultivation issues, allowing for no herbicides or pesticides until absolutely no other option is available. Until then, it is basically Organic farming practice. The Santo Tomas mill uses 5% of the water during wet-processing that traditional mills use, protecting the water supply from overuse and contamination with coffee pulp. The finca grows traditional herbs for medicinal purposes, this increases the variety of flora on the land. The natural medicines generate additional income and the 15 varieties of bamboo create more diversity among the trees on the farm. 60% of the farm is left as natural forest reserve. The reserve on the land creates a completely natural space for the wildlife to flourish, and increases the impact of the shade and natural techniques used on the farm. In terms of the treatment of the transient coffee pickers employed by the finca, they are paid a premium at this farm for the volume of red, ripe coffee cherry they pick to avoid green, immature fruit. This is a huge boost to quality in the cup, and quality of life for the pickers. This coffee has a very balanced flavor profile with acidity in good proportion to the overall cup character, and a nice buttery body. I cupped in on roasts between City+ and Full City+. On the darker end of the spectrum a nice dimension opens up between the brighter accents in the flavor and the deepening roast tastes. A dark malty sweetness emerges in the finish with spicey accents; just a touch of clove. A lighter touch on the roast, City+, results in a shift toward the sunshine with a little loss in depth/complexity. The cup has a crisp spiciness, caramel roast notes, and very nice apple/floral flavors. I like this more active lighter roast; it's a lively cup that doesn't lose intensity. But in either case, the cup is a standout among coffees from the region.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Delightful, piquant, sweet cup
add 50 50 Roast: City or City+ is preferred - it’s a shame to overwrite these "origin flavors" with too much "roast taste". Best to let the coffee speak for itself, so keep this one lighter.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: A refined, clean cup profile, mild overall, delicate - just an excellent Central American coffee!

Guatemala HHT Huehuetenango San Vicente
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango Mark: Finca San Vicente
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: San Vicente estate is located in the Cuchumatanes mountain range of Huehuetenango, in a microclimate near La Libertad. The farm is quite small, 100 Hectares of coffee and 50 Hectares of forest preserve, at 1300 to 1600 meters in altitude. The microregion has some special climactic conditions with higher humidity than other coffee regions in Huehuetenango. The area is topographically rugged, very steep, has clay soils. Other factors that influence the cup are the cultivar: while the farm has Catuai and Caturra cultivars, this lot is exclusively the traditional Bourbon varietal, and is from the higher altitudes on the farm. The result is a very hard bean coffee, physically dense, from slower/later-maturing trees. All this is great pedigree for cup quality. You can observe the density of the coffee by checking the amount the "crease" in the coffee opens during roasting, and ancillary cracks that come off of it. A more open crease with offshooting cracks means softer, lower-grown coffees. Compare a San Vicente seed to an origin that has lower altitudes, like Brazil, or an Island coffee... interesting! Now, add to the density and altitude a special preparation ... we had this coffee delivered to Antigua Guatemala, to the Los Pastores mill, for additional hand preparation to remove any possible defective beans. Okay, what is the final result of all these factors? It is a very clean cup, sharply aromatic, and a cup profile that (more than any other coffee I can recall) tastes like the cultivar - like Bourbon coffee. (BTW, this is pronounced BUR-BONE, not like the alcohol). It's what people in coffee called "good transparency" and in wine they talk about "terroir" - tasting the soil, the varietal, the beverage as a pure result of the place it came from. It is a bright cup with crisp acidity, backed by vanilla hints, and even on my lighter roasts I get quite a lot of body. I would call this coffee the epitome of a "classic" cup profile. It doesn't have the odd quirks of a fruity Harar, the earth of a Sumatra - it is the traditional, prized "clean cup". When I enjoy this coffee, I can't help but think (from my experience on the international cupping juries) that this is the coffee the Japanese judges go ape over. "Clean, sweet, very good for Japanese market," I can hear Mr. Hayashi saying...

Water reclamation pond at Finca San Vicente, Huehuetenango, Guatemala

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium intensity / Classic profile, "clean cup"
add 50 50 Roast: This can take a wide range between City + and Full City ++, a bit into 2nd crack. The character really holds up throughout the roast range, and good chocolate notes develop a bit into 2nd with some muting of the fruit and acids.
Score (Max. 100) 86.8 Compare to: Classic Guatemalan!

Guatemalan Huehuetenango Huixoc -Lot 6468
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Huehuetenango Mark: Finca Huixoc
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late May 2004 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17/18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Catuaí
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0 Notes: Huixoc was the first farm in Huehuetenango that really knocked me over; this incredible bright cup, cleanly fruited, tangy, sweet. Then there was a dry spell for a couple years where (I suspect) the best lots, the mid-cop "heart of the harvest" lots, were pre-sold to larger roasters by the container. This year, I cupped 3 lots of Huixoc; the first was an early arrival and was a disappointment. The last was a nice cup, but was missing the nippy, bright note. It was this lot, the 6468, that was "it". In the lighter roasts it is floral, with starfruit and peach flavor in the cup, mild chocolate aromatics, and a silky body. As the roast progresses, I am so impressed with the tangy bittersweet chocolate that emerges, especially a few snaps into 2nd crack. You can see as it roasts (by the tight crevice in the bean that remains closed, by the smaller amount of bean expansion) that it is a very dense coffee seed, hinting at the high altitudes of the farm. In fact, I spent an afternoon at Finca Huixoc and the neighboring farm, EL Injertal, a while back. It is a beautiful West-facing slope as you can see in the picture, truly ideal coffee terrain! PS: the 6468 lot actually had a few broca-damaged seeds in it, compared to the last Huixoc sample, but the cup was far superior. You can cull the 1 or 2 broken beans out either pre- or post- roast. This is another case where "eye-cupping" the green coffee would lead a buyer to purchase the wrong lot!
This is a picture I took of Finca Huixoc from the hill as we left the farm; we're talking serious altitude here...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: City Roast, or go for the tangy bittersweet of a Full City+
add 50 50 Compare to: The bright and delicate acidity of a lighter roast reminds of this coffee from last year, but at Full City it is more sharply chocolatey and bittersweet.
Score (Max. 100) 87

Guatemalan Antigua -Los Pastores Mill
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Antigua Mark: Los Pastores Beneficio
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 16-17 scr Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5

Notes: So far it's been hard to find a good Antigua this year ... of course it is early in the season but some of the better farms haven't been shipping great stuff in their first lots. While the most high profile region from Guatemala, the anticipated quality seems a little lower in general sometimes. That doesnt mean there isn't great Antigua coffee out there, it just means you have search harder to find it. Los Pastores is a large mill in Antigua that is known for its great quality, not just quantity. (In fact, they will be doing a special preparation for us of a Huehue. coffee later in the season! This is also the same mill where the Flor de Cafe Antigua is prepared.) Many of the Antiguas that come through are small farms that have to be consolidated with others to form shippable lots; the farms by themselves are just too small. Pastores does a good job of this, actually blending complimentary lots to achieve a particular cup profile, as a vintner would do. But still there are Antiguas from this and other mills that are a bit flat; you cannot buy coffee by the Antigua name and expect cup quality - those days are gone. Unfortunately, people do, and this has lead to a watering-down of the name and its corresponding cup quality. But this lot reference #6935 was really good. It is a balanced mid-range to bass-note cup, with a good chocolate tang in the roast taste, and a dominant licorice/anise flavor throughout the range. There are also floral aromatics, but they shift to the background as the roast darkens and are gone as the coffee is roasted into 2nd crack too much. The aromatics are still sweet, but (as is the character of Antigua) this is not a sweet cup in the mouth, rather tangy and bittersweet. I have 2 roast "interpretations" of this coffee I like (see below) and it is also great as the "aromatic" component of espresso blends in the 10-25 % range!

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute : Medium/midrange balance and licorice notes.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: City or Full City+. I like this coffee roasted very light, then rested 2-3 days. At this stage you maximize the subtle floral notes. On the other hand, I like this coffee roasted to a Full City+, where it becomes more low-toned, pungent, and the black licorice is highlighted.
add 50 50 Compare to: Other Antiguas, which are in general not fruity like Huehuetenango, and not as sweet as other Guatemalan appellations but have that nice depth and great balance.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3

Guatemala Fraijanes -Palo Alto Azul
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Fraijanes Mark: Palo Alto Azul
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Bourbon, Typica, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Fraijanes is a fairly large growing region to the South and East (slightly) of Guatemala City, and it is sort of a "hit and miss" region in terms of cup quality. We have stocked excellent Fraijanes coffees in the past years, but I have cupped a lot of so-so Fraijanes too. One problem is that there are some lower grown coffees in the region; another reason you can't simply buy coffees based on their regional designation. The fact is that within a growing region, the majority of the land under cultivation is not ideal for coffee. Possibly as little as 15% of the coffee land in a region is going to be capable of producing really great coffee. The other problem is that there is a bit of a smuggling problem with coffees from the South of Guatemala: much of this "Guatemala" coffee is actually from Honduras, brought across the border from the Copan and Ocotopeque regions because of low prices in that country. Okay, so I have covered the "cons" of Fraijanes, now here is the positives, and namely, this spriest lot of coffee, Palo Alto Azul. This sample sort of arrived unannounced but it was heads and tails above the rest on the table, which included a very respected Antigua former Cup of Excellence winner! And the aromatics belong to that of the classic Antigua cup profile, laced with milk chocolate, vanilla, and nuts. It amounts to something I can only clumsily describe as "delicious coffee aroma, " but I think you will see what I mean when you smell it! The acidity is impressive and not too high-toned or shrill, and it perfectly punctuates fairly luxurious, creamy-custard body (honestly, there's the combination of cup flavors and body was reminding me of the desert flan in the first cupping round!). I wouldn't call this an overly sweet cup, but an interesting on-the-fence profile between sweet and bittersweet. The aftertaste is fairly short ... but doesn't make me want to shave a point at all, it's just too good of a cup while it lasts.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Amazing balance and body
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ and Full City+; going darker did not seem to diminish the body at all, and simply made the coffee more bittersweet.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: This is top coffee from the Fraijanes region and is most similar to the Antiguas, than to the Cobans or Huehuetenango coffees.

Guatemalan Antigua -La Flor del Café
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Antigua Mark: La Flor del Café
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late May 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: For me, this coffee is a refreshing relief in more than one way. Everyone knows about Antigua coffees from Guatemala (just as everyone talks only about Tarrazu when you mention Costa Rican coffee). But what a bunch of crappy coffees are out there being sold under the Antigua name! (and in fact there is a move to make the Antigua name a strictly certified appellation). But even among the known true Antiguas, the cup simply does not often support the reputation. As a cupper, I have simply stopped trying to find good Antiguas because the other growing regions (Fraijanes, Huehuetenango, Oriente and Coban are at the top of my list) are producing great coffees that are more like the true Antiguas of my early roasting days than most samples I receive labeled Antigua. My last hope was this coffee offered here, a sample arrived from the importers at La Minita, and I tasted an Antigua cup that was truly inspiring, unique, vibrant, bright, and would give me something to appease all the emails we get wondering why we don't have an Antigua! This is a trade name coffee from the Las Pastores beneficio (mill), chosen from many small farm lots by the cupping team at La Minita, featuring the outstanding cupper Sergio Cruz. The milling of the coffee is done under the guidance of the same team to exacting standards, and the preparation and cup quality of this coffee bear it out. It's aromas are toasty and sweet, the first sip is softly fruited, and very floral (hence the name)! The roast tastes are soft milk-chocolate tones paired with a really velvety mouthfeel. As the cup cools, the brightness peaks in a tangerine sweetness. In other words, it really is a great coffee from Antigua.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 2.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Delicate acidity, milk chocolate roast tastes, clean cup 
Add 50 50.0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Bright, balanced, clean milk chocolate roast taste: classic Antigua.

