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.

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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.

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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.  

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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!

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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.