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Mexico 

Mexico Organic Oaxaca WP Decaf
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Oaxaca Mark: Organic Certified
Processing: Wet Process, then Wp decaf Crop: July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Along with the really good, small-farm coffees from Chiapas, Oaxaca coffees are my favorite. This coffee originates from a cooperative lot from Mexico's Oaxacan state, and is then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I actually was really excited when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of coffees to evaluate. This was a real standout on the table with a very balanced, clean cup, mild milk chocolate notes, and a modicum of brightness. It was the nuances in the cup that I rarely find in decafs, and especially a suggestion of Citrus brightness in the finish. The roast taste at a City+ roast is excellent; vanilla with a bit of almond nuttiness, and the brightness in the cup is there too, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Chiapas. This also does quite well with a Full City + or light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Compare to: A balanced Oaxaca cup profile

Mexico Chiapas - La Union Coop
Country: Mexico Grade: Alturra Region: Chiapas Mark: La Union Otillio Montano Coop
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Mostly Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: We have bought from this cooperative for 10 years now, including last year's "Rebuild Chiapas" lot where we paid a premium to help with hurricane recovery projects around Motozintla, where the headquarters for the coop are. This year, I visited to try to seek out particular communities of farmers that might have coffee with unique cup character, despite the fact the co-op operates by pooling coffees into bulk lots from a wide range of farmer-groups. They agreed to produce some micro-regional lots, but frankly the results were just average. It proved to me that I can't take a cookie-cutter approach in dealing with producers, constantly preaching the benefits of separating micro-lots in search of cup quality, with a 2x or 3x premium for resulting coffees. It just may not work everywhere in terms of better cup quality or in the co-ops economic self-interest. So I went pack to cupping all their pooled lots and surprisingly I came up with this great coffee ... surprising in that it is not FTO certified like 80% of their coffee. I like FTO, especially from Chiapas, but I can't pass up on a coffee simply because it lacks the certs ... so here it is, just a really nice Chiapas lot without all the decoration. Immediately this lot jumped out at me for the fruited not in the dry fragrance, suggesting banana, married to nice cocoa with nuts. Not a bad start. I find a lot of sweetness in the wet aroma, syrupy, with praline character. The cup is mild, as Chiapas is bound to be, with fairly light body (the mouthfeel is doughy in texture). But it has this same, mildly rustic sweetness as the aromatics, like raw brown sugar. In fact, this reminds me of the traditional Mexican cone-shaped sugar cakes, Panela, in the aftertaste. There's a caramel apple quality in the cup, which has moderate brightness and is fairly short in the aftertaste. It's a simple cup perhaps, but what a nice antidote to over-the-top Yemens and Kenyas and such! It's drinkin' coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body,  
add 50 50 Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects

Mexico FTO Oaxaca Pluma
Country: Mexico Grade: HG/SHG Region: Oaxaca Pluma Mark: CEPCO Cooperative, Fair Trade and Organic Cert.
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica apparently (unverified)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Bright and unsweet. We're not talking about a person here, but this Fair Trade, Organic Oaxaca coffee. It doesn't sound like a flattering description (for a person or a coffee … who wants to hang out with someone who is intelligent and nasty?) And as far as a coffee goes, sweetness is the prized cup quality that comes only with the highest grown, best-processed coffees. But bitterness is indeed a key to the coffee beverage, not unpleasant, alkaloid-astringent bitterness, not rough bitterness, but good bitterness. The best comparison is worn out, but we must use it again: chocolate. Why is dark chocolate so appealing and baker's chocolate so awful to taste directly? That is the role of sweetness in coffee; so let me rephrase and say this is bittersweet in the best of ways, like good 70% Cacao bittersweet chocolate. To achieve this youa re going to need Full City to FC+ roast range, perhaps light Vienna if you want a tangy, carbony touch too. Now that I have focused on the chocolate roast notes, I want to mention another aspect of this cup: the intensely pleasant nut tones at City + roast level, and this is where the brightness is at a peak. If you stop the roast at this stage, there is a toasted almond quality to the cup, in both the aromatics and the cup flavors. There is more brightness here that other Oaxaca coffees I have cupped this year, hinting at it's high altitude origin, and perhaps a general "up" trend in Oaxaca coffee this season. That brightness "roasts off" a bit at FC+ roast, but at City roast the cup cools to a citrus skin accent. There's also a very fine pine resin aromatic in the City + roast, something I have found rarely in Kona coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity*/ Nutty and chocolate bittersweet tonality, brightness *Note: Intensity much greater at FC roast  
add 50 50 Roast: Oaxaca coffees take a very wide range of roasts: C+ for toasted almond roast notes, FC+ for a more bittersweet chocolate- themed cup.
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Great, balanced Oaxaca, with hints of Kona and Nicaragua (Madriz, Nueva Segovia)

Mexico Oaxaca Pluma -Don Eduardo
Country: Mexico Grade: HG/SHG Region: Oaxaca Pluma Mark: "Don Eduardo", Calvo Export
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: This cup stood out on the table of Oaxaca coffees because of sweet fruit in the aromatics, and a winey touch in the cup. It's interesting because when blind cupping against many similar lots, this aspect is so pronounced, but on it's own it becomes a more subtle part of the cup character. (Perhaps this is another distinction between "tasting" and drinking coffee! Yes, in a way tasting is quite different then simply enjoyign a cuppa joe, since you are comparing fine details in similar coffees, and using a method and focus that isn't part of the daily coffee ritual.) But the fruited note, and winey cup character is there indeed, and gives subtle dimension to the cup, be it in a blind tasting or a 12 oz mug. The aromatics have good nut and chocolate bittersweetness (FC roast). A good Oaxaca isn't overly sweet, but more like a semi-sweet chocolate, and this cup has that character. Tangy bittersweetness pervades the cup from start to finish at FC roast, while the lighter roast has a filbert nuttiness to it. This coffee can take a wide range of roast, and show balanced flavors throughout. As it cools the perceived brightness is greater, but not out of range of the other cup flavors. Tasting the various roast levels, I can't help feel justified at thinking (once again) that Oaxaca is the poor man's Kona, or should I say the smart man's Kona. Here we have pure Typica cultivar (like Kona), balance, chocolate tangy notes, fruited and winey hints, medium body, mild cup character overall. Those are all the things we find in the highest tier of Kona coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/Balance, Tangy bittersweets (FC), fruited and winey hints.  
add 50 50 Roast: This lot takes a very wide range of roasts: FC to FC+ is perhaps my favorite, a few snaps into 2nd rack even, but the lighter roast has great filbert nutty roast taste too.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: Really good Oaxaca, in my mind, bears resemblence to the best of Kona. This cup reminds me of that, again.

