Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Tiny Joy

a home coffee roasting newsletter

January - February 2003

Brazil - O - Rama

Known more as the reigning giant of coffee production for the past 100 years, Brazil has changed its tune recently. With the serious challenge for low-price, low-grade coffee being entered by Vietnam, Brazil has begun to emphasize quality coffees from distinct micro-regions and smaller farms. Brazil still produces more coffee, arabica and robusta combined, than any other nation on earth. But producers are learning that coffee drinkers don't buy coffee because it was the cheapest to produce. They buy it because it of cup quality.

The United States has a long history as a buying partner for Brazilian coffee, dating to pre-Civil War times. When coffee came on sail ship from Dutch colonies on Java and from the Horn of Africa, prices were extremely high. The arrival of lower cost, mild coffees from Brazil allowed everyone to enjoy a beverage that was previously reserved for the wealthy. A 1890's grocers list has Java at .23 cents per Lb., "Genuine Mocca" at .18, and Brazil ranging from .02 to .05 cents depending on quality. With the long journey from Java, most coffee arrived old and brown (hence the unintentional birth of aged coffee). Only with Brazilian coffee was there a price differential for quality. So, ironically, that means Brazil was the first origin to offer specialty grades of coffee!

In more recent times, distinct Brazil offerings from brokers were slim. When I worked as a roaster in New Orleans 13 years ago, we only had Santos, a generic name for coffees shipped through the port of Santos. When we started Sweet Maria's in 1997, some brokers were starting to offer coffees from Cerrado, a coffee-producing sub-region of southern Minas Gerais, as an alternative. The Monte Carmelo and Oberon marks were common, and these dry-processed coffees were good in the cup; nutty and pleasantly bittersweet with medium to heavy body. But as time went along, the quality seemed more inconsistent and picking through the many, many lots of Cerrado coffees for a decent "chop" (the lot numbers) became difficult. The only truly "specialty", farm-specific coffee I cupped back then was Fazenda Vista Alegre, a natural-dry processed coffee selling at 4 to 5 times the price of Cerrado dry-processed coffees. But the samples never distinguished themselves from the Cerrados, so we never offered it.

About that time the rumors of a Brazil Auction surfaced, a competitive system based on the successful Kenya auction tradition, but involved only particular lots that had passed domestic and international cupping panels. The Brazil Specialty Coffee Association was the first to launch a Cup of Excellence auction, and Sweet Maria's started offering these coffees 3 years ago with the excellent Fazenda Bom Jardim and Sao Jao. Last year we had Fazenda Vargem Grande, and this past December was the first time we bid directly in the auction to win our favorite lot, Fazenda Boa Vista. (It takes quite a while to get a small shipment from Brazil … we have to piggy-back on a container load shipment. We hope to see our precious 18 bags of Boa Vista in February!)

A caveat of the auction coffee is that, while many of the 30+ samples we were sent from this year's auction were very nice, they do not have a traditional Brazilian cup character! A clear explanation is that Brazils are historically dry-processed coffees, and every single lot of coffee that placed in the Auction was a hybrid pulped process. Dry-processing means that the intact, whole ripe coffee cherry is laid on drying patios, then the seed is separated from the skin and fruit in one step. The hybrid pulping process (either the Colombian "aqua-pulping" method or the "pulped natural" method) involves mechanically forcing the skin and fruit (muscilage) from the coffee cherry in the first step of the wet-mill, which saves time and uses less water than wet-processing.

While the auction samples were pleasing to the palate and certainly show the range of possibilities, it left me longing for a typical Brazilian cup with that distinctly nutty character, rich body, and tangy bittersweet roast flavors. That's where the Prima Qualita comes in, a blended coffee from Cerrado and Sul de Minas, all traditionally dry-processed. The most recent lot is the best we have received, with dry-peanut flavors prevailing throughout the range of roasts.

We had an unexpected surprise from a Brazilian Organic/FairTrade sample that arrived lately. The cup is subtly fruited with Merlot wineyness, deep and spicy. It's a coffee that, if it had been submitted to the auction committee, definitely would have placed among the winners. And we have a Brazilian peaberry coming later that had an excellent pre-shipment sample (although we always make decision based on the arrival "spot" sample).

