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Australia

Australian Mountain Top Peaberry
Country: Australia Grade: Peaberry Region: New South Wales Mark: Mountain Top Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: September 2005 Arrival
(2004-2005 crop)
Appearance: Peabery 16+ Screen Varietal: Bourbon-derived hybrid
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Mountain Top is a farm in SE Australia, about 2 hours south of Brisbane and 5 minutes west of Nimbin. This selected area is unique because of the altitude and unique volcanic red soils. The farm itself is on the slopes of the extinct volcano, Mt. Warning. The area is a lush, subtropical environment, and is unique in coffee since this is the southernmost growing area I am aware of. It's also unique in that this growing area is quite distant from where most Aussie coffees come from, at least the Skybury from Mareeba in the north, which is a fully mechanized farm akin to Kauai coffee. And this is the first time we have bought an Aussie coffee, after years of evaluating Skybury samples and finding the flavors to be somewhere between copy paper and plastic wrappers, this is such a relief. Now, for the preparation; it is a little embarassing to call this Extra Fancy because compared to a really nice Kona XF, the green coffee is not much to look at. It has a peculiar rounded form which is somewhat like Bourbon cultivar, and somewhat like Mundo Novo.My 300 gram sample has one broken bean, and a couple other oddities that won't affect the cup but make it seem that XF grade is a stretch. Nonetheless, we are not "eye-cuppers" here - we don't judge coffee by making pronouncements about the green appearance, since many perfectly prepared green coffees cup like cardboard. Now the cup ... the best part ... The cup is crisp and light-bodied. It's an odd term but very appropriate here: juicy! This cup is very juicy and has a very nice sweetness to it that is almost like pine sap, sharp sweet. In a way, it shares some cup qualities with Isle of Saint Helena coffees; the body is thin and their is this sweet clarity in the cup. How many times can I use the word "sweet" in describing this coffee? It would be a great training tool to show people what "sweet" coffee is... and it has brightness, something I have never truly experienced in an Aussie coffee. Overall, the flavors exist in a compact range, and the sweet aftertaste seems to linger for an appropriate amount of time given the lighter body. PEABERRY UPDATE: We received a late crop shipment of Austrailan Mountain Top Estate Peaberry on October 1 2005. It is a later shipment than the flatbean, and has a unique cup character (more Indonesian-like than the flat bean. I think it makes a really great single-origin, single-Estate espresso too (FC+ to light Vienna roast ). I wasn't bowled over with the preparation of the green coffee, but I let the cup do the talking and it was really nice. Expect a little more character in the espresso shot for this cup, and I actually prefered a slightly shorter pull (18 to 10 seconds) . Anyway, this is a unique lot, the only Mountain Top PB in the US.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / crisp, sweet, light-bodied cup
add 50 50 Roast: I like true Full City, just before 2nd crack. Even a bit into 2nd is nice - at this stage it is more bittersweet than sweet. I also notice that, with rest of several days, the body is much greater than I score here in the review.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Compare to: Island coffee qualities in some regards, a sweet and straightforward cup that is, nonetheless, quite incomparabale.

Australian Mountain Top XF
Country: Australia Grade: XF -Extra Fancy Region: New South Wales Mark: Mountain Top Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: April 2005 Arrival Appearance: .7 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Bourbon-derived hybrid
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: Mountain Top is a farm in SE Australia, about 2 hours south of Brisbane and 5 minutes west of Nimbin. This selected area is unique because of the altitude and unique volcanic red soils. The farm itself is on the slopes of the extinct volcano, Mt. Warning. The area is a lush, subtropical environment, and is unique in coffee since this is the southernmost growing area I am aware of. It's also unique in that this growing area is quite distant from where most Aussie coffees come from, at least the Skybury from Mareeba in the north, which is a fully mechanized farm akin to Kauai coffee. And this is the first time we have bought an Aussie coffee, after years of evaluating Skybury samples and finding the flavors to be somewhere between copy paper and plastic wrappers, this is such a relief. Now, for the preparation; it is a little embarassing to call this Extra Fancy because compared to a really nice Kona XF, the green coffee is not much to look at. It has a peculiar rounded form which is somewhat like Bourbon cultivar, and somewhat like Mundo Novo.My 300 gram sample has one broken bean, and a couple other oddities that won't affect the cup but make it seem that XF grade is a stretch. Nonetheless, we are not "eye-cuppers" here - we don't judge coffee by making pronouncements about the green appearance, since many perfectly prepared green coffees cup like cardboard. Now the cup ... the best part ... The cup is crisp and light-bodied. It's an odd term but very appropriate here: juicy! This cup is very juicy and has a very nice sweetness to it that is almost like pine sap, sharp sweet. In a way, it shares some cup qualities with Isle of Saint Helena coffees; the body is thin and their is this sweet clarity in the cup. How many times can I use the word "sweet" in describing this coffee? It would be a great training tool to show people what "sweet" coffee is... and it has brightness, something I have never truly experienced in an Aussie coffee. Overall, the flavors exist in a compact range, and the sweet aftertaste seems to linger for an appropriate amount of time given the lighter body. We will have a limited amount of Mountain Top this year and when this arrival is gone, that's it!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / crisp, sweet, light-bodied cup
add 50 50 Roast: I like true Full City, just before 2nd crack. Even a bit into 2nd is nice - at this stage it is more bittersweet than sweet. I also notice that, with rest of several days, the body is much greater than I score here in the review.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: Island coffee qualities in some regards, a sweet and straightforward cup that is, nonetheless, quite incomparabale.

Bali 

See the 2003-2004 Archive. 2005 Bali shipments to this point have not had good cup character.

Bolivia 

Bolivia Organic Peaberry "De Montaña"
Country: Bolivia Grade: SHG Region: Yungas Region, Central Cordillera Mark: Cert. Organic
Cenaproc Co-op "de Montana"
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Jan 2006 arrival Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, Peaberry screen Varietal: All Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: The Cenaproc Co-op has been doing such a good job with their coffees that it's almost unfair. They won the #1 spot in the Bolivian Coffee Competition in 2003 and 2004, and had multiple other lots in the Top 10. This co-op knows what they're doing, and while different lots have different cup characters (because they originate on the small farms of different coop members), the Cenaproc mill has nailed down the processing and preparation to maximize the cup quality for all their coffees. the "de Montaña" mark is simply their best Strictly High Grown coffees, and this peaberry lot was one of the few from the mill this year. In fact, we bought the whole thing in advance based on how well it has cupped in years past, and the arrival of the coffee more than fulfilled my hopes for it. For me, a great Bolivia is not a powerhouse coffee, it's a fragile, fragrant cup that deserves the tasters attention. The fragrance here is is sweet, but fairly mild at the City roast and FC roast I cupped. Wetting the grinds produces a delicate, temporary aroma, black tea-like with apple blossom accents to it! When the crust is broken (in the cupping process) a clear but fleeting floral fragrance escapes - just fantastic! These are the little things that make a coffee so seductive, even if they are so momentary. The cup has light body (matching light intensity cup character overall) and caramelly sweetness, and very floral character. Drinking a cup of flowers, a floral infusion ... that's what tasting this Bolivia is akin to. Now, if you want to roast this to Full City, or Full City +, you are going to get a darker, fruitier character from the cup. And I won't disuade you because this peaberry can accept a wide range of roasts and do well. I did not try a Vienna yet, but I do not doubt it will be quite good; very high grown, dense coffee seeds can tolerate the abuse. But for me, this is a City to City+ coffee at it's peak; light, crisp, crystal clear. If you get an off note here, clean your brewer!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Aromatics, clean fruits
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + roast is my recommendation … you don't want to burden the sweetness and floral notes with dark roast notes. Then again, it is a forgiving coffee and Dark roasts work well too.
Score (Max. 100) 86.8 Compare to: A very Bolivian cup profile: light, sweet, floral, clean

Bolivia CoE 1st Place Lot - Calama Marca

A very, very limited offering ... The first place coffee from the Bolivia Cup of Excellence competition. Limit 1 lb per person. We divided this lot among a group of small roasters from Japan and the US, operating under the name of the Small Axe Co-op! Basically, each member got 1 bag of this expensive coffee. The winning farm was Calama Marca owned by Juan de Dios Blanco, with an International jury score of 93.52. This coffee is grown at 1200 meters, and is 100% Typica cultivar. The farm is very small; 11 hectares total. Here are some comments from Mr Blanco:

"I could not participate last year because I did not have the possibilities, and looking at my other partners participate was of encouragement for me to present my coffee sample which has improved since we have improved the harvest handling conditions; we have improved the post-harvest, drying and all that."

"And, well, now I am surprised ! I never thought of winning the first place, and that is why I tell to all my producer companions to never give up and that with a good work with love and dedication you can get a good result. I come from the Sajama Province of the Department of Oruro, I have lived here for more than 20 years and I have 4 children; 3 of them in school. The oldest is 15 years old. All of my children help me to pre-select, but it is my wife who sacrifices the most; she told me that it is the fruit of my work; she is the one that deserves the award. It was a dream for my family to participate, as well as for me, and at the end a very big surprise."

"I am planning on investing in the best possible way the money that comes to me from the sale of my coffee, specially to improve my family's livelihood, support more in my children's education as well as making some improvements in my household, I am also thinking of helping and assisting other farmers and showing them how to produce a better quality coffee." All of us, not only the coffee growers, must focus ourselves to work. Our leaders are too demagogic, they only oppose themselves; we can only achieve a greater success for Bolivia through work."

Cupping Comments: At City+ roast; sweet caramel fragrance, fruited hints; wet aromatics are very lively, with intense floral character, and sweet enough to make a cupper's mouth water!; the cup is delicate but complex with sweetly citric orange hints; the aftertaste is the same story, with an interesting relationship between sweetness, floral and citric aspects, and chocolate tang. Overall, the body is medium to light, and the cup is not super intense. I can only put it like this: these cup flavors do not come out and club you over the head screaming "notice me!" ... it kindly invites your exploration and interpretation.

 

Bolivia Organic Cenaproc Co-op "Peaberry"
Country: Bolivia Grade: SHG Region: Yungas Region, Central Mtn. Range Mark: Cert. Organic, Cenaproc Co-op
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2005 arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 50% Peaberry, 50% 16 screen blend Varietal: All Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: This lot of coffee has a unique story behind it. It is from the Co-op that won the #1 spot in the Bolivian Coffee Competition in 2003. But just a week after we left the country, there was basically a coup and the president resigned amidst rumblings from the rural regions of Bolivia who believed he was selling out the country to foreign energy interests. In the meantime, there was a lot of uncertainty and perhaps jealousy against established organizations ...and perhaps Cenaproc co-op, having won the #1 spot for two years in a row, were a target. The Co-op's president decided to go into hiding, and since the coffee lot we had hoped to buy was almost ready for export, it too went into hiding! Well, that was last year and in the first Bolivia Cup of Excellence Competition it was Cenaproc lots that dominated the top 10. This co-op knows what they're doing, and while different lots have different cup characters (because they originate on the small farms of different coop members), the Cenaproc mill has nailed down the processing and preparation to maximize the cup quality for all their coffees. I cupped some earlier Cenaproc arrivals that were nice, but a bit underacheiveing - this lot is what I expect from a really good Bolivian coffee though. The cup has sweet, clean aromatics laced with a sharp spiciness. I am initially impressed with the caramelly sweetness in the cup, but as it cools there are berry notes that emerge. And I like it at a darker roast when the darker fruits emerge (raisin, prune), This cup profile is an excellent option for those who like Central American coffees, but want to try something new. Like last year I added a 1 cuppers correction, because the lighter City roasts in particular are so impressive. We brewed this coffee in the shop and people could not decide if it was a really bright Huehuetenango or perhaps even a Ethiopian Yirgacheffe! The higher tones in the cup are that distinct! This lot is supposed to be peaberry, but in fact it is about 50% peaberry and 50% small flatbean. Well, the shape of the seed doesn't mean anything when it is roasted, ground and brewed, so I went ahead and cupped this lot out against the the other Bolivias we have offered and found it brighter, with a slight winey quality to the acidity - I liked it! So I put the "Peaberry" in quotes in the name.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: City + roast is best I think… you don't want to burden the sweetness and fruit notes with bitter roast notes. Dark roasts work well too.
add 50 50 Compare to: A very Bolivian cup profile: light, sweet, fruited, clean
Score (Max. 100) 86.8 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Aromatics, clean fruits

Brazil 

Brazil Organic Camocim -Pure Bourbon
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Pedra Azul, Espirito Santo Mark: Camocim Estate, Organic Cert.
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: May 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon (Yellow)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: If you read the Moka (Peaberry) review, I might be repeating part of this farm information: Camocim is an organic certified farm of some note in Brazil; every farmer I speak with from Cerrado to Sul de Minas knows of it, and their production is much sought-after. Camocim Farm is in Espirito Santo, a coastal state north of Rio and to the west of Minas Gerais. Camocim is a true Estate coffee that turned to organic production in 1999 under the ownership of Henrique Sloper Araujo. But the diverse environmental character of the farm, it's garden-like appearance, dates to the original owner in the '60s who planted exotic Pinus and Eucalyptus varieties, as well as Jacaranda. The farm is situated at 1100 meters and is near the famous Pedra Azul (Blue Mountain) monolith, a well-known land feature in Espirito Santo. Camocim coffee is unique in the processing too; they use no water in peeling the skin off the cherry, nor it removing the fruity mucilage from the parchment layer that coats the green bean. Once it is dried, they allow the coffee to "rest" (reposo) for 3 months, much longer than the average 20-30 days at most farms. The result can be seen in the green coffee: a variegated and ruddy appearance that might, to the neophyte, seem like a mark of low quality. It's not. In fact, we are paying a big premium for these coffees, partly for that extra restin g process that results in this odd, variegated appearance to the green coffee! This farm grows many cultivars, but this year we asked them to separate a small, pure-Bourbon lot for us. Bourbon is one of the most traditional arabica cultivars named after the isle of Bourbon (now Reunion) and know for high bean density and good roast characteristics. The trees produce less, which theoretically concentrates more positive flavor compounds into the fruit, into the green seed. This lot has a dynamic cup, brighter than the Moka or Jacu coffees. (In fact, it seemed as bright and vivid as a table of high grown El Salvador coffees I cupped alongside it - not many Brazils would hold up to that feat.) The dry grounds have that character I always look for: sweetness, in this case an almost buttery type. Add water and there is a clear floral-herbal scent: jasmine, sage blossom, and a malty sweetness. In the cup, the body and sweetness are at the forefront, with the sage flower aromatics come through as a secondary attribute in the finish. (Around now, any cupper would be convinced that the ruddy look of the green coffee was completely counter to the great cup quality). As the coffee cools, a honey graham cracker flavor comes to the foreground, and mild orangey notes can be detected.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity (brewed) / Brightness, sweetness, jasmine and sage
add 50 50 Roast: For brewed coffee I have best results at City + roast, for espresso a FC+ roast
Score (Max. 100) 87.9 Compare to: A refined, brighter cup than many Brazils. Please Note: This coffee has a very ruddy appearance due to the special "resting period" of the coffee in parchment.

