Archive for the ‘New Coffee’ Category

Starbucks is the company that coffee people love to hate.  They’re an easy target, after all, our favorite whipping boy.

That’s why it surprises people when I tell them I don’t hate Starbucks; in fact, I owe them a debt of gratitude for doing the market development that enables our business.  They’re not my favorite, either.  But when I’m away from home, with no other alternative, I’ll drink an SBUX beverage.  Sometimes I actually enjoy them, like when I can get the Pike Place Blend at the flagship store in Seattle.  Other times, it’s good enough in a pinch.  Not their espresso, that’s never good enough, but their brewed coffee.  And I will even acknowledge the elephant in the room – while I am a strong supporter of independent coffee shops, they are all too frequently not nearly good enough and deserve to lose to the big green mermaid.

I hope I come across as I see myself – not a Starbucks hater, not a Starbucks lover, but someone who respects what they’ve done and the reality the operate under, and someone who acknowledges that for what they are (a big, multi-national corporation), they do a reasonably good job, frequently better than the independents who should be much, much better.

Single serving packet of Via.  Its a plastic pouch tube about 3 inches long with a perforated tear near the top.

Single serving packet of Via. It's a plastic pouch "tube" about 3 inches long with a perforated tear near the top.

But instant coffee?

I was surprised when Via, their new instant coffee, was announced.  Seems like a strange strategy for a “premium” coffee company.  But the reality is that Starbucks is a mass market company, trying to be at the high end of the mass market.  And after thinking about how much our own customers value convenience, I realized that if they have a decent product, it’s a brilliant strategy.  So I’ve been wanting to try Via, and this turned out to be my lucky week when somebody gave me a serving.

My first reaction was a kind of pleasant surprise about the package itself.  Overall, the form factor is quite attractive: a 2-3 inch long plastic tube, kind of like a sugar stick.  Easy to carry with you (my road coffee strategy may be forever altered).  I’m no fan of plastic, but I have to admit it makes sense in this application.  The other thing about the package is that it specifies two details I never thought I’d see on instant coffee: an origin (Colombia, in the case of my sample), and an expiration date.  An expiration date!  All in all, this package gives the impression they actually care about the quality of the coffee.  I did find a little irony in the expiration dating, however.  While SBUX does not stamp their bean coffee with a roast on date, they do put an expiration date on it, and the conventional wisdom is that the product has one year dating (which, of course, is at least 10 months too much, but that’s another topic).  Well, my tube of Via had an expiration date of 25 July 2010, so it’s not a stretch to think it was made in July 2009 and has the same dating as their bean coffee.

Each tube carries an expiration date.  Pardon the poor image quality from my cell phone camera.

Each tube carries an expiration date. Pardon the poor image quality from my cell phone camera.

I think we’ve established that the package itself is reasonably well done.  The proof, of course, is in the beverage.  Here’s where I made a couple tactical errors.  The first involved the powder pour.  The Via powder has a strange consistency (relative to other instant coffees) – it doesn’t have good flow properties.  Instead, it’s almost “moist” though I find that hard to imagine.  It tend to flow in clumps, and is subject to static.  The net result of all that is that it wound up sticking to the side of my cup in a rather unsightly way.

Here's the rather unsightly stain left on the side of my cup as result of poor flow properties of the powder. The little boy in me cannot stop chuckling at the scatalogical parallels.

The second error was a failure to follow instructions.  I fully admit I did this on purpose, when I should have listened to the package.  The painfully simple diagram showing how to prepare clearly says to add 8 ounces hot water to one tube of Via.  My rather limited experience with instant coffee, however, is that the instructions result in weak coffee, so I always use slightly less water than instructed – in this case, about six ounces instead of the recommended eight.  The result was, well, strong coffee.  Overly strong.  I suspect that 8 ounces was the right number, but at that point I was already 200 feet from the hot water source and not looking back.  I like strong coffee, but my advice is RTFM and follow the instructions.

