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Sunday, 18 December 2011
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Before we even consider a coffee it has to be highland and shade grown and show good characteristics in the cup. However it is one thing cupping a coffee and finding it scores about 80/100 but another thing assessing the drink-ability of a coffee. Drink-ability is linked to the morishness of the coffee. If you find that you are drinking a cup of coffee (I drink primarily double espressos) and that you get to the end of the cup quickly or you find yourself getting up to help yourself to another cup, then it is a very drink-able coffee.
A coffee that is very drinkable the cost becomes a minor issue. As a coffee become less drinkable to the point that say you find some cold coffee at the bottom of the cup since you forgot to drink it, the price becomes more important. Just remember we do have to offer a variety off coffees and we have some client that are price sensative, so in a prefect world I would not have to consider this, but I do.
So this week we ordered and listed two coffees:
- CIGRAH SHG from Honduras, I suspect this coffee is easy to over roast, and that be why we have struggled a bit. It would easily score 80+ for cupping scores, but the coffee itself is not very morish. It is a pity is some way since CIGRAH (Comercial Internacional de Granos de Honduras) is a member of the Mercon Coffee Group. They do seem to produce better coffees, it just looks like the SHG is more of a okay coffee, and we have picked that up. So although it was initially on offer we have removed it from our offering.
- Tres Maris from Guatemala, we started doing this coffee after reading a few reports on it. We had been warned that the quality did vary, and I am sure that this one is a good quality but nothing special. It was more drink-able that the SHG, but I was not convinced I could justify the price we had to sell it a
These reasons why I am not a big fan of grouping coffee by the country they come from. Assuming a coffee's quality is good because it comes from a country is a VERY bad idea. It is a bit like selling a sparkling wine as Champaign because it comes from France. I find it a good way for coffee people to hide behind their lack of research into the product they sell. The farm / co-op a coffee come from is extremely important and if you are selling a coffee based on a country it is from you may as well just make up names for the coffee and call them you one thing.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
The region has been blessed with some of the most fertile soils in Colombia lying in an area known as the “Macizo Colombiano” where the three branches of the Colombian Andes split. There are unique micro-climates and weather patterns that are the main componets of the terroir of the Los Naranjos Relationship Coffee.
The small coffee growers that belong to the Asociacion believe that by working together they can share knowledge on best growing practices, learning from each other and improving as a whole. The effort has paid off and the region has become a point of reference for high quality coffees. The 97 members of the Association have seen how their joint efforts towards producing better quality has generated international recognition (third place in SCAA Coffee of the Year competition in 2007 and first place in 2009) and better incomes for their families. This is the start of a beneficial cycle that will lead to improvements for the community.
Los Naranjos Relationship Coffee represents the very best of the local coffee flavour, highlighting fruits, flowers and honey in the acidity, combined with a medium body and a long aftertaste.
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Recently I read a forum post asking what makes the best coffee. Asking whether or not the following are so important:
- 100% Arabica -it is that important?
- Where is it grown
- Hand instead of machine picked beans
Firstly I think it is important that I state that I only drink double espresso or espresso. There is a history of many cultures who up until the 1940's had limited access to hand-picked, highland and shade grow quality Arabica, and hence the cultural taste has been a lower quality Arabica (which are normally cross bred with Robusta varied breeds).
However it is a simple fact is that Arabica has 3 times more oil in it than Robusta. Crema is the measure of good extraction, and crema is oil. So if you want a good crema, which is where the flavour comes from, you need a good quality Arabica. And that normally means shade and highland grown, and hand-picked to makes sure it is at the proper ripeness. When machines pick coffees they are not sensitive to the ripeness of the coffee, and hence you get a mix of ripe and unripe in the bucket, meaning that the oils are not fully developed.
All this said the problem Arabica suffers from, is that it only produces great crema for the first 2-4 weeks (depending on roast level and origin) after roasting. So this does mean for standard retail based brands there is a dependence on Robusta to boost the body and the crema for coffees that are sold past this 2-4 week period.