Brazil Fazenda Boa Sorte Natural Bourbon
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Campos Altos,
Minas Gerais
Mark: Boa Sorte Estate,
Processing: Dry-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Red Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Boa Sorte is a small coffee farm (fazenda) in south Minas Gerais state. I visited there a while ago and checked out the samples last year, but felt there were some improvements to make in the coffee and the processing. It is owned by a young couple, Bethania and Junior, and they have a lot of enthusiasm for improving the farm. It has good altitude for the region of Campos Altos, 1050 meters. They made improvements to their mill, sorting, and drying, and it really shows this year. What we have here is a separation of their 100% Bourbon cultivar trees (Bourbon, the traditional seedstock that was the first brought to the Americas from the East, originating on the Island of Bourbon, now known as Reunion). This is also traditional in another way: patio-dry-process coffee. In this, the whole cherry, picked red and fresh from the tree, is promptly laid out to dry on special patios at the mill. The result is heavy body, low acidity, fruited tones in the cup. It's a rustic profile overall: The lighter City roast has sweet, rustic fruity fragrance from the dry grounds nut hints, papaya, very winey fruit aroma. It seems like it might go over the edge, , become overly fruity, but doesn’t. There are suggestions of cardomom and fresh ginger. With a bit more roast there is a heavy, rustic chocolate aromatic with winey tones (think Scharffen-berger chocolate); totally different than City roast but not unexpected at all. Perhaps the FC+ roast is more what people expect from a true natural dry-process Brazil, and why it forms such a good espresso component, especially for the darker Southern Italian style espresso.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Chocolate, fruit, wineyness  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City++
Score (Max. 100) 86.8 Compare to: Traditional natural dry-process Brazil, and Bourbon to boot!

Brazil Flatbean -Brauna Estate
Country: Brazil Grade: Region: Araponga, Matas de Minas
(Minas Gerais)
Mark: Fazenda Brauna
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: November 2006 arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, Peaberry 16+ Screen Varietal: Catuai, Bourbon, Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

11/10/06: We previously had a peaberry of this same coffee. This shipment is flatbean - cup is virtually the same so the review remains unchanged. Notes: This coffee placed high in the Brazil Cup of Excellence competition in 2004 and I wasn't sure if it would still be available after that. (It was No. 2 in the general competition and No.10 overall ... that's from over 900 samples submitted! It fell just below the 90 threshold to join 8 other coffees for a special distinction.) Luckily, I have a friend in the Brazilian trade who looks out for us, and that's the only way I could get this coffee. The farm has been owned for years by the Schmölz family, who overseas all the production and milling of the coffee on the farm. This lot is Catuai and Bourbon, and it is a Brazil Specialty Coffee Assoc. certified lot. That means I can punch in the certificate number to the BSCA web site and view the varietal information and grading ratings for this specific lot - very cool! Pulped Natural coffees are prepared by the fairly recent demucilage system created in Brazil. Ripe cherries are pulped but the mucilage (fruity layer under with outer peel) is not removed. Parchment coffee (green coffee in the outer parchment shell) dries in contact with the sugar-rich mucilage which transfers natural sweetness to the beans and preserves the full body typical of the best Brazilian coffees. Illycafe has been using Pulped Naturals as a part of espresso blends for years now, in combination with other Brazils. In brazil these are called CD coffees which means Cereja Descascada, or basically "Washed Cherry". I spoke with Joao who works at the farm and he tells me that the experiments with other process methods on the Brauna farm were just not a good match for this coffee in terms of cup results (and with their 10th place prize I am sure he is right). You can use the Brauna as a small percentage of espresso blends ... I don't want to use too much because this coffee is a bit brighter than other Brazils, or you can adjust the roast (a slower drum roast) and get a great 100% Brauna espresso. It is a fine single origin Brazil for drip/French press . The cup has sweet aromatics, almost a malty-sweet scent that follows through into the cup flavors. I get a cinnamon spice in the wet aroma too. The cup has a mild sweet orange brightness (and acidity rare in other Brasilian coffee but an intrinsic quality for coffees from the Araponga region of Matas de Minas). For me, this is one of the nicest straight-roast Brazils...


Joao and Afonse (pictured) run the farm, and their sister Marta does the books. A true family business. See my 2005 Brazil travelogue for more about Brauna

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Simple pleasant cup with nuttiness
add 50 50 Roast: See notes above: In general Full City is best for Brazils in terms of nutty-chocolate-sweetness, and you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast). I like this a tad lighter, at City +, because it has a nice sweet orange aspect at that roast.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils). It is mild, clean, and for a Brazil it has a distinct sweet cup. Note that this is new crop for 06/07 season, and I found a higher percentage of defects in this lot, although the cup character is outstanding. Per 300 grams, expect to see 2 defect beans (pod beans that are dark brown, easy to see, pick them out pre-roast)

Brazil Screen-Dried Moreninha Formosa
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Serra do Salitre, Minas Gerais, Cerrado Mineiro Mark: Moreninha Formosa
Processing: Dry-Processed on raised screens Crop: December 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Bourbon, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: The Moreninha Formosa is from Serra do Salitre, a high plain in Cerrado Miniero, Minas Gerais state. It's the same micro-region where we bought the competition-winning natural dry process Fazenda Rio Paraná of Ricardo Torezan last year. At 1200 meters, the Serra do Salitre has better altitude than most of Cerrado proper, which averages 800-900 meters for coffee production. More importantly, this is a special dry-process done on raised beds ...well, screens, in the African tradition. This allows for dry air to circulate all around the coffee, evenly and thoroughly evaporating moisture from the ripe coffee cherry. And that's the second key here; ripe cherry. The owners of this mill advance 70% of the local price for coffee (based on the Brazilian coffee index ESALQ) to growers who deliver red cherry coffee to receiving stations. The reason for receiving coffee in the form of ripe cherry is to ensure uniform processing, and to avoid the defects that usually end up on the patios in typical dry-processing. Therefore, expertise in coffee preparation is offered to the growers, and guarantees the best coffee quality. The mill helps the individual growers maximize their return by actually using the coffee market to their advantage. At anytime producers can fix the price of their coffee. When this special lot sells at a better price in the international market as compared to the local price, the profits obtained will be split between the coffee producer and the processor. The cup is very rustic, fruited, chocolatey, and thick. I mean, this coffee has HUGE body, and the natural, somewhat earth-tones in the the flavor made me (for a second) do a double-take ... was this a natural Yemeni coffee? No, the flavor is quite different, but it has that level of exotic, "wild" character. I like this coffee fresh, within 72 hours of roasting, and felt that it became a little ashy as it aged. But this was also with short 8 minute sample roasts, and I feel that a proper drum roast, with slow warmup (ala Hottop or GeneCafe) will not drop off like this. I am off to test that now...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / fruited, rustic, nutty, full-body  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City+
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Great, fruited, natural dry-process Brazil - has Yemeni hints in respect to the fruit that results from this processing.

Brazil Carmo de Minas -Aprocam
Country: Brazil Grade: 17-18, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Carmo de Minas, Sul de Minas Gerais Mark: Aprocam, Fazenda do Sertao, Nazareth Dias Pereira
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late March 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: The farm of Nazareth Dias Pereira is at 1300 meters; the region (Aprocam mountains, Carmo de Minas region, Sul de Minas Gerais state) is a premier growing region for specialty coffee. Her coffee placed high at the Cup of Excellence this year (the sister lot of this coffee is the #13 we bought, the only difference is this is Yellow Catuai and the CoE lot is Red Bourbon). Most significantly, this is the fourth year the coffee has made it to the CoE auction! But even more important is not the official accolades, it is the cup; this is one of the most deliciously seductive Brasilian coffees in my memory. (Remember that last year's Yellow Bourbon that flew outta here was from the same Coop too). It has more brightness than I expect from Brazils. It's sweet, very sweet at City+ roast, with a honey-like tone. And the City roast has some grape in the wet fragrance too, while darker roasts I intended for espresso still have some sweetness too, like dark molasses. This dense, high-grown bean really holds up in the darker roasts, more so than other Brazils, but it's the light roasts that amaze me on the cupping table. It's so softly rustic, but refined too, with apricot and banana in the finish. Perhaps more than any single quality aspect, this cup is extremely balanced, and all the flavors integrate so well. At the importers office, this was the first Brazil they had to score in the high 80s. I don't go that high, but if I put this coffee in an all-Brazil table, I think it would win out over all.
Carmo de Minas topography


Ripe Yellow Catuai at Aprocam
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity (brewed) / Low-acidity, nuts, dusty sweetness.
add 50 50 Roast: For brewed coffee I have best results at a slower City + roast, for espresso a Full City + (just breaching 2nd crack without gaining any momentum.)
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: Excellent Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils)


Brazil Organic Camocim -Yellow Icatu
Country: Brazil Grade: 17-18, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Pedra Azul, Espirito Santo Mark: Camocim Estate, Organic Cert.
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late March 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Espirito Santo is a coastal state north of Rio and to the west of Minas Gerais. In fact, it is not far from the Matas de Minas region where our Fazenda Brauna coffee Is grown. Espirito Santo has a lot of arabica production, but also has a good low altitude region in the northern part for robusta. That does not concern us though, and "good" is a relative term when speaking of robusta, especially the rancid Brasil Conilon type. Camocim is a true Estate coffee that turned to organic production in 1999 under the ownership of Henrique Sloper Araujo. But the diverse environmental character of the farm, it's garden-like appearance, dates to the original owner in the '60s who planted exotic Pinus and Eucalyptus varieties, as well as Jacaranda. The farm is situated at 1100 meters and is near the famous Pedra Azul (Blue Mountain) monolith, a well-known land feature in Espirito Santo. The farm grown Catucai, Yellow Bourbon, Icatu and Catuai, and our pre-ships of these coffees have been great ... unfortunately last years lot was delayed in transit, and arrived in terrible condition. I cupped it. I rejected it. This year, the Red Catuai lot had similar problems, and was loaded with something roasters call "foxy beans" - coffee with loads of red-tinted silverskin attached to them hinting at the fact the coffee was too old on the tree, or sat too long before being pulped. We rejected it (based on the cup, not the appearance). But this Yellow Icatu cultivar was a different story. It is all about nuts and chocolate here, qualities that remind one of dry-processed Brasils. From dry fragrance through aftertaste, it is milk chocolate and almond-hazelnut flavors with a striking sweet-bittersweet alternating character. I prefered FC to FC+ roast to bring out these qualities, and while they are dependent on this level of roast, my C+ roast had them in abundance too. It's more of a rustic cup than the brighter Carmo de Minas offerings, and I find fruited (apple) hints in the cup, turning rustic and rooty in the aftertaste. Perhaps it is this rustic side, paired with above average body, that makes me think of a really good natural Brasil coffee.


Senor Olivar, who switched Camocim to organic production


The famous local landmark: Pedra Azul

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity (brewed) / Low-acidity, nuts, dusty sweetness.
add 50 50 Roast: For brewed coffee I have best results at Full City + roast, for espresso a Vienna
Score (Max. 100) 85 Compare to: Natural dry-processed Brasil, even though this is a pulped natural. Note the unusual appearance of this coffee? Camocim ages coffee in parchment longer than any other producer to give more sweetness, chocolate and body. That is why it cups more like a natural dry-processed Brasil coffee.

