Sweet Maria's Weblog

The Goal

August 27, 2015

We have a new architecture underlying the commerce side of our web site. It's been a retrograde step in terms of front-end features (and back-end too), but it's been a necessary step to get to where we want to go. I wrote  a long, phlegmatic blog post with a very selective history of our shopping carts, and expressing current frustrations from our end (which I know echo frustrations of those using our cart now). A scintillating read. But on the more positive side, I wanted to share some mockup images of what we are developing for the site now. These are my crude photoshop mockups, so don't look too, too carefully. But they sketch out the features we are aiming for. We should some of these features available first week of September.

Green Coffee List


The SM Web Site Saga by T.O.

August 27, 2015

I wanted to share ideas about the future of our Green Coffee List and our Reviews, so click here to jump down the page if you want to skip all my phlegmatic ramblings and see the mockup images that envision our future Green Coffee List. -Tom

(The SM website banner circa 2006)

The Backdrop

I'm not going to be opaque here ... things have been rough on us the last few months.  It has led me to some reflection about 17 years of Sweet Maria's. Please excuse my candor; my style is not the usual press-release pablum.

The web has changed so much since those days when I used a text editor to write basic html and upload the first Sweet Maria's site. That was late 1997, not the early internet by any means, but also not the fancy graphicized browsing experience of 2010 nor the mobile-centric internet of today. 

I reluctantly signed on to a basic shopping cart (Miva Merchant - it still exists!) in 2000 or so, because I just couldn't handle phone and fax orders at that point. And my "secure order form" that was called up by https but sent an unencrypted email (!) wasn't really up to snuff. But in 2000, it wasn't a big issue. These days, both the security requirements and the demand for features is way beyond any of my simple abilities. I'm just a user, I left the room at Dreamweaver 8.0 

Even then, and more-so now, our site is a lumbering behemoth. There are many thousands of unique pages, so many old articles (many still worth preserving, some outdated), thousands of archived reviews, old travelogues, all these are tremendously important to me. Yes, we were always a store too. But shopping wasn't the only activity I was aiming at with this endeavor.  I wanted Sweet Maria's to be a lot more because my focus was and is much more: I wanted Sweet Maria's to reflect myself and my interests in coffee, in culture, and in a broadening understanding of both. 

Sadly, a lot of people are going to be so frustrated trying to find all that content, or to place an order in a reasonable amount of time, that they aren't going to have the patience to share that vision. It's an overreaction I know, but my feeling the last months has been that Sweet Maria's sucks, because our site sucks, and the site is basically our connection with our audience. That hasn't stopped me from my job sourcing coffee, from traveling, making videos and podcasts etc. But it's been a pall...

A New Sample Set & Three New Coffees

August 21, 2015
Single Origin Sample Set: Ethiopia 8-Pack - An 8 lb pack of our current single origin coffees from Ethiopia with a small discount. These are 88 to 93 point coffees, dry and wet processed, a sampler skewed toward the mind-blowing side of the coffee tasting spectrum.
Hawaii Ka'anapali Maui Mokha - Mild acidity, sweet-grain and fruit flavors, and nice body. Rustic dark honey and raisin bran cereal flavors, along with a dusting of cocoa comes out in the darker roast levels. We have a limited supply so orders are limited to 1 and 2lb bags.
Honduras Belen de Ocotepeque -Don Vasquez - boasts a thick, honeyed sweetness, followed by cherry and apricot top notes, and fresh, herbaceous hints. The mouthfeel is very syrupy lending to the lasting bittersweetness that fills out the finish.
Sulawesi Bone-Bone Village - has a  fruit-forward profile, combined with rustic, syrupy sweetness, and thick body. The profile is complex; herbal notes, layers of raw sugars, and ripe tropicals. An impressive Sulawesi cup, with a lasting, slow-disappearing finish.


Five New Coffees

August 19, 2015

Sweet Maria's Liquid Amber Espresso Blend - A potent, pungent blend for espresso beverages. It's ideal for milk drinks, as this intense bittersweet cuts through the steamed milk. Rustic sweetness, spice, savory notes, long aftertaste. Monsooned coffee and a small percentage of Robusta add crema and body. Vienna roast.

Colombia Huila -Caficultor Perfil - a nice blend of unrefined sugar and honeyed sweetness, along with dashes of raisin and dried cherry. An illuminating tartaric acidity highlights the cup, and middle roasts develop lasting chocolate bittersweetness. Good for espresso.

Ethiopia Agaro -Nano Challa Cooperative - beautiful cup characteristics with white honey sweetness, mild fruit and floral notes, with ginger snap cookie in the finish. An extremely clean cup-profile, and lighter mouthfeel suits the slight effervescence. Good for espresso.

Kenya Kirinyaga Kamwangi AA -fruited and clean, with a nice pointed finish. Stone fruit and citrus juice flavors come through, with a refined cane-sugar sweetness. A nice bittering aspect comes through in the finish (like pulpy orange juice or peach skin) with an Earl Grey tea note.

Guatemala Antigua Buena Vista Farm - incredible balance between candy-like sweetness, and bittering cocoa tones. Notes of vanilla, praline, apple, and almond are propped up by structured malic acidity. Good for espresso.

Fresh Roasted Coffee

August 19, 2015

Roasted on 8/18, this week's coffee is all bagged up and ready to ship. Here's four roasted coffees you shouldn't miss out on.

Nicaragua Acopio Suyatal - This is a great every day, "drinking" coffee that has balanced notes of cocoa, roasted nut and malt sugar. Roasted to Full City.

Colombia Inza De Cauca - has a wonderful combo of convincing fruit flavors and acidity, along with central characteristics of burned sugars and fine dark chocolate. Roasted to City+.

Sweet Maria's Espresso Monkey Blend - A very popular coffee that has flavors of chocolate, dark fruit, licorice, a full body and long aftertaste. Roasted to Full City.

Moka Kadir Espresso Blend - This is another coffee that sells out very fast and has flavors of dried apricot, plum, tobacco, layered chocolate and a dense, thick body. Roasted to Full City.