Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

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Weird season for incoming coffee

Typically new crop coffees arrive over many months and it is not uncommon to see the Central American coffees arriving together, or,  East African coffees during a separate time period.  But this year there a ton of them that are clustered together and from different world growing regions.  In other words, a lot of coffees are showing up about the same time.  We have just listed the long awaited Amaro Gayo Natural from Ethiopia and know of other naturals arriving in the US from the same region.  A half dozen choice, boutique lots of coffee that we sourced from Costa Rica have now arrived and several have already made their way onto our list;  the others, including a yellow honey and two high altitude (and awesome) fully washed ones will be posted soon.

From Panama we will shortly list two more coffees including  Elida Estate Reserve fully washed, and, their terrific natural.  Both are in short supply.  We just listed Carmen Estate from their highest altitude parcels, grown by another longtime friend.  In addition, several lots of Panama’s famous Hacienda Esmeralda are due to arrive.  Some of these may be offered off-list due their very limited availability but the Esmeralda Select, geishas that did not make their way into the private auction, represent a real value for this expensive coffee.

Also expected at our warehouse next week are two auction lots purchased directly from top sources in Kenya.  We will have at least one and possibly two auction lots arriving soon that we purchased in the El Injerto auction.  A favorite from El Salvador will arrive soon too.

We are not sure why the timetable is so skewed this year, be it weather or the coordination of shipping, but a cornucopia of great coffees is coming through the door.  Keep an eye on our New Arrivals section for the latest, as each is listed on our site.


Bonavita brewer joins SCAA short list

The Bonavita coffee brewer, new to the market, has become one of four coffeemakers to receive certification from the Specialty Coffee Association of America.  Each must be capable of brewing coffee to the standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Manufactured by the German company Melitta, this 1.2 liter brewer is capable of maintaining brewing temperatures in the 200 to 205 degree range. Brew times are 5 to 6 minutes and the brewer has a small footprint 12″ high, 11″ length, 6″ wide.  It has no timers nor programming features, functioning simply.

Bonavita Thermal Coffee Maker BV-1800TH

The Bonavita releases water only after it has attained the proper temperature. The spray head completely saturates coffee grounds and produces an ideal extraction. This brewer comes with a high quality 8 cup glass lined thermal carafe that will maintain the coffee temperature for longer. While glass lined thermal carafes have the possibility of breakage, they are also easier to clean than all steel models and do not stain internally; replacements, should they be needed, or additional carafes, are not expensive.

At our selling price of $149.99 including free shipping, the Bonavita 8 cup Thermal Coffeemaker represents a quality home brewer at a fair price. See our site for details or to order

Baratza Virtuoso updated

Baratza has upgraded the Virtuoso grinder by using the same burr set found in their more expensive Preciso model. This change happened in December 2011 and all of the Virtuosos now for sale on our site are the latest model. The new Virtuoso model is #586 which replaces #585.  These new burrs reduce the ‘fines’ in all levels of grind and nearly double the speed of grind from about 1 g/second to about 2 g/second.

Virtuoso burrs compared

Virtuoso burrs compared

In the photo below the lower burrs are shown by themselves, without the upper burrs in their working position.  This shows off more of the differences in the burr design.  The lower burr set of the model 586 can channel coffee better and more quickly.

Virtuoso lower burrs compared

Virtuoso lower burrs compared

The Preciso grinder has been paired in some cafes with the Esatto base for a Grind-By Weight system which allows users to grind and weigh simultaneously, mostly for use with manual brewing stations.  Because some of the Preciso’s micro adjustments were overkill, Baratza started producing custom Virtuoso grinders with Preciso burrs for cafe brew stations.  After awhile it became apparent that the Preciso burrs would make sense as a permanent upgrade.

The price has increased and minimum selling price of the model 586 is $229.  We include free shipping in the continental US.


Hottop adds new thermocouple

The newest shipment of Hottop KN-8828B-2 roasters, known more affectionately around here simply as model B, will now be equipped with a K-style thermocouple. The new thermocouple replaces the original button style thermal sensor that was on the back wall of the roaster. This new thermocouple, which is extended away from the rear wall, will give more accurate temperature display and faster response time. Die to the cost and complexity involved, Hottop will not make an upgrade available for older roaster models. Roasters equipped with the thermocouple are now designated as model KN-8828B-2-K. All B roasters in our inventory are now this model.

Hottop has, at the same time, changed some of the programmed safety features of the roaster.  The programmable P model, formally KN-8828P-2, does not get the thermocouple at this time.

Technivorm Warranty now 5 years

We were informed last week that all Technivorm Moccamaster coffeemakers now carry a five year manufacturer’s warranty, speaking to the longevity of the product line made in Holland. For the past several years Technivorms have come with a one year warranty so this is welcome improvement.

Best of Panama and Esmeralda auctions 2011

The Best of Panama auction was held today with stunning price results.  Five coffees achieved prices over $50 a pound.  The first and second place coffees, both Geishas from Finca La Valentina and Hacienda Esmeralda Especial, brought $70.25 and $75.25 respectively.  The top non-Geisha was from Kotowa Don K from Cafe Kotowa, a Caturra and Typica blend that fetched $20.75 a pound. Much of today’s auction winners were from Japan.

We were judges at Best of Panama this year and on the first day there was a special cupping of natural process coffees.  The growers in Panama, notably in Boquete and Volcan, are pushing the envelope of what can be achieved.  Two naturals brought in the top prices in the auction: Don Pachi Geisha natural brought a stunning $111.50 a pound, and, Colga Alfa from Esmeralda earned $88.50.  In the near future we will have two of the coffees that were auctioned today, so stay tuned!

Last Tuesday, May 17, was the dedicated 2011 Esmeralda Special. Happily, we were the successful bidders with one of our colleagues their Montana lot, their newest growing plot and in our opinion the best coffee they offered this year.  It is also the scarcest with only 600 total pounds available.  Two Montana lots, one of them ours, fetched the highest prices in the auction at $52.50 and $53.50 a pound.  A very limited amount will be available green to our Roastmasters customers so let us know if you have interest.  The coffee should arrive in about a month.

Best of Panama 2011 auction results

Hacienda Esmeralda Especial 2011 auction results