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Australia

Australian Mountain Top Estate XF
Country: Australia Grade: XF - Extra Fancy, Double Sorte Region: New South Wales Mark: Mountain Top Estate, Bin 431
Processing: Pulped-Natural Processed Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon-derived hybrid
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 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. What is Bin 431? It is a special designation for a lot that was screen dried directly after the skin was removed from the coffee cherry, and then double-sorted, meaning that it was run through the density sorting table twice to remove defects. It's a very sweet and rounded cup. It has a peculiar rounded form which is somewhat like Bourbon cultivar, and somewhat like Mundo Novo. Interestingly, Mountain Top is using the new mylar bag packaging pioneered by Daterra in Brazil to preserve green coffee as it travels across the equator and through greatly varying climates (namely, varying humidities). Now the cup ... the best part ... The cup has a unique sweetness to it. If you showed this to me blind, I would guess it was a mix of a super high-quality, sweet Brasil (body, rustic sweetness) and a Central (it has more bright, liveliness than most Brazils). But there is something of the Island coffees here too, a mild roundness to the cup. 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, rustically sweet. 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 quality of the body; viscous.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Mild intensity / rustic sweet, viscous-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) 86.1 Compare to: Sweet Brasils in part, and Island coffee qualities in some regards, a sweet and straightforward cup that is, nonetheless, quite incomparable.


Bali 


Bali Kintamani Arabica
Country: Bali Grade: 1 Region: Kintamani Mark: Kintamani Subak Abian
Processing: Semi-wet-Processed Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Typica Cultivar (selection 795 and USDA 762)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes:Bali coffees are hit and miss, usually suffering from transport damage (being held up in sweltering port cities). And they have also been, as a tradition, fully wet-processed. That means lower intensity, lighter body, and a very mild character … not things that people look for in Indonesian coffees like Sulawesi and Sumatra. There's a larger plantation, Shinzan, that has been the only mark available for some time, but there are also small-holder farms in Bali that belong to cooperative mills. These are called Subak Abian groups in Bali, and are actually a combined coffee coop and Hindu religious group, ruled democratically by a communally written set of rules called an "awig-awig." The basic guiding philosophy of the Subak Abian is called the "Three Happy Causes" (Tri Hita Karana) which stresses the importance of religion to man, to other men, and to the environment. Kintamani is basically the highlands of volcanic Bali, at the top of the island in the mountainous area. These coop groups have had trouble reaching a market for their coffee. The suggestion was, "why not do a more Sumatra-type process", something they call "wet-hulled," rather than a wet-process, to result in a cup with more Indonesia character. In this process, the coffee cherry is depulped out of it's skin, washed for a short time, then hulled when the coffee is dried to just 30-40% moisture (usually coffee is hulled out of the parchment shell only after it is dried to 12% moisture and the bean is hard). Then the green bean coffee is dried on raised beds. It is not sexactly a Sumatra process, where coffee is dried with all the mucilage on the parchment, but the effect is quite similar. And that's the Indonesia-type cup we have here. The dry fragrance has a great, rustic bittersweet chocolate character with melon fruit backdrop. The body is very heavy, and there's a very dark caramelized sugar sweetness (if you can call it that, almost carbony sugar tones.) It's pungent, with strong tobacco notes, a deep, brooding character overall. The acidity is very, very low, and along with the substantial body, gives the cup a syrupy aspect. I find that the light roasts are abit low in intensity, meaning that a heavier roast is really what gives this coffee some definition.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold intensity / Chocolate, tobacco notes, low acidity.   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:Full City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor. Vienna is great too!
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: Low acidity, good body, chocolate - very Indonesian


Bolivia 

Bolivia FTO SHG EP Caranavi
Country: Bolivia Grade: SHG Region: Caranavi, Yungas Mark: Caranavi, Cenaproc Coop "de Montana"
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes:I have been waiting and waiting for a Bolivia coffee like this, and let me tell you, I passed up quite a few to find it. In fact, I suspected that the entire crop might be off this year, so mild and insipid where the Bolivia coffees I was cupping. And these were from the best small farms and cooperatives I had visited there. But here is a coffee that is everything a Bolivia should be, a lively, light-bodied, bright, dynamic coffee. What is up with that name? Well, I thought it would be a funny to include every proper type label that comes on the burlaps of this coffee: FTO SHG EP: Fair Trade Certified, Organic Certified, Strictly High Grown, European Preparation. The name is a mouthful - but I would rather just enjoy the cup... it's good. 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 through 2005, 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" mill produces their best Strictly High Grown coffees. For me, a great Bolivia is not a powerhouse coffee, it's a fragile, fragrant cup that deserves the tasters attention. The dry fragrance is a little unusual here, having an unusual nutty sweetness to it. I found it a bit like Nutella, the hazelnut-chocolate spread. Evaluating the brewing coffee (i.e. wet aromatics, sniffing the crust, breaking the cup - not literally though), the floral, aspects come out, with a vanilla bean waft in there too. The cup flavors have sweet red apple, that same nut note, soft chocolate tones and vanilla. As it cooled I thought of praline and that reminded me that this flavor combination was a bit like Toblerone. Which one you ask? You know, the milk chocolate one in the tan triangular box, not the dark one.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Mild intensity / Delicate balance of fine floral and fruit   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:City+, seriously … the bright notes are buried at FC+
Score (Max. 100) 86.1 Compare to: Bright, Lively Cup; comparisons to Typica-derived Centrals (such as Panamas) and such are worth making.


