It’s finally springtime, signifying the end of winter, regeneration, new birth, and freshness! It is also the time when many countries freshly picked coffees start arriving here in the States. As you know, we at Coffee Express continually seek the best coffees available in the world, and we wait with great anticipation to get our roasting hands on these new arrivals.
Coffee is somewhat similar to wine and other annual crops in that each year’s product may not always have the same quality or taste. There are many different things that affect the flavor of coffees (even ones grown in the same region every season).
Weather is one of the major determining factors in the flavor of each harvest. Because weather is an uncontrollable force, it can seriously affect the crop yield in any given year. So, if Brazil, which grows almost 30% of the world’s total specialty coffee, has terrible weather during the growing season, farms are not able to produce as much as expected, causing supply and demand to get out of balance, leading to higher prices.
When we first received the new crop from Panama in late February of 2011, it was great. We found that it left a nice mild, slightly sweet, and long lingering taste. With Panama being the first arrival of the Central American new crop, we saw coffees from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and El Salvador quick succession. Harvesting of these coffees began in October with final pickings ending in March. Also shipping new crop coffee between March and July are the African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Once the cherry is picked it can take up to four weeks to get the finished green bean ready for shipping. That is one reason why it takes from October until springtime to receive. Next, there are two main methods to process the cherry. First is the wet or “Washed” method. The fruit is pulped by machine, with remaining mucilage washed away with water. These coffees will generally have a higher acidity and clean flavors. In the Dry or “Natural” Method, the cherries are allowed to dry on the tree, or are laid out in the sun for three to four weeks. The acidity of the beans is reduced and the body and earthy flavors are increased.
We hope the new crops this year are as wonderful as they were last spring, and you are as eager as we are to receive and taste these new coffees.