Tiny Joy

Oct 2000: Traditional Chemical Decaf?; Sweet Maria's in Print

Traditional Chemical Decaf?

Sweet Maria’s has deliberately avoided offering traditional chemical decaf ever since we started out in 1997. I researched the decaf methods and chose to avoid these coffees based largely on the fact that the decaffeination plant is a nasty place.

Traditional chemical decaf is called a "direct contact decaf method" where the decaffeinating chemical contact the coffee, attaches to the caffeine and then is flushed from the coffee along with the caffeine. Through the '70s the chemical used was Trichloroethylene. But now the chemical decaf is processed mostly with Methylene Chloride. It is used in other food processing methods and is allowed by the USDA to remain in food at a concentration of 10 PPM (Parts Per Million). Our Natural decaf is also a chemical "direct contact" method using naturally-derived Ethyl Acetate.

In contrast, Swiss Water Process and Carbon Dioxide Process are "indirect decaf methods." In these methods the organic content of the coffee, including the caffeine, are stewed out of the raw coffee, then that liquid is decaffeinated using CO2 or water filtration. Its no wonder these methods require great refinement of the process and high operating standards because they are so much more brutal on the quality of the coffee.

So why in the world are we considering offering one or two Methylene Chloride Decafs now, and with other options available? Well, first of all, I am just pondering the issues and would like your feedback on the issues. But here’s the scoop:

The first reason is Cup Quality, our Mantra here at Sweet Maria’s. Lately I have been cupping MC Decafs and have found cup quality I did not know was possible in decafs. These are all German-processed decafs, known to the best. One particular Ethiopian Yirgacheffe was simply extraordinary. I am not saying that all MC Decafs are better. But sometimes this method, especially the German-processed ones, can protect the cup quality of the raw coffee better than other methods, especially the indirect process ones.

The second reason is that German-processed coffees are held to extremely strict standards of the European community and they exceed them. Being incredibly health- and environment-conscious, the EU allows 2 PPM residual Methylene Chloride in the raw coffee, but these decafs test invariably at less than 1 PPM. I also trust that the environmental standards and emissions allowances in Germany are as strict (and this is one area I am making an assumption).

Lastly is a well-known fact that all these MC residual standards are a bit of a moot point in coffee. The fact is, nobody is ever going to consume any of this chemical because it is so incredibly volatile that it dissipates in an oxygen environment under room temperature. Consider that it is roasted in a 450-550 degree environment and then brewed at 200 degrees. Residual MC is not been the issue, and never has been for me.

So my bias against MC decaf initially was environmental issues, and I still make decisions about coffee based on environment regularly. But the World Health Organization states "Concerning risks to the environment and with the exception of accidental spills, use of Methylene Chloride has no significant impact on the environment." And I would never consider an MC decaf processed under less stringent standards. As a test I will be stocking a limited amount of this remarkable MC Decaf Ethiopian. Please try it (or not) and let me know by email what you think about this issue! —tom@sweetmarias.com
Aged Sumatra

We have finally found a great lot of Aged Sumatra, and its no wonder that it comes from our trusted source, Pwani Exports. If you were with us a year ago you may remember the last lot of Aged Pwani Mandheling. It was sweet and chocolatey, with no acidity to speak of and a mild finish. This was in great contrast to the Aged Java, which was intensely pungent and smokey, with an aggressive bite that would rank it among the most intense coffees. This new Aged Pwani is less aged than the previous lot, and hence the color is a brown-orange (the previous was a bright orange). But the cup is chocolatey and mild, and its great in any roast ranging from medium City to Vienna or darker. It will also make an intriguing blender as the Java component in a Mokha Java blend, with Ethiopian Sidamo, Harar or a Yemeni coffee as the Mokha. For those who desire the full-bore Aged Java, and its insanely intense bite, we hope to have some more of that in early November.

