Coffee Analysis: Myanmar Shan State Ywangan by Dan Loughrey

Myanmar is a relatively new origin to the specialty coffee community, and is a brand new origin for us at Royal Coffee NY. Robusta was first produced in the areas surrounding modern-day Myeik and Dawe in 1885, and Arabica made its way to the country by means of Roman Catholic missionaries in 1930. Arabica production was (and still is) centered around the Southern and Northern Shan States, and in Pyin Oo Lwin. The government of Myanmar has historically been pro-coffee production, and jump-started production as means to curb opium poppy planting in the 1980s. In the early 2000's, the government launched a new program that offered land, financing, and technical support to prospective coffee producers, and coffee production increased as a result.

This particular lot is sourced from the Ywangan region in the Southern Shan State. In Ywangan, coffees come from mostly smallholder producers, with farms no larger than two or three hectares. Ywangan is a little higher than Pyin Oo Lwin (another major producing region), with the average farm falling between 1,300 and 1,600 meters above sea level. Producers deliver their cherry to a central collections depot daily, where their lots are inspected, graded, and sorted before purchasing. After lots are sorted, they're sent further along to Pyin Oo Lwin for processing and preparation for export. This central wet milling allows for a much more consistent final product.

green coffee analysis(5).png

Back in 1986, the government of Myanmar imported several tons of seeds from other coffee-producing countries in an effort to build a nation-wide coffee program. Three of these varieties (SL28, Catuai, and Costa Rica) make up this lot, and each bring something a little different to the final product. Catuai was released back in the 1970's and is a hybrid of Yellow Caturra and Mundo Novo. SL28 comes from Scott Labs in Kenya, and was created as a high-quality, drought-resistant option. Costa Rica is a dwarf varietal that is extremely rust-resistant, and was bred by the Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (ICAFE).

Other green coffee stats are consistent with a high-quality specialty coffee lot. Density is on the higher side of average at 0.69 g/mL, and screen size is fairly consistently spread between 17 and 18.

green coffee analysis(5).png

As this is a relatively new origin for Royal NY, we started out roasting this coffee on a basic washed profile that's served us well in the past. Sadly, that didn't quite bring out the bright, complex cup that we knew the coffee could produce. We sat down again and gave it another shot, resulting in the following IKAWA profiles.

The first profile was designed to drag out the browning and development stages of the roast. While it attained a 30% development-to-time ratio indicating a significant portion of the roast was spent developing post-crack, the coffee didn't shine here, and tasted fairly flat.

The second profile kept the longer development time of the first profile, but cut down significantly on the drying stage of the roast. This allowed for a greater percentage of the roast to be spent in the development phases, and brought out much more complexity in the final cup.

We brewed this coffee two different ways; once through a Hario V60 and once as a single-origin espresso. The V60 produced a remarkably well-balanced coffee with a smooth, sweet body and a clean aftertaste. Cupping notes included grape, tangerine, caramel, and red apple.

Our espresso experimentation with this coffee gave us a very balanced, approchable shot that would be ideal for a first-time espresso drinker or as a straight shot without any milk. There are some lighter notes here, which mirror the lighter cupping notes from the V60 and our original cupping.  

Shan State Notes.png

The coffee used in this analysis is reference number 38344, and is available for shipment out of our New Jersey warehouse. Lot number 39877 and 39882 will be available in Wisconsin and Jacksonville shortly.

Coffee Analysis: Myanmar Shwe Padauk by Dan Loughrey

The Shwe Padauk lot comes to us from both the Ywangan and Pyin Oo Lwin regions of Myanmar, both of which are at the forefront of the country's increased specialty coffee production. These regions are about 100 kilometers away from each other, and have different approaches to production. In Pyin Oo Lwin, coffee is produced on larger private estates, usually between 200 and 400 acres in size. Ywangan is dominated by much smaller farms, which average around only 2 acres. Though both regions are over 1,200 meters above sea level, Ywangan is a little higher than Pyin Oo Lwin and is slightly harder to access due to much more mountainous terrain.

This coffee gets its name from the padauk flower found in the regions of Pyin Oo Lwin and Ywangan. Locals consider this flower a symbol of the beginning of a new season, with the first blossoms of the padauk usually coming around the start of the rainy season. This is also the beginning of the coffee export season, and the new year celebration called Thingyan.

This lot is made up of the same varietals as the Shan State Ywangan lot profiled here. Back in the late 1980's Myanmar's government imported several tons of coffee seeds from other coffee-producing countries, with a particular emphasis on high-quality, yet robust plants. The Shwe Padauk lot is made up of SL28 from Kenya, and the Costa Rica and Catuai varietals from Costa Rica. These three varietals gave the farmers of Pyin Oo Lwin and Ywangan flexibility in their offerings and a diverse set of trees to grow.

