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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.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Please can people read and remember. Freezing coffee can preserve it!

When we first started getting asked about preservation of coffee, we did our own tests and our conclusion where that our coffee, roasted to an Agtron level of 50 or higher (or a Citi roast) was able to retain its aroma and fragrance for approximately 2.5 months without any real loss, when kept in the freezer.

Since then we have had a number of clients and other so called ex-sperts saying now this is not the case.

Recently I found an article that was a little more scientific in its approach. I really believe it is worth a read:

You can read the whole article, but the conclusions are important:

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Feb 14: Our first day in Seattle

We had a lot to do in Seattle, with a lot of walking so I did not have time to write up the days travel on St V Day.

We started the day by meeting up with Ed from Seattle by foot. Seems as though it was not peak session Seattle by foot had organized a personalize tour, based on their normal tour. This was well worth the price, as it gave us a comprehensive and positive experience. We met a SBC, or Seattle's Best coffee.

The Stewart brothers  (SB) used to do ice cream, and after adding espresso based goodies, especially of the sweet variety they got into coffee in the early eighties. We went to their store that was opened in 1984. When they one, Seattle's Best Coffee in 1991, they change the company name of SBC to Seattle's Best coffee. After a number of acquisitions they are now owned by Starbucks. However they have always preferred the lighter more flavourful roasted coffee like we do.

We tried the Mocha desert, which was yummy, but technically not coffee ;)

Ed, Frog Quaffer and Mzukisi outside Seattle's Best Coffee
Ed, Frog Quaffer and Mzukisi outside Seattle's Best Coffee

As you can see this is the store that is closest to Pike Market Place.

We did take a quick tour of Pike Market Place afterwards, where Ed showed us the one side of the Market. We did go back the next day and take a look, and saw the famous throwing fish.

While we were there we had to go see the so called first Starbucks store, only to be told that actually it was their fourth store, but the first 3 have been demolished:

Frog Q @ Starbucks 4th Store

After the market we went to Caffé Darte. They let us sample a few of their coffees. The roast their coffee over a wood fired barrel roaster, so there is a smoky taste in their coffees.

Mzukisi and Frog Quaffer outside Caffé Dàrte
Caffé D'arté

We did some latté art, and that is always fun, but we struggle with the milk based coffees. Glad we went there it is more of the second wave or old school coffee house, but having the smoky tasting coffee was different. We did not have any espressos besides the ones in the cappuccinos.

We then took a walk to Dilettante Mocha Café, where we had a chocolate based drink, to be totally honest I was more impressed with their chocolate display.

We then caught the Seattle city bus to Caffé Vita. Which do pizza, pastries and great coffee.

This was the first time I has seen an Espresso machine with a PID for precise temperature control, that also allows a barista to control pre-brew and brew pressure. Frog Quaffer enjoy a great espresso or three here.

Frog Quaffer after enjoying a third Espresso At Vita
Espresso A tVita

There were all sorts of goodies there including a Japanese cold brew device (see below). And also we saw our first VST portafitler basket, which made us go on the quest to find one (see earlier tweet)

After popping past UPS's garden and waterfall dedicated to Seattle, we the made our way to Caffé Umbria. They had the original roaster the grandfather had imported. The original company had been bought as part of the Startbucks mass purchase, but the family recently openned up Umbria, since they felt there was a demand for their style of coffee and blend. We had an espresso that was drinkable there. But not repeatable.

Frog Quaffer at Caffé Umbria
Frog Q at Caffe Umbria

But the people where very nice there, they where using a La Marzocco Strada, which is the machine that La Marzocco developed as an answer to the Synesso we had seen at Vita. They also told us where to find the VST baskets, which was about a 40 minute walk to Vission's Espresso, so after saying goodby and thank you to Ed off we went.

So off we went up 1st ave, not realizing how far it was. So far in fact that we ended up going past Starbuck's Head Office

Frog Q stopped by Starbucks HO in Seattle

We then popped into Visions, what a great bunch of people. We met Kilf who made a great espresso and also we were lucky to get the last two precision baskets. They recommended that we try Milstead for a precision espresso. At Visions we also found that they had cherries on their Arabica tree:

Frog Q at Visions Espresso In Their Coffee Tree
alt="FrogQatVisionsEspressoInTheirCoffeeTree" width="490" />

We then took a walk up to 4th to catch a bus across town to go to Atlas. For those that have never been to Seattle, like us this was a little of a surprise. A 40 minute bus drive later, we took a walk down 85th street, and found Atlas Importers.

Frog Q and Mzukisi at Atlas Coffee Importers
Atlas Importers

This guys are passionate about traceability and high quality green been. In their reception we found a classic Brasilia.