I have heard this Robusta argument a number of times, but in then blind tastings we have run where we only use fresh roasted coffees I have never had someone select a coffee made with a Robusta Contingent as a favourite.
Friday, 21 October 2011
Located some 90 kilometres north-east of the colonial city of Popayán lies the municipality of Inza, in the area of Cauca. This area is located in the centre of the western and eastern slopes of the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes, right in between the Nevado de Purace and the Nevado del Huila, the latter an active Volcanoe. Elevated mountains - separated by canyons and rivers, make this land one of Colombia’s most beautiful and inaccessible.
It is precisely this beautiful region that some two thousand coffee growers call home. These farmers cultivate coffee in the slopes of the mountains overlooking the canyon of the Paez river and the Nevado del Huila, at altitudes between 1,700 and 2,000 meters above sea level.
Early in 2004, two hundred of those coffee growers founded a coffee grower association That they named “Asociacion de Caficultores del Oriente Caucano” (ASORCAFE).
Until ASORCAFE was founded, most of the region’s coffee was sold to intermediaries who in turn sold it to other intermediaries or coffee exporters from the departments of Huila. therefore, almost all the coffee from Inza was sold as Huila coffee. Soon after ASORCAFE was created they setup their own warehouses and started purchasing their members production. By doing this they eliminated the middlemen and sold their coffee directly in Popayan obtaining better prices. Virmax started working with them soon after, educating them on how to improve the quality of their coffee, training 2 Cuppers from the association and setting up a cupping lab, as well as marketing their coffee as La piramide relationship coffee, a name that comes from the many pyramid-shaped mountains that can be found in the region.
Thanks to this work, the coffee from Inza is slowly becoming well known in Colombia and the world and the members of ASORCAFE and their community are finally receiving the profits and recognition that they deserve.
What this all means is that the farm/producer make more money, with no middle men except Virmax, between the grower and the roaster (us).
Monday, 10 October 2011
Maragogype trees produce the world's largest coffee beans, sometimes called "elephant'" beans (not to be confused with a certain bean defect, called an "elephant ear"). This is one of the most famous Arabica typica mutations that was first discovered in the Maragogype region of Brazil's state of Bahia. Maragogype beans are grown in several countries and have become sought-after coffee for their smooth to light flavour as well as attractive appearance.
Maragogype trees are expensive to maintain, and hence their yield is low, and at the end of their productive lives, many of the trees are being replaced with more robust growths. (he, he)
We do one that comes from Nicaragua, although stock is often a problem.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Materials used in the AeroPress® coffee maker
The AeroPress is made of three different plastics. Namely:
- The clear chamber and plunger are made of copolyester.
- The hard black filter cap, filter holder, funnel, and stirrer are made of polypropylene.
- The rubber like seal on the end of the plunger is made of a thermoplastic elastomer.
AeroPress coffee makers have been made of the materials described above since August 1st, 2009. Before then, the clear chamber and plunger were made of a very special high humidity and temperature resistant polycarbonate. Polycarbonate does not contain phthalates but it does contain BPA. Even though the FDA and other governmental agencies around the world approve polycarbonate for use in contact with food, Aerobie had an independent lab test coffee brewed in a well-used AeroPress to determine how much, if any, BPA leaches into coffee brewed in a polycarbonate AeroPress. And guess what absolutely none was detected. Given that result, one could ask why we switched to using copolyester. The answer is simple. The use of copolyester removes any perceived risk from BPA and it is a more attractive material.
Aerobie frequently get asked if they plan to make a glass or stainless steel AeroPress coffee maker. Interestingly we also receive frequent emails from consumers thanking us for not making the AeroPress of glass. I suspect those people are tired of breaking glass coffee carafes or glass coffee presses. The facts are that glass is fragile, heavy, and expensive to manufacture with the tolerances required for the AeroPress. People then ask how about stainless steel. Unfortunately stainless steel is heavy, expensive, and opaque and anyone that has used an AeroPress knows that transparency is helpful when using an AeroPress coffee maker. Aerobie therefore have no plans to make a glass or stainless steel AeroPress coffee maker and believe that the AeroPress coffee maker we currently manufacture is superior to a glass or stainless steel AeroPress coffee maker.