Guatemala Organic Coban -El Tirol Estate
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Alta Verapaz, Coban Mark:

Finca El Tirol

Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Coban has everything going for it, except the rain. Ask anyone who has traveled in Guatemala about Coban, and superlatives about the lush cloud-forests and extraordinary wildlife will follor. But Coban is an incredibly rainy environment year-round, rain being a big problem for the patio-drying of coffee. Coffee also benefits from a dry season in the yearly cycle of growth for the coffee tree, and growing coffee in a wet environment takes more care, more pruining, and more knowledge to avoid fungi and plant disease. Coban coffees have historically been tainted in the processing, tinged with wild slightly moldy flavors. Furthermore, Coban is also a remote (and lush, and beautiful) area, remote in terms of transporting coffee to the port, far away from the capital Guatemala City. Great coffee can be ruined in so many ways, and I think that's what happens to carelessly-processed Cobans. El Tirol is something different. It's actually a pair of sister farms, El Tirol proper and Aurora, located in the Alta Verapaz department of Coban. The average altitude of the Alta Verapaz zone is 5000+ feet, and rainfall is 2,500 millimeters distributed evenly throughout the year. (That's 98.42 inches per year, Gringo!) El Tirol Estate processes all the coffee for both farms from start to finish. That means they control the quality of their coffee from start to finish without intervention; a good thing. The coffee must be mechanically dried (you just can't patio dry in Coban without ruining coffee). The cup ... Aromatically fruited. This received incredibly high marks at a group cupping with a bunch of other coffee people (9.25 on their 10 point scale) and the common remark was "fruit loops!" Indeed it has a real burst of clean tropical fruit, and for those who know the Coban cup character, it's the clean quality that is impressive! The aftertaste is a bit short, but for aroma and flavor this coffee is incredibly impressive, with Dutch cocoa flavors in the secondary flavor level, and a darker hazelnut hints. Note 3/20/04: With new crop coming you would expect the El Tirol to be a little tired in the cup. It is anything but that! I roasted it in the Probat this week and the cup is fantastic. It's just a testament to how good this coffee is, and with what care it was processed at the El Tirol mill. I hope we can get this coffee again next year!-Tom
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: This can take a wide range between City + and Full City ++, a bit into 2nd crack. The character really holds up throughout the roast range, and good chocolate notes develop a bit into 2nd with some muting of the fruit and acids.
add 50 50 Compare to: Full-flavor Guatemalan! Between a Huehuetenango (fruited) and an Antigua in character.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / brightness, clean fruit

Guatemala Huehuetenango -La Maravilla
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: La Democracia, Huehuetenango Mark: Finca La Maravilla 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 15-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: La Maravilla is a farm we have not carried before, but Huehuetenango is a coffee-growing region of Northern Guatemala that we can't get enough of! Huehue. is still underappreciated for the range of cup characters, usually with a more fruited profile than the Antiguas. And within Huehue there are many subregions with distinct cup profiles. La Democracia is one of them, and that is where both El Injerto and La Maravilla are situated. When I received this sample it was more of a burden than a blessing: we had already bought all the mid-crop Guatemalans I needed for the year and I didn't want to re-roast all the Guat.s for a comparative cupping. But I did and I am glad. This cup is bright, and if that is not apparent at first, you will realize the high acidity as the cup cools. This gives it a real lively cup character, tangy and in lighter roasts the fruitiness is like barely ripe mango. Behind the brightness and fruit is an almondy nuttiness with a bit of unsweetened Dutch cocoa. It sounds like an odd combination of flavors but somehow it spins itself into a really cohesive taste profile. I all, this is not a sweet cup and leaves me with a chocolate aftertaste as if I had tasted unsweetened cocoa powder. (I remember what a shock it was as a kid to learn that the Hershey's cocoa powder my mom kept in the kitchen was not like like eating a package of instant cocoa, like Swiss Miss.) But despite childhood trauma, this time the unsweetened cocoa taste comes off as a good thing! This coffee is not screened for seed size as much as other Guat.s, so the presence of some small seeds might cause problems in the Alpenrost (not with any other roasters though).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: This can take a wide range between City + and Full City ++, a bit into 2nd crack. The character really holds up throughout the roast range, and good chocolate notes develop a bit into 2nd with some muting of the fruit and acids.
add 50 50 Compare to: Full-flavor Guatemalan, this is a bright and lively cup, and reminds me of the brighter Huixoc of 2 years ago.
Score (Max. 100) 87 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / balance and brightness

Guatemala Antigua -Filadelfia Estate

Note: we have had some disappointment with the cup quality of 2004 Filadelfia samples so far; we may not be stocking this coffee this season -Tom

Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Antigua Mark:

Filadelfia Estate, Certified Antigua

Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late 2003 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Filadelfia - the coffee of brotherly love? The farm has a lot of history. It is one of the oldest in Antigua, part of the early land reforms of the 19th century, founded by Mañuel Matheu Ariza, and developed mostly by his daughter Elisa Matheu Cofiño de Dalton, who passed recently in 2000. The plantation endured revolutions, devastating earthquakes and a series of severe frosts that destroyed Antigua's entire coffee crop twice, in 1881 and 1885. The farm also benefited from the rich soil fed by the ashes of the very volcanoes that caused destruction in the adjacent colonial town of Antigua. The temperate climate and high elevations in Antigua help coffee cherry to mature very slowly; Filadelfia ranges from 5150 feet up to the rugged heights, over 6,500 feet, that give the coffee its character. This is a sun-dried coffee that undergoes extra hand-sorting beyond Euro-Prep standards. And it has been consistently a complex and intrguing cup. It was in the top ten of the 2001 and 2002 Guatemala Cup of Excellence! (For me, the significance of a coffee placing in the auction for 2 years is monumental ... and if the 2003 auction had not been canceled I am sure it would be 3 years in a row). The cup is true to the Antigua cup character. This is prototypical Antigua- not sweet or fruited as Huehuetenangos or Cobans, but a compact flavor profile, bittersweet! And I hate to admit this, but there is something in the bright end of this cup, in the quality of the acidity, that actually does remind me of the compactness and sourness of cream cheese. That neither sounds appropriate for a great coffee like this, an implies that I am basically associating the estate name with another obvious, unnamed product. At a City to City+ roast, where the coffee has yet to develop a really even surface appearance, this pleasant sourness is at its peak, but there's a little burr to the cup in the finish, and the chocolate isn't yet developed. That's why I really like it at Full City to Full City+, near second crack and a few snaps into it. The coffee still appears a bit ruddy on the surface, but the color is dark. It becomes sweet and cinnamony, with a predominate cocoa taste. All the edgy flavors from lighter roasts round out, and the cup achieves this really delicate balance. It's delicious and dangerous: I can't stop drinking this stuff!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: This coffee resists the roast, so you will need to roast it a little longer to achieve a desired darkness… I prefer it at Full City to Full City+, which is where the chocolate bittersweet really emerges. Even at these stages, the coffee surface can appear a little ruddy and mottled when using an air roaster - but don't fret too much about that. It's a very dense, high grown coffee, so it plays some tricks on you with the roast, and the roast color and bean surface.
Add 50 50 Compare to: A thoroughbred Antigua, with classic Antigua cup profile: bittersweet, complex and balanced too , with an intensity that emerges as the cup cools, and in the aftertaste.
Score (Max. 100) 88

Some photos of the Filadelfia Estate - r to l - Volcano in background, ripe cherry, the coffee nursery.

Guatemalan Antigua -La Flor del Café
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Antigua Mark: La Flor del Café
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: For me, this coffee is a refreshing relief in more than one way. Everyone knows about Antigua coffees from Guatemala (just as everyone talks only about Tarrazu when you mention Costa Rican coffee). But what a bunch of crappy coffees are out there being sold under the Antigua name! (and in fact there is a move to make the Antigua name a strictly certified appellation). But even among the known true Antiguas, the cup simply does not often support the reputation. As a cupper, I have simply stopped trying to find good Antiguas because the other growing regions (Fraijanes, Huehuetenango, Oriente and Coban are at the top of my list) are producing great coffees that are more like the true Antiguas of my early roasting days than most samples I receive labeled Antigua. My last hope was this coffee offered here, a sample arrived from the importers at La Minita, and I tasted an Antigua cup that was truly inspiring, unique, vibrant, bright, and would give me something to appease all the emails we get wondering why we don't have an Antigua! This is a trade name coffee from the Las Pastores beneficio (mill), chosen from many small farm lots by the cupping team at La Minita. The milling of the coffee is done under the guidance of the same team to exacting standards, and the preparation and cup quality of this coffee bear it out. It's aromas are toasty and sweet, the first sip is softly fruited, and very floral (hence the name)! The roast tastes are soft milk-chocolate tones paired with a really velvety mouthfeel. As the cup cools, the brightness peaks in a tangerine sweetness. In other words, it really is a great coffee from Antigua.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 2.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed.
Add 50 50.0 Compare to: Bright, balanced, abundantly sweet Costas -better and better as the cup cools.
Score (Max. 100) 87

Guatemalan Huixoc Huehuetenango
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Huehuetenango Mark: Huixoc 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuaí, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: There are some incredible Huehuetenango coffees again this year. If this year follows through with the recent cupping history of Guatemalan coffees: if you want outstanding, fruity, bright Central American you are probably going to find it in Huehuetenango. On my last trip to Guatemala I had the chance to visit two coffee fincas which share the same west-facing slope in the same valley, El Injertal and Huixoc. And both are incredible coffees (El Injertal won a spot in the Guatemala Cup of Excellence auction, and if Huixoc was ever entered I am sure it would too!) The Huixoc represents the bright, sweetly floral end of the spectrum when they are treated to a lighter City roast. The roast taste in the lighter City roast is honeyed and allows a modicum of spice to emerge as the cup cools. As the roast progresses to Full City, I am so impressed with the tangy bittersweet of the Huixoc, especially a few snaps into 2nd crack. It is medium-bodied, with outstanding aromatics, delicate floral notes in the acidity and fruitiness, and a good cleanly-disappearing aftertaste marked by mild dryness. I found the City roast samples shifted a little after several days rest to more of a milk chocolate roast taste, with a tangy bittersweet chocolate finish. Both cup profiles are very nice!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: City Roast: You lose the delicate bright flavors if you roast this too dark.
Add 50 50 Compare to: The bright and delicate acidity of a lighter roast reminds of this coffee from last year, but at Full City it is more sharply chocolatey and bittersweet.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5

Guatemala Huehuetenango -El Injerto Estate
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Huehuetenango Mark: El Injerto Estate
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Once again Huehuetenango (pronounced Waywaytenango) has some of the most solid, quality cup character to offer this year from Guatemala. The Antiguas have become mild and some samples were downright flat. (Many Antiguas are not true Antiguas, they are brought in from neighboring Acatenango). So here we have a Huehue that doesn't cup like one. It really has the chocolate and spicy flavors of a true Antigua ...and a very good one at that. Ironic that a very nice Antigua doesn't come from there ...but then again brokers are talking about mass coffee fraud in the high-priced Antigua region anyway. Last year we stocked the 100% Bourbon coffee from the farm, meaning that all the trees are of the coffea arabica var. bourbon that was a spontaneous mutation of the arabica species first brought to the New World. (Incidentally, it was brought by the French to Reunion Island which was then called Bourbon). The seed is small and rounded, the trees grow in a way that is great for quality but not as sun-tolerant or easy to pick as other modern hybrids. I visited the farm and had a discussed the merits of single-Varietal coffees with Sr. Aguierre, owner and agronomist at El Injerto. This year you will see about 40% Bourbon. Why? Because the coffee of mixed cultivars cupped better! Just as a vineyard will blend grapes grown from different parts of the farm, a coffee Finca that grows each cultivar separately can then blend the different arabica types in a controlled way to produce the best cup. I know of few farms that grow in this way ...only El Injerto and the respected Panama Lerida Estate come to mind. The cup is moderately bright with a raisin fruitiness, and a bit of pear as the cup cools. The body is quite thick for a Guatemalan coffee. The finish is not heavy-handed but the aftertaste definitely returns as you work your way through a cup or two. Its spicy and develops a good milk chocolate roast taste. A very nice, remarkably balanced and clean cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Much like a really good Antigua, if one could be found.
Score (Max. 100) 85.2

Hawaii 

Hawaii Kona -Honaunau Peaberry
Country: United States, Hawaii Grade: Certified PB No.1 Region: Kona Mark: HCC Honaunau Mill
HI Cert.# J405001
Processing: Wet Process, Sun Dried Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .3 d/300gr, Peaberry No.1 Varietal: Kona Typica Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Honaunau is a town just down the road from Captain Cook in the Kona region of the big island; together they form the main processing hubs for coffees grown on the slopes of Kona. The coffee mill by the same name actually has a Captain Cook address, since basically both Honaunau and Greenwell mills receive coffee from overlapping areas. Honaunau Coffee Company has been processing coffee for top Kona farms for decades, including many of the top lots in the Kona Competition over the years. I wanted to find a true Kona coffee that was brighter and more delicate than the samples I was getting, abnd this is the result. The aromatics on this coffee are very lively, bright, floral and sweet. It's a mild cup (like most Island coffees), and brighter than most Konas. As a peaberry, it tends to roast a tad fast so you need to keep a close eye on the "degree of roast." This is especially true since it really shimmers at a City to City+ roast, and like other Hawaiian coffees can go a bit flat in the dark roast stages. Don't let the roast get away from you! The body is light and this suits the overall light intensity of the cup. It has a good sweet middle range, as is the aftertaste which does not stay around too long. There are slight fruit-rind flavors in the aftertaste, and vanilla hints - overall it is a really beautiful, delicate cup profile.  
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/Balanced cup with soft character and rounded acidity.
add 50 50 Roast: I like the City to City+ range to highlight the delicate bright notes without developing a heavier roast taste that would interfere. As a Peaberry this will roast faster - watch it!
Score (Max. 100) 85 Compare to: Sweet, delicate, mild Konas, brighter than most.