Brazil Mogiana WP Decaf
Country: Brazil Grade: SS, FC Region: Mogiana Mark:  
Processing: Dry-processed, then decaf by Water Process Crop: April 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 scr Varietal: Bourbon, Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2 Notes: Decaf Brazil is a fairly neutral cup, and its main use is for decaf espresso blends. It adds body and is a good "backdrop" in terms of roast taste. A backdrop coffee fills out the background of the cup and does not interfere with your "highlight" coffees, the ones that are going to be the exclamation point of your cup character. If you want earthiness in the cup, a Sumatra or Sulawesi can do this for you and provide body. But if you are not trying to develop an earthy "wild" blend, but want a cleaner espresso cup, then Brazil is very useful. It has great espresso use to create low-CAF or decaf blends with body and depth. If you like a very soft espresso cup, you will enjoy this Brazil as a straight decaf espresso (its a bit too mild for me). This Mogiana-region coffee is a traditional Brazilian dry-process coffee. What's that mean? Dry-process means that the rip coffee cherry is picked by hand, laid out on patios to dry and then the outer pod and inner parchment layers are removed in one milling process to reveal the green coffee seed. But the old traditional Brazilian dry-process was dried on the tree, not on a patio! When a coffee is 100% tree-dried it can be too wild and have unpleasant off flavors. So before decaffeinating this coffee originates with a good lot of coffee, and the new water processor in Mexico that is producing decafs with more origin character than the previous SWP sources, and this cup really surpasses the Brazil Santos SWP decaf that we previously stocked in the 2000-2002 crop years. Although the aromatics are low, I add a 2 for cupper's correction because this is an excellent "special purpose" coffee. We stock this especially for use in espresso blending. Use for a lo-caf espresso blend base. Produces great crema, and a great neutral roast taste as a backdrop for your caffeinated grace note coffees in the blend (Yemeni, Harar, Etc). The shots I have pulled with 100% Brazil WP decaf were very nice too, but would not cut through milk in cappuccino etc very well. Of course, if you make your cap correctly (1.5 oz espresso and a maximum of 4 oz milk) it will do fine. If you need an all-decaf espresso I would recommend 60% Brazil decaf, 20% of an Indonesian decaf like Sumatra, and 20% of a Central American decaf or Mexican decaf.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 7.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 7 Roast: Best character emerges in the roast tastes, caramelly and mildly pungent. For this, roast 10 to 30 seconds into the 2nd crack, also a great range for Northern Italian style espresso.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Compare to: A non-chemical water process coffee that out-cups the previous SWP Santos and lends great body to blends.
Add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 81.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Clean and neutral

Brazil Cerrado 5th Place -Fazenda Pantano
Country: Brazil Grade: Cerrado Competition Graded Region: Coromandel, Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: 5th Place Semi-washed Process, Rodrigo Aparecido Martins
Processing: Semi-Washed Process (Eco-Washed) Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Icatu, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This Brasil lot differs from the other 2 we purchased in the 2005 Cerrado Coffee Competition I attended late last year in Brazil. This is a semi-washed coffee, which means that it is picked as ripe red cherry, taken to the mill and depulped/demucilaged. Then it is laid on the patio to dry (or perhaps on raised screens in the African style for "air drying"). The result is a cleaner cup style, with brighter notes and a lighter body. You might also note that this is the processing used for literally ALL of the finalists in the Cup of Excellence in Brasil for the past 5 years, and is the method endorsed by Illy. And I must say, having cupped all the Brasil CoE lots and bid in the competition, my opinion is that this Fazenda Pantano coffee would have done VERY well. It is clean, sweet, and full of secondary cup flavors (the ones I always describe as "hints" and "aspects" and such). The farm is run by Rodrigo Aparecido Martins and is located in the Coromandel area of Cerrado. The cup does not have tons of dry fragrance (I noted the sweetness though) but comes to life with water; the wet aroma is floral and laced with citrus rind. Cup flavors are similar, with rose-like floral notes, orange citric qualities and a light, malty sweetness. The finish is clean, honeyed, and has the same persistent orange notes and malted sweets. It's good, and is a different style of Brazil than the naturals. For this, it needs a lighter roast treatment, even as light as City roast although I found City+ to be optimal. As I roasted toward Full City, some of these delicate citrus and floral notes were diminished but I did enjoy a hazelnut/almond roast taste that came up. You can certainly roast darker, or use as an espresso base at a light Vienna, but expect a different cup than described here (as Vienna espresso it was tangy, with a citric hint, and with good bitter chocolate flavors.)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Delicate sweetness and floral notes  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, see the description about darker roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Clean, brighter Brasils, in league with the top 10 Cup of Excellence Lots, I firmly believe.

Brazil Cup of Exc. #13 Nazareth Dias Pereira
Country: Brazil Grade: CoE finalist Region: Carmo de Minas area, Sul de Minas Gerais Mark: Brazil Cup of Excellence 2006, 13th Place, Nazareth Dias Pereira, Fazenda do Sertao
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late March 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Red Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: We are lucky this year: lucky to get a great Brazilian CoE lot, and lucky to be able to buy even more coffee from this exact same producer, Nazareth Dias Pereira. It's a chance to compare Red Bourbon coffee entered into the CoE competition and the Catuai cultivar the farm produces. Yes, we are lucky because both are amazing, sweet Brasil coffees. As I have said before, my personal top coffee from the auction is often not the 1st or 3rd or 5th place, and it is true again - lucky 13th was my favorite. When you consider that there are 800 or so entrants in the CoE, and how many times each lot must make it through the National and then International juries, #13 is damn good. In fact, all the top 30 that make the auction are exemplary coffees. Perhaps most significant of all, this is the fourth time Nazareth has made the finals. The farm is about 800 hecatres with 210 in production with coffee and more than that dedicated to raising prized Girolando cattle! Thirty-four families reside on the farm, a total of approximately 145 people, in houses assigned by the farm at no cost to its employees, all with running water and electricity, where they receive a salary above the Brazilian minimum wage, milk, coffee, transportation and medicine. In the farm there is a municipal public school, and it is also enrolled in the government Family Health Program. There is a phone line for the employees, a soccer field for them to practice sports and a reservoir where they can fish. Okay, I haven't been there, I stole all that from the CoE farm description. The point being ... this is an established, well-organized farm! Now, let's forget the soccer, the fisshing and the cattle ---to the cup! For me, the most striking character of this coffee is sweetness ... a rustic sweetness that pervades from fragrance and aroma through aftertaste. Dry grounds are highly fragrant and have a toasted malt quality with light mollasses and graham cracker hints. The wet aroma. Cup flavors have a strong jasmine tea character from initial sip through the long aftertaste. During the cupping process, breaking the crust results in a momentary, intense red pepper aroma! There are orange hints with a bit of rindy zest, and as mentioned, that rustic, honeyed sweetness paired with malty grain flavors. Brightness is quite high for Brazil, bringing the whole cup into balance from the high note through the tenor range - darker roasts bring out deeper roasty flavors and chocolate bittersweets. But I highly recommend a true City+ roast, stopped after 1st crack concludes plus a few seconds. At this stage, you won't have surface color or texture evenness, but we don't roast coffee to enter it in whole bean beauty contests, we drink this stuff. My suggestion is to forget about roast appearance, and try for a City+ to expreience the full "origin flavor" glory of this coffee; you can always shoot for a toned-down chocolatey cup with a Full City or FC+ roast next time around.


Fazenda Sertao, Nazareth dias Pereira


The Historic Farmhouse


Fazenda Sertao Wet Aroma
(1-5)
3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity (brewed) / Sweetness, Jasmine flavor, Balance, Brightness
add 50 50 Roast: City + roast,see the description for more
Score (Max. 100) 87.6 Compare to: Exemplary Brasilian coffee ... for me, as good as it gets. The CoE Internatiional jury scored this 87.22. It is rare I score above the CoE jury (I am very tight on my scoring) but the overall cup quality here, the straightforward desireability of this cup, compells me give it a +1 cupper's correction.

Brazil Fazenda Ipanema "Dulce"
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Sul de Minas Mark:
Ipanema, Utz Kapeh/BSCA certified
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: late February 2006 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Catuai, Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: For more information on Utz Kapeh ( a sort of "Fair Trade Lite" designation) see this article. The Fazenda Ipanema "Dulce" (sweet) is a traditional Brazil, prepared using the natural dry method where whole unpeeled coffee cherry is layed out to dry on the patios intact. I have seen other farms refer to their dry-process coffee as "Dulce" but i am not sure if this is a uniform designation. Basically, natural dry-process is the old, traditional Brazil method. This means that the coffee has all the pulp, fruity mucilage and skin on it as it dries. Natural coffees have greater concentrations of organic components, minerals and soluble solids, meaning that they have more body in the cup, and more intense flavors. While these flavors are chocolate and fruit in flavor, there is a husky side to them, a natural honey or naturally-dried fruit aspect to them. Some would call that "unclean" in cup character. Even Illy frowns upon the wild notes in these coffees. But these coffees have more impact, more character, than other Brazils. The "Dulce" has a raw honey sweetness to it, great body, earthy chocolate tones, with clean mild fruit accents that I find to be melon-like! It has very low acidity too, which to some is ideal but it does make the cup seem a bit incomplete to me: it doesn't register on the tongue, and most of the flavors are sensed toward the back of the palate. For a infusion (French press) or drip coffee, a bit of a natural dry-processed Ethiopian (Harar etc) would add a great accent to this cup. But as espresso the top end of this cup really comes up, balancing out the overall profile: it is great straight espresso! (Like other Brazils, don't overroast or they become ashy as espresso: restrict it to Vienna or lighter.) There is also a soft winey fruit tone that lurks in the back of this cup, certainly not as pronounced as the natural Ethiopian coffees, but along these lines.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.1
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Body, mild fruits
add 50 50 Roast: I like a true Full City or Full City+ for this coffee, and a light Vienna for espresso. Like most Brazils you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast). For drip coffee you get a great cup at a lighter City+ roast, where fruit notes are at their best.
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Compare to: Traditional, full bodied, Natural Brazil character: a little wild, mild clean fruitiness, heavy body, low acidity.

Brazil FTO Poco Fundo
Country: Brazil Grade: Non-traditional Region: Sul de Minas Mark: Poco Fundo, FTO (Fair Trade, Organic)
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: November 2005 Arrival Appearance: 3 d/300gr, 16-18 screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Icatu, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Poco Fundo a cooperative, the "The Associacao dos Pequenos Produtores de Poco Fundo, " located in the south of the state of Minas Gerais and boasts 76 members. Annual production is relatively small; six containers of their best quality, the rest being sold off in the internal market of Brasil. The growing region, Sul de Minas, can be a challenging one to produce traditional dry-processed coffees; the main issues can be rain arriving while the coffee is on the patio to dry, or other weather shifts that prevent uneven drying. Add to that the problems of growing organic coffee in Brasil, dealing with pests and tree nutrients on a soil that needs amendment, and it's a miracle you can get good cup quality at all! But Poco Fundo has the potential to be a great, rustic, wild cup. At it's best it is like a dry-processed Ethiopian coffee, deeply fruited (plum and raisin) with great body, and roast taste ranging from almond to milk chocolate. But Poco Fundo is a shifty coffee, and some lots can be really defective too. That's why we offer it sometimes, but not that often. When the cup is good I grab as much of it as I can get! This lot of Poco Fundo has a clean cup, nutty (dry-roast peanut) in the lighter roast, turning to milk chocolate in FC+ roast levels. There is a clean fruitiness to the cup, something I love about natural dry-process Brasilian coffees, but something a cupper needs to be concerned about. Winey fruited notes can verge on ferment, and ferment in coffee will mean a month or two down the line the cup quality will tank! But this lot of Poco Fundo has a solid, clean berry-like fruit in it, and paired with the nut, chocolate roast tastes and creamy body, makes this one of the nicest natural Brasils as a straight roast drip coffees. You will pick up some tobacco notes and earthiness as the cup cools, in the aftertaste ... it is a rustic, natural coffee after all. This might be the only Poco Fundo lot we have all year; last year we had one great lot and the rest had off flavors, musty cups and such.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Full body, rustic fruity notes  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal, lighter for a nuttier roast taste, or FC+ for more chocolate roast taste. Expect some unevenness in roast color, and lots of chaff.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Natural, full body Brasil with rustic characteristics (but relatively clean!) I also do not recommend buying more that a 4 month supply of this coffee. It tends to experience a flavor shift after then, to fade quicker than other coffees due to the process method done in Sul de Minas - can't explain but I have noticed a drop off in the fruit notes in the cup over time.

Brazil Cerrado 2nd Place -Fazenda Araras
Country: Brazil Grade: Cerrado Competition Graded Region: Monte Carmelo, Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: 2nd Place Natural Dry Process, Waldemar Bovi
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Fazenda Araras was the 2nd place dry-process coffee in the 2005 Cerrado Coffee Competition. It is a Monte Carmelo region coffee grown by Waldemar Bovi, and Monte Carmelo dominated the event. Well, at least in the dry-processed category, 7 of the top 10 were Monte Carmelo! As I have said before, Cerrado has the best weather for dry-process coffees, with a dramatic shift from rainy season to dry season. This means the trees explode with flowers, produce &an even-ripening of cherry, and can be harvested in one pass practically! If you doubt that the harvest machines used in Cerrado for the first pass of picking can select only ripe, red cherry, think again. See my pictures from the 2004 and 2005 competitions to compare hand picking and machine picking. In other regions of Brasil, it would unthinkable, but Cerrado is unique in many ways and it is one area where the machine picks better. then humans come in and strip pick the remainder, resulting in lower cup quality. Anyway, you will also note a peculiarity; I have scored the #2 lot above the #1 lot in the dry-process category. I recommend #1 for its outstanding espresso use, something that is not reflected in the cupping scores. #2 I recommend for drip-press use (although it produces proverbially "wicked" espresso too!) Why? Well, on the cupping table the Fazenda Araras was sweet, had ripe orange hints in the aromatics and in the cup. I had milk chocolate notes, winey fruit, grape and pomegranate, and tobacco in the finish. It was outstanding.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Full body, fruited notes  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal for drip/press. Darker roast (Light Vienna) works well too, and will be very chocolaty but you might see the fruit notes eclipsed. This is a good roast for espresso.
Score (Max. 100) 88 Compare to: Natural, full body Brasil, with fruited/winey hints.

Brazil Cerrado 2nd Place -Fazenda Araras
Country: Brazil Grade: Cerrado Competition Graded Region: Monte Carmelo, Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: 2nd Place Natural Dry Process, Waldemar Bovi
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Fazenda Araras was the 2nd place dry-process coffee in the 2005 Cerrado Coffee Competition. It is a Monte Carmelo region coffee grown by Waldemar Bovi, and Monte Carmelo dominated the event. Well, at least in the dry-processed category, 7 of the top 10 were Monte Carmelo! As I have said before, Cerrado has the best weather for dry-process coffees, with a dramatic shift from rainy season to dry season. This means the trees explode with flowers, produce &an even-ripening of cherry, and can be harvested in one pass practically! If you doubt that the harvest machines used in Cerrado for the first pass of picking can select only ripe, red cherry, think again. See my pictures from the 2004 and 2005 competitions to compare hand picking and machine picking. In other regions of Brasil, it would unthinkable, but Cerrado is unique in many ways and it is one area where the machine picks better. then humans come in and strip pick the remainder, resulting in lower cup quality. Anyway, you will also note a peculiarity; I have scored the #2 lot above the #1 lot in the dry-process category. I recommend #1 for its outstanding espresso use, something that is not reflected in the cupping scores. #2 I recommend for drip-press use (although it produces proverbially "wicked" espresso too!) Why? Well, on the cupping table the Fazenda Araras was sweet, had ripe orange hints in the aromatics and in the cup. I had milk chocolate notes, winey fruit, grape and pomegranate, and tobacco in the finish. It was outstanding.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Full body, fruited notes  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal for drip/press. Darker roast (Light Vienna) works well too, and will be very chocolaty but you might see the fruit notes eclipsed. This is a good roast for espresso.
Score (Max. 100) 88 Compare to: Natural, full body Brasil, with fruited/winey hints.

