Colombia Cup of Excellence 2009

We’ve been in Pereira, Colombia for the past week as members of the Cup of Excellence jury.  Yesterday was the final day with the ranking of the top ten coffees followed by the awards ceremony.  It was both an interesting day of cupping as well as a delightful and touching ceremony.  Four coffees attained scores over 90 points and earned the Presidential Award distinction.  The first place coffee, scoring 91.68 points, was from the Department of Meta, a highly mountainous region of central Colombia, while the second through fourth place finalists were from Huila.  The top five scoring coffees are below. The first four earned the CoE Presidential Award for attaining a score above 90 points. The auction for these coffees will be held April 23rd.

Lot # Farm Farmer Score
1 El Porvenir Alejandro Florez 91.68
2 Bellavista Javier Sanjuan Gomez 90.63
3 El Progreso Leonte Collazos Rojas 90.21
4 Villarrica Cenen Bambague 90.03
5 Divino Ñiño Maria Deya Camacho 89.75

Cook’s Illustrated – Technivorm

Cook’s Illustrated magazine did an in-depth review of automatic drip coffee makers in their September / October issue, just released.  The excellent Technivorm KBT-741 brewer, made in Holland, was their clear top pick.  The review stated that the Technivorm, “achieved perfect temperatures for brewing and serving and was the closest of all the coffee makers to reaching the ideal brewing time”.  All of the brewers reviewed utilize vacuum carafes, a trend clearly best for the coffee.

We were named as the source for the Technivorm brewers and indeed we are one of their largest dealers in the US.  We offer the KBT-741 and the nearly identical Thermo CD (CDT) models.  Because of the demand created by the review we sold through our inventory and are now accepting pre-orders for brewers that will arrive here mid-September.  Technivorm has also announced a price increase that will be effective Sept. 1, so pre-ordering prior to that date assures customers of securing a brewer at the present price of $239.95, and, of receiving one from the first shipment to arrive. 

Click to pre-order the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT-741 or Technivorm Moccamaster CDT.

Guatemala Cup of Excellence 2008

 We are freshly back from the Guatemala CoE having spent a week cupping and enjoying the country. First place in the competition went to El Injerto, for a massive Pacamara from the Huehuetenango region, which garnered 93.68 points – almost 4 full points ahead of its nearest competitor.  The next three coffees were tightly grouped between 89.60 and 89.78 points as there was not as much unanimity among the jurors as for the top coffee.  El Injerto has been at the top before. They took first in 2006 and sixth in 2007 but in both years with Bourbon rather than this year’s Pacamara varietal. This year’s coffee was a stunning, lavish affair, with broad plum, prune and raisin notes, pronounced aroma and long, long finish.

Last year’s winner El Socorro y Anexos finished fourth with a Maracaturra varietal.  Third place was the adjacent farm by the same owners, but with a Bourbon and under the farm name San Guayaba.  Second place went to La Bendicion with another Bourbon.

Although it is a joy to cup so much wonderful coffee and to do so in the company of one’s friends and colleagues, it is easy to forget the sheer amount of work that is involved.  Jurors start the day early, cupping for the better part of 7 hours most days. Depending on how many or few coffees are eliminated in the first round, cupping for the second round, which must be accomplished in one pre-scheduled day, ran 10 hours. The sessions are alternately dotted with cupping and discussion.  The work of the jurors pales in comparison to that of the host country’s coffee organization, in this case Anacafe.

Anacafe represents 75,000 coffee farms in Guatemala, many of which are extremely small, some large.  They provide a wealth of services aimed at helping farmers improve their growing methods, and, to assist in any way possible to bring their coffee to market.  Over the years, Anacafe has helped to direct farmers toward producing higher quality coffee at higher elevations, shying away from lower grown coffees.  In turn, this transition has catapulted Guatemala into the top tier of coffee,  which finds the most sophisticated buyers willing to pay higher prices.  Ninety-eight percent of the country’s coffee is shade grown making for higher, more consistent humidity for the coffee while providing a natural canopy for birds and other species.  Guatemalans have a deep respect for the environment, for transparency in coffee production methods and understand the symbiosis between the coffee they grow and the land upon which it is grown.  They think long term.

Anacafe roasts each sample to be cupped, tossing away any roasts that are not within the very specific target level.  The roasting was nothing short of spectacular.   Nearly every sample was perfectly matched in color and when displayed under a color corrected lamp, no variation was visible in flight after flight.  At the awards presentation Anacafe’s roasters received a well deserved standing ovation by the jury.  Anacafe has a large staff who assist in every way to keep things moving and to do so in a manner equal to all entered coffees.  Bottled water, boiled in stainless pots and dispensed immediately, meticulous water exchanges and clean-ups, all contribute to a competition with the very best integrity.  Gabriela Cordon of Anacafe was our gracious hostess, translator, facilitator, guide and companion.  Paul Songer was Head Judge.

