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Top Ten Coffees of this Year

This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a little while. This year has been a special year for coffee with some real Gems and I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be to collate a top ten. So many nearly ones, so many good coffees that didn’t even make it on to the short-list. All of them good but this is my list, my favourites, I know some people out there will be howling where is what about :). I’d love to hear your comments on it.

So here’s my Run Down

1.Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira

What can I say, its been my number one coffee for a few years now. I love trying everything else but this is the coffee I always reach for. Great brewed coffee, great espresso coffee, good in the morning, good in the evening its just dam good.

Sweet balanced body, muted acidity the perfect cup.

2.El Salvador La Fany

A staple for our espresso blend and for the Has Bean Range. Similar to Cachoeira except with a little more bite and very very creamy.

3.Guatamala El Bosque

I liked this coffee last year, but this wouldn’t have been in my top ten. But talk about raising there game, this is the most improved coffee of 2007 without a doubt. The three brothers I think show why the cup of excellence competition is so important. They placed highly in 2006 and learnt the lesson about tracking lots, Also it made the introduction to our importers that’s lead to a long term relationship. They also learnt that cutting back with a short term loss to output means big gains in the long term with quality in the cup.

Seeing the farm they shouldn’t grow good coffee with all the adversity against them (the farm is in a very built up area right on the outskirts of the city (and I mean on the edge). But when you enter the farm you could be millions of miles away.

4.Costa Rican Herbazu

Costa Rica has been a disappointment for me for a long time. They seem to have lost their way of late, thinking having a brand like Tarazu is enough and people should buy there coffee on the old name. In the cup it was bland and un interesting. But the cup of excellence produced some great coffees this year, and this one was a big wake up call of the potential. Love this coffee so much in espresso, sweet sticky candy floss like sweetness, that just covers the mouth.

5.Brazil Cachoeira Canario

If it wasn’t for Cachoeira this one I think would be my number one, but I couldn’t give the top two of my top ten spaces to the same farm. This year this has gotten even better, and this is as the section of the farm becomes established. I’m excited as I think it will get better for a few years to come.

6.Honduras La Fortuna

After the loss of our Honduras last year, with a terrible mistake made at the processing which meant when the coffee arrived we couldn’t sell it, this year was make or break with Honduras for us. If it didn’t work then I think that would have been it. Also it was hard work bringing it across as others had lost confidence in the coffee. But I’m so pleased we did bring it and put the effort in.

7.Kenya Gethumbwini Peaberry

The one and only African in my Top Ten. I’m afraid there has been little to really excite my in 2007 from Africa. I hope next year will be better and we need to do some work on it for sure. Were it not for this one the AA gethumbwini may have made it in, but the peaberry just tip[s it. I don’t like it in espresso as much as I try. I do love it in the chemex where its like a big mug of blackcurrant juice. If anyone ever tells you coffee is just coffee give them this one and they wont have a leg to stand on. The dry aroma of the grinds is also very special, lovely lovely brewed coffee.

8.Hawaii Smith Farms Kona

Our first ever farm direct coffee. We pay the farm Bob and Cea with our credit card, and they send us the coffee through the post. Not a cheap way to but coffee but the only way to get good Kona. So much Kona is not the real thing or just not very good. This one is amazing, ad I love it, spicy rich mouth feel, pine notes and lovely lovely coffee.

9.Nicaraguan El Limoncillo

Nicaragua was the first country I ever visited that grows coffee just a few years back. My first cup of excellence competition and I loved their coffee. The co ordinator that year was Erwin Mierich, who by the end of the week became a good friend, alogn with his brother Stephen. They were great hosts and have remained good friends via emails and other times we have met up (Colombia with a big bottle of Flor de Caña). Why am I telling you this? Well the farm is owned by his family and its special coffee. It was sad that his mother who managed the farm past away just after winning the competition, but I know she was very proud of the coffee, and pleased it placed so well in the COE. In the cup first you get sweetness of the caramel, then you get a juiciness, then a bite of green apple acidity, which finishes by dulling the acidity and the sweetness coming back.

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10.Guatamala Los Nubes

Another of the special coffees we found this yar after our visit to Guatamala. Don Fabio and his family were kind enough to invite two of us to stop overnight on the farm. I cant tell you how special it was to wake up and watch the sunrise on this  wonderful and beautiful farm. Breakfast was also very special and one thing that will stay with me for my whole life.

It very humbleling to see how well they treat there workers and there environment. I’m convinced you can taste the passion in coffee, with this being a great example. Its has a lovely lemon acidity, that makes it quite different to the other Guatemalans and is great espresso.

the short-list but didn’t quite make its are

Bolivia Machacamarca

If this had arrived this year then it would be top three without a doubt. But I cant include it as its not available yet. A couple of weeks into January you will be able to taste this fantastic espresso coffee. Chocolate, sweet but with big body I’ve only ever found in a Indonesian coffee. This coffee will blow your mind, fantastic coffee.

Brazil Sítio Das Jaboticabas

A stunning coffee that’s still good, its a shame but it suffers with having so many good Brazil’s. If this coffee was from any other country it would be in the top ten without a doubt.

El Salvador Alaska

What a cup of excellence find this coffee was. An orange bourbon that’s very unique buttery sweetness, so nearly in the top ten.

Guatemala San Francisco Tecuamburro

I loved visiting this farm in January this year, beautiful location, lovely people and becoming a Has Bean staple. So very very close in the top ten.

Brazil Inglaterra

Another coffee that suffers from the Brazil syndrome. It also suffers from being in such short supply, If we had it all year then it might be a real big coffee for us,  juicy juicy coffee.

Coffees for 2008

Watch out for Colombia this year we have some big plans, as we do for Rwanda and for Bolivia, these three will be a core of what we do in 2008, along with all the normal stuff we do.

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2 Comments

  1. Dear Stephen,
    What exactly are the criteria for your choice? Value for money? I say that because the list seems to contradict the scores you give the coffees themselves on your reviews. For example Finca la Fanny, which got second place, gets 87 points while Colombia’s Mirador, which doesn’t even make the list, is awarded a whooping 95? Or, dare I say, is it all a salesman’s ploy? I know your are not like that, but the contradiction is very clear…
    All the best,
    M

  2. Hi Mauricio

    That’s an interesting question. the cupping score is just one way of evaluating coffee, and its quite basic. Is it clean yes then it gets an 8 no then it gets a 0 well sometimes I don’t want a clean cup so should it be the other way around. Also there isn’t a score for like it, makes me feel good, makes me remember a time or place.

    Its also no coincidence that four out of the top five I’ve met the people behind the coffee. I’ve been able to complete the story and this makes them a little more special too. There is no bonus score for this on the cupping sheet either.

    Also a high cupping score coffee tends to be better brewed coffee that espresso, and I like variety. So the cupping score gives you only half the story.

    Hope that helps some

    Steve

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