Sweet Maria's Weblog

Dolok Sanggul, Lake Toba, Sumatra

Green unripe coffee cherry from Dolok Sanggul area of Lintong,
Sumatra. While these branches are incredibly loaded with fruit, the
crop is smaller overall. Dolok Sanggul just arrived this week, and
we'll be rolling it out in a few days after I finish the review. The Onan Ganjang sample that arrived at the same time is cupping really well, with that herbal, complex flavor true to the Lintong appellation.

Sweet Maria's Home Roasters' Dream Camp

Today we are announcing our first ever Sweet Maria's Home Roasters' Dream Camp! The session will be held Saturday July 25th from Noon to 3 pm at our warehouse on East 21st Street in Oakland. This is not a class, but a gathering of home roasters, an occasion to compare roasts done on different machines, a chance to try out some new (or...er... new to you) roasters, cup coffee and share home roasting experience. More information and details on how to sign up for the camp, follow the link above. We are also adding four new coffees today. Sumatra Organic Lampahan -Bonkawan Coop, with low acidity, raisin, fig and plum tastes. Next up is the return of Yemen Mokha Haimi, an aromatic cup from light to dark roasts; great also for SO espresso use! And lastly, we sourced some good decafs: Ethiopia Dry-Process Sidamo MC Decaf, with medium acidity, and sweet fruit notes and Nicaragua Jinotega SHG WP Decaf, a bright decaf with chocolate/malt at darker roast levels. Maria

Roast Coffee Pairing #15: Same Coffee, Two Roasts

With this pairing, we are roasting the same coffee,  Burundi Kayanza Bwayi No. 7, in two different ways to highlight the difference the roast can make. This coffee can take a range of roasts, and you will experience very different things in the cup from one treatment to the next.   In this experiment - the degree of roast is the same, we will roast to the same finish temperature, but take two very different paths to get there, and different roast times.  For the first profile we measured out relatively small batches for the 12 K Probat:  about 20 lbs.  We started the batch with the heat setting fairly low, after about six minutes the heat was then brought up significantly which gave the batch good momentum going into first crack.  Final thermoprobe temperature was 428 degrees with roast times around 12 minutes to achieve a nice light City roast.  For the next profile we weighed out much heavier batches at about 28 lbs, which is nearly the maximum capacity of the roaster.  In order to draw out the roast times to almost 20 minutes we kept the heat low all the way through and even lowered it further as the coffee came through first crack.   The goal was to create two different roasts that essentially look the same color-wise but taste very different.  When Tom and I cupped the results there are definite differences, primarily in the body and the flavor profile.   The faster roast time yields a brighter cup with lighter body, while the slower roast had a much creamier body with chocolate tones balancing the citrus notes.  We could have more easily demonstrated this by using an iffy lot of coffee that would really reveal it’s shortcomings if roasted fast but might be mellowed out by roasting longer, but then you’d be stuck with one pound of so-so coffee and that just isn’t how we roll here. So, instead we chose one of our favorite lots and really pushed the roasts hard in two very opposite extremes.  This was a challenging excercise as a roaster because hitting the same target level via two totally different paths takes real concentration, I think we’ve suceeded in showing how two variables can contribute mightily to the final cup:  batch size and roast profile.

New arrivals - Guatemala Acatenango Gesha, Guat La Bella JBM, Guat Huehue Maravilla, and Yemen Mokha Sharasi

Happy early Fourth of July! Four new coffees!!!! Here they are in short. First is the arrival of Guatemala Acatenango Gesha: Jasmine, citrus blossoms, tropical fruit with a complex Gesha flavor profile and aroma. Click through to the review. Guatemala Finca La Bella JBM Cultivar, a balanced cup with milk chocolate, and a bit of apple spice harvested from Jamaican seedstock in Guatemala. Our third Guat. addition is the return of Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca La Maravilla: sweet fruited notes, mild sweet chocolate-dipped nuts. Last, but not least, we received new Yemen Mokha Sharasi, a Mokha coffee from a new region not usually sold as single-origin. This is a sweet Yemen and also versatile: makes a nice SO espresso!

Central America and Ethiopia Updates: June 30th

The Centrals: It's June 30 and the Centrals are starting to come in en masse. You have already seen the Costa Rica micro-mill lots arriving, kicked off with the AMAZING wet-process Cafetalera Herbazu. Small lots of La Guaca Bourbon, La Yunta Organic and the award-winning Sin Limites have made for a full list of offerings right now. And more are on their tail, including the CoE winning Genesis. We have had the Guatemala Agua Tibia for several weeks and now comes quite a few new arrivals in the next week or so, including the spectacular Guatemala Gesha we have stocked the last 4 years, as well as Huehuetenango La Maravilla (we had it in '05 and I have been trying to get it ever since) and a really interesting JBM cultivar lot from El Progresso state, Finca La Bella. El Salvador new crops are 10-14 days out, Matalapa Estate, and later we will have some micro-lots from Matalapa as well. Honduras new crop we have had for a while, and we have one more lot in the works as well as our CoE lot we split with Ritual coffee roasters. Panama La Berlina Organic has been in stock a week, and gosh, where is our vacuum packed Esmeralda Gesha from the auction. In transit, but arrival date unknown. Anyway, that's a short rundown of where we are at today! _______________________________________________________________ Ethiopia: It's June 30th and usually we would have incoming Ethiopia coffees arriving around now. In fact Harars have typically been arriving in March or so, much earlier than others. Sadly, the whole Ethiopia ECX boondoggle has turned an already chaotic system on it's head, and hopefully it will be straightened out for next years crop. As for this year, I have finally been cupping some very nice DP coffees from Sidamo and Yirga Cheffe as well as Guji lately, and some from the West. We have some very promising lots "on the water" that had very nice samples in the pre-ship as well. So it's not like there won't be great Ethiopia coffees. They are just late, a little harder to find, and a few, if they went through the exchange, may not have the exact producer name attached, although they are identified by region and in some case subregions. One victim of all this seems to be Harars. I have only cupped 2 or 3 that made it to the US and they were, well, not the kind we buy, even when desperate. There was one with very nice body and good chocolate and positive earthy and herbal notes, but around 25% of the cups were musty; unacceptable! Musty goes beyond just a bad taste, I consider it a possible danger since it must originate in a mold or fungus ... even if it is roasted at 450f and brewed at 195f, I wouldn't trust it and I would sell it to anyone... so Harar is in Limbo. I will be a little surprised at this point if a...