Mexico Organic Nayarit Terruno
Country: Mexico Grade: Alturra Region: Nayarit Mark: Terruno
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: dec 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: It's late in the season to be receiving a Mexican coffee shipment, but I was charmed by this sweet, simple, mild cup. It's from an area that is new to me, too. it is from the state of Nayarit, more specifically, west of the capital, Tepic. The 260 small-holder farms in this group are clustered around Cerro San Juan, an extinct volcano, so the soil type and altitude contribute to the cup quality. Nayarit is fairly low (the city of Tepic is 3000 feet) but the volcano immediately rises to 7000 feet, providing sloped terrain with good altitude, drainage and climate for the coffee. The lighter City roast of this coffee has a sweet, mild dry fragrance, and soft caramelly wet aroma. Take the roast a bit darker and, not surprisingly, you get dark caramelized sugar notes, with cocoa and a bit of pungent spice. The body of both the City and the Full City + roast was impressive to me, since Mexican coffee in general, and particularily northern ones, are not known for this. Flavors are (again with this word) mild, with a little burst of brightness and nutty tones, then cleanly disappearing. Darker roasts change the tonality of flavors, but not the overall effect: short, comressed flavor experience, but pleasant and mild. But why should mild be a bad word? And after weeks of having your senses overstimulated by crazy-fruited Ethiopias, brutishly earthy Sumatras, bright and prickly Kenyas, well ... here is the perfect antidote. Your palate just may thank you for the break ... for me, it's like pushing a reset button, a "zero degree" for what good mild Specialty coffee should taste like.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Snappy, crisp, simple cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City+ . Also, I blended a light City roast with an FC+ roast 50-50 and had a nice, multi-dimensional cup.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: Mild, clean, light-bodied coffees.

Misc. & Blends
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African Highland WP Decaf (Blend)
Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania Grade: AA Auction Lots, A, Gr 2 washed Region: Sidamo, Mt. Kenya, Songea Mark: Various
Processing: Wet- Process, then Water Process Decaf Crop: July 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Typica, Kenya Cultivars, Bourbons
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Bright, light bodied, full of character and "snap". I am not talking describing a person although a few come to mind. The new Water Process method used to decaffeinated this coffee leaves an astounding amount of cup character. I always felt that the SWP decaf was weakest when applied to bright, acidic high-toned coffees. They cupped like water flavored with cardboard. So this blend here is, to me, the ultimate triumph of our new Water Process decaf source (from Mexico, although the DO use the same method essentially as official SWP coffee -which is processed in Canada actually). It is an "indirect contact", non-chemical process that is truly a water filtration process. The other factor is that other decafs sometimes don't originate with the best green coffees. This is a true Auction Lot Kenya blended 50-50 with one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe lots from this season. As I mentioned, it is a coffee that is lighter in body, bright (striking the front of the palate and tongue in the center-front and front-sides), and very fruity. Although the scores are already very high for a decaf, I objectively felt the cup rates higher than a combined 86 so there is a "Cupper's Correction" of 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Great aromas and floral brightness, light body  
add 50 50 Roast: While this coffee becomes sharply pungent in darker roasts, I really enjoy its bright, fruity character too much to roast it that way. I keep it light, stopping the roast at City+
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian decaf you will probably enjoy this too...

African Highland WP Decaf (Blend)
Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda Grade: AA Auction Lots, A, Gr 2 washed Region: Sidamo, Mt. Kenya, Masaka Mark: Various
Processing: Wet- Process, then Water Process Decaf Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Typica, Kenya Cultivars, Rwanda Bourbons
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Bright, light bodied, full of character and "snap". I am not talking describing a person although a few come to mind. The new Water Process method used to decaffeinated this coffee leaves an astounding amount of cup character. I always felt that the SWP decaf was weakest when applied to bright, acidic high-toned coffees. They cupped like water flavored with cardboard. So this blend here is, to me, the ultimate triumph of our new Water Process decaf source (from Mexico, although the DO use the same method essentially as official SWP coffee -which is processed in Canada actually). It is an "indirect contact", non-chemical process that is truly a water filtration process. The other factor is that other decafs sometimes don't originate with the best green coffees. This is a true Auction Lot Kenya blended 50-50 with one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe lots from this season. As I mentioned, it is a coffee that is lighter in body, bright (striking the front of the palate and tongue in the center-front and front-sides), and very fruity. Although the scores are already very high for a decaf, I objectively felt the cup rates higher than a combined 86 so there is a "Cupper's Correction" of 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Great aromas and floral brightness, light body  
add 50 50 Roast: While this coffee becomes sharply pungent in darker roasts, I really enjoy its bright, fruity character too much to roast it that way. I keep it light, stopping the roast at City+
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian decaf you will probably enjoy this too...

Myanmar (Burma)  

see our pre-2000 Archive and our 2001-2002 archive

Nicaragua 

Nicaragua Matagalpa - Pacamara Peaberry
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Mierisch Estates
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen PB Varietal: Pacamara
(Pacas x Maragogype Cross)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Pacamara in itself is an oddity ... this large bean is grown on few farms since the requirements to process it, and tolerance for this low-yield cultivar are both rare. But here is something even stranger: Pacamara Peaberry. And beyond the shape of the seed, the coffee has a unique cup character from a standard Pacamara lot. Some background: Pacamara is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of the large bean Maragogype and Pacas, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a spontaneous variation of Typica. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Pacamara. Pacamara coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. This unique Peaberry lot has cup qualities that are brighter, more dynamic, and unusual than the flat bean Pacamara lot from which it is derived. Mierisch family farms has Pacamara chiefly on the Limonocillo farm in Matagalpa, and they grow enough to save the very small percent of Peaberry just for us. In fact, there is a floral note that reminds me of the longberry Ethiopia-derived Gesha coffees from Panama, not in the citric aspects of the Gesha, but in exotic secondary flavors. It harkens to the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe floral dimension; I feel I could fake this cup profile by blending a really good Central with a Yirgacheffe or wet-process Sidamo. But why do that when you can get the same cup from a pure, single-farm cultivar. What a complex and nuanced cup! An unusual smokey sweetness pervades in the cup from start to finish. There's ripe fruited notes, mango skins, and spice. When the cup is hot, there is zesty sweet red pepper, a dash of black pepper pungency, a sweet mild tobacco note, and that nice ripe fruity note. The aromatics are pronounced; sweet, syrupy and a touch herby. The cup flavors have an unusual sweetness to them, floral at first and then sage, cola (and a bit of smokiness). It's not one of those simple, sweet clean Centrals, and it isn't one of those weird earthy Indonesians, but this coffee has a different kind of funky cup character ... but somehow it works and the flavors knit together quite well. Roasting, as with other Pacamara and Maragogype coffees, should be attended to carefully since the large bean will not move in the roaster the way other coffees do.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Unusual cup flavors and aftertaste

add 50 50 Roast: I like the City roast the most - very dynamic cup flavors. But even the light Vienna roast had plenty of "origin character" as did the 2 FC roasts I did.
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general due to this unique cultivar. This is a unique lot, with exceptional cup character.

