Giving Tumblr a go

18 Aug

After having felt the need to be able to post shorter and less ambitious posts, I’ve decided to open a Tumblr account. There I’ll be posting short thoughts and ideas about coffee as well as pictures and stuff that pops into my head. The kind of posts that needs less work to put up.

If that sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to read, pop by and have a look.

Treating the symptoms not the disease

24 Sep

Coffee cherries

Lately there have been an increasing focus on how the coffee is packed at origin and at the roastery. Numerous blogposts and comments on forums have glorified the advantages of new methods of packing green beans and at the same time complaining about the shortcomings of the jute bag. Which gas should be used when flushing the coffee? What kind of metal/plastic material is to be used when vac-pacing? What about grain pro?

I’ve been one of these people singing the praise of vac-pac and nitro flushing at origin. Recently however I started asking myself the question if this might be shooting ourselves in our collective feet.

Firstly. There can be little doubt of the eco-unfriendlyness of all this plastic wrapping being used. Tons and tons of thick plastic or metal-like bags being thrown away. In most cases this is in addition to the jute bags. (It’s still often covered in jute as well).

Secondly. The extra costs of getting the machinery to pack these coffees. Is this where we want mils/farmers/exporters to be spending their cash? What if this money where spent in the field or in the nurseries or on wages to farmers and pickers?

Thirldy. What do we actually know of the advantages of packing greens this way? Is it actually hurting the coffee? There are still many answers to be found out. Is this just another fad of the 3rd wave specialty coffee business?

Ok, so this is what I’m getting at: To me the real problem, the disease if you will, is that the beans don’t get to the roaster soon enough. They stay in the producing countries, often in giant warehouses on the docks in high humidity and heat for a long time. Combatting this with new packing is not treating the disease only the symptom: the coffee fades to fast after arriving at it’s destination.

I think our focus should be on what can be done to improve the logisitcs, the mindset of the people in origin and to get the coffee transported much more quickly to the roastery. This is where the problem lies. Beans are being picked in February and arrives at the roastery in September. This is not only happening because of dirt roads and old lorries. It is also in the mindset of the producers and middle men. Sometimes one gets the feeling that once the samples have been approved and the contracts signed a lot of people at origin lean back and relax and then the months fly by.

If this is actually the thruth, are we being to naive at our end? Should we be demanding the coffee be delivered in a certain amount of weeks and paying for the extra cost this might induce instead of paying for grainpro bags or vac-packing and so on?

I don’t think this is the only and absolute solution. It just surprises me that so many discussions on the fading of coffees and how to keep the greens fresh only revolves around packaging, not where the actual problem lies.

I’m deliberately painting things black and white here to start a discussion. The solution may probably be a bit of both for all I know. What are your thoughts on this?

The picture on top of the post lifted from this page.

Cupping on the iPhone

3 Apr

Ok. I admit it: I’m a gadget freak. But what would life be without these all to often oh so useless, pricey machines that sparkle like jewels and make cool sounds?

Please don’t answer that question.

I have for a while been looking for an easier way to jot down cupping notes. My writing can sometimes be less than legible after hurriedly writing down notes on pieces of paper while cupping. Enter the iPhone! This little companion plays me music, entertains me with games and useless applications (and once in a while puts me in touch with other people.). Why can’t it be my cupping notepad?

This has bothered me for a while. Most of the crew at TW are loaded with iPhones just waiting to get that little bit more useful. Well, I’ve heard your pleas (even though you didn’t realize you were making them.)!

I have “modified” an application called Tap Forms (opens in iTunes) to double as a cupping form, and it works! You can even export the results. I’ve made an excel sheet that I can paste these results into so that they later on can be compared and stored.

As you can see I’m very thrilled about this, and it will last at least until I spill the first coffee on the iPhone. I enclosed some pictures below so you can gaze upon this wonder… Click on the pictures to see large versions.

(By the way, the cupping notes in the pictures below are just an example and not from an actual cupping of Mountain Top. It’s a great coffee, and I’m enjoying it as a single origin espresso at the moment.)