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October 2015 Newsletter

Special coffees are an ongoing passion for me. Much of the tasting I
do every month is directed towards finding the specials for the next
couple of months, although normally I'm lucky if I know which coffee
I'll be offering a week before the newsletter is published. One of
the problems is the many otherwise excellent "almost special"
coffees that don't quite make the grade. Another is pre-shipment
samples. A coffee we have already committed to buy can be held up by
shipping and customs delays.

Then there is cost. Our falling dollar isn't doing us any favours
when it comes to top of the table coffees. However, sometimes if the
coffee is good enough you just have to pay the price, which is why I
thought I'd throw open the discussion to my customers. I have an
opportunity to purchase a very small amount of Panama Geisha beans
from this year's crop. What I would like you to tell me is if you
are interested in trying this coffee, which will cost $30.00 per 250
gram bag ($120.00/kg). There will probably only be somewhere between
25 to 30 bags available.

The coffee will be roasted light (similar to our Nicaraguan) to
maximise the origin flavours. At this roast level, the cupping
description is "Intense juicy sweetness, complex fruit and floral
flavours, good body with almond & toffee finish." Recommended
brewing methods would be plunger, filter or syphon.

So if anyone is interested please send me an email to let me know.
If there is enough interest I'll go ahead and confirm the green bean
order and the coffee will be available next month. There's only
enough for one roast, so what will probably happen is that we'll
roast, pack, notify the interested parties so they can place their
order and ship the next day.

Now, this month's special was actually picked out as a followup to
last month's dry process Yirgacheffe. If you remember last month's
newsletter I discussed the "Giling Basah" method of processing
coffee in Sumatra, which results in the low acidity, earthy flavours
and huge body of the typical Sumatra Mandheling. Other processing
methods are difficult because of the hot, humid climate, but some of
the more forward thinking estates are experimenting anyway, with
good results.

Sumatra Wahana Estate Dry Process

A tropical fruit front palate with medium acid and a typical creamy,
heavy bodied Sumatran finish.

The availability of experimental coffees like this illustrates just
how much the coffee industry has changed in the last 30 years or so,
which was a topic this week on home-barista.com. My take is that the
biggest change has been the degree of formal training now available
to people in the industry, including baristas and roasters.

Once upon a time such training was almost all of the "monkey see,
monkey do" variety and the results were unpredictable. Some people
got great training, others were loaded down with misinformation and
bad technique. These days we expect baristas to have basic

The other major change has been the quality of green coffee
available. Better farming, better processing, better distribution
and better prices for the farmer have meant a huge improvement in
the quality of green coffees available to roasters. These
improvements, much driven by the information and social media age,
have led directly to better flavours in the cup.

Until next month


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