Classic Brasilia At Atlas
Brasilia At Atlas

We where shown around their lab, and quite frankly Frog Q was blown away. Attention to detail is evident everywhere. For cupping they use their sample roasters, using the Agtron meter to ensure that they are within the cupping limits.

From Q in front of the sample roasters at Atlas Lab
Frog Q at Atlas Lab

Agtron result of the roast at Atlas, for cupping
Atlas's Agtron Meter

They also check a variety of brewing methods, and had a Strada La Marzocco, the third time in a day we had seen this awesome piece of equipment.

Atlas Lab's Strata Frog Q wants one ;)

Even the agents in South Africa do not know about this product. We really need to wake up and smell the coffee it is only and stale, and badly extracted! See the pressure control levers for controlling the brew!

The lab had all sorts of goodies in it, including a Lego replica of lab, just in case, you got lost (lol):

Atlas's Lego Land Lab
Atlas's Lego Land Lab

We chatted with Drew and Al there (he currently sits on the SCAA board, not that he told us we found that out later). They work closely with the growing communities, and only bring in coffees that have gone through all their tests. The prefer to deal with growers directly and their big boss was not available as he was in Ethiopia for the East African Fine Coffee Association Conference.

Al also recommend Milstead, and said he would drop us off there to try them out. So off we went Milstead.

Passion and precision are the drivers at Milstead. They source coffee from 4 different roasters, and each brew is meticulously measured to make sure that the amount of coffee and the amount brewed are perfectly matched, see below the scale they use for each brew. Oh and by the way PID and pressure control machine used for espresso.

Milstead & Co Scale

Frog Quaffer had espresso 10, 11, 12 & 13 of the day. It was good.

Finally we made it back via the bus to our hotel and crashed around 8pm.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Lower grown coffee, identifying a roast profile

We woke up to snow

Frog Q in Snow by Lake Pend Oreille
Frog Q in Snow by Lake Pend Oreille

When we woke up this morning it had been snowing, we took a quick drive to get a view of the lake before going back to Diedrich to work on perfecting roasting profiles for the new coffee Java Kopi, from Sumatra, which is a lower grown coffee, and hence requires a different profile, which we needed to identify.

frog q with candelial
Frog Quaffer was happier with the profiles that we were able to produce. There was a lot of coffee roasted during the day, all collected and Frog Quaffer posed with it:

Frog Q With all the Coffee roasted for the day
Frog Q With All The Coffee

Even though these where just sample roasts there was quite a lot of chaff that collected in the 5kg IR coffee roaster.

Frog Q with chaff from day
Frog Q with chaff from day

It over filled a bucket as seen here with Steve and Mzukisi

Chaff collected from all the profile roasting of the day
Chaff collected from all the profile roasting of the day

We essentially created 4 profiles:
  1. Where there is a quick elevation in temperature initially, then a gentle increase
  2. Where there is a slow elevation in temperature initially and a gentle increase
  3. Where the elevation is consistent
  4. Where there is a quick elevation in temperature, then a gentle and then a quick increase.
Tomorrow we will cup the results, and work with airflow, something that Diedrich inovated in coffee roasting.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Roasting 201, creating multiple profiles

Notes from Roasting 201

Assessing the various roasting results

Today was an intense day of learning the nuances of roasting. Specifically selecting a coffee from the roasts we had already done the day before and then trying to create different profiles that end up as check points before, during and after.

First the tasting of the previous days roast:

Frog Quaffer at the profile roast cuppingFrog Quaffer at the profile roast cupping

We were given the SCAA cupping forms to evaluate the different roast profiles. Which resulted in the first two and the last one being excluded first. The first too were a little green, and the last one the unique flavours of the coffee had been destroyed by going to far in the roast like an Italian or French roast. In the end the coffee that had just gone past 1st crack, and just before 2nd crack at 420°F (the 4th roast) or 425F (the 5th roast).

Cupping results from the different resultsCupping Results With FrogQ

Creating multiple roast profiles

Once the Results were in we were divided into groups and asked to roast to a 11,13,15 and 17 minute profile following the perfect profile graph, shown below:

Ideal Roast Profile Graphically
Perfect Roast Profile Graph

This was quite a challenge and between us it took over 40 roasts to get 4 roasts to the perfect profile. The others were baked or the middle of the bean had not been roasted. The importance of understanding when to add heat and when to remove was illustrated by this process. You need to almost remove or add flame at the correct level almost 2 minutes before it needs to be.

