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Mexico 

Mexico Organic Oaxaca WP Decaf
Country: Mexico Grade: HG Region: Oaxaca Mark: Organic Certified
Processing: Wet Process, then Wp decaf Crop: July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: 100% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Along with the really good, small-farm coffees from Chiapas, Oaxaca coffees are my favorite. This coffee originates from a cooperative lot from Mexico's Oaxacan state, and is then decaffeinated using the water process method in Mexico. And I actually was really excited when I cupped this coffee … even if a big decaf cupping is not always my favorite table of coffees to evaluate. This was a real standout on the table with a very balanced, clean cup, mild milk chocolate notes, and a modicum of brightness. It was the nuances in the cup that I rarely find in decafs, and especially a suggestion of Citrus brightness in the finish. The roast taste at a City+ roast is excellent; vanilla with a bit of almond nuttiness, and the brightness in the cup is there too, hinting at its origin as a true high-grown Chiapas. This also does quite well with a Full City + or light Vienna roast treatment, turning sweetly pungent at the darker levels.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Roast taste, firm acidity, nuanced cup
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; The body is light at all roast stages; the roast flavors at Vienna are pleasantly carbony and sharp.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Compare to: A balanced Oaxaca cup profile

Mexico Chiapas - La Union Coop
Country: Mexico Grade: Alturra Region: Chiapas Mark: La Union Otillio Montano Coop
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Mostly Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: We have bought from this cooperative for 10 years now, including last year's "Rebuild Chiapas" lot where we paid a premium to help with hurricane recovery projects around Motozintla, where the headquarters for the coop are. This year, I visited to try to seek out particular communities of farmers that might have coffee with unique cup character, despite the fact the co-op operates by pooling coffees into bulk lots from a wide range of farmer-groups. They agreed to produce some micro-regional lots, but frankly the results were just average. It proved to me that I can't take a cookie-cutter approach in dealing with producers, constantly preaching the benefits of separating micro-lots in search of cup quality, with a 2x or 3x premium for resulting coffees. It just may not work everywhere in terms of better cup quality or in the co-ops economic self-interest. So I went pack to cupping all their pooled lots and surprisingly I came up with this great coffee ... surprising in that it is not FTO certified like 80% of their coffee. I like FTO, especially from Chiapas, but I can't pass up on a coffee simply because it lacks the certs ... so here it is, just a really nice Chiapas lot without all the decoration. Immediately this lot jumped out at me for the fruited not in the dry fragrance, suggesting banana, married to nice cocoa with nuts. Not a bad start. I find a lot of sweetness in the wet aroma, syrupy, with praline character. The cup is mild, as Chiapas is bound to be, with fairly light body (the mouthfeel is doughy in texture). But it has this same, mildly rustic sweetness as the aromatics, like raw brown sugar. In fact, this reminds me of the traditional Mexican cone-shaped sugar cakes, Panela, in the aftertaste. There's a caramel apple quality in the cup, which has moderate brightness and is fairly short in the aftertaste. It's a simple cup perhaps, but what a nice antidote to over-the-top Yemens and Kenyas and such! It's drinkin' coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, light body,  
add 50 50 Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: A sweet and simple cup with interesting nut, chocolate and fruit aspects

Mexico FTO Oaxaca Pluma
Country: Mexico Grade: HG/SHG Region: Oaxaca Pluma Mark: CEPCO Cooperative, Fair Trade and Organic Cert.
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica apparently (unverified)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Bright and unsweet. We're not talking about a person here, but this Fair Trade, Organic Oaxaca coffee. It doesn't sound like a flattering description (for a person or a coffee … who wants to hang out with someone who is intelligent and nasty?) And as far as a coffee goes, sweetness is the prized cup quality that comes only with the highest grown, best-processed coffees. But bitterness is indeed a key to the coffee beverage, not unpleasant, alkaloid-astringent bitterness, not rough bitterness, but good bitterness. The best comparison is worn out, but we must use it again: chocolate. Why is dark chocolate so appealing and baker's chocolate so awful to taste directly? That is the role of sweetness in coffee; so let me rephrase and say this is bittersweet in the best of ways, like good 70% Cacao bittersweet chocolate. To achieve this youa re going to need Full City to FC+ roast range, perhaps light Vienna if you want a tangy, carbony touch too. Now that I have focused on the chocolate roast notes, I want to mention another aspect of this cup: the intensely pleasant nut tones at City + roast level, and this is where the brightness is at a peak. If you stop the roast at this stage, there is a toasted almond quality to the cup, in both the aromatics and the cup flavors. There is more brightness here that other Oaxaca coffees I have cupped this year, hinting at it's high altitude origin, and perhaps a general "up" trend in Oaxaca coffee this season. That brightness "roasts off" a bit at FC+ roast, but at City roast the cup cools to a citrus skin accent. There's also a very fine pine resin aromatic in the City + roast, something I have found rarely in Kona coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity*/ Nutty and chocolate bittersweet tonality, brightness *Note: Intensity much greater at FC roast  
add 50 50 Roast: Oaxaca coffees take a very wide range of roasts: C+ for toasted almond roast notes, FC+ for a more bittersweet chocolate- themed cup.
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Great, balanced Oaxaca, with hints of Kona and Nicaragua (Madriz, Nueva Segovia)

Mexico Oaxaca Pluma -Don Eduardo
Country: Mexico Grade: HG/SHG Region: Oaxaca Pluma Mark: "Don Eduardo", Calvo Export
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: This cup stood out on the table of Oaxaca coffees because of sweet fruit in the aromatics, and a winey touch in the cup. It's interesting because when blind cupping against many similar lots, this aspect is so pronounced, but on it's own it becomes a more subtle part of the cup character. (Perhaps this is another distinction between "tasting" and drinking coffee! Yes, in a way tasting is quite different then simply enjoyign a cuppa joe, since you are comparing fine details in similar coffees, and using a method and focus that isn't part of the daily coffee ritual.) But the fruited note, and winey cup character is there indeed, and gives subtle dimension to the cup, be it in a blind tasting or a 12 oz mug. The aromatics have good nut and chocolate bittersweetness (FC roast). A good Oaxaca isn't overly sweet, but more like a semi-sweet chocolate, and this cup has that character. Tangy bittersweetness pervades the cup from start to finish at FC roast, while the lighter roast has a filbert nuttiness to it. This coffee can take a wide range of roast, and show balanced flavors throughout. As it cools the perceived brightness is greater, but not out of range of the other cup flavors. Tasting the various roast levels, I can't help feel justified at thinking (once again) that Oaxaca is the poor man's Kona, or should I say the smart man's Kona. Here we have pure Typica cultivar (like Kona), balance, chocolate tangy notes, fruited and winey hints, medium body, mild cup character overall. Those are all the things we find in the highest tier of Kona coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/Balance, Tangy bittersweets (FC), fruited and winey hints.  
add 50 50 Roast: This lot takes a very wide range of roasts: FC to FC+ is perhaps my favorite, a few snaps into 2nd rack even, but the lighter roast has great filbert nutty roast taste too.
Score (Max. 100) 85.8 Compare to: Really good Oaxaca, in my mind, bears resemblence to the best of Kona. This cup reminds me of that, again.

Mexico Organic Nayarit Terruno
Country: Mexico Grade: Alturra Region: Nayarit Mark: Terruno
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: dec 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: It's late in the season to be receiving a Mexican coffee shipment, but I was charmed by this sweet, simple, mild cup. It's from an area that is new to me, too. it is from the state of Nayarit, more specifically, west of the capital, Tepic. The 260 small-holder farms in this group are clustered around Cerro San Juan, an extinct volcano, so the soil type and altitude contribute to the cup quality. Nayarit is fairly low (the city of Tepic is 3000 feet) but the volcano immediately rises to 7000 feet, providing sloped terrain with good altitude, drainage and climate for the coffee. The lighter City roast of this coffee has a sweet, mild dry fragrance, and soft caramelly wet aroma. Take the roast a bit darker and, not surprisingly, you get dark caramelized sugar notes, with cocoa and a bit of pungent spice. The body of both the City and the Full City + roast was impressive to me, since Mexican coffee in general, and particularily northern ones, are not known for this. Flavors are (again with this word) mild, with a little burst of brightness and nutty tones, then cleanly disappearing. Darker roasts change the tonality of flavors, but not the overall effect: short, comressed flavor experience, but pleasant and mild. But why should mild be a bad word? And after weeks of having your senses overstimulated by crazy-fruited Ethiopias, brutishly earthy Sumatras, bright and prickly Kenyas, well ... here is the perfect antidote. Your palate just may thank you for the break ... for me, it's like pushing a reset button, a "zero degree" for what good mild Specialty coffee should taste like.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Snappy, crisp, simple cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City+ . Also, I blended a light City roast with an FC+ roast 50-50 and had a nice, multi-dimensional cup.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: Mild, clean, light-bodied coffees.

Misc. & Blends
Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend
Country: Blend, Yemen and Ethiopia Grade: 4,5 Region: Hararghe, Sidamo-Limu, Yemen Mark: Sweet Maria's
Processing: Dry-Processed Crop: All current-new crop Appearance: 1d/300gr
15 to 18 scr
Varietal: Heirloom Arabica Moka
Notes:This is a powerful blend of coffees from the Red Sea area, from Yemeni coffees on one side, and Ethiopian coffees on the other. I intended for the exotic espresso shot or filtered coffee. It incorporates three excellent Dry-Processed coffees that contribute to a huge body, strong bittersweet chocolate roast-taste, and intense fruity aromatics. Since all are Dry-Processed and have nearly equivalent denties and moisture contents, this an acceptable pre-roast blend (as opposed to blending coffees after roasting them separately). None these coffees roast to a uniform color individually, which is part of their character and complexity in the cup. My purpose here is to offer a precisely blended coffee I love, and save you from buying the coffees separately. The Yemeni, Sidamo and Ghimbi coffees we use for our Moka Kadir are stocked just for the blend, which makes it hard (well, impossible) for you to recreate this though; and I feel the coffees need to be pre-blended and equalize moisture content with eachother, something that works well in large batches. ***Rating numbers to the left are for filter-drip or French Press coffee, but this blend is great for espresso too. For espresso, let this coffee rest at least 48 hours ... I think it's best at 3+ days *** PLEASE NOTE: Because this blend has dry processed, hand sorted coffees in it, it is not unusual to get the occassional rock or dirt clod. Be sure to cull through the green and the roasted carefully - one small dirt clod can really ruin a pot of coffee (and small rocks can get jammed in a grinder).
SM Moka Kadir Blend
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium to Bold / Fruity, earthy, winey
Roast:Full City+, or Darker. Like other DP (Dry Process) North Africans, roasts are uneven. Lighter roasts than this can be potent and bright, but the brightness seems a little askew with the overall pungent cup character ---so I prefer a darker roast to tone down brightness and underscore chocolate roast tastes. Let the "vanguard" beans enter 2nd crack, and the lags will be at City stage.
Compare to: eating a bar of bitterweet chocolate while sniffing flowers, or wild, DP, natural North African/Yemen coffees.

Sweet Maria's Classic Italian Espresso Blend
Country: Brazil (multiple regions), Guatemala, India Grade: Region: Mark:
Processing: Dry-processed, Wet-processed Crop: All current-new crop Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 17 to 18 Screen Varietal: Arabica and Robusta
Dry Fragrance (1-5) NA Notes:Espresso is a basic drink, not a fancy concoction. With a bit of dread that espresso is now being transformed into a wide range of drinks, from something squirted out of a dispenser at a gas station mini mart to a 8 ounce coffee that just happens to come from an espresso machine, we wanted to create a blend that was essentially espresso ...the rest is up to you. Espresso does not ask for much, but it demands that the basic requirements are met: You need a good fresh espresso blend, the right grind, the right amount of compacting of the grind into the filterbasket, and a machine that delivers adequately heated and pressurized water in a timely way. The result is 1 to 2 oz. of a aromatic, intense drink with a long, long aftertaste. Our contribution to your successful espresso-making is this fundamental espresso blend that you would find at a backstreet Italian espresso bar. It has excellent caramel, excellent body, great aromatics, and a strong, long aftertaste. This blend contains 12.5% Robusta which increases the caffeine content of the espresso slightly, and adds body and crema. Robusta also helps espresso to cut through in cappuccino, so this blend is recommended for milk drinks ...except Latte, which is simply the Big Gulp version of an espresso beverage and will hopefully fall out of fashion soon! Please note: on 11-1-03 I changed the lot/type of robusta. The new robusta is a premium Indian, has more chocolate, less wild flavors, with a nice clean chocolate-pungent aftertaste. We "retired" Classic Italian Espresso Blend in late 2008, as we decided to start our Espresso Workshop limited edition blends. I like Classic Italian, but don't get excited about it the way I do about the new blends. After all, it's a rather didactic premise; to demonstrate what Italian espresso would be like if it was local and freshly roasted. But espresso has changed a lot in the last 5 years, and there are new flavor models for great espresso rather than constantly referring to Italian types. Anyway, this is a very simple blend, as it should be. It is dominated by Brazilian coffee, but which? We chose 50% of a clean dry-process coffee (not fruity, not a Poco Fundo type natural) and 50% of a pulp natural (avoiding ones with too much acidity, like our fine Carmo de Minas coffees). Then there is a Central America component to add structure and some articulation; we greatly prefer a balanced El Salvador coffee of Bourbon cultivar here, such as the Matalapa Estate. Again, avoid acidity and chose a coffee that is balanced. There are balanced Guatemalas that work well too. Finally, there is the Robusta! It MUST be a clean washed type robusta that cups well on it's own. These are NOT easy to find, and are often more expensive than arabicas. We relied on India parchment robustas for this. Now, what percentages? Brazil: 70%, Central 15%, Robusta 15%. There you have it, the "Open Source" code for Classic Italian. Not that complicated, eh? Well, it comes down to a lot of work selecting the right coffees to optimize the cup quality and maintain consistency. That is the hard part my friends. If you want to build this blend yourself, just avoid sharp acidic coffees, avoid fruity coffees, and look for restrained, balanced flavor profiles. It will turn out well if you do ... -Tom
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:Medium to Bold / Balance
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+ to Vienna for Northern Italian Espresso. Also see our article on Blending for more about espresso. An important roast note: do not underroast this coffee: It should at least be roasted a few snaps into the 2nd crack. Robusta is terrible when it is underroasted. But conversely the Brazils will become ashy and began to bitter when roasted extremely dark. So try to stick to the Full City+ to Vienna window if possible, and rest the coffee 48+ hours after roasting. If you notice a tingly "baking soda effect" in your mouth, then the coffee could use more rest.
Score (Max. 100) NA Compare to: Traditional Italian Espresso -this blend was developed cross-cupping green samples brought from Italy