Hawaiian Kona -Purple Mountain Farm
Country: Hawaii, U.S. Grade: Fancy Island: Big Island Mark: Purple Mountain Farm
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late Feb 2004 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr Varietal: Kona Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a coffee that is uniquely Kona, distinct from any other coffee origin in the world. There are flavors very specific to Kona coffees grown on the handful of farms that actually have the right altitude and the right soils to grow coffee that demands the premium Kona price. The biggest problem with Hawaiian island coffee is not that these few small-farm Konas command a high price, it's that alot of poor quality coffees and non-Kona coffees are priced according to the reputation of the deserving ones. Some excellent Konas are sold directly by the mills in Kona and they can be quite good too, but they vary to a greater degree than actual farm specific lots. Judging by the cup, Purple Mountain immediately struck me as the kind of coffee that is first tier Kona, where the coffee is clearly farmed for quality and not quantity, and the altitude is clearly there. In fact, at 2000 feet in the well-drained volcanic soils of Honaunau region of Kona, and the farm has certainly hit its stride in this their 25th year. The coffee is pesticide-free (not organic certified but all by all measures they practice organic farming), hand-picked and totally sun-dried. The farm is limited to 8 acres, and the Stiles family that own and farm it are active participants in the Kona cupping competitions. The coffee is expertly milled by the well-known Tom Greenwell of Greenwell Farms, but there can be an occasional broken bean, or partial defect bean in this coffee. Remove this before roasting for the best cup results. The cup ... The KPM has a sweet, soft flowery aroma with a hint of jasmine. The cup has nice body, a little creamy, and a clean sweet snap to the cup right off the bat. With the lighter roast (City) I prefer on this cup, the acidity is mildly tangerine, and the roast taste is malty-barley… that doesn’t sound like a great combo but it really comes off pleasant and sweet in the cup. This crop strikes me as more floral than any of the previous: the yield was down for this year with less flowering and cherry on the trees, but sometimes this results in more concentrated flavors in the remaining ones, as the plant is not stressed by "over-production".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: I like City+ roast, and a good 48 hour rest on this coffee. Many people like a heavier roast on this. Actually, a Vienna roast is a pretty neat cup! The larger XF grade needs a little more roast time. Its best to set the roaster at full time, then manually stop it at the degree of roast you want.
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Balance
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Compare to: Classic, small farm Kona.

Hawaiian Kona Peaberry -Greenwell Farms -SOLD OUT 2/7 -REVIEW FYI
Country:
US
Grade:
Certified Peaberry #1
Region:
Kona, Big Island, Hawaii
Mark:
Greenwell Farm
Hawaii Cert. #: G328604
Processing:
Wet-processed
Crop:
January 2004 arrival
 
Appearance:
0d/300gr
Peaberry #1 Screen
Varietal:
Kona
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3
Notes: Greenwell is a "model farm" and mill in terms of craft and quality: they operate one of the finest coffee mills in the islands, preparing green coffee from not only their own lands but many top farms. Greenwell farm is a center of the Kona coffee culture, a family farm since way, way back. This is the type of Kona that deserves its price: perfectly prepped, nice aromatics, complexity, and that hint of spice that distinguishes Kona from other washed coffees. There is more acidity/brightness/liveliness in this cup than any other Kona we have had, good indication that the coffee lands are at adequate altitude (something lacking in many Konas both in the cup and in the corresponding geography of the farms). This is new 2004 crop, and is a beautiful top grade Peaberry #1 preparation, opal-green new crop coffee. It's a clean, lighter body cup with nice acidity (sometimes I think I get a piney flavor from this Kona), and hints of cinnamon. Rest it for at least 24 hours before enjoying to give the body time to develop. The peaberry does accelerate a bit into second crack so watch the roast carefully (stop it manually if possible). I rest this coffee a little longer with a light City roast, and the normal 12 hour overnight rest for Full City - hey, I can't wait longer than that to cup an attractive roast like this. If you have a roaster with variable heat control, I would finish with a lower heat to slow down the crack. Otherwise, just stay on top of it so you don't do an unwanted French Roast of this pricey *but well-worth-it) coffee!
Please note: at this writing, our supply of this coffee is fairly limited although we are trying to get more. It might go quickly...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0
Roast: Please don't over-roast your Kona if you want to preserve the brightness in the cup! Keep it light --through first crack, let it go a bit then shut it down before 2nd crack... yes, it does produce interesting dark roast flavors but you can get that with much less expensive coffees too.
add 50 50.0
Score (Max. 100) 87.0
Compare to: Good mild "island-profile" coffees.

Hawaii Koa Kona - "Baba's Beans" XF
Country: Hawaii, USA Grade: XF Certified Region: Captain Cook, Kona Mark: Koa Plantation
"Baba's Beans"

HI Cert 235005
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Hawaii Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: We sort of stumbled into this Kona offering late in the season. I didn't really think that I could come up with a lot of Kona from this year's #1 winning farm in the Kona Coffee Competition, and wasn't really trying to find it. But somebody called somebody, and somebody who had the contract to buy it couldn't, and somebody called me and I got a sample and cupped it, and Voila! here it is! Sometimes in the coffee trade, dumb luck prevails. Koa Plantation is the Artukovich family farm, at 2,500 feet near the small town of Captain Cook, on the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano, on the Big Island. The farm is unique because they process all their own coffee from start to finish, and have a unique, ecologically efficient wet -processing coffee system. It's also notable that they store all their parchment coffee in a climate-controlled warehouse until it is ready to dry-mill, and ship. The thing that impresses me most about this cup is the outstanding body. It's really quite intense, and after a proper resting (48 hours) it really comes out. It has that soft, sweet "island taste profile", and despite my skepticism about all our customers who use their pricey Kona in espresso, I must say this makes an awesome shot! I kept the roast at a City + for cupping, and enjoyed the soft nuttiness in the cup, and maple syrup undertones. But taking it a bit darker to a few snaps into second, the milk-chocolate qualities in the cup really emerged, along with a mild black licorice flavor, and gave the taste profile a little more liveliness. Here's a little more information about the Koa coffee and the press release from the Kona Coffee Competition.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: See above : City + is fine but the chocolate and licorice notes at Full City+ are best.
Add 50 50 Compare to: Great, high grown, small-farm Hawaiian Konas, with exceptional body.
Score (Max. 100) 86.6

Hawaiian Kona -Greenwell Farms
Country:
US
Grade:
Certified Fancy
Region:
Kona
Mark:
Greenwell Farm
Hawaii Cert. #: 310005
Processing:
washed
Crop:
2003
Appearance:
0d/300gr
17/18 scr
Varietal:
Kona
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3
Notes: I was very happy when the Greenwell sample arrived since we are out of the small farm Purple Mountain and Kowali Farm coffees. This is a beautiful opal-green new crop coffee with outstanding Kona cup qualities. Greenwell is a "model farm" and mill in terms of quality : they operate one of the finest coffee mills in the islands, milling coffee from not only their own lands but many top farms. Greenwell farm is a center of the Kona coffee culture, a family farm since way, way back. This is the type of Kona that deserves its price: perfectly prepped, nice aromatics, complexity, and that hint of spice that distinguishes Kona from other washed coffees. There is more acidity/brightness/liveliness in this cup than any other Kona we have had, good indication that the coffee lands are at adequate altitude (something lacking in many Konas both in the cup and in the corresponding geography of the farms). It's a clean, lighter body cup with nice acidity (sometimes I think I get a piney flavor from this Kona), and hints of cinnamon. Rest it for at least 24 hours before enjoying to give the body time to develop.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0
Roast: Please don't over-roast your Kona if you want to preserve the brightness in the cup! Keep it light --through first crack, let it go a bit then shut it down before 2nd crack... yes, it does produce interesting dark roast flavors but you can get that with much less expensive coffees too.
add 50 50.0
Score (Max. 100) 86.8
Compare to: Good mild coffees.

Hawaiian Kona - Kowali Extra Fancy
Country: U.S.A Grade: Certified
Extra Fancy
Region: Hawaii, Big Island, Kona Mark: Kowali Farm
Hawaii Cert. #: 310005 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Kona
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Kowali (which means Morning Glory in Hawaiian) is a smaller, more remote Kona farm with the right kind of altitude to produce exceptional Kona coffee. Kona Coffee is grown only in the district of Kona on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. While coffee is also grown in other districts and on other islands, it does not develop the same flavors nor receive the same attention in the process as true small-farm Kona coffees. This coffee is grown by Skip and Rita Cowell on their 12 acre Kona farm. It has been consistently acclaimed one of the top 10 coffees in Kona, and in fact received an honorable mention in this years Kona Coffee Competition. "The funny thing about that," Rita told me, "is that I didn't enter the competition!" The Cowell farm in South Kona, on the slopes of Mauna Loa, is grown on carefully tended land, using no pesticides and 100% hand picked. In 1998 the farm was recognized by the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District as the cooperator of the year for our continuing conservation practices. This cup is a classic Kona in all respects, with a big, sweet flavor that somehow matches the immense blue-green appearance of the coffee seeds. It has the brightness that is lacking in so many low-grown Hawaiian coffees, and an almost piney aromatic accent to the cup. These big, heavy coffee seeds can be a challenge to roast in air roasters, since by their size and bulk, they won't agitate as easily in an air stream - cut back on the air roast batch sizes a little. We stocked the Kowali Blue Mountain earlier this year too, but their Extra Fancy was my top scoring Kona coffee over that and every other sample we received.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: See the notes above about cutting the batch size in air roasters. There's a lot of people who like heavier roasts on Konas, and like them as straight espresso too. I like a lighter roast- just a few snaps of second and no lighter than that. But I find it takes a longer time in most roasters to achieve this level of roast. Set the roaster at a high number and roast manually!
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Sweet, juicy, classic Kona cup character, accented with bright piney notes. A luscious and attractive cup.
Score (Max. 100) 87.9

Hawaiian Kona -Purple Mountain Farm
Country: USA Grade: No.1 Island: Big Island Mark: Purple Mountain Farm
Processing: Wet Process Crop: 2003 Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Kona Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a coffee that is uniquely Kona, distinct from any other coffee origin in the world. There are flavors very specific to Kona coffees grown on the handful of farms that actually have the right altitude and the right soils to grow coffee that demands the premium Kona price. The biggest problem with Hawaiian island coffee is not that these few small-farm Konas command a high price, it's that alot of poor quality coffees and non-Kona coffees are priced according to the reputation of the deserving ones. Some excellent Konas are sold directly by the mills in Kona and they can be quite good too, but they vary to a greater degree than actual farm specific lots. Judging by the cup, Purple Mountain immediately struck me as the kind of coffee that is first tier Kona, where the coffee is clearly farmed for quality and not quantity, and the altitude is clearly there. In fact, at 2000 feet in the well-drained volcanic soils of Honaunau region of Kona, and the farm has certainly hit its stride in this their 25th year. The coffee is pesticide-free (not organic certified but all by all measures they practice organic farming), hand-picked and totally sun-dried. The farm is limited to 8 acres, and the Stiles family that own and farm it are active participants in the Kona cupping competitions. The coffee is expertly milled by the well-known Tom Greenwell of Greenwell Farms. The KPM has a sweet flowery aroma with a hint of jasmine. The cup has nice body, a little creamy, and a clean sweet snap to the cup right off the bat. With the lighter roast (City) I prefer on this cup, the acidity is mildly tangerine, and the roast taste is malty-barley… that doesn’t sound like a great combo but it really comes off pleasant and sweet in the cup. I oftentimes find a little piney flavor lurking behind the acidity in the KPM, but I found that on one of the three cupping samples this time ... but overall I think this is sweeter than the KPM from last crop.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: I like City roast, and a good 48 hour rest on this coffee. Many people like a heavier roast on this. Actually, a Vienna roast is a pretty neat cup! The larger XF grade needs a little more roast time. Its best to set the roaster at full time, then manually stop it at the degree of roast you want.
add 50 50 Compare to: Classic, small farm Kona.
Score (Max. 100) 85.3

