There are a few noteworthy events taking place in the world of coffee at the moment. It’s a great time of year because most coffee throughout Central America has just been harvested and the best of them are either in repose or are in transit to consuming nations. This resting period after processing allows flavors to mellow and mature, so the top coffees repose for one to two months. This is especially true of very high grown coffees that initially can be quite acidic with newly harvested, grassy overtones; seasoned cuppers know the great potential that augers for them. Like barrel tasting new wine and getting a sense of how it will taste later in the process The good news is that we have secured some fantastic coffees from Guatemala and Costa Rica, having recently returned from touring farms there and doing extensive cupping (more on this to follow shortly). Some, but not all of our Panama coffees have been selected. We are looking at other origins in the region and evaluating samples; we expect to be in El Salvador on the International Panel in May, where we will taste the country’s best offerings along with other cuppers.
Kenya coffee this year will be considerably more expensive that any in recent memory. We strive to have one or more top, auction lot Kenya AA coffees and this year we will continue this practice. However, it’s going to cost more if we and you want to have those terrific coffees we’ve gotten used to. Weather patterns are changing globally and in some origins growers are gradually planting higher to offset warmer conditions. Kenya experienced a drought that affected the coffee plant’s normal flowering cycle. The end result was both a sharply reduced crop size and smaller beans. AA grade coffee are the largest (also the lowest defect count) and the amount of AA screen size beans is much less than typical.
Kenya has two crop seasons: the main crop flowers in February and March with harvest in the Fall; the smaller ‘fly’ crop flowers in September and October and is harvested in May through July. Generally there are a couple of months of dry weather followed by light rain showers, a regular cycle where most of the plants flower and mature in tandem. However, this year flowering was more or less continuous and rains that followed were heavy, causing disruption of the cycle. The weather problems primarily affected the main crop, which came to market in the past few months and recently began to arrive in the US. Several dollars per pound have been added to the coffee cost. We hope this is a single season event and not the result of global warming.