Sweet Maria's Weblog

A foot in the holiday door jamb ...

The door is closing on holiday ordering, but I must extend a proverbial foot into the jamb and add these new coffees:
  • El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro; I was trying to stash this vacuum packed gem for late season, but there has been too much demand. If you know this special coffee from years past, all I can say is it's fantastic once again, many say better than last year.
  • Colombia "Los Pijaos de Tolima" (3 Star); a blend that we build one tiny lot at a time through ourdirect trade program. Tolimas have been consistently my favorite Colombias in recent harvests
  • Colombia Organic "Union de Nariño" (3 Star); our first certified organic Farm Gate coffee from Colombia, built from micro-lots in the town of La Union. Both these lots were shipped vacuum packed, and are vibrantly fresh.
  • Kenya AB Auction Lot #768 -Rukira; Our very last main crop auction lot Kenya until new crop, vivid fruits, and mercifully moderate acidity.
  • Sumatra Onan Ganjang Cultivar; A specific type of coffee shrub from the Lintong area, this was something I found on my recent trip there. It has a classic cup, intense, brutish, potent ... and is quite different from other Lintong coffees.
  • Espresso Workshop #1 - The Ophiolite Blend; I am really excited about this blend, and our new espresso approach. We are dividing our blends into "Standards", blends we maintain consistently, and these Espresso Workshop "editions", things I have hammered out in the cupping lab above the offices here at Sweet Maria's. These are lot-specific offerings, meaning that when the particular coffees in the mix are out, the blend "edition" is retired. What's an ophiolite? Ask Wikipedia ... or just read the review to see why I chose a geologic term... Tom
  • Roasted Pairings; Ethiopia Vs. Kenya

    Our final pre-holiday roast session is a head-to-head battle: which is the brightest, most dynamic, sweetest, most attractive coffee in Africa. How do the clean, vivid wet-process Ethiopia coffees stack up against the ripe fruit-bomb Kenyas? For this I chose the latest arrivals, both stellar wet-process lots: Ethiopia Organic Wet-Process Kebado and Kenya Auction Lot 738 -Marua Peaberry. Both roasts were quite light to maximize the intensity of the bright end of the spectrum. Ethiopia was roasted to a mere 420f using a slow warm-up profile with first crack ending at 415 or so. I think we can call this a true City roast, and a good one at that, with no bready or grainy light roast flavors. Marua had less mositure content and was roasted carefully to 380, temperature dropped to ensure entering 1st crack slowly, and finished at 426f, a City-City+ roast. Interestingly, the Kebado is one of our vacuum-pack projects, shipped in boxes from Ethiopia. It definitely had more mositure in the coffee and needed more time in the early part of the roast, whereas Kenya is a typical jute (well, sisal in this case) coffee, shipped in fiber bags. I noted that the Kenya 1st crack was at 398, a little early, and Ethiopia Kebado was at 406f. Since cross-origin cuppings are something I do nearly every day, the interesting differences in these 2 lots isn't as dramatic to me; what strikes me in cupping these side by side is how wonderfully aromatic they BOTH are. Kebado's citric and floral aromas are stunning; Marua fills the nose with ripe, red fruits, slightly winey in character. It's interesting to compare the Ethiopia's Meyer Lemon sweetness, with a slight rindy accent, to the slightly deeper tonality of the Kenya fruits. In general, I feel the Kebado is closer to perfection (in the review I call it a competition-winning type coffee), but these are definitely 2 very, very special lots, and I hope they spark some commentary, and inspire a few holiday smiles in your world... -Tom

    Sumatra Coffee: Harvest and Processing

    Okay - I think it looks a lot better on Face Book, especially by following the link to the larger frame size This is a longer video compiled from clips shot in North Sumatra (Lintong, Berastagi, Sidikalang, Lake Toba Dolok Sanggul etc) and from the Aceh district (Bener Mariah, Lake Tawar, Takengon, Gayo areas). I focus on wet-hulling, called Giling Basah in Bahasa language. This method produces that characteristic Indonesia coffee flavor profile, but also involves risks to the cup quality. I am trying to make a higher quality copy because some of the smaller titles are hard to read. You might need to watch this twice... -Tom

    Mountains of Gold and Bonko Black Sun (!)

    I added two new lots today. Costa Rica Tarrazu -Montes de Oro is from a small Micro Mill and farm run by Emilio Gamboa and his family. In a cupping with Costa Rica farmers here at Sweet Maria's a month ago, this coffee impressed everyone, and it still does today! It is also one of the early lots in which we are transitioning to our new scoring system! Check it out. We have used the new numbers on our second lot too, another stellar dry-processed Ethiopia in a season of gems; Ethiopia Organic DP Bonko "Black Sun." (It's our new favorite name too). -Tom