Wow, what a new coffee day do we have for you today! Seven, that's right SEVEN new coffees in stock this week! There's something for everyone, from light and crisp to bold and syrupy and even a brand new organic decaf. We made sure to find the best new coffees from every region and we've got them all covered, including new crops from some of our old favorites. We'll list them in alphabetical order so you can be sure we're not biased (we love them all anyway!).
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aricha Washed: I know, I know, we always focus on Natural Processed Ethiopian coffees and ignore the washed, well not this time! This amazing coffee is gentle and mellow, with a surprising body and less acidity than we expected. It's balanced and refreshing with notes of melon, peach, mild lemon and lavender.
Honduras Finca Mi Esperanza Microlot Organic: There is so much to say about this incredible offering. It's a microlot, so you know it's been treated with the utmost care. It's honey processed so you know it's going to be sweet and fruity with low acidity. It's organic, so you know you can feel good about it's environmental impact. Subtle complexity and a clean finish with big notes of orange, cherry and cinnamon.
Honduras Organic Royal Select Water Decaf: Over the years, decafs with the Royal Select Water Decaf label have been the only decafs we've gotten excited about and this organic Honduran is no exception. Creamy, balanced and milk chocolate sweet with a clean finish and none of that nasty decaf flavor. Perfect for an after dinner coffee that is sure to please anyone.
Mexico Huatusco El Santo: It's been a while since we've been so impressed by a coffee from Mexico, but this one blew us away. It's medium bodied and creamy with big sweet flavors of apricot, red apple and honey. Just an absolutely delightful coffee, no sugar needed!
Peru Sol y Cafe Organic Fair Trade: This is a new crop from what has been one of our favorite coops in recent years. We've always loved how easy drinking this coffee is and it's sure to please your crowd. It's smooth and balanced with notes of mandarin, peach and caramel. Great any time of day and a wonderful blender to add sweet brightness without taking away from the rest of the blend.
Sulawesi Toraja Sapan-Minanga: Another new crop that we couldn't wait to get back in. This coffee is a favorite around our shop and a consistent winner. This year's crop brings no surprises and you'll still find it's full of big, rich, syrupy body and complex notes of cocoa powder, licorice and cedar. We like to say it's a really great Sumatran without the earthy bite. Think sophisticated and distinctive rather than raw and earthy.
Sumatra Takengon Organic Fair Trade: Of course we had to balance Sulawesi with a classic Sumatra! It's got the same rich, syrupy body with complex notes of baker's chocolate, pipe tobacco, spice and vanilla. Not for the faint of heart! Think of this as Sulawesi's raw, edgy pal. This is coffee with attitude!
New coffee day is all about the restock this week. We got in more Ethiopia Konga Natural, Guatemala Huehuetenango Huixoc, and Decaf Colombia. But the big news is a little dance we like to call the Kenya Coffee Shuffle:
Kenya AA Kianjiru Auction Lot: The last Kenya AA we had in was quite possibly the best we've had this season. How do you top that? Well, we decided not to try and hit the other end of the AA spectrum. We're always talking about the winey, tannic character of great Kenyan coffee, so this is the best way to explain the difference. If the Kenya AA Ichamara was a deep, dry red wine, the Kenya AA Kianjiru is a sweet, dry, crisp white wine. We love them both for different reasons, so kick your shoes off, do the shuffle and try another amazing Kenya AA!
New coffee day brings two to choose from this week: one for the morning and one for night!
Tanzania Northern Peaberry Plus: It's been too long since we found a Tanzanian Peaberry we were excited to share with our fellow coffee fanatics, but we finally found one! The "Plus" grade means it's been sorted and processed with special care for an unbelievably consistent roast and flavor. We love the silky, smooth texture and bright front end with notes of orange, lime and a touch of raspberry. Very aromatic and crisp without the bite!
Guatemala Royal Select Water Decaf: Decaffeinated using the chemical-free water processing method, this fine coffee has all the things you love about your favorite Guatemala Huehuetenango without the burden of losing sleep. You'll find a rich, flavorful body with sweet notes of dark chocolate and caramel. Remember to watch your heat when roasting decaf! Go too dark and it'll taste all....decaf-ey.
Whether you've just started roasting your own coffee or you've been roasting for years, it's easy to slip into bad habits. As coffee roasters, it's important to remember to roast using ALL your senses, not just your sight. And yes, we're going to include that elusive 6th sense as well!
1. Sight - 50 Shades of Brown
This one seems obvious, but it's so easy to just stare at your beans until they look the right color and call it a day. There are so many other factors you can look out for when deciding if your roast is just right. Coffee smoke, often considered just a nuisance, can tell you a lot about where the beans are in the roast. As the roast progresses, the smoke will get noticeably thicker and darker. Right around the 2nd crack, you'll notice a big puff of heavy dark smoke signalling the fine line between full city and full city plus.
You'll also notice oil on the beans as they darken. Full city should have little to no oil, full city plus will have a bit more oil spots, vienna will be quite oily and french roast will be covered in oil. REMEMBER! Your beans will get a little oilier as they rest, so always stop your roast with less oil than you want to end!
2. Smell - The good, the bad and the eww
Smell is another easy one for us to use, but requires practice and training to use effectively. Most of us know that coffee going through the drying phase of the roast smells like fresh hay and over-roasted coffee smells like charcoal. The subtle differences in the middle can be difficult to distinguish, but nearly anyone with a functional sense of smell can tell you when the coffee smells just about right!