This coffee's stats line up well with other specialty sizes. Screen size and green coffee appearance are both quite normal, with good preparation and few (if any) defects. Density is a little on the higher end, so be sure to adjust your roast profile as necessary to compensate.

We decided to roast this coffee along side the other Myanmar lot we received and started out with a basic washed profile that we've used before. That provided a starting point for the roast, but didn't exactly hit the cupping profile we were looking for. We went back to the drawing board, and put this coffee through two new profiles. 

The first attempt tried to develop the heavier, sweeter notes of the coffee by extending the overall development time to almost a third of the overall roast. This worked out fairly well, and we were rewarded with a smooth, sweet cup (notes on that below).

The second roast of the coffee was shorter overall, but had a longer post-crack development time. The development-to-time ratio (DTR) of this roast was higher than the first, but ended up muting some of the sweeter fruit notes in the final cup.

We brewed this coffee twice; once through a Chemex and once as a single-origin espresso. The Chemex gave us a smooth, sweet cup, with notes of butterscotch, red apple, toasted marshmallow, and graham cracker.

The espresso here gave us a heavier, sweeter shot with notes of butterscotch, orange rind, and honey.  For those familiar with brewing espresso, you'll notice our yield of 27 grams demonstrates more of a "ristretto" or concentrated shot.  This higher concentration worked well, probably in part to the coffee's very structured and prominent sweetness.  Feel free to play around with the recipe if you're using this coffee as a single origin espresso; it has a lot to offer and encourages some exploration!

Shwe Padauk Notes.png

The coffee used in this analysis is reference number 38342, and is available for shipment out of our New Jersey warehouse. Lot number 39883 and 39878 will be available in Wisconsin and Jacksonville shortly.

Coffee Analysis: Organic Guatemala Huehuetenango San Pedro Necta by Dan Loughrey

Coffee Head.jpg

San Pedro Necta is a small and hilly town located on the side of the El Tapon mountain in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Agriculture on this side of the mountain is almost entirely organically certified in order to differentiate from lots produced on the bigger estates to the west. Production here goes beyond just an organic certification though, and is planned to adapt to the unique climate of the area. Since the main rainy season comes in September through December, there's a delay in the cherry maturation process. These longer periods of stress on the plants are combated by, protecting the trees with shade and promoting soil biodiversity. Heavy mulching with compost and manure helps build a more resilient, long-term style of organic agriculture.

The Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de San Pedro Necta, or ASODESI, was founded in 1991 and has 138 members. The coop has a combined 250 hectares under production across all of its members, all of which are certified organic. ASODESI provides a number of resources to its producers, from medical assistance to market and agriculture education.

green coffee analysis(5).png

This is a washed coffee blend of Bourbon, Caturra, and Pache. Bourbon is one of the most famous coffee varietals currently in production, and was originally brought to Bourbon Island from Yemen by Dutch missionaries in the early 1700's. Coffee didn't leave the island until the mid-1800's, when the missionaries traveled further. Caturra and Pache are both mutations of the Bourbon varietal; both were introduced in Guatemala in the late 1940's. Both Caturra and Pache are smaller trees relative to the larger Bourbon plants, but produce good quality coffee and large bean sizes. Of the three varietals in production here, only the Caturra is particularly nutrient intensive; this is addressed by the long-term fertilizing and soil care measures put in place by the producers.

This lot was grown at an altitude of 1,400-1,850 meters above sea level, and falls right in line with the average stats of a good, washed Central American coffee. Moisture content sits at a perfectly average 10.4%, and the density of the bean is a little on the higher end at 0.68 g/mL. Screen size is largely between 16-18, with very few outliers. 

We wanted to see how this coffee performed with a more aggressive browning phase as opposed to a more traditional, smooth approach. The two profiles below were done on our IKAWA sample roaster, and ended up with two pretty distinct results on the cupping table.

The first roast was the more aggressive of the two. We shortened the drying phase of the coffee a bit, and tried to push it into the browning stage. The built-up energy from this approach pushed us into first crack a bit earlier than we had originally hoped.

We played the second roast more conservatively and evened out the pre-crack approach quite a bit more. The overall roast was shorter overall, but had a higher first-crack temperature and a more balanced approach.

static1.squarespace.com.png

Given the behavior of the two roasts, we were excited to see how they performed on the cupping table.

The first roast was defined by a strong citrus note and a hint of underdevelopment, almost certainly from the rush into the browning phase and first crack. Though not unpleasant, the overall cup was tart, with notes of tropical fruits and a high acidity.

