Sweet Maria's Weblog

A Tale from the Land of the HandyBrew

October 13, 2014

We sold out of the HandyBrew many months ago. In the meantime, we have been in close communication with the manufacturer (the folks who also make the Clever Coffee Dripper) as they put a lot of effort into creating a new model. It's now back in stock with a new look and improvements that will make an even better HandyBrew brew.


We are celebrating this Friday with new coffees

October 10, 2014

Colombia Finca La Primavera - Gerardo Bravo is balanced by candied sweetness, malic to tartaric acidity, and black tea. Fruits pop up in the cooling cup, apple, cherry, and plum.

Colombia Timana Principales Lotes brings forth solid sweetness, honey, dark sugar, apple, and a malic acidity.

Guatemala Chimaltenango La Pampa Gesha This Gesha has perfumed florals, clean honeyed sweetness, tropical fruits, and brilliant acidity.

Timor Eraulu Lauana Villages. This fully washed Timor shows banana, pineapple, plum, and apple with a underlying sweet/...

Quality Control: Sample Roasting

Our Probat P3 Electric 3-barrel sees A LOT of use!

October 7, 2014

We are officially hitting the tail end of the busiest time of year for receiving samples in our cupping lab. It’s no secret that the bulk of our coffees come from Central America and East Africa, and as such, we’ve received more ‘offer’ samples in the past few months than all of the rest of the year combined. This last year in Guatemala alone we cupped over 600 farm samples. Now, to be honest, some of that number was roasted and cupped at origin - maybe 200 total. But the bulk was evaluated right here in our lab in West Oakland. As such, it seems like an appropriate time for us to talk about our process of green coffee evaluation, and why if you're running a roasting business, it’s important to have an evaluation program in place.

Many of you will find this information useful as a way to better understand the purchasing process on this side of the water. Much of our evaluation of coffee comes from it’s taste (no surprise here), and the sample roaster is an extremely valuable tool to present a coffee’s quality level. But also, I would argue that just as much stock is placed in the roaster, that is, the human being operating the machine, as the machine itself. There are good and bad roasting machines as well as roasting approaches, and we find that much of our home roasting audience are just as careful and attentive to roasting on their home machines as the "professional" production roasters down the street (we talk A LOT about “professional” vs enthusiast around here - and there really isn’t much of a difference, except for maybe equipment). Roasting...

Hello Weekend. Hello Workshop Blend #33

October 3, 2014

Espresso Workshop Blend #33 - Qand Ya Matatu

Workshop #33 was planned specifically with darker roast espresso in mind. Not that Full City+ should be the benchmark, but one that shows well closer to 2nd crack than some of our other blends in the past. For cupping, we roasted to three different roast levels - City+, Full City, and Full City+ (just a few 2nd snaps). The aromatics are super intense across this roast spread, City+ showing dark berry and florals amidst brooding chocolate roast tones (the latter builds quite a bit at darker roast levels). Full City+ has a smokiness from roast that goes well with rich dark cacao smells, and a sweetness that doesn't quit. Pulling espresso shots, it probably goes without saying that the lighter roasts are quite bright, and in my opinion, City+ is just a shade too light for more than a single shot. Still, at this lighter end of the spectrum, it tastes like lavender infused chocolate, with lemon/citrus oil acidity. Full City tones down citric tenors, and builds chocolatey bass notes (even 'base' in this case!), along with a sweet sugary aspect, like butterscotch syrup, that holds on in the finish. This is such a sweet blend at this roast level, with any roast flavor well integrated into the espresso profile. The mouthfeel is so thick and creamy (not to be confused with creme, of which this coffee produces plenty), and the viscous liquor only reverberates the aforementioned profile. Full City+ delves into smoky chocolate, but fruits and acidity aren't obfuscated. Peach syrup and blueberry come through, and allusions to pulpy citrus still liven up a short pull. This is a home run espresso, definitely hitting wilder notes, but with enough chocolate and sweetness to appeal to a more 'classic' espresso audience as well.

Check out our other blends too!

Mid-week Adds Abound!

October 2, 2014

Brazil Minas Gerais - Murilo Neiva Junqueira is a bodied Brazil cup, unrefined sugars and nut notes, along with hints of raisin and black currant. This is a standout Brazil.


Nicaragua Dipilto Finca La Laguna has a praline nut and toffee sweetness, a mild cup, with subtle acidity. A soft bean that takes heat quite well, cupping best in the City+ and beyond roast ranges. Both superb drinking coffees, as well as perfect bases for blending.