All of which leads us to the ultimate question – how did it taste?

My honest answer: not bad.  Recognize that not bad is a different thing than good.  But better than most of the swill prepared from beans in this country.

The flavor profile itself is rather flat.  Somehow this makes sense, as I would expect acidity, along with other nuances, to be a casualty of the drying process.  I would have been hard pressed to identify this coffee as a Colombian, but I’d like to think I would have correctly identified it as being from the Americas, as it did retain enough of its identity to distinguish it from, say, Africa or Indonesia.   I also have to admit that I probably would not have identified it as instant coffee. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it to be a mediocre but not terrible brewed coffee.  And who knows, if I adulterated my coffee with cream and sugar it may have completely fooled me into thinking it was good.

Certainly this product is good enough for the mass market in the United States. Which is a sad commentary on the mass market in the US, but true nonetheless.  All in all, I suspect Starbucks may have a winner with this product.


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This is a coffee that I’ve been offering for a while, and just had a local customer point out that I never put it on the web site.  Bottom line on this one is that it’s one of those classic crowd-pleaser coffees, smooth and balanced, but with enough body, flavor and nuance to be interesting.  It’s all organic and half Fair Trade Certified inputs.

The full details can be found HERE.


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I’ve been so caught up in minutiae lately that I realized I forgot blog about this new arrival: El Salvador San Emilio Pulped Natural.

A pulped natural is the love child of wet process and dry process.  In wet process (aka washed), the cherry is fermented for a good, long time, depupled, then the (now clean) parchment is dried.  A dry process (aka natural) is simply picked, then dried in the sun like a raisin.  The dried cherry is stored that way until time of sale, at point it is depulped, cleaned, sorted, etc.

Wet process coffees are typically a “cleaner” cup – lighter mouthfeel, crisp.  Rounded.  Dry process is more “rustic” – bigger mouthfeel, earthy, and in most cases, fruiter.  Sometimes to excess.  Crazy fruit.

Pulped natural is the best of both worlds.  Washed, but not as long, depulped, but not as clean, then sun-dried.  In the cup, it’s clean, yet full.  Rounded and fruity, but not excessively so.  Outstanding.  Makes a great SO espresso, too.  Maybe a little light on the body, but oh, the taste!

Get it here.  While it lasts.


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Our relationship Yirgacheffe is now available!  This seems like a good time/place to update you on this coffee, as well as a few other items I’ve been thinking about.

First, about this coffee… it will rock your world.  It’s that good.  I usually don’t name drop competitors here, but this is the same coffee sold by both Intelligentsia (all genuflect) and Barefoot.  If you didn’t trust my cupping before, you should now.  Second, I feel better about selling this coffee than just about any I’ve ever sold.  Knowing the people involved is really tremendous.  Dante, the GM of the washing station and exporting company, is a native Ethiopian, and he directs much of the profit back to the producers.  It’s not just about the people, it’s about the planet, too.  Last year, they installed an eco-pulper that cuts their water use by more than 80%, which is huge.

So for all these great reasons, we’ve decided to call this coffee “Buna Dante”.  Buna means coffee in Ahmaric, the language of Ethiopia. Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

Craig (left) and Dante, the guys responsible for bringing this magnificent coffee to market.  It was a thrill to spend a couple weeks in WEthiopia with these guys.  Check out my photos on smugmug (mudydogcoffee.smugmug.com) to see Dante feeding the hyenas in Harar!

Craig (left) and Dante, the guys responsible for bringing this magnificent coffee to market. It was a thrill to spend a couple weeks in Ethiopia with these guys. Check out my photos on smugmug (mudydogcoffee.smugmug.com) to see Dante feeding the hyenas in Harar!