Nicaragua Limoncillo Estate - Java Longberry
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Limoncillo Estate
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Traditional Java Seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This is an exotic selection: grown in Nicaragua, pure old-type Java cultivar. How did this come to be? The story is a bit piecemeal, but here is how it goes. There was a private coffee research labratory that had experimental gardens, including a selection of traditional Ethiopian and Indonesian cultivars. During the unstable political years in Nicaragua, it went out of business. A coffee farmer who happened to know the main researcher there was aware they were working with old heirloom longberry seedstock, but did not have access to the seeds ... well, until the place shut down. Then somebody surprisingly showed up at their door with 20 Lbs of prepared coffee seed, no questions asked, marked "Variedad Java". What a risk! Planting an unknown seed stock without knowing the full results of the lab testing. But that's exactly what happened, and the results are quite extraordinary and, as I mentioned before "exotic". Why? The cup character is unlike any other Nicaragua coffee I know of, especially in the light roast when you get a complete representation of the "origin flavor" of this coffee, unmasked by roast. You will notice immediately the unusual seed shape: a longbean form with tapered ends, almost like a football (uh, US football). This is actually unlike modern Java offerings that are hybrids, and more like old Java seedstock originating in Kaffa, Ethiopia, and traveling a circuitous route via Holland to the "East Indies" in the hands of the Dutch. And you may know, it was the Dutch that planted all that coffee in Java! This cup is very unusual for a Nicaragua, and not a Java either, but something new formed from the two influences. There is the slick, heavier body of the Java, the low acidity, and some of the nutty notes in the lighter roast found from that Indonesian island. But there is a sweetness(very subtle, as the cup cools) and brightness (very moderate) not found in Java coffees. It is more balanced. There is a mild lime note that adds zest to the cup, and a slight smokey quality in the finish, as the cup comes down in temperature. Overall, it's mild and balanced, but I find it a unique example of the confluence of cultivar and origin influences upon the final cup.The dry fragrance is sweet, and has an undecideable fruit suggestion in it, as does the wet aroma. When I break the crust in the cupping process, a distinct green tea note comes forth, as well as green fruits and starfruit. In the cup, the dominant flavor is lime! But what a unique citric zest, because it is not directly tied to the acidity in the coffee: this Java is not that acidic. It is, plain and simple, a lime cup flavor. The body in the cup is very oily and thick. I experimented with darker roasts (Vienna) and felt the roast taste became carbony, while the special fruited flavors were completely masked. FC roasts were nice, but I still feel that the light-bodied-but-fruited City roast was my favorite.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to bold intensity / at darker roasts - complexity, body, ripe fruit and chocolate
add 50 50 Roast: I like Full City+, for brewed and press coffee, and a bit darker too (Light Vienna, about 15 seconds into 2nd crack). The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Distinct from typical Nicaraguan coffees: longberry Java cultivar

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence - La Esperanza
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Jinotega Mark: CoE #9, 2007 Competition
Processing: Wet-Process, Sun-dried Crop: Sept 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: From the start, this coffee was my favorite of the 30+ lots in the international competition for the 2007 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence. The dry fragrance and aromatics were dynamic, the cup had vivid brightness but also body and balance. I re-cupped the top 10 blind and again, this was the one. This small farm is called La Esperanza and it is in the Jinotega area. It is owned by Rosa Yannete Rivera Siles and her family, and has it's own modest mill, sitting in a near-virgin forest by a natural reservoir. The dry fragrance had such a specific form of chocolate; there's a Fannie May that smells just like this, a chocolate creme. There was also toasted hazelnuts and cocoa powder. The wet aromatics have that same zingy chocolate quality, with an unusual volatile aromaitic component, a bit of cayenne and a citrus peel zest. The cup was in-line with the aromatic signals I was receiveing; and abundance of chocolate from the roast taste, crisp and bittersweet. And in the finish that same unusual combined zest of citrus and spice. (I still get hints of cayenne: if this seems strange consider there is a great chocolate bar out there from Dagoba with cayenne and cocoa nibs blended in ... it's excellent). With a true City roast, there was a lot more citric sweetness to the cup, but I prefered this FC roast for the clean, agressive chocolate quality. The aftertaste is long and persistent, and there are sweet bourbon vanilla notes that are fleshed out in the end. The cup is straight-ahead in some ways (ie chocolate from start to finish), but nuanced too. I enjoyed this cup because it is so in character with what a great Nicaragua coffee is (it has true "origin character") and exhibits it in such a crystal clear way.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Intense and well-defined chocolate, citrus and spice hints  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal here. A City roast is excellent too, yielding great citrus brightness
Score (Max. 100) 89.6 Compare to: Very fine, clear, well-defined Nicaragua cup.

Nicaragua Placeras Estate "Miel"
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Las Placeras Estate
Processing: Pulp Natural (Brazil Style) Process Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Placeras Estate is located in Matagalpa, and is not exceptionally high altitude ... but it is a true estate with a complete mill on site. What this means is they are able to experiment in processing using new techniques, and the pulped natural Brazil method is a perfect match for the lower-acid Placeras cup profile. . "Miel" (meaning honey) is rare (and risky) in Central America. When it was good, this coffee had great body, a husky sweet "wild-honey" cup with moderate acidity. It is great as a brewed/press coffee, it is great as straight espresso (if the brightness/acidity in the cup can be moderated by roasting technique), it is great in espresso blends, especially with top quality Brazils. To do this method, you pulp the skin off the coffee cherry, and without removing the fruity mucilage layer, sun-dry the remaining seed on raised beds, called air drying or African beds in other places. The long contact the fruit has with the parchment layer changes the character of the green coffee inside the parchment, and has this unique effect on the cup. The result is a very balanced cup with great body. This is such a nice coffee, with moderate acidity, with a ripe fruit sweetness, and deep-toned balance in the cup. It's not wildly unusual, but what I like to call "good house coffee." In other words, if I had a coffee house, I think I could serve this all day long and the widest range of customers would be greatly pleased. Why? It has a bit of everything. It is balanced, it has sweetness, it is not too acidic, and it has good body. The dry fragrance has cedary-sweet character, and this turns into a wonderful beeswax quality in the wet aromatics. Cup flavors are served up against a background of a medium thick body, with a rustic hint in the sweetness (a la Brazil): lightly malted barley, sweet hay, maltose, raw honey. I really enjoy this moderately floral, herbal, minty aftertaste.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Malty, honeyed, low acid, balanced
add 50 50 Roast: I like City + for brewed, and Full City+ works too and a bit darker too (Light Vienna, about 15 seconds into 2nd crack). Okay - you get it, this coffee works on several levels, and at different roasts. The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Compare to: Distinct from typical Nicaraguan coffees: similar to Pulped Natural Brazil coffees. This is a unique coffee for single origin espresso or for an espresso blend component.

