New Approach to A small coffee beverage, about 20 ml, prepared on an espresso machine where pressurized hot water extracted through compressed coffee.: In its most stripped-down, basic form, this is a working definition for espresso: A small Blends
Something has been bugging me for a long time, something about the way we do things here at Sweet Maria’s. It comes down to this; we hammer on the point over and over that “coffee is a crop, not a can of pop”, that it is variable, that each producing region has a peak harvest time, which is variable, that quality is … you guessed it, … variable, and that small lots come and go, so it’s not like a can of pop on the shelf, always there and unchanging … availability is variable. Besides being one of the worst runon sentences ever, you get my point. And we treat each and every lot we approve and offer as a singular moment in this undulating and variable flow of coffee production. So, why have we made one great exception to this approach? Why have we maintained espresso blends that do not vary, that are always on the shelf, modifying their ingredients as the crop cycle rotates along? Good question. Part of it can be chalked up to “received wisdom.” Everyone else does it, they always have. It’s not a great answer. To rewind and explain the logic of invariable blend offerings, I do feel that we have taken the best possible approach. If you kept the same blend ingredients year round, if you bought a year’s supply of each lot for a blend, the cup quality would suffer. As the coffees age, The flavor of coffee that has been stored for too long, it has absorbed the flavor of whatever it has been stored in. : Coffees that are held for too long run the risk of flavors would emerge.
Coffee does not last that long, and we are very sensitive about the age of our Green coffee refers to the processed seed of the coffee tree fruit. Coffee is a flowering shrub that produces fruit. The seeds of the fruit are processed, roasted, ground and prepared as an infusion.: Coffee. We know that once we sell it, someone may have it for 6 months, or even a year, before roasting it. If we haven’t vacuum packed or “cellared” it here in our A multi-layer plastic bag with a gas barrier. The bags have been shown to extend the flavor life of the coffee significantly over storage in jute or burlap bags.: A multi-layer plastic bag with a bags, we make sure we sell it rapidly. So, the alternative is to be consistently changing the blend, using newer arrivals that are good substitutes. That means the blend is never exactly what you intended … Instead one maintains the “spirit of the blend,” its flavor theme, using new coffees to express that spirit. In this way, the blend is the best it can be, and is always high quality. Still, it is never precisely the blend you intended. And these flavor themes can get old, unexciting, rote to the palate. After a lot of consideration I have decided to take two approaches simultaneously. I decided to change our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The latter 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. It’s a coffeecentric idea, and allows for the exploration of newer espresso styles. 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. And we already have 2 “editions” on the sheet
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 A general flavor or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. But what type? Usually described with more specifics.: Chocolate is a broad, general flavor or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. But what type? There are so, Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bittering compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelization, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bittering, thick in texture, you come to ripe fruits (blood Orange aromatics and flavors are prized in coffee, whether they take the form of sweet orange flesh and pulp, or orange peel. Orange flavors or aromatics can range in degrees of ripeness, which also involves, Bing Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry.: Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee) accented by peppery spice and clean tobacco. Superb Associated with and sensed by mouthfeel, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup, including all organic compounds that are extracted from brewing, and a wide range of flavors from the basement level to the In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don't exactly see the difference in terms of these two and spicy high notes, geology seems like a good analogy for this kind of depth and range of flavor.
In keeping with the geologically inspired names, Auriferous refers to “gold-bearing” as in the auriferous gravels of the Sierra Nevada which inspired the communal insanity known as the Gold Rush. While in fact many miners actually lost money in the 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 A roaster with a rotating drum that provides agitation to the beans, while a heating element (typically either electric or gas) provides heat. The metal drum conducts heat to the beans, so drum roasters heat a mere 10 seconds into 2nd An audible popping sound heard during roasting. In coffee, one refers to "first crack" and "second crack," which come from two different classes of chemical reactions.: An audible popping sound heard during roasting. In coffee,, 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 are often found in bright coffees. Hint: if you look at the cup of coffee and it winks at you, it has sparkles.: Sparkles is a key coffee quality term, and refers to brightness. That’s the best adjective too, referencing our theme here; gold-bearing.