Frog Q with the first Profile not quite right
Frog Q with the first Profile

This profile was not quite right because it did not peak towards the end, which means that heat was not added early enough at the end, the coffee was not baked but the texture was not quite right.

Mzukisi and Frog Quaffer had a very successful roast, shown below:

Frog Q with Mzukisi's roast
Frog Q Protects His Roast

This coffee was the result of the below roast profile logged, which had a great spike towards the end:

Frog Q Roast sheet with spike at the End
Frog Q Roast sheet with spike at the End

We did finish a little earlier today, around 17:15

Tomorrow we will be concentrate on when to change airflow.

A day of Introduction to Profile Roasting

7 Feb Diedrich Notes

Introduction to roasting profiles

Today we concentrated on how different profiles affect coffee taste. There are two analogies that you can use with coffee roasting:
  1. Coffee is like a big cargo ship to steer it in one direction or the other you need to do so slowly and plan ahead. A coffee roast needs to be planned 2 minutes ahead of time so that you variables are considered now for where you want to be in 2 minutes. At the same time

  2. Coffee is like a locomotive to get it going takes a while, and then once it is at full speed it is hard to change anything dramatically, without dramatic results
Coffee has around 1,800 components in it, roasting can manipulate 1,500 of those, so a roast profile needs to be established and followed. Today we all tried to follow the roasting profile below to varying success. So roasted too quickly some too slowly.

Roasting profile we were set to follow for our Columbian relationship coffee
Roasting profile we were set to follow for our Columbian relationship coffee

Some of us worked on the 12kg Diedrich. Coffee roasted on the 12kg and 5 kg manual was Colombia Huila "Monserrate". On the 12kg we roasted 6 pounds (2.72 kgs) on the 5 kg we roasted 2.5 pounds (1.13 kgs). These amounts were chosen to make it a little harder to follow the profile.

Frog Quaffer working with the 12kg automated roaster
12 kg Diedrich

Frog Q after the coffee has cooled in the 5kg
5 kg Diedrich

After we had a number of roasts we then cupped all the different roasts to identify the best profiles. So quick notes:
  • Coffee that where roasted quickly had a lot of brightness,
  • Coffees that roasted to slowly where milder.
  • Coffees where there wall stalled roasts has a baked or biscuit taste
  • Under roasted coffees tasted a little green
  • And over roasted a little burnt

Frog Quaffer at the roasting table where we compared the roasts
cupping table

Remember all the coffees are the same it is how they were roasted and exposed to temperatures that changed. These minor changes affected the taste dramatically.

Setting up an evaluation for the next day

After we had learnt the roasters, by following the roast profiles we were given a coffee from Costa Rican coffee Candelila.

We roasted to a profile to before first crack, past first crack, before second crack, on second crack and past second crack. So that tomorrow we would be able to compare the roasts.

Day ended just before 18:40, so 10 hours of roasting to a profile under our belt, interrupted by a tasting.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Frog Quaffer and Mzukisi arrive for training at Diedrich

Frog Quaffer and Mzukisi, arrived at Diedrich this morning at 08:40 Feb 6 2012, ready to learn. Here are a few pics from the day. A lot of information to be absorbed

All seated and ready to learn

The course started off going through the different areas, and processes coffee goes through before it reaches green been. There are two basic processes as we have discovered before:
  1. Wet processing
  2. Dry processing (or what they called natural)
  3. And a new method which we had not heard about called the honey method (the fruit skin is removed and then it is like dry processing)
There are many ways these processes are done, on micro, midi and massive scales with the resulting coffee being affected by the speed of the process (slower is better), and how natural it is (more natural the better).

At the end of the process you are left with a bean with parchment on, which is left on the bean until it is purhcased, to protect it. Below is a pic, of the bean with parchment on it (looks like peanuts), the dark one is the dry process the lighter one the wet process. Although this we knowledge we had, it was still interesting:

Afterwards we did a coffee cupping with Atlas coffee importers and learnt how to taste tainted coffees, and set up a cupping. This was great fun. We tasted 6 coffees, from all over the world, 4 of them where tongue tingling. Notes of cupping to follow in a later post.

Then we had a tour of the factory

First we saw a 12kg IR that was almost ready to ship:

The designer of the Diedrich roasters, has a rich family history in coffees, with his father first tinkering with roasters when he was a boy in the 60s, and after a stint in the aeronautics industry.

