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Quality Coffee, roasted to order

What makes our coffee quality? Everyone believes their product is of the highest quality, so what!

Well, once you taste our coffees we believe you will see why all these messages are marketting hype. The coffees we use are the best beans that we are able to source locally. Of course they are all Arabica. However they are also hand-picked and highland grown and of course are freshly roasted

Why handpicked?

The coffee bean tastes best when it's harvested just ripe (like all other fruit, in fact). This is easy to see as the coffee cherry is bright red at this stage. The coffee tree ripens unevenly with the same branch having cherries in several stages - with several sweeps over several months of a hand-picking harvest only ripe coffee is selected; mechanical harvesting or strip harvesting removes everything at one time

Why highland-grown?

At altitudes above 1500m the tropical climate is more temperate and the bean takes up to three months longer to mature from flower to ripe fruit: this results in a denser, more tasty coffee that reflects the characteristics of it's territory.

This makes for a harder bean, as discussed below under Hard Bean.

Why freshly roasted?

Frog Quaffer makes sure we only have the finest coffee bean

Roasted coffee is normally removed from the roaster in the middle of a chemical reaction. Only if the the coffee is burnt (in our opinion in the French or Italian style) is the chemical reaction complete. Part of the reaction is to release gasses. This means that our coffees (and any fresh coffee) cannot be placed in a vacuum seal (either in a tin, or foil) as the proceess carries on. Typically fresh roasted coffee should be drunk within 2 days, but we find it is more pratical to aim for about 2 weeks. We will only supply you coffee that you will consume in 2 weeks. We try and ensure that you understand your consumption so that you can always get as close to the original freshly roasted taste as possible

Guarantee

In blind tastings we have found 98 out of 100 people prefer the coffees we source. We have just under 20 coffees typically, and we will guarantee to find you one that you like, otherwise your money back


Arabica Varieties

Man has been directly or indirectly modifying the coffee bean since it was first smuggled out of the Yemen into Mysore India, and then taken back to Europe in the 1600's. This has resulted in a large number or arabica varieties, that either developed naturally by a becoming ingrown like bourbon or by being exposed to similar plants like Robusta or Liberica trees.

coffee cherrie and blossoms

The direct process was driven by a need to allow coffee trees to grow in areas that made them susceptible to disease like coffee rust. The coffee market is now dominated by these varities today, there are over 40 varieties now, of which the purest is "typica".

The closer the arabica variety is to the typica (the original Arabica from Ethiopia) the more flavoursome it is, and the harder it is to grow.

Arabica typica needs to be grown under a forest canopy, and typically at an altitude of over 1,600m and in a temperate climate, otherwise coffee rust develops preventing the tree to fruit, and even destroying the tree it self.

 

Read more here: Arabica Varieties I have found so far...

Well known arabica varities:

varietal Notes
typica The original coffee found in Ethiopia, then grown in the Yemen originally, was smuggled to India where it was planted in Mysore area, where the Dutch traded and was then taken back to Holland
bourbon Developed when the Arabica typica from India was kept in green houses in France and Spain, and was used as a source plant in South America, when the Spanish and Portugese started colonizing South Americas
caturra A higher yielding mutation of borbon, but has lost favour with mass produces since the 70's
mundo nuvo A mutation between typica and borbon, that is more resistant, but fruits slower than the more popular varieties. Mainly produced in Brasil
catuai A hybrid between of caturra and mundo nuvo made at The Institute of Agronomy, Campinas, Brazil in 1949. Most popular varietal with leading Italian blends

There are over 40 Arabica types, and over 146 accesssions:. You can click to read more information of the varieties of arabica that is maintained by coffee DNA

Note: Kopi luwak is not a coffee variety but rather a method of processing the beans, that is quite similar to the wet processing method. We keep away from animal or environmental abuse as a standard, and since there is almost no Kopi Luwak harvested naturally any more, the only Indonesian coffee we do is Mandheling, which is a wet processed highland grown coffee

Growing countries

All Arabica typica and close variants grown between the troical lines of Cancer and Capricorn. There is a general table of producers that was posted on the National Geographic article, that can be read here.