Anyway, regarding another topic…  Since returning, I’ve struggled with the “proper” spelling of Yirgacheffe.  This place name is actually pronounced, and usually spelled (in-country) as two words: Yerga Cheffe, meaning “calm marsh” in Ahmaric.  My preference would be to spell it this way on our web site, and we thought about doing that.  At the end of the day, however, we decided it was to important to be findable as most Americans would search it.  So we’re sticking with the American interpretation.  This all is not to say that’s wrong, I did see it as Yirgacheffe there, too, on occasion.

We hope you will try and enjoy this wonderful Relationship Coffee.


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Many years ago, I spent a lot of time traveling in Japan on business. During that time, I came to fall in love with all things Japanese – especially the food and beverages. Probably not surprisingly, one of my favorites is a beverage called Hojicha, which is fired, or roasted, bancha (green tea).

When we decided to start selling tea, I knew that while much of what we offered would be essentially resale, I wanted to make my own attempt to replicate the hojicha I came to love in Japan. So I practiced, practiced, practiced. And the result is, I must say, outstanding.

I call my fired bancha “hojicha yasashii”. Japanese is a complex language that I did formally study, but was never fluent. As I understand the word yasashii, it generally means “soft”, as in not harsh. I’ve also understood it to mean “sweet”, as well as “slow and gentle”. I thought this was a good description of my particular style of hoji, since I start with an especially good bancha, and I fire it with a process that is a little more gentle than the traditional charcoal process.

Our own Hojicha Yasashii, or Hoji for short. We start with an awesome Bancha, and use a gentle firing process to reduce the astringency and caffeine, while bringing out flavors of nuts and grains

Our own Hojicha Yasashii, or Hoji for short. We start with an awesome Bancha, and use a gentle firing process to reduce the astringency and caffeine, while bringing out flavors of nuts and grains

This tea has a nutty aroma, and results in a brown colored tea that, to me, is reminiscent of grains. If you know other Japanese teas, think soba tea. In any case, it is a lovely and very different tea than most Americans have experienced. For a really interesting comparison, buy our bancha and compare the two.

You can buy some HERE.


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I’m talking about my parents, of course, and how they make coffee.  No method is too labor intense, no device too archaic.  And, not suprisingly, the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

We visited the folks at the Pennsylvania farmstead in between Christmas and New Year’s, as those of you who

Heres the Muddy Dog herself, down on the farm.  Who said a dog cant smile?  That is literally a sh_t-eating grin - I saw what she was eating right before the photo.

Here's the Muddy Dog herself, down on the farm. Who said a dog can't smile? That is literally a sh_t-eating grin - I saw what she was eating right before the photo.

placed orders that week now fully realize; of course, I needed to bring coffee.  So as I was getting ready to turn out the lights in the roastery Christmas eve, I assembled a couple boxes and gathered up every roasted bean I could find in the shop to give away to my family.  All the Friends & Family trimmings that the walk-in customers have come to love (walk in and buy a couple pounds, and I throw in a bag of trimmings for free!).  All the unsold bulk coffees.  All the retail finished goods.  Everything.  All told, I boxed up about 35 pounds of coffee (mind you, I had been concentrating on depleting the inventory for about a week at that point).  I was determined to start 2009 with absolutely no inventory – a gesture that my accountant loves.

Upon arrival, my brothers descended on the boxes like a pack of ravenous wolves.  Still, my parents were left with a pretty amazing array of coffees.  And we drank a lot of them over the week.  And as interesting as all those coffees were, it’s how they were brewed that was more interesting.  All those who think you need fancy new technology to make great coffee, prepare to be amazed.

