Sept – Oct 1999: S.M.’s Rated in Coffee Review; Coffee Prices Hit 5 Year Low!

S.M.’s Rated in Coffee Review

A while back I received an invitation for a special cupping by Ken Davids, author and cupper, for the web publication Coffee Review. The theme was single-shop roasters, so I decided to send off our wonderful Ethiopian Harar and a Mocca Java Blend. Frankly, I was surprised to be rated so high: the straight roast Harar was awarded an 89 and the blend was an 85. Coffee review can be found at Here’s Ken Davids’ comments:

Score: 89 Ethiopian Harrar Horse

-Sweet Maria’s Coffee -Reviewed: Sep-99

Aroma: 8 Acidity: 9 Body: 8 Flavor: 9 Aftertaste: 8 Roast: Dark

Origin: Africa Origin Detail: Harrar growing region, eastern Ethiopia. Notes: Harrar is the most celebrated of many Ethiopia coffees processed by the dry method, meaning the beans or seeds are sun-dried inside the coffee fruit. The dried fruit husks are removed later by machine. This Harrar displays both the strengths (deep, sweet flavor, fruit tones, full body) and weaknesses (slight off-taste owing to fruit fermenting during drying) of many dry-processed coffees. Blind assessment: Tremendous but balanced range and dimension. The acidity is full, deep, sweet, enveloped in the unifying matrix of the cup. Circumspect hints of fruit and flowers emerge in finish and aftertaste. As the coffee cools the slightest hint of ferment reveals itself behind the rich aromatics of the cup. Who should drink it: Lovers of the wild, deep, archetypal dry-processed coffees of Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

Score: 85 Mocca Java Blend -Sweet Maria’s Coffee -Reviewed: Sep-99

Aroma: 7 Acidity: 8 Body: 7 Flavor: 9 Aftertaste: 7 Roast: Dark

Origin: Blended — Various Origin Detail: Three origins, including Indonesia (Sumatra Mandheling), Yemen (Raimi), and Ethiopia (Sidamo). Notes: An interesting and provocative variation on the world’s oldest blend, Mocha-Java. Here the “Java” component is a traditionally processed Sumatra and the “Mocha” a combination of authentic Yemen Mocha and a dry-processed Ethiopia. Sweet Maria’s main business is operating a popular website catering to home roasters, but owner Tom Owen roasts for local customers three days a week. Blind assessment: Pungent Sumatra tones wrap around the Ethiopian flowers and Yemen fruit. The deep, aromatic wood tones modulate to a fruity, cherryish chocolate in the finish. The pungency turned slightly flat as the cup cools, slightly shadowing an intriguing and dramatic cup. Who should drink it: People who watch the X-Games on television; skydivers; people with studs in their tongues; admirers of Baudelaire.
Yemen Sana’ani Saihi -Wow!

We have a new specialty Yemeni coffee in stock from a new origin-specific Yemeni broker. It is the lighter, brighter side of Yemen than the Yemen Rimy we also stock …but don’t think for a second this cup isn’t anything less than a powerful coffee experience. While the body is lighter, there are complex alternating flavors: apricot, wine, tobacco, spice. This outcupped other pedigree Yemens like a true Mattari and an Ismaili (Hiraz). It is not your typical Sana’ani either, often sold as generic blends from the regions around the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. Stock up …there will be no more!

Coffee Prices Hit 5 Year Low!

I amazed to think that I started my own coffee business (after years of managing stores and roasting coffee for other) at the worst possible time. In late ’97 the New York C Index that determines arabica coffee prices was edging upward of $2.00/lb, yet to hit its peak, and prices for the premium coffees was astronomical. And here we are 2 years later and the C has hit a record low at 83¢. What does this mean?

Well, prices for great coffee do depend on the C price, but I have never paid that for coffee, nor do I want to. In fact, premiums for estate coffees, certified organic and particular origins really don’t change much. The weak market has influenced some prices dramatically. Last year I paid (and you paid) $2 more per lb for auction lot Kenyas, this year the price is downright cheap. What you pay directly reflects what I pay, so I am getting prices of .30 less for origins and you can see from our prices this time last year, thats about the discount you get.

Is this good for farmers? No, it is horrible for farmers, especially the most quality-oriented. Frankly, I don’t care what I pay for coffee as long as it is good. Ridiculous and unwarranted prices only pertain to ridiculous coffee like Jamaican and Kopi Luwak. If a great cup can be had for 60¢ or $1 more per lb., I will pay that without hesitation, and I think many of you will too. That’s good, because without people like us lending some stability to the premium-priced coffee market, there would be NO quality coffee …it would simply not be worth it to the grower.. This has happened before: farmers simply walk away from their coffee farms, allowing the trees to get choked out by more vigorous plants, and dooming the consumer to cheap Brazilian coffee and new virulent strains of disease resistent arabica.

What is the answer? I agree with those that want to institute a minimum price on the C, something around $1.20. Many people have discussed this as an insurance policy for farmers, and since the actual premiums for cup quality will remain, as they do now, we wouldn’t be doing harm to the great cup we love while insuring a decent existence for those who make it all possible.

Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee Offerings on 9/13/99

***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 La Pastora Tarrazu $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

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 SHB $5.65 $10.74 $24.58

Guat. SHB Huehuetenango $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Mexican Chiapas La Floresta Est $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 Bourbon Santos 2/3s $3.50 $6.65 $15.23

Brazil Cerrado-Monte Carmelo $4.40 $8.36 $19.14

Brazil Minas17/18″Organic” $4.50 $8.55 $19.58

Brazil Serra Negra 17/18 $4.70 $8.93 $20.45

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*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Ethiopian Ghimbi Gr 5 $4.75 $9.03 $20.66

Ethiopian Harar Gr5 Horse $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

Ethiopian Limmu Washed Gr2 $6.10 $11.59 $26.54

Ethiopian Sidamo DP Gr4 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gr2 $6.45 $12.26 $28.06

Kenya AB Gaturiri Farm ’98 $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

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

Ugandan Bugisu AA $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Zimbabwe AA Canterbury $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

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 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Indian Mysore-Kents Varietal $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Indian -Pearl Mountain Estate $4.90 $9.31 $21.32

Java Aged Old Brown $6.20 $11.78 $26.97

Myanmar (Burmese) Arabica $3.20 $6.08 $13.92

Sulawesi Toraja Gr 1 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra Blue Lintong Gr 1 $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

Sumatra Golden Pwani $5.80 $11.02 $25.23

Sumatra Mandheling Gr1 DP $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

Sumatra OrganicGayoMtn.Gr2 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

***Other*** 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb

Dominican -Monte Verde Estate $4.80 $9.12 $20.88

French Chicory -Roasted $6.00 $11.40 $26.10

Kona Extra Fancy Haka Nui Farm $14.20 $26.98 $61.77

Maui Kaanapali Moka $7.40 $14.06 $32.19

Papua New Guinea Gumanch A $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

Papua New Guinea Wahgi PB $5.70 $10.83 $24.80

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.Roast Blend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93

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

Brazil Santos SWP Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49

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 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75

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

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

coming: Kenya Kiriko AA, Kenya Gichunji AA, CR La Pastora

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