Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Each new coffee year is an adventure. We know some expectations will be exceeded and some not met...comes with the territory.
When arrivals are disappointing, we look to nature as the only valid excuse. Having a “relationship” is easy when the coffee is great. But sticking with long-term, loyal, and dependable suppliers when the going gets tough is also part of the gig.
Cherry picking only the best is one way to go, and believe me we try, but true long term relationships require work, patience, and sometimes accepting what comes along when Mother Nature throws a punch.
Remember the coffee from Chiapas last year? Hurricane Stan contributed to a sub-par year. It was pretty remarkable that we saw any coffee. This year Mexican coffee from both Chiapas and Oaxaca is looking very good.
Usually by May, we have a pretty good idea of the origins that are having good years and those that are struggling. Across the board in 2007, most new crops have been later rather the early. Still, we now have received enough coffee to make some observations.
First of all, the concerns about the heavy rains during the Ethiopian harvest are warranted. The washed coffees we have received for the most part have been very good. Maybe less intense than we would like, but they’re always less intense than we’d like…. Too intense, that’s what we want, damn it.
The early Harrar has been, well, interesting. Harrar by it’s nature is not a coffee in which one ever finds precise consistency. We are happy to report to fans of inconsistency that they will not be disappointed this year.
Most of the lots received to date have characteristic background fruitiness. Sometimes it’s the prized blueberry fruitiness, but it is also ranges from a kind of not quite ripe raspberry to grapefruit citrus.
Admittedly, some deliveries are a little dicey. Of more concern than the flavor profile has been the presence of an occasional earthy to moldy cup….difficult, wet and rainy conditions are the culprit.
All in all, we are happy to have the new crop Harrar, but we are hoping the remaining deliveries improve. Most buyers have loved, or at least liked their deliveries.
As for Natural Sidamo, so far it is nightmare on Powell Street…. A true house of horrors. We have rejected sample after sample of toxic waste. As it looks right now, this is going to be a very difficult year for this coffee. We’ll see how it goes, but we’ve cupped very little that gives us reason to be very optimistic.
May and June always provide some of the year’s best coffees. Based on our early deliveries, here are some coffees, among the many, in which we feel very comfortable recommending:
If the early MONTE CRISOL is any indication, Costa Rica is having a very solid year. You can’t go wrong with these.
COSTA DOTA TARRAZU micro lots: Royal has lined up 11 lots ranging in size from 7 bags to 36 bags. These lots are from individual farms in the Dota Valley. We have selected these 11 lots from over sixty samples. If you are interested ask for more info.
COSTA ORGANIC SHB NARANJO…the only organic coffee of the year from West Valley Coop Naranjo
Guatemala If you want a coffee with too much of everything, the PALO ALTO AZUL is the one. We have spot, May and June Ships. A little less intense but still very good would be ref 14986 LOS VOLCANES ANTIGUA. The HUIXOC, EL INJERTAL and ref 15275 SHB ATIPI are also very Guat-like. We have one shipment of El Injerto ref 11507.
And based on the first delivery, and excellent Guat FTO should be ref 14417 MAYA IXIL.
Colombia--- Guayata and plan Colo Huila.
Kenya auctions—it’s prime time.
Mexico---what a recovery from hurricane Stan! FTO, O, and conventional Chiapas and Oaxaca coming in very nice.
Nicaragua---another good year.
Sumatra—Fresh green coffee still flowing in.
Outside the box for the cognoscenti: Indian Mysore nuggets, Bolivian Organic PB, and Panama Maunier---great coffees.
Good values: El Salvador Everest and Panama BEP
And in the Great Coffee from Troubled Origins category: ref 14894 Zimbabwe Dandoni Estate AA. Very solid and a rare example of the arrival exceeding the pre-shipment offer sample.