Brazil Cerrado 1st Place -Fazenda Cruz Branca
Country: Brazil Grade: Cerrado Competition Graded Region: Estrela do Sul, Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: 1st Place Natural Dry Process, Carlo Diamante
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Icatu, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: This lot was the 1st place dry-process coffee in the 2005 Cerrado Coffee Competition I attended late last year in Brazil. Carlo Diamante owns the farm, and surprise here was that natural dry-process coffees from the Monte Carmelo region of Cerrado dominated the top 10 spots. So the fact an Estrela do Sul coffee interloped, and snatched the 1st spot, was interesting. Cerrado is really the best area of Brasil to do the dry process due to the dramatic shift from rainy season to dry season. It is so dramatic in fact that red ripe cherry can often be left to start drying on the tree! Tree-dried coffee, a process that has been refined at Fazenda Vista Alegre using irrigation, is actually the norm in Cerrado. The reason is this even ripening and rapid shift into the dry weather pattern, and this is because Cerrado is not under the same Atlantic ocean influenced weather pattern as the rest of Brasilian coffee growing areas. The Fazenda Cruz Branca lot won me over in Brasil where the heavy body, dry bittersweet chocolate notes, aromatic wood aromas, and slight orange hint were all very intense. Now, I have specific recommendations for this lot and for the #2 lot from Fazenda Araras, which I actually score slightly higher! The reason is that the #2 coffee suits drip-press coffee brewing better, and thus scores higher in the cupping process, but this, the #1 coffee, is the one I chose for espresso. As a single origin, single farm espresso, Cruz Branca is unbeatable. I roasted by cupping sample to C+ as is the norm, and the espresso sample to FC+/Light Vienna, just a bit into 2nd crack. The volume and quality of the crema was a thing to behold, and it was a very tightly compacted crema that persisted a very long time too. The creamy mouthfeel of this espresso was extraordinary, and makes perfect sense due to the high soluble and insoluble solids in a dry-processed coffee. Now, I had to work with my grinder and machine (Ditting and Andreja respectively) a bit to tune it for this shot. Over-extracted Brazil shots are awful so be sure to play with the variables if first results are unimpressive. But ultimately you should get intense chocolate with abundant crema. If you choose, a small "accent coffee" can be blended in for the espresso, something to add a top-end note to the cup and aroma, such as 10-20% of a Harar, a non-citric Kenya, or a Central American coffee such as a bourbon El Salvador.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Full body, chocolate notes, loads of crema  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal for drip/press although darker is very nice too! For espresso, a slow-finish roast to a FC++ or Vienna is good.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Natural, full body Brasil with full body and intense chocolate.

Brazil Fazenda Santa Helena
Country: Brazil Grade: 17-18, SS, FC Region: Sul de Minas Gerais Mark:
Fazenda Santa Helena (Estate), BSCA Certified
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late June 2005 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Yellow Icatu, Yellow Bourbon and Acaiá
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Is the coffee world getting smaller? To get this Brazilian coffee I have to call a broker in London, where an American and a Costa Rican and a Brit have managed to buy some of the great lots, and it gets shipped to Oakland via Portland. Seems more complicated than it should be, but when it comes to really nice coffees, the competition is indeed global, and small roasters in Europe are competing against buying groups in Japan, and a certian home roaster supplier in Oakland, California. Anyway, it's not about the story behind the coffee, it's about the trees, the processing, the roasting and the cup. It starts with this Sul de Minas farm. At the base of Serra do Pau D'Alho, near the shores of the Furnas Lake, lies Fazenda Santa Helena. High quality coffee varietials (Yellow Icatu and Yellow Bourbon, augemnted by Acaia) are grown using efficient, localized drip irrigation, which guarantees a gradual maturation of the tree, with no impact from severe weather accidents like drought and frosts. The farm is a true estate, and has complete autonomous processing facilities, including covered patios and raised bed drying (Brazilians call it "air drying", many call it African Bed drying since it originates in Ethiopia). The cup is excellent in espresso, and roasted properly lends a dusty sweetness to the cup. A lighter "cupping roast" has raw honey sweetness, carmel, orange, and roasted nuts. The aftertaste has a nice dry-roasted peanut character, cocoa, and that sweet undertone of sorghum syrup. The body is excellent, after a proper 48 hour rest. It's a mild cup for brewed coffee, low in acidity; as espresso it is a striking straight roast, single-origin, single estate cup... but reflects the way it is roasted. I-Roast espressos are llively and have more compact flavor range than the slower drum roasts, which are more deep and distinct.

Fazenda Santa Helena
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity (brewed) / Low-acidity, nuts, dusty sweetness.
add 50 50 Roast: For brewed coffee I have best results at a slower City + roast, for espresso a Full City + (just breaching 2nd crack without gaining any momentum.)
Score (Max. 100) 85 Compare to: Excellent Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils), great as a mild low-acid brewed cup, and excellent as espresso. Check out their web page: http://www.fazendasantahelena.com.br/ (hee-hee)

Brazil Carmo Estate Peaberry
Country: Brazil Grade: Peaberry No.1 Region: Sul de Minas Gerais Mark: Carmo Estate,
BSCA & Utz Kapeh Certified
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: July 2005 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, PB No.1 Screen Varietal: Catuai, Icatu, Bourbon (Yellow and Red cultivars)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: This is new crop coffee from the excellent Carmo Estate that I visited this past October. It's a really high quality farm-specific south Minas Gerais coffee with a lot of history behind it: the Junqueira family introduced coffee in this high altitude region 150 years ago. And it is still in the family; Tulio Junqueira, a fourth generation member of the same family, owns Carmo Estate. Carmo Estate has 525 acres (212 ha) which is fairly average for an Estate type Brazilian farm (they get a LOT bigger than this) and ranges from 3,000 to 3,800 feet . It is planted with quite a few arabica varieties - Mundo Novo, Catuaí, Catucaí, Bourbon, Acaiá and Icatú. The cup has a very mild brightness, but is in perspective a very low acidity coffee. It's the roast tastes I really like much, milk chocolate, nuts, spice, wood, rich humus (good earth, not dirty). It is certainlu a great espresso too, as a straight shot it produces a lot of crema. I have tried light roasts but prefer a Full City that is right at the cusp of 2nd crack ... or a few snaps into it. There's a nice tangy pungency in this roast, and a creamy body that compliments the overall cup profile so well.

 


View of the valley at Carmo Estate

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: See notes above: In general Full City and darker is best for Brazils in terms of nutty-chocolate-sweetness, and you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Natural type (patio, sun-dried)
Score (Max. 100) 83.9

Brazil Sul de Minas Yellow Bourbon
Country: Brazil Grade: 17-18, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Sul de Minas Gerais Mark: Aprocam Top Sky Yellow Bourbon
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: Late June 2005 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Bourbon coffees are the traditional old-world varietal, and was once the exclusive coffee tree of Brazil. The small, rounded seed has a refined cup character, good bean density, and is grown in a way that requires more labor and produces less coffee than newer hybrids. Yellow Bourbon (the type that turns to a bright yellow color when ripe, rather than the Red Bourbon) is even more challenging to grow, because when rip the coffee is fragile. Slight winds can knock the fruit to the ground and ruin it. This is a lot I am really excited about because it comes via our knowledgable Brazil source from a cooperative that farms at an amazing 1400 meter altitude (well, amazing for Brazil). This makes it one of the highest grown Brazils we have ever offered. I cupped both the Red Bourbon and the Yellow, and chose to offer the Yellow as a lot to you all (although the Red was too good to pass up ... we are using it in our signature espresso blend - I am sure you can figure that out!) But the Yellow does both light roast and darker roast, brewed and espresso; the Yellow Bourbon is very versatile. The cup is impressive, with more brightness than I expect from Brazils. It's sweet, like raw, unfiltered honey. (Actually it has a very distinct flavor for me: bee pollen, something you used to find in health food shops). The City roast has some canatloupe in the wet fragrance too, while darker roasts I intended for espresso still have some sweetness too, like dark mollasses. This dense, high-grown bean really holds up in the darker roasts, more so than other Brazils, but it's the light roasts that amaze me on the cupping table. It's so softly rustic, but refined too, with apricot and banana in the finish. It is delicate in an unusual way, delicate but tinted with mild earthy tones ... white porcelain, but crafted earthenware, (Apologies in advance for far-flung analogies!) At Full city+ to light Vienna, as a single origin/single varietal esrpesso, this coffee is awesome: sweet, nutty, creamy, with a really fine acidic accent.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity (brewed) to medium (espresso)/ Low-acidity, nuts, dusty sweetness.
add 50 50 Roast: For brewed coffee I have best results at a slower City + roast, for espresso a Full City + (just breaching 2nd crack without gaining any momentum.)
Score (Max. 100) 87 Compare to: Excellent high altitude single cultivar Brazil.

Brazil Cerrado Competition Lots, 2004 -2005 Crop
Here we have the reviews for the Cerrado Auction Lots I bought after the competition in November 2004 (This is '05 new crop coffee harvested in late '04 per the Brazil crop cycle). You can read more about the event on the Brazil Cerrado Competition Pages. Basically, I bought 4 of my favorite coffees from the competition, 2 lots of Natural Dry-Processed and 2 lots of Pulped Natural aka Semi-Washed aka Cereja Descascada, or CD coffee. Confused? Naturals are the traditional Brazils, and arguably nobody does it better than Cerrado due to their clear and dramatic wet/dry season cycle. The CD coffees are now what Dr. Illy buys exclusively for espresso, with a cleaner cup profile overall. A CD may score higher, but I will always love the traditional dry-processed Brazils. You have more body, more crema, and perhaps more complexity in the naturals. A warning: 3 of the 4 lots offered are quite small and will sell out within 6 weeks, I believe. The other lot is larger, #144, Edson Nobuyasu, Fazenda Bonito de Cima. That should last 3 or 4 months, I hope. I highly recommend roasting and brewing each of these for straight varietal espresso shots. See the roast notes and cupping descriptions for detailed suggestions. (Note - the other 3 lot reviews are now located in the Archives)
Available Lots Listed Below:
Brazil Cerrado -Lot 141 Wagner Ferrero
Country: Brazil Grade: Competition Lot, 17+ Screen Region: Patos de Minas, Cerrado Mark: Fazenda Pantano, 2nd Place
Processing: Pulped Natural (Cereja Descascada) Crop: February 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ screen Varietal: Icatu, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: The Patos de Minas microregion took first and second place in the CD category at the competition, and I think I know why. These coffees have a bit more altitude than most, and have delicate sweet cups with great balance. Overall, Brazils are mild coffees and are largely flavored by the processing method used ... at least that is true with the naturals where the coffee pulp has sustained contact with the parchment coffee. When you remove that fruity layer as they do with the CD process, you lose some body, some intensity, some of the husky/rustic qualities of the cup, but you gain delicacy and sweetness. With 26 judges (might have been more?) agreeing through all the rounds of cupping, this coffee certainly received the thumbs up several times over. I found a nice bright nip in the wet aroma, with sweet. clean, dark molasses roast notes in the cup. The finish is balanced, mildly chocolatey. It produces a very aromatic espresso when roasted to the Full City + stage, with berry nuances, and some of the sharp bright notes remain. It's a nippy "tasse".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild Intensity / Sweet hints, balance
add 50 50 Roast: Full City - This would also be my choice if you like a very light City roast that is just through the first crack, then brew drip or better yet, vacuum pot.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: This is a lighter cup overall, and scored very high for its mild sweetness (a rarity in Brazils).
 