Sweet Maria's Liquid Amber Espresso Blend
Country: A secret! Grade: All top grades Region: Mark:
Processing: Dry-processed, Wet-processed, Monsooned Crop: Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Arabica and Robusta
Dry Fragrance (1-5) NA Notes: I wanted an espresso blend that was potent, sharp, intense; but without excessive mustiness, fruitiness, or earthy flavors. But I wanted it also to be complex and hint at all of those tastes, and more! Here's the product of a lot of overly-caffeinated days of experimentation: the Liquid Amber Espresso Blend. It is named for the rich color and multitude of crema it produces. The blend was fairly complex to come up with ... after I found the general tastes I wanted, emerging from aroma and first sip through the very long aftertaste (if I don't cleanse my palate with water I will taste this coffee for 20+ minutes) I needed to play with the exact percentages. The specific blend, hey ... it is my secret! But I will tell you that the 5 coffees that really worked toward the flavor goal I imagined ended up surprising even me! I will say that there are Dry-processed, Wet-processed, and Monsooned coffees in here. I will also admit that there is a modicum of quality Robusta. And to keep this a mystery, the blend contains some coffees not on our list. Extracted in a properly-functioning, clean espresso machine the blend produces a lot of crema, making the mouthfeel very thick and creamy. The sharp pungent bite to the blend is not bitter, and fades into a rich tobaccoy-milk chocolate aftertaste. If properly roasted (not scorched) the blend will not be ashy, something I really don't like in espresso. (With any espresso, if the aftertaste turns acrid and bitter after 3 minutes or so, clean the heck out of your machine.) In the Liquid Amber Blend there are hints of fruit, mushrooms, sweet smoke, caramel, and cream in the extended aftertaste. This blend works extremely well in milk drinks, meaning by that a true cappuccino (6-9 oz.) or machiatto. I make no claims for Latte ... is there any coffee that tastes potent mixed down 8:1 in a Slurpee-sized cup of milk?Please note: on 1-05 I changed the type of Monsooned coffee. It is paler, sweeter, and is not a coffee we offer on our list. It's a special purchase for the blend to increase sweetness and reduce mustiness. -Tom

Liquid Amber Note:If the coffee arrives and doesn't appear evenly blended, this is because of the vibration during loading and shipment. I can positively guarantee your that the blend was packed in the exact, correct proportion (we are extremely careful about this), but the difference in size/density of the Monsooned/non-Monsooned can make them separate a bit with vibration. Just give it a stir....

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:Bold / Pungency, Power, Aftertaste
add 50 50 Roast: I advocate a Northern Italian style roast (lighter espresso roast, really a Vienna roast, stopped 30-45 seconds into 2nd crack), but the blend works very well at the darker Southern Italian style roast (a full French roast actually, at the peak of a rapid 2nd crack). Either way, get this into 2nd crack and allow proper resting that espresso demands: 48+ hours is best. This blend works great in air and drum roast machines and I developed it testing-roasting on both. If you notice a tingly "baking soda effect" in your mouth, then the coffee could use more rest.
Score (Max. 100) NA Compare to: Very potent espresso blends … Illy has a blend that is somewhat similar but is not domestically available. Other blends with monsooned have a much higher percentage of monsooned coffees and are lighter in body, and a little more musty in flavor.

Sweet Maria's Puro Scuro Blend
Country: Blend, All Indonesians and Africans Grade: Tops … Region: Mark:
Processing: Wet-, Semi- and Dry-Processed Crop: new /current crop(s) Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-19 Screen Varietal:
Notes:We have been working on this blend for a very long time. It started with a lucky accident about a year ago. I was working with some premium Sumatras and a combination of Yemen and Ethiopian coffees toward a Mohka-Java blend. But I didn't want it to be all bass note, all deep end. It is the problem with some blends intended for darker roast levels - there is a big "hole" in the cup profile, and that hole is located in the medium/bright range of the cup. I stumbled across a combination of coffees (no, I am keeping this one a secret!) that could do all this, and offer some nice aromatics to a darker roasted blend. Another key factor: I also wanted a blend that had a darkly sweet finish, not ashy, not carbony. With this blend I wanted to prove that I am not anti-darkroast. The problem is, too many dark roasts are simply burned. Roast this as intended and I think you will find the cup decription and the name to be fitting! Oh, the name? I wanted to call it Barnabas Blend (from my favorite '60s TV show Dark Shadows) but Puro Scuro has a better ring to it, and says a lot about the cup: Pure Dark, in Italian. So the sole remnant of the Dark Shadows theme is our motif for the coffee, a bat. Overall, this blend boasts exceptional depth - yes it is one deep cup ... what we call "good coffee to brood by." The blend leaves a lingering, graceful finish on the pallate. The target roast range is from Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack, to a Light French roast. In between those two, is a Vienna roast where this blend excels. My favorite is a roast stopped about 20-30 seconds after the first sound of 2nd crack. (Don't think that roasting it to darker French stage makes it more intense; it is most intense at a Full City+, but don't go lighter becase it has odd baked flavors at the City+ stage). There is some variability in the cup results based on how long it is rested, how it is brewed and (mostly) because this blend involves a healthy proportion of dry-processed coffees. If you want every batch to be exactly the same, don't buy this coffee. If you like to taste a range of flavors, and enjoy complex shifts in character, then you will enjoy the Puro Scuro. The cup has intense sage and anise herbiness, with lingering dried apricot notes. Alternately, I get intense spiciness in the cup; clove with jasmine hints, over a darker tobacco-y flavor. There is a sweet mollasses note in the aromatics that reemerges in the finish. I think it makes excellent espresso too; a rare but accurately-named "dual-use blend." Update Jan '09: We have retired this blend in favor of our new approach to blending (see Espresso Workshop review notes). For customers interested in recreating this blend, basically you want an aggressive Mocha Java, so a blend of Ethiopia dry-processed and Sumatra. More comments and approaches to blending Mocha Java are on the blending.html page.
SM Puro Scuro Blend
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium to Bold intensity / Darkly sweet
Roast:Full City+ to Light French, with Vienna being ideal. That will be about 10-30 seconds after the first sign of 2nd crack, depending on the roaster. Here's what that looks like. The ideal final roast temperature is in the 450-465 farenhiet range. Now some of the "darkly sweet, non-ashy" cup results depends on the person doing the roasting: you can't burn this to a crisp and expect it to be sweet because it will simply taste like charcoal-soaked hot water. Here's what that looks like. But if you keep the roast within the target "window" between Full City+ and Light French, I think you'll find the cupping description to be quite accurate. Rest it a day and enjoy. Brewed coffee tip: best in a French Press! Espresso tip: allow 2 days rest.
Compare to: Overall, a deep flavor profile found in Indonesians, with the complexity of Yemen and Harar, and a sweet aromatic brighter note punctuating the cup.

Espresso Workshop #1 - The Ophiolite Blend
Country: Blend, Ethiopias and Brazils Grade: Top grades Region: Mixed Mark: SM Espresso Edition #1
Processing: Dry-Processed Crop: December 2008 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Multiple types
Notes:Several questions must be answered here. First, "Espresso Workshop"? We are going to divide our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The later are blends that are only offered for as long as we have the specific lots of coffee we used to design the blend, and then it's gone. When we maintain an Espresso Standard blend, like Espresso Monkey Blend, we have to find new lots to maintain the flavors of the blend as the coffee crops change. That can be a tough job, to optimize the blend and, at the same time, to maintain the "spirit of the blend" ... it's original intent. There will be shifts in the blend, inevitably. In a sense, Workshop Espresso editions are pure and uncompromising: specific coffees are found that inspire testing, and a new blend idea is born. Instead of maintaining the blend and making ingredient substitutions down the line, the Workshop editions follow the crop cycle of the coffee; they come and go. Second question will undoubtedly be "Ophiolite Blend?" Well,I have been reading a lot of geology for fun and having trouble remembering the terms. It sure helps to see the word in my day job! And an ophiolite is a good analogy; a remnant of deep sea oceanic crust, from a spreading sea floor center, that was scraped up and placed on the continental crust. Ophiolites located at high altitudes in the Andes or Alps proved to be a thorn in the theoretical side of geologists until plate tectonics came around, showing how a layered series of oceanic rocks could end up in mountain ranges, largely intact. Espresso has layers or strata, physically, but more importantly in terms of flavor, and this particular blend seemed to deserve the name; densely layered, exotic flavors from faraway and unlikely origins, discovered in a new context and providing plenty of stimulating flavors to think about. Digging down through the layers of intense chocolate, bittersweet, thick in texture, you come to ripe fruits (blood orange, Bing cherry) accented by peppery spice and clean tobacco. Superb body, and a wide range of flavors from the basement level to the fruited and spicy high notes, geology seems like a good analogy for this kind of depth and range of flavor. I am guessing we can offer this blend for about 4 months.
Our Limted Edition Espresso
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold / Chocolate, ripe fruit, complexity
Roast:This coffee is intense at lighter levels of espresso roast, meaning FC+ or a tad more. That would be the equivalent of hearing a few snaps of 2nd crack, or perhaps 10 seconds into it, and stopping the roast.
Compare to: This will have some similarities to Espresso Monkey and Moka Kadir blends; heavy body, fruit and chocolate. It's truly fantastic espresso. (Note that we don't score espresso blends, since the categories are specific to brewed coffee).

Espresso Workshop #2 - Auriferous Espresso
Country: Blend, El Salvadors and Ethiopias Grade: Top grades Region: Mixed Mark: SM Espresso Edition #2
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: December 2008 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Multiple types
Notes: This our second limited "Espresso Workshop" offering. Briefly, we are going to divide our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The later are blends that are only offered for as long as we have the specific lots of coffee we used to design the blend, and then it's gone. In keeping with our recent geologically inspired names, Auriferous refers to "gold-bearing" as in the ancient Auriferous gravels of the Sierra Nevada that inspired the communal insanity known as the Gold Rush. While in fact many miners actually lost money in their fervor, I think the flavors here are more bankable. One reason is that this is a blend of only wet-process coffees, a first for us at Sweet Maria's, and something that even 5 years ago I didn't believe was possible for espresso. Things have changed, especially in this West Coast style of brighter, livelier espresso that favors high-note accents over body. We recommend FC++ roast here, on a drum roaster a mere 10 seconds into 2nd crack, or even less if the roast tends to "coast" a bit through the cooling process. On air roasters you can go a bit longer. And of course, rest is crucial although we consistently pulled nice shots with only 24 hours rest. Espresso always likes post-roast rest ... and after 6 days this blend just sparkles. That's the best adjective too, referencing our theme here; gold-bearing. The dry fragrance doesn't represent the cup flavors that well; chocolate cookie, some caramel. In the wet aroma after pulling the shot, there is a better indication of what's to come. Sweet floral and citrus blossom over bittering coffee aroma is evident. There is a wonderful relation between flavor and aftertaste; initial citrus brightness, lemon with hints of zesty rind, are followed by a wave of classic espresso bittersweet. Heavily caramelized sugars are a dominant taste of the later, with a slight vanilla accent. But there is also an initial sweetness delivered with the orange-lemon brightness, momentary and refreshing. The body is light for espresso, which might make you think the shot is over-extracted and thin. But of course the excellent flavors will indicate it is not. I prefer full espresso (not Ristretto) at a standard 24 seconds.
Our Limted Edition Espresso
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold / Zesty citrus brightness, balanced by bittersweet finish, light body
Roast:This blend needs to be roasted between Full City+ and a very light Vienna. In drum roasters, this means 10 seconds into 2nd crack, and in air roasters a tad more. Do not French roast this! Allow proper rest after roasting and before use.
Compare to: Strikingly different blend in the West Coast style; elevating citrusy zest and sparkling bright initial flavors.

Espresso Workshop #3 - Basaltic Bourbon
Country: Blend, All Bourbon Coffees Grade: Top grades Region: Mixed Mark: SM Espresso Edition #3
Processing: Wet Process Crop: January 2009 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon-type cultivars
Notes:Our 3rd installment of the limited Espresso Workshop blend series is here. In keeping with our geologic name theme, Basaltic relates to the isle of Reunion, formerly called Bourbon, where the Bourbon cultivar gets it's name. Bourbon coffees are known for their balanced, but mining that potential to create espresso has not been widely done. The island is a volcanic hotspot, meaning an area of intense volcanism yielding basaltic-type rock; Reunion is over a hotspot, and subject to the same forces that formed the Hawaiian islands. Basalt soils certainly affect the coffee, and they are a great medium for coffeea arabica since they drain well. I can't say you will taste basalt rock in the cup, but I can say this is a very dynamic blend! This is a bright, lively blend with light body, partly owing to the fact it is created from all wet-processed coffees! Comments are calibrated to the FC+ roast we recommend for this coffee. The dry fragrance has strong berry fruit, a rich dark sweetness, and chocolate malt. The aromatics from the shot are sharply sweet, but have a custard-like "creme brulee" quality too, caramelized sugars, and dark berry-like fruit. The cup is bright yet resonant, with a wide berth of flavor from alto to tenor ranges. Fresh berry brightness lands first on the senses, with a twist of citrusy sourness, but it is followed by darker flavors of dark maple syrup, pleasantly burnt sugar. This is definitely a blend in the "West Coast Espresso" tradition; clean and bright ... and definitely not a traditional "continental" espresso.
Our Limted Edition Espresso
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold / Very bright with berry and citrus, resonant syrup-burnt sugar notes
Roast:This coffee is intensly bright at lighter levels of espresso roast, meaning FC to FC+, but that is exactly what it is supposed to be! In my tests I roast until we hear the very first snap of 2nd crack and cool it immediately and quickly!
Compare to: Similar to Espresso Workshop #2 - Auriferous, in that both yield bright espressi with clean flavor profiles and light body.