Those who know me know that I have a hard time starting the day without a simple, straight espresso.  Mom and Dad have no fancy espresso machine.  Nor do they want one – no space in their kitchen.  So we went old school: moka pot.  For the uninitiated, a moka is how most Italians in Italy make their coffee at home (at least the ones I know).  The device is simple, just three pieces.  A bottom vessel to contain the water, a filter basket shaped like a funnel, and a pot to catch the finished coffee.  The principal of operation is simple, too.  Fill the bottom vessel up to the pressure relief valve.  Fill the basket with finely ground coffee, in this case our Classic Italian Espresso, strike it level, do not tamp.  Assemble the pot.  Place onto a heat source.  As the water heats, the air above it heats.  As the air heats, it expands, pushing on the water.  The only place for the water to go (path of least resistance) is up the funnel, through the coffee, into the pot.  It makes a really good, stiff coffee.  You don’t get the same oil emulsification (crema) that happens at 9 bars of pressure, but it’s still damn good.  And cheap, and simple, and easy to store in the cabinet.

Moka pot, and espresso blend.  That stove was new sometime in the 70s.

Moka pot, and espresso blend. That stove was new sometime in the 70's.

Heres what it looks like apart.  This is a plain, old, aluminum Bialetti brand moka.  We sell a fancy stainless steel version, as well as the aluminum classic.

Here's what it looks like apart. This is a plain, old, aluminum Bialetti brand moka. We sell a fancy stainless steel version, as well as the aluminum classic.

Basket filled, struck level, no tamp, ready to assemble.

Basket filled, struck level, no tamp, ready to assemble.

Elixer of love...

Pure Magic...

Still, a little tedious if you have a crowd, which we did at times.  In that case, we drag out the old vacuum pot.  Yeah, we could have used the percolator, but as I established in a post last summer, that one actually takes some skill to use well.

Vac pots date back to the mid 1800’s, purportedly invented by a guy named Napier, a maritime engineer.  Principle of operation is the same as the moka – bottom vessel for water, top vessel shaped like a funnel, with funnel rod extending to bottom of water vessel.  In between there is a filter of some sort.  Water heats, air heats, air pushes on water, water follows path of least resistance up funnel and mixes with ground coffee in that vessel.  Only difference in this case is that you keep it on the heat as long as you want the coffee to steep.  Then remove it from the heat.  As the bottom vessel cools, it creates a vacuum (this is, basically, how a canning jar works, too).  The vacuum sucks the brewed coffee through the filter and into the pot.  Done.

Vac pots were hugely popular before WWII.  Restaurants had huge gangs of them.  They were in every household, in numerous brands – Cory, Nicro, Sunbeam, and more.  All types of filter mechanisms.  At one time I had a collection of them, but I try not to pack rat and sold them all except one or two.  Even today, they are available if not popular.  Bodum makes the most mainstream of them, the Santos.  The device in the movie The Bucket List was a vacuum pot (the Royal), a different configuration but same principle.

Here's Mom's Vac Pot. She's clumsy, so stainless is how she rolls. I think this one is a Nicro, but not sure. It uses a Cory glass filter rod, probably not original.

Put the filter rod in, then add the coffee.  A bit of technique - heat the water a little with the pot unassembled, then put them together.  Its more viscerally satisfying to seethe thing work as soome as you assemble it, and you can start timing your agitation, otherwise youre waiting for the water to heat, in which case I get distracted then the next thing you know its been gurgling for who knows how long.

Put the filter rod in, then add the coffee. A bit of technique - heat the water a little with the pot unassembled, then put them together. It's more viscerally satisfying to seethe thing work as soome as you assemble it, and you can start timing your agitation, otherwise you're waiting for the water to heat, in which case I get distracted then the next thing you know it's been gurgling for who knows how long.

Assmebled, water starting to move into upper chamber.  Stir a little as the water rises to get all the coffee wetted.

Assmebled, water starting to move into upper chamber. Stir a little as the water rises to get all the coffee wetted.

Let it steep, on the heat, for about three minutes

Let it steep, on the heat, for about three minutes, then remove from heat and watch the vacuum work almost immediately

Its done when the grinds are sucked dry.  remove the upper vessel and serve.

It's done when the grinds are sucked dry. remove the upper vessel and serve.