Honduras 

Honduras Cup of Excellence - Finca Las Marias
Country: Honduras Grade: SHB Region: La Fortuna,
Quimistán,
Santa Barbara
Mark: Finca Las Marias,
Cup of Excellence Winner 2004
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Rojo Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: When I visited Honduras for the first coffee competition in 2003, I was impressed with the quality of the coffees from the Santa Barbara area. It isn't where most of the Honduran coffee originates. Much of the growing areas are in Maracala district, Copan, and nearby Ocotopeque. Some regions, like Maracala and areas far to the South, have the advantage of drier climates to process the coffee with ease using solar-patio drying. But Santa Barbara, with its unpredictable rainfall, still has great soils and altitude for coffee. These Northern Honduran coffees, grown near the border of Guatemala, have often been smuggled across the border to be sold as Fraijanes coffee, or "Antigua-type" coffees, due to low domestic coffee prices ... hopefully this Cup of Excellence event will change the perception of Honduran coffees.You can see the exact location on the plot of Cup of Excellence coffees I made above. Anyway, I feel sure that this cup is more interesting than 95% of Guatemalan coffees sold in the US! We went after this specific lot in the Cup of Excellence competition for its crisp bright character, what in wine they call a "muscular" cup, with a narrow band of sweetness and a brisk, almost piney high tone. Now be assured, I did NOT buy this coffee for the name, Finca Las Marias! :-) Although I certainly don't mind it... The coffee is from the farm of Mario Leonel Noriega (no relation to a certain Nicaraguan by the same name!). It's a beautiful farm at almost 1400 meters in altitude with just 5 hectares of coffee trees. Manuel has chosen a Catuai cultivar based on the local conditions, and I would have thought it was Caturra based on the citrus impression I get from the the aromatics and cup flavors. It's a clean cup but with some real heft to it, deep but without distractions to the flavors, with subtle hints of pear, starfruit, and (as it cools) cantaloupe. Initially the wet aroma is cedary and sweet but cedar seems limited to the aromatics and is not overbearing in the cup. As it cools it becomes incredibly balanced and the body seems to become heavier, almost velvety. This heavy body, when we roasted it to a Full City, become quite syrupy sweet ... excellent!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: This can take a wide range between City + and Full City +. The character is really at it's best with a City + and 48 hours rest.
add 50 50 Compare to: Some roasts we did of this coffee had an almost Java-like cup quality, except with more "top-end" than a Java (which is all bass-note). Nonetheless, it is a unique coffee among the Central Americans. This is exemplary coffee....
Score (Max. 100) 86.8

Honduras SHG Organic Marcala
Country: Honduras Grade: SHG Region: Marcala District Mark: OCIA Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet processed Crop: Late May 2004 arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Agaaro
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: The Marcala region is distinct from other Honduran growing areas in that Marcala can truly patio-dry their coffees. Other areas like Copan are very moist and many coffees are ruined in the drying process by unexpected rain showers, but Marcala (near the El Salvador border in the West) has a distinct dry period that coincides with the coffee harvest, and lots of level spaces at the mills for good patio drying. The result is a sturdy coffee; a green seed that doesn't fade or get baggy over time. (Done right, mechanical drying can be every bit as good). This Organic lot from Marcala is distinct for its caramelly sweetness, moderate brightness, and good body. Together they form a really nice, creamy cup with a clean finish that has honeyed hints, and sweet mandarin orange. The aftertaste reminds me this is an organic coffee, with a not unpleasant touch of wood bark, like an Indonesian coffee. There's a very small number of mild defect beans in this, but they do not have a huge bearing on the cup, and can be easily culled. I rated this at a total of 1 full d/300 gram sample. I really like a City + roast here, where the sweetness and body seem at their peak, but Full City + with just a suggestion of 2nd crack, has a neat cup character too: unsweetened chocolate laced with anise/licorice. In fact, the pungency of this cup might qualify it as a Central American for those who prefer Indonesian or pungent African coffees. Roasted to a City+ it has a neat piney brightness, and cedar notes. While other Centrals are high-toned in the palate (with the exception of some Nicaraguan and Colombian coffees) this is medium to deep in its tonal range and reverberates more toward the anterior of the palate rather than frontally, or on the tongue. Yes, it has acidity, but not that nippy brightness that strikes the front-middle of the tongue.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: Works well at both a City and a Full City+ (a few snaps into 2nd crack)
add 50 50 Compare to: Interesting and unique pungency develops at the medium-dark roast settings, similar to some Nicaraguan coffees. I will be experimenting with this coffee at a Vienna roast for espresso, definitely!
Score (Max. 100) 84.6

Honduras Organic SHG- Sebastian Melgar
Country: Honduras Grade: SHG (Strictly High Grown) Region: Lempiras Mark: Organic, Finca Sebastian Melgar
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai, Pacas
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

Notes: This year I was able to judge at the first-ever Honduras Specialty Coffee Competition held in San Pedro Sula, and my alterior motive on this trip was to find some truly special Honduran coffees for Sweet Maria's. I was really excited about this coffee, from the small farm of Sebastian Melgar in the Lempira district of North-Western Honduras. My interest was because this coffee exhibited a character I found in the general Honduran cup profile, a defining character unique among Centrals. But it happened to have more of it than any other. This was a lower overall acidity, with a distinct caramel-sweetness. It's great as a brewed coffee when roasted to a City+ or Full City stage, a few snaps into 2nd crack. It is mild in acidity, caramelly-chocolatey, a little indelicate (unlike the Selin Recinos). It didn't make the top ten in the competition because it was a more typical Honduran cup profile, but it was eleimated in the last cut (this is too bad, that a typical coffee is penalized in competitions). The Sebastian Melgar is most interesting in espresso! I enjoy it roasted to a full Vienna stage as a straight shot, but the cups that were truly sweet-bittersweet chocolate were a blend of 60% Brazil dry-process (I use Vargem Grande) and 40% Sebastian Melgar, roasted to the same Vienna stage (on an air roaster, 30 seconds into 2nd crack) and rested 24 hours+. I am telling you, I liked this blend so much for its sweetness and chocolatiness that I wanted to add it as a new Sweet Maria's Espresso Blend, but I think this route is best ... and it lets people know that Honduras is more than just a good choice for drip coffee.

Another additional espresso comment: a 100% Melgar shot is a bit too bright for me when roasted to a Light Vienna stage, but is really, really nice roasted to a Full French stage. The caramel sweetness still lingers behing the darker roast taste. So if you like Scuro (S. Italian) style espresso, try 100% Melgar! If you prefer Normale (N. Italian) style like I, blend with Vargem Brazil as recommended. After a long rest of 5 days, the espresso has a great sasparilla-rootbeer quality, mildly herby, sweet, caramelly, balanced. -Tom

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: It's a nice cup roaster to Full City, a few snaps of 2nd crack, as a drip or French Press. But I really like this for espresso roasted to a Vienna stage -see description above.
add 50 50 Compare to: Unique among Centrals: lower acidity than Guats and CRs, like Oaxacas in acidity, but with a distinct caramel.
Score (Max. 100) 85.6

Honduras SHG- Selin Recinos : 4th Place - Honduras Coffee Competition!
Country: Honduras Grade: SHG (Strictly High Grown) Region: Ocotepeque Mark: Finca Selin Edgardo Recinos
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra, Pacas
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: This year I was able to judge at the first-ever Honduras Specialty Coffee Competition held in San Pedro Sula, and my alterior motive on this trip was to find some truly special Honduran coffees for Sweet Maria's. I have always had the opinion that Honduras had all the geographic, climactic, geologic and cultural resources to produce great specialty coffee, but it stumped me why so much was flat-tasting, dull. But here is the result of all the improvements in proper milling and transporting of a Strictly High Grown Honduran coffee that truly has the terroire of great coffee; the small fram of Selin Edgardo Recinos. This was awarded 4th place in the Honduras competition; that's out of 400+ entrants! This is the classic, delicate, clean, aromatic Central American cup profile. The aromas are remarkably sweet with fresh fruit accents, and in the cup the translate to red apple, with a little pear. The roast develops a cany-like sweetness, light caramelization of the sugars. It is a delicate cup with a lot of nuances: I alternately get hazelnut essence, sweet anise, carrot cake, and the before-mentioned red delicious apple. Overall this is not a powerhouse, it is mild, but with some focus on the flavors a lot of flavor descriptors start to emerge. Cleary the 18 judges at the competition agreed, since this coffee had to pass two tiers of cupping panels and 20+ rounds of cupping to get its berth in the top 10!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed. You can go darker but this coffee shines pre-second crack, and with 2 days rest.
add 50 50 Compare to: Sweet, delicate, nuanced Centrals, like a La Minita, or a Guatemala Antigua or Huehuetenango
Score (Max. 100) 87.9

India 

Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry
Country: India Grade: PB A Region: Chikmagalur, Mysore Mark: Ratnagiri: Pearl Mountain Plantation
Processing: Wet Process Crop: late Sept. 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16 Screen Varietal: Kents Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Coffees like this can convince you that India is overlooked as a growing origin, and those who like Indonesian coffees of cleaner cup character should try Indian coffee. We have consistently found the Indian coffees from the Pearl Mountain Estate of Chikmagalur to be the best Plantation (Indian grade designation for wet-processed arabica) to be the best in the cup. In fact, coffee was introduced to India in the Chikmagalur District of the Karnakata State by Muslim pilgrim Bababudan Sahib in the year 1610! The cup is very pleasant: It is a mild coffee overall, fairly straightforward and (in a good way) simple. It has a medium-bodied, with low acidity, but enough to provide balance in the cup. The flavors are well-defined in the lighter roast with a bit of parchment/paper and spice. There's a nice nutty (hazelnut) roast taste that develops, and in the Full City stage it turns to a crisp roasted peanut taste. My favorite roast for this is a few snaps into 2nd crack, so keep your ears open. In espresso use (recommended!) you might notice attractive redishness in the crema with the addition of this coffee. It also adds a nice spice note to espresso, provided that you are using a base for a blend that doesn't have dominating flavors that will override the Pearl Mountain. Peaberries tend to roast a bit faster and have a shorter interval between first and second crack so keep an eye on the roast!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild - Medium / balanced, moderate acid, spice
Add 50 50 Roast: Full City, see above. This coffee is also excellent in espresso! For this use, roast it to a Vienna stage.
Score (Max. 100) 83.7 Compare to: Indians, maybe some wet-processed Indonesians like Timor and Papua New Guinea.

