Tuesday, January 18, 2005

fun with daterra & don't forget sumatra

while the overall effect of the tragic tsunami on coffee may not yet be clear, it's still important to remember that the rebuilding there will be long-term, and people need to be fed.

i've mentioned the coffee-oriented relief fund before. don't forget coffeekids, which has so far raised about US$50,000 for sumatra from the coffee community. this has been used to buy, among other things, 3 tons of rice to feed the people there.

you can also contribute by enjoying peter g's counterculture aceh relief coffee.

here in new york i was intrigued to read in the ny times yesterday that dunkin donuts intends to take on the mermaid in manhattan by opening 200 stores. since the dunkin coffee is a lighter roast, which is generally more in line with new york regional taste preferences, i would expect it to be a battle royal. . .

until i read that dunkin is opening only smallish stores! many new yorkers who frequent the mermaid do so to utilize those large comfy seating spaces as their living rooms.

dunkin must be betting on the to-go market here and may be avoiding an out-and-out confrontation with howard.

but let me skip past this small news to the cupping held at the exchange by daterra, producers of specialty brazil coffees. there's been a lot of talk about these coffees lately on coffeegeek.

alas, i only had time to drop by the tasting briefly. linda had held a similar tasting on the west coast, and the coffees that were said to have the buzz from there were the "sweet yellow;" the pre-blended "sunrise;" and the pre-blended "villa borgesi."

i thought the "sunrise" was interesting. others liked the peaberry they offered, number "647."

(scaa flavor wheels at the ready?)

the "sunrise" seemed like a good bet for espresso to me: one of the thicker-bodied coffees there, with a floral-type fragrance, mild taste, and almond or marizpan-y aromas. i didn't get a chance to cup it cold.

i thought the "villa borgesi" had an intriguing fragrance, floral and almost like hazelnut extract. i was running a tad late, but i would have liked to have sampled that particular coffee; i just didn't get a chance to taste it!

it was also fantastic to see the ever-gracious linda smithers, karen gordon, oren bloostein and genevieve felix, peter longo, mary petitt (this woman should rule the universe, to my mind! i love her "gondola paddling" method of bringing the grounds up from the bottom of the cup to smell; she manipulates her spoon just as a gondolier rows the oar [remo] in the oarlock [forcula]), among others.

many thanks to linda for being so sweet as to open the doors and let me slip in.

what was also deeply interesting was to hear isabel and luis pascoal, the farmers, describe the advanced technology they are using at daterra to insure high-quality. for example, they have divided the farm into small parcels and use gps to track all the coffee.

so when they taste a certain batch of coffee, they can tell immediately what part of the farm it came from, how those trees were cared for, even what workers were responsible for that plot, etc. and i was happy to hear that they offer health care, housing, and educational programs for all their workers.

their coffees are rainforest and utz kapeh certified; plus they have worked to preserve natural wetlands and waterfalls on their farm. the pascoals have also planted fruit trees to attract native birds back to the land.

since they work with illy, they have advanced espresso labs on site, which was really cool to hear about. they also have a very interesting and to my brief experience unique method of cupping coffees for espresso.

they do this 3 blends at a time, using 3 cups of each blend. the cupping lab worker chooses 1 cup from one blend, 1 cup from a second, and all the cups from the remaining.

the cupper has to first identify what 3 cups are the same. then the cupper discards the 2 extra cups of the "same" batch, and cups one bowl of each as normal.

they also taste the espresso thru the brew process, by sampling it as an americano. further, they test by measuring and tasting the wet crema, as well as measuring and tasting the dry crema alone in a cup after drying out the liquid.

and last but not least, they divide the shot into 6 second stages, to catch each 6 seconds of every pour into an individual shot glass for tasting.

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