Some 30 pounds of coffee has found its way to my front porch in the last few weeks. About half of those beans are simply to restock my coffee shelf. The rest are destined for this year’s Christmas blend, and will go to coffee-loving colleagues, friends and neighbors. Last year’s blend was so well received that it’s become an instant holiday tradition.

I’d like to think a blend for the holidays should reflect some aspects of the season I enjoy most… the aromas of cinnamon and clove and nutmeg, smoke and spiced citrus. I’d look for lots of body, and a lingering sweet finish. Based on what I’ve roasted throughout the year, I’ve got a fair idea of what beans might get me there.

Just the same, I’m taking no chances… and today I roasted six ounce samples of a number of this year’s candidate coffees:

Aged Sumatra Mandheling
This is some potent stuff! It’s not much to look at — mottled, pale orange beans that look like they’ve had a *very* hard life. The beans hit the roaster with a cloud of musty dust… if you’re allergic to such things, beware. First crack is only just discernable [not unlike roasting a SWP decaf] and second is a whisper. Just out of the roaster, though, a fair way into second crack, it’s already offering up some fairly heady aromas.

Guatemala Cob�n “Tanchi”
Cob�n coffees are well-known for their fruity flavors; Tom at SweetMaria’s suggests this one offers some allspice, as well. As it roasts, it smells of cedar.

Sulawesi Toraja DP
I think of Sulawesi primarily as a less “earthy” alternative to coffees from Sumatra… big, syrupy body and low to moderate acidity, with flavors that range from chocolate to cinnamon to buttery brown sugar. The aromas from this one offer more spice than I might have expected…

Java Estate Kayumas
A terrific find by Steve Ackman at Two Loons Coffee, this Java has all the body you’d expect, with delightfully complex spicy notes and a nutty, sweet finish. I don’t yet know whether I’ll go with the Java or the Sulawesi to round out the bottom of the cup, but I bought this bean at the right time… I got the last of Steve’s stash.

That’s about half of the coffees I’ll be sampling the next few days. Still to come: two Panamas, another bean from Guatemala and from Sumatra… Oh! And the new crop Smithfarm’s Kona. Not for the blend, though… the Kona is strictly for me. 😉

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