|Brazil Cup of Excellence, Natural 1st edition, late harvestBy Audun Sørbotten|
A historical event for brazilian coffees took place this year -the first ever Cup of Excellence competition exclusively for natural processed coffees. Cup of Excellence, now comprising 11 coffee producing countries, evolved from the Best of Brazil competition back in 1999. The success of the CoE has come from the enthusiasm these coffees have created, and the positive ring effects of high prices offered for really good, well-processed, award-winning coffees.
Until now, natural (dry method) coffees were not considered for the competition. But this January the First edition Natural Coffee competition was arranged in the district of Minas Gerais (district with the highest coffee production in Brazil). Silvio Leite, one of the pioneers of CoE, was the head judge. Being brazilian himself, he has extensive knowledge of these coffees, and a big enthusiasm for what these coffees can be like.
Natural coffees comprise 87% of Brazil's production (total production for 2011 was 43.48 million 60 kilo bags). Much of this is coffee from huge farms, machine picked, blended together, unripe coffees in the mix; all of this contributing to the reputation of the natural method as a poorly controlled process compared to the more costly wet method. Taste of ferment and more or less unclean and uneven taste profile is often the result. Still, these coffees have been attractive as blenders, and maybe even more so in espresso. Low acidity coffees with taste of chocolate and nuts, maybe accompanied by some fruitiness from ferment, are appreciated as a normal daily drinking coffee in most places. But Cup of Excellence has high standards, and no uncleanliness, ferment or defects are tolerated in award winning coffees.
But Brazil seem to have it all, being enormously diverse in the production. Well-processed natural coffees are out there, and they prove that the production method (washed-/pulped natural-/semi-washed-/natural method), is not determining the quality. A farmer can produce very clean, sweet and balanced coffees by the natural method if he is in control of selection of ripeness of the beans (either by handpicking and/or by density separation in water and green bean separation by machine or hand). He also needs to be in control of the drying of the coffee. This can be done on patio/elevated beds or in drying machines or a combination of the two. Drying can take two weeks before the coffee reaches the desired humidity level of 11-12% (measured by instrument). This is a very critical stage when it comes to the risk of fermentation. Then comes the hulling of the dried cherry, removal of parchment, and a series of sorting operations and screening by size at the dry mill before the coffee can be characterized by quality and exported.
The micro lots that came through to the Cup of Excellence competition, 38 in all, had some qualities that surprised most of the judges. They were first of all surprisingly clean. Then came taste profiles that reminded of other origins, like lemon and bergamot of ethiopian coffees. Or big tropical fruit flavours that could be mistaken for Honduras. The roasted beans had uniform colour and were perfectly even in every way. Just three lots were rejected for having ferment and/or rioy defect in one cup. This year, the standard of Cup of Excellence has been raised again, to 85 points. 19 coffees were of this standard, and four of these were over 90 points (Presidential award).
This is very good news for Brazil. These coffees will be recognized and highly prized, and it will make way for more quality naturals, not just in Brazil. These are also coffees for the future, since the environmental effects are much lower than with washed coffees (that often use as much as 40 tons of water to make one ton of coffee). These coffees can show their terroir to the fullest. The auction will be on the 14th of march, and it will be exciting to see the prices these coffees will get.
Report from MaastrichtBy Alexander S. Jensen
The SCAE World of Coffee in Maastricht is an event for machine manufacturers, baristas, roasters and everybody interested in coffee, especially in the high end of the market. There are 5 world championships; Latte art, Coffee in good spirits, black coffee brewing, cuptasting (triangular) and Ibrik.
Here are some pictures.Breakfast with champions. – Breakfast on Thursday was arranged at Coffelovers, a local chain of coffeebars. Championspotting: How many champions can you spot?Head barista at Solberg & Hansen, Willy, is making life hard for the local baristas.Controverisial winner of the triangelcupping. Kyriakos Ouzounidis from Greece. Controversial because Kyriakos used his eyes to detect subtle differences in colouring in the coffees more than he actually tasted them. He also had a lively way of celebrating his victory.Idar Ellingsen from Trondheim participated in the Cupping championship, but did not reach the finals this year. Arne Risøe Nilsen from De 4 Roser in Tromsø was satisfied with his presentation. It did not get him a place in the final, but Arne is already looking to improve his program for next years competitions.Rune Andersen made an amazing effort and managed to take home a third place in “Coffee in good spirits” (coffee and alcohol).If you don´t want to buy an espresso-machine, you can build your own. This one is piston-driven, and also creates enough steam to make nice milk. The espresso was very sweet. For more results and information, see www.scae.com.Darjeeling First FlushBy: Ingri M. Johnsen, Foto: Marith Brithsdatter
We are glad to announce that First Flush from Maharani Hill tea plantation is expected in stock on the 24th of June. The plantation Maharani (meaning "wife of the Maharaja") is well known for their high quality teas, which are grown at 1500 meters above sea level. This ensures a slow ripening with cool temperature in the mornings and evenings and hot in the daytime. The First Flush tea is the very first picking of the new season with all of the power and nutrition that a fresh springing sprout can have. Only the newly sprung bud and the first two leaves are picked.
Maharani Hill is one of the 87 tea plantations in the Darjeeling district in West Bengal in India. Tea was first cultivated in this region by the British surgeon Dr. Arthur Campbell in the 1840s and since then tea from Darjeeling has become famous for its complex flavor characteristics.
The first picking is a specialty, and are only fresh for a couple of months, so enjoy it while it is here! First Flush is a light tea, with a delicate body and a good definition. Often very complex and fresh tasting. The tip is clearly evident and the leafs are distinctly green, even if it’s a black tea.
