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September 2012 Newsletter

We will be taking a 2 week break this month, from 09/09/2012
until 22/09/2012.
Coffee sales will continue as usual, although
there may be the odd day or two delay in shipping. but we will
close down the Equipment Order pages during this period. Email
contact should not be affected.

The August monthly special coffee, Costa Rica Tarrazu Miel,
should have perhaps been the August weekly special. We sold out
in record time, despite having extra stock. I've already
requested cupping samples of the next crop as soon as they are

Ethiopia is the genetic birthplace of all Arabica coffees, and
even today still hosts hundreds of wild and domesticated arabica
varietals, many of them untasted and untested. While Yemen is the
first place that coffee was cultivated as a commercial crop, the
actual plants only appear there after the 5th century AD,
following the conquest by the Ethiopian Axumite Empire.  

Some of the most spectacular coffees in recent years are grown
from uncommon Ethiopian varietals, in particular the prize
winning Panama Gesha. When this coffee burst into prominence
after the Panama "Cup of Excellence" auction in 2004, no one was
really sure about the correct name for the varietal or where it
came from (it was originally spelled "Geisha"). It was simply (at
that time) the world's most expensive real coffee, and the only
one where the price was actually justified by the quality of the

By "real" I mean NOT dodgy Kopi Luwak or overrated Jamaican Blue

When interested coffee people got around to tracking the origin
of the Gesha beans, they found it was a well recognised varietal
in Ethiopia, named after the town where it was cultivated, and a
component included in coffees labelled Yirgacheffe and Sidamo,
accounting for some of their well known citrus and floral notes.
As far as I know, even today you can't  buy a "pure" varietal
coffee from Ethiopia, it's just not the way coffees are grown and
sold there. They are instead named after the region they come
from, as are the various Yemen Mokhas.

When it comes to Yemen coffees, normally the best of them go to
Saudi Arabia, where the buyers are direct neighbours with deep
pockets. However, recent Yemeni crops have been pretty average,
and the Saudi buyers have instead turned to Ethiopian coffees as
substitutes for Yemen Mokhas. The increased demand has led to
some pretty spectacular price increases for top class Ethiopian
beans, but has also meant that small quantities of great coffees
are available to the wider market. One such coffee is this
month's special,

Ethiopian Harar West

I have seen this coffee described as a "Blueberry Black Forest
Cake"; deeply fruited blueberry aroma and front palate flavour
followed by a rich, creamy dark chocolate taste. It actually does
remind me more of a Yemen Mokha than our standard Harar coffee.
It has a depth and complexity rarely found in single origin
beans, and produces an absolutely unbelievable espresso.

I can see why this type of coffee is so eagerly sought after by
both the Saudis and some of the smarter USA roasters. Fortunately
I think I've been able to get hold of sufficient quantity to last
for most of the month, or at least until we get back.

Until next month