Latest Posts

  1. The Return of our Limited Edition Holiday Blend

    The Return of our Limited Edition Holiday Blend

    Check out our brew assessment of our limited edition Polar Expresso Holiday Blend. Made up of all washed African coffees, how could you go wrong?

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  2. The Return of Ethiopiques

    The Return of Ethiopiques

    Along with the slew of incoming fresh Ethiopian coffee comes the return of our always popular Ethiopiques blend.

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  3. A Pair of Ethiopias, Cold Brewed with a Bruer.

    A Pair of Ethiopias, Cold Brewed with a Bruer.

    Cold brew coffee can have more tastes than just caramel and chocolate.

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  4. Burundi + Rwanda Coffee Tasting

    Burundi + Rwanda Coffee Tasting

    Another great event at our warehouse on 9/27

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  5. Video: Coffee Leaf Tea - ቁጢ , Kuti, Keti, Koti

    Video: Coffee Leaf Tea - ቁጢ , Kuti, Keti, Koti

    Brewing coffee leaf tea

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  6. All About Coffee Brewing

    All About Coffee Brewing

    Sign up for our coffee brewing crash course

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  7. Espresso Basics & More

    Espresso Basics & More

    Sign up for our espresso basics class

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  8. Coffee Tasting At Sweet Maria's - Feb. 28th

    Coffee Tasting At Sweet Maria's - Feb. 28th

    Sign up and taste the difference between coffees roasted in different machines

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  9. Coffee Tasting at Sweet Maria's - Nov. 16th

    Coffee Tasting at Sweet Maria's - Nov. 16th

    Sign up for our upcoming tasting event.

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  10. What The He — Is Jasmine?

    What The He — Is Jasmine?

    So, what is the taste and smell of jasmine? Yirgacheffes often have the most clear-cut jasmine notes of any coffee, but...

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  11. Bright Coffee

    Bright Coffee

    Here's a few coffees with exciting, snappy, zingy, citrusy, tart, vibrant notes

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  12. Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate...

    Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate...

    A few coffees where chocolate notes take the spotlight.

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Fruit or Ferment?

Fruit or Ferment?

I thought I had a good idea of what a fermented taint was but with discussions here and some of Tom's latest coffee descriptions I am just confused now. So the question is: when does Intense Fruit cross the line into a Fermented Taint? Thanks, David

Not an easy question, and exactly the point of offering these 2 coffees that push that limit: Ethiopia FTO Lekempti Dry Process and (to a much lesser extent) Juan Francisco El Salvador. Partly, it is subjective ... on the other hand, a truly fermenty coffee will fade within a few months, and just taste dirty. I just cupped a Sumatra today that is another "challenging" cup profile in the same way; very fruity, but remaining more on the clean side (when I taste mustiness or mold, that IS, by all standards, over the line). Take this same debate over into the realm of food and you find a lot of parallels. For me, the analogy is between very refined food (for example, white sugar sweetness) versus more "natural" food (for example, raw unfiltered honey, sorghum syrup, unsulphered blackstrap mollases). The later contain sweetness with other flavors many would consider earthy, herbal, groundy, vegetal, woody, etc.

Now, I don't know where the line is between them: I don't want to subsist on a diet that tastes like fungus and rotting wood, but I also don't want to have a sanitized, boring diet of clean-flavored, homogenized food. The same goes for coffee. There are coffee cuppers who reject even the slightest suggestion of unorthodoxy, of the unexpected, in their coffee. Seriously, it is true ... they want "clean, sweet, floral, citric, slight chocolate note" every time. Even flavors like nuts, cedar, and spice can cause them to suspect a coffee of uncleanliness. Most on the other extreme (in my experience) accept really marginal flavors because they roast coffee heavily ... "west coast roast" types who can't live without DP Ethiopias and DP Sumatras.

My opinion: we should try to be flexible, and open to new tastes. We want coffee with character, something surprising ... but not a coffee that can't be stored for 6 months green and still cup with the same quality. That IS important. But in general, the question you raise is something that is open-ended and should always be a matter for debate. And in a way it is good that cuppers don't agree on this; just another way the coffee trade is heterogeneous; that we don't all offer the same thing because we don't agree! -Tom