All this means that Brazil has unwittingly become a featured origin at Sweet Maria's for the near future. It doesn’t make a lot of business sense to buy more coffees from a particular origin that you really need, but when we get great samples, we can't help but get excited. That's what makes this a great job! -Tom

Sweet Maria’s Coffee Inc.
1455 64th Street, Emeryville CA 94608
Email: Contact us

Sweet Marias Green Coffee Offerings on 1/10/03:
This list is always superceded by the current list on our web page! http://www.sweetmarias.com

Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Costa Rica Auction Lot-Diamante Tarrazu $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Costa Rican Tres Rios -La Magnolia $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Costa Rican La Minita Tarrazu $6.80 $12.92 $30.26 $108.80

Guatemala Coban Tanchi $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Guatemala Huehuetenango -Finca Huixoc $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Guatemala Org/FT Huehuetenango $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62

Honduras SHG Organic Marcala $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Mexican Chiapas Strictly Altura '02 $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Mexican SHG Organic/FT Loxicha $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Mexican Oaxaca - Fino Rojas $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Nicaragua Organic/FT Segovia '02 $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62

Panama Boquete -Finca La Berlina $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Panama Boquete -Finca Maunier $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

El Salvador SHG Salaverria Bourbon $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76

South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Bolivian Organic -Aecar Coop $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Brazil Fazenda Vargem Grande $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Brazil Cooxupe Prima Qualita $4.00 $7.60 $17.40 $61.60

Colombian Narino Vintage $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Colombian Organic Mesa de Los Santos $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Colombian Organic Quindio $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Peru Org-FT Chanchamayo $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Ethiopian Harar Longberry Lot 3174 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Ethiopian Sidamo DP $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Ethiopian Wet-Process Sidamo $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe -Lot 957 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Kenya AA Kiawamururu Auction Lot '02 $5.75 $10.93 $25.01 $88.55

Kenya AA Kii Auction Lot '02 $5.40 $10.26 $23.49 $83.16

Tanzanian Southern Peaberry $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Uganda Budadiri AA-S Specialty $4.10 $7.79 $17.84 $63.14

Yemen Mokha Ismaili (Hirazi) $7.90 $15.01 $36.74 $126.40

Yemen Mokha Mattari $7.20 $13.68 $33.48 $115.20

Yemen Mokha Raimi (Rimy) $6.90 $13.11 $30.02 $110.40

Zimbabwe AA+ Salimba $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Indian Monsooned Malabar Coehlo's Gold $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Java Government Estate -Blawan $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38

Papua New Guinea -Kinjibi Est.Peaberry $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38

Papua New Guinea -Purosa Estate $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Sulawesi Toraja Gr. 1 -Lot 1942 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Sulawesi Sulotco -"Old Toraja" $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70

Aged Sumatra Mandheling $5.80 $11.02 $25.23 $89.32

Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62

Sumatra Mandheling DP Gr.1 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Timor Organic/FT Maubesse $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Hawaii Kona-well Farms '02 $15.00 $28.80 $69.75 5 lb limit

Hawaii Kauai Estate Peaberry No. 1 $6.45 $12.26 $28.06 $99.33

Jamaica Blue Mountain -Mavis Bank $19.40 $37.25 $90.21 5 lb limit

Puerto Rican Yauco Selecto AA $10.40 $19.76 $48.36 5 lb limit

SM's Moka Kadir Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24

SM's Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

SM's Classic Italian Espresso Blend $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

SM's Decaf Espresso Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24

SM's French Roast Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

SM's Roasted French Chicory $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

African Highland WP Decaf Blend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70

Brazil Prima Qualita WP Decaf $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Colombian MC Decaf -Narino del Abuelo $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Colombian CO-2 Decaf $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38

Colombian Santa Isabella WP Decaf $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Ethiopian MC Decaf- Ghimbi $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Guatemala WP Decaf -Injertal Estate $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Kenya MC Decaf -German KVW $5.25 $9.98 $22.84 $80.85

Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76

Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Sumatra WP Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Uganda Robusta -Nanga Farms $4.00 $7.60 $17.40 5 lb limit


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