Brazil 

Brazil Coromandel - Fazenda Sao Joao
Country: Brazil Grade: 17/18 Screen, SS, FC Region: Coromandel, Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: Fazenda Sao Joao, Reginaldo Silvoni
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Catuai (Selection 144)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes:Coromandel is a coffee from Minas Gerais, more speciifically from the savana-like area called the Cerrado. This Coromandel has decent altitude compared to other areas of Cerrado (1000 meters) and a very dry climate. To aid in the coffee production and help increase even ripening, Fazenda Arco Sao Joao uses an efficient drip irrigation system for their coffee. (Many farms in Cerrado, if the irrigate, use inefficient overhead spray irrigation). The farm is strictly a family operation: José Silvone is the father, working with his two sons Reginaldo Silvone and Cristiano Silvone. I was really impressed with the sweetness of this cup from the start, and floral aroma. The cup has the roast character you expect from good Brazil coffees from Cerrado, full body, nutty in the lighter roasts and good hefty chocolate in the darker roasts. But this lot also has floral aromatics, and a good rustic sweetness, honey-like at City+ roast, more bittersweet a toffee-like at FC roast. There's a hint of root beer and aromatic wood in this cup, and a mild tannin dryness in the aftertaste. It's almost a shame to use this in blends for espresso, but it does that service well. Howerver, I think the straight shots of FC+ roast are better than any blend, and I recommend you try this as unblended espresso. In fact, I had one of the most remarkable shots I can recall from an FC roast of this Sao Joao (which means Saint John, by the way). For brew methods or for extraction, it's a great Brazil lot. I like all 5 samples we were shown of this coffee, but this particular one, lot 283, was by farm my favorite, as it was with the other cuppers who evaluated them with me.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium intensity / Sweetness, body, floral hint   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:For brewed coffee I have best results at City+, and Full City or FC+ for SO espresso
Score (Max. 100) 86.6 Compare to: Excellent quality single-Estate Brazil, with nuanced cup profile.

Brazil Moreninha Formosa WP Decaf
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Serra do Salitre, Minas Gerais, Cerrado Mineiro Mark: Moreninha Formosa
Processing: Dry-Processed on raised screens, then WP Decaf Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 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 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. Your average decaf Brazil is a fairly neutral cup, and its main use is for decaf espresso blends, but can offer an interesting straight roast if you target the right roast level. 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. I think this cup is much better than a basic Brazil decaf! It holds up well to a little more roast than most decafs (I recommend FC to FC+) and has such good body and chocolate notes, with low acidity. may Brazil decafs are best saves for espresso, and mediocre as a brewed cup. But here there is a dark brown sugar sweetness lingering with mild chocolate notes.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Mild intensity / Full Body, low acidity
add 50 50 Roast:Full City to Full City+: works best as a lighter roast for brewed coffee.
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Compare to: Mild, full body, low acid cup profile, and a rare lot in that it is a single-farm Brazil decaf lot.

Brazil Cerrado 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, then WP Decaf Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 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 a couple years back. 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 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. Expertise in coffee preparation is offered to the growers via the mill, and guarantees the best resulting cup quality and better prices to the farmer. The cup is very rustic, fruited, chocolatey, and thick. I mean, this coffee has dense, big body. And the natural, somewhat earthy-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. The chocolate character depends on the roast. At a C+ roast, it is quite nutty, and a long slow FC+ roast has a dense bittersweet character. In all cases, this is a low acidity cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold intensity / Chocolate, rustic, nutty, full-body.   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:Full City to Full City+
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Great natural dry-process Brazil with lots of rustic chocolate, especially in drum roasts.

