April 2017 Newsletter
Some customers have asked me why the March newsletter was so late.
The simple answer is that I was waiting for the arrival of the
monthly special coffee. It takes a great deal of planning (and quite
often a fair amount of pleading and grovelling) to get hold of many
of the specials that we offer. In the case of the Colombia Red Honey
Bourbon, it took around 2 years from the time I first tasted the
coffee, and at the end of the process the boat it was on was a few
A couple of days at the end of a long process like that is pretty
minor, but it puts into perspective the difficulties we experience
by being at the bottom of the world as far as shipping coffee goes.
Just getting hold of green coffee samples of prospective specials is
hard enough, as the growth of the specialty coffee industry over the
last 20 years has made things much more competitive, even within
Australia. This month's special was actually supposed to be a
somewhat yummy Brazilian Maragogype, shared with a couple of other
roasters, but what finally arrived was only 80kg of green coffee,
which is simply not enough to supply even half of my customers.
I suspect we were heartily gazumped by a USA roaster willing to pay
more at origin, and the coffee we thought we were getting never even
got close to the shipping container. As Samuel Goldwyn (the G in
MGM, back in the days when movie studios were run by people and not
conglomerates) once said, "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper
it's written on!"
Of course, for each disappointment there's also an unexpected
success. Sharp eyed customers may have noted the disappearance of
PNG Tungei Peaberry from our list of coffees. By chance this month's
special is also a PNG coffee, and I was able to get hold of some
Peaberry in the same delivery, so it has reappeared. Many of the
monthly specials arrive this way, a bag or two added to a container
of other coffees.
"Honey" processing, also known as "Pulped Natural" and "Semi-washed"
has become more popular as it has spread to most coffee origins in
the last 10 years, after first being used in Central America.
However, until recently I had never seen it used for coffees from
Kenya or New Guinea. I still haven't seen a Kenyan Honey coffee, but
this month's special is our first example of a PNG one.
PNG Suavee Aro Honey
The only realistic description of this coffee is rich and smooth. It
has a full bodied, rich, smooth flavour across the whole palate, and
reminds me very much of a Twymans Old Tavern Jamaican Blue Mountain
coffee I cupped several years ago. Thankfully, without the hefty
Finally, a bit of advice for those of you still using the Quaha and
Imat espresso machines we sold you over 10 (and in some cases 15)
years ago. I've been able to keep quite a few of these machines
running using old or scavenged parts, but the supply is more or less
exhausted. As with other old machinery, it's still possible to
import or fabricate parts, but only at exorbitant cost. It doesn't
make much sense to spend 3 to 4 hundred dollars to repair a machine
that cost $700 in the first place, so I'd suggest it's time to
As I recommended in the September 2016 newsletter, the best value is
still the Breville Dual Boiler 920S, particularly when purchased on
special during upcoming stocktake sales.
Until next month