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 May 2003 Newsletter

Long term customers with good memories may remember way back to 1999, when I brought in the stunning Haiti coffee. Much to my regret, I've never been able to get hold of another lot. However, Haiti is a country on the island of Hispaniola. This is the place where Christopher Columbus first set foot in the "New World". The OTHER country is the Dominican Republic, and I rated one of the Dominican coffees I tried back in 2002 as a "WOW!"

Coffee has been growing there since 1735, and is predominantly the "Typica" variety introduced from France into the Caribbean in 1720. These plants are the direct descendants of those first introduced in to the Americas, and it shows in the taste. Unfortunately, astute USA roasters snap up most of the crops as they appear; even more unfortunately (for us) the local population KNOW how good their coffee is and consume most of it themselves!

I was well aware of this when I started to hassle my importer to get me bulk quantities of the coffee I had tasted, from the Karoma Estate. Unfortunately he wasn't able to find any through his USA contacts, and I forgot about it...until late last month, when a couple of "consolation prize" bags of Dominican coffee turned up, not the Karoma but "Cafe Josef" instead. I haven't been able to find out anything about Cafe Josef, except that it's fabulous coffee!

It has a mild, sweet acidity with a complex, nutty middle palate, full body (which surprised me) and a "peanuts and chocolate" aftertaste. In fact, it reminds me very much of a Mavis Bank Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee I tasted in the late 1970's. Fortunately, it's nowhere near as expensive.

So, this month's special is:

DOMINICAN CAFE JOSEF $40.00/kg

Note that I wouldn't necessarily recommend this coffee as a straight espresso, even though it has a huge, dense crema. The acidity does tend to be a bit overwhelming, but as a milk drink it's a knockout.

It's also probably the first time that coffee consumers in Australia have been offered a Dominican Republic coffee, and it is totally exclusive to Coffee for Connoisseurs. And as with the Haiti coffee, it's a "try it now" situation. I don't know if I'll ever see this particular bean again. I've set aside some green beans for the home roasters out there as well, but the limit is 500g of green per person, and sorry, no repeats.

Which leads me on to my coffee "specials" in general. I often get asked for them months after the newsletter in which they appeared was published, in the hope that I'll have some secreted away somewhere. I'm sorry, but the "special" coffees are just that, usually a couple of bags in a whole container load of very average green coffees. When they're gone (and that's usually within the first couple of weeks) that's it for the next few months.

In the past, I've been able to offer my importer enough volume to justify making a special coffee a regular stock item, but these days it's getting increasingly difficult just to get special beans. The small businesses like mine are prepared to pay for them, but Sara Lee, Philip Morris and Nestle aren't, and these conglomerates set the prices. A coffee grower who can't get a decent price for their whole crop is liable to plant something more profitable, and who can blame them?

Anyway, enjoy it while it's here, and there'll be a new special next month!

On the machine front, the container with the Napoletana & Junior espresso machines should finally arrive at the end of this week or so. Allowing for Customs clearance etc. I'd expect to have stock by the 20th of May. This will also allow me to bring my somewhat threadbare spare parts collection up to date.

The Rancilio Rocky grinders and stainless steel bases are sold out, and I've only got a couple of Silvias left, but my next shipment arrives around the 25th of May so there will only be a couple of weeks break in supply. This shipment will include the FIRST Rocky Doserless grinders to arrive in Australia. I won't know how much they'll be until I get the final GST bill, but they should be slightly cheaper than the standard SS Rocky. I'll update the website as soon as the equipment arrives, and yes, the website prices are always current.

Alan