Thursday, May 22, 2008


The Magical Mystery Tour, Spring 2008

Roll up for the finest specialty coffees in the world…

Panama Micro Lots:
Royal has been in business for 30 years, and we’ve been bringing in coffee from Panama for almost the whole time. While Panama has not, until recently, garnered the notoriety enjoyed by its northern neighbors, the coffee has always been great. In the opinion of many with the experience to judge this sort of thing, this may be the best season yet. In order to celebrate this, we are able to offer a diverse slate of Panamanian coffees, including several exceptional micro-lots, single-estate offerings, and unique honey processed lots, to compliment our usual array of excellent Boquete coffees.

Victor Venado Family: Victor Venado has been a fixture on coffee farms and mills in Boquete and Volcan for many, many years. He and his family are native Baru Indians living in and around the town of Hato Chami who remain committed to growing coffee and using traditional methods. This year, Royal Coffee and Casa Ruiz collaborated to collect from 32 individual owners (all members of Victor’s family) to form this very special lot exhibiting a unique pronounced, acidity.

Panama Horqueta 100% Typica: a cupping table standout, the full Typica flavor profile is on display here. Owned by Mr. Mariano Gonzales for over 60 years, the farm is located at very high elevation (1550+ meters) in the Western Highlands of Boquete. Mr. Gonzales has separated out only the original Typica cherries from newer Caturra plantings in order to deliver us this exceptionally smooth, rich, and balanced cup.

Berlina Estate: we are proud to offer both conventional and Organic certified lots from this world famous Estate that has earned a top-three finish at the last five Paris Food Shows.

La Estancia Buguita Estate: one of the original Boquete fincas, La Estancia Buguita has been restored in recent years to be both a coffee farm and a natural wildlife preserve. The use of eco-friendly manual harvesting and processing makes this farm a beautiful example of how to integrate coffee production and environmental stewardship. Visitors welcome.

Panama Bonella: this special separation from Casa Ruiz has one of the fullest-bodies you will ever taste from Panama. Let the coffee speak for itself.

Lerida Estate: a vintage Boquete finca located near the top of the volcano, Lerida Estate has delivered us two different separations this year. The first is classic Lerida: impeccable preparation, delicious cup. The other is a honey-process exhibiting a wild, fruity cup that makes a great espresso shot.

Kenya Auction Lots:
A whole galaxy of multi-colored screamers and laughers at your fingertips. AA Tassia and PB Ruera are killer, especially if the enamel on your teeth needs changing. For the roaster seeking value: don’t be afraid of the AB’s, they are a little more affordable and can be just as good as the AA’s. Bean size has always been overrated anyway.

Centrals of all Stripes:
Unless you’ve been asleep for the past three months you’ve noticed that Central American coffee is enjoying a renaissance this year. In a season chock full of heavy-hitters, a few lots have managed to stand out anyway.
Costa Selecto Espiritu Santo 15997: classic West-Valley wineyness from Coopro Naranjo.
Guat Palo Alto Azul 16386: crisp green apple acidity, super sweet.
Nic FTO Segovia: Not a ton of this coffee left. Hit it.
Mexico Fino Rojas and Pluma Tres Oros: smooth, rich, dulce de leche. Classic Pluma.

Despite a horrendous backlog in Djibouti port (there is an opportunity there for someone), we have been receiving some great deliveries of conventional and (FT)O Ethiopians, both washed and natural.
It is rare to find a coffee as unique as the Misty Valley Organic Natural Yirgacheffe. It came and went in the blink of an eye so for those who got some, enjoy it. For those who did not, don’t despair: dry-processed Yirgies, Sidamos, Djimmahs, and of course the world-renowned Harrar Horse, are all afloat.
For something a little more floral, our new arrivals of Organic Yirgacheffe (17562-63) and Washed FTO Sidamo are beautiful.

Royal Select Decafs:
New Guinea PB RSW (17636): only a small chop of this unique decaf available.
Sumatra RSW (16326-27): as close to the real thing as it gets.
Espresso FTO RSW (17524): our own three bean blend. It makes great drip decaf too.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Coffee Hunting?

For selection and quality you can’t really top the next two months. Central America, Mexico and African new crop coffees will be here in abundance, offering many excellent choices.

The months of May and June are an especially good time to be hunting for Kenya. The incoming flow of really great AA, AB and PB auction lots from the main crop will be picking up over the next few weeks. In addition to what is here in our warehouse, arriving soon will be up to 40 individual auction lots you can try.

We have received a lot of compliments on the early Boquete Classico deliveries. For the balance of the crop, we will be moving a bit higher up the mountain. We are moving fast to get the balance of our 2008 Panamanian coffee shipped before the rainy season starts.
SHB Panamaria, Maunier, Arkapal, Berlina ( conventional and organic), and one container of Lerida Estate, which by the way, the preshipment sample of this was outstanding.
In addition, Casa Ruiz is sending a few micro lots including coffee from the Victor Venado Family, coffee we always enjoy seeing on our list… more about these in the next blog.

