December 2015 Newsletter
Holiday closing dates will be as follows:
LAST ROAST will be on Friday 18th DECEMBER 2015.
LAST SHIPPING DAY & CLOSE will be Monday 21st DECEMBER 2014.
REOPEN on Tuesday 12th JANUARY 2015.
As per our usual practice, customers are reminded that we will be
running our stocks of roasted coffee down to zero, and late orders
may be filled by whatever coffees are available, not what you
actually ordered. This means that we cannot guarantee the contents
of orders after Friday 18th. Given the usual shipping chaos that
engulfs both the post and couriers, early ordering is advised. Based
on past years some of the orders shipped on the Monday won't arrive
until next year.
There won't be a January special coffee but I'll try to organise a
brief January newsletter as soon as we're up to speed. On the other
hand, this month's special coffee is something really special, and
rates my highest cupping score this year.
Panama Berlina Natural
This coffee has a lot in common with last year's Panama Maunier
Bourbon, being exceptionally sweet and fruity. It has an upfront
brown sugar and tropical fruit aroma which resolves into a really
sweet front palate, balanced with a little apricot acidity. A rich
mid-palate body shades into a creamy, smooth malty finish. After
cupping it I scored it at a 92, and I'm well known as a hard marker!
I'll remind everyone that Maunier sold out in 5 days, so I don't
expect the Berlina to last all that long.
Grading coffee is similar to grading wine (and I "grade" a fair bit
of shiraz, on a strictly amateur basis.) My coffee grades are based
on a score out of 10 for:
Balance, then you add 40 to make it up to a score out of 100. Some
scoring methods include a factor known as "Clean Cup" and add 30,
other methods allow removing points for "Faults".
For my personal scoring purposes I find the extra factors redundant,
because I add or knock points off the main 6 descriptors if they
Specialty coffee is generally agreed to begin at a score of 85, but
for me it's a rare coffee that rates over 90. Most of the coffees I
sell sit comfortably in the 86 to 89 range. Other cuppers can
sometimes be more generous; I've tasted several coffees rated 90+ by
respected cuppers that don't get anywhere near that by my palate.
The only coffee I've ever scored above a 95 was the Haiti Grand Cru
de Beaumont, last seen 6 years ago. Last year's Yemen Bani Matar was
a 93, but given the current state of war in Yemen I doubt we'll be
seeing any more coffee from there for a long time.
Finally, it's important to remember that the cupping score is only
the beginning of the journey. The coffee still has to be roasted,
ground and brewed to get the best out of it, and things can go wrong
at each step on the way.
Wishing all my customers a safe and happy holiday season,
Until next year,