Brazil Cachoeira da Grama Yellow Bourbon
Country: Brazil Grade: 2/3s SS FC Region: Sao Paolo/Minas border area Mark: Fazenda Cachoeira, (Certified Organic for UK, not USA)
Processing: Pulp Natural Process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon, patio-dried in sun.
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes:Fazenda Cachoeira has been in the Carvalho Dias family a short time ... just since 1890! Fazenda Cachoeira (it means waterfall, which is why their is more than one Cachoeira farm) is located in São Paolo State 3 miles from the border with Minas Gerais State. It enjoys the typical characteristics of the mountainous Sul de Minas regions that have made it the "heartland" of Brasilian coffee for amany decades. Gabriel de Carvalho Dias, the owner, is also one of the leading Brazil’s leading agronomists, an example of how it takes a very educated approach to tackle the challenges of organic coffee production. They recently celebrated their 106th crop, and recently their Organic coffees have acheived some recognition in the BSCA Brazil Late Harvest Competition, and it made the final rounds in the 06 Brazil CoE, placing 16 in the end. (Note that we cannot sell this coffee with "Organic" in the title, we discovered, because the certifying agency is authorized for the UK, not the USA). On this farm everything is done manually since its topography does not allow any kind of mechanisation as you might find in the flat Cerrado savanna terrain. With a total area of 417 hectares, Fazenda Cachoeira has a coffee area of 165 hectares, along woth other crops, ranch, and nature preserve. The dry mill is located in the spa town of Pocos de Caldas. The farm has other cultivars besides the Yellow Bourbon we offer here, but this is the most well-known. Organic Yellow Bourbon, a low-yield traditional cultivar grown using low-yield organic methods: its a formula for great potential quality but not a lot of coffee production! The Bourbon is prized for sweet balance in the cup, and rounded body; a great short description for this coffee. A roast note: I based my comments on the lighter test roasts I did, but keep in mind that this coffee has a very wide roast "window" and that an FC+ roast or even light Vienna produces an excellent bittersweet chocolate cup! At C+ the cup has an attractive, savory sweetness, one one hand herbal and sagey/rosemary, on the other a sweet cedar. The rounded, balanced personality of this cup is its most striking aspect, with a really positive woodiness (not a woody flavor due to oldness!). I get cedar and mesquite, but balanced by a rustic honey/toffee sweetness, and pralined nuts. The mouthfeel is silky, and the aftertasted has a hint of tangerine, with lingering clean tobacco and cedar notes. I don't mean to characterize this as a Sumatra- its not a musty, funky coffee; it balances its rustic components with sweetness, and that's why it also makes a great S.O. espresso. This lot is late 06 harvest and export, and is a special 100% sun dried/ screen-dried lot. It outcupped the mechanical dried lot by a hair ... but an important hair; it has more sweetness and more body. Every hair counts!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Mild to Medium intensity / Balance, body, sweetness, rustic elements   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:City+ is the roast I described above but this lot excels under a wide variety of roasts, C+ to FC to Vienna
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Excellent balanced sweet Brazilian cup profile

Brazil Organic -Fazenda Jacaranda
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Organic Region: Sul de Minas Mark: Jacaranda Estate, Organic Cert.
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Icatu, Catuai, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes:Fazenda Jacaranda is at 1200 meters altitude in Sul de Minas, Brazil. It's an old farm, 6 generations in the Franco family, founded in 1856! Carlos Franco and his sons now run the farm with a new, innovative vision toward sustainability, and Fazenda Jacaranda has Organic certification from the Biodynamic Institute of Brasil (IBD). This coffee comes fairly late in the season when most natural dry-process coffees have already arrived. It has a very clean cup compared to other naturals that are a lot more fruity-pulpy, or have more rustic earth notes or even medicinal flavor qualities. The fragrance from the dry grounds of a Full City roast sample have a dark sweetness to them, bittersweet chocolate and ground hazelnuts. There are warming spice notes in the wet aroma, dark malted sweetness, and caramel, with a touch of herby goldenseal. The cup has an amazingly balanced chocolate note, at first bittersweet, but more like a sweet milk chocolate as the cup cools. Ripe fruited flavors lurk in the shadows of the chocolate foreground taste. I have trouble defining this mild, clean fruited character, partly because of how well it integrates itself into the other cup flavors. It's ripe, winey, mature fruit though. Ever have chocolate with winey, fruit peeking out from behind the dominant bitter/sweet flavors? The body has a very silky-creamy quality, and lends itself to the subdued, tenor-to-bass range finish. Now, the real treat here is Single Origin espresso. I can't recommend this coffee enough for SO espresso, especially at a relatively light FC to FC+ range. It seems to draw out soooo much from this coffee: It has great aroma, sweetness, lemony brightness, dutch cocoa, long chocolate aftertaste. If you like SO espresso, you really *must* try this.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium intensity / Balanced, clean, chocolate and fruit
add 50 50 Roast:For brewed coffee I have best results at Full City, or FC+ for espresso
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: Cups a bit more like a pulp natural process Brazil than a Dry Process, yet it is the later.