My favorite coffee of the week was the Mexico Organic Dry-Process Nayarit.  I’m a sucker for a good natural.

Even if you don’t use these methods every day, it’s fun to experiment with them and inexpensive to buy the equipment – look on eBay to get what you need.  They work great, they give you infinite control, and you’ll feel good about mastering a new technique.


WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?): I’m working on a couple new blends for a potential new coffee shop customer.  The dark house blend is a variation on the Christmas Blend theme.  I’ll keep you posted.

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This is the part that I love about this job – adding new coffees to the menu.  Especially naturals, a particular favorite of mine.

For those wondering, a “natural” is also known as a dry-process coffee because the fruit is dried in the sun instead of dunked in water (which results in a “washed” coffee), which is not exactly “unnatural”.  The net result of natural processing is an earthier, fruiter cup, frequently “winey”.

Once again I was smitten with an Ethiopian Sidamo.  It’s hard for me to say I have an absolute favorite origin, but certainly within regions I do have faves.  In Africa, it’s Ethiopia for me.  And within Ethiopia, it’s southern Ethiopia.  And within southern Ethiopia, give me the naturals.

And so, from the Shanta Golba Cooperative  comes this lovely elixir.  Baby A (aka Veggie Girl) and I spent about ten minutes this morning just sniffing it and trying to describe the dry aromas.  She said “bananas”, and then I could smell them, too, in addition to nearly overwhelming sweet fruits like cherry.  In the cup, the fruits absolutely assault you before retreating to allow the dusky leather to reveal itself in the finish.  If this coffee were wine, it would be a cuvee of savignon blanc (for the sharpness), merlot (for the fruit) and sangiovese (for the finish).  I know it sounds weird, but it works, I promise.

To add to the appeal, it’s Organic, Fair Trade Certified.  You gotta try this one, with the caveat that, like other naturals, they are not for everyone.


WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?):  The Golba inspired me, and might be the one coffee worthy of blending with the Guji (though the question “why?” may still be valid).  So I whipped up an experimental espresso, code named Blonde, not for its IQ but rather for its finish – ultra light (I just realized in addition to the color, the analogy works with the stereotype, too), like interupt first crack light, which for those of you who blend know is always risky, but especially so for espresso.  I’m sipping it now, thinking it needs another day to rest.  Or it may need another 10 degrees of finish temperature.  It’s so far from the norm of how I blend I’m not sure what to say about it.  The quality is excellent, for what it is – a sharp, bright, fruity espresso reminiscent of Cafe Fiorre – it’s the best one I’ve ever had.  The question is whether espresso should taste like this, and to answer that I will need other opinions.  So to all my espresso homies – come over and get some, then give me you opinions.

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I’m talking about coffee bags.  What did you think I was talking about?  The song by Joe Nichols?

This has been an enduring debate here at the roastery.  It was something we didn’t give a lot of thought to in the beginning; we rolled out the company offering retail put-ups in half and full pounds.  That’s how people buy coffee, right?

Well, I can tell you that half pounds have turned out to be a royal PITA (look it up in Urban Dictionary).  So much so that after careful consideration we have been phasing them out.  So full pounds are the answer, right?  I’m not convinced.

Many of our customers like the fact that we offer full pounds.  There is something viscerally satisfying about buying coffee in one pound increments.  It smacks of value.  It’s how we are mentally calibrated.

Then how come hardly anyone else does it?  Most of the coffees offered in supermarkets, specialty stores, and by our competitors are in quantities other than one pound.  The most popular put-up seems to be 12 ounces, but 10 ounces seems popular, too.

One answer is that they are trying to pull a fast one on you.  This is the conventional wisdom among customers who seem to have a strong preference for one pound retail put-ups.  I would argue it’s more complicated than that.

It seems like most users (with a few exceptions – you know who you are!) consume less than a pound per week.  So smaller put-ups make sense.  They can spend less per transaction to get enough to use for a period of time that it will remain fresh.  They can buy two 12-ounce put-ups that will last about two weeks.