Brazil Carmo Estate Pulp Natural
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Sul de Minas Gerais Mark:
Carmo Estate
Utz Kapeh/BSCA certified
Processing: Pulp-Natural Process Crop: March 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Yellow Catuai, Catuai, Icatu & friends.
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: This coffee is my choice for espresso blending base, in conjunction with another Brazil of the Natural -Dry Process variety. It's a really high quality farm-specific south Minas Gerais coffee with a lot of history behind it: the Junqueira family introduced coffee in this high altitude region 150 years ago. And it is still in the family; Tulio Junqueira, a fourth generation member of the same family, owns Carmo Estate. Carmo Estate has 525 acres (212 ha) which is fairly average for an Estate type Brazilian farm (they get a LOT bigger than this) and ranges from 3,000 to 3,800 feet . It is planted with quite a few arabica varieties - Mundo Novo, Catuaí, Catucaí, Bourbon, Acaiá and Icatú. This lot is a Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA) certified lot, I can log into the web page and view the varietal information and grading provenance for this specific lot! We chose the Carmo Pulped natural coffees, prepared by the fairly recent demusilage system created in Brazil. Ripe cherries are pulped but the mucilage (fruity layer under wthe outer peel) is not removed. Parchment coffee (green coffee in the outer parchement shell) dries in contact with the sugar-rich mucilage which transfers natural sweetness to the beans and preserves the full body typical of the best Brazilian coffees. Illycafe has been using Pulp-Naturals as a part of espresso blends for years now, in cobination with other Brazils. While I think the straight espresso shot of Carmo is really great (Vienna roast, 3 days rest) I would say that as a brewed coffee it is a mild, nutty, but somewhat dull cup. We got it mostly for espresso usage ... but I have done some neat blend experiments with it for Full City+ french roasts brewed by drip/french press and it is a great base coffee. I did 50-50 blends with Carmo-Harar,, Carmo-Sumatra Iskandar. All of these had a really good roast taste (and I am sure theres a lot of other blends that would benefit from a Carmo base), and the other coffee provided the accent.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: See notes above: In general Full City is best for Brazils in terms of nutty-chocolate-sweetness, and you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast).
add 50 50 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils) best for espresso blending and Vienna Roast drip blend bases. If Pulped Natural doesn’t sound so good, be assured that in the last 3 Brazil Cup of Excellence auctions nearly every winning coffee was a Pulped Natural! And Carmo Estate is used by one of the top espresso shops in the Pacific Northwest (you espresso people know who I am referring to... okay, his initials are D.S. ) alright, it is Espresso Vivace
Score (Max. 100) 85.0

Brazil Cerrado -Lot 141 Wagner Ferrero - Sold Out
Country: Brazil Grade: Competition Lot, 17+ Screen Region: Patos de Minas, Cerrado Mark: Fazenda Pantano, 2nd Place
Processing: Pulped Natural (Cereja Descascada) Crop: February 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ screen Varietal: Icatu, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: The Patos de Minas microregion took first and second place in the CD category at the competition, and I think I know why. These coffees have a bit more altitude than most, and have delicate sweet cups with great balance. Overall, Brazils are mild coffees and are largely flavored by the processing method used ... at least that is true with the naturals where the coffee pulp has sustained contact with the parchment coffee. When you remove that fruity layer as they do with the CD process, you lose some body, some intensity, some of the husky/rustic qualities of the cup, but you gain delicacy and sweetness. With 26 judges (might have been more?) agreeing through all the rounds of cupping, this coffee certainly received the thumbs up several times over. I found a nice bright nip in the wet aroma, with sweet. clean, dark molasses roast notes in the cup. The finish is balanced, mildly chocolatey. It produces a very aromatic espresso when roasted to the Full City + stage, with berry nuances, and some of the sharp bright notes remain. It's a nippy "tasse".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild Intensity / Sweet hints, balance
add 50 50 Roast: Full City - This would also be my choice if you like a very light City roast that is just through the first crack, then brew drip or better yet, vacuum pot.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: This is a lighter cup overall, and scored very high for its mild sweetness (a rarity in Brazils).

Brazil Cerrado -Lot 142 Carlos Piccin - Sold Out
Country: Brazil Grade: Competition Lot, 17+ Screen Region: Patos de Minas, Cerrado Mark: Fazenda Serra Negra, 3rd Place
Processing: Pulped Natural (Cereja Descascada) Crop: February 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ screen Varietal: Icatu, Catuai, Mundo Novo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: On the cupping table, judging the arrival samples of these lots here at the shop, I think I like this lot even better than the #2 lot. Now, tomorrow it could be reversed and certainly at the competition I know I scored the top 3 in the same order as the group did. But in straight cupping, this is a tangy coffee, with a rooty sweetness in the cup, like Sarsaparilla. There's a winey hint in the finish, but a very clean lingering sweetness too, and a caraway-rye aroma too. The body is silky ... I really like the body here, and overall it's a cup that comes on as it cools. As a straight espresso from a Full City+ roast, I get berry, blackberry, and tangy chocolate. It has lower overall intensity than the naturals, but what a nice cup. Quite sophisticated for a Brazil
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild Intensity / Interesting flavor nuances, refined espresso
add 50 50 Roast: Full City for brew methods and Full City+ for Espresso. If that is too tangy, take it to a light Vienna and let it rest a couple days.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: A clean Brazil cup profile with neat flavor hints.

Brazil Cerrado -Lot 143 Ricardo Torezan- Sold Out
Country: Brazil Grade: Competition Lot, 17+ Screen Region: Serra do Salitre, Cerrado Mark: Fazenda Parana, 1st Place
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: February 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ screen Varietal: Catuai, Mundo Novo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: This lot was the #1 place coffee in the Natural (meaning dry-processed) category. This is the traditional Brazil process where the whole ripe coffee cherry is dried either on the tree, on the patio, or a bit of both. Either way, the coffee seed has maximum contact with the fruity layer of the coffee and the result is a more rustic cup, with greater body. This cup has a great, creamy body, either as drip-infusion coffee or as espresso. There's a husky sweetness in the aromatics that follows through in the cup, with fruited hints, dark bread, and a pungent note in the finish. Nuts, it's got nuts, aromatic almondy-hazelnut in the lighter roast range. It is a great single origin espresso, with tons of cream, mouthfeel and tangy chocolate bittersweets.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Greatly attractive body
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City+
Score (Max. 100) 86.1 Compare to: A traditional Brazil DP coffee but with tangy sweetness and complex nutty/chocolatey notes

Brazil Cerrado -Lot 144 Edson Nobuyasu
Country: Brazil Grade: Competition Lot, 17+ Screen Region: Coromandel, Cerrado Mark: Fazenda Bonito de Cima, 6th Place
Processing: Natural Dry-Process Crop: February 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17+ screen Varietal: Catuai, Mundo Novo
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Okay, here's the wild one in the pack. This lot was the #6 place coffee in the Natural ( dry-processed) category. You might find this coffee to have great, winey acidity, or you might think it is sour. It's on the edge, and I will leave it up to you ... either way it has character that is greatly underscored when you fire up the roaster, take it to Full City+ and shoot it through your espresso machine. Like the previous lot, this is the traditional Brazil process where the whole ripe coffee cherry is dried either on the tree, on the patio, or a bit of both. The coffee seed has maximum contact with the fruity layer of the coffee and the result is a more rustic cup, with greater body. When the coffee is on the patio, fermentation of the fruity layers is regulated more by the weather than anything - and if a coffee gets a bit winey it might have been a cool day and the pulp infused this quality into the seeds in a way. One thing for sure, I like this coffee with a little more roast on it than the others, because the really light City roast espresso I pulled was just too much. I would go Full City+ for drip-infusion-press methods and Full Vienna for espresso. There's a lot of body here, as you would expect from a Natural, and it makes for lots of crema in your "tasse".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Body, Winey note
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+ to Vienna, see above
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: A traditional Brazil DP coffee with a winey character, a bit edgy for some palates

Brazil Peaberry -Brauna Estate
Country: Brazil Grade: 16+, 2/3, SS, FC Region: Araponga, Matas de Minas Gerais Mark: Fazenda Brauna  
Processing: Pulped-Natural Process Crop: January 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, Peaberry 16+ Screen Varietal: Catuai, Bourbon, Icatu
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: This coffee placed high in the Brazil Cup of Excellence competition in 2004 and I wasn't sure if it would still be available after that. (It was No. 2 in the general competition and No.10 overall ... that's from over 900 samples submitted! It fell just below the 90 threshold to join 8 other coffees for a special distinction.) Luckily, I have a friend in the Brazilian trade who looks out for us, and that's the only way I could get this coffee. The farm has been owned for years by Afonso Jorge Schmölz de Mattos, who overseas all the production and milling of the coffee on the farm. This lot is Catuai and Bourbon, and it is a Brazil Specialty Coffee Assoc. certified lot. That means I can punch in the certificate number to the BSCA web site and view the varietal information and grading ratings for this specific lot - very cool! Pulped Natural coffees are prepared by the fairly recent demucilage system created in Brazil. Ripe cherries are pulped but the mucilage (fruity layer under with outer peel) is not removed. Parchment coffee (green coffee in the outer parchment shell) dries in contact with the sugar-rich mucilage which transfers natural sweetness to the beans and preserves the full body typical of the best Brazilian coffees. Illycafe has been using Pulped Naturals as a part of espresso blends for years now, in combination with other Brazils. In brazil these are called CD coffees which means Cereja Descascada, or basically "Washed Cherry". I spoke with Joao who works at the farm and he tells me that the experiments with other process methods on the Brauna farm were just not a good match for this coffee in terms of cup results (and with their 10th place prize I am sure he is right). I use the Brauna as a small percentage of espresso blends ... I don't want to use too much because this coffee is a bit brighter than other Brazils, and too much acidity in espresso can make a sourish tazze. It is a great single origin Brazil for drip/French press too. It has a lot of balance in the cup, great body, nutty tones in the Full City roast turning to chocolate bittersweet at Vienna. It's a sweet coffee (for a Brazil, that is) and some cups have an almost oakey hint. For me, this is one of the nicest straight-roast Brazils, delicate, nutty, a little chocolatey, and very refined. I feel it justifies a 1 pt. boost for overall cup appeal.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: See notes above: In general Full City is best for Brazils in terms of nutty-chocolate-sweetness, and you don't want to take them too dark because they often become ashy and carbony (at a Full French Roast). I like this Brauna Peaberry a tad lighter, at City +, because it has a nice sweet aspect at that roast.
add 50 50 Compare to: Very high quality Brazil of the Pulped Natural type (a cleaner cup profile than the Natural-Dry Brazils). It is mild, clean, and for a Brazil it has a distinct sweet cup.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Simple pleasant cup with nuttiness

Colombian Organic Nariño - San Lorenzo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade Region: San Lorenzo, Nariño Mark: San Lorenzo, Organic
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Variedad Colombia
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: San Lorenzo is located in the coffee growing district of Nariño in the Southern Colombian Andean volcanic mountains. There 21 farms in three villages in Narino that contribute to the coffee. The towns of San Clemente, San Isidro and San Vicente are located in the highest mountains of the "Colombian Nest" or "Macizo Colombiano" between 1,600 and 2,300 meters high, enjoying of the most important water sources and of the indulgence of the Andean volcanic soil. This is actually a totally organic coffee, which, considering the ultra-celan and delicate cup character, is remarable to me. Colombia has a large problem with the Broca, a insect that bores into the coffee cherry and seed: these stricken seeds produce off notes in the cup. To produce a coffee with no sign of Broca damage, organically, requires great care. Anyway, the varietials are about 60% Caturra and 40% Variedad Colombia, and their pergamino is sun-dried whenever weather permits. This cup has the special Nariño brightness in the cup: it surprised me in the blind cupping because I thought, because of the acidity, it was a Costa Rican! The traditional Caturra varietal also contributes to the well-defined, articulate citrus in the cup, with spice and floral sensations in the aromatics and finish. This is a wonderfully bright cup, and a textbook "New World", the type that scores so well in competitions. (My experience is this type of very clean cup qith citric accents and delicate acidity is very popular with the Japanese judges). While the aroma is sweetly floral, the cup itself has something I would describe as "sugar cane juice", with honey-lemon accents. The finish is a bit minty, adding to the brisk, clean, refreshing character of the cup. It's a prototypical coffee, very refined, dare I say "elegant". It's not going to scream "quality" at your palate, it will require you to meditate a bit on it's balance of sweetness, floral and citric notes, and other nuances. For all this, I recommend restraining the roasty notes by keeping it at City to FC+, our of the domain of 2nd Crack. Cupper's Correction of 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: City; this has a mild roasty character even when it is roasted to a medium (City) roast, through first crack completely until the surface color and texture of the coffee has an even "complexion", but not into 2nd crack at all.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Costa Rican in it's citrusy brightness (acidity), but complex like the best small farm Colombians.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9

Colombia Tolima Planadas - El Jordan
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Planadas town, Tolima state. Mark: El Jordan,
APCEJOR co-op, Virmax
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: December 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: This coffee is high grown by the three hundred members of a coffee grower association from Planadas, in the Colombia department of Tolima. The dry fragrance had fruited, appley character, which came through in the wet aromatics, and in the cup. I was reminded of apple pie: sweetness, fruit, spice (cinnamon). The acidity is bright, partly floral, but (again with the apple theme), like crisp green apple at the light City roast stage. The cup is both lively in the bright, top-end notes, but balances it out with dense body, and intensity from initial sip through long aftertaste. It's a weighty, solid cup profile, and the caramel sweetness pervades throughout. My light City roast has a strawberry and rubarb liveliness to the cup, there's even a minty (Yerba Buena) aspect. The lighter roasts are honeyed in the finish, and the darker roasts are more like dark brown sugar. After a few days of rest after roasting, my City+ roast had great balance and silky body. The fruit changed from apple to blackberry and raisin; very nice! This coffee seemed to show consistent character and quality at all roasts between C+ and FC+. It's a no-brainer in terms of roasting - air roast or drum, it just seems to come out with great cup quality. I didn't try a Vienna roast, but if it is in line with the other 4 test roasts, it would be fantastic too. A tip concerning preparation of this coffee: I was not as impressed with the cup one time we brewed it. It turns out, I was a bit shy on the grounds-to-water ratio. If you measure grounds in scoops or by weight, error on the side of greater brew strength.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Bright, fruited, sweet, dense cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City+ - you can't go wrong anywhere along the line.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Balanced, bold Colombia.