Indian Monsooned WP Decaf
Country: India Grade: A Region: Mysore Mark:
Cohelo's Gold
Processing: Wet-processed, then Monsooned, then decaffeinated! Crop: Sept. 2004 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.5 Notes: Here is something really unusual ... this is a decaffeinated version of the Indian Monsooned coffee we sell. Needless to say, this coffee has been through a lot. It started as a wet-processed Mysore region Grade A coffee, then was held in India until the Monsoon season. The sides of the special warehouse were it is stored are opened and moist monsoon winds circulate around the coffee making it swell in size and take on a mellowed but aggressive, slightly peppery, pungent (and mildly musty) flavor. Fans of this flavor profile can identify it right away, and they like this deep, intense cup flavor. Others find it unclean tasting. Nomatter, a great use for Monsooned Indian coffee is in espresso blends. It is a great blend base for an aggressive-tasting espresso, great for espresso milk drinks (because the coffee flavors "cut through" the milk very well) and it produces a lot of crema. So what better than using a decaf Monsooned Indian as the base, cutting your caffeine consumption a bit (hey, now you can drink more espresso!) In this way, you can either do an all decaf blend, or a "half-caf" blend using the monsooned base, and regular coffees as flavor accents. Or you can do what I have done, try a 100% decaf monsooned espresso! It produces tons of crema and is quite a pungent, spicey, potent cup in terms of flavor and aftertaste.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Pungent flavors - good crema production in espresso.
add 50 50 Roast: This is best for espresso (but does make an interesting Press Pot coffee too).
Score (Max. 100) 84.1 Compare to: It really really cups like it's non-decaf counterpart: Monooned Malabar Coehlo's Gold

Indian Pearl Mountain MNEB Nuggets
Country: India Grade: MNEB Region: Chikmagalur, Mysore Mark: Pearl Mountain Plantation,
Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late Sept. 2004 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18-19 Screen Varietal: Kents
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold ... if you can believe it, that is a grade designation. Basically it is the highest grade of plantation-grown arabica exported from India. Let's call it MNEB as they do in the trade. It is the largest screen size (18+ screen), grown and prepared to the highest standards of the India Coffee Board. I was intrigued by the MNEB coffees after participating in an India cupping last year, and tried to push some importers to bring in this high grade coffee (we are not big enough to import a container of coffee ourselves!) I met with the Rohith from Ratnagiri/Pearl Mouintain farm and asked if he could prepare an MNEB coffee from the farm for us, and export it along with our Pearl Mountain Peaberry for the new crop. And here it is! This cup is very interesting and somewhat more complex than the Peaberry, which I find a little more simple than the MNEB, yet charming too . It has more tangy bitterness (in a good way!) than the Peaberry, in fact, Baker's Chocolate is a flavor that I get very strongly from this cup. It perfectly demonstrates what a GOOD pungent bitterness should be in a coffee, as opposed to the bitterness of overextraction, dirty breweing equipment, or tainted coffee. There are 4 primary flavors (Salty, Sweet, Sour and Bitter) and 3 of them sound like fairly bad things, but that is not true, and here is a perfect example of why. As this cup cools, it actuallyu does become more bittersweet, with a pleasant dry finish. I have tried this as espresso, but it is a bit too bright for this use ... however it has a wide roast range and holds up well to a Vienna roast treatment.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Baker's Chocolate bitterness
add 50 50 Roast: This can take a wide range although I find City a bit too light. My preference is a Full City+ with a couple snaps of second. The pungent qualities suit this roast treatment.
Score (Max. 100) 86.1 Compare to: Good non-sweet coffees, such as certain Sumatras but without all the earthiness.

Indian Plantation A - Jumboor Estate
Country: India Grade: Plantation A Region: Coorg Mark: Jumbor Estate
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Jan 2005 arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: This lot of single-origin, wet-processed, Estate-grown Indian Arabica is the result of a new initiative by the India Coffee Board to identify and promote great coffee estates. Coffee author Ken David's did a lot of the work to travel and cup these lots, but they were already distibuished by winning top places in the 2004 Flavor of India Fine Cup competition. This is a premium hand-picked, wet-processed and sun-dried arabica coffee, carefully prepared to remove defective beans and grown at high altitudes in sustainable environments (usually intercropped with fruit, pepper and other spices). This lot of coffee is from the Northern Coorg region and grown at 3,000 feet altitude. It is a traditional wet-processed coffee and 100% sun-dried ... the only thing I can't tell you for sure is the cultivar, since there are so many crosses based on the traditional Indian Kents varietal. And this coffee was judged as the Best Arabica from the Coorg region in the 2004 Fine Cup Competition. While this coffee has a slighly faded appearance, the cup does not bear out any flavors of age or defect ... in fact the aromatics are quite amazing and lively! I found it strongly floral with almost Yirgacheffe-like hints, and a very unique (although this sounds odd) green onion/scallion aroma! I know, that doesn't sound like something you want to smell in coffee, but you'll have to take my word that it comes off as a good thing. The cup flavors are unique, and vary with the temperature as it cools. I found it nice, full bodied and mild at some temaperatures, then with the next sip ( a bit cooler) I would get spice (ginger, curry), then chamomile; the next sip would just be fair; then a minute later it was citrus hints ... this was a real roller coaster. Now, overall it is a mild cup but I just think it has unique nuances that you can pick up over time. It was also the top rated coffee (91!) in author Ken David's India Arabica cupping...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Unique aromatics
add 50 50 Roast: This can take a wide range although I find City a bit too light. My preference is a Full City+
Score (Max. 100) 86.8

Compare to: Unique nuanced cup with a few surprises as it cools.

Please note ... we do not have much of this coffee so try a little soon, or it will be all gone!

Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry
Country: India Grade: A Region: Chikmagalur, Mysore Mark: Pearl Mountain Plantation
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Feb 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16 Screen Varietal: Kents Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Coffees like this can convince you that India is overlooked as a growing origin, and those who like Indonesian coffees of cleaner cup character should try Indian coffee. We have consistently found the Indian coffees from the Pearl Mountain Estate of Chikmagalur to be the best Plantation (Indian grade designation for wet-processed arabica) to be the best in the cup. In fact, coffee was introduced to India in the Chikmagalur District of the Karnakata State by Muslim pilgrim Bababudan Sahib in the year 1610! The cup is very pleasant: It is a mild coffee overall, full-bodied, with low acidity, but enough to provide balance in the cup. The flavors are well-defined: a tad earthy and a bit of parchment/paper and spice. There's a nice nutty roast taste that develops in the Full City stage. My favorite roast for this is a few snaps into 2nd crack, so keep your ears open. In espresso use (recommended!) you might notice attractive redishness in the crema with the addition of this coffee. Peaberries tend to roast a bit faster and have a shorter interval between first and second crack so keep an eye on the roast!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: Full City, see above. This coffee is also excellent in espresso! For this use, roast it to a Vienna stage.
Add 50 50 Compare to: Indians, maybe some wet-processed Indonesians like Timor and Papua New Guinea.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild - Medium / balanced, low acid, nutty

Indian Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold
Country: India Grade: MNEB Region: Mysore,
Karnakata Province
Mark:
Allana Coffee Plantations
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 10-2003 arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18-19 Screen Varietal: Kents
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold, what a moniker! It lends itself to a few bawdy jokes, but I will just leave that up to you ... Let's call it MNEB as they do in the trade, and what it actually means is that this is the top grade arabica coffee, the flagship coffee, exported from India. It is the largest screen size (18+ screen), grown and prepared to the highest standards of the India Coffee Board. Mysore coffees are actually grown in the Mysore, Coorg, Biligiris and Shevaroys regions in southern India. I was intrigued by the MNEB coffees after participating in an India cupping held by Ken Davids early this year, and tied to push some importers to bring in this high grade coffee (we are not big enough to import a container of coffee ourselves!) And this was the fruits of my effort. Honestly, I was a little put off by the marbled appearance of the green coffee, but I have learned over time to not obsess with green appearance - it is the cup quality that we judge the coffee by. And this cup is very interesting and complex. It has more brightness (acidity) than I have ever cupped in an Indian coffee, hinting at a higher growing altitude than the milder, flatter character of standard lots. It is a bit husky, like an Indonesian, and heavily spiced. There is a lush, full, dark cherry flavor in the cup that is really unique ... unique - that is the word to describe this cup profile. I was explaining to someone that this cups like a blend, that to reproduce this cup I would try blending several coffees. (A guess would be Papua New Guinea, Sulawesi, and a touch of a particular Harar) I have tried this as espresso, but it is a bit too bright for this use (would be great as 10-20% of an espresso blend) ... however it has a wide roast range and holds up well to a Vienna roast treatment.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City+. I like this roasted a few snaps into second crack, but it can go darker (or lighter too).
add 50 50 Compare to: Complex, deep fruit flavors, with brightness too, an intriguing cup: like a PNG blended with a little Harar, and a little Sulawesi.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9

Indonesia (for each specific island, see that section e.g. Sumatra, Sulawesi, Timor, etc.)   

Indonesian Organic SWP Komodo Blend
Country: Indonesian: Timor, Sumatra, PNG Grades: 1, A Regions: See Notes Mark: Swiss Water Decaf, Organic
Processing: Wet-processed, then decaf by Swiss Water Process Crop: September 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 scr Varietal: Various
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a Indonesian Komodo Blend of coffees in 3 equal parts: Organic Timor Maubese, Organic Sumatra Gayoland, and Organic Papua New Guinea A. All are Certified and Swiss Water Process decaffeinated. You can see that I buy mostly Indonesia SWPs, because I think this process is very damaging to the cup quality of acidy coffees (Central Americans, etc) but quite nice with low-acid Indonesians. So blending these three was just another way to bring our more dimension in the cup. All share deep flavors, full body and minimal acidity, but compliment eachother well too. Also, they can take a variety of roasts from City through French! The Komodo Blend is also great for decaf espresso! You could use it 100%, or use it as the base of a low-caf espresso or filter coffee. As with the decaf Sumatra, the blending strategy is to have your decaf provide body and depth (which the Sumatran and Indonesian Komodo do well) and then have your non-decaf coffees add the high, bright notes ...something many decafs cannot do well! (with the exception of MC decafs like the Kenya or Yirgacheffe)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: City, Full City, Continental, French. Remember, SWPs are dark in color, so roasting is best done by listening to the cracks, smell and time.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Compare to: Straight Indonesians: this cup is unique but will bear more resemblance to straight Timor than to straight Sumatra ...it's more balanced.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 84

Indonesian Organic Komodo Blend Swiss Water Decaf
Country:
Indonesia: Timor, Sumatra,
Papua New Guinea
Grade:
1, A
Region:
see below
Mark:
Swiss Water Process Decaf, Organic
Processing:
Washed/Semi
Crop:
2001
Appearance:
0d/300gr
16/17scr
Varietal:
Varies
Frag/Aroma:
81/83
Notes: This is a Indonesian Komodo Blend of coffees in 3 equal parts: Organic Timor Maubese, Organic Sumatra Gayo Mountain, and Organic Papua New Guinea A. All are Certified and Swiss Water Process decaffeinated. You can see that I buy mostly Indonesia SWPs, because I think this process is very damaging to the cup quality of acidy coffees (Central Americans, etc) but quite nice with low-acid Indonesians. So blending these three was just another way to bring our more dimension in the cup. All share deep flavors, full body and minimal acidity, but compliment eachother well too. Also, they can take a variety of roasts from City through French! The Komodo Blend is also great for decaf espresso! You could use it 100%, or use it as the base of a low-caf espresso or filter coffee. As with the decaf Sumatra, the blending strategy is to have your decaf provide body and depth (which the Sumatran and Indonesian Komodo do well) and then have your non-decaf coffees add the high, bright notes ...something many decafs cannot do well! (with the exception of MC decafs like the Kenya or Yirgacheffe)
Acidity:
81
Body:
87
Flavor:
85
Aftertaste:
84
Roast: City, Full City, Continental, French. Remember, SWPs are dark in color, so roasting is best done by listening to the cracks, smell and time.
Overall:
83.5
Compare to: Straight Indonesians: this cup is unique but will bear more resemblance to straight Timor than to straight Sumatra ..its more balanced.

