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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Coffee Roasting Company - RIP

For those of you that are wondering what has happened to the Coffee Roasting Company based at Lourensford, Somerset West, read on:

Lucien with his roaster
It took just over 14 months after Lucien passed away for the coffee roasting company that Lucien started in 2003, to finally close its doors. The coffee roasting company based at Lorensford, was the seed of many coffee company's that started up. Including Quaffee, which for most of the time, was a partner in bringing green (unroasted) coffee and other equipment.

It is sad to see the legacy that Lucien created, destroyed by greed and squabbling but that is the way this cookie has crumbled. I am sure that there will be many companies that have started up since then will benefit, from the innovation Lucien brought to the Cape.

To Glynis and the team our thoughts are with you, and we offer you our support.

You can purchase similar style coffee from the following roasters, all of whom worked with Luicien himself while he was alive:

We are also sorry to see how his boys have been denied their heritage

24 Jan: There is again a roastery at Lourensford. Who is running it and what the link is to Lucien we do not know. But good luck to them

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 5

Welcome to the Issue 5 of Quaffee Newsletter.

Season greetings to all, and thank you to all our clients for their support this year. This Newsletter we introduce our first limited edition coffee.

The Quaffee Team

Limited Edition Coffee

Antonia Regno InPaita
Antonia Regno In Paita
Our new concept is to source and provide some special coffees. These coffees are only available in very small quantities, and normally represent a portion of a crop of a exclusive farms coffees. The coffees are sourced using our direct trade partners and normally we are lucky to get 2 bags, but sometimes only get 1 bag. This means that after we have played with the coffee, to identify which roast produces the best flavours and aromas, we are only left with 80% of the coffee we started with.

In the future these limited edition coffees will only be available to those that ask to be notified about them. If you would like to be notified in the future update your preferences and tell us to notify you about special edition coffees.

Next week, from Dec 10 we are making a micro lot coffee available from Brazil, grown by Antonia Regino, called Sao Judas Tudeu available. We only have 40 kilograms of this coffee available, so we expect this coffee to be sold out before the end of the year. If you are keen to order it, email us at orders

What is it like?

When we first tasted this coffee we did not know it was Brazilian. After roasting it a number of ways we are still surprised by this coffee. Some of us detect finger biscuits, brown sugar and subtle dark chocolate. More importantly it is very morish. If you like espresso or black coffee then this is a coffee to try. You can read more about the coffee on our detail page here.


You can now buy our coffees, and enjoy them too, at CoffeebloC which is situated on just in front of the roastery at Buitenverwachting.

The CoffeebloC, is to the left of the wine tasting. Buitenverwachting is near the top of Klein Constantia Road, Constantia.

Additional News

In January our open day will be on the second weekend of January, January the 12. We will send out a notification to all those that are selected to be notified. We will be inviting a South African producer roaster, who will allow us to cup their coffees at the open day. A new event will be created on facebook.

We are currently very busy, and hence are introducing a new concept  Order day + roast day = deliver day. This means the day after you order we roast the previous days orders, and deliver them 2 days later.

For those that answer the questionnaire from the newsletter last time, we are looking at rolling out our loyalty system next year.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Coffee chemistry research for those that have the bucks

Over the last two centuries scientific investigators have tried with varying degrees of success to identify the compounds which give roasted coffee its characteristic aroma and taste. The analytical methods and the state of progress in chemistry at the end of the 19th century did not allow for the separation, isolation and identification of the multitude of trace chemicals which are present in roasted coffee. By 1900, scarcely a dozen compounds had been identified. Since the beginning of the sixties, with the advent of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the number of identifications has increased tremendously. To date, 850 compounds have been identified in the flavour (what you taste, rather than what you smell which is aroma) of roasted coffee and over 300 in the smell of green coffee.

Scientists systematically review the non-volatile constituents of green coffee, including their structure, and discuss their important contribution as flavour precursors during the roasting process. They also still tracing the chronological discovery of the individual chemicals and critically examine the validity of their identification, highlighting the enormous progress which has been realized during the twentieth century and particularly in the last 40 years. The constituents of green and roasted coffee have been distributed into chemical classes according to structure, systematic and empirical names, their CAS Registry Numbers and occasionally their FEMA classification. Comments are given on the origin or the formation during roasting of each individual compound.

To read more you can go to coffee_flavor_chemistry

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Quaffee October 2012 Newsletter

Welcome to the Quaffee Newsletter. A short summary of what is covered in this edition:
  • Our new coffees have arrived from Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and El Salvador.
  • After 2 years of hunting we release our fully recyclable packaging and it is locally made, the first we know of in coffee.
  • Nic has moved on to run CoffeebloC
  • New coffees coming
  • Survey and sundry news
It is a longer read than normal. Please enjoy and thanks for the positive feedback. Do you know that our newsletter is opened almost twice as much than average newsletter in the industry. There is a survey at the bottom too, please complete it. FYI Our next open day is on the 3rd Nov 2012.

 Regards, The Quaffee Team

New Coffees

Our six new coffees arrived a week late for the October open day. We are spending a week to determine a roast profile that exposes the flavours we prefer in the coffees. So far we have just released the Cup of Excellence winner from Coatepec, Mexico. We are tweeting our results as we go, and are not rushing into releasing them until we are happy. So watch the websitefacebook page and twitter account for updates.

Locally made Recyclable Packaging

Quaffee’s philosophy is that our product is our brand. Over the past 6 years we have found that our best marketing is achieved by producing a product that fellow coffee lovers enjoy and want to tell other coffee lovers about. A part of this philosophy is to positively affect all people in the process of growing, producing, roasting and consuming coffee. We have changed our packaging a few times, and last year we took it on ourselves to try and create a fully recyclable product. This means no wax layered paper or layered plastic or foil or tins or things that use stickers or gas.

After our taste tests confirmed results from 4 years ago we started sourcing Low-density polyethylene based packaging. Three months of use later and we were happy with the flavour and aroma retention (in fact we found in some cases it exceeded the traditional retail packaging especially with style of roasting we use on the coffees we source).

After extensive research we found a local producer of this packaging in Atlantis, who was also able to print on the bags with a recyclable ink. This ink is not like normal ink it does not blend the way you get in standard printing so each colour is its own colour. This then gave us our LDPE bags. For the 1kg bags we added a second grip lock, so that they would stay sealed better. The smaller 250g bags we decided to add a box around the bag. This too can be recycled using the standard practice, since it has no sticker on it, which prevents paper and plastic from being recyclable.

 The good news is that those that want to recycle can now recycle. And the better news is that the coffee is not adversely affected (as we found with some packaging, especially the bio degradable packaging). So look out for the packaging next time you get your coffee.

Our 250g locally made and recyclable bag

Our 1kg locally made and recyclable bag

250g  recyclable locally made bag Quaffee 1kg locally made recyclable coffee bag


coffeeblocAs part of our move to Buitenverwachting, we were asked to help setup a Deli / Coffee shop, to showcase the coffees, and the multi award winning food that the restaurant is already famous for. Nic was keen to take this on as his own, and since 10.10.12 the Deli called CoffeebloC has been open at Buitenverwachting. Here you can enjoy a coffee / espresso / cappuccino and have a snack. You can also purchase almost all our coffees in 250g form and other goodies. Pop in and try the great fare.

New Coffees for the New Year

We have ordered the next batch of new coffees. This time it is only two coffees, since the Columbian's are not ready yet. We may have them before Xmas, but from experience we are not promising anything:
  • From Guatemala we have secured the winner of the Cup of Excellence El Injerto. And unusually this is not from the Antigua region but from Huehuetenango. The coffee is full bodied with a sweet and fruity character. It is also our first Rainforest Alliance coffee since Timana in 2008
  • From Honduras a microlot coffee from Enemenico Marquez. This was a coffee that stood out for us when we cupped it about a month ago, and hence have decided to bring it in.
These coffees will sell for around R300 per kilo, but we are convinced are special enough (they sell for almost double that in the US). Once again twitter and facebook is the best place for up-to-date news here. The coffees are leaving this week for Cape Town.

