Sweet Maria's Weblog

Day after Day Job

Our Weekly Series on Homeroasters Turning Pro

 Part 2: Go For The Green

 Coffee is wonderfully appealing for a number of reasons; that is, there is no one thing that makes a coffee great. There are several characteristics by which specialty coffee is judged: fragrance, flavor, sweetness, body, acidity, etc. Even commercial-grade coffee, which is a step below specialty-grade, is evaluated for sweetness and cleanliness, as well as taints and defects which are noted as either present or not.


While I don’t agree that evaluating those characteristics should simply be pass or fail, it does speak to an important point; good coffee has sweetness, is a relatively clean cup, and is free of defects. In fact, learning to identify defects could be the number one best thing you do in starting a roasting operation.  There are obvious defects such as mold, and off- or over-fermentation, but then there are also the more subtle defects such as age.



Four New Coffees from Colombia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia

Oct. 16, 2015


  • Colombia Corregimiento Palmichal Microlote - Grape juice brightness and is near effervescent. Light roasts have berry and fruited tea flavors with honey sweetness. Medium roasts have 'sweet fruit' flavors, like stone fruit nectar and boysenberry syrup, along with Dutch cocoa flavor in the aftertaste. It has amazing body and will double as a near-perfect espresso.


  • Costa Rica Helsar -Sonia Vega - This coffee has a flavor of "Coffee Nib" candies. It captures the bittersweetness that makes up the foundation of most coffee. A bit like burned caramel, the bittersweetness disappears shortly in the finish. There's a cacao tone paring well with dense sweetness and makes a near-perfect espresso.


  • Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Dry Process -Aricha - This coffee is remarkable with fruit flavors like dried strawberry, stone fruit juice, raw sugar notes, pulpy orange juice and ruby red grapefruit  as the cup cools. There's a citric brightness, an acidity often dulled in naturally-processed coffees.  The list of flavors we had from our test samples is too long to list.


  • Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Dry Process - Gedeb Asasa - This is an extremely sweet natural, loads of complex sugar note and sweet citrus flavor. There is a bracing quality too, a level of acidity that weaves these top notes tightly together. Full City roasts develop notes of blueberry and boysenberry, mango filling, with a dark chocolate syrup flavor is well in focus.


This Week's Fresh Roasted Coffee

October 15, 2015

We just roasted a few delicious coffees on Tuesday. They are all bagged up and ready to ship.


Roasted Brazil Tres Vizinhos Peaberry - peaberry coffee from "Tres Vizinhos" in the Cerrado region of Brazil dark sugar, bittersweet cocoa, roasted nut and light fruit notes.


Roasted Congo Kivu Nyirigongo Station - from near the Nyiragongo Volcano in Congo - raisin flavors, fresh tobacco, aromatic woods, and sweet fruits.  City+


Sweet Maria's Roasted Espresso - Moka Kadir - roasted to Full City - thick sweetness, layered chocolate complexity, and slightly more 'punchy' brightness. Top notes of sweet tobacco, dried apricot and plum are followed by lasting bittersweetness.


Sweet Maria's Roasted Espresso Monkey Blend - roasted to Full City. This coffee is balanced between high and low tones, with fruited-chocolate roast flavors, and slightly rustic fruited accent notes.


A Variety of Seven New Arrivals

Oct. 9, 2015

  • Colombia Guintar -Don Mariano - Amazing tropical fruits top notes: passion fruit, mango, and guayaba chews, along with accents of plum and strawberry hard candies, and tart lemon-aid-like acidity. Complex brewed cup.

  • Guatemala Proyecto Xinabajul -Señora Minga - Balance of brown sugar/tartaric effervescence, beautifully so, with crisp apple and baking spice notes, maple to corn syrup base sweetness, nougat finish. Wonderful for espresso.

  • Ethiopia Kaffa -Chiri Cooperative - Brown sugar sweetness, with jasmine pearl and barley tea, rose hips, and sweet lemon-like acidity. Dried fruit notes and fantastic body. Good for espresso.

  • Honduras Copan -El Macuelizo "Onan" - Balanced dark sugar and walnut flavors, subtle spice and fruited notes. Sweet fruits boosted at Full City, with a flavor of chocolate fig. Good for espresso.

  • Mexico Org. Oaxaca -Sierra Mixteca Coop -makes an approachable cup, balanced sugar and nut tones, bodied, mild acidity, and a dense cocoa flavor (especially in the Full City range). Great brewed or as espresso.

  • Ethiopia Sidama-Limu SWP Decaf Blend -Syrupy-sweet, cola note, hibiscus flower tea, mildly floral. From light brown sugar to pungent molasses dependent on roast. Berry and cinnamon accents. Great for espresso.

  • Kenya Nyeri Gititu SWP Decaf -Heavy spice, syrupy sweetness, cherry cola, and clove chewing gum -intense decaf! Unique citric brightness is well-integrated. Fruited cocoa in darker roasts.



Day after Day Job

Our Weekly Series on Homeroasters Turning Pro

Many home roasting enthusiasts dream of starting their own roasting businesses. I’ve always seen homegrown start-up businesses such as these in the same light as someone putting together a band and recording and touring, or making a public access TV show (from the pre-YouTube age) and getting it on the air. Not that it’s necessarily an art project or even a labor of love, but it’s a grand idea. I kneel at the altar of the Grand Idea.


Bringing something into existence, however, is no small feat, especially in a commercial context, because that something has to have a reason why. Why are you starting a new roasting business? You are essentially taking something that’s a hobby, something that you do to relax or engage in a particular way, and turning it into a job. How will professionalizing this activity affect your relationship with it? How do you make sure that in the process of creating a business around this activity you actually still enjoy the activity itself?


There is a good chance that you will find, as I have, that a job in coffee is incredibly rewarding. It is a profession that provides endless possibilities for deeper engagement. It could happen! But there are a  few other questions to be asked if you’re looking to start your own roasting business, and I’ll address those questions in this series of articles, ...