Sweet Maria's Weblog

Three new coffees and one tea (tea!?!)

Today we see the return of a number of favorite coffees: the Tanzania Mbinga Ruvuma Flatbean is a classic Tanzania, with acidity more muted than a Kenya, but with intense and rather creamy body. The Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita is a bit brighter and more lively than most Sumatras, but with the thick body, molasses and spice notes that are characteristic of this origin. El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro is back again this year, and it remains a great example of what really high grown Central coffees can be. It is an intense fruity, winey coffee, a special preparation produced by Aida Batlle. This farm is planted with 80% Kenya cultivar, and it shows in the cup. Also from Aida's farm, we have El Salvador Cascara Coffee Tea, a coffee husk tea - called qishr in the Middle East but cascara in Central America. It makes a fruity tea, with hibiscus and jasmine aromas. Great as iced tea with a little sweetner.

A French Press Moment

Uganda - Mathias, President of the coffee coop, and Soloman, the crazy driver. Who would have imagined five years ago that a coffee wonk who announced proudly "I make coffee in a French Press!" (or perhaps even more so, a "Cafetiere" or "Melior") would be so unfashionable these days. With SF coffeehouses all switching en masse from French Press brewing to pour-over techniques, who would think the method you use for making a good cup of coffee would be so trendy? Maybe next  you will need to consider whether your apparel matches your brewer. I have always had some reservations about the french press; namely, it can be tough to get the right grind to avoid the gritty "fines" in the cup, and the long steep times generally means you see a steep temperature drop while brewing. The fact that cafes would brew in French Press and then dump into a big commercial Pump Pot (that draws coffee from the bottom, where the sediment accumulates) always seemed ill-conceived. But the fact is, French Press didn't suddenly become a bad way to brew coffee, and it's still the method that guarantees "full immersion," a complete 4 minutes, or 6 minutes, or whatever, of coffee soaking in water. The problem there is temperature drop; you don't get full flavor extraction if the brew is too cool.  You can pre-heat your press with hot water as a small measure. You can wrap the press in a towel. A few even come with a jacket. Better yet, you can use an insulated French press. These come in both all stainless, which are beautiful and unbreakable, but you can't see the brew. You can also opt for a glass double-wall French press, more spendy than the single wall, and definitely breakable, but it turns out great results but I wouldn't count on either of these to keep your coffee hot. If you like coffee hot, I say, drink fast. I think the best results in a press can be with longer steep times and slightly coarser grinds. It takes some experimentation, but I have achieved the best extraction levels at 6 minutes in an insulated press. To deal with fines and avoid grit in the cup, I plunge slowly, then wait an additional 3 minutes and pour cups slowly and gently. That extra 3...

Five New Coffee: Finally a DP Ethiopian!

http://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.analysis.images/EthiopiaDryProcessJimmaNigusieLemma2010.jpghttp://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.analysis.images/blend_espresso_workshop.jpghttp://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.analysis.images/RwandaFTDukundeKawaMusasa2010.jpg The big story today is finally we have a DP Ethiopian!… The Ethiopia DP Jimma -Nigusie Lemma has a fruit-salad-like variety of flavors including blueberry toaster waffle! Our second offering is an organic wet-process Rwanda Dukunde Kawa Musasa FT with sweet taffy and cherry candy in the cup. Our third addition today is the twelfth edition of the Espresso Workshop: #12 - Consonanza with its harmonious blend of flavors striking a balance in the shot between silky mouthfeel, orange accents, and creamy finish. The last two coffees we're adding are limited in stock so act fast.: the Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu "Sangre de Toro" and the Ecuador Quilanga Microlot Especial. These are exceptional but small lots… Look for a buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut finish in the Tarrazu and caramelized sugar and stone fruits in the Ecuador. Full reviews linked above.

Roast Coffee Pairing #43: Flatbean vs. Peaberry

This week we are roasting two coffees from Tanzania that are markedly different, partially due to their selection.  Nyamtimbo Peaberry is a lot from the South of the country, far from Kenya but with some hints of malic (apple) acidity balanced against a spicy, caramelized sweetness.  We roasted this to Full City level, final thermoprobe temp 435 and roast times around 15 minutes.  Mbinga Ruvuma Flatbean has even wilder notes of black pepper and dark berry alongside the aforementioned acidity.  Roasted to Full City+ level, final thermoprobe temp 440 and roast times around 15 minutes.  Both of these lots have an impressive creamy mouthfeel that help set coffee from Tanzania apart from its African neighbors. Flat or round? You decide.

Travelogues from Sulawesi and Java

Tom returned from his trip to Sulawesi and Java, a couple of very special coffee origins.  Coffee picking, processing, cupping, funerals, spelunking, surfing.... something for everyone.    We have a new way to showcase photos from Tom's trips, essentially using a database instead of static html pages. We will will be migrating past trips to this format so we can tag images and make them more easily accessible.So you will notice Tom posted photos from a Costa Rica trip he took in early 2010 too.