June 2014 Newsletter
Taking a couple of weeks break in May must be bad luck for us. In
the last few years we've run into the Iceland volcano and just
missed the Boston bombing. This time we got caught in Bangkok during
the military coup. We'd gone to Thailand to attend the THAIFEX World
of Food Asia exhibition, in particular the "World of Coffee and Tea"
Getting to THAIFEX was worth the effort involved; the exhibition was
huge, complex and extremely educational. I sampled Arabica coffees
from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar as well as local Thai coffees. I
also managed to briefly meet Thomas Tan, the Executive Manager of
the Singapore Coffee Association. The SCA (website
www.singaporecoffeeorg ) is the first South East Asian industry
organization to emerge, but I'd expect to see a combined ASEAN group
in the near future.
Fortunately we went to THAIFEX on Monday, the "Trade" day. The coup
on Tuesday stopped any further efforts to investigate the coffee
business and Thailand, and caused us to bring forward our return
flight. Disappointing, but out of our control. The only bright spot
was my observation that several street coffee vendors we saw on our
walks between the hotel and the Skytrain were actually using Lelit
Combi machines to produce their wares. Just shows how bulletproof
these little machines are. Pity I don't have any left!
There were a few other interesting bits of equipment at the Thaifex
show, including a display of Sunbeam Café Series machines NOT
labelled Sunbeam, presumably coming from the other door in the
original Chinese factory, and my first close look at the Loring
commercial coffee roaster. This is a roaster that is supposed to
completely burn all the fuel used and roasting gases and smoke
produced during roasting, resulting in energy savings of up to 80%.
Unfortunately I was unable to see it actually working, but I was
given a good explanation of the concepts behind it.
|The reason I go to Trade Shows; discovering a new coffee!
|A familiar selection of "Welcome" brand machines.
|Tasting some Thai regional coffees.
|TV after the Coup .. even the Cartoon Channel!
Anyway, on to this month's special coffee, full name Ethiopian
Sidamo Guji Supreme Grade 1 Natural:
Ethiopian Guji Sidamo
This is one of the recent crop of superb "fruit forward" Ethiopian
coffees. It has rich tropical fruit flavours and clean sweetness and
acidity in the front palate, a full body and an almost drinking
These fruit bomb Ethiopians are a relatively recent development
resulting from better control over the ways coffee is processed
after it has been picked. It's very labour intensive, involving
raised drying beds where the coffee cherries are exposed to full
sunlight and raked every two hours to turn them over and prevent
mould. The result is that the flavours and sugars in the coffee
cherry pulp are transferred to the beans, hopefully without
undesirable ferment tastes.
Thirty years ago most coffee buyers would have labelled these fruity
coffees as faulty. The "standard" back then was more or less
Colombian or Central American coffee, medium acidity and body and a
smooth aftertaste. It's a tribute to the growth of the Specialty
Coffee industry that these coffees now exist and command premium
It's also the main reason I continue to drag myself off to some of
the many coffee trade shows that have popped up over the last few
years. That's where you can first meet the growers and shippers that
make great coffees a reality.
Until next Month