Nov – Dec 2002: The New Organic Certification; The Farther You Go, The Less You Know; The Move That Was

The New Organic Certification
As you may know, the federal government has gotten involved in defining what constitutes organic food and certifying organic farmers, handlers and processors. They introduced a new USDA Organic label that all certified organic products can display. The rules took effect this October 2002 and are the result of a lot of effort by folks in the natural food and environmental movements. They are a step ahead at least in so far as giving producers guidelines and oversight, and letting consumers know what is in the products and produce they buy. Unfortunately this government involvement brings bureaucratization (how’s that for a word!) and is not a purely positive development for a number of reasons. One, the guidelines require companies to pay for certification, which involves up front cost and in some cases an ongoing % of gross receipts in addition to annual re-certification. Second, this means a lot of additional record keeping and accounting, and no one needs more of that. Some folks will choose to not certify just because it is too expensive and requires too much work. Some worry that it really will benefit the largest food producers — what they call “industrial organics”- who can use the USDA Organic sticker on organic TV dinners. Calling something “organic” has become just another marketing tool and usually allows for a healthy mark-up (healthy for the seller, not necessarily the buyer) over non-organic.. So even with certification procedures I guess I wonder what stops a person from lying and saying something is organic even when it isn’t. I don’t think the certification process will catch those determined to abuse the system. I think of the case of the coffee roaster here in the Bay Area who some years back was busted for selling Mexican coffee as Kona and charging Kona prices. Obviously supporting organic production is a good thing: everyone can agree that having an incentive to use fewer pesticides in the field and fewer chemicals in food processing is good. But the process shouldn’t penalize those typically smaller companies that can’t afford the certification and can’t do the record keeping. I know a chuck of my ambivalence about Fair Trade coffee comes more from the burden of the extra accounting and deadlines for reporting than anything else. Despite all this, we have begun the certification process and we will try it for a few years and see if it is worth the hassle. We’ll continue to choose coffees the old-fashioned way — by blind cupping — and try to keep folks as informed as possible about the origins of each coffee.

The Farther You Go, The Less You Know
Every time I start getting full of myself, thinking I really do know a lot about coffee, something comes along to knock me on my rear. It happened last year in Panama when I was served an incredible espresso in a small town in the mountains, and they told me it was 100% wet-processed Panamanian coffee. How could you ever make a potent, full-bodied espresso from a fully-washed Central American coffee, and not have the acidity bite into your cheek when you drank it? Recent coffee samples have been really set my head spinning. Firstly, we received a Jamaica Blue Mountain that was pretty darn good, an origin I had given up on, and from a mill I had given up on. This week we received a Kauai Estate Peaberry sample that, roasted to a Full City+ stage, is a real nice cup! That comes from a farm that uses high-tech mechanical picking (something I didn’t believe would ever produce good cup quality), and previous samples I had rated somewhere between cardstock and corrugated. The biggest change-around has been among the decafs: I didn’t think water-processing was ever going to produce a decent cup, especially a bright high-toned cup, and relegated it to the Indonesians. We stocked the Indonesian Komodo blend and the Sumatra, low-tone coffees, for quite some time. But now there is a new decaf Water Process (WP on our list) plant in Mexico, not Swiss Water (SWP) but the same process. And the coffees they are producing are outstanding. One reason is that we are sending down top-notch estate coffees to be decaffeinated. The results …uh, well ,,,I just can’t explain why they cup so good! One minor warning: SWP coffees have a shorter shelf life in the green form, perhaps 9 months -we have always kept our stock small and fresh. The new WP decafs are yet unproven in their durability, so to be safe keep your supply on the light side, and I will cup these as they age.

The Move That Was
We are finally more or less settled into our new place — though it is always a work-in-progress as we keep changing things. With daylight savings time we will have to add lights to the warehouse so we can keep working after the skylights grow dim. And we are quickly filling up all the extra space — though it’s a big change from stepping all over each other back at the other tiny place. It does means Tom and I have to holler at each other like Ma and Pa Kettle about 20x a day. But that’s okay — I have a good loud voice! -Maria

Sweet Maria’s Coffee Inc.
1455 64th Street, Emeryville CA 94608
Email: Contact us

Sweet Marias Green Coffee Offerings on 10/29/02:
This list is always superceded by the current list on our web page!

Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Costa Rica Auction Lot-Diamante Tarrazu $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Costa Rican Tres Rios -La Magnolia $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Costa Rican La Minita Tarrazu $6.80 $12.92 $30.26 $108.80

Guatemala Coban Tanchi $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Guatemala Finca El Injerto ’02 $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Guatemala Huehuetenango -Finca Huixoc $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Guatemala Org/FT Huehuetenango $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62

Honduras SHG Organic Marcala $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Mexican Chiapas Strictly Altura ’02 $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Mexican SHG Organic/FT Loxicha $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Mexican Oaxaca – Fino Rojas $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Mexican Oaxaca Pluma El Olivo $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Nicaragua SHG Nueva Esperanza $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76

Nicaragua Organic/FT Segovia ’02 $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62

Panama Boquete -Finca La Berlina $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Panama Auction Winner -Mama Cata $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70

Panama Boquete -Finca Maunier $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

El Salvador SHG St. Adelaida Estate $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76

South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Brazil Mogiana 17/18 SS/FC $3.90 $7.41 $16.97 $60.06

Brazil Cooxupe Prima Qualita $4.00 $7.60 $17.40 $61.60

Colombian Narino Vintage $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Colombian Organic Mesa De Los Santos $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Colombian Organic Quindio $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Peru Org-FT Chanchamayo $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Ethiopian Harar Longberry Lot 3174 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Ethiopian Sidamo DP $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe -Lot 957 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Kenya AA Kiawamururu Auction Lot ’02 $5.75 $10.93 $25.01 $88.55

Kenya AA Karumandi Auction Lot ’02 $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24

Kenya AA Kii Auction Lot ’02 $5.40 $10.26 $23.49 $83.16

Tanzanian Southern Peaberry $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Uganda Budadiri AA-S Specialty $4.10 $7.79 $17.84 $63.14

Yemen Mokha Ismaili (Hirazi) $7.90 $15.01 $36.74 $126.40

Yemen Mokha Mattari $7.20 $13.68 $33.48 $115.20

Yemen Mokha Raimi (Rimy) $6.90 $13.11 $30.02 $110.40

Yemen Mokha Sana’ani -Haimi $7.20 $13.68 $33.48 $115.20

Zimbabwe AA+ Salimba $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Indian Monsooned Malabar Coehlo’s Gold $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Papua New Guinea -Kimel Plantation A $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Papua New Guinea -Kinjibi Est, Peaberry $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38

Sulawesi Toraja Gr. 1 -Lot 1942 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Sulawesi Sulotco -“Old Toraja” $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70

Aged Sumatra Mandheling $5.80 $11.02 $25.23 $89.32

Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62

Sumatra Mandheling DP Gr.1 $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30

Timor Organic Aifu ’01 $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46

Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Hawaii Kauai Estate Peaberry No. 1 $6.45 $12.26 $28.06 $99.33

Jamaica Blue Mountain -Mavis Bank $19.40 $37.25 $90.21 5 lb limit

SM’s Moka Kadir Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24

SM’s Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

SM’s Classic Italian Espresso Blend $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

SM’s Decaf Espresso Blend $5.60 $10.64 $24.36 $86.24

SM’s French Roast Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

SM’s Roasted French Chicory $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92

Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

African Highland WP Decaf Blend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70

Brazil Prima Qualita WP Decaf $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84

Colombian MC Decaf -Narino del Abuelo $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Colombian Santa Isabella WP Decaf $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Ethiopian MC Decaf- Ghimbi $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00

Guatemala WP Decaf -Injertal Estate $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Indonesian Komodo Blend Org SWP D $5.90 $11.21 $25.67 $90.86

Kenya MC Decaf -German KVW $5.25 $9.98 $22.84 $80.85

Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf $4.40 $8.36 $19.14 $67.76

Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54

Sumatra WP Decaf $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08

Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb

Uganda Robusta -Nanga Farms $4.00 $7.60 $17.40 5 lb limit

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