Nicaragua FTO Esteli - Miraflor Coop
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Esteli, Nueva Segovia Mark: Miraflor Coop, Prodecoop
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: The Miraflor cooperative farmers group is unique in many ways, but certainly their location is one of the most outstanding aspects. They are located inside a nature preserve, and their organic coffee farming operates in sync with the goals of the land preservation that surrounds them. The group of 55 small farmers that form the coop have their own wet mill, performing the traditional depulping and fermentation of the coffee fruit onsite. Then they take the coffee to the Esteli area, to the mother-of-all-coops, Prodecoop, for final dry-milling, sorting, screening and bagging. Miraflor is probably the best-known farmer coop at the mill, among US green coffee buyers, for the consistently fine cup character. The dry fragrance is very sweet, nutty, almost candy-like, at the City+ roast stage. I admit, I tested this coffee only at the , C+ and FC range, no darker, because the cup results seem so suited to a lighter treatment. Adding water, the wet aromatics have an additional milk chocolate sweetness, as well as the nut from the dry fragrance, and a malt-like sweetness. The lighter roast cup has an excellent peach-apricot fruit to it, a almondy, nutty tonality to the roast taste, and candy-like sweetness. In the finish (and as the cup cools), it turns to a red apple sweetness to me. The body is light-to-medium, which suits the delicately balanced cup. Delicious, refined; this is really a dynamic and delightful coffee. I gave it +2 for overall City+ roast appeal.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium intensity / Sweet aromatics  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal here. Expect relatively light roast surface color for the degree of roast you aim for ; this coffee doesn't color too darkly.
Score (Max. 100) 88.8 Compare to: Very fine Nicaragua cup, with an interplay of nut and fruit. A fairly bright tonality overall. I gave it +2 for overall City+ roast appeal.

Nicaragua FTO Lozahoren (Dipilto)
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Dipilto, Nueva Segovia Mark: Losahoren/Lozahoren, milled by Prodecoop Cooperative
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This lot of coffee was part of an effort to re-cup special, small lots that (for some unknown reason) were bounced out of a certain coffee competition. The Losahoran coffee Dipilto immediately jumped out at me on the cupping table, and when we flipped over the cards to reveal the farms/origins of the lots, I recognized this one. It was the No. 5 coffee in a previous year, and is from Pablo Vanegas in the Dipilto region of Nueva Segovia. I admit, based on the cup, and having judged Nicaragua this year, I was kinda shocked this coffee didn't make it, because I feel it might have done exceptionally well. But sometimes it just takes 1 bad bean in 1 cup in the prescreening, and a coffee is out. Anyway, the Dipilto coffees are receiving a lot of attention, and done extremely well in the competitions, because of their bright, snappy acidity that makes the cup quite lively, and delicate fruit notes. That is a perfect description for the Lozahoren lot I am cupping here ... in other words, this coffee has excellent origin character (you can call it "terroir", if you like). Here we have crisp, malty dry fragrance, with nut and toasted grain hints, transformed into a really unique wet aroma in the cup: sweet rye. Cup flavors are snappy, with that very delicate but persistent acidity giving the cup and effervescent sparkle. It has a definite floral character in that brightness; paperwhite lily. The body is fairly light, and peach tea tones underscore the sweet grains which, for me, suggests a really excellent, well-hopped brown beer character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/elegant, light-body, bright, nuanced  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is recommended; this is a mild cup and roast taste eclipses the floral and delicate aspects of it.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Dipilto is unique among Nicaraguan coffees - less body, less chocolate, more brightness, more sweetness.

Panama 

     


Panama Carmen Estate WP Decaf
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Paso Ancho Mark: Carmen Estate, 1550 to 1750 meters
Processing: Wet-Processed, then water process decaf Crop: Sept 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Carmen Estate is a small farm located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own, but this was done for more than increasing the volume. The fact is, La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate roughly another 500-600 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi Aguilar (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independent mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees using new techniques. This decaf is water-processed from the 1550 to 1750 meter elevation band of the farm (not our special 1800+ meter coffee). The aromatics in the cup are true to the non-decaf Carmen estate coffee, floral and fruited hints, bright, lively. So the surprise for me isn't the delicate notes, preserved through the decaf process; it's the body. I think this has more body than the regular Carmen lots I have cupped, oddly enough. There is a toffee-like sweetness in the cup and it finishes with an excellent, balanced bittersweetness. As it cools the toffee turns candy-like, with Toblerone-like nut-chocolate-toffee notes. It's a very appealing decaf cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Outstanding clarity and brightness, crisp cup profile  
add 50 50 Roast: City + is ideal.
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Compare to: More balanced than the non-decaf Carmen, with good body an sweetness.

Panama SHB Las Victorias
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Area, Chirqui Province Mark: Las Victorias
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Las Victorias is a small farm in the Boquete district of Panama, home to some of the best award-winning farms. In fact Las Victorias (sometimes called La Victoria too … why?) has won a few awards itself including a 91 point rating on a coffee review site. I too think it is that good, but we don't give out 91's very casually. Still, this late-arriving lot might be one of the best Panamas of the year, ranking well alongside Carmen 1800+ meter, Los Lajones and others. The fragrance of my C+ and FC roasts have such a great malty sweetness, with just a hint of light molasses. Wet aroma is like fresh-from-the-oven sweet brown bread, hold the rye. There's a bit of dark caramel and chocolate. Dark sweetness ... you get the gist of it. Body is not often the first thing in a great coffee that impresses you, but the body (especially for a Panama) is very viscuous and appealing. There's a winey sweet fruit here too, pungency and bittersweetness (FC roast) , that lingers into a long aftertaste. That adds up to a fairly complex flavor experience as each sensation passes in waves, overlaying flavor upon flavor on the palate. I get a hint of banana, then anise/caraway seed, dark brown sugar, and a very intense "coffee-like" bittersweetness in the finish. I know,"coffee-like" is an unacceptable descriptor for coffee. Well, how come you can use it for Burgundy wines??? I jest, sort of. We define one thing in terms of other things, and not in and of itself. I guess that's how language works, or at least how a dictionary works. But nonetheless the finish has that heavily-extracted coffee bittersweet complexity, and lasts quite long.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-bold intensity / Intense and complex  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City for the most complex cup flavors
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Intense and rather bittersweet flavor, long aftertaste for a Panama with nice body.

