Sweet Maria's Weblog

Roast Coffee Pairing #10: Raisin Coffee

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.

my last scaa post, i swear...

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.

If you're in Atlanta beware...

If you're in Atlanta beware., originally uploaded by sweetmarias.

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

Crazy coffee tasting competition at scaa.

So this coffee taster competition (SCAA US Cup Taster's Championship!) seemed ridiculous and I dismissed it out of hand as a dog and pony show. But upon seeing it I thought it was pretty cool and wish I had tried my hand at it. It seems really hard and it's not really cupping at all. It is done with brewed coffee and you are given 3 cups and must choose which is different : triangulation cupping. The winner was Ben Kamisky.

$caa in hotlanta

We're off to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (scaa) conference in scintillating "Hotlanta" today. In a way, I wonder why I go. I count among the disaffected, I suppose. At one time "Specialty Coffee" really meant something, defining itself in opposition to commercial/industrial grade coffee. Now there are so many things crammed under the roof of Specialty, it's hard not to feel squeezed out. I don't know what we are ... Fourth Wave, Micro-Lot Specialists, DIY ... it always seems silly to think of such terms and even sillier to apply them. Maybe it's my history. Since I am from an artsy background, it reminds me of photography, which was (supposedly) my field of focus. Photography as a technical skill gives you a lot to talk about with other photo geeks, bracketing half-stops, and backlight compensation. But when it comes to the ideas, what you really do, well, you might be better off talking to your pet dog than most photo people; just because you share a method doesn't mean you have shared goals. It's like that with the coffee trade. You could sit next to a fellow coffee buyer on a plane trip to an origin country, and have nothing substantial to talk about but the weather. Of course, the opposite can be true to, which is why I still go to the $caa, armed with a dim hope. In reference to my crafty use of the $, I have to consider this: what furthers our ability to find better coffees to offer our customers, $3000 spent going to the scaa (Josh comes too), or $2500 spent on a great origin trip, cupping, visiting farms, understanding local issues, forming new relationships. For sweet maria's it's the later, of course. Two footnotes to this grumpy post: a. I volunteer to help roaster trainings and cupper trainings at scaa and I find that worthwhile for me and others, and b. the branch of the scaa called the Roasters Guild, especially the intensive RG retreat each year, is very, very worthwhile. Incidentally, I will try to send a couple pictures to the web log from there 1. an image of the stupidest coffee product I find (there will be a lot of competition in this category) and 2. something new that is actually sensible and of good quality. That might be tough.