Thursday, June 02, 2005

   from Peter G

At Last!

Got the first new-crop Latin American arrival in this week. Feels great.
It's from Oaxaca, Mexico. The La Trinidad co-op in Pluma.
We cupped a few different roasts yesterday, and I had a French press today. Nice.
I agree that chocolatey is a much overused word when it comes to coffees, but this is the only descriptor for this coffee. Huge chocolate, with a beautiful almond aroma and hints of spice and citrus. Here is the weird thing about this coffee: it comes from the state of Oaxaca, which is famous for a number of things, including the chocolate grown and made there. The city of Oaxaca is home to a number of chocolaterias, including the magnificent Chocolate Mayordomo. In Oaxaca, the tradition includes grinding roasted cocoa beans with coarse cane sugar, cinnamon sticks, and almonds to make drinking and cooking chocolate, which can be whisked with hot milk or water to make a deeeelicious drink. So here is the weird thing. THE COFFEE TASTES JUST LIKE THE CHOCOLATE. Right down to the cinammon aroma and slightly oily body. Now, this is not because the coffee is processed in the same facilities the cocoa is or anything; the only explanation has to do with the spirit of the place itself. I love that this happens in coffee- that the flavors which exist in the coffee transport you right smack dab to the birthplace of that coffee.

The citrus-peel fragrance to this coffee is a new one. Last year, the coffee had a strong grape fruitiness, which was charming and interesting. I kept writing "Manechevitz" on the cupping forms. The two previous years, the coffee had a beautiful black cherry fruit, which complemented the chocolate well. This year, the fruit is much more subdued, with the chocolate note ramped up substantially. So is the spice.

As some of you may know, this year was a hard one for many parts of Latin America. Many coffee farmers produced much less coffee this year, probably due to weather factors. In Nicaragua, I spoke to farmers who were expecting 60% less coffee this year. Low crop years are a tragedy for a small farmer, whose income depends on the crop. How would you feel if someone just told you that you would be recieving 60% less income this year? Anyway, it has been a low yield year in many parts of Mexico as well. So, I'm glad that this coffee turned out so well. There is less of it, sure, but what little there is is just wonderful.

This brings up an interesting thing that coffee buyers are dealing with this year: scarcity. Great coffees have always been hard to find, and require a tremendous amount of work to land. Good coffee buyers put in a tremendous amount of travel time, cupping time, communication energy, logistical planning, and money into sourcing great coffees. Things seem to have gotten even harder this year. Scarcity and disaster in Indonesia, along with low crops in Latin America, combined with an increased demand for higher quality coffee in the U.S. (the specialty sector is growing like gangbusters) have tightened the belt considerably.

I'm not complaining or anything, I'm just saying that you might want to give your favorite coffee buyer a hug. He or she's had a hard year.

-Peter G


Blogger bronwen said...

THE MEXICO ROCKS!!!!! i totally agree that it tastes EXACTLY like chocolate -- mexican chocolate. soooo yummy, especially as a straight shot. you should definitely try it as an SOS peter, you won't regret it -- excellent body and sweetness. one of my current faves. sigh.


6/02/2005 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Peter G said...

Hey Bronwen!

Funny you should mention that, I had two SOS shots of this coffee this morning. And there was the cherry I was missing when cupping it! Cool.

The second cup I had today was an SOS shot of the coffee as an Americano. It was like molten Toblerone.

6/03/2005 07:36:00 AM  
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