Brazil WP Decaf - Mogiana
Country: Brazil Grade: 2/3s SS FC Region: Mogiana, Minas Gerais Mark: N/A
Processing: Dry-Processed, then WP Decaf Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes:Decaf Brazil is a fairly neutral cup, and its main use is for decaf espresso blends, but can offer an interesting straight roast if you target the right roast level. 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. Although the aromatics are low, this is an excellent "special purpose" coffee, great for a lo-caf blend base, and it's a nice low acid brewed cup at C+ roast. For espresso, it produces adequate crema, and works 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 Ethiopia decaf.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Mild intensity / Full Body, low acidity
add 50 50 Roast:Full City to Full City+: works best as a lighter roast for brewed coffee.
Score (Max. 100) 84.8 Compare to: Mild, full body, low acid cup profile

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, then WP Decaf Crop: May 2007 arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Mundo Novo, Bourbon
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? At the roast level I recommend, FC to FC+ (light Vienna too), the fruited notes are diminished and a gigantic bittersweet chocolate emerges. The body is undiminished by a darker roast level, and has a thick, viscous mouthfeel. This is a great choice for SO espresso (Single Origin, straight, unblended, get it?) or as a blend base. We had a different lot of Moreninha Formosa earlier in the season, and I was so impressed I wanted to get more from a later shipment to extend our offering of this coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold intensity / chocolate, rustic, nutty, heavy-body   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:Full City to Full City+
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Great, fruited, natural dry-process Brazil, excellent body and chocolate notes with a fruited subtext. Perhaps a bit less fruit that our Poco Fundo lot, more chocolate, more balance.

Brazil Organic Camocim Moka (Peaberry)
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Peaberry Region: Pedra Azul, Espirito Santo Mark: Camocim Estate, Organic Cert.
Processing: Pulp Natural Process Crop: May 2007 arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Icatu, Catuai, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: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. It might seem confusing, but Moka is what they call Peaberry in Brazil, just as they call it Caracol in Central America. Camocim Farm is in Espirito Santo, 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. This farm grows Catucai, Bourbon, Icatu and Catuai, and this lot of Moka Peaberry is a blend of these cultivars. The 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. And given their special process methods, and the international competition to buy their coffee, we pay a healthy premium for our special lots from them; the Moka, the Bourbon and the Jacu. This lot was prepared just for us, and has as it's main feature a very thick, waxy mouthfeel, low acidity, good nut-to-chocolate tonality from the roast, and some floral-herbal hints and aromatic wood notes. I found a wide range of roasts that perform well here, but FC to FC+, just at the verge of 2nd crack or a few snaps into it, had greater intensity. The cup comes to life as it cools, and it's worth mentioning that I pulled some remarkable single origin, single farm espresso shots from this Moka lot on my Andreja.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
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:Medium intensity (brewed) / Low-acidity, nuttiness, excellent body   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:For brewed coffee I have best results at Full City+ roast, for espresso a light Vienna
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Compare to: Natural dry-processed Brasil, even though this is a pulped natural. Please Note: This coffee has a very ruddy appearance due to the special "resting period" of the coffee in parchment.

Brazil FTO Dry-Process Poco Fundo
Country: Brazil Grade: Non-traditional Region: Sul de Minas Mark: Poco Fundo, FTO (Fair Trade, Organic)
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: March 2007 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 - Movement (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   cfa
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 Minas Gerais Competition -3rd Place
Country: Brazil Grade: Cerrado Competition Graded Region: Estrela do Sul, Cerrado, Minas Gerais Mark: Brazil Minas Gerais Competition
Processing: Pulp Natural Process Crop: Late May 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unsure
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes:This lot was my favorite from all of the dry-processed and pulped natural coffees in the 2006-2007 Brazil Minas Competition. It is from the same region as our Fazenda Sertao coffee (Nazareth Dias Pereira), and the Top Sky mark coffees. In fact, it is from the same group, Aprocam, that we get those lots from, and who placed so well in the Brazil Cup of Excellence. Other than all that, I actually don't know what farm in their "group" this coffee comes from. But the cup is excellent! The dry fragrance has vivid fruited notes, sweet natural honey, and hazelnut. Add water and the wet aromatics have an orangey note, jasmine tea, and unfiltered honey. Between the aromatics of the grounds and wet brew, you have a pretty good idea what is coming in the cup; silky sweet herbal, floral and honey notes, with a slight citrus hint. It sounds like a description that could be applied to Ethiopia coffees, but overall we are talking about the Brazil tonal range; in the scheme of things this is still a low-acid, full body coffee with in a mildly rustic hue. But put it beside another brazil, especially one we might say typifies a "good solid blend base" and this coffees unique nuances are dramatic and distinct.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold intensity / Full body, sweet bright fruit notes   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:City+ to 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) 87.4 Compare to: Natural, full body Brasil with full body and intense chocolate.

