Search This Blog

Blog Archive

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.