Hello Once Again: A Coffee Fruit Basket!

Our 3rd Hello set features 6 coffees with a fruited theme. This page offers additional photos and guidance for enjoying your own basket of fruit!

A Six Coffee Sample Set With a Fruited Theme… for our Hello: Fruit Basket Coffee Set, we selected six coffees from our current offer list that showcase the ways fruit notes are manifested in coffee flavors.

Just as the “Hello My Name Is:” stickers save you from guessing someone’s name, our “Hello…” sample sets take out some of the guesswork of replicating our roasting results by providing you with comprehensive information and visual aids to help guide your roasts. Each set is attractively packaged with information about the specific roasts for this particular grouping, including overall roast times, moisture loss, associated flavor notes and scores. We’ve also included roast photos of each coffee for you to match up to, and a color reference chart that can be used beyond this set.

Hello Sample Set #3 - Fruit Basket
Hello Sample Set #3 – Fruit Basket

What does fruit in coffee taste like, anyway?

What does it mean to say a coffee has fruit flavor? Does it actually taste like fruit? Is it like Raspberry-flavored coffee from the supermarket? No. While I think a lot of people have experienced fruit notes in coffee, it’s worth writing it out even though it may be obvious…

Fruit flavors in coffee show themselves best as the cup cools. They can be subtle … the good ones often are … and emerge from behind other, more dominant flavors in the cup, like roast taste, chocolate notes, nut flavors, bright acidic flavors.

I remember sharing a nice Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe with my sister years ago, definitely a fruit forward coffee. She couldn’t tune in to exactly what was in the coffee. She asked me if I added something! She knew it was there, and when it cooled she said, “Aha – berry, dark berry, blackberry … no boysenberry!” Boysenberry? I was kind of amazed because the only way we knew boysenberry is because it was one of the old-school Hagen Dazs flavors. I don’t think we had seen or tasted an actual boysenberry ever. But she was right. That was the flavor that emerged in the cooling cup of Yirga Cheffe)!

With all that said, people taste things differently. One persons fresh apple is another persons peach. I am always interested in what other tasters find in coffee, and yes, it can influence me. I like to try to see what they see in the cup. In the end there is no right or wrong. It is coffee, after all.

Ground coffee samples - Hello Fruit basket coffee set from Sweet Marias
Ground coffee samples – Hello Fruit basket coffee set from Sweet Marias

Fruity vs. Fruited. Fruit Theory

In the old days, we talked about coffee being fruity versus coffees being fruited. It was an attempt to distinguish types of fruit flavor found in coffee, and also a bit of a pejorative. Fruity meant that the coffee had been over-fermented, or if it was a natural, had not been dried “properly.” It would also apply to wet process coffees where the mucilage-laden water in processing had crossed over to the green bean.

In the cup “fruity” would refer to flavors of coffee pulp, or overripe / fermenty fruit. Acetic acid notes, vinegar, was a clear sign of a processing problem resulting in fruity cup flavors.

Fruited was used in a very positive sense. Fruited flavors often referred to clean-tasting, fresh ripe fruit. These were presumed to come from the variety of coffee, the soils, altitude, the “terroir.” A coffee deemed fruited was blessed with fruit “grace notes” and not tainted by them. Looking at the language around describing and marketing these coffees, it all seemed very loaded to me, snobby.

The fact is, there are not clearly distinguishable “intrinsic” flavors of the coffee seed in some (imaginary) pure form, as opposed to coffee “flavored” by fermentation or other processing, like simple sun-drying of naturals. All coffee is processed in some form or other. We don’t beam the coffee out of the fruit with our transporters and into our roasters, ala Star Trek.

Hello Fruit Basket sample set features a variety of coffee processes
The set features a variety of coffee processes: Wet Process, Dry Process and Honey

The Fruity / Fruited Froot Loop

So the fruity versus fruited stands as a bit of a false opposition. But there is a part of this distinction that makes me a little nostalgic, not for the snobbery and self-righteousness of the past. The fact is, we are now on the “other side of the glass” as far as coffee flavors go. Everything is great, and the more fermented and sour, the better. There is basically no restraint when it comes to processing or marketing fruity coffee, and some of these coffees now celebrated as complex masterpieces are just one small olive oil bottle short of being salad dressing. They are coffee that by the thimble-full are “interesting” and by the cup-full are vile, for real.