Panama Boquete Organic -Los Lajones
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Los Lajones Estate, Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Los Lajones is one of the few certified Organic coffees from the Boquete region, not that the so-called conventional coffees from the area are produced using many (if any) agrichemicals. In fact, besides soil ammendments, nitrogen, etc, there is little need to treat coffee grown at the right altitudes (a lot of pest problems like the Broca boring insect are found in Panama only with low-grown coffees. Anyway, it's got the certificate, and thats worth a comment. The real reason I snapped up this coffee was the cup character. You can't get much pleasure brewing up an Organic certificate, but this coffee is a delight! The lighter roasts have a very sweet cup, most notably marked by a ripe orange character. This coffee is not as acidic as the Lerida Peaberry, nor as bright as the Carmen Estate 1800+ meters. But it has a really refined clean citrus character, and the roast taste is very caramelly. The darker roasts (FC to FC+) have a strong anise liquor character that is pleasant, but usurps the other cup flavors too much to my liking. So I am going to (once again) recommend keeping this roast light; just through first crack (C), watch bean development a short time (C+), then stop the roast well before any immanent 2nd crack. This lot was delayed on our offer sheet because we had so many Panama offerings, but we are happy to list it now that the Central listings are starting to thin out.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, crisp Central character  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most of the aspects of this cup which make it so special. I thought my FC roasts of this coffee were too "roasty" and didn’t have the sparkle of the C to C+ cup.
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Classic bright Central, clean and crisp.

Panama Organic La Berlina Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La Berlina Estate, Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Old-growth Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: La Berlina is the epitome of classic Central American cup character; clean, moderately sweet, with a perfect balance of mild citric acidity, chocolate roast tones, and a refined finish. I have been to this farm two years in a row, and seeing the incredibly old 18 foot tall Typica trees makes it no wonder why the coffee bears this character. It does not have the liveliness of the Lerida estate coffee from Boquete - it is less acidic overall. But it makes up for it with this solid balance. And the Lerida Estate has replanted with new hybrids and the cup shows a bit in the cup. Berlina is 100% traditional Typica cultivar. It has remarkable brightness, complexity and depth for a clean Central American cup, easily as good or better than the best lots of Lerida I have had. Panama is basically an under-rated coffee in total, always playing second fiddle to the big name Costa Ricans and Guatemalans. The cup is balanced, with dry fragrance of cocoa backed by fruited tones (C+ roast), while at FC+ it turns to a rich, bittersweet chocolate. Wet aromatics have a nice winey aspect in the lighter roasts, and become flatly pungent if you roast much into 2nd crack. The cup has some interesting balance between sweet fruit (berry), waxy body and chocolate. At this stage of roast, City+, the coffee has a fairly wrinkled surface appearance ... but this isn't a beauty contest. That wrinkled appearance can be the optimal degree of roast for brighter cup character. Darker roasts have a very intense chocolate, and the fruited, winey notes are still detectable, but for my money this is yet another City+ roast recommendation.


View of La Berlina Estate from above, from my earlier trip.


Flowering Coffee at Berlina

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, crisp Central character  
add 50 50 Roast: The darker chocolate character of FC+ was attractive, and I also liked lighter roasts, so it's up to your preference: more chocolatey or more fruity and bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Classic bright Central from a pure old growth cultivar, Typica

Panama Bambito Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Bambito Area Mark: Bambito Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Bambito Estate is like a coffee garden fallen from heavan and plunked down in the highlands of Panamas coffee growing region. It is near the well-known Bambito hotel (no relation, the area is called Bambito) on the way from Volcan Panama to Cerro Punto. It has been in the family of Rafael Amar G for a few years, but dates back many more, as you will find with the old growth trees. Interplanted with fragrant citrus bushes, ornamental trees, and shade-giving varieties, it really is like a stroll in a beautiful garden. Best of all, the soil here is one of the richest in all of the Volcan coffee growing area, and the altitude is super high: 1750 meters and more. The farm extends up the hill in a topography that makes it appear to have its own little valley. As mentioned, there is a mix of traditional old-growth trees; Typica, Bourbon and Caturra primarily, many over 50 years old. 2006 was the first year Bambito Estate entered the Best of Panama Cupping Competition, and 2nd place is a helluva result! At a light City roast, this coffee has remarkable, potent floral and citrus fragrance in the cup, and those qualities follow through the wet aroma and cup flavors. There are some interesting aromatics that might sound a bit odd until you experience them yourself: tangy barbeque sauce in the dry fragrance? Lemon drop sweetness in the wet aroma? Balancing the citrus blossom brightness is a very clean, cane sugar sweetness, and a bit of citrus skin zestiness. The cup has a magnificent purity and transparancy about it, as well as some twists and curves: There is an interesting "wild note" in the finish, with hints of Yemeni coffee to it. In other words, there is a dry spice in the finish, which (I believe) is part of the cultivars this coffee comes from. The farm is planted with so many old growth trees, thick 50 year old trunks all twisted and gnarled. Aside from the Catuai, most of the farm has these heirloom plants, and I think they express themselves in the cup with that unique dry spice note which emerges as the cup cools. Taking the roast a bit darker, this coffee changes to a rather intense, bittersweet cup, big and bold for a Central. There seems to be more body at the FC to FC+ roast, so (paired with the strong bittersweetness) this coffee has 2 different flavor profiles you can acheive , depending on your taste preference.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Super-clean cup, bright citric acidity, with unusual aggressive spicy finish (FC roast: bittersweetness/body)  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most citrus and floral aspects of this cup, which is, after all, what makes it so special. See my notes about the more aggressive, bold FC to FC+ roast too)
Score (Max. 100) 88.2 Compare to: Classic bright Central, but in this case, on steroids. This is very lively, very bright, and intense.

Panama Boquete - Lerida Estate Peaberry

Country: Panama Grade: SHB, Peaberry Region: Boquete Mark: Lerida Estate, 2007 Crop Peaberry
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 PB Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Lerida Estate is synonymous with Boquete, and with fine Panama coffee. The farm is owned by the Collins family, as it has been since the beginning. And these people are serious about coffee and about Lerida. Compliment John Collins that his Lerida is the archetypal Boquete cup profile (bright, clean, nuanced, sweet) and he will look at you with disdain. "Lerida is NOT a Boquete coffee: Lerida is LERIDA." What does that mean (besides the fact that a certain somebody needs to spend a little more time among human beings rather than coffee trees). I don't know what it means really; I guess Lerida is incomparable. And I agree, it is more than a benchmark for Boquete, but with the auction-winning Lerida lots we bought 5-7 years ago I learned what truly great Central coffee was about. And here it is again: Lerida at it's best. The dry fragrance has clear floral and citric character, as well as a malt-like sweetness verging on caramel. This sweet character, with hints of hop flowers and jasmine comes through in the aroma, and cup flavors too. What a nice, crisp, lively, floral and fruited cup. This is the the definition of fine, clean Boquete coffee! Well-defined lemon essence lingers above an unobtrusive caramel sweetness, and right through the aftertaste. Refined but in no way uninteresting, citrus blossom aftertaste lingers, making me wonder who sent the bouquet of flowers and hid them somewhere in my cupping room?
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / delicate but persistent citrus and floral elements  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most citrus and floral aspects of this cup, which is, after all, what makes it so special. Frankly, this coffee is fantastic anywhere after 1st crack through early 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 88.4 Compare to: Classic bright Central with an extremely refined (but not boring) character.