Colombia Cup of Excellence #3 - El Placer
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: Planadas, Tolima Mark: El Placer, 3rd place Colombia Cup of Excellence
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Pure Caturra cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: El Placer means "The Pleasure", and this coffee certainly is that. It is from the Tolima region, near the town of Planadas, and is the property of Cesar Julio Muñoz Calderon. The farm is planted in pure Caturra varietal, and is at 1550 meters altitude. The coffee was 3rd place in the second harvest Colombia Cup of Excellence 2006, winning one of the "Presidents Award" for coffee scoring over 90 points. In this case, the International Jury went well over with an average of 92.38. And it is a fitting reward for the hard work of the Calderon family; a quote from Cesar, "I bought this farm 11 years ago, and at that time, it only had 15 coffee trees older than 7 years. I started growing new trees and also renewing the old ones, and my farm currently has 2500 trees. All the members of my family: Wife, and 4 children, have worked in the farm all this time. In the harvesting time I hire temporary workers. I also grow plantains, yuca and other vegetables for the consumption of the family." We put together a buying group for this lot with my friends and George Howell's Terroir and Stumptown Roasters. To circumvent recent shipping problens from Colombia that can result in slight damage to flavor (i.e. the coffee container gets stuck in a humid port city), we had these coffees all vacuum packaged and boxed in 5 kgs, then we rebagged them upon arrival here. It was an expensive operation but it really worked: the coffee arrived beautifully fresh and green. For me, this cup was extremely elegant, sweet and nuanced. The dry fragrance from the ground coffee has milk chocolate and bittersweet tones, and at the City + roast, a sweet raisiny fruitiness. The aromatics have allspice and sweet gingerbread notes, and a bit of passionfruit. In the cup, the chocolate aromatics become caramel flavors, and tea-like jasmine notes emerge. Here (again) the lighter City+ roast shows more effervesence, more liveliness, than the Full City roast. Both have a very elegent, silky body but the light roast is more dynamic with a higher tonal range, and traces of sweet lemon, apricot, cherry, honey. I don't think this is the kind of cup that screams at you with outrageous flavors, but it is approachable, and will charm you over time.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Bright, nuanced cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ clearly has more of the top end, bright flavors.
Score (Max. 100) 89.8 Compare to: Elegant, refined, bright Colombia; similar to Huila and Narino

Colombia Cup of Excellence #12 - El Descanso -sold out!
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: La Plata town, Huila department Mark: El Descanso, 12th place Colombia Cup of Excellence
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: January 2007 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Jesus Orlando Lopez inherited El Descanso from his father, and by combining with his brothers part of the farm, ended up with 8 hectares. That is actually a big farm in Colombia, and might contradict your preconceptions of Colombia coffee as a large coffee producer, and hence comrised of large farms. 8 Hectares is 19 acres, not small, but also not a "Hacienda" by any stretch. Descanso means "rest", perhaps an ironic name for a coffee farm that requires so much labor, and it is in the Huila district at a whopping 1733 meters altitude (nearly 5700 feet). It is pure Caturra cultivar planted here, which perhaps explains some of the lovely citrus notes I get in the cup. As with out other CoE lot, we had this lot vacuum packaged and boxed in 5 kgs, then we rebagged them upon arrival here. The reason, instead of shipping them in regular burlap, is that Colombia is experiencing port problems, which can result in a lot being "stuck" for a couple weeks in a humid climate: not good for the cup quality! Anyway, the lot arrived in beautiful condition. But back to the beginning: the dry grounds have a sweet chocolate aromatic, but there are remarkable fruited notes lurking behind it: plum, blackberry, and cherry blossom. The lighter City roast I tested had a great, tingly, champagne-like acidity, and strong floral aspect in the wet aroma and cup. A bit more roast (FC) and the coffee seemed exponentially more intense, but still laced with flowers and fruit. In the cup I saw a shift from fresh fruit, ripe orange and plum, to a more "plum wine" character as the cup cooled, and into the aftertaste. In fact, I am reminded of Kenya "wineyness" as I cup this, although not in the same proportions found in the powerhouse of East Africa. My FC roast features a body is heavy, similar to some coffees from the Cauca region of Colombia, and viscous. Dark fruit lace the finish: blackberry, dark plum, raisin sweetness.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Complex, floral, sweet.  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City - see the review,
Score (Max. 100) 90.2 Compare to: Balanced, bold Colombia.

Colombia Cauca Organic - La Esperanza
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Cordillera Central, Valle Del Cauca, Trujillo Mark: La Esperanza, La Rochela Farm
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: La Rochela is a group of small farms outside the municipality of Trujillo in Valle Del Cauca department of Colombia. They produce several marks of coffee, but their organic certified lot is known as La Esperanza. (There are many, many farms called La Esperanza, meaning "The Hope", which is something I suppose you ened a lot of to farm coffee!) The coffee is grown between 1400 and 1650 meters, quite high, and milled at the La Rochela Beneficio, so they have total control of the process. This coffee is Cauca all the way; the right character for the Cauca appellation. We have mildly rustic chocolate in the fragrant dry grounds, with sweet, dark fruit and dry fruit as a backdrop; raisin, Italian dry black fig, and a syrupy sweetness. Even my light sample roast (City) has a dark intensity to it: pepper, tarry sweetness, dark chocolate, dark fruit. The cup is not as bright and acidic as Huila coffees, but rather it is thick and rounded, a deep tonal range of flavors. It has fruited sweetness but there is still momentary floral traces in the aftertaste. Plum predominates, but there is a black walnut finish, paired with a fairly thick, dense body. As mentioned, even lighter roasts had this brooding, pensive, dark character to them (Noir coffee?). But I found FC to be exceptional too, very syrupy. Darker than that and I felt the roast taste took over the cup too much.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium- Bold intensity / Darkly fruited cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but more refined than the borderline fermenty Popayans of the old days.

Colombia Excelso 13556
Country: Colombia Grade: Excelso Region: Unknown! Mark: 13556
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: What should I do when I get a sample of a generic "Specialty grade" coffee, the kind I really never buy, and it is actually good? I mean really good! I buy coffees that rate over 85 … and that is just the absolute minimum requirement. It also has to have a real positive "origin character" to the cup, something that represents the place it is from in an extraordinary way. I also have to like it; I can't offer a coffee I think is unattractive (I am not that good of a "salesman"). So here before me is a totally generic Excelso grade coffee, I don't even know the general region it is from. Hell, I don't even know if it is from the North or the South! And it is great, really great. I will guess this: I think it is a Cauca coffee. It has that hefty-weighty body and flavor, with a dried plum fruit to it. The coffee is darkly sweet (like dark brown sugar), and has some black walnut to it ... but that body really gets me. It's huge, making the overall impression of this cup as bold as a Indonesian coffee that seems to hang around on your palate long after the coffee is gone. It seems so dense, so opaque. And it is the slightly darker roast, the Full City to FC+ where this cup reaches the intensity that makes it really happen: the C+ roast is really nice, and plum- raisin flavors predominate. But a little darker and the nut and chocolate come out. Anyway, here it is, Colombia Excelso 13556, just a name and a lot number, and a recommendation from me. Following my "modus operandi", that cupping rules supreme, that I don't know what the coffee is until after I taste it, until I flip over the name card at the cupping table, well sometimes it leads you to unexpected places. And quality is wherever you find it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Dark sweetness, fruits, and great body  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City +
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but I really don't now where the heck it is from!

Colombian Huila - Palestina Micro-region
Country: Colombia Grade: 16+ Screen Excelso Region: Huila, Palestina Micro-region Mark: Palestina Microregion, South Huila
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Some introductory comments are needed: A long time ago some chump decided that better coffee came from larger coffee beans. Colombia was in the audience that night, took it all in, and developed a system of pooling all coffees together in lots based on bean size. Thus we came up with Supremo and Excelso in the better grades of Colombian (there are also UGQ and FAQ which are seductive acronyms for Usual Good Quality and Fair Average Quality, but those don't concern us here). Being a coffee behemoth and slow to change, Colombia has been reticent to change the system that they impose on farmers, exporters, and roasters until recently, although it makes no sense. Bigger coffee seeds from bigger coffee cherries don't mean better flavor, as much as a bigger cup of coffee tastes better (the 7-Eleven logic?) What does make coffee quality improve? Besides good standards of farming and preparation, it is the unique region, the soil, the altitude, the weather, and the care the farm puts into the plant. So as a new direction, one that makes sense for Colombia, we have these new micro-regional lots. (Estate coffees rarely make sense in Colombia because each farm is too small to produce a lot that can be milled distinct, and shipped separately). So we could call these "micro-pooled" lots. Using cupping techniques (mostly with a mobile cupping lab) small regions are identified that have special cup character. It might be centered around a town, it might be one particular hill or valley. In this case, we are referring to the small South Huila municipality of Palestina, settled by Palestine immigrants in the 19th c., and in the region of Pitalito, and San Augustin. With this coffee preparation, size is ignored to a greater degree, but the coffee is carefully prepared to remove defective seeds. Palestina is centered around the town of the same name (not sure of the history of this unique name, biblical or cultural?) This cup has a dynamic, sparkling brightness in the aromatics and the cup flavors. The dry fragrance has a sweet caramelly character, as does the wet aromatics. The cup flavors are apple butter (you know, the stuff you spread on toast), with almond, and the previously mentioned caramelly sweetness. As the cup cools, it becomes very full and round and intense. I would call it almost Kenya-like in intensity, practically a whole breakfast in a cup!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / fruited and nutty flavor, strong lively brightness
add 50 50 Roast: City roast preserves the brighter fruits
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Compare to: A classic microregional Southern Huila cup.

Colombian Nariño -Reserva Del Patron
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Nariño, SW Colombia Mark: Reserva del Patron
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2006 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Reserva Del Patron is a selection of Supremo coffee from the "heart of the harvest" in the Narino region. What does that mean? It means the mill selects for both bean size (Supremo is the largest screen, 17-18/64ths) and from lots that are neither the earliest to arrive at the mill (lower grown, likely) or the tail ends of the harvest. Reserva Del Patron is a mill mark, which means that certain areas of certain top smallholder farms are harvested to comprise this coffee. It is a limited production, because the number of contributing micro-farms is small. But also it is limited because Starbucks buys so much coffee from the Narino region for their featured Narino offering. It has changed the way coffee is produced there, but luckily it has not changed the Narino del Abuelo. This is a classic cup, remarkably balanced in flavor attributes and body. It is also balanced in the sense that bittersweet character is in proportion to brightness/acidity, and fruited notes are moderate. This coffee has really nice chocolate flavors that are mild (milk chocolate) in the lighter roast range and turn to bittersweet, potent chocolate at Full City+. FC+ roast, just a snap into 2nd crack, had the most compelling cup, although this coffee works on a wide range of roasts. FC+ has a strong chocolate tang from dry fragrance and wet aroma, through the cup flavors and way into the aftertaste. I get aromatic suggestions of pungent, peppery spice and dark brown bread baking. There are dry fruit (raisin, plum) and balck walnut paired with the dominate chocolate bittersweet in the cup flavors, and a bit of walnut skins with clean tobacco flavor lurking in the aftertaste. I am really impressed with the body, more viscuous and oily than I remember with other Colombians, and makes me think that those who love Indonesian coffees might find the weight of this on their palate quite nice.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balance  
Add 50 50.0 Roast: Full City to FC+ (my favorite), although this coffee takes a wide latitude of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Very balanced cup has hints of both Cauca and some Bucaramanga coffees from the North ... not like other acidic Narino coffees I have cupped.

Colombia CoE - Hacienda La Virginia
Country: Colombia Grade: Cup of Excellence (CoE), 3rd place Region: Algeciras, Huila Mark: Olga Lara Perdomo, Hacienda La Virginia
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: July 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Kona-like prices for a Colombia? Well, that's what happens to a really good coffee in a Cup of Excellence auction. The cup distinguished itself immediately from all the other samples (including the #2 and #1 lots: La Virginia was #3) by it's overall intensity in dry fragrance and aroma. It was a powerhouse, really bold and powerful. And there was a lot of competition for this Olga Lara's coffee: we formed a group of small roasters from Japan and Europe to buy it (Sweet Maria's, Stumptown, Maruyama Coffee from Japan). Considering that many farms in Colombia are incredibly small (the average is below 2 hectares), Hacienda La Virginia is a giant; 642 hectares of total land with 106 in coffee production. This true "Hacienda" , and old school farm that is now in the hands of the third generation of the Perdomo family (currently managed by Olga Lara Perdomo). Hacienda La Virginia is near the Neiva river, with the closest city being Algeciras, in the department of Huila. It is situated at 1650 meters, perhaps an average altitude for a Huila coffee, but extremely high by the standards of many coffee producing areas. We all found this to be the most intense cup, balanced and bold. There isn't a lot of delicate subtlety in the dry fragrance - brutish chocolate dominates. The wet aroma is equally intense, with winy fruited notes, chocolate, and heavy floral notes. I get a very clear maple syrup and light molasses sweetness. The cup follows through with great intensity; I would classify this in league with Kenya auction lots in overall intensity, but with more chocolate roast taste. It's a wide, expansive cup profile, with a bittersweet chocolate aspect, and surprising sweet, ripe, red grapefruit brightness. Raisin fruited notes are strong, with hints of ripe peach, pear, and a bit of hazelnut. As it cools it turns to Concord grape, and the brightness is really dazzling while not being too tart - the coffee is very lively! Between these bright notes and the chocolate bittersweet roast taste (with a bit of sweetened Earl Gray notes in there), the overall effect is of depth and complexity. The body has a waxy, cocoa butter texture. Delicate, lightweight Huila - no, not here. This is a real bold, full-throttle Colombia cup! The International Jury scored this cup well above 90 - for me it approaches a similar score, which is still extremely high. I felt the coffee was excellent at Full City roast, but less spectacular: it was the City roast that sparkled in the cup. Later, I brewed a 50-50 blend of City/Full City roast and enjoyed it most of all.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/ intense, brightly fruited, bold bittersweetness  
add 50 50 Roast: City yielded a bright, snappy cup with more fruit: Full City had more body and more chocolate tones. If you find the coffee not to be complex, extend the roast a little, go a bit lighter, and allow 24-48 hr. rest
Score (Max. 100) 90.3 Compare to: This cup has both the brightness of Huilas, and beefy intensity of Cauca Colombians.