Additional News and Question

Besides the producers of the coffee we roast, our clients are the most important part of the loop. This has made us consider introducing a loyalty system. It will reward those that purchase our speciality coffees more than the blends – since the blends we essentially produce at a discounted rate. There will be a list of items that will be available for the points earned. So you can for example get a sample pack of coffees, cleaning tablets for your Jura, a Barista training course if you are running a commercial machine etc. Tell us what you think Click to Answer Survey

Next Open Day

For those of you interested in attending the next open day it is on Saturday November 3. A new event will be created on facebook.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Coatepec - our take and profile summary

coffee cherries from coatepc
Coffee Cherries from Coatepec

Almost great

I am not a Q grader, I am a coffee drinker and lover. After spending a week tasting a number of roast profiles of the Coffee we have sourced via Café Imports direct from the Coatepec, Mexican community we have identified a profile we like. And I believe it is a good and almost great coffee.

COE perhaps

I know the Cup of Excellence (COE) rating is per country, to make it more subjective, but having tasted a few great coffees this year, although the Coatepec coffees won COE this year we prefer the microlot coffees we have sourced from Columbia, like Los Idolos. That said the Coatepec is very drinkable, especially without the addition of milk. Would we say it deserved the COE tag, well we cannot comment since we did not taste the other coffees from Mexico. But we suspect this is the kind of coffee that may have stood out, regardless of the seleected roast profile.

Roast Selected

Although the cupping notes identified white grape, we actually found we preferred the roast that did not expose this flavour. Instead we found that accelerating the roast once we moved to full air through the roasting barrel, then waiting for first crack to complete, and dropping the coffee as we suspected second crack was a hint in the air, then listening to second crack initiating in the cooling bin produces the most drinkable coffee. This seems to expose more of the toffee and caramels that we enjoy in this coffee.

We only have 8 bags of the coffee, so I suspect it will sell well, especially since it is below the R240.00 / kg mark. We will have this at our next coffee cupping session. Wanna order? Click Order Coatepec from Mexico.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Coffee Cupping proves popular, who would have guessed

Coffee Cupping goes down well

Five years ago we did a public cupping and I vowed never again. People asking me for sugar and milk burst my bubble. After five years I thought I would give it another try. With the new roastery at Buitenverwachting we had an open day, where people could taste coffees they way they like, and then we had a cupping session. Cupping at Quaffee
Cupping at Quaffee

Good participation

While some preferred to watch, most of the folk that arrived decided to have a go. We have five coffees from our current coffee selection, Kagumo, Yirgacheffe, Antigua Pucal, and two of our exclusive coffees Los Idolos and Los Naranjos. And the results where great. A few of the participants popped back in to try the coffees they liked on the cupping table in a way they usually enjoy a coffee (and I burst not a bubble). All in all the Frog Quaffee hosted event was a success and I am now tempted to do another in November.

Most Popular

Not surprising the Los Idolos and Kagumo were considered the most popular with Los Naranjos banging down the door. See you next time we hope. Come early to see the roasting demonstration, that a few missed. The roasting demo explains our complete double check roasting process.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Quaffee newsletter V1I2: bean price, jura and rent to own

This has been a busy month. We promised we would only send this newsletter out when there is news and there is a clump of news that has built up, so lets get straight to it.

The first weekend of October we will be open at Buitenverwachting on the Saturday morning as a once off, just to see how that goes. We may do this once a month, or during school hoildays only.

The Quaffee Team

Coffee: Better Quality and small decreases in prices

honduras cupping
The South African specialty coffee market is dominated by two major importers of green "unroasted" coffee. From these importers almost all the South African roasters source their coffee especially Yirgacheffe, Limu, Sidama and Mandheling. They bring their coffees in from the large sorting houses in Hanover, and so selecting a quality product can be a challenge, and traceability almost impossible.

Last year we brought in our second shipment of coffee directly from Colombia. We had establish a relationship with Virmax who work directly with the growers, and even though they use the C Market (the public coffee futures market run in New York) as a guide their pricing is determined by the coffee quality, so they are typically $2 to $3 higher per pound higher than other brokers.

Los Idolos and Los Naranjos, two of the coffees we have brought through them, have sold very well. We purchased almost 50% of the crop last year (only 50 bags), and are negotiating for this years crop at the moment (the crop will only be ready end of October). This has given us confidence to look at forming other relationships, resulting in better coffees. Our first shipment from one of these arrives in 2 weeks.

Also this year the CMarket prices are now off about 20% from last year so this has allowed us to put much higher quality coffees in our blends, and also start looking at reducing the pricing on some of the coffees. So anticipate that there will be a small reduction in prices in the next few months (we do however need to consider other items that are costing more, like vehicle maintenace and petrol pricing).

Look at the web site for prices ( and you will see that 5 of the coffees have already come down in price, and we hope another 4 will follow.

In the next 6 months we will be getting coffees from more of the green bean partners we have been able to form trusting and traceable relationships with. So expect both an increase in quality and and small decrease in price.

We will be doing an occasional cupping at the roastery at Buitenverwachting. If you are keen to attend, they are normally on Friday and Wednesday midday, depending on whether we have a new coffee or a new roast profile we are trying. We have added an option to this mail list where you can select if you want to be invited to these cupping sessions, so modify your settings (see link at the bottom) or email us and we will add you.

New Juras

Jura Ena Micro 1
Ena Micro 1
There are two new Juras now available from us and Jura South Africa. They both feature Jura's new modified brewing unit and their new grinder and the coffee does taste better from them, even if it is only slightly.

The first new one, is their baby machine. Called the Ena Micro 1. It is thin (only 23cm) and is simple to use. It only does coffee, and has no frother attachment. There are three programmable buttons so you can set them for say espresso, coffee cup and coffee mug. And each of those can do a double cup of that too. It is neat and a competent upgrade to the Ena 3, which we really liked.

Jura F7 The next one is, rather than being new, a different take at something they have already done. Jura are pegging this as a F50 replacement, so it is a more refined version of the F50 now called the Jura Impressa F7. It has almost exactly the same features is the F50 except it has the new look flat face, which means that two cup preperation is a reality now. Also the frother is right next to the cup spouts so milk based coffees are easier to prepare. All this for another R700.00 which is the only real problem we have with the machine since I am not sure you get much for the Extra R700.00.

New Rent-to-own options

With the FISA and FICA and the CPA, we withdrew our options of rent-to-own but now we are offering this again. A business can rent a coffee machine to own it after three years, with this option. We have partnered with Custom Capital on this and they are very efficient getting back to us and the client within 5 working days, to tell us that the deal is approved or not. If you are keen to see the options go to our Rent-to-own page, under the service menu. Rentals start at R370.00 per month E&OE T&Cs etc.

E-Commerce nomination

We have been nominated for the South African E-commerce awards. If you are keen to give us a vote, perhaps we will even make the final cut.
Vote for Quaffee in the 2012 South African eCommerce Awards.

So that is it for now. It has been great to update you and hope to hear your feedback.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Smell the 318 compounds in coffee or JUST 1

Do you know your nose? A Heap of Coffee
Heap of Coffee Grounds

Well did you know your nose smells about 318 chemical components in the coffee you drink?

In spite of the fact that 318 constituents are known in coffee volatiles, it has not yet been possible to reconstitute a complete coffee aroma. Some reasons for this (which apply to most complex flavors and aromas) are:
  • no single component responsible for the aroma of coffee has yet been found
  • problems of aroma component stability have not been solved, and
  • it is likely that important aroma components remain to be detected and identified.
There have been additional studies undertaken to determine the importance of non-volatile compounds to the flavour of coffee. Non-volatile acids, both phenolic and non-phenolic, are reported to be important in the flavour along with non-volatile products from the Maillard browing reactions.

Over 1800 components have been identified in coffee through mass and infrared spectra, GLC retention times, synthetic methods, but even with these methods they have not been able to isolate a single chemical that has that complete coffee aroma. So what is that smell when you open up a can or jar of coffee? Probably it is furfuryl mercaptan. This component is the most popular when used in packaging coffee. It react well with oxygen at room temperature and gives a fresh coffee smell.

Unfortunately smelling it does not mean your coffee is fresh it was probably added into the packaging with some nobel gas. Food for thought?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Coffee is about freshness, not price

Today I spoke to someone who specializes in marketing food products. I was told that all the other people she works with offer her discount on their product as her profit, depending on the bulk pricing model they offer.