Steve explaining the development of the barrel, which is one of the most efficient in the businesses

Steve joined his Dad and eventually designed his own roaster with a revolutionary barrel design and was the first roaster to use the highly efficient infra red burners,

Stainless steel drum. Not coated, 100% steel
Stainless steel drum. Not coated, 100% steel

consistency and total control of the roast, allowing proper roast profiling and assessment of the roast at all check points along the roast. The whole product is made of the best quality steel and components to ensure that the roaster works all the time. and a heat exchange which allowed
FrogQuaffer sitting on a IR1 ready for final paint prep
The roasters have no glue only spot welding and high quality engineering. They are built to produce the best coffee and last forever.

Frog Quaffer visits the Diedrich Engineers

Frog Quaffer visits the Diedrich Engineers

And that was just the morning.

The rest of the day was dedicated to the process of setting up the theory behind a profile roast per coffee. Coffee needs to be shown respect by the roaster to should honour to those that have produced it. More to come about profile roasting in another post.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Coffee Market Jan 2012 Summary

Summarized news from January 2012 concentrating on countries that produce at least 30% Arabica only, and listed by date news was issued.

Executive summary for Jan 2012

News summary:
  • Most of the South American coffee production is up for this current coffee year.
  • Honduras and Peru are becoming major players in the South American region, and one of them may produce more coffee than Guatemala in the ye
    ars to come.
  • The Indonesian island areas are recovering slowly from poor weather they have experienced over the last 2 years.
  • The Indian and African are anticipated to be large than the 2010/2011 year.
  • Brazil is closing in on the US as the largest consumer of coffee worldwide.

The major coffee producers are using their money surplus
they have been able accumulate (created by the higher prices last year), to reduce sales of coffee warehouse in an attempt to reduce the effect of the downward trend of coffee future prices, preferring. This has resulted in consumer market industry players to remain largely hand to mouth buyers until such time as producers accept the reality of the market and reduce differential price demands. This means that the downward trend is likely to start levelling out, unless the producers are forced to sell their warehoused stock.

6th. January, 2012

The New Year has been a quiet one for the Brazil coffee industry, driven mainly by the fact that they have cash reserves from the 2011’s high value and profitable sales. This stance will probably persists, with five months of reserve until there shall be pressure to start selling the forecasted biennially bearing new crop coffees. This therefore sees sales of the declining stocks from last year’s harvest remaining slow.

The advantage that Brazil’s farmers have is that there are a good number of consumer market roasters (i.e not people like Quaffee who value quality coffee over all else) who rely upon the low price and taste profile of high percentages of Brazil coffees within their blends with no real volume competition for Brazil Arabica based coffees, they remain in the driving seat in terms of prices they can demand. This is of course not a permanent situation and they can only buck the dictates of the international markets to a degree, but for the short term consumer industry buyers are taking a very much hand to mouth stance and exporters are finding it difficult to buy in coffees within the price levels offered by their international clients. While with the slow nature of new business and internal buying, it is limiting the volumes of price fixation hedge selling from Brazil against the New York market and is to a degree, somewhat supportive for this market.

There is surprisingly little news coming forth from Mexico and Central America and especially so, with the new crop coffee stocks increasing by the day. This is indicative of a good new crop, as no news controls the market pricing better.

Preliminary indications from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority are that the country’s coffee exports for December were 1.91% higher than the same month in the previous year, at a total of 242,301 bags. This was a good end to the year and with this performance falling within the new October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year figures, is supportive towards the countries forecast to export over 3 million bags during this present coffee year.

The certified washed Arabica coffee stocks held against the New York market decreased by 575 bags yesterday, to see these stocks registered at 1,529,769 bags. There was meanwhile a slightly larger 3,520 bags increase in the number of bags pending grading for the exchange, which were registered at 13,766 bags.

9th. January, 2012

The Agricultural Ministry in Indonesia, with the country coming out of two years of climatic issues that were related to the unusually persistent and heavy rains that came with the La Nina phenomenon in the Pacific, has reported coffee production was 7.7% lower than the previous year, at a total of 10,566,500 bags. Although only 30% of this crop is Arabica, it is worth noting this production figure.

This year’s forecast of the new coffee crop to increase by 13% to a total of 11,966,667 bags, which while more modest than the general range of private trade and industry reports, does nevertheless agree with the view that with the La Nina on the wane that the Indonesian coffee crop shall be larger this year. Although these figures are not necessarily accurate, it is more than likely that there will be a larger crop in play and despite growing domestic coffee consumption, the coffee export potential from Indonesia could increase by 2 to even 3 million bags for the calendar year. So that is 750,000 or 1 million bags of Arabica

Still there is little news in the way of news from the other main producer blocs, with Mexico, Central America and Colombia in full harvest. Their tendency for producers to try to protect prices with scare stories, remains an indication that medium to longer term coffee supply remains on track to become surplus supply and especially so, with the advent of the new Brazil, Indonesian and Indian coffee crops that shall impact from the second quarter of the year onwards.

