Coffee – like most any stuff that’s a product of soil and rain and honest sweat – is a seasonal crop. Where it’s grown determines when coffee trees [shrubs, really] will bloom and fruit and ripen. Coffee only grows well in the spaces between the tropic lines of the globe; even then it’s rather picky about altitude: coffee plants prefer the rarified air and cooler temperatures of mountainsides. Generally speaking, the higher the altitude, the denser and more flavorful the bean… and as you get closer to the equator, the higher the coffee must be grown. There’s a payback to all that mountain hiking, though… coffee grown closer to the equator is likely to have not one major harvest season, but two. And, point of fact, there’s a number of equatorial growing regions that pretty much harvest coffee cherries year-round.
This is all to say that, right now, we’re in the midst of the coffee doldrums. Yeah, there’s still some new Indonesian coffees coming in [remember that part about some coffees being harvested year ’round?] and there’s quite a number of African coffees – Kenya auction lots, and particularly Yemeni beans – that have been long afloat, or mired in customs where probably every shipment that has a Yemeni origin is getting something of a thorough inspection, times being what they are.
Meanwhile, it seems this time of year I’ve established a tradition [remember, kids: once is precedent, twice is tradition, three times it’s written in stone] of poking around to see what coffees I might have missed. Coming soon from Coffee Bean Corral: New Guinea Waghi Peaberry. Yeah, I’m still a sucker for peaberry coffees. I’m disappointed, though, that the folks at the Corral are out of stock on their Sumatra Lintong, a bean I’ve missed entirely the last year or so. I’d hoped to give it a go.
Coming soon from Sweet Maria’s: Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick, and Indian Pearl Mountain Peaberry [yup, there I go again]. I also opted to try Sweet Maria’s Colombian Organic Mesa de Los Santos, though I don’t typically do Colombian coffees. This one is a single-estate origin, rather than the typical “hey, let’s throw all the big beans in a single pile” affair that Colombia is [in]famous for.
Yeah, I know.. it’s not fair to single Colombia out for pooling crops and grading by size… but I suspect their coffee production on the whole may have suffered more for it than other origins. Kenya, for example, does the size-grading thing for its auction lots, but I can still easily get great single-origin beans.
Take that, Juan Valdez.