She was stunned when I told her our pricing model is designed to reward all clients, and promote fresh coffee. Hence we sell our product at the best price we can, regardless of the amount of coffee ordered. This means that client’s do not bulk order in order to get a discount, but rather can order as they need. She told me that all my competitors were on board and that they offered these bulk discounts.

Fresh roasted coffee beans in the cooling bin

What amazed me is that she is actually right. I decided to do so market research and see what other coffee resellers where doing, including so called specialty coffee producers. And they are rewarding people for buying in bulk by offering discounts for between 30 and 40%. This means that if you buy for freshness you pay more.

This to me shows a lack of understanding of their product. If you are serious about coffee you know that coffee is best consumed 2-3 weeks after roast. There are those that argue about this, but if you have done your own tests like we have, there is a drop off in flavour and taste. Our personal experience has also found that if we do not tell anyone the age and leave the coffee with them their consumption drops as soon as the coffee is 3 weeks old, and halves by week 5.

I will not even get into the freezer debate here. Let us just side line that, put a pin in it ;)

So if coffee is about freshness then you should reward the people who appreciate freshness, not punish them. If you are passionate about your product, surely you want it to be enjoyed by those who have invested the hard earn buck and time in getting it. Why reward those that want to buy in bulk?

I would rather offer my best pricing, to everyone not just those with the biggest budget, and have clients enjoy fresh coffee, then see people get a discount for the sake of discount, and let the product suffer.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 2 Aug

For those the do not subscribe, we have posted the newsletter here on request. Please find the newsletter as sent last week:
This is the second newsletter and Wow do we have news. We have a new home! Nic is on the verge of opening a place where all Quaffee lovers can meet and eat and drink, and Mzukisi is now our master roaster Regards, The Quaffee Team

We have moved to Buitenverwachting

It is with great excitement that we can now announce that we are now up and roasting at Buitenverwachting wine farm. Our 12kg Diedrich has been roasting for almost a month there already, and with our phone lines finally moved yesterday we can announce that we are open. This new move is one that has taken close to 9 months to finalize, and we are very excited to be here. Just like a wine farm should we will be offering tastings of Quaffee here, team building events on demand and will welcome all our clients to the roastery. We have a small space since this is a production and admin facility here. But Nic is working with Buitenverwachting to add to their offering a place where you can enjoy coffee and snacks, that he and Buitenverwachting hope will be up and running in 6 weeks time. We are now checking each roast, and can produced detailed results on each roast for you. We will continue to use the best coffee we can source, read below for exciting news regarding that. Here are a few pics of the Mzukisi and the Quaffee Bloc:
Mzukisi with a small batch of Limu Mzukisi having just pulled a small 3kg load of Limu Quaffee's little Roastery Quaffee's little roastery
So drop us a line and pop in. We will try and even have milk there sometimes ;) Not sure where Buitenverwachting is? Go to our contact us page or on Google maps enter in Quaffee.

New coffees coming October

We are always on the look out for great coffees. We imported the Columbian coffees we sell directly and now we are also importing some fully traceable and very drinkable coffees. The coffees are already on the water, here are some details on them:
  1. From São Judas Tadeu Farm in Brazil, we were only able to get 1 bag of this. Probably the best Brazilian coffee we have tasted
  2. From Mexico a Cup of Excellence coffee that was placed #1, from Coatepec, Veracruz
  3. Another great coffee we cupped from Finca Santa Teresa, we enjoyed this coffee in a blind tasting
  4. A coffee from El Salvador Pacas - La Palma, Chalatenango
  5. And after almost 4 years we finally have Tarruza back. This was a big favourite before and we are bringing in a number of bags.
So check out our website to see when they are available.

So that is it for now. It has been great to update you and hope to hear your feedback.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

I'll have the Arabica one (excuse me sir?)

How many varieties of Arabica are there? I am not sure but here is where I log the ones I have sampled and heard of.

Coffee originally comes from a single varietal of Arabica found in the Limu forests of Ethiopia. From there is spread first to the Yemen, where then partially roasted seed became part of the silk trade, and eventually thanks to an Indian Monk Baba Budan ends up in Mysore Indian as a seed, and the Dutch then take it back to Holland, and so began the cross pollination and botanical fiddling, that today gives us over 140 varieties of Arabica.

coffee tree
Arabica Tree?

The original varietal is now call typica and is found in Ethiopia, and parts of what remains of the Yemen plantation, planted between 500 and 600 AD.

So I thought I may list a few that I have and will find in the future, there are in no particular order:
  1. Agaro Kaffa (after the Kaffa region in Ethiopia)
  2. Agro Gimma Kaffa
  3. Anomala
  4. Anormalis
  5. Arabusta Alemania (guess which plant was used there ;))
  6. Augustigolia
  7. Barbuck Sudan
  8. C. Liberica
  9. C. rasmosa
  10. canephora
  11. Castillo
  12. Caturra X Geisha
  13. Caturra
  14. Colombia
  15. costa ricva 95
  16. Erecta
  17. Garnica
  18. Geisha
  19. Ihcafé 90
  20. K.7
  21. Laurina
  22. Maragogype
  23. Moca
  24. Mundo nuvo
  25. Nana
  26. Polisperma
  27. Purpurascens
  28. red boubon (from the island)
  29. red Cataui
  30. resistant borbon
  31. RuiRu
  32. San Bernardo
  33. Semperflorens
  34. SL 28
  35. Tabi
  36. Timot Hybrid (there are a number)
  37. verigado
  38. Villalosbos
  39. Wash Wash
  40. yellow borbon
  41. yellow Cataui
  42. Zeguie
I will try and add others as I find them.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Quality as a driver in coffee

During the great depression many of the coffee brands thought they should cut corners and produce a lower quality coffee, since money was tight. One company, Maxwell house, decided to rather produce a higher quality coffee. Dropping low quality coffees from their blends even Santos which had become the nations go to coffee for low quality blending.

And guess what. They became the number one coffee in the US. Their price did not drop their quality went up.

This to me is a mantra I will always sing. Quality must be a real driver behind coffee, not an advertising promise bit a reality.

Unfortunately in the 60s when profit was king Maxwell house became one of the sheep and produced instant and added Robusta to there blends.

The result was the regeneration of coffee in the states. Peets, Sivets and Diedrich became drivers of the quality product attracting large numbers of follows. From Peets came Other companies that slowly took over the world. The four that started Starbucks had vac jobs at Petes.

So in the end Quality shines through. And even more so today. There will always be those that chase a profit wagon, using money to market their product rather than spend that money on improving quality in their product.

Over the next year Quaffee hope to push the quality bar further. We would like to see Dom pepe in our roaster. Even at R2,500.00 a kg it gives us a sky to aim for. I believe quality is the most marketing tool in Quaffee's arsenal.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Arabica Futures Jan-Jun 2012

Coffee Futures from Jan to End June 2012

Recovery Year

After last years massive jump in prices it was expected that the coffee futures prices would start to settle down, and to a large extent they have. Even though Brazil and Columbia have held on to 2011 stock to try and prevent this slide, other market players have not kept stock.

This trend will probably continue, with a small correction due to some of the coffee country boards showing concern over the 2012 crop. The Indonesian area specifically has not recovered from the 2011 shortfall, and their weather has not helped this year.

The retail prices of green bean lag by about a quarter, and we are hoping that in the later end of the year we can reflect this decrease in a small enough manner, so that our clients can benefit. This even though most of the coffees we sell are bought a a premium above the indicative futures price.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Kalossi, last time the crop was poor, but another lot is on its way

Indonesian islandsWH Khan is expecting a container of Indonesian Kalossi to arrive mid July. Here is some information they sent us, I thought was interesting enough to share:

Indonesia is rich with coffee growers and offers some of the best gourmet coffees available globally.  Indonesia is generally considered the third largest producer of coffee in the world.Coffee was brought to Indonesia during colonial times and its coffee industry was established and operated by the Dutch for many years. The Portuguese also controlled several coffee growing regions near Indonesia.

Originally, Arabica coffee plants were introduced to Indonesia but near the end of the 18th century those coffee crops were devastated by a disease known as Coffee Rust. Eventually, most of the coffee crops in Indonesia were replaced with the more disease resistant Robusta coffee plants instead.

