Various coffee ramblings

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.  Continue reading ‘Various coffee ramblings’

New Fresh Roast models now on sale

Two new models from Fresh Roast, the SR500 and SR300, have arrived and are now available.  These two roasters replace the discontinued Plus 8.

Two new Fresh Roast models to debut in January

The Fresh Roast Plus 8 is being replaced by two new models with the first shipment now expected in early January. The new models address issues that users have had with the previous model, an entry level roaster on the market for many years. Both new models will cost more than the predecessor, however, they remain quite reasonable.

Model SR300:

This is a larger version of the former Plus 8.

  • Twice the roasting capacity as before, 120 grams, roughly 1/4 pound.
  • Digital display. Maximum time on the control is 9.9 minutes.
  • Has three buttons: Up, Down, Cool.
  • At any point during the roast 6 seconds can be added for every tap of the Up button; likewise, the Down button takes away time in 6 second increments.
  • Tapping the Cool button overrides the timer and places the roast into a 3 minute cooling cycle.

Model SR500 – All of the above features plus:

  • Three temperature settings that be adjusted any time during the roast. High temp is 490 degrees; Medium 455, Low 390.
  • A separate Fan Speed Control has been added that allows fine tuning of the roast. Generally, you would want the highest speed at the start of the roast when beans are heaviest and have yet to lose moisture. The would help keep beans moving. Later in the roast lower speeds would be desirable.
  • In addition to the three buttons Up, Down and Cool are fan speeds Low, Medium, High, and, a variable fan speed control knob.

Fresh Roast SR300
Fresh Roast SR300

Fresh Roast SR500
Fresh Roast SR500

We will be selling these roasters at the lowest allowable price, $109 for the SR300 and $159 for the SR500. Considering the improvements, the SR300 is only about $20 more than what the Plus 8 was selling for. We have no more of the old Plus 8 model remaining, so there will be no stock here until new models arrive. It’s a shame both the Fresh Roast and the competing i-Roast2 are not available this holiday season as both companies are both missing seasonal shoppers. Fortunately, we are in good shape with the deservedly popular Behmor 1600 as well as other roasters.

Behmor 1600 improvements

As of November 20th, Behmor 1600 roasters are shipping with a new, improved low profile chaff tray. The new chaff tray significantly improves bean visibility, enhances airflow for improved cooling, as well as collects chaff better than its predecessor.  It greatly reduces the chance of chaff ignition, save for user error.  With this tray you have an unobstructed view of beans roasting when you look through the roaster’s door.

New Behmor low profile chaff tray

The other significant change with the latest shipment is there are no longer two sizes of roasting grids.  Instead, the grid formerly known as the ‘small grid’ is now the standard issue grid.  Originally designed with a slightly closer grid pattern to keep smaller or irregularly sized beans from falling out, it became obvious at some point that you could roast anything with this grid.  So, the larger spaced grid that used to come with the roasters has been discontinued.

We will continue to offer the small grid as a separate item for owners of previous generations of Behmors.  Likewise, we now offer the new chaff tray as a separate it for purchase although they are in short supply for the next couple of weeks.

i-Roast2 inventory this season

We have learned that further i-Roast2 home roasters are not expected to be available in the US until about March, 2010, meaning we and most other sources will be without inventory throughout the holiday season.  The importer and distributor claims that when their last shipment arrived it did not pass their quality control thus, the entire shipment was rejected and sent back to China, where it is manufactured.  A whole new order needs to be restaged and produced with the resulting ETA.  If we receive any additional news we will provide updates here.

New coffees posting shortly

We’re behind in posting to the blog but happily we are in great shape with coffee and equipment.  We will certainly make an effort to post more often.  At the moment we have all the Technivorm Moccamaster models in stock, these include the ever popular KBT-741 in both polished silver and black, the cylindrical Moccamaster CDT all of which brew 1.25 liters.  We also stock the slightly smaller and shorter one liter model, KBTS.  All are available with the best offer on the internet and selling at the lowest allowable price.

A number of coffees have arrived and will be on the site very shortly.  We were successful bidders on Hacienda Esmeralda’s lot called Mario Pasqua, our favorite of the group offered this year.  Mario is the name of the field where their most acclaimed coffee has come from in the past.  This field was picked three times, the last of which was in April around Easter – Pasqua in Spanish.  Esmeralda’s crop was half of the previous year, a common problem throughout Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia this year.  Less coffee, winner of this year’s Best of Panama, higher prices.  We will have only a bit available.

We will also be adding Ethiopia Amaro Gayo Organic, a beautifully selected natural with pronounced blueberry and tons of fruit.  Special coffees out of Ethiopia are very difficult to find this year because of the advent of the ECX or Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.  Ethiopia has launched its own NY Mercantile style exchange in an effort to generate more income and smoother transactions for farmers within the country, where in the past an open auction system existed.  In doing so, the exchange negates rewards some growers and exporters were gettting in the past for exceptional coffee production, and relegates those coffees to being identified solely by region. It would be like famous Grand Cru wines such as Chateaux Lafite, Latour or Margaux being required to be sold as just Bordeaux, without allowing them to be sold separately and at their much deservingly higher prices.  Why would they continue to take special care and make investment in their farms without reward?  This is a situation we hope to be corrected in the near future, but it exists for now.  Some pre-arranged shipments were allowed to go through and Amaro Gayo Organic is one of them.  It is similar in appeal to Bagersh’ Idido Misty Valley, which will not be in the US in 2009.

Also be on the lookout for a truly top Kenya AA Kagumoini, one of the best we’ve had in some time, and we’ve had some stunners. Another coffee is a microlot from Costa Rica milled at the Helsar micromill.  These and more to be added shortly.  Check our New Arrivals section for the latest additions.  New CoE coffees from Colombia, the 4th place winner, and, Costa Rica, the 3rd place winner, have just been added.