Espresso Workshop #4 - The Dextral Strike-Slip
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of areas Mark: SM Espresso Edition #4
Processing: Various processes. Crop: April 2009 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:Dextral Strike-Slip ... when someone sucker-punches you with a sharp right jab to the abdomen? Or it might also describe the San Andreas Fault, a right-lateral transform fault that makes the Bay Area such an exciting place to live. When will the next big one come? Well, here it is ... our Espresso Workshop edition #4 with those crazy geologic-inspired names. Some may taste this and wonder if it should not be named "The Sinistral Strike Slip", but if you really nail the extraction, you will see it is Dextral ...totally Dextral. It's heavily fruited, with dense and satiny body, milk-to-bittersweet chocolate, spicy, and yes, earth-shaking in it's complexity. The fragrance from the dry grounds is heavily fruited, intensely sweet, chocolaty, with orange notes. The aroma from the extracted espresso has pepper, clove, anise and fresh fennel spices, and interesting pungency leveraged against a darkly fruited backdrop. The flavors unfold in complex layers amidst dense chocolate and satiny mouthfeel. Anise and fennel are still present, but a black currant fruit flavor dominates with citrus brightness throughout. Yes, it's another bright espresso ... well, if you don't over roast it that is. The fruit has a ripe, wine-like character (Cabernet Sauvignon), and amazingly thick, fantastically creamy and weighty residual mouthfeel; it lingers forever, or so it seems. Being that I have produced extractions of this blend with tectonic intensity, it is definitely a 9.5 on the Richter scale in my world. In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before, or exactly at the very first snap of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass 10 seconds after the first snap of 2nd crack. This coffee has a mix of dry process, wet-hulled process and wet-process coffee but roasts with a surprisingly even color. I don't advise darker roasting than this, and recommend a 48 hour rest after roasting.
Our Limted Edition Espresso #4: Dextral, totally Dextral!
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold / Bright citrus accents, black currant fruit, dense body.
Roast:In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before, or exactly at the very first snap of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass 10 seconds after the first snap of 2nd crack. Yes, it's supposed to be bright!
Compare to: Those who like properly fruited espresso will enjoy this. (That means people who have had good results with Monkey and Puro Scuro in the past as well).

Espresso Workshop #5 - The Breccia Blend
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries Grade: Top grades Region: Blend (Africa and Indonesia) Mark: SM Espresso Edition #5
Processing: Wet Process Crop: April 2009 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:Once you decide there is some substantial similarity on two processes, the analogies seem to flow ... flow like igneous, pyroclastic magma. Yes, we continue to peddle this geologic theme in naming our 5th Espresso Workshop Blend. Breccia is Italian in origin, meaning breach, but refers to the angular rock fragments, whether from volcanic origin, tectonic, or otherwise, that are often metamorphisized into new rock. Of course, I am thinking of espresso. Grinding whole bean coffee into particles like so much Breccia fragmentary rock, then re-compacting it into the filter basket, like the pressures that form metamorphic rock, then percolating water through it under pressure. It's the rock cycle. It's endlessly geologic, uh, sort of. Anyway, it makes for fun names, and certainly sends a few people to Wikipedia to find out more, including me. Here we have a blend that does not have the scent of any rock I can think of; what it does have is citrus, flowers, light and elegant body, zesty brightness, slightly piney-resinous finish. The recommended roast level is light for espresso (as with most our Workshop blends), Full City to Full City+, stopping the roast before 2nd crack, or just at the verge of it, as you hear the very first snap of 2nd crack. Air roasts can be just a tad darker. Over-roasting makes the blend more bitter than bittersweet, especially in the aftertaste. The dry fragrance in lighter roasts has a lemony scent, cake-like sweetness, a hint of berry, with some plum emerging a tad darker at FC+. The aroma from the freshly extracted shot is sublimely citrusy, with some very nectar-like floral sweetness (honeysuckle). The mouthfeel is quite light, but suits the overall character well; a treble-toned shot, wildly bright and fruited. There is ripe, pink grapefruit, Meyer lemon, and the lightest roasts we tried have a squirt-you-in-the-face citrus peel kick to them. The floral notes turn to hop flowers, and the same resinous tone you get in the finish of a tongue-twisting IPA are found here. Initially you may think this light body indicates a mild flavor experience, but that will change as you live with the aftertaste of this shot for the next 5 or 10 or 25 minutes. You realize that you have been "beaten with a flower" indeed. Expect some sweet tobacco and piney resins notes to emerge long into the aftertaste. A roast note: one coffee we use in this blend is not perfectly prepared, and there can be some light-looking quaker beans in the roast. Cull these very light beans out or any other broken ones. This coffee is key to the blend, and we decided it was worth offering despite it's imperfect preparation.
Our Limted Edition Espresso #5
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold / Light body but intense brightness, citrus, flowers
Roast:In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before, or exactly at the very first snap of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass 10 seconds after the first snap of 2nd crack. Yes, it's supposed to be bright! See the note about post-roast culling in the review too.
Compare to: Screaming bright espresso, and, if roasted properly, great citrusy and floral notes.

Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend
Country: Blend, Yemen, Ethiopia, Brazil Grade: 4,5 Region: Hararghe, Sidamo-Limu, Yemen Mark: Sweet Maria's
Processing: Dry-Processed Crop: All current-new crop Appearance: 1d/300gr,
15 to 18 scr
Varietal: Heirloom Arabica Moka, Mundo Novo
Notes:This is a powerful blend of coffees from the Red Sea area, from Yemeni coffees on one side, and Ethiopian coffees on the other. I intended for the exotic espresso shot or filtered coffee. It incorporates three excellent Dry-Processed coffees that contribute to a huge body, strong bittersweet chocolate roast-taste, and intense fruity aromatics. Since all are Dry-Processed and have nearly equivalent denties and moisture contents, this an acceptable pre-roast blend (as opposed to blending coffees after roasting them separately). None these coffees roast to a uniform color individually, which is part of their character and complexity in the cup. My purpose here is to offer a precisely blended coffee I love, and save you from buying the coffees separately. The Yemeni, Sidamo and other coffees we use for our Moka Kadir are stocked just for the blend, which makes it hard (well, impossible) for you to recreate this though; and I feel the coffees need to be pre-blended and equalize moisture content with eachother, something that works well in large batches. ***The Cupping Scores are for filter-drip or French Press coffee, but this blend is great for espresso too. For espresso, let this coffee rest at least 48 hours ... I think it's best at 3+ days *** PLEASE NOTE: Because this blend has dry processed, hand sorted coffees in it, it is not unusual to get the occasional small rock. Be sure to cull through the green and the roasted carefully - one small dirt clod can really ruin a pot of coffee (and small rocks can get jammed in a grinder).
SM Moka Kadir Blend
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium to Bold / Fruity, earthy, winey
Roast:Full City+, or Darker. Like other DP (Dry Process) North Africans, roasts are uneven. Lighter roasts than this can be potent and bright, but the brightness seems a little askew with the overall pungent cup character ---so I prefer a darker roast to tone down brightness and underscore chocolate roast tastes. Let the "vanguard" beans enter 2nd crack, and the lags will be at City stage.
Compare to: Eating a bar of bitterweet chocolate while sniffing flowers, or wild, DP, natural North African/Yemen coffees.

Espresso Workshop #6 - "Treble Response"
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries Grade: Top grades Region: Blend (all-Africa) Mark: SM Espresso Edition #6
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2009 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:It's official, geology is out, acoustics is in. We have named our first 5 "Espresso Workshop" blend editions with geologic names. I still love my geology but the tongue twisting terms and their esoteric relations to coffee flavors was a bit heady. It was good for 5, but with Espresso Workshop #6 we are switching to audio-only, and the rich analogy between the sensory pleasures of coffee and those of the audible world. The appropriately named blend here is Treble Response, which is the the high frequency portion of an audio system's overall frequency response. In recording, you increase the sampling rate or tape speed to attain a better Treble Response; in coffee, you pair three amazingly bright African coffees to attain dynamic bright notes, paired with a medium roast level that is well short of 2nd crack, and a proper 48+ hour rest time post roast. The result is a highly aromatic beverage, broad-shouldered and bright. Dry fragrance from the ground coffee has a cocoa-nut roast tone, Nutella sweetness, caramel, black cherry, chocolate truffle. The wet aroma is spicy, with pepper and dark plumy fruit. This describes the primary flavors of the espresso, with richly layered brightness (hence Treble Response!) tapering off into intense and tangy chocolate bittersweet notes. Dark fruits, plum with suggestions of dried fig and black currant, zested by a bit of orange peel. There's a winey suggestion to the aftertaste, and a lingering and complex chocolate roast flavor that persists on the back of the palate. Like a high hopped ale, it has a bold intensity in the alto range, but also some superb kick in the tenor-to-bass range as well. The air roasts we do of the blend are more bright and fruity than the slower drum roasts, which have more intense chocolate finish. When the roast can be profiled, a slow finish tones the blend down in terms of acidity and brings out the chocolate bittersweets, and winey aspect in the fruit. We like slightly longer shots pulled at moderate temperature and around 8.5 to 9 bars pressure.
Our Limted Edition Espresso #6, Treble Response
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Medium body, dark fruits, spice and chocolate
Roast:In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped before 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can be roasted right to the verge of 2nd crack. See the roast notes in the review.
Compare to: Bright and intense espresso, and, if roasted properly, great winey fruit notes and chocolate

Espresso Workshop #7 - La Tessitura
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of areas Mark: SM Espresso Edition #7
Processing: Various processes. Crop: September 2009 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:The 7th limited edition, lot-specific espresso blend we are offering goes by the name Tessitura. In music, the Italian term Tessitura (from the Latin word textura) describes the most musically acceptable and comfortable range for a given singer or musical instrument; the range in which a given type of voice presents its best-sounding texture or timbre. I thought that expressed quite well this lot-specific blend, where I feel each coffee is giving it's best, and is perfectly proscribed to the range of flavors they can deliver. We are covering a few continents on this one. We have coffees from Brazil, from El Salvador and Guatemala, and an Ethiopia "grace note" coffee that gives this a dry fruit accent. It's not as bright as our other blends have been as late, but of course the relative brightness has a lot to do with your degree of roast, and the pressure and temperature variables of how you pull your shot. We prefer this edition roasted just to the verge of 2nd crack, but not entering it. The dry fragrance is an interesting mix of austere fruited tones and chocolate alkaloids. There are suggestions of dried banana, plum, and some savory notes as well, even a bit of Tamari sauce. But it is sweet nonetheless, and this comes out in the shot aromatics; dry apricot, dark berry, Swiss chocolate. The cup has an amazing range, from alto to bass notes, with sparkling citrus brightness (especially as it cools and in the aftertaste), but flavors more along the lines of dried fruits and light-roasted cocoa nibs. It's an unusual flavor profile, brightening as it sits on the palate, but initially not biting. Ruby red grapefruit and fresh peach highlight the finish, along with a sustained and balanced bittersweet flavor, and some savory undercurrent. It's a hefty, powerful set of flavors this blend brings to bear, without needing darker roast levels, or the burnt or pungent flavors of darker roast levels. The mouthfeel and weight on the palate is medium, neither thin enough to be noted as a deficit or super thick either.
Our 7th workshop blend, La Tessitura, meaning "range of a voice or instrument."
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium - Bold / Dried fruits, Swiss chocolate, citrus accents, long aftertaste
Roast:In drum roasting, this blend is best if the roast is stopped just before any sign of 2nd crack. In an air roaster it can pass just a tad into 2nd crack. Yes, it's supposed to be bright!
Compare to: Those who like properly fruited espresso will enjoy this.

Espresso Workshop #8 - Waw, Bukan Main!
Country: Blend; a mix of origin countries Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of areas Mark: SM Espresso Edition #8
Processing: Various processes. Crop: September 2009 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:It has been a while since we have integrated a Sumatra component into espresso, for several reasons. Coffees from Aceh in the North can be great in espresso, offering bass note bittersweets, and thick body as a backdrop for other flavors. But finding the right Sumatra, and one with consistent and uniform processing can still be quite a challenge. We have very well-prepared lots from the Toba-Batak area, but much of Aceh is still sold as bulk Mandheling Grade One, with not enough care put into harvest, wet-hull processing (Giling Basah) or drying and final preparation. With this blend, I found a Sumatra I really felt would work, clean yet deep-toned, and consistent from cup to cup. In fact, this coffee had me so excited when I finally honed in on the final recipe and pulled test shots, the expression "Waw, Bukan Main!" came to mind ... that's what I heard an Indo cupper say when he tasted a really nice coffee, back on my last Sumatra trip. So breaking with all our audio-phonic and geologic name schemes, I had to interject "Waw, Bukan Main!" into the orderly (!) progression of our Espresso Workshop lot-specific blend project. And this cup really isn't about Sumatra flavor profile either, that really lays low, as a backdrop for fruited tones in the cup. This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City++ to Full City+ or light Vienna. It is a complex espresso with great bass to tenor range and an overlay of fruited bright notes. The dry fragrance from the grounds is very sweet, with jammy fruit notes, plum, fig, tamarind, raisin. The crema from the shot has a date sugar sweetness, and zesty nutmeg and cinnamon scent, which comes through in the finish as well. It's such a nicely fruited cup, with rich chocolate bittering notes and tannic tightness in the finish, but much sweeter up front. There is an amazing syrupy character and if you nail the degree of roast, just a few snaps into 2nd and no more, it's a blackberry syrup you will extract here (with 8.5 bars pressure, 203 f temp at start of shot). Darker roast deliver a compact flavor with a more tannic edge to it, and an intense chocolate tang in the finish. Lighter roasts, just at the edge of 2nd, can be surprisingly bright, but have great dimension from high fruited berry notes to deep chocolate layers.
Our 8th workshop blend; Waw! Bukan Main! An Indo expression for Wow, Impressive!
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Syrupy body, blackberry fruited notes, nutmeg, layers of fruit and chocolate, long bittersweet aftertaste.
Roast:This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City++ to Full City+ or light Vienna. I prefer it just a few snaps into 2nd crack, no more. Note that Sumatra component looks lighter in surface color than it truly is at this degree of roast.
Compare to: It is a complex espresso with great bass to tenor range and an overlay of fruited bright notes. If there are light "quaker" beans after roasting, pick them out before grinding.