The second roast was considerably more balanced. There were strong, sweet fruit notes present throughout, with pronounced flavors of pear, plum, and cane sugar. This was the preferred roast of the two by just about every member of our team, and is our recommendation for this coffee.

Analysis Notes.png

The coffee used in this analysis is 37968 and is currently available to ship out of New Jersey. Reference number 39844 will be available in Jacksonville soon.

Coffee Analysis: Honduras Hubert Nicolas "Finca El Tatascan" Pacamara Micro Lot by Dan Loughrey

Analysis Notes.png

Though Honduras is the largest producer of specialty coffee in Central America, some of the best finds don’t come from larger farms, but small, individual producers. This particular offering from Hubert Nicolás perfectly exemplifies this idea. Two of our traders, Andrew Blyth and Brittany Amell, went down to Honduras recently and cupped this coffee along with several others. They came back with a lot of good things to say about this particular lot, so we decided to take a closer look at it before it arrives in June.

Honduras wasn’t always the coffee powerhouse it’s known as now. Before the early 2000’s, the country was a considerable exporter of commercial-grade coffee. Honduras lagged its neighbors through the 1990’s as they developed strong specialty coffee markets; countries like Nicaragua and Guatemala produced higher-scoring coffees and were hosts to the Cup of Excellence program in 2001 and 2003 respectively. A government tax in the early 2000’s helped generate much-needed capital for infrastructure in coffee-producing regions, which helped transport coffee grown in fertile soils at higher altitudes to market. Today, more than 100,000 families are involved in coffee production, with the majority producing their coffee on farms smaller than two hectares.

Hubert Nicolás is a Q Grader and fourth-generation coffee producer from the village of El Aguacatal in San José, Honduras. His farm, Finca El Tatascan, is situated at an average altitude of 1,550 meters above sea level, and is located in the middle of a local forest reserve. Hubert takes special care in drying his coffee and uses a solar-drying setup for 15 days to get the most out of his crop. From there, he transfers it directly into GrainPro bags and stores the coffee in a warehouse for further processing for exportation.

Much has been said (and written) about the Pacamara varietal. It’s a huge bean; screen size for this coffee was very much at the higher end of the spectrum. When done right, Pacamara has excellent flavor potential. However, if care is not taken in drying and processing, there can be a pronounced and unpleasant earthy flavor to the resulting brew. This varietal originated from the Salvadoran Institute of Coffee Research (ISIC) in late 1980’s and is the result of a cross between Pacas and Maragogipe. The intent of this crossing was to capitalize on the drought- and disease-resistant nature of Pacas and the high cup quality of Maragogipe.

This coffee arrived with a moisture content of 11.2%, which is a little higher than average. Density here was also quite high at 0.73 g/mL. These two factors, coupled with a larger-than-normal bean size will make roasting slightly more complex than a run-of-the-mill washed Central American coffee. One thing that you can look forward to though is the overall preparation and grading of the bean; this is a remarkably well-sorted, uniform coffee. Keep in mind though that this is an extremely large bean; this will play a part in the roasting process.

As mentioned in the green analysis section of this post, there are a few variables that play into the roast profile construction here. First, the moisture content and density are both fairly high, indicating the need for an extended drying phase at a reasonably high temperature. If you’re doing this on a traditional drum roaster, a low flame and high start temperature is the way to go. The IKAWA roaster we used for this test helps with temperature stability a bit, so we started the roast off a little hotter than normal in both profiles. From there, we need to account for the bean size. This lot will need a little extra heat to get into first crack, so backing off as you near that point isn’t going to work.

  Click the roast curve above to download this IKAWA roast profile.

Click the roast curve above to download this IKAWA roast profile.

This first profile was set to follow the instructions above. The drying phase was fairly relaxed, followed by a gradually increased browning phase into first crack. Overall development time here was shorter than average.

  Click the roast curve above to download this IKAWA roast profile.

Click the roast curve above to download this IKAWA roast profile.

We tried for a longer development time for the second roast, with a slightly more aggressive drying process. Though the overall roast was slightly shorter, this coffee had more time post-crack to develop the fruity, sweet notes we expected.

Given this coffee’s high score at origin, we were excited to put the two roasts on the cupping table. Side-by-side, we noticed a few differences:

Unfortunately, the first shot at roasting this coffee didn’t work as expected. The shorter development time left some of the fruit notes behind, instead giving us a more herbal, citrus-forward cup than we were expecting. Definitely keep this in mind as you roast this coffee; it needs some time to work after first crack.

 

The longer development time of the second IKAWA profile paid off. We were happy to find sweet notes of brown sugar and red apple rounded out by a tart, pineapple acidity. The cup was as fruit-forward and complex, with a sweet plum note rounding out the cup.

