Tiny Joy

Mar - Apr 2000: Tom's Home Roasting Diatribe, San Francisco SCAA Conference

Tom's Home Roasting Diatribe
It seems like a good time to mull over the "state of the union" ...that being the community of home coffee roasting enthusiasts. Changes in our favorite hobby have been swift, and largely dictated (for better or worse) by the appearance of new home-roasting appliances on the market. Results have been a reasonable amount of growth, but not enough to label this a fad ...thankfully!

While painful to admit, modern home roasting doesn't really share much with the 19th century activity; we do this for reasons of quality and in search of the best possible cup ---they did it because there was no pre-roasted coffee available. By studying the 19th c. apparatus, it would be nearly impossible to avoid scorching the beans, and controlling the degree of roast through prompt cooling (the removal of the coffee from most 19th c. roasters was difficult, so people tended to cool the roaster with the coffee in it).

It seems that as soon as hot air electric popcorn poppers appeared in the '70s, people figured out they could roast coffee in them. I stumbled onto this by chance much later, in 1989 when I realized the Scirocco roaster I used for testing samples before roasting them in a commercial Gothot was very similar to a popcorn popper.

The legendary Scirocco is long-gone, and the inexpensive, underpowered Melitta roaster from 1992 made a quick exit amidst patent-infringement lawsuits and poor performance.

Ken David's book Home Coffee Roasting revitalized much interest. He produced it in anticipation of a home coffee roasting craze ·and admitted in a conversation last year he wasn't sure there would ever be such a fad, and he wanted the book to be used as an introduction to roasting in general, for amateur and professional).

He surveyed the various types of roasting available, all conforming to either the conductive/convective type (stovetop cranking popcorn poppers) or the fluid-bed Sivetz type (air popcorn poppers, electric air roasters).

Since then, home roasting has received more press mainly as a result of appliance manufacturers needing to promote their roasting devices. Freshroast, Hearthware, SwissMar and West Bend have all entered this market in hopes of producing the next bread machine. Without question, each and every roaster has its pluses and pitfalls. Its not like buying a toaster oven; roasting is much more complicated, the variables are extreme, and the design that can balance customization with ease of use seems elusive. Roast smoke is a major barrier that no roaster can address. And the notion of a huge home roasting fad that will return great profits for lower-cost, widely-available machines is no longer assured.

How do I address this? The idea is to have a web page loaded with honest information about the benefits and shortcomings of each process, so you can choose the roast process that is right for you ...or maybe that home roasting isn't right at all! I have never believed home roasting is for everyone. But the reward of that remarkable cup of coffee awaits for those willing to invest modest time and effort.

The roaster is simply the means to attain that great cup ...and every single process can get you there ...perhaps with the exception of open-pan roasting, which I have never been able to master.

The other key is top quality coffee. I believe our selection is the best, because it is chosen exclusively through blind-cupping each and every coffee listed against hundreds of broker's and importer's samples I request. I have no allegiance besides cup quality, and consumers must understand that no name or brand, not even at the Estate-level, assures the top cup form crop to crop, year to year. Blind cupping is the only way!

Am I disappointed home roasting is not a huge fad? No! I am thrilled! I would like to see home roasting continue as a low-key, sustainable hobby that keeps the emphasis on quality ...no growth. Sweet Maria's has no pressures to sell large production-runs of appliances, no interest in competing with quality local commercial roasters, no desire to expand beyond our means. Around here they call me "the reluctant retailer", and I admit a certain fascination with an era of simple small-business that had integity, not avarice.

This attitude has it's positives and negatives. It can be a pain when a certain coffee description you need is not yet posted to the web page, our less-than-cutting-edge order system, or when the home roast digest isn't working and I cant figure out how to fix it, etc. ...but consider the alternative is a slick corporate web site with no information and a typical sales pitch with the sole goal of maximum income. I hope you understand ... --Tom

SCAA Conference is April in S.F.
As always, I'll be roaming the halls and conference rooms of the year 2000 SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) Conference in San Francisco this April 14-17th. The SCAA is the hub of the coffee world, with more focus on the top 5% of the world coffee production that truly qualifies as specialty. It is fitting to hold it in San Francisco because, despite claims to the contrary, the Bay Area is the true center of specialty coffee in the US. If you are interested in attending the conference, it is not cheap, but well worth it. There are discounted rates for admission to the trade floor show on Monday. More information can be found on the SCAA web site at www.scaa.org .