Brazil Organic Camocim - Pure Bourbon
Country: Brazil Grade: Estate Region: Pedra Azul, Espirito Santo Mark: Camocim Estate, Organic Cert.
Processing: Pulp Natural Process Crop: May 2007 arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon
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   cfa
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 Daterra Farms -Yellow Bourbon
Country: Brazil Grade: Penta Grade System Region: Minas Gerais State, Cerrado Region Mark: Daterra Farms, Yellow Bourbon
Processing: Pulp Natural Process Crop: Late March 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes:Daterra Farms is a remarkable force in the Brazilian coffee world, and the entire coffee world in general. Here we find one of the most innovative coffee cultivators, where each step is scrutinized, rethought, reinvented. It is more of a coffee research institute than a farm! Well, that's not true ... like all farms the coffee tree predominates, but here we have each plot marked off in terms of what "experiment" is currently being conducted to improve cup quality. When I visited there were plots of huge 20 foot tall "native" coffee trees, then pure Catuai cultivar areas, Icatu, Mundo Novo and other cultivars I have never encountered. And then there were the old traditional cultivars, Typica and , pure Yellow Bourbon. They blend the various plots, like a vintner might blend their grapes from within a farm, to get the desired results. They sell these blends (such as Sweet Yellow, Reserve, Santa Columba, etc) but I prefer the pure Yellow Bourbon cultivar, unblended. We arranged for this coffee to be imported for us, and it underwent the same special Penta system preparation as the Reserve. What's Penta? It's Daterra's system to sort coffee under black flourescent lights, with added defect removal steps, store in special warehouses optimized for coffee, locking in the moisture content in the green coffee with vacuum packaging, boxing and shipping. Perhaps it is the future of green coffee, primarily because coffee must be trasported through humid zones in the origin country and (especially if the container of traditional burlap bags gets waylaid at port) can result in the coffee taking on moisture; it's a bad thing. I could go on and on, to the extent that I made a separate page about Daterra Farms to save space in this review. The cup has a strong almondy fragrance from the dry grounds, with a suggestion of sage. These are caried through in the wet aromatics, and through the entire cup; herbal notes and nuts. The cup features a rustic sweetness (what I describe as Bee Pollen in another review is fitting here) and suggestions of graham cracker. There is a pleasant dryness I would describe as almond skins, which become more like hazelnut in the finish. I find a citric trace in the the lighter roasts, and across the board there is more brightness here than in most good Brasil coffees. It is a tribute to the farm, to the owner Luis Norberto Pascoal, and his crew that a coffee can be so expertly prepared, so carefully handled, and have such defined cup character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium intensity / Almondy, herbal, rustic sweet notes   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:City+ is most intense, and also somewhat bright for a Brazil coffee. FC+ converts nut notes to chocolate notes, but is actually slightly less intense and complex than C+
Score (Max. 100) 87.9 Compare to: Dynamic, vivid Brazil cup with even roast results.

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 - Movement (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!



Burundi 

Burundi Buyendi AA, FWS (Fully Washed Super grade)
Country: Burundi Grade: AA, FWS Region: Buyendi, Central Plateau Mark: Buyendi
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2001 Appearance: 1d/300gr, 16-18scr Varietal: Jackson Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) NA Notes:Burundi has been unavailable for several years in the US while the ethnic problems divided the country. You can read the presence of this coffee as a sign that those problems are reconciled to the point that the small-holder farmers can get their cash crop to market, and hopefully the economic benefit of this will shore up stability. But the most interesting aspect is that the preparation and cup quality of this lot of Burundi is really excellent. It is a milder coffee, not as edgy as an abided Kenya, but with great balance. And yet it has that distinctive "wild" note in the finish to keep the cup character interesting ... a similar flavor as you will find in Zambian and Zimbabwe coffees. It is not a sweet cup, more pungent than fruity, and roasted to a Full City + it has great bittersweet roast tastes without the loss of body (as can happen as some coffees are roasted darker. A very nice cup, an encouraging sign, and a hope that we see this nice coffee with the 2002/3 crop too!
Wet Aroma (1-5) NA
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) NA
Flavor - Depth (1-10) NA
Body - Movement (1-5) NA
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) NA
Cupper's Correction (1-5) NA Intensity/Prime Attribute:
add 50 50 Roast:Full City. I like this with a darker roast on it as it maintains the body, but develops some nice pungency and bittersweetness. It is also neat as a straight-roast espresso when roasted to Full City+ or beyond
Score (Max. 100) NA Compare to: A Kenyan with much less refinement