Sweet Maria's in Print

We provided some coffee to a well-known chef a while back, but I wasn't quite sure at the time exactly what he was using it for. It turns out that Marcus Sameulson uses lightly toasted coffee as an astringent flavor componant in a Chocolate Ganache Cake desert, to contrast the cream and chocolate. Yes, that's basically undrinkable lightly baked coffee, and it is coated with sugar. The recipe was featured in the October issue of Gourmet Magazine ...for those of you who no longer want to deal with the roast smoke, and are going to consume your coffee nearly raw! The recipe is reproduced on our web page on the Coffee Library page: www.sweetmarias.com/articles.shtml

1000-Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Costa Rican Dota Conquistador 99-00 $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

Costa Rican Tarrazu La Minita 99-00 $6.95 $13.21 $30.23

Costa Rican La Pastora Tarrazu 99-00 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Costa Rican Las Frailes Tarrazu $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Guatemala Antigua La Tacita Estate $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Guat.Fraijanes Org.-La Montana Estate $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Guatemala Huehuetenango -Dos Lagos $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Guatemala Huehuetenango -Catinil $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Guatemala SHB HHT Maragogype $5.65 $10.74 $24.58

Guatemala Organic FT Huehuetenango $5.10 $9.69 $22.19

Guatemala Oriente -Tres Marias $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Mexican Oaxaca Pluma -Fino Rojas $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Mexican Organic Pluma -Loxicha $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Mexican Organic-Finca Santa Anita $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Mexican San Pablo Tres Flechas $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Nicaraguan SHG La Illusion $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Panama Boquete -La Berlina Estate $5.10 $9.69 $22.19

Panama Hartmann Songbird 99-00 $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Salvador Organic-Los Naranjos $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Salvador Pacamara -"Desolo Fancy" $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

1020-South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil Cerrado-Monte Carmelo $4.40 $8.36 $19.14

Brazil Monte Alegre- Wet Process $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Colombian Popayan Excelso $4.50 $8.55 $19.58

Colombian San Augustin Huila $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Colombian Tuluni Supremo 18+ $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Peru Org Chanchamayo La Florida Coop $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

1040-African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Ethiopian Djimmah Gr 5 $4.40 $8.36 $19.14

Ethiopian Harar Gr5 Horse $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Ethiopian Sidamo Gr.5 99-00 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gr2 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Kenya AA Kathangiriri Estate 99-00 $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Kenya AA Mweiga Estate 99-00 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Kenya AA Samburu Estate 99-00 $5.45 $10.36 $23.71

Tanzanian Peaberry 99-00 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Yemen Mokha Mattari $7.00 $13.30 $30.45

Yemen Mokha Raimi $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Yemen Mokha Sana'ani -Saihi $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Zimbabwe AAA Pinnacle $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

1060-Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Monsooned Malabar AA $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Indian Pearl Mountain Est. Peaberry $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Java Govt. Estate Kayumas $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Myanmar Arabica -Rubyland Peaberry $3.50 $6.65 $15.23

Papua New Guinea A Org-Shade $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Papua New Guinea Purosa AA $5.60 $10.64 $24.36

Sulawesi Toraja Gr.1 00 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Sulawesi Rantepao (Monsooned) $6.10 $11.59 $26.54

Sulawesi Sulotco Est.-Wet Processed $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Sumatra Mandheling Gr1 DP $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra Mandheling-Special Triple Pick $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Sumatra Organic Gayoland.Gr1 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Sumatra Blue Lintong Gr1 $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

1080-Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Dominican Rep.-Montana Verde Estate $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Hawaii Kona- well Extra Fancy $15.20 $28.88 $66.12

Hawaii Kona-Kowali Farm XtraFancy $16.20 $30.78 $70.47

Hawaii Kona-Kowali Blue Mountain $17.10 $32.49 $74.39

Isle of Saint Helena $21.20 $40.28 $92.22

SM's Moka Kadir Blend $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

SM's Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

SM's Decaf Espresso Blend $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

Sweet Maria's Fr.RoastBlend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Malabar Gold Espresso Blend $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

1100 -Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil Santos SWP Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Colombian Natural Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Costa Rican SHB SWP Decaf $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

Indonesian Komodo Blend Org SWP D $6.10 $11.59 $26.54

Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

Mexican Organic/Shade SWP D $6.15 $11.69 $26.75

Papua New Guinea Org SWP D $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Sumatra Org.GayoMtn SWP Decaf $6.30 $11.97 $27.41

1120 -Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Kaapi Royale Robusta $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Indian Monsooned Robusta AA $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Mexican Washed Robusta $3.02 $5.74 $13.14

1140 -Others 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Dels Organic Blend $6.60 $12.54 $28.71

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