We planned to launch two new freshly landed coffees this week and threw out a little taste challenge. Two coffees, two roast profiles. We had 15 packs and it sold out within a couple of hours of launching.
Thanks to everyone who cupped these coffees and had a go at the challenge. First respondent @petenewman1997 was spot on with matching the pairs and picking the shorter/longer roast dates.
Here’s the reveal:
El Salvador Santa Petrona Anaerobic Honey Pacamara
Batch 1 (BLUE) roasted 14/7 - LONG
Hot: Better fruit than YELLOW, med-high acidity, med-high sweetness, med-high body, little sharp
Cool: lacks character, flat
“Berry fruity aroma when grinding. 1st taste was rich chocolate and caramel , nice and sweet . This gave way to berry notes as it cooled, medium acidity became clearer as it cooled. finish was cider/apple moose . Blue had a better balance and was smoother more complex and nicer mouth feel.”
“Earthy woody, Compote, Berry jammy, Cascara tea, Balanced, Full jammy body.”
“I scored this higher than its counterpart mainly for its body and acidity. I found it sweeter and juicier, but with a stronger, shorter finish. I tasted pine, more clearly than I ever have in coffee - it tasted like my childhood back garden. Quite citric and a bit jammy. I would guess this is the longer roast, as the acidity felt more balanced by the other elements in the cup”
Batch 2 (YELLOW) roasted 16/7 - SHORT
Dry Aroma: Little cereal/toast
Hot: med-high sweetness. Delicate, clean, little dry finish, yellow fruits
Cool: Little papery, papaya, honeydew melon, milk chocolate.
“Vegetable aroma, a little like peas, fruit cocktail syrup, giving way to berry notes , quite smooth , not much acidity. As it cooled could detect vine tomatoes flavour coming in , winey finish spicyness reminded me a little of mulled wine.”
“Finish is less lingering, Slightly funkier taste but less balanced, Lime acidity”
“Although it was sweet with a pleasingly long finish, it was just too thin. It felt 'weak' in the aroma and the acidity. Tasty chocolatey nutty notes, but very subtle.”
“Blue vs Yellow - preferred Blue (higher sweetness)”
Kenya Mweiga SL34 Natural
Batch 1 (RED) roasted 15/7 - LONG
Dry Aroma: Funky, Fruity
Hot: Med-high body, creamy, blueberry
Cool: Great finish, peachy (ripe), nectarine, blackberry, yoghurty (lactic ?)
“Sweet fruity smells, little floral and maybe vine tomato on grinding. When the water went in massive hit of sweet naturals odours. Breaking the crust was sweet and some berry but not as potent as I thought . First tastes were nice natural berry notes, blackcurrant and blackberry. It got better as it cooled. Sort of a Bakewell tart ending finish when it had cooled.”
“Bigger and brighter in flavours, Smack in the face with tropical fruit, Good body and lingering finish, Sweet as fuck, Sunny D, Hoppy IPA, Pineapple mango.”
“This had very subtle sweetness, like strawberry flavour but not as juicy as a strawberry fruit, or like ribena as opposed to blackcurrants. I liked it, but the finish let it down a bit for me, its light body fell away too quickly. “
Batch 2 (GREEN) roasted 16/7 - SHORT
Dry Aroma: little muted cf RED
Hot: Med-high acidity, lower fruit & body than RED
Cool: quick finish, clean but a little flat.
“The green was a blackberry's when ground, although the room and the cups were s little cold. I got less Berry's than the red but they were there, was more boozy up front. The green improved more than the red as it cooled, red was nicer upfront . Had a sort of stewed fruit liquor finish hint of caramel.”
“Felt lacking in comparison, Similar tasting notes but way less, Slight tang, Wine gums”
“This coffee I scored up from its counterpart due to its longer and fuller finish. I scored it very similarly on acidity, sweetness and body - just a touch fuller on body. It was very juicy, but the high sweetness which was also present in its counterpart meant that I didn't perceive it as having higher acidity. I scribbled 'full' on my scoring sheet. It felt like raisins in chocolate to me, contrasting with the sweet but duller notes of its counterpart. I would guess this is the longer roast. “
“Red vs Green - preferred Red (very slightly higher sweetness)”
Big shout to @niftybrews @manchestercoffeearchive and @deezlerno1 for some incredibly detailed feedback and breakdown of flavours.
As a comparison here’s the producer/importer notes:
El Salvador Santa Petrona Anaerobic Honey Pacamara:
Original in spanish: “JALEA DE PIÑA, MARACUYA, CARAMELO DURAZNO, PAPAYA MANZANA VERDE Y ACIDEZ BRILLANTE “
Translated: PINEAPPLE JELLY, MARACUYA, PEACH CANDY, PAPAYA GREEN APPLE AND BRIGHT ACIDITY.
(I had to look up Maracuya = Passionfruit)
Kenya Mweiga AB Natural
SCA cupping score 88
Flavour: Cranberry, appletise, white sugar.
An interesting exercise and I hope all that managed to get a taste pack enjoyed it.
What can we glean from this ? Taste is subjective. Our culinary backgrounds, exposures to different tastes, preferences, mood, coffee training and tasting, weather, surroundings, cups and of course water as well as a myriad of other things contribute to our perception of flavour. In a group cupping most of us can be convinced and swayed by what someone else says in the room (especially if they are dominating character types or just someone we respect) but doing this alone is different.
This week we were supposed to release both of these coffees. Based on our own cupping experience and the feedback we received from this exercise we’ve decided to hold off on launching the Santa Petrona Anaerobic Honey Pacamara. The Pacamara variety is a tricky variety for a number of reasons. It’s big and very porous with a low density. Roasting it requires a more gentle application of heat than most other varieties. Also, the ageing process of the green coffee is likely to be different because of this density and porosity. The Santa Petrona coffee would have been harvested in late February through to March dependant on weather conditions. That’s only 4 months from the time of harvest to it arriving in the roastery. Some ‘green’ coffees are considered too fresh when they’re only 4 months from harvest date - washed Ethiopian coffees are an example of this. They’re incredible small and dense and ‘open up’ months after they’ve landed and available for purchase. I’m hoping the El Sal Santa Petrona Pacamara exhibits the same traits.
In the meantime we’ve released the Kenya Mweiga AB natural this week along with another coffee. Ricardo Chilo Vargas from Cauca in Colombia. This is the 3rd season we’ve been lucky enough to get exclusivity of this coffee. It’s been the house coffee for our new new cafe and we had a little left over so we’re sharing it.