see the 2001-2002 Archive


Cameroon

Cameroon Caplami Java
Country: Cameroon Grade: 1 Region: West Highlands Mark: UCCAO Caplami Java
Processing: Semi-washed Process Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Longber Varietal: Java Longberry
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes:Cameroon is an oddball in the Specialty Coffee terms. For starters, this is West African coffee, not East African like most other arabica offerings such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Rwanda. And a large percentage of Cameroon’s coffee has traditionally been robusta, grown in all provinces except the north, while arabica is mainly produced in the high altitudes of the west, northwest and east. The western highlands of Cameroon, where much of the coffee is grown, averages about 5,000 feet above sea level and has two distinct seasons, the rainy season and dry season, which benefits quality arabica. This lot is from the UCCAO Caplami Cooperative, and is an unusual longberry Java cultivar, quite similar in appearance to the long, pointed Java Longberry from Placeres Estate (Nicaragua) that we offer. In terms of the cup, the dominant qualities bear resemblence to Indonesian cup character, with some distinct differences too. The dry fragrance from the grounds is chocolatey, a bit earthy (a la Sumatra) and has a molasses sweetness at FC rast, and a nutmeg/mace spice hint at C+ roast. Wet aromas have chocolate, gingerbread, aromatic wood, and a mild earthiness. The cup has a molasses sweetness, a dense, thick body, and an earthy-woody dimension. There are spicey "cinnamon stick" notes, and a mild lemon oil brightness that you would not find in the Indonesia coffees that the intial flavors bring to mind. The finish has a tobacco and aromatic wood suggestion to it ... and there is also a very odd green flavor that, in some roasts reminded me of chayote and in others a green tea note. I found one defect cup in 10 I brewed, with a strong grassy flavor ... but I think this coffee is worth the risk. It's unusual, and worth the risk of an occasional stinky cup. As an interesting side-note, I made some unbelievably good Single Origin espresso with this coffee at FC and FC+ roast. Fruit and floral aspects emerged that were quite unexpected, alluding to Yirgacheffe!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold intensity / Rustic sweets, spice, chocolate, high body.
add 50 50 Roast:C+ FC, FC+, Vienna - interesting coffee at a wide range of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Like an Indonesian coffee in it's basic attributes, but with unusual differences


Colombia 


Colombia Supremo 13353 Antioquia
Country: Colombia Grade: (Excelso EP) Region: Antioquia Mark: Pooled lot
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Cattura and Typica (unconfirmed)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Here's one of those cases where a fairly generic "Specialty Coffee" offering turns out to be pretty dang good. In these cases, I am always put into a bit of a quandry; we're all about micro-lots and top-tier coffees. What do I do when I find nice cup character from a big 320 bag, full-shipping-container lot that most and Joe could phone up the broker and buy? Well, I get off my high horse and offer it, at a correspondingly good price. I still feel odd. I can't verify that the farmer was paid well, I don't even know what general parts of Antioquia this comes from. (Nice Colombias used to be called MAMs, which stood for this massive triangle of coffee-growing land from Medellin to Antioquia to Manizales, MAM). Anyway, I really feel this cup is what good lots pooled from many small farms used to taste like, a classic Colombia flavor marked by pleasantly bittersweetness, intensity and balance. The dry fragrance has a perfect balance of fruited tones masked by sweet caramel and chocolate roast notes. It has good intensity to these aromatics, with a floral scent from the wet grounds, sweet vanilla wafer cookies, strawberry, and watermelon. The cup flavors are more bittersweet than the aroma lets on ... with Brazil nut and macademia tones, and fruited raisin notes behind the tangy, pleasantly bittering effect. The cup seems juicy overall. The cup is intense in this way, with an almost Sumatra-like quality, and there's a pungency here too, a bit clove and pepper. I roasted some samples fairly light and felt that the resulting roasty cup flavors I tasted corresponded to a darker roasted coffee, with the benefit of having the fruited tones undiminished by a darker roast treatment. So I recommend a relatively light roast here, although the FC cups were tasty too, and this coffee can take a wide range of roasts. In all this is the kind of balance that is a classic quality of Colombia pooled lots from the past, but I don't find often in these combined Specialty offerings.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity/ Cl;assic Colombia bittersweetness and solid balance. colombia supremo review 
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City. The light roasts taste darker than you might expect.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Classic Colombia cup of yore…

