after a week in el salvador i flew over to costa rica to meet up with maria and ben - a rare family coffee trip in one of the best countries for such a thing! we are headed to panama in the morning, and i will be cupping in the competition. the 4 barrel-ers are here too, jeremy, his wife laura and son rogan, along with phil anacker and we will all head to panama, with our friend francisco mena. the past few days here have been nice. the rains have definitely started which helps trigger the coffee flowers to bloom. and by the looks of the flowering, next year should be a much bigger (and easier to harvest) crop than the one being processed now. But on the cupping table the shipping samples of our lots have been really stellar. and with the special packaging we are doing they should arrive in great condition (about 3 weeks or so from this writing).
Sweet Maria's Weblog
We have our own ideas when it comes to tshirts. We like the art we find when traveling to coffee origins, folksy stuff. The green shirt shown above is from beauty shop (they call them "Saloons" there) Tom took near the town of Karatina, Kenya. The orange "Double Expresso" shirt is a drawing of Tom's own creation... what can I say. Expresso is so hard to find these days! - Maria
Raisin coffee is a term for dry-processing, where the coffee is allowed to dry (partially or wholy) on the tree, before it is picked. It is only possible in a few coffee growing areas where the weather changes dramatically, where the dry season starts when the coffee is ripe on the tree. In the past, picking dried coffee from the tree was reserved for the end of the season, when all coffee cherries, ripe or not, dried or not, are "strip-picked" off the branches indiscriminately. This is called the Repela, or Rebusca in some places, the final harvest, and the quality of this coffee is very low. But a true Raisin coffee is picked with care, choosing only uniformily "tree-dried" cherries that have a raisin-like brown appearance. The cherries are then carefully sorted to remove defect or under-ripe coffee. A true Raisin coffee takes a lot of work. We have two lots from Brazil, one that is a special project on a designated plot of a larger fazenda, the Brazil Moreninha Formosa Raisin Coffee Microlot. The other is from a very large coffee farming operation, not a micro-lot at all: Brazil Ipanema Tree-Dry Process. The fruity flavors associated with tree-dry coffee, from the longer contact the fruit and skin has with the coffee seed inside, is much more apparent in the Moreninha, but both feature heavy body, low acidity, chocolate roast taste, and a very pleasurable tasting experience. As for the roast level, I really tried to push the Ipanema right up to the Full City+ level with a few snaps of second crack heard as the beans hit the cooling tray, this ended up being nearly 450 degrees by thermoprobe. For the Moreninha I wanted to ensure that the fruitiness was still evident so I ended those batches safely in the Full City range at 445 degrees. Since I was roasting slightly smaller batches than normal the roast times were right around 14 minutes.
I am off to the El Salvador Cup of Excellence for a week, then on to Costa Rica and Panama (Ben and Maria are joining me for the later two!). But here is a video of little clips from the SCAA show. It's better to go to youtube and click the HQ button to see it in better resolution.
So I had a grumpy commentary about the SCAA and the elitist, high-priced Symposium that preceded it in particular. You can read all that here: http://www.sweetmarias.com/scaa_images/SCAA_Atlanta_2009.html