Today, many great coffees come from Indonesia. Three of the best gourmet Indonesian coffees to look for are: Java, Sumatra Mandheling and Celebes Kalossi Toraja.

Java coffee comes from the island of Java, which is the main island in the Indonesian archipelago and contains the capital, Jakarta. Java Estate coffees are world famous and well known to have a full-bodied flavour and a smooth spicy finish. A good cup of Java Estate will be subtly aromatic with earthy, smoky undertones.

Sumatra Mandheling comes from the island of Sumatra which is the third largest island in Indonesia. This is a very highly regarded gourmet coffee because of its excellent balance and syrup-like richness. It is perhaps the perfect gourmet coffee to serve with milk because it is heavy enough to carry its rich, complex character through the milk.

Another great Indonesian coffee is collectively known as Celebes Kalossi Toraja. These coffees can come under a whole variety of different names and is probably one of the most confusing things about gourmet coffee. Celebes Kalossi Toraja is sometimes referred to as simply Toraja or Sulawesi Toraja, after the island, Sulawesi, and the region, Toraja, which it is grown in. They can also be called Kalossi or Celebes Kalossi, after the regional market town of Kalossi and the island's former name, Celebes.

Kalossi is frequently considered to be the finest coffee to come from Indonesia, a world-class cup in every way.  It has a rich, unique flavour, which combined with its fragrant aroma, comes across as being almost exotic.  If you like gourmet coffee but sometimes find the darker roasts to be slightly bitter, then Celebes Kalossi Toraja is the coffee for you.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Coffee culture is there such a thing?

Many South Africans refer back to the European culture when talking about coffee. This is a little confusing, seem as most of Europe's current culture has most of its heritage dictate by family started business, that started in the early 1900s and after the first war. So this heritage is not the most steeped (no pun intended) in history.Mocha Pot on a fire

After the war (WW1)

American consumption had started to catch up to the European, due to the Americans become more involved in the Central and South American trade routes. That said the American still drank less per capita than Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The Southern European countries of France, Italy, Portugal and Spanish that were getting limited high quality Arabica, had learnt that roasting Robusta to a dark or vary dark level reduced the bitter taste in the Robusta. The farther South the darker the roast was. In Northern Italy the roasts where moderate in Rome, they where darked but no where near as dark as the near charcoal roasts found in Naples and further South.

Move to Espresso

Antique La Pavoni Drip method predominated the coffee brew until around the mid 1920s. In response to the growing need for "instant" coffee Luigi Bezzera (not even listed in Wiki, so that is how much his name has been lost) invented the first commercial espresso machine. His patent was purchased by Desiderio Pavoni, who along with other Italian inventors like Teresio Arduino the espresso machine had started to take a steady foot hold in Europe, its progress almost stumbled in WW1. By 1930 most coffee house in Europe had adopted the espresso machine, and they could be found even in Italian restaurants in the US. This dominance has persisted since then. The one reason is that lower quality coffees still produce an acceptable brew (to some people not us).

Regional roasters

Until WW1, most people still roasted coffee at home. But slowly the family run roasters started following the American example of advertising and branding, and convincing the housewife they had better things to do besides roasting coffee. Here are some of the family legacy's:
  • Engwall - started selling green bean door-to-door in Gävle, Sweened and then started roasting as Gevalia, supplying the royal family
  • Douw Egberts was started in 1753, when the Dutch dominated the coffee trade routes. They were bought by Sarah Lee in 1978
  • Johann Jacobs opened a small coffee shop in 1895, short afterwards started roasting their own coffee. In 1930 the nephew Walther joined the company after spending time in the states. With his exposure to the advertising business in the states he copied Maxwell houses saying, changing it slightly. During the third reich it became a popular choice. After branching out in the 1970 to other foods, the were purchased by Kraft food in 1990
  • Caffé Vergnano was founded by Domenico Vergnano in 1882
  • In Turin Luigi Lavazza started a company in the same name in 1895. Sons Mario Beppe and Pericle carried on the business, producing multiple grades of coffee for a local and international market. Today Lavazza has four production facilities located in Italy, with seven subsidiaries around the world: France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal, Austria, and the United States. Lavazza distributes their products in eighty countries. They claim to be Italy's favourite coffee, but this is based on their green bean business in Italy, where they sell to most of the roasters in Italy.
  • Nestlé was started in 1867 by Henri Nestlé, a German chemist who had settled in Switzerland. Originally the company was based around the infant formula that Henri had developed for mothers that could not nurse. He expanded into condense milk, and the states in 1900. In 1938 after 8 years of experimentation Nescafé was release. This instant coffee was created with a new method that did not use the existing heated drum method. Nestlé sprayed the coffee bulk brewed into heated towers where droplets where turned to powder almost instantly. The initial instant had Dextrin, Dextrose and Maltose added to maintain the flavour.


Like many urban legends coffee culture is not homogeneous in Europe. An Italian, French or Portuguese roast is a fictional concept. In fact the depending on where in each country you are based your roast can be from a light city to charcoal. Just like other parts of the world coffee culture is specific to the person drinking it, and the way the were introduced to it. Bibliography: wiki and Uncommon grounds

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Fresh Roasted, Fresh Ground has been the best since 1929!

Uncommon grounds by Mark Pendergrast

In Uncommon ground's Mark Pendergrast mentions a a survey was done during the 1929 recession. The survey was done then, since people where more fastidious about what they drank, as they wanted as much bang for the buck as they could get.

The survey was on the preferred drinking habit of coffee drinkers. After the survey results were published it was concluded that fresh roasted, freshly ground coffee resulted in the best tasting brew.

Ponder this! Why then is this still even debated.

Surely by now we should be common knowledge, that this is still the case?

But still instant and pod coffee rear its convenience head. Is the average Joe really a slave to the advertising moguls who dictate which brand is better because they say it is so. If after 80 years people are still that generally ignorant (as the say on QI) to say they are coffee lovers and in the same breath tell us about a solution that is neither fresh roasted nor freshly ground.

Surely the collective must eventually wake up a realise the truth, or are we dreaming? Since 1930 how many similar studies independent or not have found the same thing.

Instead of let's rather buy the pretty packaging because branding is more important than quality. Perhaps not!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Monthly Coffee news - Arabica only

Arabica only news

The International Coffee Organisation have come forth with their latest cumulative world export figures, with exports for the month of April at a lower month on month 8,773,899 bags or 11.67% lower than the same month in the previous year. The cumulative export figures for the first seven months of this October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year at a 4.03% decline over the same seven months of the previous year and a cumulative total at 60,299,421 bags. The decline in cumulative exports over the period mostly attributed to a lower export performance from the smaller biennial Brazil crop year, and a difference of 3,346,448 bags lower exports for this period than the previous larger crop year, as has Colombia registered exports that are 1,134,238 bags less than the same seven months of the previous coffee year. The net result thus far for the grouped baskets of quality shows a decline in exports of washed Arabica coffees by 4.11% at 19,796,341 bags, a decline in exports of natural Arabica coffees by 13.70% at 17,814,238 bags.

tasting lab

While harvest of the new larger crop to come from Indonesia (only 30% in their production is Arabica) is underway and anticipated to peak in June, exports from the largest coffee producing island of Sumatra remain relatively low. One might expect that the coming months will see these exports start to increase and port arrivals are reported to be on the rise, although the internal and relatively informal market has a capacity to alter the field of play at short notice, with coffee often used as cash and as a hedge against the Rupiah exchange rate. There is likewise growing domestic consumption and demand to provide a degree of buoyancy and internal price competition, thus some uncertainty as to the continually fluctuating sentiments within the domestic market and ahead of neighbouring new crop to come from Vietnam.

The Brazilian dockworkers’ strike has been resolved at the key port of Santos and ended yesterday after a one day stoppage, the port resumed loading on Wednesday evening.

The certified washed arabica coffee stocks held against the New York market increased by 2,981 bags yesterday, to see these stocks registered at 1,550,419 bags. There was a decrease by 2,520 bags in the number of bags pending grading for the exchange, which were registered at 33,221 bags.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Coffee Futures Market, why NY and London?

