Geisha, Cinnamon and bitterness


Geisha, Cinnamon and bitterness

New releases

We have two new coffees to launch imminently. Both special and both very different from one another.

First up..Panama Finca Momoto Natural Geisha ‘Beautiful lot’.

Geisha (or Gesha) is the golden child of Arabica. Taken from Ethiopia and cultivated in Costa Rica before finding its real home in the highlands of Panama. The altitude, soil and climatic conditions all come together to create the perfect storm for delicate, floral and complex cups. The famous Hacienda La Esmeralda owned by the Peterson family was where Geisha really come to the attention of the specialty coffee community in the 1990s. Since then it has become the holy grail, fetching some of the most highly awarded scores and prices in Cup of Excellence competitions. 

Ask anyone who’s been working in the industry for a while where the best Geisha’s are grown and they’ll all tell you Panama without a second thought.

Mix that with the expertise and reputation of one the Hartmann family then you know you’re onto a winner. Finca Momoto is owned and run by Luis Miranda and Aliss Hartmann. Nuff said.

Second up and definitely not one to hide its light under a bushel…

Colombia Jairo Arcila Finca Villlarazo Tartaric and Cinnamon Caturra. 

Yes, you read it right. Tartaric acid and cinnamon. These are not ‘normal’ flavours you expect from coffee and if you’ve followed Maxwell Colonna-Dashwoods new YouTube channel ‘Coffee with Maxwell’ you’ll know about the history of Cinnamon flavoured coffees in Barista competitions. Jairo Arcila has added cinnamon sticks and tartaric acid to the fermentation tanks. Tartaric acid is naturally occurring in grapes and other fruits (bananas for one) and is widely used in wine making and adds a tart grape and lime flavour.

Brewing kit restock

We’ve just had a restock of some brewing gear including the Wilfa Svart grinder and Hario servers and V60 brewing kits. Also we’re just about to get a delivery of some Comandante C40 grinders and they’ll be going live on the site in the next couple of weeks. Keep your eyes peeled.



Now onto the subject of bitterness, which is one of those flavour attributes we generally associate with harsh and burnt things. But just like everything else it depends on many sensory inputs and our own internal model of how we process that information and then interpret that as something we like or dislike. Many of us like bitter things. Mustard greens and cavolo nero are extremely bitter but the freshness, texture and their sweet aftertaste balance that out. And of course those intense flavours make us feel it’s doing us some good. On another spectrum a perfectly blended Negroni is incredibly bitter but it’s one of my (and many peoples) favourite cocktails. 

Source: Online course from The Coffee Sensorium. Veronica Beltchor and Fabiana Carvalho

source: Coffee Sensorium - Veronica Belchior and Fabiana Carvalho

So, where does bitter taste come from in coffee ? Contrary to popular belief (and mine before I knew better), it’s not just because of caffeine. If you drink a cup of decaf now and again you’ll know that it also has a ‘coffee’ bitterness. It’s dependant on complex organic chemistry ie. what the makeup of the green coffee is, how it’s roasted and then how it’s brewed. Finally as I indicated above it’s how our taste receptors (specifically T2R receptors)  react to those bitter tastants then feed the signals through to the respective cortices of the brain. Once there, our own internal model based on what we’re looking at, what we hear, what we feel, and what we’ve tasted before, will interpret it.

In chemical terms, brewed coffee contains a number of bitter compounds including caffeine, phenylindanes and chlorogenic acid lactones (the latter two generated during the roasting process). The longer and darker the roast the more of the lingering unpleasant harsh bitter phenylindanes are developed. Therefore high quality coffees roasted well and not dark or burnt have a lower associated bitterness.

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