Blog readers guide to the best of the best on the spot:
17404 Ethioppian Organic Natural Yirgacheffe "Misty Valley"
17564 Ethiopian FTO Organic Washed Sidamo
17099 Colombian Guayata Tipica 15 full
15997 Costa Rican SHB Select Esprito Santo
16001 Costa SHB Organic Juan Fonseca
16744 Guatemalan SHB Antigua Santa Barbara
17778 Guatemalan SHB Bourbon Florencia
17627 & 28, 17662 Kenya Ruera PB
17683 Kenya AA Tassia
16805 Nicaragua SHG FTO Segovia
17813 Panama SHB Boquete Classico
15673 Sumatra Mandheling
17047 Sumatra Mandheling Organic
16684 Yemen Sanani Mocca
17163 Yemen Matari Mocca
17092 Colombian Valencia Royal Select Water Decaf
17635 Kenya AA Auction lot Royal Select Water Decaf
16327 Sumatra Royal Select Water Decaf
17036 New Guinea Kimel Estate PB Royal Select Water Decaf
175234 Sumatra Mandheling FTO Royal Select Water Decaf

Friday, April 18, 2008


Can't Miss Coffees

While in Minneapolis for the SCAA May 2-5th,
please come visit Royal Coffee in booth# 1546
Central America & Mexico
As we get further into the main harvest from Central America, we are seeing some excellent arrivals and some very promising preshipment samples. Here are some SPOT standouts at the moment:

Ref 16226 Costa Rican SHB Monte Crisol
Ref 15974 Costa Rican SHB La Rosa
Ref 16000 Costa Rican ORGANIC SHB Naranjo

Ref 15987 Guatemalan SHB Huehuetenango El Injertal
Ref 17778 Guatemalan SHB Bourbon Florenci

Ref 16410 Mexican Pluma Oaxaca Altura Tres Oros

On the horizon:
---We have a number of Micro lots from Costa Rica and Panama, each unique in regards to geography, experimental processing, producer profiles and cup characteristics.

Colombia---The fly crop is just around the corner in Huila. In the meantime there are a couple of great Colombians available from alternative regions. On the spot in our Oakland warehouse, we have ref 17099 Guayata tipica from the Cordillera Oriente which has managed to distinguish itself from among many good arrivals. For prompt shipment, we have a rare coffee from the Pacific side of the Cordillera Occidental, ref 18175 El Carmen del Atrato.

Nicaragua—coffees from Segovia, especially FTO…. NOW is a good time.

El Salvador—We have some fine ORGANICS to offer. Las Lajas, San Rafael Los Naranjos, and one of our perennial outstanding favorites, Santa Adelaida.

On the conventional side, we have two shipments of Estate grown Cerro de las Ranas Pulped Natural SHG lined up. The preshipment samples we have tried so far have been excellent.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Who is Mr. Margin and why does he keep calling?

After a turbulent and stressful ride the C market, as of 3/21 is back to 1.30, just about the level where the hedge-fund rally began.
The futures market, which was invented to limit risk, now is the risk.

Where it goes from here is open to debate, but after a visit to levels 40 cents higher, I think buyers can all find a new appreciation for a 1.30 C market.

Among many great coffees, here are a few of the best on the spot:

16613 Colo Supremo Huila regional
15987 Guat HHT El Injertal
16381 Guat HHT Palhu
14978 New Guinea Kimel Estate PB
15673 Sumatra G-1 Mandheling
16878 Sumatra Organic Mandheling
16684 Yemen Mocca Sanani
17092 Colo Huila Valencia Royal Select Water Decaf
16326 Sumatra Mandheling Royal Select Water Decaf

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Ethiopia In The Year 2000

According to the Ethiopian thirteen month calendar, this year is the year 2000. It has been quite a year: banners, flags, t-shirts, a Beyonce concert in Addis, and, not at all related to the millennium, coffee prices that are offered at quite a bit higher than last year.

We were in the Harrar, Sidamo, and Yirgacheffe regions for eight days in early February. At that time, the C market was back at 1.30, which as you know, now seems cheap. Regardless of the market, after our visit and tasting the new crop samples, we can say with great confidence that the quality of Ethiopian coffee this year is going to be way, way….way better than last year.

Since all Ethiopian coffee is sun dried---as far as I know there are no mechanical driers in the country---it is essential to have sunny dry weather during the harvest, which of course last year they did not have. Last year, there were torrential rains and floods right at this critical juncture. All the production suffered, but particularly the natural Sidamo and Harrar. It is hard to erase from memory the flavors of some of last year’s defective and frighteningly weird coffees.