Colombia Organic Mesa de los Santos
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade Region: Burcaramanga: Pie de Cuesta y Los Santos Mark: Mesa de los Santos, Organic
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen + PB Varietal: Caturra and Typica

 Dry Fragrance (1-5)

3.5

Notes: As a coffee farm and mill, Mesa de los Santos is a pioneer in sustainable coffee agriculture. It is also the first farm in Colombia to produce and export specialty organic coffee. But the farm predates it's organic certification by many years: it was founded in 1872! While a traditional Hacienda layout in all respects, Mesa de los Santos (MDLS) has also been aggressive in improving their ability to grow, mill and export the best quality, Caturra, Typica and Bourbon varietal Colombian coffee under the care the owner Oswaldo Acevedo. Oswaldo is no backwoods coffee farmer; he owns a sophisticated marketing company. But he is also one of the most enthusiastic, motivated, well-informed, hands-on coffee farmers I have met; coffee farm owners seek him out for advice of organic agriculture and sustainable practices. The farm altitude is a repectable 1650-1750 meters. And rather than following the typical Colombian sorting regimen of Supremo and Excelso preparations (which average out good coffees pooled with mediocre coffees into the lowest common denominator) this is a single farm, "Estate" preparation, wet-milled on the farm instead of a third-party beneficio. The coffee is what Colombian was 30 years ago, before the use of the high-yield, disease-resistent Variedad Colombia cultivar, and the cup flavors support this claim ...sweet aromatics, raisin-like fruited notes, and a chocolatey bittersweet finish that resonates on the palate. There are peppery spicey, herbal notes (sage) too, and the fruit has hints of pear, and concord grape. A City+ roast stage has a more caramelly sweetness, whereas a Full City turns to milk chocolate. This coffee works either way, even at a light Vienna where some of the delicate fruit qualities are sacrificed on the altar of tarry, bittersweets and pungent spice. For me this represents the best of what Colombia can produce. I roasted MDLS fellow soccer player is Colombian just to show him what a really good Colombian coffee should taste like! We waited this year for a mid-harvest lot, based on early cupping, and I think what we are offering here is exactly what MDLS should be.

Wet Aroma (1-5)
3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10)
8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10)
8.5
Body - Movement (1-5)
3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10)
8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5)
0 Roast: City+ for a more caramelly roast taste, FC or FC+ for chocolatey tones, Vienna for pungency and bittersweetness This coffee works on all roast levels.
add 50
50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium/ Fruited tones, balance
Score (Max. 100)
85.8 Compare to: Like really good Colombians with a little more brightness. Bucaramanga coffees have qualities of the best Huila types and Cauca types combined. You can learn more about the farm and their innovative ecological programs at http://www.cafemesadelossantos.com/

Colombia Cauca FNC Excelso
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate (Excelso EP) Region: Cordillera Central, Cauca, Inza-Tierradentro region Mark: FNC Micro-regional Lot
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: October 2005 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Under the program by the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteles (FNC), small lots are cupped separately and combined to create micro-regional "appellations," with distinct flavor profiles. Cauca coffees have always been a favorite mine, usually offered as more generic Popayan lots (since Popayan is a major commercial center in Cauca for coffee), but not from the smaller outlying regions. Tierradentro and Inza are small towns located on the Eastern side of the highest range of mountains in Colombia, the Cordillera Central, basically the Andes! The area is known for ancient archeological sites and ancient burial grounds, a very rugged and beautiful terrain. Tierradentro and Inza are the small central towns that define the area, with less than 20,000 in population. The average altitude for coffee production in this area is 1750 meters. Most of the coffee farms are smallholders with less that 2 hectares each. I always like the deep, hefty, fruited Cauca cup profile, but some went a bit too far and tasted ferment. Here we have a more refined take on the Cauca cup profile. It is indeed winey and sweet, fruited, and has some complex aromas and flavors. I find some interesting desert aromatics going on here (sweet bran muffin in the fragrance, carrot cake in the wet aromatics). For fruit, there is raisiny aromas, plum (like plum-wine) cup flavors, and apple and grape in the aftertaste. So basically, there's a lot going on here ... and strangely at the same time this cup seems sweet and straightforward! It adds up to a kind of bewildering charm, maybe some of it in the cup and some in the beholder of the cup. In any case, this is a coffee that comes forward with a lot of clean fruit, and maintains a certain crispness in the flavors (not an acidy crispness, more just a clear definition of the cup flavors). Think about this cup or don't, it's enjoyable either way!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.1
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / fruit, sweetness, wine  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City
Score (Max. 100) 87 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but more refined than the borderline fermenty Popayans of the old days. By the way, Excelso is a screen size designation, but what matters is the preparation of coffee and the absence of defective seeds, in which this lot rates very well!

Colombia Huila - San Jose de Isnos
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: Southern Huila District Mark: San Jose de Isnos
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late January 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16+ screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: San Jose de Isnos is a town equidistant from Pitalito and San Augustin in Southern Huila. It is between the ranges of the Cordillera Central and the smaller Cordillera Oriental, and the coffee producing region ranges from 1700 meters to 1850 meters. San Jose de Isnos is at 1750 meters itself, well into the higher altitudes of specialty coffee production. This microregion was one I cupped in Colombia last year, and (while it was very good), it didn't jump out at me. Same was true for the arrival samples I received in Oakland last year. Now, with this years crop my reaction was 180 degrees opposite. I was cupped quite a few Colombias on the same table (mostly Huila and Bucaramanga coffees, including the Palestina we had last year), and was really impressed in general; when I got to this coffee I was blown away. Wow, what character! The dry fragrance is sweetly fruited, with raisin, berry and plum. It has a light mollasses overtone, and that comes through in the wet aroma too, but there is a spicey, piquant accent added. The cup has a resinous, chewy character (one of the first times "chewy" has made sense to me!) It's thick, dense, and the darkly fruited notes provide a lot of depth; plum, raisin-currant, and berry. It finishes sweet, all tenor and base note in the finish. If it was wine, this would be a Syrah with all the plummy spice, viscosity, and depth.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Fruited notes, resinous, dense   
add 50 50 Roast: City+. My sample roasts were City+ and FC and both were fantastic. It has this deep tonal range at C+ so you don't have to go dark to enjoy the dark fruited qualities (in fact they will be ebbed by the roast taste). That said, it's a forgiving coffee that will do well under a variety of roast treatments.
Score (Max. 100) 88.7 Compare to: Although this is a Huila, it reminds me of the fruited, dark-toned Cauca coffees of a few years ago.

Colombia Organic Reserva Don Telmo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade Region: Burcaramanga (Pie de Cuesta y Los Santos) Mark: Reserva Don Telmo
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Old Bourbon Varietal

 Dry Fragrance (1-5)

3.3

Notes: Reserva Don Telmo comes from a special plot on the Mesa de los Santos farm. Mesa de los Santos (MDLS) is a pioneer in sustainable coffee agriculture: it is also the first farm in Colombia to produce and export specialty organic coffee. But the farm predates it's Organic certification by many years: it was founded in 1872! While a traditional Hacienda layout in all respects, Mesa de los Santos (MDLS) has also been agressive in improving their ability to grow, mill and esport the best quality high grown (1650 - 1750 m) Colombian coffee. In fact they recently won a competitive World Resources Institute venture capital award for bio-diverse business, an effort coordinated by owner Oswaldo Acevedo. This coffee is produced with the same great care and organic practices as the MDLS with the exception that it is all old-world Bourbon cultivar. To keep this special lower-yield coffee separate, Oswaldo cultivated the trees in a distinct area, and tracks these lots as they are processed in the farms own wet-mill and dry-mill. This allows for total control of the final results, with all the growing, care of the trees, harvesting, fermentation, washing, drying, milling and grading optimised for this specific cultivar. I have cupped the "Reserva" for 2 years now, but it does not have some of the fruit-forward character and roundness as the MDLS Caturra/Typica lot I select. This year, instead of comparing them, I cupped them separately. What happened? I fell in love with each; they are simply different coffees with different cup character. While I am a sucker for the fruity MDLS, I found the Reserva Don Telmo, when judged on its own merits, to truly possess classic "Bourbon" cup character. It is a more austere cup, more structured on the palate, with crisp acidity, and well defined edges. Where the MDLS gushes with fruit, the Reserva Don Telmo strikes the centerline of the tongue and stays to it, with spicey suggestions and, yes, compact fruit tones. It has a chocolatey bittersweet tang to it, dried black currant, and undertones of hazelnut and almond. These form a matrix of brilliantly clean, well-defined coffee flavors; something I call "classic cup character' because this is what cuppers appreciated so much about the Centrals for the early part of the 20th century, before the age of canned instant dreck. When I taste this coffee, I can imagine the first New York coffee merchant that enjoyed a Bucaramanga, and demanded more! If it was as good as this Reserva Don Telmo is right now, he would be insane not to.

Wet Aroma (1-5)
3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10)
8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10)
8.5
Body - Movement (1-5)
3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10)
8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5)
0 Roast: Again, this coffee can take a wide range of roasts from City+ to FC+ to a light Vienna. I like the chocolate bittersweets at FC or FC+ (the later with a few snaps of 2nd crack beginning). It works out well nomatter what you do! (well, within reason)
add 50
50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / Balance and depth
Score (Max. 100)
85.6 Compare to: Like really good classic Colombian coffee

Colombia Narino -Caracol del Abuelo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Peaberry Region: Narino (Southern) Mark: Caracol del Abuelo
(Grandpa's Peaberry!?)
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: November 2005 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, Peaberry#1 screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: The Caracol del Abuelo originates with the same coffee as the large bean Reserva Del Patron and the Narino del Abuelo that we have carried in the past. Caracol means "Peaberry" in Spanish and that is exactly what this is, the Peaberry that is separated from the lot as it runs through the screening machine at the dry mill. (Caracol means essentially "circular" (circulo) too but also is a name for Snail, which, given the crease in the peaberry coffee seed, makes a lot of sense). The Narino region is in the extreme South, and boasts some of the highest coffee-growing altitudes in Colombia. It is also a bit hard to source a really good Narino coffee because Starbucks buys such a huge amount of the crop from this area for one of their "featured" special reserve coffees. Fortunately, the relationship between hacienda La Minita and the del Abuelo Narino mill predates Starbucks influence in the region, and we pay higher prices for this coffee than Starbucks ever would! Good coffees from Narino have a slight citric tang to them, a very clean cup, piquant, but balanced too. That would describe the Caracol del Abuelo very well. It's a mild, citric cup, which has some neat raisiny aromatics, turning to brighter Golden Raisin in the flavor, and mild lime citric qualities. The aromatics outweigh the finish (which has an oaky note), but when roasted a bit longer there is a nice chocolate that develops.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Lively aromas, delicate cup flavors  
add 50 50 Roast: My review notes are based on a City roast, fairly light, where the lime-citric quality and roast flavors are nutty. Roast it to FC and roast shifts to chocolate, and acidity is buried a bit under darker roast notes.
Score (Max. 100) 85.3 Compare to: Classic delicate Narino coffee

Colombian Huila WP Decaf
Country: Colombia Grade: Excelso Region: Huila Mark: Huila Valencia (Mercedes)
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Not known, probably Variedad Colombiana
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This Colombian lot did not have a particular pedigree: it just happened to be very nice in the cup! It was a Huila coffee of Excelso grade (read our note on the Colombia page about bean-size grading … it means little). It is from the Huila region and was offered by a very good exporter (one I visited in Colombia recently in fact). They have had very nice coffees in the past, as you might remember the Huila Valencia in our reviews of some of the non-farm-specific ltos we have had. This Huila coffee had a nice solid Colombian character, a nice, thick cup with good intensity in the darker roasts. More importantly, it still has that character after going through the Water Process decaffeination! The cup is medium bodied, and I prefer it brewed just a bit strong which will heighten this a bit. It has a nice balance between the acidity, a modicum of fruitiness and a mild sweetness. For me , the best cup was a bit darker in the roast, were the intensity was better but the sweetness was retained. I liked this coffee best at Full City +, almost light Vienna roast, a few seconds into 2nd crack.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City +: see description…
add 50 50 Compare to: Sweet decaf coffees, with medium body and mild fruit tones - less fruity than the Huila Natural Decaf though.
Score (Max. 100) 84.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild / clean, fruit

Colombia Huila - Los Idolos de Bellavista
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate (Excelso EP) Region: Bellavista, Isnos, Huila Mark: Los Idolos de Bella Vista coop
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen Varietal: 60% Yellow Caturra, 40% Red Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Los Idolos de Bellavista is a group of 50 smallholder coffee farmers that banded together to form a coffee coop in the face of dropping coffee prices. With a focus on mutually improving quality and offering their coffee to the market as a unique micro-regional lot, the hope was that the group could obtain a better price. The Bellavista group is in the Municipality of Isnos, in the southwest of the Colombian state of Huila. Bellavista is an area where most of the coop members live, and means "beautiful view." (Which is why there are Guatemalan and Costa Rican coffees also called Bella Vista - there are many "beautiful views" in coffee areas!) Isnos is famous for its archaeological ruins, namely‚ El Alto de los Idolos and El Alto de las Piedras, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites and home to sites created by the San Agustin culture in pre-history. From archeology to coffee, the special thing with this group is that each of the 50 lots is cupped separately as a quality control step, before combining them. All are grown very high up: 1400 - 1800 meters. And all are sun dried in sheltered patios (that protect the coffee in case of unexpected showers). All that is a fine background story, but the reason we bought this lot was the cup; it is a fantastic Colombian coffee. If you look at all the descriptor entries on our new quality flavor wheel, you can see the abundance of sensory points. It has a great dark fruit quality in fragrance and flavor, plum with raisin and fig hints. There's a dark resinous pungency in the cup, paired nicely with caramel sweetness. And there is an almost winy aspect here, not like punctuated Kenya winyness but a deep Merlot quality. I found best complexity at Full City, but don't take it too much darker or carbony qualities overtake the fruits.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ intensity /deep flavor aspects of fruit, sweetness, wine  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City is ideal, see review .
Score (Max. 100) 87.6 Compare to: This Huila cups a bit more like the Cauca/Popayan coffees. Great depth of character.