Even though the independent test lab was unable to detect BPA in the coffee brewed in a polycarbonate AeroPress, people who are concerned about using an AeroPress made of polycarbonate can take advantage of our spare parts policy, so you can purchase replacements for any of the AeroPress parts including the plunger and chamber.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
I actually look forward to tasting new coffees, or even new crops of coffees we used to enjoy.
Today I tasted two coffees.
To date I have not tasted a Vietnamese Arabica. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world behind Brazil, with only 5% of the current production Arabica based. Although I am not sure what the varietal of Arabica the Vietnamese coffee I got, I can tell you it was not to my taste.
It is always in desperation that we have to push a coffee past second crack to get some distinct flavours, and the coffee from Vietnam we tried we had to do just this.
Luckily you smell before you taste, but even in bean form I was dubious of this coffee. When I put the fresh brew to my nose I could smell something medicinal and then started detecting camphor and cedar. On tasting I detected cloves and peppers, not an enjoyable experience. Personally I detested this coffee. In fact I threw the beans in the bin that where not ground.
The second coffee we tasted (after thoroughly rinsing mouth and brew equipment) was a coffee from Santa Barbara in Honduras this was quite enjoyable. The coffee we tasted was roasted to a City+ level, but flavours are apparent at most roast levels. For this roast level, when placing the coffee to the nose I detected light roasted Almonds and Caramels. On drinking the coffee, baker's biscuit with subtle brown sugars presented themselves. A medium bodied coffee with a sweet after taste. This will be great on its own, but the subtle flavours may be lost when adding milk.
We will make the Santa Barbara available as soon as we know how many bags we can get.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
So we are trying to see if we can drum up some support for out eCommerce website. We have to make it into the top 40 to continue in the Awards.
To vote go to http://www.jump.co.za/awards/2011/nomination/quaffee (link under the screen shot) to help push the voting.
As the public can only vote once per email address and their votes determine the award for "The Public's Favourite E-Commerce Website" as well as the contenders for Round 2 and Round 3, we highly recommend that websites add the banners to push the voting process to their customers. The banner will take voters directly to your voting page.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Ethiopia being the origin of coffee is the largest producer of the purest Arabica typica is one of the most important coffee producing countries worldwide. At Quaffee as celebrated lovers of the highest quality coffees, we follow the Ethiopian trends with passionate interest. Therefore when we get good news around Ethiopia we like to share it and market reports today show that their production and profit are up.
We received this notification in the market report "Ethiopia who work on a unique calendar year and a financial year that corresponds to the period from July 8 to July 7, have reported that coffee exports over their 2010 to 2011 coffee year were 13.95% higher than the previous 2009/2010 financial year, at a total of 3,266,667 bags. Meanwhile with the benefit of the improved international coffee prices over this past coffee year, the countries income from coffee exports for the 2010/2011 financial year was 59.47% higher than the previous financial year at 842 million U.S. dollars."
We hope this news will further inspire Ethiopia's mostly small scale coffee farmers, to preserve and conceivably improve farm husbandry and production levels for the impending new crop and look to continue with these improved export volumes, for their new 2011/2012 financial year.
Monday, 25 July 2011
The market was shuffling its feet looking a little for direction, probably because of the fact that they are awaiting harvest reports form areas like Columbian, Peru and neighbouring countries
Summary reading the market reports for last week (19– 25 July 2010). Please note that we are only interested in notes about Arabica and Arabica producing countries:
- Ivory Coast, has a constraint on coffee export imposed until the official ban was raised in April has seen improved export figures in the last two months.
- In a reverse of earlier forecasts from the Coffee Board in India the forthcoming October 2011 to September 2012 coffee crop shall not decline to below 5 million bags, instead they have now forecasted that the new crop shall in fact be 6.71% higher than the past crop, to a total of 5,370,833 bags.
