Boy, isn't blog an awful word. Then again, blogs can be kind of awful. I've been thinking a bit lately that this weblog isn't what i wanted it to be. I have been using it to announce new coffee arrivals, which is fine. But with our new site improvements, i feel like that is a redundant use, and not very exciting anyway. So I am going to return to the original idea - the day-to-day at sweet maria's ... and just post what I am doing here and thinking about on a routine basis. The good thing about my role here is that it changes, and some of it can be mildly interesting. For example, today I am roasting samples from a Sumatra cultivar experiment, the work of a coffee researcher named Tony Marsh. He painstakingly went through the Aceh area to identify unique tree types, many at an existing but abandoned government research station in Bener Mariah area. Then they produced 2 samples from each cultivar they found, aq wet-hulled sample and a wet-process sample. So I am roasting them all (I have nothing but codes to cup by - it's a fully blind experiment) and will log my cupping results. I'll write more about it later. We also have been testing some SO coffees as espresso, including the dry-process Centrals we roasted for our Coffee Pairing this week. The Mex Nayarit Dry Process was nice - the Guat Oriente DP as espresso was too, too fruity. That coffee really sits on the edge of fruity and over-fruity, an interesting lot to taste, if nothing more than to define where that line (fruity-overly fruity) lies according to your palate. For me, it depends on the roast. A bit darker and it is positive fruity chocolate; but lighter and it has the sourness of overripe fruit. After I finish roasting, I am going to Costco. Woo Hoo. After that I will be cupping the first Main Crop Kenya Auction samples, not expecting too much though... Tom
Sweet Maria's Weblog
Is it right for a coffee buyer to ask producers who have traditionally Wet-Processed their coffees to suddenly Dry-Process small lots? The results from this week’s pairing would indicate that it is right, to a point. The wonderful Wet-Process Centrals that we know and love should continue to have success but changing tastes and greater awareness about coffee processing in the coffee shops and roasters around the world clear a path for flavor profiles like these two coffees. The Mexico Nayarit was roasted to around 437 degrees which took about 16 minutes on the Probat while the Guatemala Oriente behaved quite differently in the roaster with first crack coming on later (around 420 degrees) and finally being dumped at 442 degrees at about 16:30 minutes. One thing is that these coffees achieve the right balance between fruit and chocolate when taken darker than their wet proccessed brethren, so both were roasted to Full City levels. Both coffees have a wonderful appearance in the green state with amber skins on a few beans and when roasted have a fruited berry dry fragrance and sweet chocolate flavors in the cup. Here at Sweet Maria’s we try to think outside what is normally done for one purpose: outstading quality in the cup. When Tom and I cupped the results from these two roasts we were both smiling at the strange experience of drinking Central American coffees with distinctly African and Indonesian flavor characteristics, we think this kind of dismantling of "received wisdom" is an important part of understanding the wonderful crop that coffee has become. As long as the Dry-Processing of coffee is done in the proper manner with great attention to detail and storage there is no telling what new flavor profiles might emerge. As we all know, quality begins at the farm level and as home roasters we can ensure that each lot we purchase can reveal the hard work of the farmer and miller. This pairing proves you can teach new regions old tricks with fantastic results. –Josh
We have 5 new arrivals, and you can read more about them using the list below. With the new list functions, the latest arrivals are expanded to show their brief flavor description. Guatemala San Jose Pinula -La Trinidad is a small-farm lot with distinct chocolate bittersweets and nice body. Panama Boquete Lerida Estate Peaberry ... well, old-timers at Sweet Maria's know this coffee well, we have loooked forward to its arrival each season. Colombia Huila Valencia (1 Star) is a uncelebrated lot with no great "provenance" but a really nice cup (and a great price). Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza has arrived again, the coffee we placed #2 with in the national SCAA roaster competition. And a very nice decaf, Peru FTO Norte WP Decaf, is available now.
Our new Espresso Workshop #1 -Ophiolite blend is selling so well, I couldn't be more pleased. It seems people understand the inspirational concept behind these espresso "editions," which we offer only as long as the specific ingredient coffees are available. So with that, we are ready to roll out #2! This is dynamic, sparkling-bright espresso in the West Coast style: Espresso Workshop #2 -Auriferous Espresso. Auriferous? We are staying with our geologic theme, and it means "gold-bearing." I thought it suited this blend perfectly. Read more about the new blend