Sweet Maria's Weblog

Quality Control: Sample Roasting

Our Probat P3 Electric 3-barrel sees A LOT of use!

October 7, 2014

We are officially hitting the tail end of the busiest time of year for receiving samples in our cupping lab. It’s no secret that the bulk of our coffees come from Central America and East Africa, and as such, we’ve received more ‘offer’ samples in the past few months than all of the rest of the year combined. This last year in Guatemala alone we cupped over 600 farm samples. Now, to be honest, some of that number was roasted and cupped at origin - maybe 200 total. But the bulk was evaluated right here in our lab in West Oakland. As such, it seems like an appropriate time for us to talk about our process of green coffee evaluation, and why if you're running a roasting business, it’s important to have an evaluation program in place.

Many of you will find this information useful as a way to better understand the purchasing process on this side of the water. Much of our evaluation of coffee comes from it’s taste (no surprise here), and the sample roaster is an extremely valuable tool to present a coffee’s quality level. But also, I would argue that just as much stock is placed in the roaster, that is, the human being operating the machine, as the machine itself. There are good and bad roasting machines as well as roasting approaches, and we find that much of our home roasting audience are just as careful and attentive to roasting on their home machines as the "professional" production roasters down the street (we talk A LOT about “professional” vs enthusiast around here - and there really isn’t much of a difference, except for maybe equipment)....

Hello Weekend. Hello Workshop Blend #33

October 3, 2014

Espresso Workshop Blend #33 - Qand Ya Matatu

Workshop #33 was planned specifically with darker roast espresso in mind. Not that Full City+ should be the benchmark, but one that shows well closer to 2nd crack than some of our other blends in the past. For cupping, we roasted to three different roast levels - City+, Full City, and Full City+ (just a few 2nd snaps). The aromatics are super intense across this roast spread, City+ showing dark berry and florals amidst brooding chocolate roast tones (the latter builds quite a bit at darker roast levels). Full City+ has a smokiness from roast that goes well with rich dark cacao smells, and a sweetness that doesn't quit. Pulling espresso shots, it probably goes without saying that the lighter roasts are quite bright, and in my opinion, City+ is just a shade too light for more than a single shot. Still, at this lighter end of the spectrum, it tastes like lavender infused chocolate, with lemon/citrus oil acidity. Full City tones down citric tenors, and builds chocolatey bass notes (even 'base' in this case!), along with a sweet sugary aspect, like butterscotch syrup, that holds on in the finish. This is such a sweet blend at this roast level, with any roast flavor well integrated into the espresso profile. The mouthfeel is so thick and creamy (not to be confused with creme, of which this coffee produces plenty), and the viscous liquor only reverberates the aforementioned profile. Full City+ delves into smoky chocolate, but fruits and acidity aren't obfuscated. Peach syrup and blueberry come through, and allusions to pulpy citrus still liven up a short pull. This is a home run espresso, definitely hitting wilder notes, but with enough chocolate and sweetness to appeal to a more 'classic' espresso audience as well.

Check out our other blends too!

Mid-week Adds Abound!

October 2, 2014

Brazil Minas Gerais - Murilo Neiva Junqueira is a bodied Brazil cup, unrefined sugars and nut notes, along with hints of raisin and black currant. This is a standout Brazil.


Nicaragua Dipilto Finca La Laguna has a praline nut and toffee sweetness, a mild cup, with subtle acidity. A soft bean that takes heat quite well, cupping best in the City+ and beyond roast ranges. Both superb drinking coffees, as well as perfect bases for blending.

Roasted Coffee: Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Kochore Zonegediyo & Kenya Nyeri Kigwandi AB

October 2, 2014

I'm excited about our African coffees and can't get enough of them at this time of year. I have always been a fan of Nyeri and Yirga Cheffe coffees and it's a pleasure to feature two nice ones at once. 

I have been roasting most of the subscription coffees at a City+ roast lately. It's a balancing act between acidity, sweetness, and body that intrigues me, and City+ is a fine suit for balancing these two coffees! 


Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Kochore Zonegediyo City+

This new Ethiopian coffee was released last week. It's a Yirga Cheffe that is about as classic as Yirga Cheffe gets. You get that distinct jasmine in the dry grind and it explodes as soon as the water hits. It drinks with herbaceous tea notes and a pulp like acidity in the middle pallet. The finish has a juicy lemonade and dried peach sweetness. 


Kenya Nyeri Kigwandi AB City+

City+ is at it's best here. There is a grapefruit-like sweet acidity that's nicely balanced in this cup. The body is large and sits with heft on the lounge from start to finish. A refreshing mild black tea finish peaks up at the end too. 


 -Danny Goot

Questions Anyone?

We really enjoy getting out of the office and doing coffee roasting demonstrations at events like Maker Faire, Makers & Tasters and Eat Real here in the SF Bay Area. It’s a good way to connect with home coffee roasters and our local customers. Here’s some questions that we have been asked more than once. This might be worth forwarding to your friend or family member that has been curious about home roasting.


Where can I buy green coffee?

Hopefully from us. There’s other online green coffee retailers out there that you can try as well...but we hope you like our coffee the best.


How long does green coffee last for?

Commercial coffee suppliers would say that green coffee lasts over a year in storage. We think 6 months is around the time when it begins to degrade in quality.


Why would anyone want to roast their own coffee?