I did a blogpost back in April explaining about our new blends and how going forwards we would be rotating and reinventing some of them. So we have Red (Jailbreak replacement and Philter) White Blend (which would be a replacement for Jaberwocky, Kicker and 1973) and Black Blend (that would be a replacement for Black and Breakfast Bomb). I’ve loved the feedback on them and on the whole everyone has embraced the new blends (and bags).
But theres the 4th blend, the place for us to play and have the fun. Dark Side of the moon has been lots of fun to play with and a coffee thats received lots of love. But its time for the first change. An in the spirit of having fun were reviving a blend we have not had for a while.
Brazil nut is a cheeky nod towards what was the very popular Perfetio and I’ve received many many many emails saying that perfetio isn’t a word and I must have accidentally slipped when typing. The truth is that I did slip but a very long time ago and the name just stuck!
In Brazil they speak Portuguese and the word ‘perfect’ in Portuguese is ‘perfeito’, when I first created this blend many moons ago I was going to go for that as the name but accidentally made a typo. Once I’d seen it there I quite liked how it looked so decided to keep it as it was, always fun creating a new word! I’m sure at the time if you searched the internet for ‘perfetio’ it would have said you couldn’t spell but now you’re shown lots of things about this blend, a giant success I think!
We have called it Brazil nut as I have already said, its a nod towards Perfetio and not a direct same blend, but its fun and I like it.
The blend is made up of
40% Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama Natural Yellow Bourbon
30% Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama Pulped Natural Canario
30% Brazil Fazenda Inglaterra Pulped Natural Bourbon
In the cup you can expect a fantastic body, loads of sweetness and creaminess, heaps of smooth milk chocolate with walnut and a gorgeous finish.
Over the last six years we’ve been super proud to offer a range of signature blends like Jailbreak, Blake and Jabberwocky and over that time Jailbreak, has had 36 iterations, each one delivering a balanced, sweet and clean cup profile.
Blends allow you consistent quality, with a taste profile you expect… even as coffees change from season to season and the range of blends we offer has expanded over the years as we’ve had new ideas, goals or coffees to shout about.
Now, it’s time to talk about the next big change.
A change that celebrates seasonality and the finite nature of the coffees we buy whilst keeping that same consistency.
We are relaunching our blends with just three flavour profiles. Red, White and Black.
Blends in the ‘Red’ profile will be focussed on balance, sweetness and cleanliness. This will be replacing the infamous Jailbreak Blend. A consistent easy to work with tasty sweet smooth balanced espresso.
The ‘Black’ profile celebrates a heavier, natural process led espresso. Think dried fruit, dark chocolate and rich mouthfeel. This will sit in the Blake / Breakfast bomb seat. Filling all the needs of these two blends in one balanced super blend.
The ‘White’ profile is bright fruit, balanced acidity, clarity and vibrancy. This will sit in the Jabberwocky / Kicker seat – zingy and a little more challenging to work with than Red or Black, but full of amazing results when you get it right.
Alongside these three regular profiles, will sit a fourth unique blend. This fourth blend will be a chance to explore and experiment, celebrating something specific and outside the box for a limited time only. This will sit across many of the previous blends every time it changes, but expect the unexpected.
Every month one blend will be replaced, so each one will only be available for around three months. Three consistent profiles and a wildcard.
We’ll rotate the change so there will always be something new to taste, but each individual blend will only be available as long as it’s coffees exist.
This is how Jailbreak and our other blends had always been updated
But this change will allow us to put the focus on the impermanent nature of each seasons coffee crop, as well as the skill of blending to deliver on a desirable style through the course of the year.
We’re looking forwards to seeing where these changes take us, we would love you to join the ride.
The first batch of blends are as follows…
40% El Salvador Finca La Fany Pulped Natural Bourbon
40% El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Washed Bourbon
20% Costa Rica Sumava Monte Llano Bonito Villa Sarchi Yellow Honey
Well balanced and easy to work with as espresso, sweetness driven, easy drinking as espresso / milk based / filter.