To be noted
- Nicaragua reported that the countries coffee exports in June were 47% lower than the same month last year, at a total 115,119 bags. The countries cumulative exports for the first nine months of this present October 2010 to September 2011 coffee year marginally below that of the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total 1,303,177 bags. With weather conditions conducive through development, the next biennially bearing larger crop that starts harvest in October forecast to be close to 1.65 million bags.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
We have almost always had an Indonesian Coffee for sale. This area is normally most famous for Java and Kopi Luwak. While we sell neither (especially not Kopi Luwak, because of the animal welfare angle), Mandheling from Sumatra has made a regular appearance.
|Indonesia (from Wikipedia)|
Coffee made it way to Indonesia thanks to the Dutch, who are probably the one nation largely responsible for coffee spreading through the world, thanks to the trade and botanic skills. The Dutch governor of Malabar, India (where we get the Monsoon coffee from), sent a seedling originally smuggled out of the Yemen, to a colleague. The original planting of the seedlings being destroyed in an earthquake and flooding, additional seedlings were requested from Malabar.
The new seedlings were planted in the mountainous areas of West Java, where they grew well. In 1711 the first "Java" exports back to Holland transpired. By 1724 the Amsterdam market was trading over 600 tonnes of Java grown coffee. It was extremely sort after, attracting a very high price, which drove up demand, and resulted in further mountainous areas in Indonesia to be planted with coffee. The Mandheling based coffees we enjoy today, where planted around end of the 18th century.
Even with when the British had a brief stint as the European country that had Indonesia as a colony between 1811 and 1816, coffee we still an important crop for the Indonesian Islands. Initially the local villages were allocated 1,000 coffee trees per village and the Dutch based governments took 40% of the crop as tax. This system stayed in place under British rule, however once Indonesia was restored to Dutch rule, the villages where allocated 650 trees of which 100%, where supposed to go the government of the time. This resulted in great hardship to the local people, who depended on their rice crops and these suffered as a result of this new Cultuurstelel (cultivation system).
By the mid 18 hundreds the government controlled 80% of the coffee crop under this system (sounds like another system that failed in the 1989). However the quality and yield of the privately owned and run plantations was significantly higher than the government enslaved growers.
By the end of the 19th century the private growers produced more coffee than the government run plantations. At this point all the coffee grown in Indonesia was Arabica , this changed with the well documented coffee leaf rust in 1876. When more and more plants where replaced with Robusta (or coffea canephora).
In 1905 the Dutch released their control on the coffee plantations, and slowly but surely the smallholders took over the coffee plants and cultivation. Today 92% of the coffee produced in Indonesia is done by these smallholders. Although 85% of the Indonesian coffee is now Robusta based (including some of the so called "Kopi Luwak") their highland grown Arabica based coffees are what make Indonesian coffees famous. Even though Indonesia is the 3rd biggest producer of coffee, the low number of Arabica produced makes their specialty grade coffee a relatively scarce resource. The Sumatran area we get our Mandheling from, is the largest producer of Arabica in the 17,508 islands that are covered by the Indonesian region, producing almost 60% of the regions Arabica.
There are 20 varieties of Arabica currently grown in the region, the six main categories are:
- The original typica, mainly found in Sumatra especially in the higher altitudes
- HDT (Hibrido de Timor), or TimTim is a natural cross between Arabica and Robusta available in Timor and Aceh
- Linie S, initially developed in India based on Bourbon, the most common are S-288 and S-795
- Ethiopian varieties: Rambung and Abyssinia, planted in 1928
- Caturra, originally from the Brazilian based mutation of bourbon
- Catimor, a cross between Robusta and Arabica not appreciated for its great flavour.
Monday, 4 July 2011
After the last 12 months of continuous price hikes in Arabica coffees on the traded markets, we are finally seeing a reversal in price trend. This is excellent news for coffee lovers, even those of us at quality end of the market. Even though Quaffee only considers coffee that is shade and mountain grown, that is normally bought before the traded market can lay their hands on it, the trading price does affect our prices too.