Taste description and steeping: In the aroma one can find cooling herbs. Rich mouth feel with a balanced apricot sweetness and a jasmine flowery note. Our recommended brew temperature is 85-95 degrees Celcius, and 2 minutes steeping time.
MMMMM N´dumberi By Morten WennersgaardFinally! New crop Kenya’s is back in da house. Coffees from 6 different factories found their way to our roastery and warehouse in Oslo last week. N´dumberi from the region Kiambu and two Kirinyaga coffees, Kabingara and Kiangoi (as Espresso) will be launched the 19th of May. In a few months we will be selling Kangocho from Nyeri, so far the best coffee I tasted this year, and we have Githaiti and Kirimara in stock. Most of this coffees were bought direct at 14 - 16 USD/kg, but it´s truly worth every cent.
It took us one week of cupping in the interior and in Nairobi to select the coffees. The thing with Kenya is the timing. Except from the few coffees that the suppliers are able to hold back for us, you have to be there when the factories (washing stations) releases the different batches. All the factories divide their coffees in to several small batches released throughout the season. That’s great for many reasons, but it requires a lot of work to find the best ones. Can’t be there to early and not too late, sometimes it’s necessary to go twice. This year was difficult as there was extremely small volumes at harvest as well as there was an early crop. Prices where record braking in the auction, but still the farmers suffers in general due to the low yield.
There are changes going on in Kenya. Most of the Estates in the outskirts of Nairobi are sold to real estate companies. Nairobi and the economy is growing, and farming coffee in those areas are unfortunately not considered as the most profitable investments. Still, there are huge potential in volume increase in the main coffee areas up north. The average farms are still producing between two and three kg´s pr tree, and it could easily be six if they get trained in better farmer practices. The very extreme farmers are able to get 10 kg pr tree. This also depends on variety, and some of the better varieties are more challenging to deal with.
Most of the preferred coffees in terms of flavor, turns out to be traditional varieties like SL28, SL34 and so on. There is still focus on hybrids like the Ruiru 11, and now Batian, a new hybrid of Ruiru 11 and SL28 that’s more resistant to diseases like CBD and leaf rust. It should also give a higher yield than the traditional varieties. This was released in 2010, and it’s going to be interesting to follow up the producers that is experimenting with the new varietal. Fortunately there are still a lot of farms that stick to SL28 as their main varietal. And I think they get rewarded for those flavor attributes in the auction in a normal year.A caffeinated day in WarsawBy Audun Sørbotten, roaster Solberg & Hansen
Czarek roasts hundreds of kilos of coffee every months on a shop roaster at Green Coffee
Many lasting friendships come from working with coffee. This particular Monday in april I had a reunion meeting with polish coffee pro Lukasz Jura in Warsaw, Poland. He recently spent a couple of years in Oslo, working as a barista for Stockfleth’s and thereby building his coffee skills. It must be mentioned that in 2009 he became the first somewhat official world champion in the use of the ingenious and celebrated coffee making tool “Aeropress”! Although being polish himself, he represented Norway on the National Barista Team. Good coffee knowledge spreads around the world, and Lukasz has started a coffee training business in his home town of Warsaw: “Colours of coffee” (www.coloursofcoffee.pl). Don’t be surprised if you go anywhere in Poland and find a barista who performs a perfect “Stockfleth’s move”!
So who could be a better coffee guide in Warsaw? We met on the Warszawa Centralna railway station, and took off to “Green coffee”. This is a chain of seven cafes in central Warsaw. They serve solely espresso based drinks. Here I met hero of the day, Czarek Sakowski, who roasts all the coffee for these cafes on a small 3 kg Diedrich shop roaster! Methodically and patient he performs a good, light, espresso roast of their imported Italian Sandalj espresso blend. I had a couple of nice shots, and with a pleasant and lasting impression of almond on the back of my tongue, we got back in the car and headed for more coffee.
Lukasz Jura (in front) ordering coffee at Filtry Cafe
In the cafe “Vespa” (yes, with a scooter hanging over the door!), we had Aeropress coffee. This brewing method has indeed found new territory! The next cafe, “Filtry cafe”, is serving coffee from the swedish roastery Johan&Nyström. I was pleasantly surprised to see a 250 gram bag of Esmeralda, Panama, from Solberg&Hansen, among the mess behind the counter. Nice! Our bag design is so easy to spot! Anyway, I was served good espresso and filter coffee, by the reigning polish coffee cupping champion, Blazej Stempin. In june he will compete in the world cupping championship in Maastricht. Cheers to him and to our own champ candidate, Idar Ellingsen from Dromedar!
Me at Kofeinna. Barista, Pawel Trzcinski, is polish Aeropress champion of the year
Highlight of the day for me was to visit Solberg & Hansens customer in Warsaw, “Kofeinna” (www.kofeinna.pl). This is a stylish cafe and lunch place in one of the better parts of the city. They supply coffee to the Norwegian embassy in Poland. Even after too much coffee, I could easily appreciate a well prepared Half & Half espresso and an Aeropress of sweet, intense Kenya Kainamui. It was great for me to be served Solberg & Hansen coffee in Poland!
Iza is pouring multiple hearts in the cappucino cup.
The day rounded off in the barista training fasilities of “Colours of coffee”. The seemingly unbeatable, three-times-in-a-row, polish barista Champion Iza Popiolek wanted to try some single origin espressos that I had brought from S&H. She is a true espresso whiz, and her cappuccino, made with La Piramide from Colombia, was remarkable and tasted pure toffee! Big thanks to Lukasz for showing me around in Warsaw! Good luck with the new “Warsaw School of coffee” that is to start up soon! With a fast growing interest of quality coffee in Poland, and many clever people around, it seems to be a perfect timing for such a business.
|Brazil Cup of Excellence, Natural 1st edition, late harvest|
Report from Maastricht
Darjeeling First Flush
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