HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Monday late early cup (7 msgs / 202 lines)
1) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
I had some Mexico Oaxaca Fino Rojas special preparation from their 2 
higher altitude plots, which i had approved as a sample on friday, 
and promptly rejected after this morning. It just goes to show that 
actually brewing and drinking a potential coffee for a few days is 
part of my process in selecting lots ... well, at least a final 
vetting. Lotsa trouble finding good Mexico this year despite our 
project in Chiapas for lot separation last year. Then there was the 
El Olivo fiasco where they reneged on our contract (at a really 
ReALLY good price too) because they got mad at the guy who dry-milled 
the coffee. Oh well. Just more behind the scenes drama brought to you 
by sweet marias!
tom
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com
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2) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
Oh, and since then I have had:
9 Yemens
4 Tanzania Hassambo test roasts
2 decafs
1 el salvador natural
2 ethiopia naturals
2 experimental samples from froze,  8 month old coffee cherry!*
tom
*here's the note to the farmer i wrote about the experiment ... kinda funny:
<Snip>
<Snip>
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com
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3) From: Stephen Carey
Hi, Tom, thank you for sharing that story, there is just more and 
more to learn.  I do have a question about making the decision to 
offer a bean, then purchasing it.  Please don't answer if it goes 
into trade secrets or is just none of my business.  I am just 
curious.  So, you do a ton of homework, most likely also hear things 
about certain farms/orchards (never sure of the correct name), you go 
to a gathering to taste through cupping various beans.  Is the 
decision made then, or is it, as your story sounds, a matter of 
getting a hold of some of what you may offer and trying it again in a 
different setting and prepared in a manner different than it would be 
in cupping (which, forgive me, I am still learning about)?  I realize 
I have simplified this by about 30 steps and 10,000 air miles, I am 
not that naive, promise.
Can you shed light on this, if so, will you or if it is too private, 
please pretend I never asked.  Thank you,
Stephen
At 04:11 PM 5/19/2008, you wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
It's always based on a series of samples (type, offer, pre-ship, 
arrival) and in  many cases you have the ability to reject a sample 
at the pre-ship or arrival stage. With an established relationship, 
it doesn't necessarily go through these stages, but may involve extra 
test samples for micro-lots or separate days of picking, and cupping 
at the farm. Not much of what i do involves cupping in groups - I 
work on my own a lot, but have a few people who we share info and 
(sometimes) lots of coffee, namely stumptown, sometimes ritual, 
counterculture, not so much intelli any more. but this is rare 
really. Sometimes I go to Royal brokers in the bay area to cup, but 
mostly it happens here. it's always best to cup coffee on your home 
turf, from samples you roast yourself, undisturbed. I avoid making 
deals on trips for this reason - I always base decisions on samples i 
roast HERE! There's a lot of psychological ... er ... games ... one 
can play on onself. I really want to find a decent Oaxaca. We had 
booked this lot months ago based on early, early samples. I cupped it 
and thought it was simple, but solid and had strong acidity, but over 
the weekend as I drank it I found I just didn't look forward to it. 
It is "normal" specialty coffee. Theres nothing to discover in the 
cup, it's there and gone. That's how i changed my mind ... and it 
would have happened anyway because we always brew samples we are 
considering after cupping them by the traditional method. You need to 
go back and taste it several times to really get a feel for a coffee. 
The idea of a cupper that dips their spoon in once, and announces 
that a coffee is "fantastic" is a myth - or people who do that a re 
sorta full of themselves. you don't really "get" a coffee right away 
... which is why my job takes a lot of work. It sure would be easy if 
it was a one-shot deal.
tom
<Snip>
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com
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5) From: Stephen Carey
Thank you very much.  Trust me, I never thought it was a one cup 
test, but had no idea how it went and that you tested on your turf - 
makes so much sense.
I did, for the first time ever, see a TV show with a commodities 
trader in coffee cupping at his office/warehouse.  They were in their 
suits and ties and were the biggest trader in the city, being worth a 
quarter of a billion as individuals, no telling what the company 
earned.  I kind of thought it might have taken a few liberties, or 
maybe you do have the quarter billion and just like us harassing you!
Thank you again for the great lesson.  I take it all in as I approach 
each roast, from the crop growing to it getting to you and to me and 
then I work to figure out what the bean wants to be, how it wants to 
be roasted to be its best.  Sounds too strange and odd, but from what 
you all are teaching me I am learning this.  Every roast, good or 
bad, teaches me something, sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious, but 
there is always a lesson there.
Plus, I want to do good by your hard work, I mean that.
All the best,
Stephen
At 04:50 PM 5/19/2008, you wrote:
<Snip>
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6) From: Lynne
Thanks, Tom, for sharing - and thanks, Stephen, for asking these questions.
So very interesting!
Lynne
Stephen Carey said:
<Snip>
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7) From: Bill
Tom,
I was over at a coffee shop in Laramie, WY the other day, and they roast
their own coffee right next door.  I drank several different cups of coffee,
drip, clover, espresso.  It was all over-roasted and tasted bad.  It was all
fresh.  I couldn't tell if they had good beans or not.  I had had a cup of
the Harar that morning at home, so when I drank a cup of Sidamo with
absolutely no character and no interesting qualities, I was really
disappointed.
Anyway, I'm taking the long way of saying thanks for taking the time to do
what you do.  I know that it's a business but you run one of the best
businesses I've seen.  So thanks for all your work to bring me great coffee
that I enjoy every day.
bill in wyo
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