Nov – Dec 1999: Trusta Robusta?; So Many Great Coffees, not enough time…; The Best Home Roaster; Scared of the Holidays; Dream Cup

Can you Trusta Robusta?:

I decided to start stocking premium Robusta coffees some time back for the use specifically in espresso blends. The trouble was, there’s not many premium Robusta coffees out there, and in some minds, the terms are contradictory! At a time when misleading advertisements use the word Arabica as the sole signifier of quality on their product, I thought I would share some Robusta facts.

There are two popular coffee species used in commercial cultivation: Coffea arabica L. and Coffea canephora. of which the commercial variety is Robusta named for its hardy character. In terms of filter/infusion brewed coffee Robusta produces and inferior cup, but has been widely used in commercial blends because it can be cultivated at lower altitudes, is more disease-resistant, and has more caffeine than Arabica. When Arabica prices soar, Robusta remains steady and in many consuming nations there is a cultural preference for the hard, bitter, sour or rubbery tastes in lesser Robusta. But since Robusta accounts for 25% of the world’s coffee, Arabica is 75% with the top 5% of that qualifying as Specialty Coffee (what we stock), then it is clear the the majority of the cheap low-grade coffee out there is Arabica. Here are some interesting comparisons:

Arabica Canephora

Main Variety Typica Robusta

Climate Temperate Warm, humid

Altitude 600-2200m 0-800m

Temperature 15-24c 18-36c

Rain (mm/year) 1200-2200 2200-3000

Plant self-fertile self-sterile

Chromosomes 44 22

Leaf small glossy oval large broad

Ripening of fruit 7-9 months 9-11 months

Seed oval, flat, oval to round

Length of seed(mm) 5-13 4-8

Caffeine % .9-1.4, average 1.2 1.8-4.0, av. 2.2

Arabica is the only species (out of 600 or so) in the genus Coffea to be autogamous, meaning that it can fertilize itself with its own pollen resulting in distinct cultivars with distinct cup qualities. Also interesting to note is that wild coffea varieties (which would make awful coffee too) have 22 chromosomes, Canephora has 22, but some time long ago Arabica was formed naturally in the Harar region of Ethiopia by the cross of 2 wild coffee species followed by a spontaneous natural duplication of its chromosomes to 44. Bless that day!

All this is to say that Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora are two very different plants. So what is the noble use for premium Robusta? Well, its not to brew filter coffee because Robusta simply doesn’t have the organic constituents in the raw seed to ever rival the stuff that goes into a cup of arabica. But Robusta has been employed masterfully in espresso blends for years, (partially due to the geographic relation between S. Europe and the Robusta crops of W. Africa.) Nomatter, the specific taste of 5% to 15% Robusta lends a particular hard taste that cuts through milk in cappuccinos and gives the straight espresso drinker a real boot in the pants too. Mostly, its fun to play with. It took me 4 months to find the good stuff, but we now offer 3 types: a premium Indian branded Kaapi Royale, a mellowed/Monsooned Robusta AA, and a Grade 1 Papua New Guinea Robusta. Being the top-notch in Robusta you don’t see huge cost-savings as you would with a cheap Brazil Conilon Robusta, but we do this for flavor and quality, right?

Non-espresso folks. I invite you to try a bit of Robusta for fun, but consider yourself warned!

So Many Great Coffees, not enough time…

You may have found yourself calling Sweet Maria’s and talking to the machine. I am always scratching to keep up with orders lately (not a bad problem for a small business to have!) but I have an explanation to offer: I am your devoted coffeeman, not a great businessman! I didn’t really figure so many would want to burn the bean in the comfort of their own home, incurring the wrath of loved ones and tea-drinkers alike. Hopefully the new year will bring some answers to make the growing pains go away and take some of the burden off my shoulders. But what a great burden to have! I love this stuff and I just wish there was 2 of me …

The Best Home Roaster

…is the one that works for you! While I offer the Hearthware Precision, I do so only because its so darn good. With an annoying percentage of defective machines in the first 10 roasts (and very, very few after) I hope you all realize that their wonderful year warranty and undying support for the machine and those who use it, is an important part of the value of their roaster. But when a content corn popper customer calls, I tell them to stay the course. You can roast great coffee so many ways, if you are happy with your process stick to it. Yes, I cupped 14 popper roasts vs. Hearthware roasts and the HW edged out the popper 85% of the time. But these are fractional differences. I know the 1/2 lb Alpenroast due out in December (supposedly) sounds nice, but I suggest you let me take the fall on this one. I offer to buy it, test it, and tell you what I really think. I have an order in for the earliest shippable machine, so be patient and I promise to let you know what I find.