If you do a year on year comparison prices are only off 5%, but this is a trend that has shown it will continue, since the scare about world crop shortages earlier this year has been unfounded. Yes there have been weather conditions that have not helped, but production is mostly up in the quality production belt.
So, you ask yourself, when will this translate to savings here? Well the reason why this is great news for us is that our most popular coffees are all about to be harvested. So it means that we may be able to get close to last years prices on the coffee we were offering from Columbia and Peru. Also the Ethiopian coffee should be able to sustain their prices, but we will wait to see that.
We look forward to getting news on our old favourites La Piramide and Los Naranjos, since we are out of both from last year's crop.
Thursday, 30 June 2011
- Touch screen instead of buttons
- Zero energy switch
- Updated brew unit and brew logic
Friday, 24 June 2011
Okay no update for a while so let us start with some good news for those that have been pestering us for a darker roasted coffee, well we have finally buckled und the continual complaining ;). Those who have demanded it, and tasted it are giving us positive feedback. We've called the blend Vespresso.
What is it like, I cannot comment since I am not a fan of the darker roasted coffees, since the cigar taste becomes more exposed at these roast levels, I prefer the chocolate and caramels that are exposed at correct (or lighter) roast levels.
But for those that insist that sugar and milk belong in a cup of coffee, the feedback has been good. You like to have these additives in you coffee give it a try.
The bad news is that the current crop of the old favourite Yirgacheffe is sold out, and we are struggling to get more. This unique coffee has once again finished in the top 10 this year, and if you think that it is grown in the Sidama region of Ethiopia. Talking about top coffees our Los Naranjos is starting to run low, and the harvest from Columbia this year in not even yet, so we will be missing a favourite for about 3 months.
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
The week The International Coffee Organisation (ICO) voiced confidence that regardless of the doubling of prices in the preceding year, that world coffee consumption shall continue to grow by approximately 2.5% per annum. The rising prices are seen as an impediment to consumption. They noted that this is particularly the case for the new markets in China and India, where a rapidly emergent middle class has taken up the coffee shop culture of the west and is inspiring a adaptation of coffee from the traditional tea culture.
Conceivably this is a rather go-getting prediction as with coffee being part of basket of consumer goods that are predominantly food and with rising energy costs, there is no doubt that consumers shall be careful on their consumption of more expensive coffee, which for lovers of specialty coffee, this may be good news, although there has been rumours that certain "specialty coffee" retailers are augmenting less expensive lower grade Arabica and Robusta in their coffees An increase in coffee consumption within China and India it is after all from a moderately low base (around 1-1.5 kgs a year per person), it is difficult to see anything other than a sideways track to perhaps even some small decline, within the traditional high volume consumer markets. Perhaps not Germany with its presently vibrant economy but there are many traditional coffee markets in Europe that are struggling through economic difficulties and for sure alike North America, have consumers taking more care over their grocery expenses.
Only time will tell. But we have seen that price increases have limited the coffees we have access to, this may in the long run allow us to pickup higher quality coffee at better prices, since this is a high value product, and according to the number that the ICO predict the high end demand may suffer due to the price increase at the top end. Let us hope so.
Saturday, 14 May 2011
- Mexican coffee marginally higher at 1.85%, but the months to come are looking flatter
- Columbian coffee crop is about to be harvested and there is a slight decrease if only 2% from so regions, but the regions we import from have had a small increase in crop of about 3%
- Peruvian coffee numbers have increased to 8% from the previous year, and the country is also showing logistical improvements are making a difference to getting coffee to market
- El Salvador's new crop having been completed, has an increase of 11.5% year on year
Monday, 9 May 2011
The BeansA little inconsistent in shape, with a few closer to circles than oval (which is associated with a purer coffees).