Panama Carmen Estate 1800+ Meters
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Paso Ancho Mark: Carmen Estate, above 1800 meters
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: Carmen Estate is a small farm located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own, but this was done for more than increasing the volume. The fact is, La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate roughly another 500-600 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi Aguilar (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independent mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees using new techniques. This farm uses the de-muscilage process where the muscilage is stripped off the parchment layer using friction, rather than traditional fermentation. I was very impressed with the high altitude and excellent practices of Carlos and Finca Carmen. This coffee won the #3 spot in the Best of Panama competition in 2003, 2004 and #2 in 2005 #3 in 2006, and 4th in '07 - a proven winning coffee. The entire farm is very high altitude; it starts at 1450, an altitude many farms don't even reach, meters and goes up from there! We have a special arrangement to buy this coffee each year from the 1800+ meter altitude on the farm, a very small amount of coffee. Altitude matters, with coffee, and you can taste the difference here. Altitude allows coffee to ripen slower, creates greater bean density, and results in higher concentrations of bright, snappy, acidity in the cup. I also notice stronger aromatic attributes compared to the lower altitude coffee from the same Estate. The cup has sweetly fruited and citrus aromas at City roast, with clean fruited aromatic components; peach, apple and lemon floral components. The wet aroma is crystal clear and bright, with grain and nut hints at this light roast stage. These become more distinct in the cup flavors: lightly malted barley, a sweet nuttiness, and (while the body is light) a very buttery mouthfeel. The finish is piquant, clean, and leaves a sharp, distinct aftertaste. This is a very crisp cup at City to City+, the roasts where the "origin flavors" are most distinct. If that is too snappy, too acidic for you, you can get great sharp pungency with a "toned down" acidity from an FC+ roast.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Outstanding clarity and brightness, crisp cup profile  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + is ideal. See the notes above about brightness and acidity.
Score (Max. 100) 89.7 Compare to: Brighter and (therefore) bolder than other Panamas. Almost Kenya-like brightness! See my Best of Panama travelogue for pictures of the 1800+ meter plot where our coffee comes from.

Panama Esmeralda Especial - Gesha Cultivar
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La esmeralda Estate, Jaramillo Plot , Gesha Cultivar
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: Gesha Cultivar (longberry, Ethiopia-related), also (incorrectly) spelled Geisha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.5

It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Gesha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. You remember Gesha, it was the cultivar responsible for the $25/lb La Esmeralda Jaramillo we offered in 2004. Last year we paid a mere $50.25 for it per lb in the Best of Panama Coffee Auction, and this year another group, clearly intoxitcated, paid $130! I jest, and if you are going to catch "auction fever" then the Esmeralda Gesha is a good impetus. It is an excellent coffee, but to tell you the truth I cupped the sample of our Esmeralda Gesha, which we buy direct from the farm, not in the auction, and I prefered it! Anyway It won the Panama competition again in 2005 and 2006. It is what I refer to as an Exotic: Ethiopian coffee grown in Panama, and not your traditional Panama cup profile. Nonetheless, judges ask themselves"Is this good?" and (as a judge at BOP this year) my answer was YES! Another funny judging issue; The Esmeralda Gesha makes blind cupping almost senseless, since I can identify its amazing fragrance, aroma and cup flavors immediately when I come upon it in a "blind" cupping! It is that dry fragrance that lets you know right away what is coming when the water hits the cup: incredible sweet floral, citrus blossom, sweet honey perfume atomized into the air. We are basically part of a small buying group for this coffee, with a much bigger company (Peets) having rights to the bulk of it. We asked for double the amount we were allotted, but nomatter, there simply isn't enough for even the priveledged buyers given a chance at the coffee. That's why I think it's kind of neat Sweet Maria's can spread this around a bit, allow many people who truly are the most motivated coffee enthusiasts (home roasters) experience the Gesha cultivar. Yes, in terms of intensity, fruited and floral aspects, wet-processed Ethiopians and Kenyas are more in league with Gesha than any other coffee. But it is difficult to price this sort of cup character, and when it is as exotic ...no, extraterrestial ... as The Esmeralda Gesha, it is even more hard to quantify. The dry fragrance is intensely floral, jasmine and sweetly herbal. When it hits the burrs of your grinder, you know right away this is an extraordinary coffee. Citrus, jasmine flowers, cherry, passion fruit, and mango; these are some of the flavors that come to mind as they essentially leap out at you. It's very much an herbal-floral infusion and I think those who eschew coffee in favor of such teas might do a double-take. There are tea-like, Earl Grey, zesty notes I get sometimes too. A basket of fruit, a bouquet of flowers; no description seems too sappy, sentimental or ridiculous for a coffee that is so obviously unique.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers
add 50 50 Roast: Pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City+, or a Full City, without letting it hit 2nd crack at all. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color - don't worry about it. Just grind, brew and enjoy!
Score (Max. 100) 92.1 Compare to: Not your typical Central coffee - more like a Yirgacheffe on steroids: bright, citrusy, light body, unique. Limit 5 Lbs due to small lot size.

Panama Auction Lot - Mama Cata Gesha
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Alto Quiel, Chirqui Panama Mark: Mama Cata Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Gesha and Criollo mix.
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.9 Notes: We have offered Mama Cata Estate coffee before, in fact we bought it in the Best of Panama Auction before. But it wasn't quite like this ... this is a very special lot. It is a blend of the Gesha cultivar that gives such distinct cup quality to another coffee we offer, the Hacienda Esmeralda Especial Geisha. The other component is the Criollo variety grown on the farm. In this way, the coffee has a very balanced cup, something that distinguishes it from the Esmeralda. Mama Cata is a owned by the Garrido family, and the farm is just across the road from the Lerida Estate (whose peaberry we offer annually), way up at 5250 feet in Alto Quiel zone of Chirqui, Panama. Not everyone gets the same cup results from the Gesha cultivar, but Mama Cata seems to have the right altitude and climate to get the intense floral and fruit notes found in the Esmeralda Gesha and one other farm, Don Pache. The dry fragrance of the ground coffee is is evidence of the Gesha cultivar; sweet citrus, intensly floral, tropical fruit punch. It is exotic in the extreme. The wet aromatics are very sweet, fruited, laced with brown sugar and spice notes (anise, caraway, corriander). The cup is (I already mentioned), a very balanced version of the Esmeralda Especial Gesha. The cup has body, depth in the roast tastes, and layered above all that the bright accent notes of the Gesha variety. It is orangey, with passionfruit and kiwi blended in, and very floral. In contrast, there are sweet licorice notes in the roast (FC), with sweet fresh ginger root and vibrant anise in the finish. As it cools, the floral notes become so intense, like bright hop notes of an IPA ale. but perhaps this comes to mind simply because it is one of the few beverages where you are litteraly "drinking flowers". It is supremely juicy coffee, and it seems to reveal something new each time I vary the roast, each time I cup it. There is so much to discover here.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 3 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweet tropical fruit, balance  
add 50 50 Roast: City +, Full City. Best balance is at FC roast, with sweet licorice roast taste.
Score (Max. 100) 92.4 Compare to: Yirgacheffe cup aspects, fitting since Gesha is a Ethiopa cultivar; slightly less "outrageous" but perhaps more balanced than the Esmeralda Geisha. Limit 2 Lbs due to small lot size.