Dark Side of the Moon
50% El Salvador Finca Alaska Washed Bourbon
20% El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Washed Bourbon
20% El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Washed Bourbon
10% El Salvador Los Brisas Washed Bourbon
Complex acidity and huge fruit flavours, with a sparkling and clean, sharp finish.
We’re also going to take this long overdue opportunity to mix up our starter packs – From now on an espresso starter pack will include the 3 new core blends red, black and white + a delicious single origin at a super value price of just £20 – that’s £5 each. We will also be changing the filter starter packs to four packs of stellar single origins, hand picked by moi, for a score – Lovely jubbly.
A country that has so, so much going for it in terms of quality coffee production, but that has had the deck stacked against it in so many ways for the past 20 years. I <3 Bolivia!
Regular readers of this blog will know that I love the country and the coffee of Bolivia. If you’re not sure, check out this video below I delivered on the tamper tantrum tour of Asia presented in Taiwan:
The potential and the quality of the coffee is undeniable, but the quantity of the coffee has been on the decline for years.
Despite this, we have been working hard with the Rodriguez family to promote and increase production. Bolivia’s past is interesting although it’s a commercially viable coffee exporting country, it’s production has always been small. The conditions, although challenging, are exceptional for growing coffee, and this produces a very rich agriculture built on a long history of farming on a very difficult and difficult terrain. In 1991, there was a government led initiative to encourage the endogenous population to participate in coffee farming, which led to a fractured system counter-intuitive to quality. The arrival of the Cup of Excellence Program in 2004 allowed buyers to find the quality coffee for which Bolivia was already known, but that had become difficult to source.
The main problem for producers was (and, to some extent, still is) that they are unable to make enough money to be sustainable. To subsidize their income, they looked to other crops, mainly coca (the crop that is used to produce cocaine, legal in Bolivia). Encouraged by the government, coca is four times more profitable and is much easier to grow than coffee, and this sadly led to coffee producers turning their back on coffee or, even worse, abandoning their farms.
Coca farming involves a lot of chemicals and fertilisers that are not good to the soil and land, so farming coca leads to the soil being infertile and overworked. Over time, coca-farmed land is unusable for any crop. Bolivian governmental support for growing coca has led to a break-down of relations with the USA, who had previously supported Bolivian agriculture and economy in the early 2000s. The resulting war on drugs in Bolivia has since led to many initiatives to help coffee farmers, with things like the Cup of Excellence being financially supported by USAID.
As if these difficulties weren’t enough to overcome, the arrival of leaf rust in 2013 (a fungus that attacks the leaves of a coffee tree and makes it impossible photosynthesize) meant that the country lost over 50% of its production that year alone. The combination of both government policy and leaf rust means that Bolivia’s coffee production has dropped by over 70 % in the past ten years, leaving the county a minor player in the world of coffee.
This means that to find the very best coffees from Bolivia, we have to pay a much higher than normal price compared to other coffee producing countries—but this isn’t a bad thing. The small volumes available and current demand for great coffees mean that, for once, coffee producers are on the front foot.
The Rodriguez family own their own mills, processing and exporting coffee for farmers in the Caranarvi and Sud Yungas region. The family have been sourcing coffee from small coffee producers for three decades, but the steady decline of coffee production has put the sustainability of their export business in jeopardy. Without the intervention of people like the Rodriguez family, however, the future of coffee production in Bolivia is at risk of disappearing.
In 2014, the Rodriguez family bought a number of farms in Caranavi region to showcase their practices and educate other producers in sustainable farming, as well as increasing the overall volume at their mills. One of the farms is La Linda and there are a number of varietal and processing experiments going on.
Bolivia La Linda Experimental Washed Caturra (£7.50) This is a wonderfully sweet and fruity coffee, raspberry Starburst meets sweet orange with red apple on the finish. Super delicious and a shining example of the wonderful things a bit of experimentation can do.
Bolivia La Linda Washed Caturra (£7.50) Think sparkling white wine with some candied lemon around the edge of the glass, then on the aftertaste pineapple cubes. A deliciously fruity and bright coffee.
Every now and again I get a coffee varietal that comes along and I know nothing about it. It reminds me why I love coffee varietals and their complexity.