The In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry, ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things doesn’t represent the cup flavors that well; chocolate cookie, some Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavor and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste. Extremely light or dark coffees will lose potential caramel sweetness, as it exists. In the In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. It can involve smelling the "crust" (floating coffee grounds) on the coffee, as well as "breaking the crust", after pulling the shot, there is a better indication of what’s to come. Sweet Floral notes in coffee exemplify the connection between taste and smell. Describing the taste of a specific flower is near impossible...we always default to “it tastes like it smells” which, admittedly, isn’t the most helpful. and citrus blossom over bittering coffee Aroma refers to sensations perceived by the olfactory bulb and conveyed to the brain; whether through the nose or "retro-nasally": The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence its flavor profile and come from the perception is evident. There is a wonderful relation between flavor and Aftertaste refers to lingering residual sensations in the mouth after coffee has swallowed. It might be distinguished from "finish" which is the final sensations of the coffee while it leaves the mouth. Also see Afternose.; initialcitrus A euphemistic term we use often to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. : A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic, and Lemon notes, as well as other related citrusy flavors or acidities, are prized in coffee. These usually express themselves as a bright accent in the cup, or aromatic citrus aspects, but not as blunt sourness. with hints of A flavor or mouthfeel characteristic, hinting at a tingly, prickly, lively or piquant aspect. Peppers, spice or citrus can all be zesty. rind are followed by a wave of classic espresso bittersweet. Heavily caramelized sugars are a dominant taste of the latter, with a slight Vanilla notes in coffee are often related to caramelization notes, as butter and vanilla can be found in flavors and aromatics of roast reactions from reducing of sugars. accent. But there is also an initial Sweetness is an important positive quality in fine coffees, and is one of five basic tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami). In coffee, sweetness is a highly desirable quality, and the green bean has 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 A smaller version of espresso where extraction is restricted is called a Ristretto. While espresso averages 20 ml, a ristretto is 15 ml.) at a standard 24 seconds. My strategy with the new blends is still the same as always, I try to keep it simple and make sure that I am using each coffee in the blend for a particular purpose. I mean, if you have a blend with 10 coffees in it, can you be sure what
your 9th coffee is doing and justify why it has to be in the blend? I think people can make blending more complicated than it needs to be. Notes on how to blend the “retired” blends – Classic Italian and Puro Scuro – yourself appear in the review archive under “Misc & Blends.”
A Year’s Worth of Coffee?
The beginning of this new year seems like a good time for an overview of what coffee lots are on the horizon. We do have a coffee Production time table posted on the site – http://sweetmarias.com/coffee.prod.timetable.shtml but this is just a very broad view – from one year to the next arrival dates can vary by as much as 2 months. This time of year the new crops are arriving from many regions in the Southern Hemisphere – Brazil is a coffee giant . As Frank Sinatra sang, "they grow an awful lot of coffee in Brazil".: Brazil is a coffee giant . As Frank Sinatra sang, "they grow an awful lot of, Colombian coffee is highly marketed and widely available in the US. They have been largely successful at equating the name Colombian Coffee with "Good" Coffee. This is half-true. Colombian can be very balanced, with good, USDA is (obviously) the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA also had coffee plant breeding programs in the past and one variety they distributed to Indonesia and was widely planted is called USDA (sounds like . Natural Brazils are the first to arrive – pulped naturals tend to come in later. The Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both in the cup, and the way they run their trade, everything is topnotch.: Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both auction cuppings start in late January and continue through June. Refers to fresh shipments of green coffee within the first month or two of the earliest arrivals ... not quite the same as Current Crop, which means the most recent harvest. As a stable dried The Kona district on the big island of Hawaii produces the best coffee from this state - clean, sweet and mild. : Ah, Hawaii... what a nice place. They grow nuts, fruit, and coffee. The is coming shortly – a bit earlier this year than in previous years. Our selection