Thursday, June 26, 2008

Java-Nica

A friend of mine, Erwin, from Nicaragua sent me some seeds of a varietal that I've never heard of, Java-Nica in March. There are two stories in circulation about its origins, but not a whole lot is known. It should be an old Java varietal, long-berry to be precise.

And what varietal won 2nd in the Nica. Cup of Excellence? Java-Nica!

It's early for me to count on $18.55 a pound green. October is the best coffee planting season in the Southern DR and I plan on planting it then. But check with me in 3 years and I can you how it cups.

i love coffee

really, i do.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Home-trip


Last week, my closest friend from childhood, Max, and I took a trip up the West coast from San Fransisco to Seattle. I was born and raised in Northern California, Weaverville, to be precise. I hadn't been back to my 'home-town' in 18 years, so we called the road trip a home-trip. It was amazing!

We followed a break in the clouds all the way up the coast, I must have had some good-karma points to cash in because that region is typically overcast and rainy. On to coffee. . . my first stop in San Fran was Ritual Coffee Roasters. I had a great chance to catchup with Chris Owens and M'lissa Muckerman. They have recently left ATL and moved to San Fran to work with Ritual, M'lissa with training (of course) and Chris the with the roasters. It had only been a couple weeks since we last talked, but we had plenty to catch up on. The Atlanta coffee people will miss them dearly as their excitement, passion and knowledge of coffee is contagious.

Back to the black stuff in the cup! Gabe, a Ritual barista, pulled me the best shot of my entire trip, which says a lot considering the amount of quality coffee I consumed en route to Seattle. The shot was fruity with a sweet walnut body. The nutty body then mellowed a little and gave way to a green finish. It was by far the most unique shot I have had in a long time. The fruity bright flavors weren't typical acidic tongue attacks commonly found in bright shots, but balanced clean notes off the cupping table.


Blue Bottle Coffee Company: I ordered a Ethiopian - Misty Valley Ididio from the Siphon Bar. A.J. was the siphon barista and was great to talk to. Was the coffee worth the 12 dollars they charge? Yes. The first few sips of the natural processed Ethiopian were divine: sweet, heavy, round, blue-berry milkshake, and balanced acidity. Then as the coffee quickly cooled in the thin glass they served me, the coffee lost some of its balance. I tasted black tea, dirt and molasses. It could have been the age of the green coffee. A.J. said the Misty Valley has been showing some more earthy notes lately. I'm pretty sure that it was the same Misty Valley that a few other quality roasters have, and the green coffee is past its golden age. Would I order another one? Of course. One cup and one coffee is not a representation of a roaster. I would have to try a few different coffees and methods to truly evaluate Blue Bottle and its halogen powered vac-press.

Home-trip! Weaverville CA hasn't really changed much in the 18 years since I left - Population: 3,500, Industries: lumber, government, and other, Supermarket: same, Park: same, Elementary school: same [Max and I swung on the old monkey bars for old times sake]. The whole experience seemed like a lucid dream because my memories as a 10 yr. old were meshing with my 28 yr. old reality.We went to Portland via the coast and yes, Redwoods are huge. . .

Portland: HAIR BENDER - Every other shot I drank on my way up the coast was Stumptown's Hair Bender. (There were a few others but not very memorable). I had a wonderful Capp. at the new Albina Press on Hawthorne Street, but the best Hair Bender shot was at the original Stumptown location on 49th and Division. The staff was on point and the shot was delicious: like 60% cocoa, hints of mint, dark, herbal zest tingle, just a hint of hickory; basically it was a long pull and short volume of goodness.

I also attended one of the Stumptown's twice daily cuppings. The coffees were diverse and stellar. There were two Pacamara varietals from El Salvador, a wonderfully sweet Columbian , a great typical Kenya AA, and Misty Valley natural process from Ethiopian. I was really excited about the Pacamaras because I have some of that varietal (but Nicaraguan source) to plant on my farm! It is a hard season to cup coffees because most Centrals and the Columbian have seen better days (at least 12 month old green coffee). So the coffees were good, but not at their peak. I was fully impressed at the diligence that Glen (Stumptown employee leading the cupping) used in prepping the coffees. The grinder was flushed for every coffee and the pouring pitchers brought to temperature before filling.

Now I know what all the Stumptown talk is about. They have great espresso, amazing coffees, and wonderful employees!

I have many more stories about cold rivers, break failures, amazing food, and more, but you will have to ask me about those in person.