Every now and again I get a coffee varietal that comes along and I know nothing about it. It reminds me why I love coffee varietals and their complexity. It’s always kinda been my thing; I went through a spell of writing lots of them up (see here).
This weeks up coming In My Mug in one of those coffees I knew nothing about, in the video I even talked about how little I know about it (yes that’s what I do on in my mug, talk about things I don’t know). A google search proved fruitless, so a flurry of emails backwards and forwards to Tulio of Carmo Estate in Brazil meant I got educated.
The Arara varietal originates from the crossing between the yellow Catuai and the Obatã (Hybrid of Timor) varieties. It was developed on experimental farm of Procafé Foundation in Varginha Brazil.
The experiment has been part of an on going project in Brazil with many new varietals being discovered – Procafé found that Arara is one of the most successful to date in both yield and in cup quality – so much so that the Arara seeds are the most requested at Procafé for new seedlings! It’s excelled so much even at the experiment phase.
The next stage of the experiment is to see how it performs in farms and and on a larger scale in the planting dissemination.
Our growing partner Tulio Junqueira at Carmo Estate Coffees was one of the first to get this varietal from Procafé in 2014 as part of the dissemination program, and we are just beginning to see the first harvests now. He has been very happy with the results and seen great potential for quality and production levels.
The Arara is a yellow fruit coffee, high resistance to rust, good productivity and high quality potential.
Typical cup characteristics are hard to say at this time but my experiences have been to show a typical sweet profile you would expect from Brazil, with Chocolate notes, muted but defined acidity with a good body and aftertaste.
Links: Catuai, Obatã, Timor
Examples: Brazil Carmo Estate Arara
Related to: Catuai and Obatã (timor hybrid)
Grows best at: 1000 metres or above
Prevalent in: No where yet but developed in Brazil
Predominant Colour: Yellow
Fruit size: Normal rounded
Leaf Characteristics: Wide and large
You want to try it, right ? Well if you’re signed up to In My Mug, expect it on your doorstep very soon! If you’re not signed up, why not? Well if you’re not, it will be launching on Friday so keep your eyes pealed on the website Friday afternoon.
Gloria has worked with us since way back in 2007, and is one of our longest and consistent relationships in El Salvador
I am sure she thinks I am crazy, as when I turn up there’s normally some kind of chaos going on, or I have some new thing that I’m trying, but with the help of her son in law Luis (also Rodriguez) we battle through. I’ve been friends with him even longer (and her Daughter his wife Maria Jose) through their joint work for the Consejo back in the day (before they went on to own their own farm La Gloria). You keeping up here?
Anyway the relationship we have is amazing, they continue to do good work (the family), and I continue to buy their amazing coffee, and they continue to improve, this year is no different.
When ever I get together with Luis we end up “geeking” out about all the varietals that we have found over the previous year, and talking about ones we are seeing come to the fore.
One of these is Elefante, a unusual mutation that’s been found on San Jose and Lagunita (one of their neighbouring farms). Lots of varietals have very small differences in the cherry or plant. This one has huge amounts of mucilage compared to the three or four drops you get from most coffees, often producing 14 or 15. Excess mucilage means excess transfer of sweetness in the processing and I think this shows in the cup.
Bolivia is a challenge, but working with Vincent makes the effort worth it: Just 12 months on from my last visit you can visibly see an already healthy family farm, run by a true producer, getting better and better.
Bolivia is a challenge. If you don’t believe me go listen to this monologue I recorded when I was in Bolivia last August.
Dwindling crops, ageing plants, lack of varietal diversity, or ageing producers with their children having no interest in carrying on the family business.
But then sometimes there”s someone like Vincent Paye who you just want to put the extra work in for.
Vincent and his family have been the exception to the rule in Bolivia, increasing yields, new plant stocks, with a replanting program in full swing, family run business, who are investing in the farm and seeing the results in an improved cup quality.
Year on year, his coffee is getting better and better with every step he takes. Just 12 months on from my last visit you can visibly see an already healthy farm, getting better and better. A true family farm, that is acting like the professional producer he is.