Espresso Workshop #10 Espresso Profundo
Country: Blend; a mix of origins Grade: Top grades Region: South America and Africa coffees Mark: SM Espresso Edition #10
Processing: Dry Process and Wet Process Crop: April 2010 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:We have been doing the Workshop blends long enough now to see a couple styles emerge. We can roughly group the blends we have offered under the headings of A. dull-bodied, deep-toned, fruited, with rustic sweetness, and B. bright and piquant, high-toned and lighter body. I would definitely characterize Workshop #10, Espresso Profundo as belonging to the first group. It is loaded with rustic sweetness, has a dense and thick mouthfeel, chocolate and fruit. The dry fragrance from the grounds (FC+ roast) hints at what is to come in the cup: strongly fruited scents of chocolate-dipped banana, peach-apricot pastry, caramelized sugars. The wet aroma is sharper and more syrupy in its scent, with pineapple accents. Roasted to Full City (no second crack) the cup has a nice, articulated brightness, and has an acidic pineapple sapid flavor on the palate with caramel in the olfactory. As this lighter roast cools, it brightens in a surprising way, with citrusy red grapefruit flavors coming to the forefront. I like that FC+-roasted cup but I think the coffee works best with a bit more roast, allowing at least a moderate amount of second crack. At this stage the aromatics turn toward a pungent intensity. It's still sweet, with blackberry fruit evidenced in the finish, but a dark caramel scent dominates the fruits. The cup has a pungent spice aromatic, and deeper roast tones take over; dark caramelized sugar fading to intense bittersweet chocolate in the aftertaste. If you like 70% Scharfen Berger, you'll like this roast level on the Espresso Profundo! I think this roast level works well in milk drinks as well (uh, meaning cappuccino, basically). My only critical comment about the darker roast levels is that, while intense and enjoyable, I think it is a more standard espresso flavor, and masks some of the nice qualities of the green coffees we employ in the blend. But lighter or darker, the blend is more versatile than some of our super-bright espresso formulations, while possessing more body and balance. The last words in this review must be the flavor I have been tasting since I tasted my last sip of Espresso Profundo 15 minutes ago: DARK CHOCOLATE!
The 10th edition of our lot-specific Espresso Workshop series.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Syrupy body, Fruited flavors, Intense chocolate bittersweet
Roast:This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from Full City to Full City+ or light Vienna. See the review for detailed roast comments
Compare to: It is a complex espresso with strong fruit and chocolate character.

Espresso Workshop #9 - Dénouemoi
Country: Blend; a mix of origins Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of regions Mark: SM Espresso Edition #8
Processing: Various processes. Crop: February 2010 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:Having completely lost ourselves in naming schemes for our new espresso blends, I have decided to wander even further into the wilderness with our 9th Edition of the Espresso Workshop Blends. We started with geology, we went on to acoustics, we lost it completely with "Waw, Bukan Main!" (a local Indonesian exclamation). And now Dénouemoi. And good luck googling Dénouemoi BTW, because I just made it up and it is senseless. Well, not entirely: It's a mix of "dénouement" the critical moment in a story, the climax of a narrative, and MOI, meaning ME! So I guess in a fancy way, I just want to say that this is my favorite espresso blend that I have tested in the last 3 months, the denouement of my recent coffee extractions. Silly, no? I also want to warn you that this is a very "fruity" espresso, and one that has a few quakers in the roast because it has dry-processed Ethiopia coffee from a particular lot (no, of course I am not telling!) Quakers are from under-ripe coffee cherries and are the bane of the roasters existence on a large scale, unless you mechanically color-sort after roasting, which I don't believe is even possible. Yet coffees with a few quakers can also be amazing, and its not too much trouble for a home roaster to pick a few tan-color beans out of a batch. The reward in doing so is an amazing espresso. The aromatics are spicey and a little resiny and camphoric, but with bittering chocolate and a peach-apricot fruit aspect. The cup is intensely chocolaty; thick, waxy opaque, dense chocolate. The fruit is perhaps even more aggressive, dried peach and apricots in the lighter levels, turning toward mango and melon (even some traces of blackberry in the aftertaste). It straddles the sweet/bittersweet divide, first toward the later and then, ion the long aftertaste, fleshy fruit sweetness emerges. The mouthfeel is pure chocolate syrup. The cup is greatly improved by the aforementioned culling of the very light quakers, but don't overdo it. Slightly lighter beans are normal for dry-processed coffees, as is a larger variation in bean size.
The 9th Workshop Blend; Dénouemoi . Another silly name.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Syrupy body, heavily fruited favors, mango, papaya, melon, apricot.
Roast:This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City+ to Full City+ or light Vienna. If you can handle the brightness of the lighter roast level, the fruits are amazing!
Compare to: It is a complex espresso with strong fruity character. If there are light "quaker" beans after roasting, pick them out before grinding. If you like super hoppy IPA beer, this is the coffee equivalent.

Espresso Workshop #11 "Tono Alto"
Country: Blend; a mix of origins Grade: Top grades Region: 100% African Coffee Mark: SM Espresso Edition #11
Processing: Wet Process Crop: April 2010 Arrivals Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 screen Varietal: Bourbon and Heirloom Types
Notes:Our Workshop #11, Tono Alto, definitely deserves it's name; Tono Alto, high-toned, it is. Of course the final results depend on the roast level, but we target a Full City roast here to maintain the clarity of the bright notes. We don't want to obscure them with roast tastes, so we do not allow the coffee to enter second crack, not even a pop of it. It's a bright and light bodied espresso, and covering it with darker roast notes defeats the original intention of this blend. This espresso really amazed me when I approached the final formulation, and if you treasure citrusy brightness and floral aromatics like me, it might amaze you too! The fragrance from the dry grounds (FC roast) has a caramel sweet scent with floral accent. There's a touch of chocolate bitter-sweetness in there too. In the wet aroma, spices and sweet floral qualities are the first thing that hit the senses, and slight savory/umami hints. The cup, from first sip to last, is astounding. Sweetened pink grapefruit, vividly bright and so fresh, fading quickly from tart citrus to sweet caramel finish. It's a bright espresso, potent in a way but also surprisingly delicate and nuanced in the volatile aromatic scents and flavors. The body is fairly light, and suits this style of espresso quite well; a lively, piquant, effervescent cup. This is either a type of espresso you love, or don't. If you are still reading this description, I would say you should give it a try! But mark my words, this is a light roast espresso, and becomes quite ho-hum if roasted into second crack. Light ... Light, I say!
The 11th edition of our lot-specific Espresso Workshop series.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold Intensity / Intense brightness, floral, citrus, sweetness, light body
Roast:This coffee works well at lighter espresso roast levels only, in the Full City area, or as light as you can go (C+) with espresso according to your tastes ...no indication of 2nd crack at all!
Compare to: Bright, dynamic espresso that you would never, ever ever use with additives (milk or otherwise).

Espresso Workshop #12 - Consonanza
Country: Blend; a mix of origins Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of regions Mark: SM Espresso Edition #12
Processing: Various processes. Crop: August 2010 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:It's a balanced blend and the aromatics reflect this. The dry fragrance has chocolate-almond roast tones, malt and caramel, with s slight orange fruit note. Wet aroma has a syrupy sweetness, again with the malt, caramel and a bit of maple as well. Espresso is really about the sapid flavor and mouthfeel, and this blend delivers: Silky smooth initially, creamy on the backend. The flavors of sweet and bittersweet are in balance, accented with orange citrus, on the floral side. It has a refreshing finish and long, articulate aftertaste.
The 12th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium Intensity / Silky mouthfeel, floral and fruit accent
Roast:This coffee works well at lighter and darker roast levels, anywhere from City+ to Full City+. If you can handle the brightness of City+ then I suggest it for the effervescent brightness.
Compare to:

Sweet Maria's Puro Scuro Blend
Country: Blend, Indonesians and Africans Grade: Tops grades Region: Indo and Africa Mark: Puro Scuro
Processing: Wet-Hulled and Wet-Process Crop: New /current crop(s) Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-19 Screen Varietal: Varies
Notes:Puro Scuro is a Moka Java type variant, and a great French Roast type blend replacement. We have been working on this blend for a very long time. It started with a lucky accident about a year ago. I was working with some premium Sumatras and a combination of Yemen and Ethiopian coffees toward a Mohka-Java blend. But I didn't want it to be all bass note, all deep end. It is the problem with some blends intended for darker roast levels - there is a big "hole" in the cup profile, and that hole is located in the medium/bright range of the cup. I stumbled across a combination of coffees (no, I am keeping this one a secret!) that could do all this, and offer some nice aromatics to a darker roasted blend. Another key factor: I also wanted a blend that had a darkly sweet finish, not ashy, not carbony. With this blend I wanted to prove that I am not anti-dark roast! The problem is, too many dark roasts are simply burned. Roast this as intended and I think you will find the cup description and the name to be fitting! Oh, the name? I wanted to call it Barnabas Blend (from my favorite '60s TV show Dark Shadows) but Puro Scuro has a better ring to it, and says a lot about the cup: Pure Dark, in Italian. So the sole remnant of the Dark Shadows theme is our motif for the coffee, a bat. Overall, this blend boasts exceptional depth - yes it is one deep cup ... what we call "good coffee to brood by." The blend leaves a lingering, graceful finish on the palate. The target roast range is from Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack, to a Light French roast. In between those two, is a Vienna roast where this blend excels. My favorite is a roast stopped about 20-30 seconds after the first sound of 2nd crack. (Don't think that roasting it to darker French stage makes it more intense; it is most intense at a Full City+, but don't go lighter because it has odd baked flavors at the City+ stage). There is some variability in the cup results based on how long it is rested, how it is brewed and (mostly) because this blend involves a healthy proportion of dry-processed coffees. If you want every batch to be exactly the same, don't buy this coffee. If you like to taste a range of flavors, and enjoy complex shifts in character, then you will enjoy the Puro Scuro. The cup has intense sage and anise spice notes, with lingering plum and Concord grape notes. Alternately, I get intense spiciness in the cup; clove hints, over a darker sweet tobacco-y flavor. There is a sweet dark caramel-molasses note in the aromatics that reemerges in the finish. I think it makes excellent espresso too; a rare but accurately-named "dual-use blend." We have brought this blend back from the archives because we have some new lots that fit the bill perfect, and really liked the new blend results.
SM Puro Scuro Blend: a variation on Moka Java for darker roasting
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium to Bold intensity / Darkly sweet
Roast:Full City+ to Light French, with Vienna being ideal. That will be about 10-30 seconds after the first sign of 2nd crack, depending on the roaster. Here's what that looks like. The ideal final roast temperature is in the 450-465 farenhiet range. Now some of the "darkly sweet, non-ashy" cup results depends on the person doing the roasting: you can't burn this to a crisp and expect it to be sweet because it will simply taste like charcoal-soaked hot water. Here's what that looks like. But if you keep the roast within the target "window" between Full City+ and Light French, I think you'll find the cupping description to be quite accurate. Rest it a day and enjoy. Brewed coffee tip: best in a French Press! Espresso tip: allow 2 days rest.
Compare to: Overall, a deep flavor profile found in Indonesians, with the complexity of Yemen and Harar, and a sweet aromatic brighter note punctuating the cup.

Espresso Workshop #14 - El Santo and Johnny
Country: Various Grade: Top grades Region: Various Mark: SM Espresso Edition #14
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: December 2010 Arrival Grain Pro Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Mostly Bourbons, and friends
Notes:The aromatics are orange slices dripping in chocolate. You pick up hints of it in the dry fragrance of this blend roasted to Full City, it comes through in the espresso aroma, and you get it in the cup. Darker roasts tend toward a very, very tangy and piquant chocolate. I would almost call it "zested with chocolate," if that was possible. I liked the roasts I did around City+ although this is too bright and acidic for some people. Full City was it, dead on, a balance of sweet and bittersweet chocolate notes that strike the center of the tongue like a whip (in a good way). For that alone, I find it one of the few workshop blends that can take a dollop of milk; it makes an outrageously good macchiato. It also cools really well, but that might be irrelevant since 2 ounces is usually gone before it hits room temperature. The aftertaste is extremely long and well-defined
El Santo and Johnny is the 14th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold Intensity / Sweet-bittersweet balance, chocolate, orange notes
Roast:Full City roast is the perfect roast here, on the verge of 2nd crack.
Compare to: A gloriously sweet-bittersweet espresso, ideal for the espresso classicist, and quite good as macchiato too.

Espresso Workshop #13 - Grace Note
Country: Various Grade: Grade 2 Region: Southern Ethiopia Mark: SM Espresso Edition #13
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: October 2010 Arrival -Grain Pro Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopia cultivars
Notes:If bright espresso is your thing, and sweetness, fruit and floral notes top your list of desirable attributes, Grace Note is for you. A roast level of Full City (no 2nd crack) is recommended. The dry fragrance has a deep caramel sweetness, with clove and cinnamon spice notes. But, more telling of its Ethiopian roots, are the sweet floral and lemon blossom citrus scents; magnificent! The wet aromatics speak volumes as well; bergamot orange citric notes, jasmine accents, and dark caramel-chocolate candy notes (remember those dark See's Suckers?) Of course, the most important factors are the espresso flavor and aftertaste; intense, piquant, soaring high notes, long and layered finish. I had lemon, pink grapefruit and orange peel written down as the citric fruited flavors, fading to a pleasantly bittering bergamot-Earl Grey tea in the finish. Rose and Violet floral notes were present in some shots. The sweet/bittersweet flavors and aftertaste were very sapid and intriguing to the palate; they alternate from syrupy mouth-filling caramel to baker's chocolate to dark, thick stout notes in the long aftertaste. While the results are highly dependent on small differences in roast, the machine brewhead temperature and your pressure settings, I found most every shot I pulled utterly enjoyable. When all the variables are dialed in, it's one of the most elevating shots I have had in a long time. This blend also makes great drip or presspot coffee!
Grace Note is the 13th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium-Bold Intensity / Bright, high-toned espresso, floral, citrusy, long clean aftertaste
Roast:This blend works well at Full City. I would not take it to 2nd crack, not a bit of it. Yes, it is made to be citrusy and bright.
Compare to: Bright, floral, citrusy, espresso! Not for milk drinks, folks...

Sweet Maria's El Papuma SWP Decaf Blend
Country: Blend, Central America and PNG Grade: Top Grade Region: El Salvador, PNG and Panama Mark: Sweet Maria's, Swiss Water Decaf
Processing: Wet-Process, then SWP Decaf Crop: Late February 2011 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Typica, Others
Notes:The coffee grounds have an interesting sweet-savory scent, with slight plum fruit, Brazil nut, and molasses accents. Adding hot water, the coffee aroma is emphatically molasses like, or dark brown sugar in the lighter roasts, and apple and baked peach as well. Darker roasts have a tarry sweetness in the aroma, the smell of burnt sugar and still quite fruited as well. The cup has a clear sweetness from light to dark roast levels. Apple and melon fruit hints come through in the lighter roast, with a dark cherry note at Full City. I notice that the sweetness and brightness give this coffee a palate-refreshing effect. The cup has a rather bracing brightness at the lightest roasts (City) but more integrated high notes at City+. The mouthfeel has a syrupy quality but the body is not super thick. When the roast is really fresh, it can taste a bit papery, so I recommend 24-48 hours rest after roasting. I really like this coffee as decaf espresso. It might be on the bright side for some (my roasts were in the FC range, no second crack. Darker levels would tone down the high notes a bit). It is very sweet, even if it is a bit tricky to dial in the grind.
Since I had to choose one of the three coffees in El Papuma, coffee cherry in El Salvador earlier this month.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium Intensity / Sweetness, fruited notes, syrupy mouthfeel, brightness
Roast:Takes a wide range of roast, from City to FC+. As with all decafs, color is difficult to judge during the roast. So attend to the roaster and stop the roast manually if possible to get it just right. Roast preference with espresso is up to you. I like mine brighter, at FC to FC+.
Compare to: Very sweet decaf, origination with 3 single estate coffees from the Sweet Maria's offering sheet.