10th. January, 2012

Honduras and Costa Rica have reported higher export figures for the month of December and for the coffee year so far, the authorities in Guatemala have confirmed that the country’s coffee exports for the month of December were 2.16% lower than the same month in the previous year, at a total of 177,303 bags. The country has however had a good start to this new October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year and in this respect, they have reported that their cumulative exports for the first three months of this coffee year are nevertheless 12.61% higher than the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total of 381,500 bags.

The authorities in Mexico have reported that the country’s coffee exports for the month of December were 22.5% higher than the same month in the previous year, at a total of 163,190 bags. They have likewise reported that their cumulative coffee exports for the first three months of this October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year are 52.16% higher than the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total of 512,032 bags.

11th. January, 2012

The Brazilian Green Coffee Exporters Association following last month’s export figures of 2.56 million bags of green coffee, have concluded that green coffee exports for 2011 were 1.35% higher than the previous year, at a total of 30.1 million bags of green coffee. However with the high prices last year, the revenue from green coffee exports was an impressive 52.3% higher than the previous year, at a total of 8.7 billion US$. This value of last year’s green coffee exports has elevated the prominence of the country’s coffee industry within the agricultural sector, as coffee accounted for 9.2% of the total agricultural export income for the country, which totalled 94.59 billion US$. Beef export is still the largest by far.

The first official new crop forecast from Brazil was announced early yesterday afternoon, with the Government Crop Supply Agency CONAB announcing that they forecast a crop to start in April this year, of between 48.97 and 52.27 million bags. This forecast related to an approximate 74.5% share of Arabica coffees, with the balance related to Robusta coffees.

This relatively low forecast is not unexpected as historically the official forecasts have always been anything from 10% to 15% below the follow on reality of the evidence of the domestic consumption and the export volumes. Thus one might say that this forecast would indicate confirmation of the many earlier private trade and industry forecasts, of between 55 and 58 million bags.

There has been little news over the past weeks from Colombia as the world’s leading fine washed Arabica coffee producer (and Quaffee are proud to have some of these excellent coffee acquired through the relationship coffee model), where the past two years have produced relatively dismal weather affected modest crops. It is however noted that the second milder follow on La Nina phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean is on the wane and the country has been experiencing some early New Year sunny dry spells. This while early days, is an indicator of the prospects for much improved production levels for the second half of this year and particularly so, for the next new main crop that is due to start being harvested in October this year.

12th. January, 2012

Mexico and Central America have now harvested over 50% of the new crop coffees with farm and mill stocks steadily increasing, this may soon encourage some catch up hedge selling activity. While with the consumer market roasters still mostly maintaining a short term buying policy and resisting high differential demands for new crop coffees from the producers, there might be some degree of underlying support for the short term to soften the fall that might come with a market reversal.

The larger new Indian and Ethiopian crops are starting, the larger new Indonesian crop is due to start in three months and to be followed a month later, of a larger new Brazil crop (as already discussed above). This is aside from prospects for an overall larger new crop for this year, from the East and Central African producer bloc of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. With this latter producer bloc while not significantly large in terms of world production, nevertheless offering a nice mix of Robusta, natural Arabica and quality fully washed Arabica coffees.

13th. January, 2012

Despite the positive nature of coffee exports reported for the past three months from its neighbours, the authorities in El Salvador have reported that the country’s coffee exports for the month of December were 45.53% lower than the same month in the previous year, at a total of 81,697 bags. This relatively dismal December performance has contributed to the cumulative coffee exports from the country for the first three months of this new October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year being 23.83% lower than the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total of 134,760 bags.

This decline in export volumes from El Salvador is however not unexpected as the country had a fantastic crop for the previous November 2010 to March 2011 harvest, which had fuelled sharply higher export volumes for the previous coffee year. This bumper crop has thus resulted in a biennially bearing lower new crop for this year that had been forecasted to be 30% lower than the previous crop, with some talking as high as a 45% decline in production.

Nevertheless with El Salvador aside and taking note that the country accounted for only 10% of the regional Mexico and Central American production for the previous coffee year and is forecasted to account for only 7% of the regional production for this new October 2011 to March 2012 harvest, the overall regional production remains on track to be a good crop, this despite the fact that export figures from Nicaragua are still not released but are anticipated to be 24% higher than the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total with Nicaragua’s December figure estimated, of approximately 1.89 million bags.