Jamaica 

Jamaica Blue Mountain-Mavis Bank
Country: Jamaica Grade: Certified Blue Mountain Region: Blue Mountain Mark: Mavis Bank Mill
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: October 2004 arrival
(mid-to-late '04 picking)
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Jamaica Blue Mountain Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Something good is going on at the Mavis Bank Mill. They invested in all new equipment, and the coffee samples are showing up looking good. The problem is, some lots are better than others, and the Jamaican crop is really not a year-round offering (although someone will happily sell you Jamaican at any time of the year). Coffee cannot be stored in Jamaica for a very long time without being damaged by the heat and humidity. So it is important to buy from a carefully cupped lot (the first arrivals are not always the better ones) and then get it shipped promptly out of Jamaica to a milder climate. Beware of imposters; Jamaica High Mountain is not Jamaica Blue Mountain, and many coffees are actually blends that contain little Jamaican. It's fun to roast Blue Mountain and find out what this highly touted coffee is all about when it is fresh ... and why it ranks among the better Mexican coffees in terms of cup quality. True Blue Mountain is an unusual coffee; it has good body, and some very interesting mild nutty flavors with herbal notes that remind me sometimes of chamomile, sometimes of spice. There are only 4 trade names that can legally call their product Blue Mountain coffee: Wallenford, Mavis Bank, Old Tavern and one other I can never remember. True Blue Mountain is actually grown at higher altitudes than most other island coffees, and much of Mavis Bank's farms are at 5000 feet. Nonetheless, it has the soft cup profile. But remember, this is an "island profile" coffee; smooth, mild, balanced ...and oh so so so expensive. Don't expect huge fireworks in the cup - the character of Jamaican coffee is about it's mild balance and subtlety in flavor. I think this lot of Jamaican is the best I have ever had in terms of up quality and preparation of the green coffee. Personally, I will not consider offering any other Jamaican coffee, especially Wallenford. I have seen too many insect-damaged coffees from that source, and cabbage-like flavors in the cupping samples. This lot represents the last coffee to leave the island before Hurricane Ivan roared past the island. We were afraid that the crop would be seriously damaged, and there would be long-term affects. As it turns out, the trees were damaged and the crop this year will be smaller ... but the farms and mills escaped serious injury. When this lot arrived, I was happily surprised with the cup; it is a mid-to-late crop picking (ideal) and had plenty of time to "rest" before being prepared for shipment. It is a mature coffee. Roasted to a lighter City stage it has more top end in the cup but the Full City (a few snaps of 2nd crack in the air roaster) had a marvelous aftertaste, sweet, a little rootbeer, allspice ... yes, mild overall because all Jamaica is! Over-roasted Jamaican ends up like all other coffees; carbony. Try to avoid this so you can sense the other cup flavors...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: MIld intensity / balance and subtlety
add 50 50 Roast: I usually recommend staying out of 2nd crack with the Jamaican coffees, and indeed I like this one when roasted to the light City stage and rested 2 days. But we had great cups from this particular lot when roasted to Full City with a just a hint of 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: Island coffee profile: Mild, low-medium acidity: not unlike some of the Mexican coffees from Oaxaca and Coatepec.

Jamaica Blue Mountain-Mavis Bank
Country: Jamaica Grade: Certified Blue Mountain,
Grade 1
Region: Blue Mountain Mark: Mavis Bank Mill
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003/2004 Crop,
May 2004 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Jamaica Blue Mountain Cultivar

Mavis Bank barrel
Notes: Something good is going on at the Mavis Bank Mill. They invested in all new equipment, and the coffee samples are showing up looking good. The problem is, some lots are better than others, and the Jamaican crop is really not a year-round offering, although someone will happily sell you Jamaican at any time of the year. The fact is, coffee cannot be stored in jamaica for a very long time without being damaged by the heat and humidity. So it is important to buy when the crop is new, from a carefully cupped lot (the first arrivals are not always the better ones) and then get it shipped promptly out of Jamaica to a milder climate. True Blue Mountain is an unusual coffee; it has good body, and some very interesting mild nutty flavors with interesting herbal falvors that remind me sometimes of chamomile, sometimes of spice. There are only 4 trade names that can legally call their product Blue Mountain coffee: Wallenford, Mavis Bank, Old Tavern and one other I can never remember. Beware of imposters, and Jamaica High Mountain is NOT Jamaica Blue Mountain! It's fun to roast Blue Mountain and find out what this highly touted coffee is all about when it is fresh ... and why it is comparable to better Mexican coffees in terms of cup quality (basically a nice mild cup, not necessarily spectacular). Remember, this is an "island profile" coffee; smooth, mild, balanced ...and oh so so so expensive. Not huge fireworks here... I think this lot of Jamaican is the best I have ever had in terms of up quality and preparation of the green coffee. Personally, I will not consider offering any other Jamaican coffee, especially Wallenford. I have seen too many insect-damaged coffees from that source, and cabbage-like flavors in the cupping samples. I cupped the new crop Mavis Bank lots and was most impressed with this one - roasted to a lighter City stage it has more "top end" in the cup but the Full City (a few snaps of 2nd crack in the air roaster) had a marvelous aftertaste with a little rootbeer/sassafras, allspice ... yes, mild overall because all Jamaica is! But that aftertaste, I mean after the coffee is out of your mouth completely, is such a unique and difficult-to-describe flavor. Quite intriguing for such a soft, mild cup. As it cools look for these undertones in the aftertaste...
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I usually recommend staying out of 2nd crack with the Jamaican coffees, and as always I like this lot when roasted to the light City stage and rested 2 days. But... we had great cups from this particular lot when roasted to Full City with a few snaps of 2nd, then rested 14 hours or longer. This has a wider lattitude for roasting than other years, and that makes it easier to end up with a really good result in the cup. Also, see the Roast Tips for Jamaican coffee on this page (above)!
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Balance
Score (Max. 100) 84.0 Compare to: Island coffee profile: Mild, low-medium acidity: not unlike some of the Mexican coffees from Oaxaca and Coatepec.

Jamaica Blue Mountain Mavis Bank Estate #1
Country:
Jamaica
Grade:
1
Region:
Blue Mountain
Mark:
Mavis Bank
Processing:
Washed
Crop:
2002
Appearance:
1d/300gr
18scr
Varietal:
Jamaica
 
Dry Fragrance
81
Notes: Well ... I have to eat my words because here is a really nice lot of coffee from the Mavis Bank farms! True Blue Mountain is an unusual coffee; it has good body, and some very interesting mild nutty flavors with interesting herbal falvors that remind me sometimes of chamomile, sometimes of spice. There are only 4 trade names that can legally call their product Blue Mountain coffee: Wallenford, Mavis Bank, Old Tavern and one other I can never remember. So beware of imposters. Its fun to roast Blue Mountain and find out what this highly touted coffee is all about when it is fresh ... and why it ranks among the better Mexican coffees in terms of cup quality. But remember, this is an "island profile" coffee; smooth, mild, balanced ...and oh so so so expensive. Not huge fireworks here... I think this lot of Jamaican is the best I have ever had in terms of up quality and preparation of the green coffee. Personally, I will not consider offering any other Jamaican coffee, especially Wallenford. I have seen too many insect-damaged coffees from that source, and cabbage-like flavors in the cupping samples.
Wet Aroma:
81
Brightness- Livliness:
82
Body- Movement:
84
Flavor- Depth:
83
Finish- Conclusion:
83
Roast: This has a lot of body, and I am suprised that it can take a real Full City roast; a few pops into 2nd crack. No darker though...
Score:
82.2
Compare to: Island coffee profile --mild but with depth and complexity.

Java 

Java Government Estate -Blawan
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Island: Java Mark:

Blawan Govt. Estate

Processing: Wet Process Crop: late Nov 2003 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: There was a time when I wouldn't buy Java coffees based on outrageous prices and extremely poor, no ... absolutely crappy ... cup quality. For me, not stocking a Java came to symbolize the fact that I wouldn't bow to pressures to offer a major origin if I didn't think it was good; quality would reign supreme! That was a few years back and despite a lot of competition to buy the really good Java coffees from the 6 Government estates, we have been able to stock some outstanding lots from this origin. There is "Government Estate" Java, from the 6 old farms that date back to Dutch colonialism, and "Private Estate" Java. Government Estate is invariably preferred as they higher quality coffee although there are occasional exceptions. Java is largely about thick body, it's most pronounced attribute, but the lighter sample roasts have great brightness balancing out the cup. A really good Java will be deep, with a touch of earth in the cup, and when the roast is right it will have striking bittersweet chocolate tastes. This works as a straight roast, not just as a Mokha-Java blender and I suggest trying it a bit lighter than you might usually roast a Java. I usually prefer Kayumas early in the crop cycle and Blawan or Jampit (also spelled Djampit) later ...but you have to cup all the samples from the Government estates to find the best. All in all, the best lots from each will have remarkably similar cup quality, and likewise each farm can produce mediocre lots. This late, late '03 lot of Blawan is outstanding, and at Full City the roast has remarkable chocolate bittersweet to it, and there's a forest floor - mushroom hint in the cup that makes it compelling. The crop this year is very small, just 30% of average. So expect to see very little true Government Estate Java at your local roasters this year.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Typically this is a Full City coffee, but try it lighter and be amazed! Allow proper resting period for full body to develop.
add 50 50 Compare to: Sulawesi without same degree of earthiness, Sumatra without without ferment or mustiness, similar to Timor. You can see by the numbers that this crop was very consistent with last years crop too!
Score (Max. 100) 85.5

Java Government Estate -Blawan
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Island: Java Mark: Blawan Govt. Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: 2002-2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: There was a time when I wouldn't buy Java coffees based on outrageous prices and extremely poor, no ... absolutely crappy ... cup quality. For me, not stocking a Java came to symbolize the fact that I wouldn't bow to pressures to offer a major origin if I didn't think it was good; quality would reign supreme! That was a few years back and despite a lot of competition to buy the really good Java coffees from the 6 Government estates, we have been able to stock some outstanding lots from this origin. There is "Government Estate" Java, from the 6 old farms that date back to Dutch colonialism, and "Private Estate" Java. Government Estate is invariably preferred as they higher quality coffee although there are occasional exceptions. Java is largely about thick body, it's most pronounced attribute, but the lighter sample roasts have great brightness balancing out the cup. A really good Java will be deep, with a touch of earth in the cup, and when the roast is right it will have striking bittersweet chocolate tastes. This works as a straight roast, not just as a Mokha-Java blender and I suggest trying it a bit lighter than you might usually roast a Java. I usually prefer Kayumas early in the crop cycle and Blawan or Jampit (also spelled Djampit) later ...but you have to cup all the samples from the Government estates to find the best. All in all, the best lots from each will have remarkably similar cup quality, and likewise each farm can produce mediocre lots. This '02-'03 lot of Blawan is outstanding, and at Full City the roast has remarkable chocolate bittersweet to it, and there's a forest floor - mushroom hint in the cup that makes it compelling.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Typically this is a Full City coffee, but try it lighter and be amazed!
add 50 50 Compare to: Sulawesi without same degree of earthiness, Sumatra without without ferment or mustiness…
Score (Max. 100) 85.5

Kenya 

Kenya AA Auction Lot 220 -Karatina
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Nyeri / Kirinyaga Province, Southern slopes of Mt. Kenya Mark: Karatina Town Cooperative
Processing: Wet Process Crop: August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Probably SL-28
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Between the towns of Nyeri and Kirinyaga on the south-facing slopes of Mt. Kenya, you will find the town of Karatina. It is right on the border between the Nyeri and Kirinyaga coffee growing regions, at some of the highest altitudes on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The Karatina regional farms are grown at an average elevation of 1700 meters (5800 feet), and have an overall character of sharp citrus acidity and clear fresh fruit flavors. It's and appropriate general description for the Karatina, which is less of the red wine character you might find in a Kirinyaga coffee, rather a crisp Chardonnay character of a good white, dry wine. Clarity, transparency, liveliness and brightness; this is a cup that truly registers on the palate like the ring of a bell. It has a crystalline and light sweetness. The body is actually quite light, and the overall flavor impression has a narrower range than some other Kenyas that have a very wide, expansive cup character. But a heavy mouthfeel and a broad character would be out of place with the precise acidity and delicate aromatics of the Karatina. With a shorter rest time, the coffee has a red currant fruit ...fresh and vibrant.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / white wine, transparent, sharp at a City+ roast
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). If you want to tame the brightness a bit, take it to a Full City+
Score (Max. 100) 90.4 Compare to: A lively Kenya with great clarity in flavor. Not one of the deep, brooding Kenyas, nor one of the puckering citrusy ones. This character is unique.