Espresso Workshop #15- Les Baxterizer
Country: Blend; a mix of origins Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of regions Mark: SM Espresso Edition #15
Processing: Wet Process Crop: March 2011 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:Les Baxterizer is a balanced blend in terms of body and brightness, and the aromatics reflect this. The dry fragrance has nice chocolate roast taste at FC to FC+ roast levels, caramel malt hints and a touch of sweet citrus, pineapple and herbs. Wet aroma has fruited-floral sweetness, again with the malt, caramel and maple syrup as well. Espresso is really about the sapid flavor and mouthfeel, and this blend delivers: Silky smooth initially, creamy on the back end. The flavors of sweet and bittersweet are in balance, accented with orange citrus, on the floral side. It has a refreshing finish and long, articulate aftertaste. There's honey sweetness as well as a bit of striking bittersweet, pine needle note that comes up in the aftertaste. I recommend a long resting time after roasting: it seems to hit its stride at 4-5 days post roasting.
The Les Baxterizer: The 15th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium Intensity / Silky mouthfeel, floral and fruit accent
Roast:Full City to Full City+ is recommended
Compare to: A balanced blend in context of our other workshop offerings of the past, but still with quite a bit of brightness. Here is more on Les.

Espresso Workshop #16- Lenny Dee-spresso
Country: Blend; a mix of origins Grade: Top grades Region: A mix of regions Mark: SM Espresso Edition #16
Processing: Wet Process Crop: May 2011 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Various
Notes:Lenny Dee-spresso is a bright and sweet espresso in the so-called West Coast espresso tradition. The fragrance at Full City roast has a lot of sweetness and balanced bright and almost-savory/sweet scents. The wet aroma has an unusual fresh cedar and rindy orange quality. But there is no cedar in the cup. It has cola-like roast tone and syrupy sweetness, with a bracing and vividly bright fruited flavor. It alternates between green apple and orange peel high notes, part of why the changing fruit flavors add to the complexity of this espresso. But with a little deeper roast level (FC+) it has a berry-like flavor come to the forefront. Sweet, bittersweet and sour rapidly change places in the multi-layered aftertaste. At one moment it has a root beer like sweetness, the next a Bakers chocolate bitterness, turning more toward creamy chocolate mousse. I recommend a long resting time after roasting: it seems to hit its stride at 4-5 days post roasting. I get a lot of chocolate-dipped orange from the aromatics and cup flavors of well-rested Lenny D. If you have control of brew head temperature, I would pull this at around 200-202 f. I also prefer well-flowing shots, not strangulated, ristretto-type pours.
The Lenny Dee-spresso: The 16th of our Espresso Workshop editions.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium Intensity / Complex sweet-bittersweet-bright qualities
Roast:Full City to Full City+ is recommended
Compare to: A sweet, bright, yet-balanced blend. Here is more on Lenny Dee.

Espresso Workshop #17 - Ethiopiques
Country: Various Grade: Grade 2 Region: All Ethiopia Coffees Mark: SM Espresso Edition #17
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: June 2011 Arrival -GrainPro Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopia cultivars
Notes:By standard cupping methods for brewed coffees, these ingredient coffees are quite mellow, but extracting this blend in an espresso machine produces something quite different, and very intense. The dry fragrance has fruit suggestions, over more pungent chocolate notes. The wet aroma follows in the same footsteps, with more clarification of fruited notes, raisin and plum, with slight acacia floral hints. The espresso shot is surprisingly syrupy. The chocolate roast taste is pungent, aggressive, bittersweet, and long-lasting on the palate. But it is also very clean, succinct, not earthy or rustic. On top of this are piney resinous notes, lemon oil and rind, raisiny ripe fruit. The body seems bolstered by the intense cup flavors, and has the effect of satiny chocolate. It's fantastic! The ristretto shots were interesting and very intense. As usual I preferred longer pulls at around 202 brewhead temperature.
Teddy Afro luvs Ethiopia coffee.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Intense and tangy chocolate, accented by brighter fruit notes
Roast:This blend works well at Full City. I would not take it to 2nd crack unless you feel it is too bright at FC roast
Compare to: Intense chocolate and fruit. Long aftertaste. This shares more qualities with traditional European espresso styles than some of our other workshop blends.

Espresso Workshop #18 - Hypno-Tiki
Country: Various Grade: Tops Region: Africa and Central America Mark: SM Espresso Edition #18
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: August 2011 Arrival, GP and VacPack Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: SL-28, SL-34, Caturra
Notes:The dry fragrance from the grounds has ripe sweet fruit and tons of chocolate. Lighter roast has tropical fruit aromatics, then perceptible winey notes emerge fading into a curtain of bittersweet backdrop. I had several roast levels within a pretty tight range, and each pulled quite differently, but all were super impressive. A bracing brightness from the light roasts, with pink grapefruit puckeryness, effervesces into sweeter mandarin orange, spice, jammy bright berry, sweetened cranberry, and finally a cocoa powder bitterness. A slightly darker Full City+ roast has intense-yet-refined chocolate from tart to finish, still quite a bright shot, but with the fullness of darker fruits emerging as it fades on the palate. The roast level cools to a blackberry syrup favor and extremely long aftertaste, accented by chocolate bittersweet twangy notes. The body is not thick, but very satiny. As usual I preferred longer pulls, and at near 200 fahrenheit brewhead temperature. This blend turns from sweet, winey fruit to bittersweet chocolate-dominated shots at FC to FC+ roast. Try a couple roasts in that range to see what the blend can do. Both interpretations are nice, and if it seems too tangy, or too bright, give it a few more days of rest and try again.
Tacky, but at least the name is as limited as the blend.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Intense and tangy chocolate, accented by brighter fruit notes
Roast:This blend works well at Full City. I would not take it to 2nd crack unless you feel it is too bright at FC roast
Compare to: Intense chocolate and fruit. Long aftertaste. This shares more qualities with traditional European espresso styles than some of our other workshop blends.

Espresso Workshop #19 - Indo-Afro-Outro
Country: Various Grade: Tops Region: Indo and Africa Mark: SM Espresso Edition #19
Processing: Mixed processes Crop: August 2011 Arrival, GP and VacPack Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Ethiopia Heirloom types,
Notes:Aromatically, this coffee has an unusual mix of sweetness with exotic notes of fruit roasted nuts. Cocoa and bittering chocolate dominates the wet aroma. The cup flavors are very complex, with both refined and rustic elements. Initially, floral hibiscus notes, melon, and blackberry strike the palate, a tropical fruit salad of flavors. Dried apricot emerges, along with winey fruit notes and grape skins in the finish. The aftertaste shows a more rustic side, with the dried fruits dominating, cocoa nibs, roasted almond, and a hint of leather. The cocoa-chocolate character intensifies in the long-lingering finish, as a pleasant semi-sweet bitterness. The flavors translate well with the dense mouthfeel of this espresso. We have done Workshop blends like this in the past (#8 comes to mind), but not lately, as the blends have tended toward the clean and acidic side of things. This has a brightness to it, but prefers a darker roast treatment which downplays the higher tones for tenor-to-bass flavors. I liked the Full City roast, but Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack is where things start to really work. As with most espresso, it benefits from 48+ hours of rest after roasting.
Yes, it's from a Martin Denny LP cover.
Intensity/Prime Attribute:Bold Intensity / Floral, fruit and rustic flavors, dense body
Roast:This blend works well at Full City+ roast.
Compare to: Rustic fruit, Chocolate, Heavy Body.


African Highland WP Decaf (Blend)
Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania Grade: AA Auction Lots, A, Gr 2 washed Region: Sidamo, Mt. Kenya, Songea Mark: Various
Processing: Wet- Process, then Water Process Decaf Crop: July 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Typica, Kenya Cultivars, Bourbons
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Bright, light bodied, full of character and "snap". I am not talking describing a person although a few come to mind. The new Water Process method used to decaffeinated this coffee leaves an astounding amount of cup character. I always felt that the SWP decaf was weakest when applied to bright, acidic high-toned coffees. They cupped like water flavored with cardboard. So this blend here is, to me, the ultimate triumph of our new Water Process decaf source (from Mexico, although the DO use the same method essentially as official SWP coffee -which is processed in Canada actually). It is an "indirect contact", non-chemical process that is truly a water filtration process. The other factor is that other decafs sometimes don't originate with the best green coffees. This is a true Auction Lot Kenya blended 50-50 with one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe lots from this season. As I mentioned, it is a coffee that is lighter in body, bright (striking the front of the palate and tongue in the center-front and front-sides), and very fruity. Although the scores are already very high for a decaf, I objectively felt the cup rates higher than a combined 86 so there is a "Cupper's Correction" of 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Great aromas and floral brightness, light body  
add 50 50 Roast: While this coffee becomes sharply pungent in darker roasts, I really enjoy its bright, fruity character too much to roast it that way. I keep it light, stopping the roast at City+
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian decaf you will probably enjoy this too...

African Highland WP Decaf (Blend)
Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda Grade: AA Auction Lots, A, Gr 2 washed Region: Sidamo, Mt. Kenya, Masaka Mark: Various
Processing: Wet- Process, then Water Process Decaf Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Typica, Kenya Cultivars, Rwanda Bourbons
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Bright, light bodied, full of character and "snap". I am not talking describing a person although a few come to mind. The new Water Process method used to decaffeinated this coffee leaves an astounding amount of cup character. I always felt that the SWP decaf was weakest when applied to bright, acidic high-toned coffees. They cupped like water flavored with cardboard. So this blend here is, to me, the ultimate triumph of our new Water Process decaf source (from Mexico, although the DO use the same method essentially as official SWP coffee -which is processed in Canada actually). It is an "indirect contact", non-chemical process that is truly a water filtration process. The other factor is that other decafs sometimes don't originate with the best green coffees. This is a true Auction Lot Kenya blended 50-50 with one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe lots from this season. As I mentioned, it is a coffee that is lighter in body, bright (striking the front of the palate and tongue in the center-front and front-sides), and very fruity. Although the scores are already very high for a decaf, I objectively felt the cup rates higher than a combined 86 so there is a "Cupper's Correction" of 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Great aromas and floral brightness, light body  
add 50 50 Roast: While this coffee becomes sharply pungent in darker roasts, I really enjoy its bright, fruity character too much to roast it that way. I keep it light, stopping the roast at City+
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Bright, light-bodied coffees like the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. If you like our Ethiopian decaf you will probably enjoy this too...

Myanmar (Burma)  

see our pre-2000 Archive and our 2001-2002 archive

Nicaragua 

Nicaragua Matagalpa - Pacamara Peaberry
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Mierisch Estates
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen PB Varietal: Pacamara
(Pacas x Maragogype Cross)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Pacamara in itself is an oddity ... this large bean is grown on few farms since the requirements to process it, and tolerance for this low-yield cultivar are both rare. But here is something even stranger: Pacamara Peaberry. And beyond the shape of the seed, the coffee has a unique cup character from a standard Pacamara lot. Some background: Pacamara is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of the large bean Maragogype and Pacas, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a spontaneous variation of Typica. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Pacamara. Pacamara coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. This unique Peaberry lot has cup qualities that are brighter, more dynamic, and unusual than the flat bean Pacamara lot from which it is derived. Mierisch family farms has Pacamara chiefly on the Limonocillo farm in Matagalpa, and they grow enough to save the very small percent of Peaberry just for us. In fact, there is a floral note that reminds me of the longberry Ethiopia-derived Gesha coffees from Panama, not in the citric aspects of the Gesha, but in exotic secondary flavors. It harkens to the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe floral dimension; I feel I could fake this cup profile by blending a really good Central with a Yirgacheffe or wet-process Sidamo. But why do that when you can get the same cup from a pure, single-farm cultivar. What a complex and nuanced cup! An unusual smokey sweetness pervades in the cup from start to finish. There's ripe fruited notes, mango skins, and spice. When the cup is hot, there is zesty sweet red pepper, a dash of black pepper pungency, a sweet mild tobacco note, and that nice ripe fruity note. The aromatics are pronounced; sweet, syrupy and a touch herby. The cup flavors have an unusual sweetness to them, floral at first and then sage, cola (and a bit of smokiness). It's not one of those simple, sweet clean Centrals, and it isn't one of those weird earthy Indonesians, but this coffee has a different kind of funky cup character ... but somehow it works and the flavors knit together quite well. Roasting, as with other Pacamara and Maragogype coffees, should be attended to carefully since the large bean will not move in the roaster the way other coffees do.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Unusual cup flavors and aftertaste

add 50 50 Roast: I like the City roast the most - very dynamic cup flavors. But even the light Vienna roast had plenty of "origin character" as did the 2 FC roasts I did.
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general due to this unique cultivar. This is a unique lot, with exceptional cup character.

