|News & Notes September 2006|
What's Happening at the George Howell Coffee Company
The great Colombian El Aguacate: one last time! We have enough of our First Place Colombia Cup of Excellence 2005 to do one last small roast. This will be on Monday, September 25. Shipments will be made on a first-order first-serve basis. This tiny lot of El Aguacate, from the region of Narino, bordering Ecuador, is breathtaking in its lively raw-sugarcane sweetness. Sweetness and body are one fabric with this coffee, a very rare event. We will hold a tiny roast’s worth to taste one final time as a vintage in a few years, something only we can do. This fine coffee will be available at our online store for purchase on Friday, September 22nd. You can also place a reservation with us by phone at (866) 444-5282.
Mamuto, Grand Cru Kenya. We are pleased to announce the release of our Kenya new-crop grand cru, Mamuto Farm, which serves as a wonderful replacement for our Tegu. Kenya is the only country in the world which auctions all of its coffee production. Mamuto fetched the highest price from the expert exporters of Kenya for this year’s crop and for good reason. We bought it all. It is a powerhouse of sweet aromatic blackberry and black currant flavor. We will also be holding back a reserve of this special coffee to roast in years to come – our first coffee chosen to be a vintage selection, thanks to our unique storage methods.
Elkhill Estate, Coorg, India. Coffee is grown in Elkhill under forest shade comprised of native species as the area once formed part of the original forest of Coorg. Over the years Elkhill has consistently won awards in cupping events held by The Coffee Board of India. It is full-bodied with subdued acidity, lingering bittersweet chocolate, traces of black pepper and nutmeg. It is certified by Utz Kapeh. The first roast will be this Monday, Sept 18. You can now purchase this fine coffee on our online store for $10.95 per 12oz roasted.
Open House: September 30, Saturday, 9 AM to Noon. Our open house last month was a terrific success, so we’ve decided to do another one. Join us and tour our facilities. George will present a slide-packed seminar on coffee interspersed with tastings at 9:30 AM. We will later serve espressos made by our master barista, Peter Lynagh, including our espresso of the month, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. We limit these events to 50 people to assure a quality experience by all. Please call for reservations: (866) GHH-JAVA or (978) 635-9033.
The Fine Art and Precise Science of Roasting
Roasting unlocks and frames a coffee's flavor potential; it is a science and an art that requires a great amount of experience, concentration and split second timing. This is where the roaster imprints his/her signature. How bright or muted will the coffee be? How much depth or 'chiaroscuro' should the roaster impart to the coffee’s intrinsic flavor? Should there be a touch of bitterness at the end?
Green coffee beans feel like rounded cold pebbles in the hand; they are very hard and nearly half the size they will be after roasting.
There are different kinds of roasters. The classic machine is a rotating metal drum that roasts the beans by conduction (hot surface) and convection (heated air passing through the rotating, tumbling beans). Our current roaster operates this way. Achieving the right balance is difficult but well worth the effort. Another type operates strictly by convection typically floating on a bed of hot air. Many inexpensive home roasters are this type (like modified popcorn cookers). They permit very clean expressions of a coffee's flavor profile. They can also lack a certain dimensionality that is given by traditional roasters, which impart a slight roast variation between surface and interior, achieving more depth and better framing a coffee's acidity. The roaster walks a fine line.
It can take anywhere from 2 minutes (jet-roasting) to 20 minutes or more to roast a batch of coffee. The extremes produce equivalently terrible results on quality coffee. Both fail to develop a fine coffee's complexity (over 600 flavor components); the coffee’s flavor profile is demolished beyond recognition. Some modern machines, designed for the mass market, are continuous rather than batch roasters; green coffee enters one end of a giant corkscrew and emerges in short order through the other side roasted in one unending sequence.
The different stages of roasting and their flavor profiles will be covered in the next newsletter.
Events @ Terroir
Saturday, September 30th, 9am - noon - Join George and the staff at our Acton Headquarters (312 School Street, Acton, MA 01720) for our next Open House, seminar and coffee tasting! Please call (866) GHH-JAVA to RSVP.