In terms of Central and South American fine washed Arabica coffee production, Peru continues to grow its industry and with the past couple of years of good prices and profits, the resulting rising levels of farm inputs are expected to further fuel growth. The countries coffee council in this respect, has reported that coffee production for 2011 was 29% higher than the previous year, at a total of 5,213,333 bags. While with the benefit of good reference prices through the year, Peru’s income from coffee exports was 80% higher than the previous year, at a total of 1.55 billion US$.

This official production figure from Peru is however something of a surprise, as there are many trade and industry reports that have so far pegged the countries production at closer to 4 million bags, but even if the always difficult to quantify volumes of production are open to adjustment, one would presume the registered export value must me near to accurate. Whatever the crop last year, this country is nevertheless steadily becoming a year by year stronger player in terms of consumer market fine coffee supply and is in something of a race with Honduras to overtake Guatemala, who has traditionally held the second place to the market leader Colombia, as the leading fine coffee exporter.

16th. January, 2012

The La Nina which brings with it relatively excessive rains for the South Pacific countries is on the wane, but it is nevertheless the main October to April rain season for most of Indonesia and the country with the new crop coffees getting closer to maturity, reporting regular rain showers over most of the coffee districts. These weather conditions bring with them some scare stories of excessive rains causing cherry drop and difficulties to dry harvested coffees shall be negative for the forecasted larger crop, but with the relatively modest La Nina expected to disappear by or during the second quarter of this year, the prospects are for relatively normal weather conditions to prevail for this new crop harvest. Therefore, one might presume that for Indonesia it shall be a near to normal harvest season and that the larger new crop for the present, remains a safe bet and that by the second half of the year there shall be increasing coffee supply from this the important coffee producer.

There is however a reluctance on the part of Indonesian exporters to sell new crop Robusta and Arabica coffees forward, as the combination of volatility of the reference prices of the London (that controls the Robusta pricing) and New York markets and the experiences of the past year of insecurity of market related coffee supply from the farmers and internal market traders, has burnt many fingers and most exporters prefer to take a wait and see stance. This situation sees the country remain very much sidelined from day to day coffee business within the consumer markets and thus for the present and with a likewise cautious exporter demand for premium differentials ahead of the new Indian Robusta coffee crop, world Robusta coffee supply from Asian producers remains focused on new crop Vietnam coffees.

17th. January, 2012

The Coffee Board of India have reported that with carryover stocks low following an aggressive high volume export year and ahead of the new crop, that the country’s coffee exports for the month of December were 7% lower than the same month in the previous year, at a total of 333,333 bags. They have likewise reported that the countries cumulative exports for the first three months of the new October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year are 14.75% lower than the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total of 976,633 bags.

India has nevertheless, following a high volume of coffee exports for the first nine months of 2011, reported that the country’s calendar year exports were 28% higher than the previous year, at a total of approximately 5,833,333 bags. This impressive performance and with little in the way of carryover stocks in hand and despite an estimated 6% increase in the new crop that is now starting, might be difficult to match for this year, albeit that the country can be expected to remain a significant supplier to the consumer markets of a good volume of Robusta and Arabica coffees. These coffee exports with the rising domestic consumption taking a good bite into the lower priced Robusta coffees, expected to be a ratio of 71 to 29 Robusta to Arabica coffees.

The Colombia Coffee Federation following a dismal year of La Nina excessive rains weather affected production, have reported that production for the calendar year of 2011 was 12% lower than the previous year, at a total of 7.8 million bags. This decline has seen the country’s exports for the year fall by a more modest factor of 1%, to register exports for the year of 7.73 million bags. Conditions are however with the La Nina on the wane improving and the country is forecasting production of around 9 million bags for this year, which would be expected to fuel exports of over 8 million bags for the year.

One might however suggest that with a good percentage of new higher yielding and disease resistant coffee varieties planed out over the past ten years of a national rejuvenation program, along with much improved weather conditions prevailing and forecasted for the rest of the year, that the recovery in Colombia might be much better than many presently forecast. This might especially impact upon the prospects for the end of the year larger main crop that is due to start in October, which might well still fuel an overall crop of fine washed Arabica coffees for this year, which shall well exceed 10 million bags.

The ICO (International Coffee Organisation) which is obliged by nature to use the traditionally discounted conservative official figures forwarded by many producer members and especially so leading producers such as Brazil and Vietnam, have increased their earlier October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year world coffee production forecast by 2.95%, to a production figure of 132.4 million bags. This figure does of course due to the timing, include last year’s lower and officially discounted biennially bearing Brazil crop within the figure, but by May the larger new crop from Brazil shall actually come into play. Thus in terms of actual coffee supply for this new coffee year and with official figures adjusted closer to reality, one might think to rather apply a significantly higher figure of in excess of 140 million bags and thus a surplus supply of in excess of 5 million bags.

