July - Aug 2004: Can Aussies Grow Coffees?, Cup of Excellence Coffees En Route

July -  Aug 2004: Can Aussies Grow Coffees?, Cup of Excellence Coffees En Route

Can Aussies Grow Coffees?
I have cupped Australian coffees for several years now, and consistently rejected them. They just seemed like over-priced, low-grown novelty items … and the fact they are from industrialized (mechanically-harvested) farms did not add to their charm. I was familiar with the Skybury farm, but had never heard of Mountain Top estate in the Southern region of New South Wales. The green sample didn’t speak of immanent cup quality. It was graded as XF, Extra Fancy, pretentiously adopting the Hawaiian grading system. It certainly didn’t look like it – I spotted a broken bean and some odd, waxy, spotted-looking seeds. But I have learned not to judge green coffee too sternly (to be an “eye-cupper”), rather just to make note of green defects and judge coffee by the cup quality. That’s where I received my first surprise. The aroma was so sweet, mildly floral, clean. And all those qualities transferred into the cup flavors perfectly, an almost transparent clarity in the sweetness, light body. Overall it is not a powerhouse coffee, but a delicate, simple and delicious cup. Later I learned that this coffee has great espresso potential; it was the coffee used by the winning entrant in the World Barista Championship this year! So I am off to roast a tad darker, to a Full City +, and find out what a Mountain Top espresso is all about.

Cup of Excellence Coffees En Route
They are not on our offer list yet, but quite a few Auction Lot coffees are coming from Central America. The auctions have already taken place at this writing and Sweet Maria’s was bidding early and often. Since I was on the jury for the El Salvador and Nicaragua Cup of Excellence (CoE) competitions, I had an early chance to evaluate these coffees. If you are not familiar with these auctions, there is just one held for each country, and they involve a long, laborious process.

Most national competitions start with 400 or more farms competing, sometimes as many as 600-800! It is free for the farms to enter their samples and compete. The National Jury has the daunting task of cupping for defects, and removing average coffees. They spend several weeks at the task, and prepare a set of 60-80 potentially “excellent” coffees for the International Jury. The later is comprised of folks in the coffee trade from all corners of the world, and we come in for one week to cup and re-cup the coffees in a three-round elimination process, which results in around 30 top coffees being offered several weeks later in the internet auction. So that is 30 coffees pared down from 400+!

We competed for 3 lots in the El Salvador CoE; one is a very high grown Bourbon Arabica coffee from the San Jose Estate owned by Mauricio Ruffatti. The two others are the cultivar Pacamara, a cross between the Pacas and “giant bean” Maragogype” varietals. These are coffees with very extreme cup character, and when they are grown at good altitude and processed with care, can be fantastic. One of these is a Pacamara Peaberry (!) grown at Finca Montecarlos Tablon, a volcanic cone with active thermal vents in the area. The other is La Montanita from the farm of Antonio Rene Aguilar.
We went after 2 lots in the Best of Panama competition, including the number one coffee that had a very unique cup profile, partly due to the Ethiopian cultivar seedstock. In the end, the competition for this coffee was fierce, driving it to a record high for any coffee sold in an auction, ever! We compromised and formed an alliance with a group of roasters who all wanted the 7 bag lot, and each of us will get one bag of this exquisite coffee, called Jaramillo from Finca Esmeralda in the Boquete region. On the second place coffee, we bid in concert with Stumptown Coffee of Portland for the coffee called Leru, a bright and balanced cup that will be sold at a price much less extreme than the Jaramillo. These Best of Panama coffees are going to arrive within 2 weeks, whereas the Salvadorian coffees will take longer.

We won 2 lots in the Nicaragua CoE, the number eight coffee and the number fourteen coffee. You can’t place too much importance on the particular ranking; these are all exceptional coffees and in fact the #14 sold for more than the #8. The later is a Jinotega coffee from Finca El Regreso owned by Bernabe Garcia. I loved this cup because of its understated sweetness – not the most acidic or unusual coffee in the top 10, but in my mind the most complex and seductive. The number 14 coffee is one of many winning farms that came from the Prodecoop mill, a name you will recognize if you have bought Organic Nicaragua coffees from Sweet Maria’s for the past few years. This lot is from the Madriz area, and is Organic and Fair Trade certified. In a sense this is ironic, because these competitions and the subsequent auctions directly benefit the farmer to the amount of 90% of the auction proceeds: it is a very efficient system without much overhead or administrative costs and nets the farmer much higher prices than Organic and/ or Fair Trade certification.
(Not be forgotten is the Honduran CoE which is yet to happen at this writing. Expect to see our name in the bidding there too.)