Nicaragua Limoncillo Estate - Java Longberry
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Limoncillo Estate
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Traditional Java Seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This is an exotic selection: grown in Nicaragua, pure old-type Java cultivar. How did this come to be? The story is a bit piecemeal, but here is how it goes. There was a private coffee research labratory that had experimental gardens, including a selection of traditional Ethiopian and Indonesian cultivars. During the unstable political years in Nicaragua, it went out of business. A coffee farmer who happened to know the main researcher there was aware they were working with old heirloom longberry seedstock, but did not have access to the seeds ... well, until the place shut down. Then somebody surprisingly showed up at their door with 20 Lbs of prepared coffee seed, no questions asked, marked "Variedad Java". What a risk! Planting an unknown seed stock without knowing the full results of the lab testing. But that's exactly what happened, and the results are quite extraordinary and, as I mentioned before "exotic". Why? The cup character is unlike any other Nicaragua coffee I know of, especially in the light roast when you get a complete representation of the "origin flavor" of this coffee, unmasked by roast. You will notice immediately the unusual seed shape: a longbean form with tapered ends, almost like a football (uh, US football). This is actually unlike modern Java offerings that are hybrids, and more like old Java seedstock originating in Kaffa, Ethiopia, and traveling a circuitous route via Holland to the "East Indies" in the hands of the Dutch. And you may know, it was the Dutch that planted all that coffee in Java! This cup is very unusual for a Nicaragua, and not a Java either, but something new formed from the two influences. There is the slick, heavier body of the Java, the low acidity, and some of the nutty notes in the lighter roast found from that Indonesian island. But there is a sweetness(very subtle, as the cup cools) and brightness (very moderate) not found in Java coffees. It is more balanced. There is a mild lime note that adds zest to the cup, and a slight smokey quality in the finish, as the cup comes down in temperature. Overall, it's mild and balanced, but I find it a unique example of the confluence of cultivar and origin influences upon the final cup.The dry fragrance is sweet, and has an undecideable fruit suggestion in it, as does the wet aroma. When I break the crust in the cupping process, a distinct green tea note comes forth, as well as green fruits and starfruit. In the cup, the dominant flavor is lime! But what a unique citric zest, because it is not directly tied to the acidity in the coffee: this Java is not that acidic. It is, plain and simple, a lime cup flavor. The body in the cup is very oily and thick. I experimented with darker roasts (Vienna) and felt the roast taste became carbony, while the special fruited flavors were completely masked. FC roasts were nice, but I still feel that the light-bodied-but-fruited City roast was my favorite.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to bold intensity / at darker roasts - complexity, body, ripe fruit and chocolate
add 50 50 Roast: I like Full City+, for brewed and press coffee, and a bit darker too (Light Vienna, about 15 seconds into 2nd crack). The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Distinct from typical Nicaraguan coffees: longberry Java cultivar

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence - La Esperanza
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Jinotega Mark: CoE #9, 2007 Competition
Processing: Wet-Process, Sun-dried Crop: Sept 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: From the start, this coffee was my favorite of the 30+ lots in the international competition for the 2007 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence. The dry fragrance and aromatics were dynamic, the cup had vivid brightness but also body and balance. I re-cupped the top 10 blind and again, this was the one. This small farm is called La Esperanza and it is in the Jinotega area. It is owned by Rosa Yannete Rivera Siles and her family, and has it's own modest mill, sitting in a near-virgin forest by a natural reservoir. The dry fragrance had such a specific form of chocolate; there's a Fannie May that smells just like this, a chocolate creme. There was also toasted hazelnuts and cocoa powder. The wet aromatics have that same zingy chocolate quality, with an unusual volatile aromaitic component, a bit of cayenne and a citrus peel zest. The cup was in-line with the aromatic signals I was receiveing; and abundance of chocolate from the roast taste, crisp and bittersweet. And in the finish that same unusual combined zest of citrus and spice. (I still get hints of cayenne: if this seems strange consider there is a great chocolate bar out there from Dagoba with cayenne and cocoa nibs blended in ... it's excellent). With a true City roast, there was a lot more citric sweetness to the cup, but I prefered this FC roast for the clean, agressive chocolate quality. The aftertaste is long and persistent, and there are sweet bourbon vanilla notes that are fleshed out in the end. The cup is straight-ahead in some ways (ie chocolate from start to finish), but nuanced too. I enjoyed this cup because it is so in character with what a great Nicaragua coffee is (it has true "origin character") and exhibits it in such a crystal clear way.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Intense and well-defined chocolate, citrus and spice hints  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal here. A City roast is excellent too, yielding great citrus brightness
Score (Max. 100) 89.6 Compare to: Very fine, clear, well-defined Nicaragua cup.

Nicaragua Placeras Estate "Miel"
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Matagalpa Mark: Las Placeras Estate
Processing: Pulp Natural (Brazil Style) Process Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Red Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Placeras Estate is located in Matagalpa, and is not exceptionally high altitude ... but it is a true estate with a complete mill on site. What this means is they are able to experiment in processing using new techniques, and the pulped natural Brazil method is a perfect match for the lower-acid Placeras cup profile. . "Miel" (meaning honey) is rare (and risky) in Central America. When it was good, this coffee had great body, a husky sweet "wild-honey" cup with moderate acidity. It is great as a brewed/press coffee, it is great as straight espresso (if the brightness/acidity in the cup can be moderated by roasting technique), it is great in espresso blends, especially with top quality Brazils. To do this method, you pulp the skin off the coffee cherry, and without removing the fruity mucilage layer, sun-dry the remaining seed on raised beds, called air drying or African beds in other places. The long contact the fruit has with the parchment layer changes the character of the green coffee inside the parchment, and has this unique effect on the cup. The result is a very balanced cup with great body. This is such a nice coffee, with moderate acidity, with a ripe fruit sweetness, and deep-toned balance in the cup. It's not wildly unusual, but what I like to call "good house coffee." In other words, if I had a coffee house, I think I could serve this all day long and the widest range of customers would be greatly pleased. Why? It has a bit of everything. It is balanced, it has sweetness, it is not too acidic, and it has good body. The dry fragrance has cedary-sweet character, and this turns into a wonderful beeswax quality in the wet aromatics. Cup flavors are served up against a background of a medium thick body, with a rustic hint in the sweetness (a la Brazil): lightly malted barley, sweet hay, maltose, raw honey. I really enjoy this moderately floral, herbal, minty aftertaste.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Malty, honeyed, low acid, balanced
add 50 50 Roast: I like City + for brewed, and Full City+ works too and a bit darker too (Light Vienna, about 15 seconds into 2nd crack). Okay - you get it, this coffee works on several levels, and at different roasts. The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Compare to: Distinct from typical Nicaraguan coffees: similar to Pulped Natural Brazil coffees. This is a unique coffee for single origin espresso or for an espresso blend component.

Nicaragua FTO Esteli - Miraflor Coop
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Esteli, Nueva Segovia Mark: Miraflor Coop, Prodecoop
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: The Miraflor cooperative farmers group is unique in many ways, but certainly their location is one of the most outstanding aspects. They are located inside a nature preserve, and their organic coffee farming operates in sync with the goals of the land preservation that surrounds them. The group of 55 small farmers that form the coop have their own wet mill, performing the traditional depulping and fermentation of the coffee fruit onsite. Then they take the coffee to the Esteli area, to the mother-of-all-coops, Prodecoop, for final dry-milling, sorting, screening and bagging. Miraflor is probably the best-known farmer coop at the mill, among US green coffee buyers, for the consistently fine cup character. The dry fragrance is very sweet, nutty, almost candy-like, at the City+ roast stage. I admit, I tested this coffee only at the , C+ and FC range, no darker, because the cup results seem so suited to a lighter treatment. Adding water, the wet aromatics have an additional milk chocolate sweetness, as well as the nut from the dry fragrance, and a malt-like sweetness. The lighter roast cup has an excellent peach-apricot fruit to it, a almondy, nutty tonality to the roast taste, and candy-like sweetness. In the finish (and as the cup cools), it turns to a red apple sweetness to me. The body is light-to-medium, which suits the delicately balanced cup. Delicious, refined; this is really a dynamic and delightful coffee. I gave it +2 for overall City+ roast appeal.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium intensity / Sweet aromatics  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal here. Expect relatively light roast surface color for the degree of roast you aim for ; this coffee doesn't color too darkly.
Score (Max. 100) 88.8 Compare to: Very fine Nicaragua cup, with an interplay of nut and fruit. A fairly bright tonality overall. I gave it +2 for overall City+ roast appeal.

Nicaragua FTO Lozahoren (Dipilto)
Country: Nicaragua Grade: SHG Region: Dipilto, Nueva Segovia Mark: Losahoren/Lozahoren, milled by Prodecoop Cooperative
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17+ Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: This lot of coffee was part of an effort to re-cup special, small lots that (for some unknown reason) were bounced out of a certain coffee competition. The Losahoran coffee Dipilto immediately jumped out at me on the cupping table, and when we flipped over the cards to reveal the farms/origins of the lots, I recognized this one. It was the No. 5 coffee in a previous year, and is from Pablo Vanegas in the Dipilto region of Nueva Segovia. I admit, based on the cup, and having judged Nicaragua this year, I was kinda shocked this coffee didn't make it, because I feel it might have done exceptionally well. But sometimes it just takes 1 bad bean in 1 cup in the prescreening, and a coffee is out. Anyway, the Dipilto coffees are receiving a lot of attention, and done extremely well in the competitions, because of their bright, snappy acidity that makes the cup quite lively, and delicate fruit notes. That is a perfect description for the Lozahoren lot I am cupping here ... in other words, this coffee has excellent origin character (you can call it "terroir", if you like). Here we have crisp, malty dry fragrance, with nut and toasted grain hints, transformed into a really unique wet aroma in the cup: sweet rye. Cup flavors are snappy, with that very delicate but persistent acidity giving the cup and effervescent sparkle. It has a definite floral character in that brightness; paperwhite lily. The body is fairly light, and peach tea tones underscore the sweet grains which, for me, suggests a really excellent, well-hopped brown beer character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/elegant, light-body, bright, nuanced  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is recommended; this is a mild cup and roast taste eclipses the floral and delicate aspects of it.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Dipilto is unique among Nicaraguan coffees - less body, less chocolate, more brightness, more sweetness.

Panama 

     


Panama Carmen Estate WP Decaf
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Paso Ancho Mark: Carmen Estate, 1550 to 1750 meters
Processing: Wet-Processed, then water process decaf Crop: Sept 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Carmen Estate is a small farm located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own, but this was done for more than increasing the volume. The fact is, La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate roughly another 500-600 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi Aguilar (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independent mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees using new techniques. This decaf is water-processed from the 1550 to 1750 meter elevation band of the farm (not our special 1800+ meter coffee). The aromatics in the cup are true to the non-decaf Carmen estate coffee, floral and fruited hints, bright, lively. So the surprise for me isn't the delicate notes, preserved through the decaf process; it's the body. I think this has more body than the regular Carmen lots I have cupped, oddly enough. There is a toffee-like sweetness in the cup and it finishes with an excellent, balanced bittersweetness. As it cools the toffee turns candy-like, with Toblerone-like nut-chocolate-toffee notes. It's a very appealing decaf cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Outstanding clarity and brightness, crisp cup profile  
add 50 50 Roast: City + is ideal.
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Compare to: More balanced than the non-decaf Carmen, with good body an sweetness.

Panama SHB Las Victorias
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Area, Chirqui Province Mark: Las Victorias
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Las Victorias is a small farm in the Boquete district of Panama, home to some of the best award-winning farms. In fact Las Victorias (sometimes called La Victoria too … why?) has won a few awards itself including a 91 point rating on a coffee review site. I too think it is that good, but we don't give out 91's very casually. Still, this late-arriving lot might be one of the best Panamas of the year, ranking well alongside Carmen 1800+ meter, Los Lajones and others. The fragrance of my C+ and FC roasts have such a great malty sweetness, with just a hint of light molasses. Wet aroma is like fresh-from-the-oven sweet brown bread, hold the rye. There's a bit of dark caramel and chocolate. Dark sweetness ... you get the gist of it. Body is not often the first thing in a great coffee that impresses you, but the body (especially for a Panama) is very viscuous and appealing. There's a winey sweet fruit here too, pungency and bittersweetness (FC roast) , that lingers into a long aftertaste. That adds up to a fairly complex flavor experience as each sensation passes in waves, overlaying flavor upon flavor on the palate. I get a hint of banana, then anise/caraway seed, dark brown sugar, and a very intense "coffee-like" bittersweetness in the finish. I know,"coffee-like" is an unacceptable descriptor for coffee. Well, how come you can use it for Burgundy wines??? I jest, sort of. We define one thing in terms of other things, and not in and of itself. I guess that's how language works, or at least how a dictionary works. But nonetheless the finish has that heavily-extracted coffee bittersweet complexity, and lasts quite long.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-bold intensity / Intense and complex  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City for the most complex cup flavors
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Intense and rather bittersweet flavor, long aftertaste for a Panama with nice body.

Panama Boquete Organic -Los Lajones
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: Los Lajones Estate, Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Los Lajones is one of the few certified Organic coffees from the Boquete region, not that the so-called conventional coffees from the area are produced using many (if any) agrichemicals. In fact, besides soil ammendments, nitrogen, etc, there is little need to treat coffee grown at the right altitudes (a lot of pest problems like the Broca boring insect are found in Panama only with low-grown coffees. Anyway, it's got the certificate, and thats worth a comment. The real reason I snapped up this coffee was the cup character. You can't get much pleasure brewing up an Organic certificate, but this coffee is a delight! The lighter roasts have a very sweet cup, most notably marked by a ripe orange character. This coffee is not as acidic as the Lerida Peaberry, nor as bright as the Carmen Estate 1800+ meters. But it has a really refined clean citrus character, and the roast taste is very caramelly. The darker roasts (FC to FC+) have a strong anise liquor character that is pleasant, but usurps the other cup flavors too much to my liking. So I am going to (once again) recommend keeping this roast light; just through first crack (C), watch bean development a short time (C+), then stop the roast well before any immanent 2nd crack. This lot was delayed on our offer sheet because we had so many Panama offerings, but we are happy to list it now that the Central listings are starting to thin out.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, crisp Central character  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most of the aspects of this cup which make it so special. I thought my FC roasts of this coffee were too "roasty" and didn’t have the sparkle of the C to C+ cup.
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Classic bright Central, clean and crisp.

Panama Organic La Berlina Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La Berlina Estate, Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Old-growth Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: La Berlina is the epitome of classic Central American cup character; clean, moderately sweet, with a perfect balance of mild citric acidity, chocolate roast tones, and a refined finish. I have been to this farm two years in a row, and seeing the incredibly old 18 foot tall Typica trees makes it no wonder why the coffee bears this character. It does not have the liveliness of the Lerida estate coffee from Boquete - it is less acidic overall. But it makes up for it with this solid balance. And the Lerida Estate has replanted with new hybrids and the cup shows a bit in the cup. Berlina is 100% traditional Typica cultivar. It has remarkable brightness, complexity and depth for a clean Central American cup, easily as good or better than the best lots of Lerida I have had. Panama is basically an under-rated coffee in total, always playing second fiddle to the big name Costa Ricans and Guatemalans. The cup is balanced, with dry fragrance of cocoa backed by fruited tones (C+ roast), while at FC+ it turns to a rich, bittersweet chocolate. Wet aromatics have a nice winey aspect in the lighter roasts, and become flatly pungent if you roast much into 2nd crack. The cup has some interesting balance between sweet fruit (berry), waxy body and chocolate. At this stage of roast, City+, the coffee has a fairly wrinkled surface appearance ... but this isn't a beauty contest. That wrinkled appearance can be the optimal degree of roast for brighter cup character. Darker roasts have a very intense chocolate, and the fruited, winey notes are still detectable, but for my money this is yet another City+ roast recommendation.