Panama Lot 12686
Country: Panama Grade: SHB, EP Region: Boquete Mark: Pooled Lot, Number 12686
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: February 2007 Arrival Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I am not going to dress up this lot with any fancy names … I abhor that. We give it a name that speaks to its origin, and this lot is a mutt. It's a pooled lot, a mix of small farm coffees from the Boquete region, falling under the desgination Boquete Euro Prep. Euro Prep (EP) is the sorta minimum mill preparation standard in my book, whereas for a lot of coffee buyers it is something to advertise. Why promote the fact a coffee is relatively defect-free? All coffee should be, or the taster will never have the chance to experience the true origin character of the cup: it will be obscured by the foul flavor of bad beans. Anyway, it all adds up to a coffee we can never truly know ... we don't know exactly whose coffee went into it. And perhaps, on the face of it, I should reject lots like this, not even evaluate them. But then I feel like I would be a dishonest coffee prig, buying coffee by name, by pedigree, not by the actual cup quality. And here we have a lot, perhaps rare in its own right, for beating the odds. It's way too early in the season for good Centrals, and coffee this lively, this clean, should not be possible from pooled lots. But here it is, defiantly, clean, snappy, lively, and premature in the season. So I call it 12686, only by lot number, because that's all I know, and extrapolate that it is caturra and catuai since that is basically all there is in Boquete. While the City+ roast is light bodied and very high-toned, I enjoyed the more mature, ripe fruit in the FC and FC+ roasts.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Bright, Lively acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City for more ripe (almost wine-tinged) fruited notes.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Lively, bright Central decaf, very early new 07 crop.

Papua New Guinea 

Papua New Guinea Kimel WP Decaf
Country: New Guinea Grade: PB Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Kimel Plantation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: Nov 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Papua New Guinea occupies the Eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian provice of Irian (no organized coffee production originates from Irian) There can be a huge range of cups from Papua New Guinea, and the so-called Plantation coffees represent the cleaner character of the coffee produced on the island... more like a good Central American than part of the Indonesian profile. The Organic PNG coffees have the more natural, rustic cup character. The plantations are larger farms that have their own coffee processing wet mills, so they are able to control all the variables of production better than the small farm "coffee gardens." Kimel is offered broadly in the US now via the brokerage Royal, and is a solid coffee. But some lots have cupped very "green" and underdeveloped in character, others can be flat and uninteresting. This is the first time the coffee has been available as a water-process decaf lot, and the results are quite favorable. It's a very balanced cup, with good dense body, but also bright floral and fruit hints in the cup. There's a touch of cedar, brown sugar sweet notes, root beer, anise, and a lingering finish that has sweet basil qualities. It's actually quite nuanced for a decaf, and the aftertaste is outstanding.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity /Sweet cup with balance, interesting nuances  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + acheives the sweetness and bright notes.
Score (Max. 100) 85.6 Compare to: A bright, sweet and clean PNG, unique and not much like its Indonesian cousins (Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java).

Papua New Guinea -Kimel Peaberry
Country: New Guinea Grade: PB Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Kimel Plantation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: October 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Not known (appears to be Typica)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Papua New Guinea occupies the Eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian provice of Irian (no organized coffee production originates from Irian) There can be a huge range of cups from Papua New Guinea, and the so-called Plantation coffees represent the cleaner character of the coffee produced on the island... more like a good Central American than part of the Indonesian profile. The Organic PNG coffees have the more natural, rustic cup character. The plantations are larger farms that have their own coffee processing wet mills, so they are able to control all the variables of production better than the small farm "coffee gardens." Kimel is offered broadly in the US now vial the brokerage Royal, and is a solid coffee. But some lots have cupped very "green" and underdeveloped in character, others can be flat and uninteresting. You have to buy your PNG coffees at the "peak of the harvest," not too soon or too late in the season. This is a fairly early new crop lot (July 2006 arrival) from the Kimel Plantation. In fact, I have steadfastly panned the earliest PNG shipments for the past 5 years. And I do think we are lissing a little of the potential balance from this cup, but there are great aromas and livliness, with no "greenish" early crop flavors. It is a very lively coffee with a lot of top-end character (zingy fruited flavors). More specifically I get a marmalade fruitiness, and passion fruit. I get a really sweet waft from the dry fragrance of the grounds; maple, caramel, and orange honey at a City+ roast. Add water, and the wet aroma has a malty sweetness (light roasts contributes to this grain-sugar character too, as does the Kimel origin character). Here is where I start to get orange and tangerine hints, which emerge in the cup flavors as the aforementioned marmalade. This peaberry lot is a bit brighter than our previous A grade flat bean lot. Primary cup flavors are a crisp sweetness, again malty in character, with a floral dimension (honeysuckle), and that sweet orange finish. As it cools it is easy to key in of the floral and citrus factors, but that "fruit punch" (combined tropical fruit) descriptor seems very appropriate. A cornucopia of tropical fruit and flowers - in the cooling cup of Kimel, that is not an overy poetic description.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Sweet citrus, fruit, floral  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + acheives the malty sweetness and floral/fruit sweetness, but it certainly can stand up to Full City roast. I would keep this coffee out of second crack, personally.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: A very crisp, sweet and clean PNG, unique and not at all like its Indonesian cousins (Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java).