So the question is, should we switch from 16 to 12-ounce put-ups?  We want your opinions.

Assume that you will pay just a fraction more on a per pound basis to account for the fact that we use the same bag for a 12 oz as we do for a 16 oz put-up.  Think of 16 oz as being equal to 100%.  Obviously 12 oz is 75% of that.  So if a pound were $10, it follows logically that 12 oz should cost $7.50, right?  Not so fast.  Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that bags and labels cost $0.50 each.  10 lbs used to require 10 bags, or $5.00 worth of bags.  That was baked into the 1 lb price.  So if you bought 10 lbs, you paid $100: $95 for coffee, $5 for bags.  If you buy the same 10 lbs 12 oz at a time, you will buy 13 bags (yeah, I know it’s 13.3, but go with it to make the math easy).  So now it’s the same $95 for coffee, plus $0.50×13=$6.50 for bags, or $101.50 total.  That works out to $10.15 per pound, or $7.81 per 12-oz package.  Whew!  Get it?

I can tell you that, ultimately, it will be either 12 OR 16 oz packages, not both.  Maybe we’ll test market both for a period.  But before we do that, we would like to have your opinion.  Take the poll!


WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?):  I indulged in a little guilty pleasure today – I drank coffee that I actually roasted for myself (be still, my heart).  Usually I drink samples, or whatever hasn’t sold after 10 days or so.  I used to think it was a Dad thing, before I realized it’s small business owner thing, too.  Last week I received a new load of green coffee, including one very special natural Ethiopia Sidamo, from Golba.  Nestled in the south of Ethiopia, along the border of Kenya and not too terribly far west of Somalia live the Shanta Golba cooperative, producers of amazing organic, Fair Trade Certified, Pure Joy In A Cup.  This is another amazing fruit-forward cup, like the Boldgrain we had mid-year, and not entirely dissimilar from the Guji we have in stock now, too.  Yes indeed, I am smitten by naturals.  Look for this one on the web site sometime next week.

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By now you may be getting the idea that I REALLY like Mexican coffee.  One clue is the fact that I have more Mexican offerings than any other origin – five Mexicans at current time!  Right now I’m stocking don Eduardo (also back in the house after an absence!), Oaxaca Mixteca Organic Fair Trade, Chiapas Organic, Nayarit Organic Dry Process (different, and a Roastmaster’s Reserve!), and the latest, described below, Miravalles Organic Decaf.   That’s probably too many, so enjoy them while you can.

Our latest just arrived last week – Organic Mexico Miravalles Mountain Water Process.  “Mountain Water” is the trade name of the process used by the company descamex, which operates an ultra-modern facility in Mexico using water from the Pica de Orizaba mountain.  In terms of process, conceptually it is the same as Swiss Water Decaf, yet my experience is that Mountain Water produces a vastly superior cup quality.  The most noticeable difference is in how the beans roast.  Swiss Water results in an extremely dark bean (before roasting, it looks almost like it has already been roasted), which ultimately results in a very dark appearance for the finished bean.  This has caused some customer confusion when I tell them it’s a light or medium roast (which it is, by virtue of actual roast temperature), yet it appears to be french roast.  The Mountain Water beans behave nicely during roasting, emitting the usual visual and auditory cues ones expects when roasting high quality green coffee.  And a medium finish LOOKS like a medium finish.

Anyway, this cup is classic Mexico – smooth and balanced, like a Oaxaca.  Not so surprising given that Miravalles is the geographic origin of this coffee, which is physically located just north of Oaxaca.


WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?):  Christmas Blend!  Man, I’ve got Christmas Blend coming out the ears.  We vended an event in Cary over the weekend, and it had much lower attendance than anyone had predicted.  Hence I’ve got a lot of finished goods on hand.  Look for more specials this week.

