Moka Kadir blend for fiesta!


Time to celebrate, as my city is celebrating its fiesta in honor of its patron, St. Michael the Archangel. Just timely that I have one great blend for the occasion — SweetMaria’s Moka Kadir Blend. Courtesy of Michelle, my cousin Tipoy’s wife, who asked me to give her a one-on-one tutorial on basic photography. They’re from California, on vacation for the fiesta and to celebrate the first birthday of their daughter Ariana.

The big day is tomorrow, and there’s a lot of reasons to celebrate — Dad just came home from the hospital, our daughter Kara also came home from college, after dealing with the floods in Manila.
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Chinese coffee beans


My first time ever to try Chinese coffee!

China, we all know, is a H-U-G-E country. Some of its parts are in the colder part of the globe with snow during winter. So coffee just can’t grow there. I’ve been to Beijing once, towards the end of winter, and I still remember our guide saying, “It’s a beautiful morning. It’s warm.” And it’s something like 5 degrees Celsius! In the evening we were like -5 Celsius, we had to run from the bus to the auditorium where they hold those acrobat shows.

But on China’s southern part, it’s warm there, so coffee can grow in that tropical part. The province of Yunnan, in particular, has been known for its coffee. But China, like my beloved Philippines, is just not in the world coffee map yet. Maybe they’re not exporting yet, or maybe they’re not producing good enough coffee yet.

So I was so excited when my high school classmate Linda L. sent me a kilo of Yunnan beans, which she said she liked when she roasted it herself. (The package, sent via post office, actually also contained a smaller bag with supposedly Hawaiian Kona beans. But I doubt it’s true Kona, coz it was sold at a much cheaper price. I’ll test the “Kona” later …)
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Beans from Kalinga-Apayao

Kalinga beans roasted

Kalinga beans roasted

Whoa, been over a month since my last post. Was busy working on a project, a mini-coffee table book (no, nothing to do with coffee, hehe), so I was out of town most of the time. (If you’re curious what that project is, see the PDF file here. Warning: that’s 3.5mb, so your computer may freeze for a few seconds until all is downloaded. So it might be wise for you to right-click on the link, save it to your PC and read with Adobe Reader or Mac’s Preview, instead of looking at it from inside the browser.)

Last month I traded beans with a friend, a fellow roaster here in Iligan. Half a pound of my favorite Ethiopian Harrar, and 2 kinds of Peppo’s green beans he got from a food fair in Manila. Both are from up north, in the Cordilleras I suppose.

One coffee I didn’t bother remembering, coz it really sucked. I can’t drink it at all.

But the other one, from Kalinga-Apayao, I liked. Not in the league of specialty grade you can buy from online shops. But if I’m out of cash, I can drink this coffee every day.
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My latest acquisition


Just arrived in the mail today! 5 lbs each of Colombia Monserrate, Tanzania Blackburn Estate and Sumatra Aceh Tengah.

Here’s how fellow coffee snobs at GCBC scored these coffees …
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Cracking coffee cherries


How far are you willing to work to be able to try some new coffee you haven’t tried before? For most people, roasting green coffee beans is unheard of. And I thought pounding on them coffee bean still in parchment was already hard work. Maybe sorting the defective beans from the good beans was too tiring a job, too.

Yesterday, a friend sent his driver to bring me some coffee, still in cherry form! The cherries are dry, but they smell good. That for a while I thought it wasn’t coffee but something else. My son RK said they smell like sampaloc (aka tamarind). But when he opened one cherry, we were sure those were coffee beans inside.

I was told this came from Batangas, a coffee growing area up North in Luzon. It’s known for its Barako (some Liberica variety) coffee. Maybe these are Barako, too. They’re slightly bigger than most of the beans in my stash, except the Sumatra Iskandar.

So I really want to try these beans. Not easy to extract them. I had to pound each and every hardened dried cherry to get the two beans inside. Not easy work. I was working half an hour, and I only got 53 grams worth of green beans! Will keep pounding every now and then, in between other work. Until I can get enough beans to roast, maybe 200 grams worth. Whoa! That sounds like 2 hours of hard labor!

Experiencing hard work like this, makes you appreciate more the long work involved in that cup of joe you drink every morning.
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Coffees from EIGHT countries!!!