On The NoseA definite hint of vanilla pod and Walnuts, and even though this is nothing to do with the nose, the crema was light
In the MouthMild tones of maple syrup and biscuit with a medium to full body on the tongue
SummaryThis is a good enough coffee, not going to be one of my favourites, but that does not mean it will not be popular, especially with those that add milk (either frothed or not) and probably enjoyable for the coffee, milk and sugar crowd, and believe me it is a crowd.
Because of its fame we will probably stock it, but only in limited quantities
Friday, 6 May 2011
The BeansThe beans are relatively uniform, mostly oval, which means they are a closer origin to Arabica "typica". And that the crop is from a similar. We roasted them to just into second crack.
The Nose / AromaOn the noise the it smells like roasted hazelnuts.
The Mouth / Tastesthe body is medium with a soft salt after taste. Caramel notes come through when drinking.
SummaryThis is a great coffee, a grade 1 or specialty grade coffee. If I had to give it a score out of 100 I would score it about 88. Add to the fact that this is the first Ugandan coffee I have liked and we will make it available. We have only a limited supply, though.
As soon as we have it available we will add it to coffee.quaffee.co.za
Thursday, 28 April 2011
The New York fully washed Arabica certified stocks registered a further 2,075 bags decrease yesterday, to register these stocks at 1,575,600 bags. The number of bags pending grading for the exchange meanwhile registered a modest 640 bags increase, to register these pending grading coffee stocks at 51,227 bags.
Thursday, 21 April 2011
It is perhaps more significant in terms of the fact that the Colombian crop that fell below 8 million bags in the previous coffee year and for this coffee year shall struggle to reach 10 million bags, has nevertheless seen the consumer markets learn to live with the reduced supply of Colombian coffees. Which would indicate that once the steady recovery and development of the Colombian coffee crop starts to come into play and despite the projected growth of World consumption (although in South Africa consumption has actually decreased over the last 3 years), that the combination of rising supply from Colombia and some other South and Central American producers, shall guarantee an adequate supply of fine washed Arabica coffees in the future.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Being South African based and promoting a niche product as we at Quaffee do: namely specialty grade coffee that is highland and shade grown, presents some interesting challenges. The one that has been taking up some of our time over the last month; is what to do about the slowly decreasing supply of the higher grade of coffees we have come to know and love.
There are a handful of importers of green bean (3 from our count, perhaps 4 if you include a facilitator) that even consider importing the higher graded specialty coffees and our most reliable source has over the last 6 months shut down for religious reasons.
This has led us to investigate importing ourselves and adding our hat to the already befuddled green bean import markets in South Africa.
And what we have found is that price is in fact a major consideration when considering the choice of green bean available out there.
The coffee producer we have grown to enjoy coffees from can only offer us a small amount of high quality coffees, and then only at prices that are nearly triple we paid for them about a year ago.
And that price is double what we pay for the traditional specialty coffees we currently have access to from the 2 big importers.
So what to do. Will our discerning clients (about 45% of our currently active clients) pay almost double for coffees they could purchase only months before at half the price we will need to sell them for?
This is a quandary that we face, and need to make a decision on in the next 2 months before the crop is harvested?
A solution is to ask our existing clients if they would help is with this choice.
Watch this space and we will tell you what happens...
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
For me the correct definition of specialty coffee encompasses all Quaffee does in a phrase.
For coffee to be correctly defined as specialty coffee it needs to satisfy the following criteria:
- The green bean batch is flawless and when cupped (tasted) it has produced a distinctive taste. Only pure Arabica beans can be graded as specialty grade
- The roasting process is also part of the specialty grade. It should delicately expose the beans flavours and keep it clear of anything that may taint its taste
- The brewing process is the next step for a coffee to be classed as a specialty coffee. A specialty bean should be brewed at the correct temperature (about 93 °C) and in a manner that best reveals the coffee’s character
And we encompass all of that in one offering.
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
We at Quaffee believe although there are many steps and factors to producing great coffee, there are three critical factors that need to be just right to have great coffee at your home or office. We will discuss each one in separate posts.
What are they:
- Coffee beans
- The way the coffee is roasted
- The way the coffee is brewed, or the coffee machine