Colombia MC Decaf - Huila Pitalito
Country: Colombia Grade: Excelso Region: Pitalito Region, South Huila Mark: Tres Lunas
Processing: Wet Processed, then MC decaf. Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Tres Lunas is a mark from the Pitalito area of Huila. In recent years we have been buying some remarkable coffees from this region of South Huila department, and in fact our most recent Cup of Excellence coffee is from the same area. So what we have here is a great coffee, sent direct to the German decaffeination plant KVW for their Methyl Chloride (MC) process and then returned to us. While there is often the strong possibility of a coffee going "flat" at the decaf plant, losing all its origin character, it always helps to start with a great coffee. Traditionally, brokers bought decaf from the plant, coffee supplied from lower grade "stocklots" by the decaffeinator themselves. The results were never very impressive. Now we are able to designate high quality lots, and get these kinds of results. In fact, this is one of the brightest, most lively decaf Colombia lots we have ever had, and I dare say it keeps pace with fine quality non-decaf Colombia offerings. The aromatics are fairly mild, but have marked sweetness, nutty roast tones, and hints of citrus. There are more toasty nut notes in the wet aromatics, with vanilla and sweet apricot. This cup is extraordinarily lively and bright, reminding me of the really nice Yirgacheffe decafs; distinct, bold lemony brightness (at the City+ stage, specifically). In fact, it is so bright that some might want to take this to FC roast to tone down this piquant brightness. The aftertaste has a well defined, cleanly-disappearing citrus sweetness. The body is fairly light, which is not at all a negative because it suits the brisk nature of this cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity /Very bright lemon citrus notes  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for the cup I describe, FC if you want to tone down the brightness a bit
Score (Max. 100) 86.6 Compare to: This Huila cups like a Huila: it seems to have forgotten that it was sent to Germany and decaffeinated.

Colombia Choco - El Carmen del Atrato
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: El Carmen, Choco Department Mark: El Carmen del Atrato town
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen Varietal: Caturra, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: This micro-lot is unique in many ways (including the excellent cup quality!) It is the only coffee I have ever heard of from the department (state) of Choco in Colombia. Choco is adjacent to the well-known coffee-producing department of Antioquia, and is far north, actually sharing a border of nearly impassible jungle with Panama. It is the far eastern boundry toward Antiquia where El Carmen is situated, and that brings us to another unique factor; this is the only Colombia I have known that is from the Pacific side of the western mountain range, the Cordillera Occidental. So this farmer group (it is a coop) produces very little coffee under different weather conditions than most other Colombia coffees. They also grow coffee at very high altitudes in dramatically vertical terrain ranging from 1300 to 1600 meters. The coffee has qualities mildly reminicent of Kenya in terms of winey fruited notes. I cup tested this at roasts between City+ and FC+ and really can't tell you which roast level I prefer: I liked them all! Aromatics is a strong suit here; the dry fragrance has that sweet raisiny character with plum-like fruit and something I can best describe as "berries in granola". Wet aroma adds to this a floral tea note, and a refined honey sweetness. The cup, while having traces of East African fruit and black currant, isn't nearly so aggressive. Instead it is quite lush and rounded. The finish is honey-like in sweetness, balanced, and clean. For me, this is a coffee that can be termed "elegant", especially in the aftertaste, although I think some would not find raisins and granola a good fit for that descriptor!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / balance, fruits, finish  
add 50 50 Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Score (Max. 100) 87.6 Compare to: We have had Huila coffees like this before, but they had more pronounced acidity. But Choco is a completely different terrain and climate.

Colombia Supremo 15943
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Unknown! Mark: 15943
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: What should I do when I get a sample of a generic "Specialty grade" coffee, the kind I 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 Supremo 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! This happened last year with an Excelso grade coffee. And I must admit, whenever I see "Supremo" offered it just seems right to spell the name wrong, i.e. Columbia. I have seen it so many times on the menus of roasters who offer bulk-lot coffees. Now I am not saying this has crazy character on the level of CoE lots, and Gesha coffees and Kenya Auction Lots, just that it is a really nice "crowd-pleaser" with the operative terms "sweet" being applicable at all stages. The point here is the cup, and it is very sweetly fruited. Dry fragrance has plum and grape jelly sweetness to it, turning to malt syrup when you add the hot water. There's a spicy zest in there too, peppery and piquant. The cup flavors are again, sweet, rounded, fruity, with bit of stone fruit (plum that is) "pulpyness" in the finish. It is not that acidic, but has a soft, ripe, pleasing purple grape flavor, perhaps headed toward a winey Kenya-esque quality. Anyway, here it is, plain old Columbia ...er, I mean Colombia Supremo; 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) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
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: My sample roasts were between C+ and FC. You can go darker, of course, but trace floral aspects are lost.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but I really don't now where the heck it is from! A very nice "crowd pleasing coffee".

