growing conditions this year

growing, harvesting, processing, cupping, purchasing

growing conditions this year

Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Mon May 29, 2006 10:58 am

My roaster told me this morning weather patterns this past growing season in central and south america (and concurrent) will have a dramatic impact on cup quality and character (year to year), including excessive rain during bloom...

Has anyone heard anything similar?
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Postby duane on Mon May 29, 2006 12:41 pm

weather will always have an impact year to year.
in 2005, farms from chiapas mexico, huehuetenango and lake atitlan guatemala were challenged by hurricanes. also in '05, farms in or around santa ana el salvador were hit once by a hurricane then the next day faced mt. santa ana erupting.
yes yields seem to be lower in these areas. however, there is still great quality coming from some great farms in these areas this year.
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Postby James Hoffmann on Mon May 29, 2006 12:54 pm

When I was in El Salvador (which would be about a month ago) they were getting a bit edgy around Santa Ana and San Salvador due to the lack of/very late rains.

Can't tell you any more than that.
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Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Mon May 29, 2006 4:20 pm

Of course! Weather is never 100% consistent. As a barista, it's good to know what is happening at source - as far as growing conditions, pick dates, etc, etc, etc - and how it's impacting the farm and the cup...

barista to grower disconnect = very bad
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Postby aaronblanco on Mon May 29, 2006 6:17 pm

duane wrote:yes yields seem to be lower in these areas. however, there is still great quality coming from some great farms in these areas this year.


could this be considered a sort of blessing in disguise? meaning, lower yields per tree can produce better overall quality the same way vintners keep grape production lower for higher grape quality. not that we are wishing hurricanes upon the farmers by any means....
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Postby duane on Mon May 29, 2006 6:22 pm

i agree. this is why we keep our barista in the loop with what is happening at source and with our farms. we dont purchase our coffee off of offering sheets as many roasters do. not that this is bad. we just want a closer connection to our coffee(s) as well as those who grow, pick and process it. if we didn't travel and see the needs or what is challenging to the folks who produce our coffees through out the year, then we couldn't help and or inform our peeps. information is power.

we give a flying #%^& about spectacular coffee's as well as those producers striving to produce spectacular coffee's.

connection between the farmer, picker(s), mill worker(s), exporter(s), importer(s), roaster(s), barista(s) and the consumer= quality.

recognize.
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Postby Alistair Durie on Mon May 29, 2006 6:46 pm

oh you can say fuck here duane. (especially in that context.) ;)
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Postby Peter G on Mon May 29, 2006 8:59 pm

Hey

Sorry I'm late chiming in...

I agree with Duane, weather always influences crops in various ways.

Here's what I've heard and experienced this year:

In Nicaragua, late rains (just pre-harvest) triggered a sudden ripening effect and seems to have improved quality this year. Lots of intense fruit in the cups I have had. Seems to be both a good quality year and a good production year at the same time, a rarity.

In Cauca, Colombia they had forty-some straight days of rain leading into the harvest, and this wreaked havoc with the normal drying protocol, leading to problems with long drying times and therefore musty cups.

I've heard the same as Duane: El Salvador seems to be a low production year, owing to heavy rains during flowering and the volcano. I have heard no official speculation about overall quality, although I've been pleased with the coffees I've seen so far.

This isn't Central or South America, but they've been having a hell of a time getting coffee out of Papua New Guinea this year because of unseasonal rains.

By the way, they're saying it's a La Nina year this year. This may explain some of the precipitation nonsense.

I think that it's tough to generalize about "good" or "bad" weather years for large geographies, like, say, Latin America. It seems that microclimates are all affected differently, even if there is an overall increase in precipitation. Also, there are dramatic differences between Pacific-influenced climates (like, say, El Salvador and much of Costa Rica) and Caribbean-influenced (like Honduras and Coban)

In general, Jimmy, your roaster is right. Heavy rains trigger heavy flowering (and therefore heavy crops). Heavy rains DURING flowering knock flowers off, and decrease crop size. Heavy rains during fruit set can..... well you get the picture.

