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

Buying coffee cups the hi-tech way

First cup-and-saucer set.

First cup-and-saucer set.

Pardon if I’m new to this thing, but I’m just one of those people who don’t get attracted to feature-rich cellphones with built-in fax machines and printers and MP3 players and videocams and screw drivers and toothpicks and multimedia projectors and surround sound.

Okay, that may be an exaggeration. But I usually have the simplest of cellphones. As long as I can call with it, send text messages, then I’m fine. I can live without infrared, bluetooth, camera, video, etc. etc. The latest, hi-tech cellphones we get free from Smart when we renew our plans automatically go to the kids. My immediate previous cellphone was, in fact, the Motorola W156, bought brand new May last year at a whopping cost of P1,500!!! It can call and it can text and has a calendar so I can input appointments, and a host of other features I don’t need. No IR, no bluetooth, no camera nor video, just a b&w screen. But it is so durable that every time friends gather and show off their latest cellphones, I simply bring out mine, and tell them, “Can your phone do this?” Then I toss it up into the air, fall into the concrete pavement, then I pick it up, and show them, how durable my cellphone is. I do that all the time. And every time I do that, they would bring their cellphones to their chest, like embracing their hi-tech gadgets as if to protect them from harm, and scream, “Oh no! My cellphone won’t survive that!”
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Exploring more local coffees

Catimor beans (left) and civet cat coffee (right) from Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

Catimor beans (left) and civet cat coffee (right) from Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

These past days I’ve been exploring local coffee beans some more. I’ve almost given up on the local beans, and it’s a shame coz we’re in a tropical country with lots of high mountains and a climate conducive to coffee growing.

As I’ve said, I almost exclusively get my local beans from Serenity Coffee aka Arengga, after a frustrating year of searching for a green coffee supplier. Serenity’s beans are still not at par with the specialty grade beans you get to buy online from shops like Sweet Maria’s and the distributors at GCBC. But if you lower your standards a bit, for the sake of economy on my part, their coffee could be drinkable.

One day Benson of Cebu, about the only one leaving comments (and maybe the only reader, too? Hehe …) in this blog, said that he has tried roasting coffee from Davao del Sur. In the cup, he said he was so disappointed because it tasted like camote! Uh-oh … Told him I had once dropped by Bansalan in Davao del Sur, and I saw lots and lots of green coffee beans, and bought samples that I didn’t like, too.

Then came Louie from Bansalan, a coffee grower somewhere at the foot of Mount Apo in Davao del Sur. Apparently offended by Benson’s comments, he volunteered to send in some samples of his coffees. I insisted on paying, but he won’t let me. As long as I say my honest opinion about my coffee, he said, he’d let me try my coffee.
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My coffee makers

L-R: Aeropress (2), Moka pot (1), French press (3)

L-R: Aeropress (2), Moka pot (1), French press (3)

If you think I have one of those familiar automatic electric drip-type coffee makers you see everywhere, in homes and in offices (and a LOT of them in department stores), which have become the most popular equipment for making brewed coffee, you’re wrong. I threw away mine long ago. Well, not literally, but I wonder where it went, coz I can’t find it now, now that I wanted to take a picture of it.

Why so? Coz the coffee these automatic drip-type brewing machines make sucks. Ops, sorry if I offended many coffee lovers who rely on this brewing machine every morning. But I’m just telling the truth. Didn’t I say this is a no holds barred type of blog? I found it out myself the moment I first tried the French press, coz suddenly, the same coffee tasted significantly better. I was just glad when I began reading tons and tons of information materials on coffee because none among the coffeegeeks use the automatic drip-type coffee maker. Simply because most of these coffee makers don’t heat the water to high enough temperature for good coffee extraction.
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Red Sea blend!

Look at what arrived in the mail today! Red Sea blend, coffees from both sides of the Red Sea — Yemen and Ethiopia. My favorite coffees, blended together by Royal Coffee, one of the biggest coffee importers in the US.

The Red Sea blend

The Red Sea blend

Got this, as usual, from one of the distributors at GCBC. 15 lbs worth of coffee goodie, shipped via USPS using its flat-rate box. Since I ordered this just before Christmas, mailing was delayed. Instead of the usual 10-15 days, this one arrived 32 days after it was shipped in the US. Roasted right away. Whoa!!!
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Meet my coffee roasters

It’s been a long journey for my homeroasting hobby, trying various roasters, modifying them along the way to suit my needs.

So here they are, in chronological order…

Fresh Roast + 8

I got the FR+8 roaster simply because it is the cheapest dedicated coffee roaster I could find. It was made for the sole purpose of roasting coffee. Got this for $90. Other cheap homeroasters are the Nesco for $169, and iRoast for $180. Still not so cheap for me, with their small roast batches.

My Fresh Roast + 8. Now gathering dust.

My Fresh Roast + 8. Now gathering dust.

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Wrong way to blend

Blending coffee is an art. It’s better left to the masters. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Most of the time, better leave coffee in its single origin form, no mixture at all. Coffee snobs usually prefer that, so you can enjoy each coffee variety’s characteristics.

There are various reasons to blend coffee. One is, um, to save. Like some instant coffees that are mostly Robusta, then they’ll drop probably one Arabica bean. Voila! “A blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans!” I remember pork and beans in cans. A can-full of beans, and one tiny slice of pork, so you have pork and beans! Well, at least they didn’t say porkS and beans!
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The home barista

homebarista

That’s me, just before my parents, brothers and sisters, and nephews and nieces started coming for the coffee party. Back-to-back with my son Arkay, who’s preparing his ingredients for his beignet.

That plastic cylinder on the left is the Aeropress, my favorite coffee maker. That wooden thing in the foreground is a hand grinder by the German company Zassenhaus, which I use during blackouts. To its right is the Moka pot by Bialetti, the Italian way of making coffee at home. Behind the Moka pot is a Bodum Antigua, the burr grinder I regularly use at home. On the right is the French press, aka plunger, made by Bodum and rebranded by Starbucks.

Ready for a coffee party!

Wohoooo!!! I’ll be hosting a coffee party for the Timonera clan, and maybe a few friends, tomorrow, January 3. My coffee lineup …

fiveroastedcoffees

Panama Elida Estate, Kenya Gethumbwini, India Mysore, Colombia Supremo, Brazil Moreninha Formosa.

If you’re somewhere near … we’ll see if there’s still coffee for you. :-)

Roasting coffee with a rice pot

Sorry guys, got too busy hacking my MSI Wind to run OSX Leopard. Then a friend’s, too. I’m now a proud owner of a Macbook Nano. Back to coffee blogging…

So, let’s start roasting, granting you have the materials I mentioned in a previous post. Assemble the materials I mentioned earlier so it’d be easy to reach them, coz things happen fast in roasting coffee.

1. Pre-heat rice pot on slow to medium flame on your gas range. I haven’t tried on electric burner, but try it at medium. If you have a thermometer that could be placed on the pot, then let it stand there, but remove it before you pour in the beans. If you have an exhaust fan above or near your stove, power it up, coz roasting coffee emits A LOT of smoke. Before I got a kitchen with a hood and exhaust fan, I roasted outside. If you have a fire alarm in your kitchen, turn it off, or you’ll have firefighters knocking on your door.
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