This increase in the ICO figures was in meantime is related to what they foresee to be a rather dramatic 30.67% increase in the Ethiopian new crop that is now starting, which they now peg at an impressive 9.8 million bags. If this forecast for Africa’s largest producer and likewise largest coffee consumer is to become fact, it shall most certainly fuel a surge in exports for this year, which would, see the country’s export potential exceed 4 million bags maintain its status as the continents leading coffee exporter. Likewise with this increase related mostly to the countries lower priced natural Arabica coffees rather than the more speciality branded washed Arabica coffees, it adds increased natural Arabica coffee supply for this year, on top of a forecasted larger new Brazil natural Arabica coffee crop that shall start to impact by June.

18th. January, 2012

Following the positive export figures for the first three months of the coffee year from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica, Nicaragua have joined El Salvador with lower December figures that indicate a slow start to this new coffee year. The Nicaraguan authorities have reported that their December coffee exports were 45.71% lower than the same month last year, at a total of 52,120 bags. This having contributed to the countries cumulative exports for the first three months of the present October 2011 to September coffee year being 37.73% lower than the same period in the previous coffee year, at a total of 111,138 bags. However, this does not indicate a problem, as so far the forecasts for the new crop harvest is nearing its peak are for a 14% improved new crop of approximately 1.6 million bags.

Agricultural Ministry of Indonesia are still expect to total near to 6.7 million bags, in line with already forecasted a 13% increase in coffee production for this year. The new coffee crop is now pegged at 11.97 million bags.

19th. January, 2012

Even though we source our Kenyan Kagumo coffee direct it is of interest to note that Kenya Coffee Exporters Association state that with improved weather conditions in play, the early forecasts are that for this present October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year, the Kenyan crop might well recover up to near to 800,000 bags. This is good news considering that the country’s coffee production for the October 2010 to September 2011 coffee year fell by 13% from the previous coffee year’s crop figure due to mostly weather related issues, to total only 610,483 bags. This follows an already dismal 2009 to 2010 coffee year crop of 702,000 bags, which was already well down by 26% from the 950,000 bags produced in the 2008 to 2009 coffee year.

This improved crop to join larger new crops that are forecasted for this coffee year, for Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi. With these coffees added to the steady crops from Uganda and Tanzania, to assist towards much improved regional coffee supply.

Meanwhile with reasonable weather conditions in play and export registrations in hand, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority have forecast that coffee exports in January shall most likely be 7% higher than the same month last year, at a total of 230,000 bags. This forecast being supportive of the authorities earlier forecast that the country shall register coffee exports for this present October 2011 to September 2012 coffee year, of approximately 3 million bags.

20th. January, 2012

Slower December sales from coffee producer bloc of Mexico, Central America, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Peru are however not only related to the relatively modest nature of the new main crop from Colombia, but are also related to some degree of reluctance on the part of consumer market roasters to support purchases of any more than what is actually needed for short term roasting requirements, of these new crop coffees. While many producers with good finance in hand from the past year of profitable sales, are likewise reluctant to aggressively sell new crop coffees to the market that remains in something of a doldrums.

The Colombian Coffee Federation was up to six months ago forecasting that with the constant rejuvenation program that has been in play for some years now and is steadily year by year, supporting the replacing of aged coffee trees with new higher yielding and disease resistant varieties, that the country’s coffee crop would be in excess of 14 million bags per annum by 2015. They have however now but without any specific figures or facts quoted, indicated yesterday that the country shall struggle to recover from last year’s rain affected crop level of below 8 million bags and might take as much as four years to recover to their earlier crop levels of in excess of 11 million bags per annum. This is something of a turnaround in official sentiment from within the country and while there is no doubt that 2012 shall not be high volume production year, one might see that this latest interview was leaning to some degree of market manipulation, following the softening nature of the reference prices of the New York market.

24th. January, 2012

Despite the relaxation of state controls and the handing over of farms to prospective coffee growers in Cuba, it has yet to impact upon the country’s coffee production. In this respect they forecast that this year’s new crop that is in harvest shall do little better than match last year’s crop of 100,000 bags, which accounts for only 25% of their domestic markets coffee requirements. They do however foresee that by 2015 with new coffee farms progressing, that the country shall see their crop increase to a near to self-sufficiency 367,000 bags, with a longer term forecast to crops of around 467,000 to 500,000 bags, that have not been seen since the 1970’s.

