Thursday, May 18, 2006

breaking coffee news: sun-dried la minita

and what comes to me this morning from the wondrous scott & jessica of batdorf? an amazing thing, a rare thing -- sun-dried, patio-dried, la minita.

for those of you who don't understand why this is so amazing, let's step back a moment and talk about the famous la minita. this costa rican tarrazu estate is widely considered one of the stand-out coffees on the planet (ken davids calls it "the splendid").

the farm is a model for the globe, not only for being an early-adopter of environmentally friendly agricultural practices, but also for strict quality standards. and part of these strict standards called for indoor, machine drying of the green coffee to insure consistency and protect against any mold attacking the coffee.

however, the our friends at batdorf somehow persuaded bill mcalpin, the force behind la minita, to deviate from his long-established procedure and completely sun-dry a lot of coffee just for them. what difference would this make?

after the all the little beanies themselves don't recognize any difference between one kind of heat and another, do they?

oh yes they do, says scaa co-founder, global coffee guru, and gillies president, don schoenholt. don points out several factors that make completely sun-dried coffee different -- and better in the cup.

not only does sun-drying take place more slowly, if the patio is carefully tended, it can take place more evenly than in the barrel-type machines commonly used. there's no risk of overheating or overdrying the beans as a machine might.

further, don notes that the sun's heat also has an ultraviolet component that bleaches the beans slightly, and this probably also affects the flavor.

finally, don considers the wind. the natural, pure air of the beautiful tarrazu environment not only gently bathes the coffee, but may impart its own unique characteristics to the beans.

don also stresses the idea of craft and artisanship in coffee processing, just as in roasting and agriculture. it takes supreme skill to properly dry coffee in the sun -- 4 days of obsessive care by skilled coffee workers who love their product.

"sun drying allows the coffee to be the way divine providence intended it," he says. ok don; you would know!

this coffee meets the chemex tomorrow.

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posted by fortune | 8:38 AM | top | link to this | email this: | | | 0 comments