of Central American coffees starts to thin out – however this year we took the step of placing a number of our Centrals in GrainPro bags so they will stay fresher longer and last us until new crop. We start to see new crop Central American coffees in say March and April, with the coffees arriving in our place late May or June, then through the summer. Kenyan auction lots start coming in during the spring and keep on coming into the fall. There is generally a one to two month lag between when I first get a preshipment Kenya sample and the coffee arrives in the warehouse. Even for nearer origins, 6-10 weeks is a standard time to have a lot milled and transported. While the period from harvesting the cherry though A key part of the wet process of coffee fruit is overnight fermentation, to break down the fruit (mucilage) layer that tenaciously clings to the coffee seed, so it can be washed off. Fermentation must and drying to exportable 11% moisture content might be a couple weeks, there is a very important and underrated stage after that: Either the resting of parchment coffee after drying, or for the home roaster, post-roast resting.: Resting might refer to "reposo", the time after drying the parchment coffee, when it is held for 30-60 days to, rest. Coffee in Green coffee still in its outer shell, before dry-milling, is called Parchment coffee (pergamino). In the wet process, coffee is peeled, fermented, washed and then ready for drying on the patio, bed, or a mechanical (wet-process) or pods (dry-process) must sit for 30 … 45 … even 60 days to stabilize after drying. You don’t want to rush coffee through this, or else the cup character will fade quickly and baggy flavors will emerge a few months down the line.
Last Tiny Joy we talked the way we have triaged lots as they arrive and “cellared” them to offer later in the season using our new vacuum packing machine or special “gas impermeable” bags made by a non-profit called GrainPro. We had great results arresting the aging process for periods up to 6 months, and this allows us to change our buying habits for a couple origins. Now I can focus solely on “peak of harvest” lots from highest altitudes, despite the fact that they all are prepared and ready to ship at the same time. In the past, this glut of great coffees all at once was overwhelming. Being able to triage lots for later dates helps us manage this, and offer the best lots for a greater part of the year, and with greater confidence about the cup quality.
This approach has limited effectiveness, and I don’t see it as a cure all. It also will not redefine the variable nature of the coffee crop; I do not believe one can “cellar” coffee like wine. Our tests show green coffee ages in vacuum pack or in our special bags after longer amounts of time. But right now we are rolling out some Costa Rican coffee is typically very clean, sweet, with lots of floral accents. hey are prized for their high notes: bright citrus or berry-like flavors in the acidity, with distinct nut-to-chocolate roasty flavors.: Can a Micro Mill coffees that arrived in June-July and were immediately cellared, and they are fantastic, as dynamic as the day they arrived! There’s also an ebb and flow to the Cupping is a method of tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest. It has formal elements and methodology in work here. The early summer is a very hectic time for me because the majority of the The Cup of Excellence is a competition held yearly in many coffee-producing countries, designed to highlight the very best coffees from each origin.: The Cup of Excellence (COE) is a competition held more-or-less yearly in auctions happen then. There will be one auction a week for five weeks or more – and with 40+ coffees in each auction – that is a lot of cupping! Add to that the new crop samples, and the upstairs cupping lab here at the warehouse is a very, very busy and (I admit) messy place.
Again, there has been a lag between the auction itself and the arrival of the coffee which is unfortunate since there is a certain excitement for the auction, some of which has dissipated by the time the coffee arrives a few months later. Some auctions I do choose not to participate in – e.g. the Brazil CoE that just happened, I scored all the coffees between 82 and 87 (the international jury scored the #1 coffee at 93). They were solid, but nothing outstanding so I spaced out on bidding. In late summer and early fall there is something of a lull in cupping until the first of the Brazils, Indonesians arrive. Actually that window has been closing, especially with our Colombia Farm Gate Coffee is the name we give to our direct trade coffee buying program. Farm Gate pricing means that we have negotiated a price directly with the farmer "at the farm gate," that is, Coffee program, which means arrivals of hundreds of samples from farms that produce maybe 1 or 2 bags of coffee a season! It seems the more we drill down to the farm level, the more work it generates for me. Luckily, I like my job a lot!!!
Sweet Maria’s Coffee
1115 21st Street, Oakland CA 94607
email: [email protected]