Coffee plants are grown for a year in a nursery area like this before being transplanted next to the mature trees. It will take 4 years for these plants to start producing coffee fruits.
Coffee trees over 100 years old exist and produce fruit, but a commercial coffee plantation typically replaces 15 year old plants with new plants, and keeps the average age of the coffee plants at around 8 to 10 years old. It’s a constant cycle of planting and cutting down.
Here is a picture of coffee plant that I am presently trying to keep alive (it is not a happy coffee plant).
Coffee beans, are not “beans” they are seeds — the pit from the coffee fruit. You can plant unroasted coffee beans, and they will sprout. The germination rate is low, something like 5%, so you have to plant several of them, and coffee can’t realistically grow in the climate of the United States. If you wanted to harvest and process your own coffee, you would have to keep your plant indoors and give it a lot of warmth and a lot of sunlight all year round.
But still, it is fun to remember that coffee is produce. It is a fruit. Hence, it is rich with antioxidants and bioflavanoids and continually linked to health benefits.
Several years ago, coffee tasters sat down and wrote out every flavor and characteristic that might be found in a cup of coffee, and organized it into a circle. If you look at the wheel of flavors as you drink the coffee, it helps you figure out what you are tasting. The only problem, is that the “Flavor Wheel” that has been used for dozens of years is full of words that are not very helpful. Descriptors like “Tipped” “Cappy” and “Horsey” just don’t mean much as we are mulling our latest roast.
Finally, the admired Counter Culture from North Carolina brings us an updated, useful coffee flavor wheel, with flavors and lingo that are common in the coffee world. Look at this the next time you’re trying a new coffee and see if it helps you navigate the tastes you are experiencing. coffee_tasting_Wheel <—-PDF version for easy print-outs
a red fire extinguisher hangs under a red picture of a fire extinguisher.
a poster shows how to choke, how to unchoke.
a man in a hat enters the room, fills his mug, takes a sip, smiles.
looking around the room, nothing is on fire;
no one is choking.
he takes another sip and steps back out into the world.
i just ran a report that shows the best selling products on the website so far in 2013. this list doesn’t include any wholesale orders — it only counts retail sales that were processed through the website. but with 1,021 website orders received so far this year, that’s still a fairly reliable pool of data to consider.
# 1 seller: outdoorsy sumatra
2- decaf sumatra
3- strong and gentle bear blend
4- renegade guatemala
5- balanced costa rica
#1 best seller – winter grogg
2- jamaican paradise
4- caramel latte
#1 seller: breakfast tea (sumatra)
2- berry black (guatemala)
3- dragonwell (china)
4- berry basket (herbal)
5-golden bud (china)
green unroasted coffee:
#1 best seller: sumatra mandheling
2- costa rica la minita
3- peru cafe succhia
4- uganda bugisu
5- guatemala huehuetenango
my personal top 7 favorite coffees right now:
sumatra mandheling (outdoorsy sumatra)
costa rica la minita
ethiopia yirgacheffe natural
tanzania peaberry mt. kilamanjaro (extroverted tanzania)
india pambadampara estate
my personal top 7 favorite hot teas right now:
bag of coffee chaff
when coffee is roasting, it expands, pops, and little pieces of chaff break away from the bean. it smells somewhat like hay, is feather-light, extremely flammable. if you brew it with the coffee, it tastes very bitter, so you have to separate it from the roasted beans. the bible talks about tossing grain up into the wind so the chaff blows away while the kernels fall back to the ground. this is the basic idea. if you are roasting at home, you can sift the chaff out using a colander or stir the coffee in front of a fan on low speed. commercial roasters have an exhaust fan that carries the chaff over to a collection tank away from the heat.
but are there uses for this organic matter? in soil, the chaff is fantastic at absorbing and retaining moisture, so stirring in coffee chaff in small amounts can be a helpful addition. it also works as chicken bedding! or one can spread it on a muddy path in the spring to help dry the mud. or use it like sawdust in the bottom of compostable toilets. but the latest use for this substance will raise some eyebrows…
a farmer stopped in recently and submitted a sample for nutritional food analysis, and it came back showing to be full of protein, particularly well paired for the digestive system of cattle. the report looks like this:
protein 16.7%, digestible protein 12%, acid detergent fiber 49% neutral detergent fiber 63% estimated net energy 87% calcium 1% phosphorus .07% potassium 1% magnesium .2% sulfur .2%
so he carried away about 50 pounds and is going to try adding it to food for his herd of heifers. my hunch is that there is caffeine in the chaff, and he will have some very happy cows. we will have to wait and see.
when i looked into selling tea, i wanted nothing boring. i wanted tea that would rock your world. make you re-think the whole class of beverage. make you still think about that mug of tea for days afterwards.
in the end, i drank over 300 different teas. i bought every tea i could find at health stores, grocery stores, cafe’s. i received samples from several companies. i read books about origins, experimented with blending, quizzed tea experts.
i now have 25 teas that i want to share with everyone i know. teas that will knock your socks off. some of the finest teas found anywhere in the world.
here is one from a province in china. it is a black tea, aged for 3 years in a cave, similar to a pu-erh tea. it ages, just like a cheese, whiskey, or wine — the fermentation process gives it complexity and immense flavor. it also turns it into a cure-all, supposedly improving circulation, fighting cancer, fighting strokes, helping weight loss and blood sugar conditions and digestion. it even naturally contains small amounts of a chemical called lovastatin, which is sold as a prescription medicine used for lowering cholesterol.
so then they take this amazingly flavorful, amazingly healthful tea, and they blend it with aromatic rose petals and press it into heart shapes. one heart per pot. perfection.
dark puerh tea heart shaped
this is just 1 of the 25 teas i’d love to share with you. check the rest of them out at http://www.happymugcoffee.com/en/28-tea
happy mug coffee is now warehousing, roasting, and shipping out of edinboro, pa 10 miles south of erie.
at this time, we ship green coffee all over the united states, and roast for local businesses in erie, meadville, corry, warren, tidioute, tionesta, and oil city, among others.
if you would like a tour of our new facility, let us know! with our expansion, we now have over 40 coffees and 30 teas in stock, and the motto here is you can’t leave until you’re shaking! nah, even if you don’t drink coffee, you’re welcome to come have a look. just let us know. contact information is listed in the photo above.
All coffees on the website are $1 off per pound this month. This sale is also happening at the Meadville Markethouse.
we are moving! the construction is happening beginning today.
we have found a space about 50 miles away that will provide twice the inventory space without increasing our overhead costs, so you can expect the same low prices, but more variety and more backstock of each variety. (each of those squares with a circle in it represents a pallet of 10 bags of coffee…with potential space for at least 15 pallets, that is 20,000 pounds of coffee. And with a 20 foot ceiling, vertical expansion is also possible if needed down the road.)
for the next few weeks, the transition may cause problems. in anticipation of the move, we have been letting inventory run low, and we are already starting to run out of some varieties.
thank you for bearing with our growing pains this month. we are hoping for a summer heat wave so that no one drinks much coffee for a few weeks… (how about a glass of iced tea today?) we may have to be creative with substitutions or referring you to other suppliers/roasters for certain coffees. but when the dust settles, it will all be worth it.