With a rising domestic consumption, the Coffee Board in India has estimated that the country shall have to increase coffee production by approximately 5% per annum, for the coming years. This is however not a difficult target under the present circumstances, as the country’s overall average coffee farm yields have been well below potential and with rising input levels and improved farm husbandry there is already a significant potential for increased production. This is aside from the example of improved profits for coffee farmers over the past couple of years, that there are many new coffee farms being planted out in not only the traditional coffee districts, but also in new districts for the industry. Thus one might suggest that despite the rising coffee consumption within India that the country shall remain a steady supplier of both Robusta and Arabica coffees to the consumer markets for the foreseeable future.

25th. January, 2012

Brazil’s Coffee Industry Association have estimated that the countries domestic coffee consumption increased by 3.1% during 2011, to total the equivalent of 19.7 million bags of green coffee. This figure that puts the country only marginally behind the U.S.A. as the world’s largest coffee market was however predicted, while based on this steady growth one might expect that Brazil shall consume in excess of 20 million bags during the course of this year. While the association is confidentially forecasting that by next year the country shall see annual consumption rise to 21 million bags per annum, which shall be getting close to the 23 million bags per annum, that is the estimated consumption level in the U.S.A.

The country does nevertheless expect to harvest well over 55 million bags from this year’s new crop and with exports forecasted to be around 32 million bags, their vibrant domestic market is not expected to have a negative effect upon consumer market coffee supply from the country. Albeit that the new crop that many still see to have to potential to even exceed 58 million bags, shall not be expected to provide for a significant surplus supply. Meanwhile with the positive financial input from the past two years of profitable coffee sales, it has been inspirational for Brazil’s coffee farmers and one can expect that good levels of farm inputs and planting of new coffee trees, shall see that with unforeseen negative weather conditions aside, that the country should maintain a steady growth in production levels and stay ahead of both the rising domestic and international demand for Brazil coffees.

There is also somewhat off the horizon for the present and not as regularly debated, a similar growth in domestic coffee consumption within Indonesia. This country also has a steady growth in coffee consumption, which is perhaps quite difficult to truly assess. There are official domestic consumption figures that would indicate a domestic consumption of approximately 3.5 million bags for this year, but there is also a considerable level of tax free unofficial farm produce transference to the informal retail industry. With the improved new crop that is due to start being harvested shortly, on track to significantly increase export volumes for this year over the past year’s dismal performance, which should add in excess of 2 million bags to this year’s global coffee supply.

The latest reports from the Japanese market, which is in terms of consumer countries the third largest coffee consumer and overall once Brazil is included, the fourth largest market, indicate no real growth in coffee consumption. The tea market in Japan is however showing considerably more muscle and with many new options of fruit, herbal, instant and bottle tea products on offer, this market increased by 4% during 2010, with prospects for further growth once the figures for 2011 are released and likewise, for this year.

27th. January, 2012

Crop levels over the past couple of years in Colombia have not impacted upon the countries higher value specialty quality coffees, with the Colombian Coffee Federation forecasting that they expect to see the counties exports of these special coffees increase by at least 3% for this year. These exports they foresee, shall exceed the 1 million bags mark, with fine Colombian coffees holding a good market share within the specialty coffee sector of the consumer markets.

This figure becomes even more impressive, as it is related to the countries forecast for 2012 total fine Arabica coffee exports being between 8.5 to 9.5 million bags. Thus the speciality sector of the country’s exports expected to account for approximately 9% of total exports, which is an impressive share. While it would indicate that Colombia might well account for an approximate 15% of the total specialty sector, within the consumer markets.

Despite higher prices and the economic situation Starbucks has found that in the USA sales increased 9%, and their European outlets have increased by 2%

The Brazil like the South America producers has shown restraint of accepting the asking prices from the countries exporters, which has contributing to unseasonably low volumes of trade.

30th. January, 2012

The Brazil Agricultural Ministry has forwarded an early supportive statement, that steady liquidation of stocks from their previous price support programs, does not indicate any change in strategy and is only an opportunity in terms of reasonable market prices, to recover funds and free up coffee warehouse space ahead of a larger new crop. They made it very clear that should the international market head softer so as to threaten profitable prices for their coffee farmers that they would have no hesitation to introduce a new price support options plan and take on new coffee stocks, so as to tighten export supply and insure fair prices for the new crop coffees.

31st. January, 2012

January is coming to a close with most of the main coffee districts in Brazil having reported rainfall for the month that matches to exceed their five year averages for the month, which supports the steady development of coffee cherries towards this year’s biennially bearing larger new crop. In a couple of months the new Arabica coffee crop from the central and southern coffee districts of the country, with most private trade and industry forecasts still indicating a new crop of at least 55 million bags.