Learning to distinguish the sightly grassy smell of a city roast from the bitter-sweet smell of a full city plus can be a bit more difficult. Like all skills, getting good at this one takes practice. Just take some time to really absorb the smells while roasting a coffee you're really familiar with and take notes. This will make you a better roaster in the long run, as well as develop your palette for cupping and tasting brewed coffee.
3. Sound - Let's get cracking!
Listening for the 1st and 2nd crack is one of the first things people learn when they begin roasting their own coffee. Being able to discern the difference between the popcorn sound of first crack and the rice krispies sound of second crack can be the difference between making or breaking a roast! Smaller roasters and popcorn popper roasters have a particular tendency to roast so quickly that the cracks run into each other. This makes it easy to carry your roast too dark if you can't tell the difference between the two.
What's a rolling crack? When the cracks of the individual beans are happening so quickly and so closely together that it sounds like machine gun fire, you've got yourself a rolling crack. Vienna roasts are usually pulled just as the 2nd crack begins to "roll" and if you turn down the temperature on a rolling 1st crack too much, you could stall your roast and end up with baked beans. Listen carefully!
4. Taste - Everyone's favorite
Taste can be utilized in two ways, the first and most obvious being tasting the sweet nectar of your labors. While I prefer my coffee black, I respect all manner of lifestyle choices, including but not limited to adding cream and sugar. Just do yourself the favor of trying a sip black first! Take notes, create a log and refine your palette. You'll thank me later when you suddenly realize the difference in taste between roasting that Ethiopian coffee at City instead of Full City Plus (mmm Blueberries!) or the difference between an under developed Sumatra and one that's just right (is that licorice?!).
Secondly, are you tasting your beans after they cool? I usually pop one in my mouth and crunch it up as soon as it's cool enough. Chewing a quick post-roast bean will give you a great idea of what it's going to taste like when it's ready to brew tomorrow and can give you a chance to try again rather than finding out in the morning you've not done this coffee justice. Also, dip a couple in chocolate while no ones looking...I won't tell.
5. Touch - Beans need love too!
Honestly, touch might be the toughest to fit in here, even more so than the the "6th sense", but I think it matters if only for one major reason: cooling. Cooling your coffee quickly is critical to arresting the thermal momentum of the beans. In English, stopping the roast exactly where you want it! If coffee isn't cooled quickly, it will continue to coast into darker roast levels, ruining all your hard work when you pulled the roast right where you wanted it.
A sure fire way to tell when the coffee has reached a cool enough level is to feel for what bakers call "blood warmth." This is the temperature of your own body, so it means that the beans will feel neither hot nor cold to you, therefore it is cool enough to be finished. That's it! No fancy thermometers, no calibration necessary, just get in touch with your coffee. REMEMBER! Use common sense and don't burn yourself. If the coffee is still cracking, smoking or otherwise less than a minute out of the roaster, it's too hot to touch...so don't try!
6. Intuition - Or gut. Or instinct. Or whatever you want to call it!
Whether you call it gut, instinct, intuition or a supernatural ability to see ghosts (just kidding about that last one), we've all got it. It's that "6th sense" you just can't quite measure or put your finger on and if you ask me, it's a critical part of being a good roaster!
When folks ask me how I know my coffee is done roasting, it's usually a long answer, but sometimes I summarize by saying "I just know!" Trust your gut and don't hesitate. If you feel like your roast is done, pull it! You'd be surprised how many times your gut gets it right when you let the details go for a bit and just trust all your senses to work together. And that's what I think the 6th sense is: that feeling that kicks in when we let our body do what it instinctively does and put all the sensory information together into one neat little package or "gut feeling."
It can take a bit of experience before this can be a reliable sense, but just like all the others, it requires practice! It also might help to think of this as the "it must be a duck" sense. Maybe you've heard the saying: "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck." Well, if your roast smells like it's done, looks like it's done and sounds like it's done, it must be done! Don't hesitate, trust yourself, and your gut, and it won't let you down.
For more on determining roast levels using all your senses, check out our article on Roast Levels in the Learning Center!
New coffee day comes a bit late this week, but trust us, it's worth the wait! We're incredibly excited to bring to you 3 new crops sure to tickle your taste buds and keep you coming back for more.
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Konga Natural: We couldn't WAIT to get this coffee back in after the amazing crop last year! It continues to impress, though I would say it's a bit more "tame" this year. It's a bit less complex but still has plenty of blueberry and a slight tang on the finish. We also noted a bit more floral tones, similar to washed Yirgacheffes. All in all, still our favorite Ethiopian coffee in recent memory!
Guatemala Huehuetenango Huixoc: Don't worry, we had to ask how to pronounce it too (Wee-Chock, FYI). Classically Huehuetenango coffee, but with a sweeter profile than we've seen in from others. Think more milk chocolate than dark chocolate, with lots of body and a buttery smooth texture that keeps us coming back to this amazing coffee growing region time after time.
Zimbabwe Smaldeel Estate AA: We tried this coffee for the first time at the tail end of the last crop and immediately recognized that Zimbabwe is truly an amazing coffee growing country flying under the radar. The beans are HUGE so be careful not to overload your roaster! We love this crop's notes of peach, rhubarb, caramel and lime zest along with a gentle tea-like body and crisp finish.