Kenya AA Auction Lot 211 -Kiamabara
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Nyeri / Kirinyaga Province, Southern slopes of Mt. Kenya Mark: Kiamabara Cooperative
Processing: Wet Process Crop: August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Kenya Kiamabara ... these great auction lots certainly have some of the most difficult to pronounce names. Not to confuse everyone even more, but the fact is that Kiamabara coffee comes from an area that is within the Karatina area ... Karatina being the other Auction Lot we have arriving in August. Add to that fact that Kiamabara is just 1 mile from Gaturiri (a great lot from 2 years ago) and 1 mile from Kagumoini, and you can see that there is a small area on the high plateau around Mt. Kenya producing some great coffees in the same season. This is located between the towns of Nyeri and Kirinyaga on the south-facing slopes of Mt. Kenya, on the border between the Nyeri and Kirinyaga coffee growing regions, at some of the highest altitudes on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The region has an average of 1700 meters (5800 feet) in elevation. What struck me about this Kenya was the sweetness in the cup; it is not a full throttle, acidic Kenya, but a very darkly sweet cup. Initially, it has a fresh fruit hint that reminds me of black currant, with a distinct and refined wine-like aspect to it. While this cup has brightens, it is not exaggerated in the overall flavor profile. The dry fragrance has floral aspects but in the wet aromatics the nose has a pungent sweetness. There are rosy hints behind the black currant, and pungent spicy notes (clove, allspice) that are suggested in the background. An interesting aspect of this cup for me is that it has both pungency and sweetness, a rare combination. For these cup results, the coffee was roasted to a true Full City, just to the verge of 2nd crack without entering it. It is a bit brighter at City+, but like other high quality Kenyas it has a darker color appearance for a particular degree of roast than other origins; this is partly due to higher concentrations of the chlorogenic acids in Kenyas that contribute to their unique cup character. Kiambara
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / darkly sweet cup with black currant, winey.
add 50 50 Roast: I like Full City (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). This has darker roast character at the City + stage than you might expect too. See notes above.
Score (Max. 100) 88 Compare to: A deeper-toned Kenya, not a citrusy/crisp Kenya.

Kenya Auction Lot 656 -Tegu Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: Peaberry Region: Tegu Mark: Tegu Peaberry
Lot 656
Processing: Wet Process Crop: June 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, Peaberry screen Varietal: unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.2 Notes: Tegu was the second lot of peaberry we bought in the Kenya auctions this year … and we are really lucky to own the whole thing because this coffee was another hands-down, knock-em-down winner on the cupping table. Interestingly, it was also entirely different from the lot of Tegu AA in the auction, which was mild compared to the Peaberry. The main differences between peaberry and flatbean that can have an effect on the cup is the seed density: peaberry is almost always more dense. In coffee, hardness of bean is always desirable (thus you have grading of coffee in Central America where top grade SHB means Strictly Hard Bean). Harder, denser coffee transfers heat differently and can take higher roast temperatures, like those from hot air roasters. Anyway, the point is that peaberry Tegu might be chemically identical to it's flatbean cousin but will roast differently and the result on the cupping table was abundantly clear. And like the Kora, it was a whole roomful of cupper's who found it so ... it was simply livelier than any other Kenya on the table and these were coffees that had survived 3 rounds of cupping already (exporter, pre-auction, and arrival). What I love about this cup is the particular way it displays its dominant citrus character; it is not sour, and not sweet, but passes between the two. In this way, it strikes me like ripe pink grapefruit - aromatic, flavorful, fully developed. After a few days of resting after the roast, the brightness is tempered and well knit into the cup profile. Of course, it's hard to wait that long to enjoy such a fragrant coffee, and I really like this after a short 12 hour rest, when it has more sharp acidity and a crisp, white grape juice character. No matter, the cup has an abundance of fragrant rose, with secondary caramel and almond flavors. Interestingly, I had one experience with the test sample where I had a remarkable Earl Grey flavor in the cup after 36 hours of resting ... but I couldn't find it after a couple more days. This is how it goes with a really good, complex coffee - it shows different character at different times, subtle variations that recall secondary flavor attributes, but all within the same general theme. It means the coffee has dimension; it is not one note, it is a chord. Which peaberry Kenya will I remember as the best of the season when it is all said and done? I couldn't choose; it would be like choosing your favorite child - impossible!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ intensity / Ripe Sweet Pink Grapefruit
add 50 50 Roast: Like the other Kenyas I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). The amount of resting time after roasting has a big affect on the cup: if it is too bright for you after a short rest, seal it up for a couple days and check it out again!
Score (Max. 100) 90 Compare to: An aromatic and sophisticated Kenya with ripe citrus.

Kenya AA Auction Lot 234 -Kagumoini
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Embu, South-Eastern
slopes of Mt. Kenya
Mark: Kagumoini Cooperative
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: If you head northeast from Thika toward the SE side of Mount Kenya you will end up in the Embu growing region. The coffees in the area are grown at an average elevation of 1420 meters (4680 feet) and are known for depth and balance. That would describe Kagumoini perfectly. Here is a cup with great depth, with a bright dimension (like all good Kenyas) but with a firm, deep-tone of chocolate and berry in the cup. The finish is bittersweet chocolate, reminding me of one of my favorite Sharfen Berger bars; austere dark chocolate laced with accessible deep fruit notes. Admittedly, it's hard for me to pin down this dark berry-fruit character; it's between black currant, fig, and prune ...and I know the later is not what people want to hear when they are trying to buy a really good Kenya. (But hey, how many people offer coffee calling it "rich and smooth" and you never know what the heck they mean by that! Poor prunes - they really have a bad rap.) To accentuate these complex flavors you really do not need a dark roast; a City + will get you there after a 2-3 day rest period post-roast. Here is a Kenya that provides a great contrast to the lighter and brighter cup profiles, a brooding Kenya. How does a coffee taste brooding? I guess you need to roast some up and find out. (Beret and angst optional.) A side note - we bought the entire Kagumoini Lot 234, but I did cup a Kagumoini AB and a different AA (an earlier arrival) and they were less distinct, with a fairly flat cup profile compared to this. I think I understand why; they were earlier arrivals and thus they could be from lower altitude parts of the co-op farm (coffee cherry ripens sooner at lower altitude). At higher altitude the cherry ripens slower and reaches its peak later in the crop cycle, and because of this the mid-crop picked cherries tend to have better cup profiles, are denser seeds and have more brightness.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / darkly fruited cup with bittersweet chocolate.
Add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). This has darker roast character at the City + stage than you might expect. See notes above.
Score (Max. 100) 90.0 Compare to: A deep-toned Kenya

Kenya Auction Lot 624 -Kora Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: Peaberry Region: Kora (Near Meru) Mark: Kora Peaberry
Lot 624
Processing: Wet Process Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, Peaberry screen Varietal: SL-28, SL-34 (a guess)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Kora is the name of a small coop, a "coffee society" as they call them in Kenya, as well as a national park. In fact it is the national park where the book "Born Free" was authored! Kora is in the Eastern region near Mt Kenya and Meru, where a lot of fantastic Kenya coffees come from! We cupped anywhere from 180-240 lots of Kenya this year and bid in the auctions for 6 winning lots. Of these, 2 are peaberry ... the first time we have bid on peaberry samples in the auctions. It's all about the cup, not the shape of the seed, and whereas Tanzanian Peaberry sells at a premium above flatbean (for no reason), in Kenya there appears to be less competition in the auction for the peaberry. I can't explain it. Nobody in the group who cups Kenya with me can ... this coffee was, an two different tables of 15-20 preselected coffees, the hands-down winner. I mean, EVERYBODY gave this coffee their top score, with an average above 90. In all the cupping panels I have been on, do you know how rare it is to get this kind of agreement among stubborn, eccentric cuppers? The cup ... I am in love with this coffee! The aromatics in the dry fragrance are intoxicating, floral, sweet. The wet aroma releases a seductive waft of rose-like floral smell that can fill a room. The cup has an incredible rounded mouthfeel, not a prickly sharp Kenya, but a sweet, balanced full profile that seems to reach out to every taste bud, every papilla on the tongue, and tickle it. Stop me if this all sounds ridiculous ... but this coffee rocks! In the cup it has ripe tangerine flavor, custard & caramel, with a zesty spice accenting the top end of the cup. It finishes caramelly and sweet, with a very pleasant bittering twist of orange rind, passing into a light corn syrup sweetness. And it actually has a lot of body for a Kenya, with a very velvety mouthfeel. It is a very "flavor-forward" cup, but if you are a fan of bright coffees and Kenyas, this is as good as it gets!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, floral cup
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). I don't think this is a great Kenya for darker roasts, and the cup really blossoms after a proper 24 hour rest… although it certainly is impressive after just 12 hours too.
Score (Max. 100) 90.3 Compare to: A more delicate Kenya, with crystal clear acidity and floral notes.

Kenya AA Auction Lot 633 -Karugwa
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Meru Mark: Karugwa Co-op 2004
Auction Lot 633
Processing: Wet Process Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Karugwa was a coffee that showed up early in the 2004 Kenya Auctions, and really bowled me over, not with power but with it's delicate character and refined flavors. This is a coffee from the Meru region which averages 1620 meters (around 5300 feet). Meru is on the eastern Mt. Kenya slopes and is the largest coffee growing region in Kenya because of its ideal climate and soils. Meru is also the name of the people in the region, related to the larger Kikuyu ethnic group, and have farmed consistenly top quality coffees for decades. They opt for the better Selection 28 and 34 arabicas rather than the disease-resistent Ruiri 11 strain ... this I know only because of the extremely fine cup quality. The dry fragrance is an interesting blend of sweet and sour, with caramel and floral hints. There's a lively citrus waft that arises in the wet aromatics of this cup, accompanied later by sweet floral smells. It's a delicate aroma with sharp volatile spice hints too. In the cup is is very rose-like, a very full floral flavor, with a great alternation between light sweet syrup (in the background, a malty flavor with nutty hints) and bright lively acidity. The aftertaste sustains the cup notes perfectly like the ring of a bell, turning lemony in the long aftertaste. If you don't like that "twist of citrus" flavor in Kenyas, you might not like the Karugwa ... even though it ends up with a lower overall acidity score when you put it side-by-side with the Mweiga. Long after the cup cools, I return to it and find a remarkably zesty and spicy flavor emerges! I also find a Jasmine Tea flavor in the cooling cup. As with all coffees, and especially this one, make sure your brewing equipment is very, very clean or you can foul it. I made a batch in a French Press that needed a heavy dose of Urnex Clearly Coffee and a scrub brush, and the cup was really ruined by bitter stale coffee flavors!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, floral & lemony cup
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). I don't think this is a great Kenya for darker roasts, and the cup really blossoms after a proper 24 hour rest… although it certainly is impressive after just 12 hours too.
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: A more delicate Kenya, with crystal clear acidity and floral notes.

Kenya AA Auction Lot 499 -Mweiga
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Nyeri Mark: 2004 Auction Lot 499 (Arrival 2)
Mweiga Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: April 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: SL-28
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4

Notes: It's actually quite rare for us to stock the same Kenya for 2 seasons. All of the samples come to us randomly before each auction on Tuesday, and this year I cupped over 150-200 Kenya Auction Lot samples. People ask all the time, "are you getting the Kiungu agian this year, or the Kiawamururu". But those are single small lots among hundreds and hundreds, each representing an extremely small coffee "society" co-op, or a small estate. Sometimes, after the blind cupping when we look over the names and lot sizes, I see the co-op and estate designations that we have stocked in past years, but they don't cup the same. There's just so much variability with coffee from year to year based on climate, that even the coffee from the same plot of land cups differently each season. So actually, the Mweiga is already very unusual; those of you with a solid memory remember we stocked Mweiga in the year 2000 and also in '99, in fact it was a standout among the lots we stocked that year, and in fact this cup is true to the lot we stocked back then. The odds of picking this coffee from hundreds in blind cupping, and then outbidding every one else glbally to win this lot again, is a rarity. (well, we bid very high in the auctions so I think we only lost 1 lot out of 7 this year due to outbidding). And consider this; there were 2 Mweiga arrivals and one was not very good!) The cup is a conundrum, and very complex, especially as it cools down. I find a sweet anise and sweet basil smell in the dry fragrance, and I get a hint of sauerkraut in the wet aromatics (I know that sounds bad, but it really isn't at all when you smell it...). Overall the aromatic impressions of the coffee are considerably intense and I anticipate a thick, full cup flavor. Indeed, Mweiga is a real brute, a Kenya that comes at you with a body blow in the midsection, and has a little of a locker-room character to it. But what a great cup! What character! The acidity is bold, clipped a bit so it doesn't make you pucker (remember those real grapefruit Kenyas from before), a very full acidity, with strong incense-floral notes. There's a bit of fruit-rind twisted into the finish where a honeydew melon flavor emerges strongly for me (City+ roast, 3 days rest). I have cupped this lot at different levels of roast, different times of the day, and it keeps showing me something new; sometimes more floral, sometimes with more black licorice hints, more pungent, and often some very interesting an extemporaneous aromas. I guess I am saying that I like it a lot!