Peru 


Peru Organic WP Decaf
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Norte Mark: Norte, Cepicafe Coop
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 07 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Peru has an interesting cup character ... an brightness in the cup that is broad and sometimes blunt, interesting spicy notes, medium to lighter body. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad Peruvian coffee out there with green-grassy defects, and fermented taints. Being organic doesn't save it if the cup is bad! On top of that, this is the new non-chemical, water decaf process. Luckily, I've been able to find some nice Peru coffees in the mid-crop harvest this year. The Chanchamayo lot we have came in excellent, and this Peru decaf was a nice suprise. Decaf is always tricky - you can start with a good coffee and lose the character in the process. That didn't happen here. I think this is one of the best examples of a decaf cupping like its non-decaf counterpart - this really has true-blue Peruvian cup character. This comes from the Cepicafe cooperative that is located in the northern growing area of the country... the coop has produced nice coffees over the years and has the right climate and altitude for excellent cup quality. Most impressive is the nice well-defined bright notes in the cup that define the "origin character" of the coffee. This is a lively cup! And it is precisely that brightness that used to get lost in the old decaffeinating methods. This lot comes from an altitude range of 1400 meters to 1800 meters, which explains the bright character. There's also a bit of cinnamon spiciness to the cup, and clean fruit notes (apple) in the cup that are really nice. The finish is pleasantly dry.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / brightness, balance and subtlty
add 50 50 Roast: City- Full City. I like this Lighter, at a City roast, then rested 2 days. This preserves the brightness, and mild fruited notes, but it does hold up to a heavier roast quite well too. On the Probat drum roaster I roasted it only to 420 f for the best cup, a real City roast.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: That distinct Peru flavor, balanced but bright, not that complex but very attractive overall!


Peru Las Delicias - Zenon Vargas
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Cuzco region Mark: ML (Micro-Lote) Las Delicias - Zenon Huaman Vargas
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I visited Las Delicias last year, and it was like walking into an enchanted forest. Corny but true. We wound our way up and up a long twisty road until we were at about 1600 meters, and a chill as in the air. When we finally leveled out a bit we came into something I can't describe as a town ... more like a tiny community where the home of this coffee producer Zenon Huaman Vargas, is the center. His coffee patio used for drying the pergamino was also where the locals met, had celebrations, and communally milled their coffee cherry. All round the hills were scattered small farms and two room houses, set in among the towering Typica coffee trees, with a heavy canopy of large overstory forest. It made such an impression on me, a place with no commerce, no store, and with such a strong multi-family group working together to improve their coffee, improve the quality of their lots to bring a better price, improve their lives. I imagine how groups of families bonded together homesteading the western US with the same spirit. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the coffee, and in another sense it has absolutely everything to do with the coffee. We have this lot, because they decided get together and improve their coffee quality, to work harder, to hope for a better price. and we paid it, well over fair trade, as we do with many, many lots. It's a very balanced cup. The fragrance is mild milk chocolate, and has a sweet almond aromatic. There some interesting pungent notes here in the aroma, fresh leather and sandalwood. But those are momentary and sweetness prevails as the cup brews. Flavors are mild and balanced: Soft chocolate bittersweetness, and a subtext of apricot and peach (dried fruit notes), with a winey aspect to them. There's a nice tang to the cup that develops at Full City, a roast I recommend. I also noted that the coffee passes quickly from 1st crack to second crack, so keep a close eye on this one in the roaster.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Mild balanced cup  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City, Full City+. Real light roasts are a bit vapid, too dark and you miss any complexity. See roast note in Description (short elapsed time between 1st and 2nd crack).
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: When a Peru is perfectly processed, it no longer resembles the gamey, off-notes we identify with this origin. This lot is more like a Central, with hints of a fine Oaxaca.

Peru Tunquimayo - Juan de Dios
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Tunquimayo Mark: AAA - Juan de Dios Villavicencio
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Juan de Dios is, (as his name, John of God implies), a bit of a nut. He is kinda intense, and I think he is on a "mission" that relates improving coffee quality on his farm to heavenly ascension. Needless to say, I like nuts, and I like John of God. His farm is perched on a fairly steep slope in a subregion of Cuzco called Tunquimayo. Cuzco is the Quechua region and home to fantastic Inca and pre-Inca sites, a fantastic, dramatic scenery. All this area is traditional coffee farming, with great altitude and nearly all traditional Typica cultivar. In the cup, I feel this coffee has great similarity in intensity and basic flavor components to the Zenon Huaman Vargas lot from Las Delicias, although they are separated by more than a few Kms. The dry fragrance has more of a rustic edge, and sweet note too with an odd fresh leather hint, just for a moment. It passes into hazelnut with floral aspects too. Leather? Floral? Hmmm... In the cup there is a tea-like quality (the dryness/astringency of black tea), a raspberry hint, as well as a good bright note with lemon rind twist. As the cup cools brightness comes up. City roasts were slightly bitter in the finish so I recommend the FC to FC+ roast range, where this note comes off more tangy and has a pungent, peppery aspect to it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Interesting acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: FC to FC+ roast is ideal. This coffee also passes from 1st crack to 2nd crack rather quickly
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: This is similar to the Las Delicias Peru lot, with a tad more brightness and some odd flavor aspects.

Peru Concurso Huallaga - 1st Place
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Lamas Mark: Peru Concurso de Calidad, Huallaga Competition,
1st place: Andreas Soberon Gonzales
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: This super, super small lot won the competition I was at in Peru late last year. (It always takes time to prepare and ship coffee, even with a tiny amount, hence the delay in offering it for sale). In fact, the size of this lot is so small, we are limiting it to 1 Lb per person please, and it still won't last more than a week, I bet. It's so small it couldn't be run through normal milling equipment and is practically hand-milled out of parchment. This is not a best-of-Peru competition but rather one that covered a sizable region in the central growing area, the Huallaga Valley and nearby coffee-producing areas. It is grown by a micro-producer: Andreas Soberon Gonzales. At the awards ceremony, it was incredibel to see him tear up as he thanked God, and said the "quality coffee" was the path to a more decent living for coffee farmers in his area, Lamas. I try to avoid being sentimental about things like this, but if you were there, you would see how much the recognition mattered to Andreas. And the lot was heads and shoulders above the rest through all the rounds of cupping with a combined score of 87.56. dry fruit aroma (apricot, pear), winey hint, good, tight brightness to the cup, City+ roast is ideal. The cup is bright and clean, finishing with a neat piquant spice note. It shows the potential of Peru, with all this incredible high grown coffee, traditional Typica cultivar, and an unfortunate history of bad processing, then mixing of great lots like this with mediocre and bad low-grown coffee. As we straighten out the problems, what emerges is a coffee like this, crisp, clean, effervescent on the palate. It finishes with mildly pungent spice, traces of clove and corriander. It's a nice cup: It's worth some serious attention.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, bright cup with fruited tones  
Andreas and Tom
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for a light-bodied, lively cup (allow 48 hour rest). But I enjoyed the balance and improved body at FC roast too.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Not typical Peru, this compares to clean Cup of Excellence level coffees from Central America.

Puerto Rico  

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