|News & Notes August 2006, 2nd Issue|
What's Happening at the George Howell Coffee Company
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe has returned and is available immediately. It is grown at over 6,000 feet by the Addis Ketema Cooperative which has over 2000 farms averaging 3.4 acres each. This very smooth coffee is infused with whispers of candy lemon, ripe apricot and a mellow trace of ginger. You can order the Fair Trade and Organic Certified Addis Ketema at our online store.
Our Espresso of the month for September will be Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It will be available as of Tuesday, September 4. We will be sending out a reminder with more information in the week prior to roasting this espresso.
Goodbye El Lechal! This coffee has been flying out the door. We will run out this coming week. We have cupped some terrific new crop Colombian from Maria Santos and expect this in sometime in late September. We will keep you updated. Those who loved this coffee should consider our Guatemala El Injerto for its crystalline clean liveliness or our Costa Rica La Minita for elegant smoothness.
Final one-day roast of El Aguacate: Arguably the finest Colombian coffee ever offered on the market, the El Aguacate, Nariño was the #1 prize winner in the Colombia Cup of Excellence, 2005. The El Aguacate has an exquisitely delicate floral green apple aroma, structured with a complex intertwining of honeyed tropical fruit flavors and balanced with dark chocolate. We only have 75 pounds left. It is available only for the week of September 4 (Tuesday) on a first-come-first-serve basis. Roast Style: Full Flavor Roast. You can order this wonderful coffee for $34.95/12oz by either calling (866) 444-5282 or ordering online (www.terroircoffee.com).
Come Join us for our next Open House at our roasting facility on Saturday, September 30, from 9 AM to Noon. So if you have any questions, or just want to have a good free morning cup of coffee, stop by and say hi!
Food Network: We are excited to announce that the George Howell Coffee Company is being featured on the Food Network's Dave Does segment. Our thanks go out to Dave Lieberman and the crew at the Food Network.
The new frontier: year-round harvest-fresh coffee.
by George Howell
When we think of coffee freshness, we always think of roasted-coffee freshness. Taste coffee in most offices or from the new portion-pack coffeemakers and you taste the traditional flat flavor of “stale” coffee. But there is an even more radical flavor of STALENESS that most coffee aficionados are not aware of. Awakening consumers to this particular flavor of staleness and opening their taste buds to a new world of fresh coffee flavors could revolutionize the way quality coffee is traded, stored, and transported worldwide and raise living standards once and for all for countless coffee farmers committed to quality.
What causes raw, green staleness?
After coffee beans—really fruit seeds—are properly dried and uniformly conditioned to the right degree of moisture content for stability, they are at their peak of expression. The beans contain the maximum amount of very volatile aromatic oils locked within the beans’ cellular structure. These oils make them unique and give them their special added value. From here on it is downhill, for some coffees rapidly, for others more slowly (on that another article). Next to nothing has ever been done to preserve this highpoint for exceptional coffee; it has been all about mere acceptability of a commodity product. Green coffee is shipped and stored in woven jute or sisal bags, which have been coated with petroleum-based batching oils to increase fiber yield and facilitate the spinning process. Green coffee is traditionally kept in these bags for the year or more it takes to go through them (fine coffee is harvested once a year). And so the green coffee devolves—exposed to oxygen, changes in the environment and to the bags themselves….
What is the character of green coffee staleness?
First to disappear, by evaporation, are the coffees’ aromatic oils, the core of any fine coffee’s unique expression. Next to go is sweetness, while lignin, which forms the cell walls of the coffee bean and is the chief non-carbohydrate constituent of wood, ages and imparts an ever-increasing generic flavor of aged cedar wood once the coffee is roasted. This is the common flavor thread found in most quality restaurants and cafes today.
Many consumers seeking high-quality coffee have actually acquired a taste for this kind of stale coffee (much like coffee drinkers in parts of the Middle East, such as Istanbul, who have a far more extreme acquired taste, preferring a harsh iodine-medicinal taste in their coffee, caused by overly humid coffee-growing conditions). The vast majority of top-rated quality restaurants in the US actually cater to the acquired taste of deadened generic woodiness coated with dark-roasted caramel and carbon flavoring. It is the safe thing to do.
Solving the raw coffee staleness problem requires changes from coffee producers and from coffee roasters.
Brazil’s Daterra Farm has led the way in changing how coffee producers package their coffee. Fresh green coffee is immediately packaged into airtight, vacuumed bags, which are then boxed for shipping. In 2002 Daterra Farm and Terroir Coffee compared the same coffees arriving from Brazil by ship this way against other packages, including jute bags. The difference was stunning and Daterra is now shipping all its fine coffees this way. Terroir has been working to spread this technology, first perfected by Daterra, to other producers (our Colombian coffees are a perfect example). Those coffees still arriving to us in jute are immediately re-packaged into vacuumed airtight containers. This storage method dramatically softens the aging process but does not halt it.
The final step to producing a year-round harvest-fresh coffee experience is deep-freezing the hermetically sealed green coffee. Only Terroir Coffee is doing this. As Latin American and East African coffees age this year, from the time they were harvested, around last winter, to this coming winter and late spring, the difference between our coffees and those of all other roasters widens. We firmly believe the added labor and cost is well worth it. What you taste in May is what you taste in January: harvest-fresh flavor. When we blind-cupped our one-year-old Kenya Tegu last month against the new crop Kenyas just arriving, it was impossible to tell them apart by age. For the first time, our special packaging and storage allow year-round full appreciation of harvest-fresh single origin coffees. This empowers consumers and farmers alike.
As consumers start seeking the still barely-explored dazzling coffee flavor spectrum of single-origin coffees, a new world of regional coffee offerings, to be sold like fine wines and teas, will emerge. Quality craftsman-farmers will benefit worldwide; they will begin leaving the shadows of anonymous commodity-blended coffees and acquire identity, and through it, economic sustainability with dignity. It's time they had an address!
Coffee Tip: Keep your fresh coffee hot by preheating your mug or glass.
Fill your mug or glass with boiling water. Let it sit for a minute or two before pouring the water out and serving your freshly brewed coffee. This simple preparation can actually prevent a noticeable amount of heat loss. This can be especially important when serving espresso.