History is always something that has fascinated me. Firstly we can learn lessons from it, if we take the time to look at it, and it explains a lot of weird things like why are coffee futures are controlled by countries that do not even grow coffee.
Coffee Futures
Coffee Futures graph


What the hell are they? Futures are instruments that attempt to predict the supply quantities of a product. As we know supply and demand determine the price of an item in a truly open market. If there is an oversupply for the demand then the price goes down, and under supply the price goes up. So futures look at the prevailing conditions to try and predict the output or eventual supply. For coffee this works in roughly 3 month prediction cycles.

Coffee Market base

The coffee market in the 1800's was controlled by the Dutch and German's, they sorted and distributed coffee to the rest of the world. Hanover is still the largest exporter of coffee. In fact even though Brazil was the largest producer of coffee (all varieties), it first went to either Amsterdam, or Hanover to be sized and graded and then got distributed to the rest of the world.

World War I

With Europe entering into a little skirmish in 1914, that became a world war, America was starved of coffee. Even though at that point they were a small consumer (only around 30 million bags), they decided to go straight the the Brazilian source, and specifically the well established port of Santos. With this came the development of the NY futures market. The NY Stock exchange had no reference point so they setup their own futures market, initially only for the USA, but with the destruction of the Dutch and Germans economies as a result of WWI. Add to that the fact that by the mid 1930's America became one of the largest consumers of coffee (it has been the largest consumer for the last 40 years), the NY coffee futures became dominant to the point that none of the other exchanges kept up.

London and Robusta

The London Stock Exchange is often considered the oldest, but actually the Amsterdam one, was probably first. When Europeans rushed to colonise Africa, they bought coffee back to the continent (both Arabica and Robusta where found there originally, Arabica from Ethiopia, and Robusta from the Congo) that had provided it. Between the French and the English more Robusta plantations where set up through out Africa. Since the English controlled the trade routes  they started the Robusta futures market to challenge the Dutch and German Arabica based market. Robusta only really become a dominant player just before the first W.W. London continued to control the price of Arabica's much cheaper cousin. By the way it represents 40%  of the coffee consumed now. Since the Americans have never really taken significant amount of Robusta (European demand is still higher, although extract and instant providers are responsible for the bulk of the purchases on both sides of the Atlantic), the NY exchange never started trading in Robusta futures, and that will probably stay the case.

Coffee trading Myth

As a side note, a fact that is often misquoted is that coffee is the second most trade item. This is not true. Coffee Futures are the second most actively traded instrument behind oil, it is actually the 50th most traded item world wide, or there about.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Filter coffee using a ThermoPot

After our trip to the states, and looking at the dominance of pour over and filter through the visit, we thought we should consider looking at is as an option.
Queen Thermopot Queen Thermopot
We ordered our Queen Thermo M, and below is a review.

Method used

First use

  • We rinsed the Thermopot, and loaded 1 litre of water to get the first run done.
  • Added 48g of coffee, this we calculated using the 8g to 180ml SCAA guidelines, it worked out to 5.55 cups so we rounded it up, side note:This ended up being about 1/2 a European cup measure.
  • As advised we wet the filter paper.
  • Ground the coffee to filter paper standard, namely slightly course.
  • Added ground coffee in to the filter basket.
  • Switched on, and about 90 seconds later, the coffee was ready.
The coffee was a good strength and a classic filter type taste. So we made a full pot.

Full pot

  • repeat as above, except 2.2 litres used instead, and a slightly heaped full cup of grounds added to the filter basket
  • 8 minutes later the pot was ready
This time the coffee was a little on the weak side, so I would probably look at reducing to 2litres or add more coffee. Four hours later we tasted again, the coffee was still hot, and tasted good.
We used Quaffee's House Blend, which is relatively mild but it was very drinkable, even after 3 mugs it was a little morish


I would definitely consider this as an option, we will look to offer this soon. The cost of the machine is about R3,000.00 including thermo pot, and I think it should suit most peoples tastes.

Side Note:

This test was done with fresh ground coffee. We repeated the test 2 days later with coffee ground 2 days before and the coffee was about 20-25% of the flavour. So if you want to use a solution like this you need to grind the coffee fresh.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

New about latest Jura coffee machines available in South Africa

This month Jura announce which of the new models will be available here in South Africa.

Jura Micro Ena 9 OT

Jura Ena Micro 9 OT First, the old Ena range has been discontinued. Of the new range only the Ena Micro 9 is going to be made available in South Africa. The good news is the price. It will be under R10,000.00. The bean container takes 15g more than the old one, the tank is the same size, but the machine is slightly smaller than the machine it replaces, shaving off 800m on from the sides and 500mm from the top.

Jura F50 Classic

Jura Impressa F50 ClassicThere are also changes with the classic F50, and now they call it the The Jura F50 Classic. The most dramatic change is that the "platinum" panels are gone, replaced with the piano black panels that where on the C5/C9 and Xf50. Otherwise it also has the new Jura grinder, and an updated frother, which we first saw on the J9 and Z7. We have always loved the functionality of the F50, and this latest update we believe will still be a star performer, and it is selling for less than R10,000 now. If you are a serious coffee drinker or an office looking for a solution this should be the first machine you look at.

Jura Xs9 Classic OT

Jura Xs9OT More a model name change than any thing else the Xs9OT replaces the old Xs90/95 OT. So what's new? Well actually very little, just the model name change and lik all the Jura's a new grinder. One thing that has changed is the price. The Xs9OT will be under the 20k mark. This machine is popular because it has a 5.7 litre tank. We have always been unhappy with the grinder in the old one, but I have not had enough experience with the new one to comment yet.
Jura's new range and prices are available on Quaffee's web site:

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Videos guides: Cleaning your Jura J9/Z7 milk frother

A frother that is not cleaner regularly...

is a milk frother that does not work. It is that simple. In over 6 years of working with the Jura Coffee machines, this is almost always the case. And when it is not the case then normally the breathing valve is forced in to far or damaged, since it has been played with. So here are the videos:

Method 1: manual clean

This is the way we recommend it, it uses the milk frothing choice to clean the frother. We find this more successful since it uses hot water to clean:
From: youtube

Method 2: juras clean method

This is the way they tell you do do it in the manual.
From: youtube

Manual Dissassembly

We do not recommend this but if it needs to be done then this is how to to it.
From: youtube

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 1

Welcome to the first edition of the Quaffee’ s newsletter. We will strive to only send these newsletters when there is actual news. This means that we anticipate that there will be typically four newsletters a year.

A lot has been going on at Quaffee, but probably the most exciting news has been that Mzukisi, our well-loved driver, is now a certified trained roaster. We took a trip to the Northern part of the USA to go and see our new hand built roasters, and to do some training on the roasters. We have two Diedrich roasters that are on their way to us, and so we though being trained by the master and designer of the Diedrich roasters was a must if we are to maintain if not better our quality in the years to come, more about the trip and the roasters later.

We also have our own direct sourced Columbian’s arrive at the beginning of the year, one of them the Los Naranjos has already received a lot of acclaim. And some of our most popular coffees are back. We have a number of new blends. Blends are our way of introducing the high quality coffees we source to everyone. Also we have learnt that single region, origin or estate coffees are to some people’s tastes, while blends seem to work for others.

We hope you enjoy our newsletters, which we hope to keep short and to the point. If you are looking for day-to-day news remember to like us on facebookor follow us on twitter.

 Post a picture of you enjoying a cup of Quaffee on our Facebook wall, and you could win a gift voucher from Quaffee to the value of R500.00, which you can spend online.

 Regards, The Quaffee Team

Reflections on the states, Part 1: Diedrich

Reflections on the states, Part 2: Seattle

Mzukisi, Frog Q and Steve and Becky DiedrichMzukisi, Frog Quaffer and I went to the states; for training, to see our roasters being built and to see how things are done in Seattle, the capital of coffee in the states.

 First stop was Sandpoint, ID where Diedrich are. The training was 5 days, and we learnt about their roasters, about finding the prefect profile for each coffee that we want to roast, and how there are over 1,800 chemical components that make up coffee, and we can manipulate 1,500 of them during the roast. We spent a lot of time learning about what makes a good, great and bad roast. How something as simple as the humidity and ambient temperature can change the way a green unroasted coffee bean roasts, and tastes after that roast.