This is a limited-availability micro lot currently on its way to Royal from origin.

The coffee used in this analysis is reference number 38066 out of our warehouse in New Jersey. We strongly suggest reaching out to your trader as soon as possible if you’re interested in adding this coffee to your offerings.

Coffee Analysis: DR Congo Kivu Butembo Village by Dan Loughrey

Header.png

Long troubled by conflict, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a relatively small specialty coffee growing origin compared to its larger-volume neighbors Ethiopia or Uganda. The Republic of the Congo initially achieved independence from Belgium in 1960 but was plunged into civil war shortly thereafter in the Congo Crisis from 1960 to 1961. Another coup in 1971 saw the name of the country shift to Zaire, then back to the DRC after 1997 following the disastrous First Congo War and related Rwandan genocide. The Second Congo War lasted from 1998 to 2003, devastating the country and, by extension, the coffee trade.

The DRC is no stranger to coffee production. Back in the late 1980’s, exports peaked at 119,320 tons, but declined sharply in the following decade due to the civil wars in 1997 and 1998. After a peace agreement was signed in 2003, production was at 212,000 bags, up from 179,000 bags in 2002. Currently, the DRC produces approximately 335,000 bags of coffee per year, exporting about half of that in 2016. It remains a relatively small producer for the continent, though the export numbers have been rising steadily in the recent past.[1]

The DRC is the second-largest country in Africa by land area (and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa). The area around Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, provides a remarkably good terroir for coffee production. The high altitude relative to the lower-lying areas to the north allows for thousands of smallholder farmers to produce coffees like this one, which is processed in the Butembo village on the western shores of Lake Kivu. The coop that we source this coffee from, Soprocopiv, specializes in organic specialty coffee production, and have continued to improve not only their coffee processing methods, but also local healthcare and educational services.

green.png

The Kivu Butembo lot is a bourbon varietal. Originally from Yemen, bourbon traveled to the island now known as La Réunion in the early 1700’s, and only left the islands in the mid-1800’s as French missionaries traveled abroad (making its way to the Americas in the 1860’s). From there, bourbon (and its derivatives) have become one of the most common coffee varieties produced today. Bourbon is a taller than average plant that produces an average bean size and medium yield. The trees are productive at first around their fourth year and tend to ripen fairly early. Bourbon is unfortunately susceptible to issues such as coffee berry disease or coffee leaf rust.[2]

This lot is grown at over 1,500 meters above sea level, comfortably within the optimal growing range of the varietal. Freely-settled bean density comes in at 0.70 g/mL, which is slightly above average. This density measurement lines up well with other African offerings, which tend to be above average, often measuring between 0.69 g/mL and 0.72 g/mL. When roasting, this higher density can cause the coffee’s development to slow down a bit before first crack; you can compensate for this by charging with a hotter drum over a lower flame setting to evenly develop the bean.

After harvest, coffees go through a de-pulping and washing process and are sun dried on patios. The coffee arrived to Royal NY with a moisture content of 10.8%, which is well within the acceptable range for such a coffee.

We did two roasts of this coffee on our IKAWA Pro sample roaster. We like the IKAWA because of its ability to export precise roasting data on limited sample sizes; we only needed 50g of coffee for each roast. If you’ve got an IKAWA of your own, feel free to download the profiles (click on the graphs) to try on your own!

The first IKAWA roast was designed to bring a lengthened browning stage and post-crack development to the coffee. Since the moisture content was right around average, we left this to a normal-length drying phase with a slightly higher charge temperature.

We set up the second roast to drag out the development time a little longer in an effort to boost the body of the coffee. The browning and drying stages were just about the same as the first roast.

We brewed both of our roasts using a Hario V60 pour over. Each pour over was done at a 1:13 ratio, with 30g of coffee. Both coffees had a brew time of 3:04 using a grind of 6 on our Mahlkonig EK43.

Our first roast was defined by a pleasant, citrusy acidity and a sweet, smooth body. We found notes of candied orange in the acidic front of the coffee, with sweeter notes of cola, brown sugar, and plum in the body. The second roast was (as expected from the longer development time), a little heavier in the body, with more caramel and butterscotch notes for sweetness.

availability.png

The coffee used in this analysis is reference number 37575 out of our warehouse in New Jersey. Coffee from the DRC is, as you’ve read, in short supply generally, so please be aware of that if you’d like to place an order. Harvest generally takes place from August to December, with exporting happening from January through April.

[1] http://www.ico.org/prices/po-production.pdf

[2] https://varieties.worldcoffeeresearch.org/varieties/bourbon