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BIG NEWS – New Blends!

Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting.

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…

RED BLEND

Red Giant
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.

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/red

WHITE BLEND

White Dwarf
60% Bolivia Taypiplaya Delia Washed
20% Malawi Msese AB Washed
20% Burundi Nemba Washed Bourbon

Bright acidity, clean and complex, fruity.

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/white

BLACK BLEND

Black Hole
70% Brazil Fazenda Inglaterra Natural Selection
30% Sulawesi Tana Toraja Kalosi Washed Typica A

Heavy body, dried fruit and dark chocolate, low acidity, strong base.

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/black

WILD CARD

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.

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/wild

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.

Bolivia’s Back!

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.

Bolivia La Linda Pulped Natural Longberry (£10.00)
Those candied lemon pieces that are covered in white sugar with a clean and delicate finish of rosewater and floral notes.

Bolivia La Linda Natural Caturra (£8.00)
This is a liquid rhubarb and custard sweet, with a bit of dark rum thrown in for fun! A really creamy and boozy coffee.

And some old favorties return too, and many more to come over the coming weeks!

Bolivia Teodocio Mamani Washed (£7.00)
Expect a lovely fruit sweetness, with orange jelly wobble mid-palate that finishes with peach juice.

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Viva Bolivia!!

Arara Coffee Varietal

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

 

Varietal: Arara
Related to: Catuai and Obatã (timor hybrid)
Origin: Brazil
Grows best at: 1000 metres or above
Type: Hybrid
Prevalent in: No where yet but developed in Brazil
Predominant Colour: Yellow
Fruit size: Normal rounded
Leaf Characteristics: Wide and large
Botany: Hybrid

 

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.

El Salvador Finca San Jose

Today we launch Finca San Jose red bourbon from El Salvador and Gloria Rodriguez!

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?

IMG_2540

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.

Mucilage Count

We are also launching this today, along with a heap of pictures from my visit on Flickr which you can see here!

El Salvador San Jose 2017

 

 

I don’t expect the Elefante to be around long and most certainly won’t be an in my mug (way too small for that) but anyone who is signed up the red bourbon is making its way to you today.

Vincent Paye, Bolivia

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.

We’re proud to launch the coffee today – you can buy it at the link here. Like the photos? Then why not take a look at the rest of them from the visit here on Has Bean Coffee on Flickr.

 

Nicaraguan Delights

I have a very exciting and interesting job, surrounded by amazing coffee all day, every day. Sometimes I forget just how lucky I am.

A conversation with a friend sparked an idea in my head that I should do a blog post on how it is that we have so many different coffees from one farm. It started by talking about Finca Argentina in El Salvador that a couple of years ago we had 21 different coffees from. That’s 21 coffees that were either different varietals, from different tablons (small pieces of land) or processed in different ways, but all from just one farm. Those 21 coffees demonstrated how much diversity there could be from 1 coffee to the next even when they’re all from a single farm.

I then went on to talk about all the wonderful Nicaraguan coffees we have from Finca Limoncillo this year, and my, my, my, there are so many! And so here we are my friends…

My relationship with Finca Limoncillo began in 2007, and back then we were buying their delicious coffee as part of a buying group. I loved it from the very first time I cupped it, and it was a coffee I just had to get. It was only after the auction closed that I discovered it was owned by a family in Nicaragua who were already good friends of mine, and indeed probably the only people I know from the whole country!

The following year I visited the farm with our importers and spent the whole trip begging them to bring the coffee in for us. Eventually, they caved in (possibly just to stop me pestering them!) and kindly did so.

This set-up worked well for a time, but we received notice a couple of years ago, that the importers were not going to be buying the coffee any more (and for reasons other than the cup quality). This led to some frantic phone calls and a thorough search down the back of the sofa for loose change to fund buying twelve months’ worth of coffee all at once. There were many, many obstacles in the way of doing this deal, but we were lucky in that we were able to pull everything together in a very short amount of time.

The upside of all of this is that we now work directly with Finca Limoncillo instead of going via anyone else, and this is a relationship I’m super happy to have. This coffee has gone from a one-off Cup of Excellence buy to a fantastic long-term relationship.

Finca Limoncillo is located in Matagalpa and, at 171 hectares, it. is. huge! Situated at an amazing location, it boasts 9 waterfalls within the farm and is owned by the Mierisch family; as I have already said, they’re good friends, and also well-respected producers in Nicaragua. They’re known for their experimental processing, varietal work, and exceptional coffee. Back then we just bought the washed Caturra from them…

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/nicaragua-limoncillo-washed-caturra

And we also have a natural Bourbon from the farm that’s amazing…

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/nicaragua-finca-limoncillo-natural-bourbon

Each time I visited the farm I got to try exciting new coffees that were processed in different ways and/or different varietals that they were experimenting with, primarily Pacamara. Pacamaras are a little crazy on the cupping table. Pacamaras are exciting. I like Pacamaras. Mmmmmm Pacamara!

Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Washed Red Pacamara
Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Pulped Natural Red Pacamara
Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Elegant Natural Red Pacamara

Then we got a chance to play with processing. Natural processing that’s been done by a great technician who is on the side of ‘as mad as a box of frogs’…this is one of the most complex, one of the most exciting, and one of my favourite natural coffees of recent times.

They told me that they’d been trying a new policy of turning the coffee more often, which I decided made it more ‘elegant’ (see the other natural Pacamara we’re offering), but quite different.

Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Elegant Natural Red Pacamara

But they did have one lot which had not been turned as often and was more crazy. So they prepared the sample for me to cup, and the first word I yelled out was “FUNKY!” so this lot made it into the bag! A collaboration of processing between roaster , grower and a mistake.

Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Funky Natural Red Pacamara

From there we then got to taste something very new and super exciting. Pacamaras are always red (or so we thought). When we visited a couple of years before they had found a plant where the usually red fruit was yellow. I’d never seen this before, and Erwin who is well travelled in the coffee world had not either. We cupped it and it tasted completely different to the Pacamaras I’d tasted in the past, and WOW was it delicious! I begged Erwin to sell us some but he told me they were using all the crop to create more seedlings to plant more coffee, but that it would soon be available. Gone were the days of me being a red only kinda guy.

Fast forward 2 years and it was available in the Los Favoritos Fincas Mierisch auction where some very special lots were up for grabs to the highest bidder. After tasting what I tasted in Nicaragua I knew I had to have it, through the bidding process the entire production of yellow Pacamara from that year was split between us and another amazing roastery in Japan, and so the journey began.

Fast forward a bit more to this year and we had a washed, a pulped natural, a natural and a funky natural (!) which will mostly be released over the next few weeks. The pulped natural is already all gone as it was sent out as a Steve’s Super Secret Stash Subscription (#SSSSS) exclusive, the natural and washed will be available on our website and the funky natural will be available through our exclusive range.

Not happy to stop there, next was the multi-named Javanic / Longberry. It’s a long story how this came about so I’ll hand over to Erwin to let him explain how they came to have this unique coffee…

“Here my ‘story’ begins back in mid-2001. I sound like a grandfather …
My father and I were coming back from visiting some top farms in Nicaragua, as we sometimes did – and do – in order to learn from our neighbours. If we discover anything worthwhile we then implement those things to improve efficiency and quality on our own farms.
As we drove past the UNICAFE experiment station Juanetillo, which had gone under, a man on the side of the road flagged us down and explained to us how the experiment station had closed down and that his ‘severance’ was tools and coffee seeds since they did not have the cash to pay him. He asked if we would be interested in helping him out by purchasing these items off of him. In all honesty, I was not very happy that my father forced me to stop to see what this man wanted; therefore, I was not very receptive to his offer, but I purchased a bag of seeds and old beaten up shovels. I gave no immediate thought to the 20lb bag of coffee seeds that was labelled as JAVA.
My father later showed these seeds to our then-supervising agronomist Ing. Patricia Contreras, who had worked at that research station, and she was ecstatic. She told us about how great this coffee was, but also that it was not very productive nor resistant to disease, as she recalled from running this study at Juanetillo back in the ’80s. She also said that the real name for it is Longberry and that it has its roots in Ethiopia.
We began to run some more experiments – various altitudes and processing methods – and have been learning how to manage it since.”

As far as we can tell the Longberry varietal is a Typica-type coffee because of its bean shape, as is the Geisha. Its physical appearance is a uniform seed that is elongated and has been described by several of our customers as an ‘Ethiopian Long Berry type’.

https://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/nicaragua-limoncillo-washed-longberry
Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Pulped Natural Longberry
Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Natural Longberry

You would think that’s enough, but next, we have Ethiosar. The varietal Ethiosar is a stable hybrid plant. It is a cross of an Ethiopian variety (Rume Sudan) with a Sarchimor (a cross of a Villa Sarchi with a Timor variety). The offspring of this plant is then crossed once again with a Villa Sarchi (an improved Caturra / Bourbon from Costa Rica).

The Timor variety is the robusta variety used to produce all the Catimores. In short,it only has a very small percentage of Catimores in it, thus making it very resistant to rust in most parts of the world. The Rume Sudan is a very old variety of Typica from Ethiopia. Both Rume Sudan and Villa Sarchi are known for their great cup characteristics.

What Ethiosar does is increase production by up to 40% whilst only needing 2,800 plants per manzana, whereas with Caturra you would need 4,000 plants. This may not seem important until you begin to think that each plant needs fertiliser, so not only are you getting more yield but it’s cheaper to grow because you need less fertiliser, fewer plants (plants have to be grown or bought), and it’s also quicker to pick. On top of all of this, it’s super tasty.

Again taking advantage of their amazing skill at processing we have a washed, natural and pulped natural…

Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Natural Ethiosar
Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Pulped Natural Ethiosar
Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Washed Ethiosar

16 coffees from one farm, 5 varietals and up to 4 processes! We’re very lucky to work with Finca Limoncillo, but impressively the Mierisch family have even more farms from which we have a washed Catuai from Finca La Escondida and an experimental “perla negra” honey processed lot that’s also Catuai. The “perla negra” x honey process is going to be a coffee shop exclusive (so no, you can’t have any!) and we will let you know where it will be when it’s decided.

Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Washed Red Catuai

Also from La Escondida we have a very exciting and very rare low caffeine varietal called Laurina! If you’re sensitive to your caffeine then make sure you try 1 of our Laurinas, we have the varietal processed as a washed, pulped natural and natural.

Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Natural Laurina
Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Pulped Natural Laurina
Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Washed Laurina

The fact that the family are friends helps us drill down into the details of what they do for the people who work for them, and the information continues to prove to me that good people grow good coffee. 20 coffees one family and all so very, very different. I really do have the best and most exciting job in the whole world.