We spent time playing with how air flow across the bean, affects such variables in a coffee as brightness and when done properly flavours are retained by the coffee and can be enjoyed by all once it is brewed.

If we had to choose three things to remember, it would have to be firstly get your roast profile right up front, secondly make sure your roaster is always clean, and thirdly plan your roasts two minutes into the future for each stage of the roast. Mzukisi did very well on the course, and was even told he will make a great master roaster, by Steve Diedrich, who is the inventor of the Diedrich roasters.

 We must have cupped (tasted) close on 50 roasts during the course, and got great experience in identifying nuances created by each roast profile. We also picked up valuable cupping experience, something we are keen to pass on in our future plans.
After spending a week in Sandpoint, we popped in to Spokane, the second largest city in the state of Washington, before visiting the largest one Seattle. Seattle is the espresso capital of the states. There are more roasts per person in Seattle then anywhere else in the states. More machines are sold in Seattle than are sold in Milan, where many espresso machines are made. 

We had the fortune to visit a large number of them, mostly concentrating on the third wave of roasters. On the first day after drinking a few filter coffees, to start the process I stuck to espressos, having 13 by day end. We had coffee roasted in wood fired roasters, electric roasters, open flame and infrared roasters. And there were many lessons that we learnt from visiting these roasters.Espresso on the go The first thing that was obvious was quality is a first principle. No matter the roast philosophy quality is a core principle, quality coffee, quality roast and quality brewing. The Synesso and Strada espresso machines are the machine of choice. We saw more of these than there are in the whole of South Africa, in the first morning we were in Seattle. One place we went to weight every single dose of grind, and then even weight the espresso once it was pulled. And that was one special coffee. 

 The next thing that is apparent is passion drives these roasters. They have all been to coffee farms, and are driven to only sell coffees they can trace back to the farmer. All the roasters we went to had at least tertiary qualifications, and where in coffee because they loved coffee. 

They were knowledgeable and where excited to meet people that where passionate too.

Diedrich Roasters Why?

Why did Quaffee choose a Diedrich Roaster? Well to understand why the best place is to look at why there are Diedrich roasters. The Diedrich family owned a coffee farm in Guatemala in the 30’s the one brother moved to the states to start a coffee company where they would sell the coffees grown on the family farm. His son felt that the roaster was a weak link, and hence started tweaking the roasters. In the words of Steve Diedrich “when I was a kid, I would come into the lounge and find bits of roaster all over the floor”. Steve’s passion was aeronautical engineering.

He went off and followed his dream and one thanksgiving, almost 30 years ago, came home to visit the family and got so fixated with sorting out the roaster for his dad (the son of the original Diedrich who sold coffee) and his brother, who was working in the business that he re-engineered the roaster, so that it was easy to clean and used clean infra-red heat. In Diedrich's plant Today almost all the modern roasters are moving away from direct heat, and using the infra-red clean heat. Since this is firstly more efficient and secondly keep the heated air pollutant free.

The Diedrich roasters, were the first roasters to concentrate on making things to aeronautical engineering standards. From the barrel to the chassis everything is made precisely and to and exacting standard.

The end goal of the roaster is to produce a clean control roast that imparts the best to the bean, showing respect to the growers that spend most of their year growing the coffees, we roast.

So we choose Diedrich roasters since they are a pure exhaust fume free roaster, with a controllable air flow, and rugged barrel engineering.

Want to see what coffees we have in stock then click coffees in stock, you can sort by price, category and country.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

South African Coffee Industry numbers

Just got sent the BMi report for the end of 2010. South Africa rate in the bottom 100 when it comes to coffee consumption world wide. But as South Africans it is interesting looking at the current data. BMI segments the coffee market into four categories:
  • Mixed instant coffee
  • Pure instant coffee
  • Pure ground coffee (also includes coffee beans sold as is)
  • Mixed ground coffee
The mixed coffee variants include an element of chicory within the composition, In more recent years there seems to have been more consumer shifting within the coffee category itself, with conversion from instant to ground coffee variants as palates become more sophisticated. These figures may be over a year old, but they are the most recent we have.

Coffee Category Breakdown 2010 Coffee by Category Breakdown 2010 South Africa - source BMi

Mixed instant coffee continues to dominate the total market in volume terms. The substantial 64.7% volume share that it commanded for 2010 meant that the 2.5% annual growth seen for the category automatically put the coffee market growth into the black. Furthermore, positive performances by both mixed instant and pure ground coffee served to bolster the base line growth already achieved.

The mixed instant volumes saw only limited growth during 2010 with this category experiencing significant price increases in the last two quarters as it is believed that producers attempted recover sales late in the year.

In terms of the mixed ground category, there was good growth of 7.0% for the year. Price increases slowed as less established players lowered their sales prices in order to compete with the larger producers.

One category recorded a volume drop during the base year; pure instant coffee. It is believed that there was a level of traffic to pure ground from pure instant variants as consumers explored competing products. This movement may have been encouraged by the value proposition offered by pure ground coffee as tremendous price increases were recorded for pure instant.

Pure ground coffee noted tremendous growth in volumes in 2010, particularly on the wholesale front. A flood of imported beans and packaged ground coffee bolstered South African volumes by 17.8%, this being the single largest growth percentage recorded historically throughout the analysis. The retail trade remains the single largest consumer of coffee with more than half of the market volumes being channelled through this sector. The regional consumption of coffee is skewed to the Western Cape and Gauteng, being metropolitan areas.

 The coffee market is expected to show limited growth in the short term. Increases of 2.9% and 2.8% are anticipated for 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Coffee Tasting Glossary

A useful except from The Signet Book of Coffee and Tea by Peter Quimme Although the word acid has been largely misunderstood we do use it here. Acid tastes is brightness in the mouth. We have also added the Umami or body taste that is in the middle of the tongue. This is where body or strength is perceived. tongue tasting
Tongue sensory zones

