Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Ding Ho

We try to keep readers of the Royal Blog posted on the best cupping coffees available on the spot. At the moment here is what we consider the best:

16135 Brazil Fazenda Aurea Natural 17/18….soft, nutty and subtle floral fruitiness.
16652 Sulawesi Toraja G-1…Slightly earthy, pleasantly woody and full bodied.
16434 Colombian Cauca 15 full…Caramel sweetness, bright, but not overly acidic.
15507 Guat El Injerto…The best 2007 Guat left on our offering list.
15718 & 15722 Kenya…Bright Kenya citrus acidity. Main crop auction lots from Kirinyaga
16701 Kona Extra Fancy Greenwell Farms…Kona customers won’t be disappointed.
15232 & 16492 Peru FTO….Clean, bright sweet fresh flavor from an origin in season.
14978 New Guinea Kimel PB…arguably the best coffee we own.
15261 Guat Coffein MC Decaf….Some Kenya got decaffed and we lucked out?
16114 Peru FTO Royal Select Decaf…our Xmas present to decaf drinkers.

Sneak previews:
Hyping pre-shipment samples is a bit risky, but here are some we would bet heavily on:

16188,16602,16603 Flores Bajawa… the first container has arrived(sold out), but the next three lots should be more of the same. Right up there with your best washed Java Estates.

17094 Sumatra Retro Mandheling…this coffee will sell very fast once it arrives. Tie it up SAS.
16608, 16609, 166109 Tanzania Ruvuma PB, AA and 15 full … the only Ruvuma this year during Tanznia’s short prime time.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Mesa de los Santos, Version 10

It’s beginning to sound like an annually played broken record for us to sing the virtues of our organic Colombian coffee Mesa de los Santos from Finca El Roble, but it can’t be helped. I just spent a long weekend on the farm and it is more alive and breathtaking than ever before. The harvest is in full swing, the experimental coffee plot planted 4 years ago with over 60 different varieties of coffee is now in production, and the on farm cupping lab is fully operational. Meanwhile, the farm is a riot of birdlife with an endless symphony of aviary arias providing an ever present auditory backdrop.

This year’s harvest will be the biggest ever in the history of the farm. As per usual, the crop is divided into 2 different offerings – the “Mesa de los Santos” blend (a mix of caturra and variedad colombiana), and the “Don Telmo” mark which is a 100% bourbon varietal. We have both coffees coming in this year with shipments starting in the next 2 weeks and running through March. The bourbon consistently rated exceptionally well during the on farm blind cupping sessions.

The biggest treat during the visit was cupping over 40 different coffees from an experimental plot on the farm. Four years ago Don Oswaldo, the owner of the farm, planted six trees each of over 60 different coffee varietals, primarily Arabica including Mocca, Geisha, Icatu, et al., with some Robusta and even Liberica as well. We blind cupped 40 of these coffees along with the regular on farm production of Mesa and Bourbon over the course of 2 days and discovered some mind blowing coffees. The winning varietal (top secret) will be planted on a waiting 20 hectare plot at the top of the farm. It will be another 4 years before the mystery winner (NOT Geisha, how passé, please!) will be available for sale but the wait will be worth it.

This was my third visit to the farm. When I was last here in 2002, several plots of bourbon had just been planted along with a variety of accompanying shade trees. These plants are now in full production and the shade trees are up to 30 feet high! The transformation from open grass pastureland to multi shade storied coffee plot is stunning. An onslaught of both native and visiting migratory bird species have arrived along with the trees and shade cover. A recent survey counted over 120 bird species, while on a brief Sunday morning walk we counted over 30 species on our own without trying too hard.

Don Oswaldo and his employees have worked insanely hard these past 8 years to bring this farm to where it is today. It is a healthy, gorgeous, productive certified organic farm, with a gazillion shade trees (SMBC and Rainforest Alliance certified ), more birds than a Hitchcock film, and a consistent, dependable supply of dynamite coffee. With the addition of the living library of coffee varieties on the experimental plot and an on farm cupping lab heralding images of a Napa Valley winery, this is my new coffee Mecca. Let Don Oswaldo know when you want to make the hadj and let us know if you want to book any of this coffee before it does its annual disappearing act from our offering list.-----J. Cossette

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Royal 11/12 Coffee Update

Rare snow in Bogota this week, and John Cossette reports from his visit to Huila a crop arriving about a month later than usual and coming in all at once. He feels there could be a lot of “funky coffee” as a result.
Huila is kind of the heaven and hell of specialty coffee; some of the most fantastic lots can also be laced with phenolic time bombs. We always try to be very careful, but this year even more care will be required. With the crop running late, it would be wise to make sure you have enough good Colombians on the spot to last at least until mid, or better yet, late January.

Here is a list of our best Colombians on the spot:

16434 & 16435 Cauca 15 full
16140 Huila La Argentina
16522 Huila Central region
16264 Huila Pital
Many pictures floating around of the fantastic flowering. Rain is falling in near ideal conditions. For the moment the threat to next year’s “on again” crop is greatly diminished. Despite the rain and renewed prospects of a “super crop”, Brazil differentials have creeped a little higher due to strong demand and a weak dollar.
Reports of ideal conditions for the Harrar and Sidamo regions as well, quality looks to be back after last year’s train wreck. Early price indications seem very high. We’ll know more in a couple of weeks. Very little new crop coffee yet available, things will get into high gear in December.
Central America
Our supplies of good Centrals are dwindling as they should at this time of the year. We still have a few good Guats, Costas, Nics and Panamas, but those will be gone soon. We still have a good supply of Santa Rita and Cerro las Ranas El Salvador.
Panama is looking for a very big 2008 crop as conditions have been good, but it needs to stop raining.
Suppliers indicate a bumper crop coming in Nicaragua as well.
Fly crop auction lots are cupping very nice with a lot of Kenya character albeit with a little less intensity. Prices are a little bit friendlier.
Looking for FT Kenya? We have FT Kenya Kaliluni AB, PB, and AA, refs 17175, 76 & 77.
The new crop is starting to be shipped now. Including Sumatra FTO and Organic, grade 1 Mandheling and two shipments of RETRO Mandheling and the 100% Tabu Jamu Sidikalang. We also have very good new crop Sulawesi available on the Spot.

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