Wow! How did my green coffee stash accumulate this much, with beans from eight countries!!!

I never had this much variation since I started hoarding green beans over two years ago.

Left to right, top to bottom: Cordillera Bobok, Sumatra Iskandar, Costa Rica Tarrazu Sta. Elena, El Salvador Finca Alaska, Ethiopia Harrar Ayinage, Tanzania Organic AB Hope Project, Brazil Moreninha Formosa, Yemen Hufashi, & Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Koke.

How fancy their names are! Most are named after the places where they’re grown, the region, the province, sometimes down to the name of the estate or farm.

Well, that’s really not much, compared to the coffeegeeks in rich countries. I heard some would hoard as much as half a ton, in their house’s basement. With burlap bags full of green coffee from 47 countries.

Gotta hold a coffee party one of these days. Lucky you if you’re from somewhere near; wait for the text message in your cellphone. You know who you are. :-)

Kape ta bay!!!

Yemen and Ethiopian beans, and 3 press pots

Green beans and French presses

Green beans and French presses

Wow, what a great day today! Two packages arrived. All related to coffee, of course!

First is the 15-pound USPS flatrate box, containing, what else, green coffee beans — 5 lbs of Yemen Hufashi and 10 lbs of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. As usual, distributed at GCBC, sourced from Café Imports. These coffees are my belated birthday gift for myself, as I mentioned in my post a few weeks back. The package reached Iligan, from the US, in 13 days. Not bad.

Yemeni and Ethiopian coffees, ahhh …. still my favorite after two years into this roasting hobby. The Yemen cupped an average of 88.6 at GCBC, while the Yirg averaged at 89.2. I got more of the Yirg simply coz it’s cheaper.

The second came in an LBC package — tree small-sized French presses. These are the plungers I traded with my sangay for three bigger ones, so I could hoard more and more of these press pots, which is now my favorite coffee maker. A proud owner of 8 French presses!

I’m gonna be busy roasting some beans tonight!
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Cordillera coffees

Cordillera coffees

Cordillera coffees

Look what arrived in the mail today! Four arabica green coffee beans from the Cordillera region up north in Luzon island. As usual, I got these from Serenity Coffee, who has been my almost sole supplier of local green beans.

L-R: La Trinidad, Bobok, Yaygan and Shilan.

They look promising. Minimal defects, just a few broken beans. Not much of the borer holes.

To the roaster right away!!! Then cupping tomorrow. These are half-kilo sampler packs that I paid for. Whichever I like, I’ll hoard a year’s worth of supply. :-)
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Green beans sorting experiment

Yours truly torturing himself sorting out defect beans

Yours truly torturing himself sorting out defect beans

So I did try the beans from Mt. Matutum. I’d say it has potential, but I can actually taste the defects in the cup.  Maybe,  just maybe, if the defects are removed, this bean will taste better.

There’s only one way to find out — remove the defects myself, and roast the clean beans. So that’s how I tortured myself this morning. To be able to isolate 16 volume ounces of defect-free beans, took me maybe 30 minutes. Uh-oh! Not a job for me.
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Beans from Mt. Matutum

Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato, near Dole's pineapple plantations.

Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato, near Dole's pineapple plantations.

I got another package today! Green coffee beans from Mt. Matutum, a kilo worth of sampler beans that I got from Fred, of Greentropics Coffee from General Santos City. Mt. Matutum is such a beautiful mountain, conically shaped similar to but not as perfect as Mt. Mayon in Albay. It has a peak elevation of about 7,500 feet, high enough to grow the sought-after arabica coffee beans.

You see, I’ve been testing local beans once again, hoping that I can hit gold for a bargain. In terms of shipping, that is, coz if you know where to find, you can get specialty grade green beans from the world’s best coffee growing regions (like Brazil, Yemen, Ethiopia and Guatemala) at $2 – $3 a pound, whereas I pay P200 to P300 ($4 – $6) a kilo (or $1.82 – $2.73 a pound) locally. Most retail online ships sell specialty beans at $5 to $8, though, but distros at GCBC sell much cheaper.

I’ve tried Matutum beans of a previous harvest. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it. Fred also sold me a kilo of civet cat coffee way back. While I didn’t like it, friends did! But poop isn’t for me. Read more

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