A Coffee Taster's Glossary

Acidity High acid (or acidy) coffees have a sharp, pleasing, piquante quality that points up their flavour and gives them snap, verve, liveliness in the cup. Acidity may be high, medium, light, low, or lacking altogether in coffees, in which case the coffee tastes flat and dull. Acidity is characteristic of high-grown coffees. it is the brightness in the coffee See sour.
Aroma Refers to the odour of the prepared coffee beverage. It may be lacking, faint, delicate, moderate, strong, or fragrant (also called aromatic), and distinctive as to character. In cupping the Aroma is referred to as the odour after adding water, Fragrance before.
Baked A taste description given to underroasted coffee, or coffee roasted too slowly at too low a temperature, so that the flavour is underdeveloped. See green.
Bitter A harsh, unpleasant taste detected on the back of the tongue. Found in over-extracted brews as well as in over-roasted coffees and those with various taste defects. Also a method use by cheaper brands to confusing the tongue in perceiving body, is to force bitterness in a coffee.
Body The tactile impression of weight and texture in the mouth. Coffees may be watery, thin, slight, light, medium, full, heavy, thick or even syrupy in body, as well as buttery, oily, rich, smooth, chewy, etc., in texture. Easiest to detect in full-strength coffee.
Burnt A bitter, burnt flavour characteristic of dark-roasted coffees. Another method used to create fake body by cheaper brands.
Buttery Said of an oily body or texture in the mouth. Denotes full flavour and richness.
Cinnamon Underlying spice accent sometimes detected in the aroma of fine coffee, a flavour nuance. Not a common description. (Also, a term describing a very light roast).
Clean Opposite of dirty. Characteristic of all fine coffees. Does not necessarily imply clarity of flavour impression (see natural coffee and wild). Associated with washed coffees.
Cocoa Characteristic sweetish smell of completely stale roasted coffee. See stale.
Dirty An undesirable unclean small and taste, slight to pronounced. Dirty implies a defect, such as sourness, earthiness, or mustiness. See natural coffee and wild.
Earthy A highly undesirable dirt odor and flavour taint picked up by coffee when dried on the ground; also called groundy. See musty.
Flat A dull lifeless quality due to lack of acidity, commonly associated to stake coffee.
  • The total impression of aroma, acitidy, and body; if the impression is strong, fine, and pleasant, the coffee is described as flavoury or flavourful or ranked on a scale from poor, fair, good, to fine-flavoured.
  • Specific taste flavours may suggest, spices, chocolate, nuts, or something less complimentary - straw, grass, earth, rubber etc.
Fresh Opposite of stale. Applies to fresh roasted coffees, i.e. no longer than a week from roast.
Fruity Can be a flavour taint said to come from overripe fruit pulp. Or from a variant of Arabica found to produce this.
Grassy A flavour taint from use of swamp water for washing, or from improper drying. Also used as synonym for green and past-croppish.
  • A flavour taint found in coffee harvested before fully ripe.
  • Characteristic taste of underroasted coffee; pasty.
Hard Opposite of sweet or mild; harsh. Description of Brazils between soft and Rio-y. not to be confused by the grading.
Harsh Crude raw taste; used to describe certain Brazils and robustas.
Hidey Smell of hides or leather from improper storage.
Light Used to qualify aroma, acidity, or body; a light coffee would be delicate in flavour.
Mellow Full, well-balance, satisfying coffee; implies low or medium acidity. See winy.
Musty A smell and taste taint caused by mildew; similar to earthy.
Natural coffee Aroma and flavour characteristics of coffees processed by the dry method. They are often blander than washed coffees and may lack clarity of flavour and pointed acidity; some may have intense complex flavours and full, thick body. See wild.
Neutral A characterless, flavourless coffee, inoffensive to insipid; without virtue (safe for economical blending) but without defect.
  • Said of coffees that lack coffee flavor; also peanutty.
  • A specific flavor nuance, suggesting almonds, and so on.
Past-croppish Not to be confused with stale. Said of coffees that have deteriorated in the green state before roasting and thus taste as if from a past crop. See strawy and woody.
Rancid Extremely sour and very unpleasant. Found in tainted coffees.
Rich Indicates depth and complexity of flavour and full, buttery body; overused.
Rio-y A harsh, heavy medicinal or iodine flavour typical of the poorest grades of Brazil's but encountered in other coffees as well. Said to be caused by allowing berries to dry on the tree.
Rubbery Burnt-rubber odor characteristic of Robusta. Used to create fake body.
Soft Low-acid coffees are described as soft, mellow, sweet.
Sour Not to be confused with acidity. A distinctly sour, rank, or rancid taste is a defect, often due to improper processing. See wild.
Spicy Said of fine aroma or flavour suggestive of spices.
Stale Roasted coffee that has faded in quality after excessive exposure to air. Aroma of stale coffee changes from flat to rancid and finally to cocoa like; the flavour of stale coffee changes from bitter to rancid and tastes cardboardy. Not to be confused with past-croppish.
Strawy Characteristic scent of past-croppish coffees; hay-like. See woody.
Strong Term used to indicate intensity of either defects or virtues (as in "a strong, sour taste" or "a strong, fine aroma"). A strong-flavoured coffee is therefore not necessarily a fine-flavoured coffee.
Sweet Said of a smooth, palatable coffee, free from taints or harshness. Also soft.
Thin Said of coffees with watery body and lack of flavour; typical if low-grown coffee.
Wild Coffees with extreme flavour characteristics, or odd racy, tangy nuances in aroma and taste. Usually applied to natural coffees. These characteristics may be intriguing or undesirable. See dirty.
Winy Sometimes used to indicate thick body and mellow quality, but also used to denote a sappy, vinous acidity. Characteristic of certain fine coffees.
Woody A flavour taint caused by over-lengthy storage in warm wood sheds; also characteristic scent and taste of old, past-croppish coffees.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Our Kagumo PB, their neighbour was in the top 10 worldwide

The coffee we sell that is the Kagumo Peaberry comes from the KAGUMO-INI MILLING STATION.
worker on the Kagumo-ini farm
worker on the Kagumo-ini farm

Kagumo-ini milling station or ‘factory’ as they are known in Kenya is a part of Mugaga Farmer’s Cooperative Society (MFCS) found in Nyeri district Kenya. Nyeri lies between the western slopes of Mt. Kenya and the eastern side of the Aberdare Ranges. Both of these are volcanic formations. This means that the region has red volcanic soils and lies on an altitude of above 1600 metres. This makes it very ideal for growing coffee.
MFCS is made up of five factories namely;

  • Kagumo-ini
  • Kieni
  • Gatina
  • Gathugu
  • Kiamabara

Coffee in this Co-op is produced mainly by small scale farmers with holdings of about 1 hectare each. These farmers grow their coffee among other crops like bananas, and trees.

Trees like macadamia and eucalyptus help to provide shade for coffee plants. MFCS trains members regularly on sustainable farming practices. They have incorporated a system of transparency and therefore all members are able to access data to see sales progress and turnover for each harvest.


Co-op:Mugaga Farmers Cooperative Society
Processing factory:Kagumo-ini
Producers:Small holders
Harvest:June-July 2011
Origin:Nyeri kenya
Altitude:1600-1700 metres
Soil:Red volcanic soils

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Los Naranjos Wins again: Details

Los Naranjos has now been an award winning coffee since 2009. And once again it is an award winner with the prominent farmer in the region taking cudos Mr Carlos Imbachi. Quaffee, has actually coffee from 3 of the top winning regions. but this post is about Los Naranjos. The Naranjos lot was blended from the following lots:
  • SAN-0181 x 1297 kg cps= Enriqueta Rosas
  • SAN-0185 x 198 kg cps = Eivar Samboni
  • SAN-0041 x 512 kg cps = Carlos Imbachi
Carlos Imbachi Carlos Imbachi The growers deliver their parchment lots to Virmax's warehouse/lab (in Colombia each farmer has their own depulping and drying - their own micromill). At the warehouse the parchment goes through a physical quality control (where Virmax check for defects and yields) and the coffee is cupped (typically we do 5 cups for every 500 kg ofg parchment). Each sample is given a score, and depending on the score the coffee is assigned either A, AA, AAA categories. Final price to the growers depends on the score they achieve. As such, they have an incentive to always improve their quality. In addition, feedback is given to the farmer on the spot on how to improve quality and their farms are visited to provide advice on their land. Out of the 3 growers that compose your lot, Mr. Carlos Imbachi is a very well known farmer, as he won the 2009 SCAA Coffees of trhe Year Award and was the highest score in the 2010 SCAA Coffees of the Year Award. His coffee has also been used as Single Origin Espresso by National Barista Champios competing in the World Barista Championship. Details of the coffee:
Region: Columbia, San Augustin, Huila Department
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: Shipped October 2011, arrive South Africa: Jan 2012
Varietal: 100% Arabica Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Wonderfully scented with clean fruit notes, very sweet
Roast used: City+ as 2nd crack begins.
More about the 2010 awards 2010 coffees of the year

Notes about heat and roasting

Forms of Heat Transfer

There are three forms of heat transfer:
  • conduction,
  • convection and
  • radiation
These are deceptively simple scientific concepts that underscore some of the more fractious debates within coffee roasting. In our current age, when scientific terms are often used and misused, to prove or disprove often diametrically opposed points of view, these three terms are at the heart of two of modern roasting's most fundamental debates, one practical and the other very much philosophical.

Coffee Roaster's who gain a better understanding of each source of heat, will be able to use this knowledge to produce better more consistent roasts.
coffee in the cooling bin
Frog Quaffer in a cooling bin


Conduction is the transfer of heat from direct contact between the molecules of a hotter substance to a cooler one.
If you were to accidently touch the end of the trier to your nose while attempting to smell your coffee, and burn your nose, this would be the result of conducted heat: the hotter molecules of your trier directly transferring heat to the cooler molecules of your skin. In drum roasters, we have three potential sources of conducted heat: the drum, the faceplate and the beans. There are those who would argue that the metal of a hot cooling tray is also a potential conductor, but for this to occur the sides and/or bottom of the tray would need to be hotter than the coffee itself. And while warm cooling trays can lengthen cooling times, they should never be hot enough to conduct heat directly to the coffee.

The rate and ratio of conduction in a drum roaster is initially affected by drum preheat temperature and load mass. In most modern drum roasters, approximately 80 percent of the heat transference is via forced convection. In air roasters, the percentage is significantly higher.


Frog Quaffer with the roast profile
Frog Quaffer with the roast profile
Convection is the transfer of heat through currents in a liquid or gas.