Colombian Huila - Oporapa Micro-region
Country: Colombia Grade: 16+ Screen Excelso Region: Huila, Oporapa Micro-region Mark: Oporapa district, Fairfield Trading
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Typica and others
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Some introductory comments are needed: a long time ago some chump decided that better coffee came from larger coffee beans. Colombia was in the audience that night, took it all in, and developed a system of pooling all coffees together in lots based on bean size. Thus we came up with Supremo and Excelso in the better grades of Colombian (there are also UGQ and FAQ which are seductive acronyms for Usual Good Quality and Fair Average Quality, but those don't concern us here). Being a coffee behemoth and slow to change, Colombia has been reticent to change the system that they impose on farmers, exporters, and roasters until recently, although it makes no sense. Bigger coffee seeds from bigger coffee cherries don't mean better flavor, as much as a bigger cup of coffee tastes better (the 7-Eleven logic?) What does make coffee quality improve? Besides good standards of farming and preparation, it is the unique region, the soil, the altitude, the weather, and the care the farm puts into the plant. So as a new direction, one that makes sense for Colombia, we have these new micro-regional lots. (Estate coffees rarely make sense in Colombia because each farm is too small to produce a lot that can be milled distinct, and shipped separately). So we could call these "micro-pooled" lots. Using cupping techniques (mostly with a mobile cupping lab) small regions are identified that have special cup character. It might be centered around a town, it might be one particular hill or valley. Size is ignored to a greater degree, but the coffee is carefully prepared to remove defective seeds. In this case, the coffee is from the South-Central district of Huila, from the area adjacent to the small town of Oporapa. Altitudes here hover around 1600 meters, making this a very high altitude Colombian coffee. This cup is sturdy from start to finish, with exceptional intensity for a Huila coffee. It has above-average body, a good weight to the mouthfeel, and the aromas are brown bread and (it sounds bad but it isn't) fresh leather. There's a fruitiness in the cup, papaya-like, with a touch of winey East African character. The cup has pungency, good roasty bittersweetness, and a long aftertaste. Balanced, and (a word I return to for Oporapa) ...sturdy.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Great body, a sturdy and intense coffee for a Huila
add 50 50 Roast: I like City. I like Full City. I like a light Vienna. This is a versatile coffee and you can do what you want with it and achieve good results. At a City roast it cups a bit darker in terms of roast taste, so consider keeping it a shade lighter than you usually might.
Score (Max. 100) 85.2 Compare to: A potent take on a Huila coffee, with more body and bass-note flavor

Colombian Huila - Palestina Micro-region
Country: Colombia Grade: 16+ Screen Excelso Region: Huila, Palestina Micro-region Mark: Palestina district, Fairfield Trading
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Typica and others
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Some introductory comments are needed (skip this part of you read the full Oporapa review): a long time ago some chump decided that better coffee came from larger coffee beans. Colombia was in the audience that night, took it all in, and developed a system of pooling all coffees together in lots based on bean size. Thus we came up with Supremo and Excelso in the better grades of Colombian (there are also UGQ and FAQ which are seductive acronyms for Usual Good Quality and Fair Average Quality, but those don't concern us here). Being a coffee behemoth and slow to change, Colombia has been reticent to change the system that they impose on farmers, exporters, and roasters until recently, although it makes no sense. Bigger coffee seeds from bigger coffee cherries don't mean better flavor, as much as a bigger cup of coffee tastes better (the 7-Eleven logic?) What does make coffee quality improve? Besides good standards of farming and preparation, it is the unique region, the soil, the altitude, the weather, and the care the farm puts into the plant. So as a new direction, one that makes sense for Colombia, we have these new micro-regional lots. (Estate coffees rarely make sense in Colombia because each farm is too small to produce a lot that can be milled distinct, and shipped separately). So we could call these "micro-pooled" lots. Using cupping techniques (mostly with a mobile cupping lab) small regions are identified that have special cup character. It might be centered around a town, it might be one particular hill or valley. Size is ignored to a greater degree, but the coffee is carefully prepared to remove defective seeds. Palestina is centered around the town of the same name (not sure of the history of this unique name, biblical or cultural?) This cup has a dynamic, sparkling brightness in the aromatics and the cup flavors. It has lighter body, and perhaps a lower overall intensity than the Oporapa lot, but also more lively on the bright end. This is more typical of a really good Huila. There's an fruit in the cup that falls between peach and mango, and lingers through in the finish.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / light body, sparkling brightness
add 50 50 Roast: City roast preserves the bright fruits
Score (Max. 100) 85.6 Compare to: A classic Huila cup, better than the pooled Huila lots for sure!

Colombian Nariño del Abuelo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade/ Excelso Region: Nariño Mark:  
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: Late August 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: The Nariño del Abuelo originates with the same coffee as the large bean Reserva Del Patron that we have carried in the past. As the coffee is separated, the large 18+ screen coffee goes to the Reserva, and the 16-17 screen seeds, goes to the Narino Del Abuelo. I had heard rumors that the smaller seed preparation actually out-cupped the large bean Reserva due to the botanical variations of all the seeds in the coffee. There's a good case that can be made for variety of screen sizes, including peaberry. Just as a vintner blends grapes from different elevations and exposures within the vineyard, the varied seed sizes represent a wider spread of coffee in their physical and chemical qualities. Is it possible this draws out more dimension in the cup? From judging the Reserva vs. the Abuelo, I would say "yes!" As with the reserva it is "heart of the crop" coffee from selected Narino estates. This means that certain areas of certain top smallholder farms are harvested to comprise this coffee. It is a limited production, and the cup has great body and depth. Unfortunately, Starbucks buys so much coffee from the Narino region for their featured Narino offering, it has changed the way coffee is produced there, but luckily it has not changed the Narino del Abuelo! There is a modicum of acidity to balance out the deep, milk-chocolate flavors and a hint of aromatic woodiness. The aftertaste is moderately long, and the coffee can take a very wide variety of roasts that emphasize a different dimension of the cup: brighter and fruitier in the lighter City roast, mildly chocolatey at Full City, more pungent at Vienna.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Balance
Add 50 50.0 Roast: Full City, although this coffee takes a wide latitude of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Like really good Colombians with a little more brightness. Tolima Colombians, San Augustin Colombian, ones with heavier body.

Colombia Cup of Excellence -Pradera Esperanza
Country: Colombia Grade: Cup of Excellence Region: La Pradera, Tarqui, Huila Mark: Cup of Excellence, Pradera-Esperanza farm
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late June 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: 50% Caturra,
50% Variedad Colombia
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Fierce competition in the very first Cup of Excellence Auction for Colombia - but I was not going to lose this precious lot of coffee. The cup was more complex, deep, big on the palate, than any other lot on the table. For a coffee from the Huila district, it reminded me more of the big, expansive, deep ripe cup profiles of Popayan coffees I used to find. As a judge at the Competition, this coffee jumped out at me in every phase of the cuppings, and in the finals I rated it higher than the top three coffees. The farm is in La Pradera, near Tarqui. It is a micro farm, just 2.5 Hecatres. I was not able to visit there, but this is the background from the Colombian Coffee Federation: "Abel Bermeo is a single, 39 year old coffee grower. He lives with his parents (Alicia and Alvaro), he has 10 brothers and he is the youngest. He studied until 5 year of elementary school. 25 years ago, he started working with coffee crops. Currently, he has 3 lots. The names of the lots are: La Esperanza [ the winning farm], El Mirador, and Buenos Aires. He fertilizes three times per year with 1.4 kg per hectare. He makes a cultural control of insects; he doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides." Yes folks, that's where your coffee comes from, and with the premium we paid for this lot, Abel gets about 85% of the sale cost, which would be at least 7x what he usually gets. CoE really awards the winning farms in a very direct way. I enjoyed the light roasts of this coffee, with an amlost custard and caramel (Flan!) sweetness to them, but it was the Full City roasts that captured the depth of the cup. Fragrance and aromatics are deeply fruited, and have a dark nuttiness to them. In the cup, there is chocolate and almond, a undertone of plum which came off in some cups more like blackberry, and a oily body. (Almond oil was a descriptor I wrote several times on the cupping form). But it was the overall impression of the cup, of this broad, fat, expansive cup profile, something I wanted to hold in my mouth, circulate, think about, that was more important to me than any single flavor attribute. For this, a +1 cuppers correction, and the hope you enjoy this cup as much as I do. Play with the roasting, because the lighter roasted Coty+ cup, while not as deep, has a different range of character to it, but give this Full City a whirl around your palate too.

Abel Bermeo (center, back) and family

Abel attending to a tree on his 2.5 Hecatre Esperanza plot.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / A broad cup, darkly fruited.
add 50 50 Roast: I like Full City (see the description).
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: A potent take on a Huila coffee, with more body and bass-note flavor

Colombian Mesa de los Santos
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade Region: Santander, Burcaramanga Pie de Cuesta y Los Santos Mark: Mesa de los Santos, Organic-Shade Grown
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica/Caturra

   

Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5

Notes: Mesa de los Santos is a pioneer in sustainable coffee agriculture: it is also the first farm in Colombia to produce and export specialty organic coffee. But the farm predates it's Organic certification by many years: it was founded in 1872! While a traditional Hacienda layout in all respects, Mesa de los Santos (MDLS) has also been agressive in improving their ability to grow, mill and esport the best quality, caturra varietal Colombian coffee. In fact they recently won a competitive World Resources Institute venture capital award for bio-deiverse business, an effort coordinated by manager Oswaldo Acevedo. The coffee is what great Colombian was 20 years ago: caturra cultivar is used rathar than the inferior, high-yield, diseasew resistent Variedad Colombian. The farm altitude is a repectable 1650-1750 meters. And rather than following the typical Colombian sorting regimen of Supremo and Excelso preparations (which average out good coffees pooled with mediocre coffees into the lowest common denominator) this is a single farm, "Estate" preparation, wet-milled on the farm instead of a third-party beneficio. There were some problems with the cup on the first arrival of this coffee this year, so we chose to pass. It's not that there was anything wrong - but it wasn't what I think of with the MDLS cup, it seemed a bit flat. I guessed that there might have been transportation problems and the coffee was damaged; it was true, the container was delayed leaving Colombia I found out, and this might have diminished the cup character. So we waited for this arrival and here it is ... the real MDLS cup. It had great Bucaramanga cup character; it reverberates with subtle spicey and fruity notes, excellent medium-heavy body, and in the darker Full City+ roast there are great bittersweet flavors. This represents the best of what Colombia can produce. In fact, I roasted some of this to take to a guy from Medellin, Colombia that I play soccer with, just to show him what a really good Colombian coffee should taste like!

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City. With this shipment I prefer a heavier roast than last year's mid-crop harvest. I feel like City roast is a little under-developed in flavor, but FC or FC+ has a really deep, ripe cup! MDLS requires slightly more roast time than comparable coffees -it's best to set the roast time a bit high and shut it down manually at the exact degree of roast you want...
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium/ Balance and depth
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Like really good Colombians with a little more brightness. Tolima Colombians, San Augustin Colombian, ones with heavier body. You can learn more about the farm and their innovative ecological programs at http://www.cafemesadelossantos.com/

Colombian Huila Supremo
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo 18 Screen Region: Huila Mark:

Supremo

JA Valencia Mercedes

Processing: Wet processed Crop: January 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Not Known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: We're proud of the Estate coffees we have from Colombia, but this doesn't stop me from cupping the regular Excelso and Supremo lots that come along. After all, the Estate coffees need to be better in the cup, no just by the fact that they have a fancier name. And once in a while a coffee offered as a non-farm-specific Colombian is really nice, and here it is! This coffee is from the Huila region, an origin we haven't stocked in about 4 years. The coffees are usually a little fruity with a light body, but since Supremos are usually pooled from many farms in the region, the resulting cup suffers from the effect of the "lowest common denominator". Well, this coffee isn't as generic as all that: it is from a specific group of farms and a specific exporter that has offered some very nice coffees in the past, but each lot is different and some, even from a particular source, can be quite average. This is a Supremo screen size of 18/64ths and up (bean size does not matter in terms of cup quality!!!). The cup has flavors like a spiced tea: apple, cinnamon, muted clove flavors. The thing is, I have had a few cups of this coffee that were, well, extra special. There were transitory flavors and aromas that were like sprinkled dry cocoa, super aromatic. This has the typical lighter body of a Huila compared to other Colombia origins like the Cauca/Popayan coffees. I know that the fruitiness in this cup is a particular coffee cherry scent that you can pick up if you visit a wet-mill on a farm, the sweet fruit as it, but that's not exactly the flavors I think about when I cup this coffee. It has great balance overall, a mild cup, a real "crowd-pleaser".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: Full City: the cup can be a bit sour at the light end of city, and definitely holds up to a heavier roast. In fact, this cup is excellent well into the Light French stages.
add 50 50 Compare to: This is a traditional, excellent Huila cup profile, clean, fruited, lively!
Score (Max. 100) 84.8 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / aromatic, balanced

Congo 

Congo Kivu Peaberry
Country: Congo Grade: Unsure! Region: Kivu, Eastern Congo Mark: Kivu "Katana" Peaberry
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Nov 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, PB 15-17 Screen Varietal: Unsure
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: It's been 7 years, but here we are with a Congo coffee again! The problems with securing a source for Specialty grade coffee from the Kivu region (East Congo) are innumerable. Politics and the struggle over mineral wealth are at the top of the list, and farmers are the first to be displaced when unrest comes to the region. So we hope the offering of this very nice lot of Congo symbolizes the greater stability that has come to the area since the cease fire has been in affect, and the democratic elections held this month. Because this is an early attempt at offering Congo coffee again, and there is more development needed in terms of improving the milling and processing of the coffee, it does have a more rustic cup character than you find in the finely processed Rwandas from just across the border (and the lake, Lake Kivu). But I find the cup compelling. The dry grounds are intense, with fragrant cocoa, nut (macadamia nut), and vanilla notes. Add water and the rustic beast comes out a bit: fresh tobacco, wet earth but still a sweetness (molassesy) resides there. The cup is bright, as an East African coffee should be, but there is that unpredictable wild note too. Again, fresh tobacco with an earthy twist is the best descriptors for it. It's a little hidey, as a Yemen is, but there are delicate tea notes (Darjeeling), and even a trace of floral sweetness too. It lands somewhere between a more refined African coffee (Kenya) and a rustic Indonesia (Mandheling). For those who like either of these coffees, you will find something to hold your interest in this cup, as well as the fact it holds up well to a darker roast level.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity/ Cocoa  
add 50 50 Roast: City + to FC+: I actually find it more intense in the lighter roast, but like the heavy bittersweet chocolate of the darker FC+ too.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: Somewhere between bright, cleaner African coffees and funky, earthy Indonesians.

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