Sweet Maria's Weblog

Let's Take a Break and Have Some Coffee


Taking a look at our offer lists the last few days, I realize that a huge part of our job is keeping coffees separate. Sure, we excel in many other areas too (we are coffee "sourcerers" afterall!), but after taking into account that we currently have over 80 different lots of coffee for sale between Coffee Shrub and Sweet Maria's, I find myself greatly appreciating our warehouse crew's attention to detail, keeping each lot separate from the filling stage all the way to the picked and packaged orders.


Starting here as a warehouse worker myself, I know that even without tasting all of our coffees you get a sense of just how diverse coffee can be - from the array of 'green' smells released from a fresh bag of raw coffee, to the visual differences that come with varying processing methods and varietals. But when it comes to comparing coffees, there really is no substitute for tasting. And that's what we did this week - gather the whole Sweet Maria's team around a folding table to taste and talk about four very different coffees.


The Gangs All Here


This wasn't about parsing out obscure flavor descriptors, or looking for minor differences in cleanliness and acidity. It was to illustrate that in some cases, the stark contrasts we see/sense in the green coffees we handle are just as easily tasted in the brewed coffee. You don't need a refined palate to taste the difference between Yemen and Sumatra, or dry and wet processed coffees from the same part of Ethiopia. And if you're anything like me, tasting different flavor profiles from one coffee to the next only reinforces the way I remember these coffees. 


But perhaps most important, everyone had something to say about the flavors they tasted. You don't have to be a professional coffee taster to do this, and when putting exotic coffees such as these on the table, everyone invariably had a lot to say. So we took a break, tasted coffees together, and talked about the "how"s and "why"s of four very unique cup profiles. 



7/24 Roasted Coffee Subscription - Guatemala Candelaria Lote Venecia & Costa Rica Los Crestones Finca Alaska

July 24, 2015

This time around we roasted two exceptional coffees from Central America. The Guatemala Candelaria Lote Venecia which is a wet processed coffee and the Costa Rica Los Crestones Finca Alaska which is technically a honey processed coffee though the layer of mucilage from the coffee fruit that is left on the bean is very thin.

The Guatemala Candelaria Lote Venecia is a well balanced coffee. Being a wet processed coffee, it has a brighter and clearer acidity that I think tastes like apple. It also has a light flavor of sweet grain. It reminds me a bit of a sweet Oolong tea with a twist of lemon.

The Costa Rica Los Crestones Finca Alaska has a milder and smoother acidity and that is a product of the honey processing. It has a bit more pronounced fruit note a bit like plum, which is another result of the honey processing. The mouthful is more viscous and the sweetness also comes across more syrupy, like honey or caramel.

We roasted two espresso blends as well the Monkey blend and New Classic Blend.


New Coffee from Kenya and Laos

July 24, 2015

Kenya Nyeri Hill AA - has bright and tart notes of orange or grapefruit juice. As it cools, sugar sweetness builds with caramel and candied citrus peel. Cookie-like flavors are sensed up-front.  Flavor notes unfold as the temperature dips, and the finish is suffused with faint citrus and berry notes. This is one of our more bodied Kenyas, and is a great candidate for Kenya espresso.

Laos Paksong Hills - is Brazil-like in many ways. Flavors of raw sugars and walnut play off each other and are held together by a mild, tea-like acidity. Sweetness is bumped up a notch as the cup cools, and the coffee finishes with faint notes of cacao nib and raw tobacco off in the distance.

New Coffee from Colombia, Guatemala & Yemen

July 22, 2015
Colombia Organic Planadas Montalvo - Apple, red berry, and nectarine flavors are prevalent in the cup with distinct blackberry and tropical notes. Sweet and bitter notes mesh well across the roast spectrum, and the underlying raw sugar sweetness supports the fruit-forward nature of the cup.
Guatemala Antigua Finca Cabrejo - Apple and plum highlights accompanied by a blueberry/retronasal-like response are found in the cup. Complex and fruited notes go from bright and tea-like in light roasts to chocolate and fruit juice-like in darker roasts with chocolate syrup flavor in the finish. Dark roasts make great SO espresso -  viscous and chocolatey sweet, with tart berry accents up-front.
Yemen Moka Bani Matar - The cup is intense, complex and bewildering to describe! This Matari has a loamy soil aspect, with a beefy, thick body and very low acidity. As it cools, there is cola nut and dark cocoa, some dark blackberry peeking through with a fresh, buttery quality in taste and mouthfeel. The finish has a chocolate bittersweetness that pleasantly lingers. Aromatics will really develop at 72+ hours after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. As Single Origin (SO) espresso, it is very dense: similar to 70% bittersweet chocolate.

A Duo of New Brazilians

July 20, 2015

Brazil Araponga -Fazenda Serra do Bone - offers the sweetness of light brown sugar that is countered by the pleasant bittering flavor of cocoa nibs. The orange-like brightness is just a footnote to these powerful roast flavors, forming a classic Brazilian taste profile. Rustic sweetness intensifies as the cup cools. This is a nice selection for Single Origin espresso shots as well.

Brazil Dry-Process Fazenda Cachoeira Alta - The brewed coffee has a heavy body, and this viscous nature adds heft to sweet fruit notes throughout the cooling cup. It's a rustic coffee, with much in the way pectin sugar and fruited notes with date sugar, dried pineapple, dried fig, and dark plum. It's a complex cup, and refined one too, putting this Brazil into a league of it's own. We recommend City+ roasts will cup great and roasting darker than Full City will work great as an S.O. espresso.