In the case of coffee roasting, the transferring substance is air and the receiving substance is coffee. There are two major types of convection:
  • natural convection and
  • forced convection.
Natural convection occurs as our air heats up, causing density changes; as air grows hotter, it gets lighter and rises, while the denser, cooler air falls. This flow then allows heat to transfer through the natural movement of buoyancy.

Forced convection is heat transferred through currents that are moved by an outside force, such as a pump or fan. Forced convection is a quicker, more efficient method of heat transfer than natural convection.

In both drum and air roasters, forced convection is the major mode of heat transfer in the roasting process. Air roasters force air through the roasting chamber via positive pressure (blow), and drum roasters use negative pressure (suck). Either way, when roasting personnel discuss convection in the roasting process, it is forced convection to which they are referring.

The rate and ratio of convection in a drum roaster is directly affected by airflow and energy supplied by the burner. The higher the airflow and the higher the energy input from the burner, the faster the roast.


infra-red burner
infra-red burner
Radiated heat is thermal radiation that is defined as electromagnetic waves, and it occurs naturally between two bodies of differing temperatures.

It needs no carrying medium, unlike conduction and convection, and travels at the speed of light. A substance's ability to accept and /or throw off radiated heat is affected by its colour, temperature, density, surface area, finish and geographical orientation to other thermal-producing bodies. In the case of coffee roasting this is very difficult to measure or to control. For roaster operators, the important thing to remember about radiated heat is that it exists, period. You can neither measure it nor control it, so realize it's there and then focus on the types of heat you can both measure and control.

There is, however, some confusion over radiant heat or infra-red burners in drum roaster applications (for example the Diedrich roasters). Even using infra-red burners, it is still the conduction of the drum and the beans, plus the forced convection of the air, that is of primary concern to the operator.

The rate and ratio of radiation in a roaster is an unknown, and needs to be considered. This is one reason my coffee profiles are an essential element to developing the ideal roast.

It Is About Total Energy

Inside a roaster barrel
There are the three sources of heat over which a roaster has some level of control
  • Drum, Air, Bean
  • Air, Drum, Bean
  • Bean, Drum, Air
The little mantra above represents the periods of the roast at which each type of heat is at its most influential.

At the beginning of the roast, the amount of stored energy in the drum-represented by drum or preheat temperature-is at its most important and potentially most damaging to the bean.

Air or convection is the dominant form of heat transfer throughout the roast, but air is also the all important driver for the body and flavour formation portion of the roast.

Toward the end of the roast, the coffee beans themselves become an important source of energy and can actually become the dominant way that heat is transferred in some roasts and / or roasters.

All of the above forms of energy play their part in the magic of converting the green coffee to roasted coffee. As a roaster, it is imperative to gain a better understanding of each source of heat, and then exercise that knowledge of each within your own equipment, to better control your roasting. This is what the concept of total energy is about.

Three important things to remember regarding total energy

  1. Coffee roasting is a dynamic process that changes throughout the course of the roast.
  2. There is infinitely more energy later in the process than earlier.
  3. None of the forms of heat transfer are independent of one another.

Strategies For Gaining Control of the Roast

Conduction (Drum / Faceplate to Bean)

It is a myth that a roaster has little or no control over drum to bean conduction. What is true is that the only true control over this type of heat transfer, is at the beginning of the roast. Once a roast has begun, there is little you can do to affect this type of heat transfer. But, at the beginning of the roast, there is plenty that you can do. Controlling drum to bean conduction is all about preheat (or charge) temperatures.

Roasters should set and follow preheat temperatures, especially in reference to the temperature of the bean at point of equilibrium (sometimes called "turning point"). Preheat temperatures represent stored energy. The higher the preheat temperature, the hotter the roaster, the more energy is stored in the drum and the faceplate, and the more energy can be transferred via conduction. By being consistent in your preheating, you will be starting every roast with approximately the same amount of stored energy, allowing you to roast in a more consistent manner.

A simple principle for partial batches is that, it is absolutely imperative that you lower your preheat temperatures if you wish to follow a similar profile as when you are roasting a full batch. Less coffee (as in mass). Partial batch preheat temperatures can easily be determined with a little experimentation; just take note of the lowest reading via your bean probe after the coffee is dropped into the drum. You want this point of equilibrium (or "turning point") to be the same, or nearly the same, regardless of batch size.

If, when roasting partial batches, you see that the point of equilibrium is above that of a full batch, then lower your preheat temperature the next time you roast this size of batch. Eventually, you will be able to determine the correct preheat temperatures for the varying load size of your roaster. Remember this when roasting partial batches in drum roasters: It is always easier to add energy than to take it away once your roast has begun.
Coffee Tip burnt or tipping

Symptoms of too much conductive heat (drum to bean)

  • Tipping (an uneven roast colour, with dark spots on the tips of the bean)
  • Uneven roasting / too fast
  • Mottled / scorched beans

Conduction (Bean to Bean)

Through the majority of the roast cycle, you have two sources of heat energy the drum and the air. Just before you hear first crack, you have a third source of energy--the coffee beans themselves.

A well-functioning cooling system is critical for gaining control of roast profiles.

As the coffee approaches first crack, it begins to go exothermic and throws off heat, hence the sound associated with the cracking of the bean. Sound is a form of energy, and the cracking of the bean signifies that energy is being released. If this energy is not accounted for in the overall energy equation, then the roaster risks losing control of the profile, or the roast. There are three strategies for taking control of the roast at this point: adjust the burner down or off, increase airflow, or both. In essence, you are manipulating the rate of convection in order to control the total energy and hence the profile of the roast.

Symptoms of too much heat at first crack (bean to bean)

  • Uneven roasting / too fast
  • Unusual amounts of smoke
  • Moving almost immediately from first to second crack
As you approach the end of the roast, you must be aware of the possible consequences of bean energy once again. The faster and harder you approach the termination of the roast, the more kinetic energy will need to be dissipated by the cooler. In other words, the more aggressive your profile curve is at this point, the harder it will be to stop the roast at your desired termination temperature. This can become especially critical if you are operating in a building that is not climatically controlled (i.e. air-conditioned), in an area where there are significant swings in temperatures throughout the year. Additionally, the darker the roast, the more energy is available to push the coffee past your desired stopping point. This potential problem can be handled in the same manner as you deal with gaining control at first crack: adjust the burner down or off, adjust the airflow, or both. By "slowing down" or reducing heat at the end of your roast, you will gain more control and use less energy as well. Once again, you are manipulating the rate of convection to lessen the impact of the energy of the beans themselves.

Note: A well-functioning cooling system is critical for gaining control of roast profiles. Many a darker-roast coffee has been, and still is, being ruined by inadequate or ill-functioning cooling systems. Research possible fixes.


air flow
air flow control is important
Convection is the cornerstone of the roasting process for both drum and air roasters. It is the most dominant, the most easily understood, the most measurable and the most controllable. Once again, forced convection is heat carried by currents created by a fan or blower.

You can change the rate of convection by:
  • changing the airflow,
  • changing the energy output of the burner,
  • or by a combination of the two.

Unlike all forms of conduction in the roasting process, it is possible to make adjustments in the rate of convection that can have near-immediate effects on your roast profile. Although you cannot truly read convection, you can begin to get a handle on its effects by reading the drum environment temperature along with a bean probe, or through the use of a real-time data-logger.

Convection is truly a modern roaster's friend. A high rate of convection means coffee is roasted more evenly, more cleanly as most smoke and chaff is pulled away from the coffee, and each roast is more controllable and repeatable. The trick is finding the technique that works best for you in your installation, and your tastes.


There are three forms of heat energy; conduction, convection and radiation. The two "C"'s can be controlled with effect with the modern roaster, the other you need to be aware of. These are manipulated by controlling the charge or dump temperature, the amount of energy you introduce to the coffee is controlled by the heat and the air flow, and how you cool in the cooling bin.

Convection is the most dominant and the most controllable form of heat transfer and, as such, it is the place to start in gaining better control. A roaster with an understanding of how heat affects the roastcan create a more flavorful product in a more efficient and more consistent manner. This is truly the hallmark of a professional roaster.

Reference:, their site has some great tips but thought this was worth reposting, with my own edits
this is also found here:The Heat Is On: A roaster's guide to heat transfer by Terry Davis

So I am not sure which is the original source.