The New Hearthware i-Roast
The I-Roast has quickly become our most popular roaster, and rightly so; it roasts twice the amount as the previous model, and features a user-controllable 3 stage heating “program.” While some of the control functions (especially the onboard thermometer readings) leave something to be desired, this is a breakthrough roaster. It roasts evenly, and allows you to ramp up heat applied to the coffee early in
the roast to improve the balance and body of the cup and reduce astringency (even professional air roasters don’t do this). I think the frustrating aspects of i-Roast ownership are really worth it in the end, and I now use it for all my sample roasting (which averages 8-10 batches a day!)
–Tom

Sweet Maria’s Coffee
1455 64th Street, Emeryville CA 94608
web: www.sweetmarias.com
email: info@sweetmarias.com
Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee Offering List on July 1, 2004.
Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu -Conquistador $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Costa Rica Tres Rios -La Magnolia $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Costa Rica La Minita Tarrazu $6.80 $12.92 $30.26 $108.80
Costa Rica Tarrazu Peaberry -SM Select $5.90 $11.21 $25.67 $90.86
Guatemala "La Flor Del Café" Antigua $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Guatemala Antigua -Los Pastores $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Guatemala Fraijanes -Palo Alto Azul $4.55 $8.65 $19.79 $70.07
Guatemala Huehuetenango -Huixoc 6468 $4.55 $8.65 $19.79 $70.07
Honduras Organic Marcala SHG $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Mexico Oaxaca "Pluma Hidalgo" $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Mexico Org/FT Oaxaca Pluma $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Nicaragua Matagalapa Maragogype $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Nicaragua Organic/FT Segovia $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Panama -Hartmann Estate "Songbird" $4.75 $9.03 $20.66 $73.15
Panama Boquete -Lerida Estate $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Bolivia Organic Cenaproc Co-op $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Bolivia Fair Trade "de Montana" $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Brazil Cup of Excellence Laranja-Cravo $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24
Brazil Fazenda Ipanema "Dulce" $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Brazil Matas de Minas -Fazenda Brauna $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Brazil Sul de Minas - Carmo Estate $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Brazil Organic/FT Poco Fundo $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Colombian Huila "Mercedes Supremo" $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Colombian Narino del Abuelo $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Colombian Huila - La Florencia $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Colombian Popayan Supremo "Caucano" $4.65 $8.84 $20.23 $71.61
Ecuador EScafe Co-op $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Peru Organic/Fair Trade Ccochapampa $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Ethiopian Ghimbi Lot 5025 $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Ethiopian Harar -Lot 6979 "Horse" $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe -Lot 7449 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Kenya AA Auction Lot 633-Karugwa $5.70 $10.83 $24.80 $87.78
Kenya Auction Lot 624-Kora Peaberry $5.90 $11.21 $25.67 $90.86
Kenya AA Auction Lot 499-Mweiga $5.90 $11.21 $25.67 $90.86
Kenya Auction Lot -Tegu Peaberry $5.90 $11.21 $25.67 $90.86
Rwanda Masaka "Seven Lakes" $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Tanzania AA Songea Flatbean $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Uganda AA Bugisu $4.30 $8.17 $18.71 $66.22
Uganda Organic Bugisu - Sipi Falls $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Yemen Mokha Ismaili (Hirazi) $7.80 $14.82 $36.27 $124.80
Yemen Mokha Mattari $7.10 $13.49 $33.02 $113.60
Zimbabwe AA Salimba Estate $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Indian Monsooned Malabar Coehlo's Gold $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Indian Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Papua New Guinea - Kimel $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Sulawesi Toraja Grade One $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Aged Sumatra Lintong $5.80 $11.02 $25.23 $89.32
Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
Sumatra Mandheling '04 - Lot 6854 $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Sumatra Organic Gr. 1 Gayo Mountain $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Timor Organic/FT Maubesse $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Australia Mountain Top Estate XF $8.10 $15.55 $37.67 5 lb limit
Hawaii Kona -Honaunau Peaberry $15.40 $29.57 $71.61 5 lb limit
Jamaica Blue Mountain - Mavis Bank $19.40 $37.25 $90.21 5 lb limit
Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto AA $9.70 $18.62 $45.11 $161.02
SM's Moka Kadir Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24
SM's Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
SM's Classic Italian Espresso Blend $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
SM's Decaf Espresso Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24
SM's Liquid Amber Espresso Blend $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
SM's French Roast Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
SM's Roasted French Chicory $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
African Highland WP Decaf Blend $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Brazil Prima Qualita WP Decaf $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Colombian Excelso Medellin WP Decaf $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Colombian Huila Natural Decaf $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Costa Rican El Sol WP Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe WP Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Guatemala Huehuetenango WP Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Indonesian Organic SWP Komodo Blend $5.70 $10.83 $24.80 $87.78
Kenya AA WP Decaf $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76
Mexican Organic/Fair Trade WP Decaf $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Nicaragua Jalapa SHG WP Decaf $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Panama WP Decaf -Panamaria Estate $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Sumatra WP Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Indian Organic Washed Robusta $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Uganda Robusta -Esco Farms 18+ $4.00 $7.60 $17.40 $61.60
Ugh! (The Coffee) $0.70 1 lb limit

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