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April 2013 Newsletter

Boston is the word this month, the USA city, NOT the band. This
year's SCAA conference is in Boston and we'll be there. We'll be
away from Wednesday 10th April until Anzac Day, Thursday 25th April.
As usual, beans will still flow but there may be some delays.

It's been 3 years since my last SCAA conference so I'm looking
forward to heaps of new products and information, as well as
catching up (and having a few ... debates ... ) with old friends.

Before we get into that, I have something fairly significant to
discuss. For the first time in the last 25 years we won't have
Nicaraguan Maragogype to sell. Next month we won't have Colombian
Maragogype either. If you've been following my newsletters you'l
know that Central and South American coffee plantations are having
huge problems with coffee leaf rust. Heirloom varietals like
Maragogype have always been lower yielding and less resistant to
disease and insects, and right now they are simply being wiped out.

For the time being the Nicaraguan Maragogype will be replaced by
Nicaraguan Finca Santa Isobel. Fortunately the flavour differences
are minute, so wholesale blend reformulations won't be necessary.
Later in the month the Colombian Maragogype will be replaced by
Colombian Supremo. I hope to get at least some Maragogype later this
year, but if the coffee rust disease situation gets worse, who

Other non-resistant varietals, mostly the old, tasty ones, are bound
to be affected as well. Ancient Bourbon and Typica trees which
contribute to those high quality microlot coffees that we love may
become a thing of the past, and newer entrants like the Panama Gesha
may also be affected.

Anyway, before we start worrying too much I thought that I'd better
get onto this month's special coffee, which I promised in August
last year, as several of my customers have reminded me.

Costa Rica Tarrazu Miel

Rich coffee aroma, with sweet acid, smooth fruity mid palate and
creamy body, the coffee-est coffee you'll ever taste.

Now, as far as the debating goes, I have a few things to talk to
some of my old friends in the USA about.

One is the increasing mechanisation of the espresso process. PID
temperature control, weighed shots, weighed doses, measurements of
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) using refractometers, it goes on and
on. The problem as I see it is that much of this "process control"
is being done without any reference to flavour, and without good
experimental design.

If you don't use a blind tasting panel to assess the benefits (or
otherwise) of controlling a particular variable you're measuring,
the whole exercise is pointless. Sure, you may be making consistent
espresso, but if it's consistently awful, what's the point?

The other debating point will be so called "third wave" espresso,
exquisitely produced shots of undrinkable single origin beans and
unbalanced and arbitrary blends. I expect the discussions to be
interesting, to say the least.

We'll still be in contact via email while we're away, so don't
hesitate to get in touch if necessary. There may be a lag in
response due to time zones, but we WILL get back to you.

Until next month