July 2016 Newsletter
My try at having Coffeereview taste Alan's Blend didn't work out.
After I'd submitted my sample I heard nothing back, then when the
reviews came out they were for "Australian Single Origin Roasts"
instead of "Australian Brewing Coffees." At a guess they couldn't
find enough dedicated non-espresso coffees to work with, not
surprising in our market. I was amused by the comment that they were
surprised that roasters hadn't submitted coffees from Indonesia and
PNG, and thought to myself "All you had do was ask."
I was contemplating which single origin I would have submitted if
asked when a little storm cloud popped up on my horizon. An article
appeared in Quartz online magazine about Cuban coffee. To
paraphrase, it's now permissible to import Cuban coffee into the USA
and several major roasters are looking at doing so, the leader being
Nestle for Nespresso capsules. Given the sheer volume that Nestle
uses they could end up taking a major portion of the crop.
Fortunately I've got enough spoken for to last about a year, but
after that it might become even more difficult to get than it
As part of an ongoing effort to have a substitute ready if Café de
Cuba becomes completely unavailable I've been tasting my way through
a bunch of mild, low acid, nutty coffees, many of them from Brazil.
The main reason that Brazil coffees have these attributes is that
they are grown at fairly low altitude on large plantations.
The vast majority of the coffee grown in Brazil is produced on these
plantations, which are mechanized to the nth degree. Instead of
impoverished farmers pruning, harvesting and sorting by hand it's
all done by machines. As a result of the mechanization, Brazil is
the world's largest coffee producer, and by far the most efficient.
You might expect that quality has been sacrificed for efficiency,
and to some extent you'd be correct. Most Brazilian coffee farmers
aim for "good average" coffees rather than spectacular ones. Still,
it's not uncommon for even the largest estates to set aside some
areas for the production of more specialised lots, and it's these
lots which are entered in the annual "Cup of Excellence" auctions.
Beginning in 1999 (when we got the 3rd place coffee from Fazenda
Lambari) the auctions have displayed the absolute best coffees from
any year. Unfortunately for me, they've also pushed the prices of
the green coffees so high that I've more or less ignored them over
the last 10 years or so.
At this point I've got to say that when I receive my green coffee
samples for roasting and cupping they come with really informative
labels such as "Order 6793, Lot#002/1246/0141/GP" so it's always a
suck it and see proposition. In this case, I thought it was the
sweetest Brazil coffee I'd ever tasted, and worthy of being a
What I didn't know at the time I bought it was that this coffee from
this farm had won the COE Auctions in both 2014 and 2015, so I got a
bit of a shock when the bag and the bill arrived! Here it is:
Brazil Sitio Baixadao Natural
A mild fruit aroma with hints of banana and pineapple flows through
to a sweetly acid front palate. Tropical fruit flavours in the mid
palate with a sweet creamy finish make this one of the most
extraordinary Brazil coffees I have ever tasted. Really limited
quantity, I'll never see it again, so get in quick.
Until next month