I Am Scared of the Holidays

Last year we doubled our volume in November and December. But I am struggling to keep up and its just mid-October! I beg of you, dear regular customer, please plan ahead and order coffee for the entire Holiday season in advance. Green coffee lasts at least a year at least. So stock up if you can…

Dream Cup for Holiday Guests

Here’s my picks, brewed in a vacuum brewer, and in no particular order of preference: Yemen Sana’ani Saihi … Ethiopian Yirgacheffe … Java Kayumas … Timor Aifu … Sulawesi … crowd-pleasers with character!

Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee Offerings on 10/21/99

Coffee is a crop; it comes and goes! Our web page always has the latest list of offerings:

***Central American*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Costa Rican Dota Tarrazu $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Costa Rican Tarrazu LaMinita $7.30 $13.87 $31.76

Costa Rican Tarrazu Papagayo $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Guat. Antigua -La Tacita Estate $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

Guat. Antigua -Santa Barbara $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Guat. Organic Atitlan -Songbird $5.65 $10.74 $24.58

Guat. SHB Huehuetenango $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Mex. Chiapas La Floresta Estate $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Mexican Peaberry Hamburgo $4.30 $8.17 $18.71

Mexican Maragogype $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Mex. San Pablo Tres Flechas $4.65 $8.84 $20.23

Mexican HG Organic Putla $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

Nicaraguan SHG La Illusion $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Panama Hartmann “Songbird” $5.10 $9.69 $22.19

Salvador Organic Los Naranjos $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

***South American*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil -Berrador Estate Acaiá $4.45 $8.46 $19.36

Brazil Bourbon Santos 2/3s $3.50 $6.65 $15.23

Brazil Cerrado-Monte Carmelo $4.40 $8.36 $19.14

Brazil Minas 17/18″Organic” $4.50 $8.55 $19.58

Colombian Organic Cauca $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Colombian Narino Supremo $4.60 $8.74 $20.01

Colombian Reserva Del Patron $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Colombian San Bartolo Excelso $4.55 $8.65 $19.79

Peru Org. Chanchamayo ’99 $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

***African, Arabian*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Congo Kivu $4.50 $8.55 $19.58

Ethiopian Ghimbi Gr 5 $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Ethiopian Harar Gr5 Horse $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

Ethiopian Sidamo DP Gr4 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gr2 $5.90 $11.21 $25.67

Kenya AA Kiriko 98/99 $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Kenya AA Gichunji 98/99 $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Kenya AA Nyanja Farm 98/99 $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Kenya AA Kirinyaga 98/99 $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Tanzanian AA -Adela Farm $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

Zimbabwe Peaberry + $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Yemen Mocca Rimy $6.90 $13.11 $30.02

Yemen Sana’ani-Saihi Type $7.00 $13.30 $30.45

***Indonesian, Indian*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Monsooned Malabar AA $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Indian -Pearl Mountain Estate $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Java Aged Old Brown $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Java Gvt. Estate -Kayumas $5.10 $9.69 $22.19

Myanmar (Burmese) Arabica $3.20 $6.08 $13.92

Papua New Guinea Gumanch A $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Papua New Guinea Wahgi PB $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

Sulawesi Toraja Gr 1 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra Mandheling Gr1 DP $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra OrganicGayoMtn.Gr1 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

***Islands, Blends, …*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Dominican -Montana Verde Estate $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

French Chicory -Roasted $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Kona Extra Fancy HakaNui Farm $14.20 $26.98 $61.77

Maui Kaanapali Moka $7.40 $14.06 $32.19

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

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

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

Malabar Gold Espresso Blend $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

***Decafs*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Brazil Santos SWP Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Colombian Co2 Decaf $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

Colombian Natural Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Costa Rican HB Natural D $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Guat. Organic Atitlan SWP D $6.55 $12.45 $28.49

MexicanEsmeralda Natural D $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

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

Sumatra Org.Gayo Mtn SWP D $6.40 $12.16 $27.84

***Premium Robustas*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Indian Kaapi Royale Robusta $5.15 $9.79 $22.40

Indian Monsooned Robusta $5.30 $10.07 $23.06

Papua New Guinea Washed Robusta $3.90 $7.41 $16.97

Sweet Maria’s Coffee Roastery

9 E. 2nd Ave. * Columbus Ohio 43201

ph/fx:614 294 1816 * orders:888.876 5917


email: [email protected]


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