There are limits to fruity coffees in my opinion. As I said, over-the-top fermented fruit is not a coffee a person wants by the cup-full, and it also isn’t pleasant – it is boozy and triggers primary instincts that tell most people “do not drink me, you’ll get sick.” But humans have learned to drink other rotten things, so there’s that. There is a classic defect on the SCA and CQI charts though, and it’s called a “sour”. A sour glows luminescent under ultraviolet light, just like that spot of dog pee on your carpet. A coffee with sours might be to someone’s liking, but it is not stable. Store it for 2-3 months and evaluate it again, and any charm you might have found will be gone. Good qualities in coffee are supposed to be stable. Over-fermented coffees generally are not. So if you paid $50/ Lb for that carbonic macerated anaerobic lot, go roast it all now and drink it asap, because the party is going to be over very soon.

No, really though, I like fruit!

The truth is, I was laughed at openly at my first time as a juror at a Cup of Excellence for liking fruity coffees. I actually do like them! But ones I can drink by the cup. I am pro-fruit! At Sweet Maria’s our approach is to take a wide view on coffee flavors, and look for great examples across the spectrum for people who want to experience the full range. So yes, we have coffees that push the “ripe fruit” needle into the wine range. And we have super clean wet process coffees with delicate hints of fruit essence as well.

This Fruit Basket is Full Range Stereo Fruit

That’s what I hope you find in this set, Fruit Basket … the full range. We have the bright and not-very-subtle fruited notes of a great Kenya coffee, ripe fruits from a somewhat extended fermentation process in a wet-process Guatemala, and berry and bergamot from a super Ethiopia wet process.

Naturals (dry-processed) coffees are known for their fruit, and for that we have a top Ethiopia from the south, but also a Nicaragua natural, an origin not traditionally producing dry-process coffees.

To complete the hand, we offer a honey coffee (where the fruit pulp is left on the skinned fruit to sun dry) from Timor Leste.

Yes, fruity or fruited, coffee does come from a fruit so the process to transform it into green bean invokes the method of processing. But it’s also worth noting the level of roast. And for this, our Hello kits offer a lot of guidance. Roasted too dark, roast and ash notes will overshadow other aspects of the coffee, including fruit.

Each set is nicely packaged with information about the specific roasts for this particular grouping, including overall roast times, roast moisture loss, associated flavor notes and scores. We’ve also included roast photos of each coffee for you to match up to, and a color reference chart that can be used beyond this set.

Because roast level plays a major role in flavor, we’ve included detailed guidance and photos of the actual roasts that went into this set so that you can achieve the same fruited flavors as us. So please do refer to the included roast card in your kit!

Hello: Fruit Basket Sampler Set includes these coffees and short label descriptions:

Ethiopia Gera Ayetu FarmJuicy fruit accents, delicate aromatics, moderately sweet brew. Raw brown sugars, dried peach, apricot, bergamot citrus and orange blossom florals. Impressive espresso at Full City. City to Full City levels are ideal.
Ethiopia Dry Process Buno Dambi UddoAromatic fruits like plum, blueberry, blackberry, Galia melon, and passion fruit florals, with moderate acidity that’s like stone fruit. Add an overlay of deep chocolate bass notes with deeper roasting. City to Full City.
Guatemala Patzun Finca Las CameliasExudes sweet raw sugar flavors, highlighted by fruited notes. Cane juice, layered bittersweets, accents of dehydrated strawberry, blackberry and a winey apple note.
Kenya Nyeri Gatugi ABFruited accents, intense cup sweetness. Hints of honey tangerine, orange, red berry medley, fruited acidity, baking spice aromatics. Light roasts are where Gatugi really struts its stuff!
Nicaragua Buenos Aires Dry ProcessQuite a unique cup for Central America, elements of stewed and fresh fruit, with a winey edge in the light roast. Cooked prune, blood orange, and an aromatic clove top note. City to Full City.
Timor Leste Honey Process DaurfusuFruits have a quiet presence in the cup profile, accents of dried natural apricot and pear are wrapped in  bittersweet hot cocoa, unrefined sugars, with a hint of spiced tea in the background. City to Full City

Fruity Photos

Of the additional photos for this Fruit Basket set, the most important for those looking for more roast comparison is the ground coffee color appearance and analysis. These 6 ground coffees below are the same roasts as the card, and in the same order. Ground coffee samples are a better way to judge the level of roast visually when looking at multiple roast batches.

Further reading on coffee and fruit in the Sweet Maria’s Library:

As you can see from this full rack of coffee, the preparation of our Hello: Box of Chocolates Coffee Set is well under way!
As you can see from this full rack of coffee, the preparation of our previous set, Box of Chocolates!

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