Three Cups, Three Origins, One Winner

Three Cups, Three Origins, One Winner

There’s learning to be done here. If the roasts weren’t everything I hoped they might be, at least I might try to figure out why. And — to keep things interesting and to keep myself honest — I included a control: the latest batch of beans from Tony Konecny’s spiffy flash-sale like bean business at Tonx.org.

Zombie Coffee is for Zombies

Zombie Coffee is for Zombies

Let’s examine for a moment the typical conference attendee: bleary-eyed, having stayed up too late the night before catching up on the day’s accumulated email (which stacked up at an alarming rate when the conference’s wireless connection foundered under load); discomfited by foods foreign to his constitution, containing both carbohydrates in abundance, mostly fried, and perhaps one more glass of wine than was truly necessary; made grumpy by lines, queues and coveys of slow-walkers, chaffed by the lanyard that his credentials pendulum from, and bent from days of sitting in straight-backed chairs.

Make Mine a Mokha

Make Mine a Mokha

It’s unreliable, unaccountable, frequently unattainable, and I love it so. It, in this case, is Yemen Mokha, the stuff of heirloom varietals grown in village gardens and courtyards and tiny greenspaces carved out of the walls and warrens of ancient Arabian cities like Sana’a and Ismaili, where folk have tread for more than two and a half millennia. I savor roasting and tasting Yemeni coffees for the same reasons that commercial roasters despise them — they’re a complete crap-shoot. Yemen coffees are either left to dry on the tree, or dried — whole, cherry and all — on flat, sun-drenched rooftops. Dried coffees are stored in the husk and traded through a seemingly endless series of middlemen, mixing crops from untold numbers of family coffee gardens. The resulting beans tend toward the misshapen and bent, and are — by the standards of clean-as-a-whistle wet processors the world over — an unseemly mess. Oh, but what a lovely-tasting mess these coffees can be. I recently completed three roasts of a single lot of Yemen Mokha — back-to-back — making every reasonable effort to eliminate stray roast variables. Regardless, the results of each of those roasts is unique. Each cup is arguably unique. All are to one degree or another earthy, with notes of leather and dust; richly hued with wine-toned fruit, or tawny port, or sour strawberries, or apricots. This one has aromas of pitch pine and cherries; that one’s all peat moss and smoke and that one yonder, it’s got a bit of musty goat-skin in it. (Yeah… I skipped that cup, too.) And the final cup on the...
PT’s Sidamo Special Prep

PT’s Sidamo Special Prep

At PT’s Coffee, blondes have more fun. No, really. When’s the last time you had a blonde coffee? What’s that, you say? Never? Well it’s about time that changes… Okay, so maybe it’s not really a blonde roast… that stuff’s most often halted before first crack (and the ginger-colored grounds brewed with sugar and cardamom; it tastes like chai.) No matter what you call this extraordinary light-roasted, natural process Sidamo — cinnamon roast, New England roast, maybe — it’s spectacular. Fresh from the grinder this coffee will fill your kitchen with the aromas of fresh strawberries and blueberries. Its flavors are a tremendous expression of fruit — sweet strawberry, blueberry and tart cherry — with an undercurrent of Cavendish tobacco. It’s body is mild (a fair trade-off what with that roast and all) and its finish is long, graciously tart and a teensy bit dry. All in all it’s one remarkable coffee, and, I think, a testament to the  skills on display at the roaster. A coffee this light could be a disaster! But this one’s a dream. Highly recommended and a steal at under $17.00 a pound. So go get some while the gettin’s good....

A Taste of Things to Come

Arrived home to find a care package waiting for me. Which is always nice. A parcel from Jeff Taylor at PT’s Coffee in Topeka (you probably remember Jeff; his crew were recently awarded Roast Magazine’s Roaster of the Year) was sitting on my doorstep and — while I wouldn’t have time to do any serious tasting today — I had to take a peek to see what was inside. Long story short — ’cause I don’t have a lot of time, really — just opening the box I was wowed with the aroma. Sweet, very sweet aromas; think rich molasses, or dark maple syrup. The culprit — the bean responsible for this just outrageous aroma — was PT’s Reserva del Mandador – Finca Los Planes Pacamara, a Direct Trade bean from the Ticas family’s Los Planes farm in El Salvador. All peaberry. All Pacamara. Again, not time enough for full-on sensorial effort here, but this bean is sweet, warm and juicy. Very clean, nicely balanced. Did I mention sweet? Caramel, maple sugar… a bit of mandarin orange. Nice. Very nice. [rating:4/5] Go get you some now… I’ll have more — and write more — when I get a...
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