Archive for the ‘Morning Cup’ Category

This morning I sampled multiple coffees for my next order, many of which were from Mexico. Mexico Altura Chiapas coffees have recently become very popular, Chiapas being recognized as the premier growing region in Mexico. But, as it goes with blind sampling, I was giving each coffee a fighting chance against the returning champ in the coffees of Mexico by doing a blind cupping (writing my cupping notes on each coffee before identifying where each is from). I was surprised to discover that in the championship round, two fighters remained in the Mexico category, a Chiapas coffee against a Tzijib coffee. The former [champ] has nice mild/milky chocolate with lemon zest and medium body. The latter, however, is more complex, with a grape juice sweetness, citrus notes, a similar milky chocolate, but better body. So…at the end of many delightful rounds of head-to-head competition, I’m actually going to declare the winner by unanimous (me and three other cuppers) decision: the Mexico Altura Tzibib Babi! Look for it on the site soon!

Congratulations to the underdog!

[No dogs, coffees, or children were harmed in the cupping of these coffees or the writing of this blog post.]


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As I mention on my website, this blend was named as such for the simple reason that the particular beans we use in it are physically unattractive–not the kind of beans you want your friends to see you with. However, as with other ugly things in life, they are surprisingly delightful when you find yourself alone with them…just you and the beans…no one to judge…no one to scoff… If you do give these beans a chance, you will discover that they are a little fruity, really sweet, surprisingly bold, and unexpectedly spicy. In truth, the Ugly Bean Blend  is a standard Mocha-Java blend, which is generally defined as a blend of an Indonesian coffee and a [usually dry-processed] East African coffee (typically Ethiopia or Yemen). So, as with all blends, not only the quality but also the actual flavor of a Mocha Java blend varies from roaster to roaster, coffee shop to coffee shop, which is why I would never use such a generic name for a blend–it just doesn’t tell you much of anything regarding the final product, so it will build an expectation that will inevitably not be met, for good or for ill.

Anyway, this blend is really a nice autumn blend. It’s got a spicy side (clove sour cherry) and a fruit side (ripe red berries–very sweet!), which together makes you want to whip up a pumpkin pie and commence with the eating season (for us that from Oct.-Dec.). This is a heavy coffee that stands up well to any Thanksgiving meal, even the Canadian one I just celebrated with my Canadian wife and some Canadian friends. Happy Thanksgiving (technically Monday), Canadians. Thanks for giving me your best 🙂

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Since almost half of the responses to the previous Weekend Giveaway Video gave praise to Costa Rican coffee, I figured I’d better sit down with a cup of the CR Fruta de Oro I got in this week. Among a number of Costa Rican samples, this coffee dwarfed the others. Granted, almost every CR sample I get is smooth, drinkable, and…smooth, I sometimes get bored with them. Just too predictable. So I wanted a CR that had all those expected characteristics, but with some edge that made it stand out. The Fruta de Oro definitely has an edge.

For a wet-processed coffee, it has quite a fruity dry aroma. No distinct fruit, just fruity sweetness. In the cup, there is honey, lots of floral notes (like the honeysuckle you used to eat as a kid!), apricot syrup, and notes of ginger. Very clean. Nice complexity—every area of the tongue is engaged—but everything is held together. No flavor is really dominant; they all seem to be working together, taking turns triggering pleasure synapses (for some reason, I picture the old Gummy Bears cartoon, where the sweet rubbery bears would bounce around uncontrollably after drinking their gummy potion). The body is in the medium range, which suits the cup perfectly. This is a dang good coffee. Nothing novel about it; just straight drinkable goodness.

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First Impression: Diluted chocolate milk (like…didn’t quite put enough chocolate syrup in your milk), walnut, molasses body. This is such a mellow coffee for a lighter roast, not boring mellow, but mellow in a Robert Frost sort of way. It is a really pleasant sipping coffee–milky with sweet chocolate low tones permeating the cup. It has extremely low acidity for a Central American coffee. I’m going to roast a sample batch into the fiery infernos of a french roast, just to see how it will do that dark, and also a medium-ish roast. I’m thinking it may stand up nicely on the dark side, and really shine at a medium or medium-dark roast, which will optimize the sweetness inherent in the bean. My wife, who uses cream and sugar in her coffee, thought this was exceptional (which means a lot coming from the one I make a different coffee for every morning, ask her to review it [well before she is awake enough to really care to give me a thorough coffee analysis], to which she generally responds with an unenthusiastic thumbs up, thumbs down, or a shoulder shrug). I’m thinking this may be a perfect coffee for those who are into the cream and/or sugar thing. Interestingly enough, it reminds me of the flavor profile of some of the cleaner Indonesian coffees I’ve had (particularly from Bali and Java).

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Morning Cup: Wonka Blend

Wonka Blend from the Aeropress: a 50/50 blend of a dry-processed (see below) Ethiopia Sidamo Korate and a wet-processed Mex Altura Coatepec, Santa Rosa: Slightly musty cocoa powdered over-ripe berries (I picture strawberries that are just starting to get dark spots on them…yes, that sweet!), intense flavor, fruit-forward with baker’s/extra dark chocolate at the back. Chocolate especially emerges as the cup cools. The fruit is distinctly from the dry-processed Ethiopian and the chocolate is from the Mexican coffee (Mexican coffees have produced some serious chocolate bombs this year!).

About Dry-Processing

Dry-processing involves picking the coffee fruit from the tree (coffee is actually the seed/pit of a fruit, not technically a bean) and, instead of stripping of its fruit and sending it through a wet mill, leaving on large tables or patios outside in the sun to dry. This method allows the coffee seed/bean to soak up the sugars and flavors from the coffee fruit, which often produces a very fruity, sometimes earthy, cup. I LOVE dry-processed coffees. You don’t typically find them, however, with the big roasters, because they take a little extra work. I have to cull through every roast to check for defective beans (which are easy to spot after they are roasted, because they stay a very blond early-roast color). This is not necessary in wet-processed coffees because defective coffee fruit floats in the water mill and automatically get skimmed off the top. But…it’s all about what ends up in the cup, so a little extra TLC is absolutely worth the time. So even though dry-processed coffees represent some of the best and most exotic coffees in the world, they are not always easy to find. Ask your local micro-roaster if he or she has any! For fruitier DP coffees, ask about Central American (especially Panama or El Salvador) or African (especially Ethiopia); for earthy/nutty/chocolatey DP coffees, ask about Indonesian or South American. Or…just check out our website 😉

This sure is a nice way to wake up, even if I was bagging coffee till 2:00 am!


Kifu Coffee Roasters

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This coffee is going to be sold as a single origin for drip brew and as a wonderful base for an espresso blend I have created. It is incredibly sweet. There is mild fruit acidity with cooked banana (and pumpkin pie? Okay, maybe that’s just the placebo of the season…) on the nose and sweetness like meringue (I can imagine drinking this with pumpkin and/or banana meringue pie..mmmmm.).

While this is a fantastic as a drip brew coffee, it is phenomenal in my new espresso blend (available this week–Black Cow Espresso Blend). I experimented tonight on the PID equipped Gaggia and hit on the money exactly what I was looking for with the Bob-O-Link as my base (total of six coffees, three of which are from Brazil, all but one of which are dry-processed). This blend has a wonderful sweet pipe tobacco base, with a hint of smoked chocolate and ground almonds, and it has that sharp sweetness through and through as I described above. The body coats your mouth like syrup in a syrup bottle. And it is a very smooth shot. Fantastic.

Look for these coffees (and more) to be up on the website this week!



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