The winning coffees will be auctioned June 12.  Look forward to some terrific coffee from Guatemala this year.

Hottop software update

A programming update was incorporated into Hottop KN-8828P and KN-8828B models that provides additional safety measures. The P Models imported after 3/5/08 incorporate this update – we have them in stock now. The B Models will be arriving shortly. However, while this update has an added layer of safety, software versions prior to this should not be considered unsafe. Below is a description of the changes; updated Owner’s Manuals can be downloaded at the Hottop website.

3/5/2008
The changes below were added to page 14 for the KN-8828B
and page 19 for the KN-8828P of the Owner’s Manual:
FACTORY PROGRAMMED SAFETY

There are three separate safety points programmed into the KN-8828B:
1) If the KN-8828B displays a temperature of 356 F (180 C) within the first 8:30 of roasting time, the unit will alert you with warning beeps. If you do not press a button (other than EJECT) within 20 seconds, the beans will be automatically ejected. Pressing a button continues the roast as programmed.
2) When the KN-8828B displays a temperature of 410 F (210 C), the roaster will again alert you with warning beeps. If you do not press a button (other than EJECT) within 20 seconds, the beans will be automatically ejected. Pressing a button continues the roast as programmed.
3) When the KN-8828B displays a temperature of 428 F (220 C), the beans will be immediately ejected. There is no override for this safety function.

There are three separate safety points programmed into the KN-8828P:
1) If the KN-8828P displays a temperature of 374 F (190 C), the unit will alert you with warning beeps. If you do not press the “Enter” button within 30 seconds, the beans will be automatically ejected. Pressing the “Enter” button continues the roast as programmed.
2) When the KN-8828P displays a temperature of 410 F (210 C), the roaster will again alert you with warning beeps. If you do not press the “Enter” button within 30 seconds, the beans will be automatically ejected. Pressing the “Enter” button continues the roast as programmed.
3) When the KN-8828P displays a temperature of 431 F (222 C), the beans will be immediately ejected. There is no override for this safety function.

New Hottop Roaster models

Two new Hottop home coffee roasters are now available and previous analog and digital models have been discontinued.  The new models are KN-8828B and KN-8828P, known affectionately as B and P.  There are extensive reviews of both on our site: B model and P model.  Both are programmable roasters.  The B allows users to modify four parameters during a roast:  time, temperature, fan speed, heat element power.  The modifications can be saved in one of three slots.  The P model is a highly advanced profile roasting system allowing the user to write up to 10 programs, each with 8 segments that, using the parameters above, sets targets for each stage or segment.

Both roasters can be set to “Auto” which will allow them to work like the previous generation, meaning after the roaster warms you will be prompted to pour in coffee beans, the roaster will follow a factory preset program.  You will be able to increase time at the end of the roast or eject beans at any time.

Happily, the original Hottop body and interior design is intact, and upgrade kits are available for owners of previous generation models.  This consideration for existing owners is a reaffirmation of the previous solid design and allows users to have an upgrade path without the need to buy the complete new models.

The new Hottop roasters and upgrade kits are available now.

La Esmeralda Sets New Record – $130 pound

May 29, 2007 – Panama’s Hacienda La Esmeralda set a new world auction record today selling for a stratospheric $130 per pound in the 8th annual Best of Panama auction.  When the dust had settled Roastmasters.com, along with a group of six other companies, had emerged as the auction winner.

Hacienda La Esmeralda is likely the most famous coffee in the world today.  It has won first place in the Best of Panama competion in the last four consecutive years – 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.  First place in the Specialty Coffee Association cupping competition for the last three years 2005, 2006, 2007.  Winner of the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality competition 2004, 2006, 2007.  Record holder for highest price coffee at auction, now three times, with this current one being considerably higher than previous.  This coffee had multiple bidders nearing the winning level.

La Esmeralda Especial scored 95.26 in the 2007 Best of Panama competition out of a possible 100 points.  The coffee is grown entirely from Geisha varietal arabica, an heirloom species originating from Ethiopia that has found a nurturing home in Boquete, Panama.

A mere 500 pounds was auctioned and it is being divided among 7 companies.  We believe we are the only company in the group to offer it for sale to home coffee roasters.  We will have only 50 pounds and we intend to offer it in half pound bags. 

We were also the successful bidder for Elida Coffee, the number three coffee in the auction and the top rated non-Geisha varietal. Expected arrival for both coffees is late June.

See complete auction results here.