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If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s inventory management.  My graduate degree is in a field related to Operations Research, which is essentially the study of industrial efficiency.  My specialization was in mathematical models, which are used to predict demand, calculate safety stocks to avoid backorders, etc.  For many years, things I learned at Lehigh, and later while earning an MBA at Duke, have served me well, and that continued to be the case with our small business.  Until recently, when I’ve engaged in more green coffee buying, and have had occasion to speak with numerous importers and traders.

The dynamics of specialty coffee are interesting.  And difficult, in some ways.  The first thing to realize is that the coffee we buy is not commodity coffee.  Commodities are items that are always available and, recent price volatility nothwithstanding, are predictable or can be hedged.  Think oil, or corn.  The Big Four of coffee – Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee, Nestle, and Kraft – employee armies of people just like me, in fact I was a consultant to one of those companies early in my career.  Specialty coffee, however, is by definition the top of the quality heap.  Certainly the top 5%, maybe the top 3%.  So by definition, in short supply relative to the rest of the crop.  And with specialty coffee becoming a larger trend, there is more competition for that scarce resource.

Another nuance is the business model of the small importer.  While giants have the financial capacity to move large amounts of commodities without having to put up their own cash (or they have the cash), small importers like the ones we buy through stock their shelves the same way I stock mine – with inventory they actually own.  Bought and paid for, then resold.  (And we run a debt-free business, so I’m not about to stock more than I can sell.)  In any climate, this would limit the amount of selection available from a given importer.  But in these unusually turbulent and tight economic times, it’s even worse.  As importers have their credit squeezed, they can buy less coffee.  Which impacts my selection, and thus yours.

Lately, commodity prices have fallen.  Fill your tank recently?  Then you’ve noticed.  Yes, coffee prices have fallen, too, but don’t expect to see much of it flow through.  With commodity prices down, countries are demanding more price differential for the premium product.  And they either won’t sell at a lower price (good for them!), or they’re getting it.  We’re paying it.

Decaffeinated green coffees add another level of complexity, especially if you want organic and/or Fair Trade Certified.  Top quality growers, especially FTO producers, sell all they can grow for all the money.  They don’t need to submit coffees to decaffeination.  Of course, some top quality producers do produce decafs, but they are a minority – another short supply situation.  So when a good FTO decaf becomes available, they sell out quickly.  This means we need to buythem when they are available, from wherever they are available, instead of waiting to include them with a scheduled shipment from a specific importer.  Obviously this is inefficient, especially with respect to freight charges.  But we do it, and this is a big part of the reason why great decafs are more expensive.

Couple all this with unstable demand at the consumer level (let’s face it, you can live without premium coffee – we felt you hold your breath at the end of September as the markets began their free fall), and increased competition among specialty roasters, and it all adds up to more difficulty securing great green coffee at reasonable prices.  And it’s going to get more difficult as this current financial crisis becomes more severe.

You now have a little insight into my world.  But not to worry – we work with the best suppliers in the business, and we are well positioned to buy large enough quanitites of fine green coffees.  We’re placing an order this week that should arrive just before Thanksgiving, and I am very excited to offer our first Rainforest Alliance coffee (my cupping notes contained the words “balsamic vinegar” to describe its sweet, sharp acidity), as well as an excellent Mountain water Process Mexican decaffeinated.  Stay tuned!


WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?): Wow, this was a cupping weekend, so I’ve been tasting about a half dozen different coffees.  Right now, I’m drinking a Sumatra MWP decaf, which is wonderful, but not wonderful enough to overcome my current inventory position on Sumatra decaf and my immediate need for a Brazil.  One of those economic realities – I need to balance my taste with my forecast and budget.  Earlier today I cupped a Rainforest Alliance El Salvador that made my eyes cross, it was so good.  I’m buying that one!  But until it arrives and I find the sweet spot, then put it on the website, you can keep drinking our organic, Fair Trade Certified El Salvador El Jabali.

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