[portfolio_slideshow]I write this report from Nairobi, Kenya reflective on what has been a truly outstanding coffee year. Due to harvest cycle Central America is always our first point of attack as we visit multiple times between January and March. Our projects in Costa Rica hit full stride this season demonstrating the full potential for the top quality that they have. Montes de Oro, Brumas del Zurqui and Cafetin were heavy hitters in our summer lineup. I can still taste the cane sugar sweetness of the Montes de Oro and the ripe berry notes of the Cafetin 1900. Those coffees were not to be missed.
All of you who had the opportunity to taste our El Injerto Bourbon, La Concepcion Buenavista, Semillero and Santa Cruz coffees know that Guatemala also had a standout year. We’ve never been more proud of our Direct Trade projects in these two origins and look forward to what they bring us in 2010.
At this point in the year we start rifling through the phenomenal array of Colombian coffees that show such a beautiful range of flavor from ripe, red fruits like cherry and watermelon to sweeter nuance like honey, caramel and cane sugar. These visits take place during the spring, summer and early fall and we’re sure to get down there with a Stumptown crew several times in that span.
El Jordan won’t be around for long so keep your eyes peeled in January for the return of our La Piramide coffee along with a Reserva version of that and El Jordan. La Esperanza, El Descanso and a newcomer to the mix, Las Vegas will also be up on the shelves before all the snow melts. In addition to the Colombians we’ll be rolling out new project coffees from Ecuador and Peru for the first time ever. If you like apricot, peach, honey and maple these coffees will be sure to please.
We love our Latin American coffees but the East African selections were in a class of their own this year. We begin our African travel in May and hop back and forth between the producing countries in the East and the States through the rest of the year. Ethiopia Mordecofe is sure to get many in-house votes as our coffee of the year. We couldn’t be prouder of the work that Haile Gebre has done down in Guji to process one of Ethiopia’s finest.
The votes that Mordecofe won’t get would most likely be given to my personal favorite, Kenya Gaturiri. I can’t recall tasting a coffee so sweet, clean and complexly complete in my life. The black currant and blackberry fruit tones were clear as day and coupled absolutely perfectly with Gaturiri’s viscous mouth feel and molasses like sweetness. Burundi and Rwanda are set to arrive any day now and will be available on our menus come mid-January.
Oh and did I mention that we rolled our first ever Indonesian Direct Trade coffee with our Gajah Aceh from the northern Sumatran province of Aceh? It’s a beaut. The sweet tamarind notes pair exquisitely with the raw tobacco flavor and the syrupy body. We’ll have fresh lots rolling in every other month as being located on the equator these folks are picking and processing for nearly 9 months! It’s always a good time to get to Indonesia to check in our projects and we’re typically there every November and again in the Spring.
In celebration of our 10-year birthday we’re offering an Anniversary Blend that’s composed of some of our finest selections from coffee’s three major growing regions; Latin America, East Africa and the Pacific Rim. Look for it
online while it lasts.
So getting back to Gaturiri and my trip, let me quickly fill you all in on my Kenya excursion of this past week. After leaving Ethiopia without seeing Mordecofe, due to the violent conflict centered around the Shakisso goldmines in the area, I was a little bit bummed. Anyway, cruising up to the coffee regions in Karatina, Nyeri was a breath of fresh air. Our projects at Gaturiri and Ngunguru are firing on all cylinders! Cherry selection was very good and as always the Kenyan wet milling process is a force to be reckoned with.
In addition this year we’re asking for wet parchment to be selected for under ripe cherry on the skin drying beds this year. It will be easier to remove them from the clean coffee parchment as they are much more visible when wet. Honestly, there is very little that can be improved upon here but we’re always searching to get better. We are fortunate enough to be working with such dedicated partners as Dorman’s, CMS and CKCM. There is no better group in the entire industry.
My last trip of the year ended with two spectacular cupping sessions. Looking back I’d say one of them was the single best table I’ve cupped in all of 2009. But who’s surprised? It is Kenya after all. Nothing compares to the dark fruit flavors, weighted mouth feel and sweetness of the SL28 and SL34 varietals. Sipping on top lot Kenyan coffee is to me remarkably similar to sipping on a cup of black currant nectar. Today’s cupping table yielded a new superstar by the name of Kangunu also from the Nyeri district of the Central Highlands. It sold at auction 3 days ago for a whopping $5.45/lb! That’s almost 4x today’s current coffee market trading level. We’ll be offering it come summer. You won’t want to miss this coffee. It just may be 2010’s Mordecofe or Gaturiri.
Fully caffeinated, feeling gratefully satisfied about 2009 and already longing for the next African coffee safari it’s time to begin the long haul home to Portland. See you soon Stumptown!