Colombia Cup of Excellence - El Caucho
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: Pitalito, Huila Mark: 2007 Cup of Excellence Lot 11
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: El Caucho is a small farm in the Pitalito area of Huila. The owner, Reinaldo Vargas Suárez, is the sole year-round employee farming his 1 hectare of coffee, and he hires 7 others to help during the harvest. The farm is at 1330 meters altitude, and planted entirely in Caturra cultivar. The international jury scored this coffee 87.8, just missing the top 10, but for me, this lot and the #15 were really exceptional. Sure, I liked the #1 too, but other than that, the top 10 was hit-or-miss. This is my experience with CoE cupping, and it is entirely appropriate that the selection process identifies 30 great lots of coffee, while the specific ranking of those is a lot more subjective. But, as opposed to the #1 which we would have to sell at $25 a lb. here is my own personal 2nd place coffee at a fraction of the price: who says buying quality can't be a good value too. In cupping all the lots, this one immeditately distiguished itself for its unusual sweetness, slightly rustic in a way, but in no way "dirty." The dry fragrance of this coffee is very sweet, caramelly, but also has hints of the complexity to come later. There's a pleasantly bittersweet, agresssive note here. The aromatics are well fruited, with a little cherry, and peach ... but again, a very complex nose. For me, the cup flavors distinguish this from the other Cup of Excellence lots in both character and intensity. This isn't simply a clean, sweet coffee. It has dimension, with bittersweet finish, fleshy fruit notes (apricot, mango, peach) as well as Papaya. Each time I cupped it, an image of a different fruit came to mind, which for me indicates complexity (or perhaps you could call in multiple personalities!). There's a berry tea / floral note, with orange rind traces (perhaps a hint at the Caturra variety, noted for its citric traces). The body is creamy, much more velvety than other Huila lots. The finish is a bit crisp and tannic, drying, tight, and well-defined, with a trace of fresh tobacco. It's odd to have a Huila coffee with this sweetness, body, complexity, and that crisp, edgy twist in the cup; tea, tobacco, bittersweets. Because we went to great lengths to have this lot emptied from it's jute bags, vacuum-packaged and boxed in Colombia, it survived the ocean voyage in fantastic shape, having all the freshness and intensity that the sample submitted to Cup of Excellence possessed. Loss of cup quality due to poor handling in transit can really add up with these top tier coffees, so we keep exploring ways to have them arrive here in pristine condition...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity /unique sweetness and complexity  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: This Huila cups a bit out of character, perhaps like a Cauca coffee, with intense brightness and complexity.

Colombia Huila San Augustin Micro-lot
Country: Colombia Grade: (Excelso EP) Region: San Augustin, Huila Mark: FNC San Augustin small lots
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: San Augustin is know for several things: the fantastic Idolos, ruins dating to 3000 B.C.. And then there are bandits and guerillas still active in the surrounding areas (although the town of San Augustin itself is quite placid). And finally there is the remarkable coffee grown in the area. This lot is from combined smallholder farms and has a distinction from our other Huila coffees of late: it is incredibly balanced. We have found Huila coffees with more striking acidity (and I love a good, bright, citric accent in the cup). And usually I look to coffees from the Cauca valley for more tenor-to-bass toned cups. But here is a Huila with fat, rounded body, and moderate acidity. The dry fragrance has a strong milk chocolate scent with almond undertones. There are suggestions of almond in the wet aromatics, as well as the cup flavors. Remarkably balanced between these nutty and chocolate tones, there is a long aftertaste with fruited (pear, papaya) secondary flavors. It's the rounded body that makes the cup so alluring and balanced. It's so sweet, sweetly fruited, and balanced. I would rank this as a top "crowd-pleaser" coffee, which is not to say it lacks character, or is middle-of-the-road in any way. It has the body that people respond to, and avoids the acidity that can be controversial for some folks- it's drinkin' coffee! This lot reminds me of how cup quality can be ruined at any point too; it arrived with a sister lot that was awful, totally baggy tasting. How can one lot come in shimmering and beautiful, and the other tired and baggy tasting. I dunno.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /incredible balance, great body, moderate acidity, fruits  
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: This Huila cups a bit more like the Cauca/Popayan coffees. Great depth of character.

Colombian Nariño -Reserva Del Patron
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Nariño, SW Colombia Mark: Reserva del Patron
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: June 2007 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.

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.

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 - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium Intensity/ Cocoa   cfa
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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