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September 2018 Newsletter

I'm back, fit as a fiddle. Admittedly an old fiddle with a battered body, saggy
strings and stiff pegs, but still working. My profound thanks to all those that
sent me best wishes. During my enforced absence I took the time to catch up with
the news of the greater commercial coffee world, since anything was better than
the news media frenzy surrounding the latest Canberra coup.

Most of the coffee news was taken up by a series of mergers and acquisitions in
Europe and USA by JAB Holdings (see the November 2015 newsletter). They have
added many more companies since then, including Krispy Kreme, the doughnut
company. Their latest expression of interest was in the gigantic Illy coffee
empire, but being a family owned company it wasn't for sale.

Then just last week Coca Cola bought the UK based Costa Coffee chain. Then
Nestle also expressed interest in acquiring Illy, should the family ever wish to
sell. The indicated price was somewhere north of 1.5 Billion U.S. dollars, or 3
times the current turnover.

What appears to be happening is a giant consolidation at the top end of the
coffee food chain. The reasoning behind the consolidation would appear to be the
reduction in the amount of coffee directly consumed "at home". This reduction
has been more than compensated by the volume of coffee consumed in shops,
restaurants and cafes. The overall quantity of coffee consumed per capita
worldwide is increasing every year.

So if you want a major share of this market it makes sense to develop a vertical
market strategy, integrating purchasing and roasting with end use food and café
outlets. It's more or less trying to build the next Starbucks on a world scale
by buying up existing well known brands, rather than introducing a new
franchise. There's a heap of cash behind the JAB  and Coke acquisitions but only
time will show how successfully the overall structures turn out. Coke does have
experience with Grinders in Australia.

Having sorted the coffee news, the rest of my time was occupied looking for a
September monthly special, so without further ado here it is:

Costa Rica Tarrazu Tirra

The full description is Costa Rica "SHB" Coope Tarrazu Tirra Estate Natural
Microlot - Natural Processed Arabica, and it's a coffee that would have been
flat out impossible only 20 years ago.

Back then experiments with the Miel "honey processed" semi washed coffees were
in their infancy. All Costa Rican arabica coffees were "washed" to remove skin,
pulp and mucilage before being laid out to dry. This prevented moulds and fungi
from attacking and ruining the green beans. Learning how to leave the pulp on
the beans without encouraging fungal growth in the humid tropical climate was a
major advance.

"Natural" coffees where beans are allowed to dry out within the coffee cherry
were the province of dry climate producers like Ethiopia, Yemen and Brazil.
Producing a "natural" in Costa Rican conditions is a recent development that has
resulted in the most intense coffee I've ever tasted from this region.

It has a fruity melon and cherry aroma which translates into a similar front
palate, huge mid palate body and flavour and a nice sweet marmalade acidity in
the finish, altogether a remarkable coffee.

Until next month


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