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold, High intensity / Bright & rounded acidity, complex character
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ to Full City range (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). If you like espresso with a twist of lemon peel, skip the peel and try Mweiga. Yes, Kenya espresso! I can't believe I am recommending it, but it is very unusual and very good. Sourish but incredibly floral - for espresso roast Full City+ or a bit more.
Score (Max. 100) 88.1 Compare to: Not a delicate Kenya, and not a super sour/citric Kenya, but an intense, bullish coffee.

Kenya AA Auction Lot 369 -Kanake
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Kenya Plateau Mark: Kanake Coop, Lot 369  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 late auction Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Not Known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: Our last Kenya Auction Lot purchase of the season is this lot from the Kanake society (co-op). It seems like the best Kenyas this year came early in the crop and late, defying the logic of buying from the mid-crop picking. In fact, at mid-crop the quality dipped and the price went up, simply due to demand! I think this lot, the Kanake, was a real find. It is a cup that starts off with sweet aromatics, but really shines in the cup, especially as it cools down. It's not an over-the-top Kenya so you can keep it in your mouth longer, roll it around your palate a bit, and really try to taste it. At first, it is both citrusy (sweet orange) and a little winey, like very ripe lemon. Then caramel and vanilla tones emerge, and underlay the other flavors through to the finish. For me some cups have a positive herby (sage) flavor, and with a lightly effervescent, prickly brightness. Maybe that doesn't sound like a great flavor combination, but somehow the cup is very well woven together, and with that sweet finish, is quite a nice flavor package. Let the cup cool, and hold it in your mouth a bit. It's a really delightful coffee... why do we offer so many Kenyas? Because each lot is so unique, and the Kanake is a definite alternative to the other lots....
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City, to the verge of 2nd crack but not into it. Like other Kenyas, this coffee colors heavily, and perhaps the roast looks darker than it is, so pay attention to the sounds and smells of the roast. If the acidity is a bit too prickly and sharp for you, a Full City + or light Vienna roast of this coffee is still very sweet, and complex.
Add 50 50 Compare to: A Complex Kenya- both bright and citrusy, but also with an underlying, persistent sweetness.
Score (Max. 100) 88.8 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / brightness

Kenya AA Auction Lot- Thunguri
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot 701 Region: Mt Kenya Mark: Thunguri Co-op
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: late 2003 auctions Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unknown, but quite probably SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Kenyas are the powerhouse of good, bright acidic coffees. A Kenya without acidity is not a Kenyan. Acidity is a funny thing, probably the most confusing taste term for people learning about coffee for the first time. Saying a coffee is "high acid" would doom its reputation and nobody would buy it. But acidity is exactly what seperates low-grown mildly innocuous coffees from their high-altitude counterparts. There is good acidity and bad acidity in coffee: The acidity we want in coffee comes from a set of chlorogenic acids that contribute to aroma and flavor. Good bright flavors come from a delicate balance and interplay between these acids. Bad acidity comes from other acidic factors and usually has astringent and sourish qualities. In fact, robusta coffees have more of these acids, and that is why these cheap coffees gnaw at your stomach. But even among the chlorogenic acids, theres good "combinations" and bad ones ... there are coffees with lots of these chlorogenic acids but they combine to form sourkraut-like flavors, or are too bittering, too nippy and puckering without any finesse: there's much more to acidity than quantity - it's about quality. OK, the reason for this treatise on acidity is that the Thunguri has a really unusual quality to it; this coffee has plenty of bright notes but not in that high, citrus, grapefruit range. Thunguri reminds me distinctly of well-ripened orange, sweet and full acidity, complimented by wonderful body. This flavor is married to the acids, to the brightness in this cup, which only registers around the midrange, but works perfectly to deliver this lush, delicious ripe-fruit flavor. I have never had a Kenyan coffee that strikes this perfect balance between fresh fruit, and wineyness, two poles of the Kenya flavor range that are often referred to. Thunguri is right in the middle: ripe.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I prefer this roasted to the verge of 2nd crack without entering it at all, in other words, a true Full City roast.
add 50 50 Compare to: A unique Kenya cup profile: Ripe fruit!
Score (Max. 100) 87.9 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / balance and depth

Kenya AA Auction Lot 389- Kihenia
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot Region: Mt Kenya Mark: Kihenia Estate 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: late 2003 auctions Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unknown for this lot
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: There is so much variety among the really good Kenya auction lot coffees, you could roast them exclusively and find endless variation in the flavors. There's the tart citrusy ones, the deep black currant or berry ones, there's the winey ones, there's super spicey ones ... and there are uniquely pleasing combinations of each general "type". Kenyas are powerful coffees, but there are delicate secondary flavors in the cup, nuances that make each brewing a slightly different experience. All this is true if you pay a little attention to the flavors, and leave the coffee on your palate longer, trying to give some words to the sensations. Or you could just drink the stuff because it tastes damn good! In any case, we offer another lot this year from the late auction schedule, Kihenia, also known as lot 389 this year. This has a very attractive floral (rose) aroma and that follows through in the cup, especially in the first 1-3 days. What impressed me was, after 2-3 days resting, a unique green tea flavor -good green tea! - that I had not found in a Kenya before. There's a lot of cardamom spice in the cup too, especially in the finish where it is more drying than sweet. It's neither a heavily fruited nor winey Kenya, which gives it a cup profile that is uniquely balanced among the typical flavor profiles.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I prefer this roasted to the verge of 2nd crack without entering it. Any lighter than that can produce a cup that is sourish in a flat way, but you can certainly take it a bit darker to suit your taste. The flavor profile shift greatly if it enters 2nd crack much.
add 50 50 Compare to: A unique Kenya cup profile, neither in the "citrusy" category, nor the "fruity-winey" category. Spicy Kenya.
Score (Max. 100) 88.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / brightness

Kenya AA Auction Lot Ruiruiru - 653
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot Region: Mt Kenya Mark: Ruiruiru Farm
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: late 2003 auctions Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Unknown, but quite possibly SL-28
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Really good Kenya coffees have an overload of character, and offer a complexity not found in many coffees. For me, complex means that a coffee lends itself to a lot of interpretation, that adjectives pour out as a coffee passes through the stages of sensing it: from aroma to the palate, as it disappears from the palate, as you breath and it lingers in the aftertaste. Through these stages, the more the coffee flavors transmutate, even in contradictory ways, the higher I rate the complexity of the cup. And for me the Ruiruiru is a very complex coffee precisely because I don't get the same readings each time I evaluate it. From sip to sip, from cup to cup and from roast to roast it seems to reinvent itself. Perhaps the only thing I can say for sure is that this has outstanding body for a Kenya, which are not known for body per se. This is cup does not have that prickly-citrusy acidity that is the mark of one type of Kenya cup profile, rather a fuller, rounder acidity. Actually, I had the most complex cups from a Full City roast with not much rest (time between roasting and brewing), just 8-12 hours actually. After 24 hours the cups was more cherry-like than berry, with cocoa hints underlying the finish. With my inspirational 12-hour post-roast cup, the aroma was tantalizing, and initially I was struck with the fresh berry flavors, accented by a twist of bittering citrus rind. With the Ruiruiru there's an interesting way that these flavors reveal themselves in layers, passing from sweetness to bittersweetness, and secondary tastes emerge. In these, the coffee is more spicy accents (cinnamon, allspice), and pungent with fresh tobaccoy notes. Sometimes I find it more caramelly, almost marshmallowy, then it passes into more of a dark molasses flavor. I could go on about sage and clove in this cup, but I need to save a few words for other reviews... just suffice it to say there's a lot going on in this cup! I prefer a true Full City roast, right at the verge of 2nd crack, perhaps a few audible snaps, but no more. But it was really nice a bit darker than that, and at City too (when rested for 2 days).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I prefer this roasted to the verge of 2nd crack , true Full City roast. But it takes a range of roasts very well…
add 50 50 Compare to: A complex Kenya cup profile; many flavors are revealed as the cup cools…
Score (Max. 100) 89.3

Kenya AA Auction Lot 705- Mbwinjeru
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot Region: Mt Kenya Mark: Mbwinjeru Society 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Arabica (unspecified) 
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: We are really proud of our Kenyas, mainly because the ones we stock represent over 150 true Auction Lot Kenyas we cupped this year. But some of our Kenyas are really too potent, too over the top, for some people's palates. I definitely won’t apologize for stocking potent coffees ... but there are times in cupping Kenyas when you wonder if you have started cupping more for potency than for subtler cup qualities. The brash Kenyas can overshadow a real gem than may not broadcast its cup quality to an impatient cupper, but will emerge over time as a charming, seductive cup. It would be funny if I followed this speel up with saying the Mbwinjeru is just an abnoxious over-the-top Kenya cup profile ... but actually it IS the perfect example of a mid- to low-toned Kenya, one that does not have the bracing acidity, but has all the intense aromas and berry-laden charm that I can handle in a cup of coffee. It is sweet too, maple syrup sweet, with cinnamon-laced fruit: black currant and blackberry (some roasts are a little more toward red currant and raspberry). It's a fresh-fruit flavor too, not too winey like some Kenyas. And the flavors really pop at a wide range of roasts: I did tests from a City+ through a light Vienna and just fell for every single cup, with the lighter ones having a touch of citrus and the darker ones revealing a deep brooding mollasses-tarry flavor. Go for the middle of those two, a just the slightest trace of second crack beginning, and you get a cup with remarkable, reverberating flavors. The drum roasts of this coffee produce a deeper cup with more a compact flavor range ... I probably prefer the air roast because it maximizes the top "bright" end of the cup -but both are quite good when you start with a Kenya like this!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, but at a point where the roast has fully developed and there is no "wrinkly" surface to the seed.
add 50 50 Compare to: Bright, balanced, abundantly sweet Costas -better and better as the cup cools.
Score (Max. 100) 88.7

Kenya Mika AA - Auction Lot 432
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Mt Kenya Plateau Mark: Mika Society (Co-op)
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Auction Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Arabica (unspecified)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.0 Notes: For the 2003 auctions, we cupped all the lots and bid directly drom the broker's cupping lab. This gave me a huge advantage over the previous years: we could immediately pick out "the best of the best" lots and buy the whole thing! Swooping in and snagging the best lots, I might have been a bit unpopular among the other brokers, but there were plenty of fine Kenyas for them to sell to their clients too. The fact is, when the first shipments of coffees arrived and we re-cupped them, my first 2 lots (Rugeju and this one, Mika) were everybody's top picks. (Believe me, it's not often that a whole roomful of cuppers agree 100%). The Mika is a co-op coffee (many Kenya auction lots are pooled by small coffee "societies" of neighboring farmers, each with 2 hectares of coffee or less). The entire co-op system is done by blind cupping and amply rewards quality, no matter the size of the lot. Mika is one of those Kenyas cups that doesn't conk you out with citrusy acidity, in fact, I would say it is initially a medium-bright cup. But the flavors of that brightness mesh beautifully with a full fresh-dark fruit (blackberry, currant) that fades into toasted barley-praline secondary flavors. As the cup cools, more brightness emerges, like sweet mandarin-tangerine flavor with mild spice. I had written a second review of this coffee that mentions candy-caramel roastiness, and a maraschino cherry fruitiness, and hazelnut aromatic hints. well, a good cup will give you different readings, but all interpretations I have made of these flavors are glowingly positive.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: Kenyas are best when not overroasted, so you can enjoy all the complex and delicate flavors described above. A Full City roast, stopped just before or at 2nd crack may have a darker roast color than other coffees roasted to the same degree -so pay attention to the sounds of the roast as a clue to the roast degree.
add 50 50 Compare to: The best of the complex, fruited, deep Kenyas (as opposed to the bright citric ones). PS: there's no better way to get to know these Kenya coffees than to get a Lb. of each and cup them for yourself!
Score (Max. 100) 89.3

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