View of La Berlina Estate from above, from my earlier trip.


Flowering Coffee at Berlina

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, crisp Central character  
add 50 50 Roast: The darker chocolate character of FC+ was attractive, and I also liked lighter roasts, so it's up to your preference: more chocolatey or more fruity and bright.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Classic bright Central from a pure old growth cultivar, Typica

Panama Bambito Estate
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Bambito Area Mark: Bambito Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Bambito Estate is like a coffee garden fallen from heavan and plunked down in the highlands of Panamas coffee growing region. It is near the well-known Bambito hotel (no relation, the area is called Bambito) on the way from Volcan Panama to Cerro Punto. It has been in the family of Rafael Amar G for a few years, but dates back many more, as you will find with the old growth trees. Interplanted with fragrant citrus bushes, ornamental trees, and shade-giving varieties, it really is like a stroll in a beautiful garden. Best of all, the soil here is one of the richest in all of the Volcan coffee growing area, and the altitude is super high: 1750 meters and more. The farm extends up the hill in a topography that makes it appear to have its own little valley. As mentioned, there is a mix of traditional old-growth trees; Typica, Bourbon and Caturra primarily, many over 50 years old. 2006 was the first year Bambito Estate entered the Best of Panama Cupping Competition, and 2nd place is a helluva result! At a light City roast, this coffee has remarkable, potent floral and citrus fragrance in the cup, and those qualities follow through the wet aroma and cup flavors. There are some interesting aromatics that might sound a bit odd until you experience them yourself: tangy barbeque sauce in the dry fragrance? Lemon drop sweetness in the wet aroma? Balancing the citrus blossom brightness is a very clean, cane sugar sweetness, and a bit of citrus skin zestiness. The cup has a magnificent purity and transparancy about it, as well as some twists and curves: There is an interesting "wild note" in the finish, with hints of Yemeni coffee to it. In other words, there is a dry spice in the finish, which (I believe) is part of the cultivars this coffee comes from. The farm is planted with so many old growth trees, thick 50 year old trunks all twisted and gnarled. Aside from the Catuai, most of the farm has these heirloom plants, and I think they express themselves in the cup with that unique dry spice note which emerges as the cup cools. Taking the roast a bit darker, this coffee changes to a rather intense, bittersweet cup, big and bold for a Central. There seems to be more body at the FC to FC+ roast, so (paired with the strong bittersweetness) this coffee has 2 different flavor profiles you can acheive , depending on your taste preference.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Super-clean cup, bright citric acidity, with unusual aggressive spicy finish (FC roast: bittersweetness/body)  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most citrus and floral aspects of this cup, which is, after all, what makes it so special. See my notes about the more aggressive, bold FC to FC+ roast too)
Score (Max. 100) 88.2 Compare to: Classic bright Central, but in this case, on steroids. This is very lively, very bright, and intense.

Panama Boquete - Lerida Estate Peaberry

Country: Panama Grade: SHB, Peaberry Region: Boquete Mark: Lerida Estate, 2007 Crop Peaberry
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 PB Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Lerida Estate is synonymous with Boquete, and with fine Panama coffee. The farm is owned by the Collins family, as it has been since the beginning. And these people are serious about coffee and about Lerida. Compliment John Collins that his Lerida is the archetypal Boquete cup profile (bright, clean, nuanced, sweet) and he will look at you with disdain. "Lerida is NOT a Boquete coffee: Lerida is LERIDA." What does that mean (besides the fact that a certain somebody needs to spend a little more time among human beings rather than coffee trees). I don't know what it means really; I guess Lerida is incomparable. And I agree, it is more than a benchmark for Boquete, but with the auction-winning Lerida lots we bought 5-7 years ago I learned what truly great Central coffee was about. And here it is again: Lerida at it's best. The dry fragrance has clear floral and citric character, as well as a malt-like sweetness verging on caramel. This sweet character, with hints of hop flowers and jasmine comes through in the aroma, and cup flavors too. What a nice, crisp, lively, floral and fruited cup. This is the the definition of fine, clean Boquete coffee! Well-defined lemon essence lingers above an unobtrusive caramel sweetness, and right through the aftertaste. Refined but in no way uninteresting, citrus blossom aftertaste lingers, making me wonder who sent the bouquet of flowers and hid them somewhere in my cupping room?
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / delicate but persistent citrus and floral elements  
add 50 50 Roast: City + (once again) is where you will experience the most citrus and floral aspects of this cup, which is, after all, what makes it so special. Frankly, this coffee is fantastic anywhere after 1st crack through early 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 88.4 Compare to: Classic bright Central with an extremely refined (but not boring) character.

Panama Carmen Estate 1800+ Meters
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Volcan, Paso Ancho Mark: Carmen Estate, above 1800 meters
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: Carmen Estate is a small farm located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own, but this was done for more than increasing the volume. The fact is, La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate roughly another 500-600 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi Aguilar (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independent mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees using new techniques. This farm uses the de-muscilage process where the muscilage is stripped off the parchment layer using friction, rather than traditional fermentation. I was very impressed with the high altitude and excellent practices of Carlos and Finca Carmen. This coffee won the #3 spot in the Best of Panama competition in 2003, 2004 and #2 in 2005 #3 in 2006, and 4th in '07 - a proven winning coffee. The entire farm is very high altitude; it starts at 1450, an altitude many farms don't even reach, meters and goes up from there! We have a special arrangement to buy this coffee each year from the 1800+ meter altitude on the farm, a very small amount of coffee. Altitude matters, with coffee, and you can taste the difference here. Altitude allows coffee to ripen slower, creates greater bean density, and results in higher concentrations of bright, snappy, acidity in the cup. I also notice stronger aromatic attributes compared to the lower altitude coffee from the same Estate. The cup has sweetly fruited and citrus aromas at City roast, with clean fruited aromatic components; peach, apple and lemon floral components. The wet aroma is crystal clear and bright, with grain and nut hints at this light roast stage. These become more distinct in the cup flavors: lightly malted barley, a sweet nuttiness, and (while the body is light) a very buttery mouthfeel. The finish is piquant, clean, and leaves a sharp, distinct aftertaste. This is a very crisp cup at City to City+, the roasts where the "origin flavors" are most distinct. If that is too snappy, too acidic for you, you can get great sharp pungency with a "toned down" acidity from an FC+ roast.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Outstanding clarity and brightness, crisp cup profile  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + is ideal. See the notes above about brightness and acidity.
Score (Max. 100) 89.7 Compare to: Brighter and (therefore) bolder than other Panamas. Almost Kenya-like brightness! See my Best of Panama travelogue for pictures of the 1800+ meter plot where our coffee comes from.

Panama Esmeralda Especial - Gesha Cultivar
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Boquete Mark: La esmeralda Estate, Jaramillo Plot , Gesha Cultivar
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: Gesha Cultivar (longberry, Ethiopia-related), also (incorrectly) spelled Geisha
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.5

It's rare that a coffee varietal announces itself so clearly in the cup flavors as the Gesha cultivar does in Panamanian coffee. You remember Gesha, it was the cultivar responsible for the $25/lb La Esmeralda Jaramillo we offered in 2004. Last year we paid a mere $50.25 for it per lb in the Best of Panama Coffee Auction, and this year another group, clearly intoxitcated, paid $130! I jest, and if you are going to catch "auction fever" then the Esmeralda Gesha is a good impetus. It is an excellent coffee, but to tell you the truth I cupped the sample of our Esmeralda Gesha, which we buy direct from the farm, not in the auction, and I prefered it! Anyway It won the Panama competition again in 2005 and 2006. It is what I refer to as an Exotic: Ethiopian coffee grown in Panama, and not your traditional Panama cup profile. Nonetheless, judges ask themselves"Is this good?" and (as a judge at BOP this year) my answer was YES! Another funny judging issue; The Esmeralda Gesha makes blind cupping almost senseless, since I can identify its amazing fragrance, aroma and cup flavors immediately when I come upon it in a "blind" cupping! It is that dry fragrance that lets you know right away what is coming when the water hits the cup: incredible sweet floral, citrus blossom, sweet honey perfume atomized into the air. We are basically part of a small buying group for this coffee, with a much bigger company (Peets) having rights to the bulk of it. We asked for double the amount we were allotted, but nomatter, there simply isn't enough for even the priveledged buyers given a chance at the coffee. That's why I think it's kind of neat Sweet Maria's can spread this around a bit, allow many people who truly are the most motivated coffee enthusiasts (home roasters) experience the Gesha cultivar. Yes, in terms of intensity, fruited and floral aspects, wet-processed Ethiopians and Kenyas are more in league with Gesha than any other coffee. But it is difficult to price this sort of cup character, and when it is as exotic ...no, extraterrestial ... as The Esmeralda Gesha, it is even more hard to quantify. The dry fragrance is intensely floral, jasmine and sweetly herbal. When it hits the burrs of your grinder, you know right away this is an extraordinary coffee. Citrus, jasmine flowers, cherry, passion fruit, and mango; these are some of the flavors that come to mind as they essentially leap out at you. It's very much an herbal-floral infusion and I think those who eschew coffee in favor of such teas might do a double-take. There are tea-like, Earl Grey, zesty notes I get sometimes too. A basket of fruit, a bouquet of flowers; no description seems too sappy, sentimental or ridiculous for a coffee that is so obviously unique.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / intense aromas of fruits and flowers
add 50 50 Roast: Pungent roast flavors of 2nd crack do harm to what this coffee is really about. This is a "2nd Crack is Taboo" coffee. Try to get it to a City+, or a Full City, without letting it hit 2nd crack at all. It is a large bean, you might need to cut back on the batch size a little. It has a patchy surface color - don't worry about it. Just grind, brew and enjoy!
Score (Max. 100) 92.1 Compare to: Not your typical Central coffee - more like a Yirgacheffe on steroids: bright, citrusy, light body, unique. Limit 5 Lbs due to small lot size.

Panama Auction Lot - Mama Cata Gesha
Country: Panama Grade: SHB Region: Alto Quiel, Chirqui Panama Mark: Mama Cata Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Gesha and Criollo mix.
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.9 Notes: We have offered Mama Cata Estate coffee before, in fact we bought it in the Best of Panama Auction before. But it wasn't quite like this ... this is a very special lot. It is a blend of the Gesha cultivar that gives such distinct cup quality to another coffee we offer, the Hacienda Esmeralda Especial Geisha. The other component is the Criollo variety grown on the farm. In this way, the coffee has a very balanced cup, something that distinguishes it from the Esmeralda. Mama Cata is a owned by the Garrido family, and the farm is just across the road from the Lerida Estate (whose peaberry we offer annually), way up at 5250 feet in Alto Quiel zone of Chirqui, Panama. Not everyone gets the same cup results from the Gesha cultivar, but Mama Cata seems to have the right altitude and climate to get the intense floral and fruit notes found in the Esmeralda Gesha and one other farm, Don Pache. The dry fragrance of the ground coffee is is evidence of the Gesha cultivar; sweet citrus, intensly floral, tropical fruit punch. It is exotic in the extreme. The wet aromatics are very sweet, fruited, laced with brown sugar and spice notes (anise, caraway, corriander). The cup is (I already mentioned), a very balanced version of the Esmeralda Especial Gesha. The cup has body, depth in the roast tastes, and layered above all that the bright accent notes of the Gesha variety. It is orangey, with passionfruit and kiwi blended in, and very floral. In contrast, there are sweet licorice notes in the roast (FC), with sweet fresh ginger root and vibrant anise in the finish. As it cools, the floral notes become so intense, like bright hop notes of an IPA ale. but perhaps this comes to mind simply because it is one of the few beverages where you are litteraly "drinking flowers". It is supremely juicy coffee, and it seems to reveal something new each time I vary the roast, each time I cup it. There is so much to discover here.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 3 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweet tropical fruit, balance  
add 50 50 Roast: City +, Full City. Best balance is at FC roast, with sweet licorice roast taste.
Score (Max. 100) 92.4 Compare to: Yirgacheffe cup aspects, fitting since Gesha is a Ethiopa cultivar; slightly less "outrageous" but perhaps more balanced than the Esmeralda Geisha. Limit 2 Lbs due to small lot size.


Panama Lot 12686
Country: Panama Grade: SHB, EP Region: Boquete Mark: Pooled Lot, Number 12686
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: February 2007 Arrival Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I am not going to dress up this lot with any fancy names … I abhor that. We give it a name that speaks to its origin, and this lot is a mutt. It's a pooled lot, a mix of small farm coffees from the Boquete region, falling under the desgination Boquete Euro Prep. Euro Prep (EP) is the sorta minimum mill preparation standard in my book, whereas for a lot of coffee buyers it is something to advertise. Why promote the fact a coffee is relatively defect-free? All coffee should be, or the taster will never have the chance to experience the true origin character of the cup: it will be obscured by the foul flavor of bad beans. Anyway, it all adds up to a coffee we can never truly know ... we don't know exactly whose coffee went into it. And perhaps, on the face of it, I should reject lots like this, not even evaluate them. But then I feel like I would be a dishonest coffee prig, buying coffee by name, by pedigree, not by the actual cup quality. And here we have a lot, perhaps rare in its own right, for beating the odds. It's way too early in the season for good Centrals, and coffee this lively, this clean, should not be possible from pooled lots. But here it is, defiantly, clean, snappy, lively, and premature in the season. So I call it 12686, only by lot number, because that's all I know, and extrapolate that it is caturra and catuai since that is basically all there is in Boquete. While the City+ roast is light bodied and very high-toned, I enjoyed the more mature, ripe fruit in the FC and FC+ roasts.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Bright, Lively acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City for more ripe (almost wine-tinged) fruited notes.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Lively, bright Central decaf, very early new 07 crop.

Papua New Guinea 

Papua New Guinea Kimel WP Decaf
Country: New Guinea Grade: PB Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Kimel Plantation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: Nov 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Papua New Guinea occupies the Eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian provice of Irian (no organized coffee production originates from Irian) There can be a huge range of cups from Papua New Guinea, and the so-called Plantation coffees represent the cleaner character of the coffee produced on the island... more like a good Central American than part of the Indonesian profile. The Organic PNG coffees have the more natural, rustic cup character. The plantations are larger farms that have their own coffee processing wet mills, so they are able to control all the variables of production better than the small farm "coffee gardens." Kimel is offered broadly in the US now via the brokerage Royal, and is a solid coffee. But some lots have cupped very "green" and underdeveloped in character, others can be flat and uninteresting. This is the first time the coffee has been available as a water-process decaf lot, and the results are quite favorable. It's a very balanced cup, with good dense body, but also bright floral and fruit hints in the cup. There's a touch of cedar, brown sugar sweet notes, root beer, anise, and a lingering finish that has sweet basil qualities. It's actually quite nuanced for a decaf, and the aftertaste is outstanding.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity /Sweet cup with balance, interesting nuances  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + acheives the sweetness and bright notes.
Score (Max. 100) 85.6 Compare to: A bright, sweet and clean PNG, unique and not much like its Indonesian cousins (Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java).

