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February 2005 Newsletter

Returning from a refreshing holiday to sad news is not the best way to begin a New Year, but that's what happened. Dom Laranjinha, founder and CEO of and a good mate, passed away suddenly on 05/01/05 from a heart attack. His untimely death leaves a huge gap in machine expertise in the local market. Fortunately Dom's business will be carried on by his widow, Cilinia and his son, Pedro. I urge all my readers to support Coffeeparts, a company that provides outstanding and invaluable service to the coffee industry.

The Asian tsunami disaster was another tragic occurrence over the holiday period. I know that several companies in the local coffee industry have arranged to donate money on a per cup or per kilo basis, but rather than struggle with the logistics of this we decided to make a substantial donation directly to Care Australia.

A number of people have asked if the tsunami has had any effect on the supply of Sumatran coffee. The answer is "No." Coffee in Sumatra is grown at high elevation and shipped from the port of Medan, on the opposite side of the island to the devastation in Aceh. Sumatran coffee will continue to be available for the foreseeable future.

The same can't be said for Café de Cuba. Bad weather (last year's hurricanes) and insect damage have led to coffee crop failure in Cuba, and there is simply none available. I don't know how long this situation will persist, but I hope to have more news next month. In the interim I have put together a blend to mimic some of the qualities of Café de Cuba. The blend is called Cuban Analogue and while it's not quite as sweet and full bodied as the real thing it is close.

Speaking of coffee with good body, this month's special is a real surprise. Normally central American coffees are more famous for their acidity than their body, but this particular estate coffee is from the heirloom "Bourbon" varietal. I cupped it as "Sweet aroma, smooth middle palate with a hint of cocoa, rich mouthfeel with lingering body, just enough acidity to balance. A classic coffee taste."

Nicaraguan Los Nogales Estate

On a related note, I often get enquiries about supplying past specials with current orders. Sorry, but if I have stock it will be listed on the order pages. If it's not there, that means it's all gone. Since we generally turn over a single roast of a particular coffee every 2 days or so it wouldn't be fresh even it was left over. Any coffee over a week old is turfed out anyway. This became apparent to several customers in the days before Christmas, as we ran out of one coffee after another. In the end, we threw out less than 10kg before shutting up shop.

Finally, world coffee prices are starting to rise, with the base price now doubled from this time last year. (As an aside, it will be interesting to see what happens with "Fair Trade" coffees as the base price approaches the FT price.) This has begun to flow through into my recent green bean purchases, although the full effect is probably a couple of months away. At the same time business overheads have increased, with rent, rates, utilities and other charges all rising more or less in line with inflation.

With some of the coffees still at the same price as 4 years ago, and all of the prices unchanged since 2003, it's obviously time for a price increase, so from the 14th of February ALL the coffees on my list (with the exception of this month's special) will be increased in price by $2.00/kg.