Normally what prevents a country from producing specialty grade coffee is the coffee association that is in place in that country. Experience shows that specialty grade is achieved by:

  • being grown in hard bean or strictly hard been height
  • being shade grown
  • being as close to pure varietal as possible
  • specific terrior growth

We only use speciality grade coffee so we only source from growers specializing in this type of coffee?

The table below is a summary, of countries we have tasted specialty grade coffees from, or are aware that they produce specialty grade coffees:
Area Countries
Africa Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Atlantic Islands Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico
Central America Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Indian Ocean India, Yemen
Pacific East Timor, Hawaii, Java, Papua New Guinea, Sumatra
South America Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru

Besides the countries the regions are important. For coffee to be strictly hard bean, it must grow in the highland forested areas for the countries listed. Specialty coffees are either strictly hard bean or pea berry

Further Reading

There are many sources to find more about the countries and famous specialty coffees that come from these countries. The Sources we most often reference are: Kenneth David's Coffee; and Mark Pendergrast's Uncommon Grounds

Grading

There is a lot of confusion about grading and sizing grades. Grading requires the coffee to have been cupped, will size grade is to do with screen size. Here we will call grading the art of grading the taste, and sizing that which is done with screens.

Coffee beans are graded according to a visual, aromatic or taste characteristics. The visual tests determine: screen size, defects

Grading is performed after the processing of the green bean. This is followed by a local roast and cupping assessment. Typically grading is performed at least 4 times before it is classed as a specialty or grade 1 coffee. Once it is graded it if the cupping is special and the supply is limited, you can get the coffee allocated to a micro lot, where a particular roaster will sell it as a once off.

The table is directly from the SCAA grading.

Grade Description
1 Specialty Grade Coffee Beans: no primary defects, 0-3 full defects, sorted with a maximum of 5% above and 5% below specified screen size or range of screen size, and exhibiting a distinct attribute in one or more of the following areas: taste, acidity, body, or aroma. Also must be free of cup faults and taints. Zero quakers allowed. Moisture content between 9-13%.
2 Premium Grade Coffee Beans: Same as Grade 1 except maximum of 3 quakers. 0-8 full defects.
3 Exchange Grade Coffee Beans: 50% above screen 15 and less than 5% below screen 15. Max of 5 quakers. Must be free from faults. 9-23 full defects.
4 Standard Grade Coffee Beans: 24-86 full defects.
5 Off Grade Coffee Beans: More than 86 full defects.

Sizing

The size a bean is determined by its size. The largest size of a crop is "AAA". When the beans are extracted from the pulp they are graded according to their size. The smallest size is

The grade of a bean is determined by its size. The largest size of a crop is "AAA". When the beans are extracted from the pulp they are graded according to their size. The smallest size is

The Sizing is particular to where the coffee comes from, and is destined to, so what here is a summary, on the left With other names for reference:

Sizing table

screen size (mm) Classification Size Grade Other names for Size Grade
> 8 Extra Large AAA Supereme, Premier, Fancy
7 > 8 Very Large AA Superior,Supremo, 1st Flats, Plantation A
6.5 >= 7 Large A Bold bean,Segundas
6 >= 6.5 Medium B Primera, Excelso, 2nd flats
5.25 >= 6 Small C Terceras, small bean, 3rd flats
4.5 >= 5.25 Shells *PB Caracol, Perl, 1st Peaberries
4.5 >= 5.25 Caracoli, Perl, 2nd Peaberries
3.5 >= 4.5 Caracollio, Perl, 3rd Peaberries
Other Other    
*Peaberry size is category thatn means that the coffee fruit produced only one complete seed, rather than the typical seeds with two halves

Hard Bean

Besides the number of now common varieties of Arabica, there is also consideration on at what height the Arabica is grown. All specialty grade coffee must be shade and highland grown, this means it is at least hard bean. Harder beans have a more intense taste.

The higher the bean is grown the less oxygen it is exposed to. This means that the fruit (and hence the seed) takes longer to mature.

Depending on the height above sea level a bean is grown it is classified as below (m = metres):

  • Strictly Hard Bean: above 1,600 m
  • Hard Bean: 1,350 to 1,600m
  • Semi Hard Bean: 1,200 to 1,350m
  • Extra Prime Washed: 1,000 to 1,200m
  • Prime Washed: above 600m below 1,000

More reading matter

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