Papua New Guinea -Kimel Peaberry
Country: New Guinea Grade: PB Region: Eastern Highlands Mark: Kimel Plantation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: October 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Not known (appears to be Typica)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Papua New Guinea occupies the Eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian provice of Irian (no organized coffee production originates from Irian) There can be a huge range of cups from Papua New Guinea, and the so-called Plantation coffees represent the cleaner character of the coffee produced on the island... more like a good Central American than part of the Indonesian profile. The Organic PNG coffees have the more natural, rustic cup character. The plantations are larger farms that have their own coffee processing wet mills, so they are able to control all the variables of production better than the small farm "coffee gardens." Kimel is offered broadly in the US now vial the brokerage Royal, and is a solid coffee. But some lots have cupped very "green" and underdeveloped in character, others can be flat and uninteresting. You have to buy your PNG coffees at the "peak of the harvest," not too soon or too late in the season. This is a fairly early new crop lot (July 2006 arrival) from the Kimel Plantation. In fact, I have steadfastly panned the earliest PNG shipments for the past 5 years. And I do think we are lissing a little of the potential balance from this cup, but there are great aromas and livliness, with no "greenish" early crop flavors. It is a very lively coffee with a lot of top-end character (zingy fruited flavors). More specifically I get a marmalade fruitiness, and passion fruit. I get a really sweet waft from the dry fragrance of the grounds; maple, caramel, and orange honey at a City+ roast. Add water, and the wet aroma has a malty sweetness (light roasts contributes to this grain-sugar character too, as does the Kimel origin character). Here is where I start to get orange and tangerine hints, which emerge in the cup flavors as the aforementioned marmalade. This peaberry lot is a bit brighter than our previous A grade flat bean lot. Primary cup flavors are a crisp sweetness, again malty in character, with a floral dimension (honeysuckle), and that sweet orange finish. As it cools it is easy to key in of the floral and citrus factors, but that "fruit punch" (combined tropical fruit) descriptor seems very appropriate. A cornucopia of tropical fruit and flowers - in the cooling cup of Kimel, that is not an overy poetic description.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Sweet citrus, fruit, floral  
add 50 50 Roast: City to City + acheives the malty sweetness and floral/fruit sweetness, but it certainly can stand up to Full City roast. I would keep this coffee out of second crack, personally.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: A very crisp, sweet and clean PNG, unique and not at all like its Indonesian cousins (Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java).


Peru 

Peru FTO Cuzco - Ccochapampa Coop
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Cuzco State, Quillabamba Area Mark: Ccochapampa Coop, Cocla Coop
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes:I have already ranted other places about the poor quality of some organic Peru coffees: Cup a supermarket organic Peru versus a high quality organic Peru and the differences are profound. Not only do the cheap ones have little to no positive qualities, they also have defective taints in the cup, grassy, fermenty notes in particular. These are the hallmarks of unripe coffee cherry (poor picking and separation of fruit) and poor wet-milling standards. Anyway, this particular lot was the hands-down winner among the Perus this year to date, and among the other lots from this same co-op (COCLA). Ccochapampa is in the Cuzco region (south-central Peru): the co-op is located near the town of Quillabamba. The co-op has 150 small-holder farms, and the unusually-spelled Ccochapampa means "plain by the lake" in the Quechua language. The coffee area is between 1600 and 2000 meters, adjacent to the snow-covered peak known as Veronica, which feeds river Vilcanota that is fed year-round by snow-melt. (No, the "Cc" is not a typo!) The dry fragrance is surprisingly nutty with milk chocolate roast tones. But adding the hot water results in a burst of herbal-floral aromatics, suggestions of pungent spice, and chocolate. The cup has a good bittersweet zent to it, and the accent notes I have mentioned, spice (warming spice) and herbs are present too. There's a waxy mouthfeel that combines well with the chocolate in the cup, not a heavy body but viscuous still, and it reminds me of a character I get in some Mexico Oaxaca coffees. Since both are pure Typica cultivar, I wonder if it might be a character of that specific varietal. I like this cup: it has the brightness of Centrals, but a rustic tendency in the cup flavors that gives it a slightly earthy edge.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Medium intensity / Spice, herbal-floral accents   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:C+ to FC+. Your C+ roasts will have a nutty accent whereas FC+ will tend toward chocolate. It's a versatile coffee, and can also be taken to Vienna and French with good results
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Has some flavor aspects of Cauca coffees from Colombia, and the brightness of a Central, but with a rustic accent.


Peru Organic WP Decaf
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Norte Mark: Norte, Cepicafe Coop
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 07 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Peru has an interesting cup character ... an brightness in the cup that is broad and sometimes blunt, interesting spicy notes, medium to lighter body. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad Peruvian coffee out there with green-grassy defects, and fermented taints. Being organic doesn't save it if the cup is bad! On top of that, this is the new non-chemical, water decaf process. Luckily, I've been able to find some nice Peru coffees in the mid-crop harvest this year. The Chanchamayo lot we have came in excellent, and this Peru decaf was a nice suprise. Decaf is always tricky - you can start with a good coffee and lose the character in the process. That didn't happen here. I think this is one of the best examples of a decaf cupping like its non-decaf counterpart - this really has true-blue Peruvian cup character. This comes from the Cepicafe cooperative that is located in the northern growing area of the country... the coop has produced nice coffees over the years and has the right climate and altitude for excellent cup quality. Most impressive is the nice well-defined bright notes in the cup that define the "origin character" of the coffee. This is a lively cup! And it is precisely that brightness that used to get lost in the old decaffeinating methods. This lot comes from an altitude range of 1400 meters to 1800 meters, which explains the bright character. There's also a bit of cinnamon spiciness to the cup, and clean fruit notes (apple) in the cup that are really nice. The finish is pleasantly dry.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / brightness, balance and subtlty
add 50 50 Roast: City- Full City. I like this Lighter, at a City roast, then rested 2 days. This preserves the brightness, and mild fruited notes, but it does hold up to a heavier roast quite well too. On the Probat drum roaster I roasted it only to 420 f for the best cup, a real City roast.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: That distinct Peru flavor, balanced but bright, not that complex but very attractive overall!


Peru Las Delicias - Zenon Vargas
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Cuzco region Mark: ML (Micro-Lote) Las Delicias - Zenon Huaman Vargas
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I visited Las Delicias last year, and it was like walking into an enchanted forest. Corny but true. We wound our way up and up a long twisty road until we were at about 1600 meters, and a chill as in the air. When we finally leveled out a bit we came into something I can't describe as a town ... more like a tiny community where the home of this coffee producer Zenon Huaman Vargas, is the center. His coffee patio used for drying the pergamino was also where the locals met, had celebrations, and communally milled their coffee cherry. All round the hills were scattered small farms and two room houses, set in among the towering Typica coffee trees, with a heavy canopy of large overstory forest. It made such an impression on me, a place with no commerce, no store, and with such a strong multi-family group working together to improve their coffee, improve the quality of their lots to bring a better price, improve their lives. I imagine how groups of families bonded together homesteading the western US with the same spirit. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the coffee, and in another sense it has absolutely everything to do with the coffee. We have this lot, because they decided get together and improve their coffee quality, to work harder, to hope for a better price. and we paid it, well over fair trade, as we do with many, many lots. It's a very balanced cup. The fragrance is mild milk chocolate, and has a sweet almond aromatic. There some interesting pungent notes here in the aroma, fresh leather and sandalwood. But those are momentary and sweetness prevails as the cup brews. Flavors are mild and balanced: Soft chocolate bittersweetness, and a subtext of apricot and peach (dried fruit notes), with a winey aspect to them. There's a nice tang to the cup that develops at Full City, a roast I recommend. I also noted that the coffee passes quickly from 1st crack to second crack, so keep a close eye on this one in the roaster.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Mild balanced cup  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City, Full City+. Real light roasts are a bit vapid, too dark and you miss any complexity. See roast note in Description (short elapsed time between 1st and 2nd crack).
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: When a Peru is perfectly processed, it no longer resembles the gamey, off-notes we identify with this origin. This lot is more like a Central, with hints of a fine Oaxaca.

Peru Tunquimayo - Juan de Dios
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Tunquimayo Mark: AAA - Juan de Dios Villavicencio
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Juan de Dios is, (as his name, John of God implies), a bit of a nut. He is kinda intense, and I think he is on a "mission" that relates improving coffee quality on his farm to heavenly ascension. Needless to say, I like nuts, and I like John of God. His farm is perched on a fairly steep slope in a subregion of Cuzco called Tunquimayo. Cuzco is the Quechua region and home to fantastic Inca and pre-Inca sites, a fantastic, dramatic scenery. All this area is traditional coffee farming, with great altitude and nearly all traditional Typica cultivar. In the cup, I feel this coffee has great similarity in intensity and basic flavor components to the Zenon Huaman Vargas lot from Las Delicias, although they are separated by more than a few Kms. The dry fragrance has more of a rustic edge, and sweet note too with an odd fresh leather hint, just for a moment. It passes into hazelnut with floral aspects too. Leather? Floral? Hmmm... In the cup there is a tea-like quality (the dryness/astringency of black tea), a raspberry hint, as well as a good bright note with lemon rind twist. As the cup cools brightness comes up. City roasts were slightly bitter in the finish so I recommend the FC to FC+ roast range, where this note comes off more tangy and has a pungent, peppery aspect to it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Interesting acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: FC to FC+ roast is ideal. This coffee also passes from 1st crack to 2nd crack rather quickly
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: This is similar to the Las Delicias Peru lot, with a tad more brightness and some odd flavor aspects.

Peru Concurso Huallaga - 1st Place
Country: Peru Grade: SHG Region: Lamas Mark: Peru Concurso de Calidad, Huallaga Competition,
1st place: Andreas Soberon Gonzales
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: This super, super small lot won the competition I was at in Peru late last year. (It always takes time to prepare and ship coffee, even with a tiny amount, hence the delay in offering it for sale). In fact, the size of this lot is so small, we are limiting it to 1 Lb per person please, and it still won't last more than a week, I bet. It's so small it couldn't be run through normal milling equipment and is practically hand-milled out of parchment. This is not a best-of-Peru competition but rather one that covered a sizable region in the central growing area, the Huallaga Valley and nearby coffee-producing areas. It is grown by a micro-producer: Andreas Soberon Gonzales. At the awards ceremony, it was incredibel to see him tear up as he thanked God, and said the "quality coffee" was the path to a more decent living for coffee farmers in his area, Lamas. I try to avoid being sentimental about things like this, but if you were there, you would see how much the recognition mattered to Andreas. And the lot was heads and shoulders above the rest through all the rounds of cupping with a combined score of 87.56. dry fruit aroma (apricot, pear), winey hint, good, tight brightness to the cup, City+ roast is ideal. The cup is bright and clean, finishing with a neat piquant spice note. It shows the potential of Peru, with all this incredible high grown coffee, traditional Typica cultivar, and an unfortunate history of bad processing, then mixing of great lots like this with mediocre and bad low-grown coffee. As we straighten out the problems, what emerges is a coffee like this, crisp, clean, effervescent on the palate. It finishes with mildly pungent spice, traces of clove and corriander. It's a nice cup: It's worth some serious attention.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Clean, bright cup with fruited tones  
Andreas and Tom
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for a light-bodied, lively cup (allow 48 hour rest). But I enjoyed the balance and improved body at FC roast too.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Not typical Peru, this compares to clean Cup of Excellence level coffees from Central America.

Puerto Rico  

Puerto Rico Yauco Selecto AA
Country: Puerto Rico Grade: AA Region: Puerto Rico, Mark: Yauco Selecto AA
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ screen Varietal: Bourbon, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes:Yauco Selecto is the premium coffee from the small growing regions on the island. Production is limited and the last count I could find was 3500 bags per year. In the scheme of things its not much, and the fact these are Kona-style 100 lb bags makes the crop that much smaller. Many other price factors bear on this coffee too: since it is produced in the US the price refelects what US consumers should probably be paying for all coffee, if origins enjoyed the protections that we grant our own. There is a long tradition of coffee from Puerto Rico that was destroyed by a combination of hurricane damage and market pressures. In Europe, Puerto Rican coffees were considered the pinnacle of quality, because they have unparalleled body for an island coffee, and a soft low-acid flavor profile. The coffee is air-frieghted in small quantities to the US, so it is basically always fresh from the Yauco Selecto mill. For me, Yauco is not a year-round coffee, but rather has a seasonal peak that varies but is generally in the early part for the new year, through Spring. Too early in the crop cycle or too late and the delicate balance is upset by greenish cup flavors or by baggy old flavors. Then, there are whole years where we simply pass, when I feel that the weather has had a bad influence on the coffee. A mild cup can be easily ruined! I was happy to find this cup from new crop sample to have the character I remember: first and foremost a creamy, buttery body with nutty tones. The dry fragrance has a very attractive caramel smell with almond hint. It fades into bittersweetness in the wet aroma, but resurfaces in the cup flavors. Yet I would not characterize this as a super sweet coffee in the scheme of things; it is softly bittersweet, and with previously mentioned buttery-creamy body. I find that the Cona vacuum brew method is ideal for this coffee, bringing out the body and some subtle aromatic herbal character that I missed in the paper-drip brew; an excellent rosemary herby note. Yauco Selecto is pricey, but has the Jamaican "island cup profile", and in that repect it's half the price. I like it at a fairly light roast for drip coffee, but at Full City+ this coffee makes a really nice straight roast espresso, with great balance and body. I highly recommend this coffee for single-Estate straight roast espresso.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Mild intensity / Soft, balance Island coffee profile   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good tangy bittersweet roast flavor. It also makes interesting single estate espresso.
Score (Max. 100) 84.7 Compare to: Island coffee : Has the mellowness of other island coffees, with more body and excellent soft, bittersweet flavors.

see the 2005-2006 Archive


Central America: Costa Rica | Guatemala | Honduras | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | El Salvador
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Islands/Blends/Others: Australia | Hawaii | Puerto Rico | Jamaica | Dominican | Chicory | Sweet Maria's Blends
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