Happily for all concerned, this year’s weather was ideal and has contributed to excellent cupping coffees. You can expect quite a rebound for quality. We have bought some great coffees which you can book now and expect to receive in April. Here are a few to consider:

REF 17515-18 MAO Harrar Horse …classic blueberry flavor.

REF 17695 & 17696 Organic & RFA cert. Natural and Washed Sidamo “Koratie”…these were the two best coffees we cupped on our trip.

REF 17672 & 17686 Organic Natural Djimma Special Prep….muted fruit and natural soft cup. Dried on raised beds and free of defects. Not all Djimma has to be low-priced swill.

Additional Blog Reader Spot Standouts:

16537 Brazil Cerrado…if you like good Brazil coffee that tastes like good Brazil coffee, you’ll love these---soft, nutty, slightly chalky natural flavor.

16613 Colombian Supremo…just a few bags of this over-achiever still available.
16741, 42, & 43 Colombian Huila Valencia Supremo…good value and very good cup.

17394 & 17397 Kenya Gethumbiwini AA & PB …Don’t hesitate.

16682 Yemen Mocca Sanani…bittersweet fruity dark chocolate. Excellent example of a fine Yemen.

17112 Peru FTO excellent delivery at the end of the season.

ALL SUMATRA… You can’t go wrong on Sumatra quality. Right now is the best time to sample and choose from our large selection of spot inventory. The best coffees are here, available, and ready to ship. The Sumatra crop will now slow down at origin until July.

And finally….Recent exciting standouts from the pre-shipment approval table:

17096,97,98,99 Colombian Guayata…due mid March
15973& 74 Costa SHB La Rosa….March Ship/April arrival
15987 Guatemalan SHB El Injertal….March Ship/April arrival

Friday, January 04, 2008


Prime Time

At the moment it is prime time for Indonesian and Asian coffees. Here are some we highly recommend:

Sumatra---We have been receiving excellent new crop Mandheling Grade 1. Two lots, here and ready to go, have stood out: refs 16319 and 16665.
The season's first Retro Mandheling, ref 17184, will be here and ready to ship by 1/15, as will the 100% Sidikalang “Tabu Jamu” ref 17199.

Balinese “Blue Moon”---the first container was a hit and sold fast, the second one has arrived and cups equal to if not better than the first. Ref 17256.

Flores Bajawa---ref 16602 ... is going fast. This coffee is established.

Java Estate Pancoer---two good lots on the spot: refs 16959 & 17061, classic Java flavor.

New Guinea Kimel Estate--- A, X, and our favorite, the PB ref 14978.

Indian Monsooned ---- ref 15384… a thing of beauty if you are inclined.
Ref 16639 Royal Select Water Process Sulawesi Decaf---This is the highest rated decaf in our position. It tastes like a lot like Sulawesi...imagine that!

Coming soon and strongly recommended:

15104 & 15105 Panama Boquete Classico. Bright, balanced, sweet. I don’t think there is a better January Shipment Central American coffee.

17407 Harrar… Blueberry Fields Forever. Jan Ship

17402 Palestina Huila Colombian
17437 San Augustine Huila Colombian
17438 Pitalito Huila Colombian
17439 Oporapa Huila Colombian
………Classic Huila brightness, Caramel sweet flavor. These are great coffees to offer as a single origin, they are some of the best coffees produced in Colombia.---Jan Ship

Monday, December 17, 2007



Ethiopia---What’s up with these prices?

The initial offers on new crop Ethiopians are sky high compared to last year. There is not yet a lot of coffee flowing into the market, but there are a lot of buyers on the sidelines. Sellers in Ethiopia are looking at how prices soared at the end of last year as a guide.
Unlike last year, growing and harvesting conditions have been close to ideal. Quality is reported to be very good, and quantities available are also said to be good. Time will tell what price the market will support, but at the moment, if you want to buy from the first shipments of new crop coffee, it is going to cost more than you are used to.

Auction prices have firmed up considerably and we are still a month or so away from the prime coffee buying season. The auctions are closed for the next few weeks. Royal has a good selection of auction lots on the spot and arriving in January. We also have Fair Trade arriving 1/3/08.
This is the time to buy this coffee. We have conventional and organic sailing shortly. The pre-shipment samples have looked good. This is a versatile coffee well suited to adding body and giving a fresh- tasting lift early in the year.

Prices are attempting to ride the coat tails of Kenya and Ethiopian. Although they are a little higher than we are accustomed, Rwanda prices look like a deal in comparison.

We have a limited supply of very nice coffee from another origin that has a small window for top quality. The Ruvuma is usually the best. Tanzania, at this time of the year, provides a good opportunity for roasters who are adept at marketing coffees that are “in season”.
R. Fulmer

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