Sweet Maria's Green Coffee Offerings on 3/13/00

Coffee is a crop; it comes and goes! Our web page always has the latest list of offerings: www.sweetmarias.com

***Central American*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Costa Rican Tarrazu LaMinita $7.30 $13.87 $31.76

Costa Rican La Pastora Tarrazu $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Guat. Organic Atitlan -Songbird $5.65 $10.74 $24.58

Guat. Organic/FairTrd.-El Quiche $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Guatemala Oriente -Tres Marias $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Mexican Oaxaca Pluma -Fino Rojas $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Mexican Organic Pluma -Loxicha $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Nicaraguan SHG Gavilan Estate $4.60 $8.74 $20.01

Nicaraguan SHG La Illusion $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Panama Lerida Estate 99/00 $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Salvador Organic Los Naranjos $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

***South American*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil -Berrador Estate Acaiá $4.45 $8.46 $19.36

Brazil Cerrado-Monte Carmelo $4.40 $8.36 $19.14

Brazil Cerrado-Oberon 17/18 $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Brazil Serra Negra 17/18 $4.55 $8.65 $19.79

Colombian Ibague Nevado Supremo $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Colombian Narino Supremo $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Colombian Organic Cauca $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Colombian Reserva Del Patron $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Peru SHG Organic -Cuzco $4.95 $9.41 $21.53

***African, Arabian*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Congo Kivu $4.50 $8.55 $19.58

Ethiopian Djimmah Gr 5 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Ethiopian Harar Gr5 Horse $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Ethiopian Sidamo Gr.5 99/00 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gr2 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Kenya AB Main Crop 98/99 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Tanzanian Peaberry 99/00 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Yemen Mokha Ismaili $7.80 $14.82 $33.93

Yemen Mokha Mattari Al-Haj $7.00 $13.30 $30.45

Yemen Mokha Raimi 99/00 $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Yemen Mokha Sana'ani -Saihi $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Zambia AA Lilyvale Estate $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Zimbabwe AAA Pinnacle $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

***Indonesian, Indian*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Monsooned Malabar $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Indian -Pearl Mountain Estate $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Java Aged Old Brown $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Java Gvt. Estate -Kayumas $5.10 $9.69 $22.19

Myanmar Arabica -Rubyland $3.50 $6.65 $15.23

Papua New Guinea A Org/Shade $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Papua New Guinea Mile High A $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Papua New Guinea Purosa AA $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

Sulawesi Toraja Gr 1 JP Prep $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sulawesi Rantapao (Monsooned) $6.10 $11.59 $26.54

Sumatra Mandheling Gr1 DP $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra Organic Gayo Mtn.Gr1 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Sumatra Organic Gayoland.Gr1 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Sumatra Blue Lintong Gr1 $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Timor Grade 1 -Aifu $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

***Islands, Blends, ...*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Dominican -Montana Verde Estate $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

French Chicory -Roasted $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Hawaii Kona- Greenwell XtraFancy $15.20 $28.88 $66.12

Isle of Saint Helena $21.20 $40.28 $92.22

SM's Moka Kadir Blend $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

SM's Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sweet Maria's Fr.RoastBlend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Malabar Gold Espresso Blend $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

***Decafs*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil Santos SWP Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Colombian Natural Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Ethiopian Sidamo Co2 Decaf $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

IndonesianOrg.KomodoBlend SWP D $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

MexicanEsmeralda Natural D $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Papua New Guinea Org SWP D $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Sumatra Mandheling C02 Decaf $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Sumatra Org.GayoMtn SWP Decaf $6.30 $11.97 $27.41

***Premium Robustas*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Kaapi Royale Robusta $5.15 $9.79 $22.40

Indian Monsooned Robusta AA $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

PapuaNewGuinea Washed Robusta $3.90 $7.41 $16.97

Sweet Maria's Coffee Roastery

9 E. 2nd Ave. * Columbus Ohio 43201

ph/fx:614 294 1816 * orders:888.876 5917

web: www.sweetmarias.com

email:info@sweetmarias.com