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July 2015 Newsletter

This month begins our thirtieth year in the coffee business. Thirty
years! ... half a lifetime, if you think about it. Over that time
we've seen a heap of change in the business, both here in Australia
and overseas. Back then, a business that could advertise themselves
as having an Italian Barista was more or less the epitome of serious
coffee. These days coffee shops around the world boast of Australian
Baristas!

Specialty Coffee shops were few and far between; Melbourne had 5 or
6, Sydney 3 or 4, a couple each in the other capital cities maybe,
and that was it. Now there are so many they're beyond counting, with
new roasters seeming to pop up every day.

When we started the espresso revolution was just beginning, but I
suspect that it has already reached its pinnacle and is now
subsiding. The same is true of domestic espresso machines. Once if
you wanted espresso at home you bought a machine, a grinder and a
big learning curve. Convenience in the form of capsules and their
exceptionally cheap machines (Delonghi Nespresso, $49.00 in
Woolworth's this morning) is rapidly shrinking the domestic market.

Our own exit from the machine business is now complete apart from
spares and repairs, and as a result we'll be moving to much smaller
premises. We simply don't need the storage space and the per square
metre rent that goes with it. With luck we'll have finished the move
(with no interruption to business) by next week.

Of course, it's probably going to take a couple of months to get
everything sorted and to find all the missing bits and pieces that
are currently living in cardboard boxes. I'm sure anyone who has
moved house will sympathize.

One thing that hasn't changed much over the last 30 years is the
necessity to find the best green coffees available worldwide. This
has only become more difficult as more and more roasters compete for
access to what are still very limited quantities of coffee. In the
near future, it's only going to get worse, as ROYA, coffee leaf
rust, rips through Central America.

I flagged the problem in my April and May 2013 newsletters, and many
of my "worst case" fears have come to pass. In particular, Central
American maragogype growers are severely affected, with crop losses
of over 50% in some cases. It's looking like we won't see ANY new
crop maragogypes from either Colombia, Nicaragua or even Guatemala,
so when my existing stock runs out that's it!

Of course, I'll be testing out a variety of substitutes from both
Nicaragua and Colombia for use both straight and in blends.

Which brings us to one of the possible substitutes for the Colombian
Maragogype, this month's special.

Colombian Café Jardin
$48.00/kg

It has a beautifully sweet front palate acidity with a buttery
middle palate and a toasty malt finish, quite close to the
maragogype.

Full name is Colombia Excelso Risarelda Café Jardin Microlot, which
tells you it comes from the Café Jardin farm in the risarelda
district. These days most of the coffee grown in this district is of
the Castillo or Colombia varietals, both of them bred for disease
resistance. I can only hope that we can continue to get sufficient
supplies in future. Next month or September we hope to have a
Nicaraguan substitute.

Until next month

Alan






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