Much love,

Peter

p.s. aaron, you have a point with your "blessing in disguise" post; generally small crop years tend to be higher quality. However, this is usually only a "blessing" to the roaster, as there are very few mechanisms in place to give the farmer a higher premium for the higher quality a low yield delivers. Only a few roasters (including, of course, the Stumptown) consistently deliver quality premiums to growers. This means that low yield years, even when they result in overall higher quality, usually are bad news for growers and therefore bad for our industry overall.
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Postby Aleco on Wed May 31, 2006 5:31 pm

In 06/07 news, the 3rd flowerings in Huehue, particularly above 1500m, have been ultra-impressive the past few days. Word on the dirt path is that the 2nd flowerings were even stronger.
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Postby Chris Davidson on Wed May 31, 2006 10:11 pm

Just 'cause you were THERE yesterday...

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Postby Aleco on Thu Jun 01, 2006 12:03 pm

I've been telling Trish that you should be THERE the next time.
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Postby Aleco on Thu Jun 01, 2006 12:04 pm

BTW, nice snag on the Thatcher's Reserve. It was consistently in my top 4 during the international cuppings.
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Postby Chris Davidson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:09 pm

COOLEST thing about winning the Thatcher's Reserve is that the morning after the auction finished, Wilford Lamastus (Son of Thatcher) took the time to email us personally and thank us for bidding on his coffee; also to say that his family has followed specialty coffee in the United States for years and is proud to know that his family's efforts will be premiered in our cafes. Such a great feeling to have that sense of personal connection. Can't wait to get the coffee in house. Not sure why Thatcher's didn't score higher in the ranking. I totally agree with you, Aleco.
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Postby trish on Sun Jun 04, 2006 11:24 am

Aleco wrote:I've been telling Trish that you should be THERE the next time.


everyone likes Chris D best :(

Growing conditions in Huehue look just great and probably will continue to be fine ...but there are a mess of big storms due to follow up Stan this year. Those regions affected by Stan will get hit again...and hard....San Marcos and up toward the Mexican border on the coast.
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Postby Robert Goble on Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:56 pm

jimmyo wrote:Of course! Weather is never 100% consistent. As a barista, it's good to know what is happening at source - as far as growing conditions, pick dates, etc, etc, etc - and how it's impacting the farm and the cup...

barista to grower disconnect = very bad

jimmy, I wonder if you are not overextending yourself here. Though in theory, in some parallel universe, I guess a barista zen master could somehow make use of a masterful understanding of "growing conditions" from year to year, region to region, as it relates to preparing a specific cup of coffee for a customer -- in the real world, and specifically in Saskatoon, any but the most superficial knowledge of "growing conditions" would be a waste of your efforts and time.

This is especially true when you are purchasing green coffee based on cupped sample roasts from specific lots and micro-lots (each with a different micro-climate outside of the generalized "growing conditions" of the region.) Could and should a roaster make use of this information? I'd say hell ya, but a barista? I'm not sure I see how a barista would be able to capitalise on that information (assuming especially the generalised nature of the information). I'm certainly open to understanding how though.

Rob
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Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:53 pm

As head barista, I'm in charge of selecting coffees for our espresso blend, and since we only brew single origin coffee, I want to know if there are any changes from crop season to season, especially growing conditions. Fortunately my roaster is very well connected to origin conditions.

There's no such thing as too much information.
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Postby Robert Goble on Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:25 pm

jimmyo wrote:As head barista, I'm in charge of selecting coffees for our espresso blend, and since we only brew single origin coffee, I want to know if there are any changes from crop season to season, especially growing conditions. Fortunately my roaster is very well connected to origin conditions.

There's no such thing as too much information.

But explain to me how you make use of this information. At the end of the day isn't it your roaster who is making the informed decision? Certainly he's not roasting up some bad coffee and good coffee and letting you pick blind. In what way does knowing anything about rain in Brazil come into your decision process -- hasn't this info come into the decision train much earlier -- like at a green buyer level, then perhaps a broker level or roaster level?
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Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:13 am

My roaster doesn't select the coffees we use in our bar.

And it's quite likely I will one day also be a green buyer and roaster.
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Postby John Sanders on Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:23 am

jimmyo wrote:My roaster doesn't select the coffees we use in our bar.

And it's quite likely I will one day also be a green buyer and roaster.


Jimmy are you telling me that you also buy and select your own green, and your roaster justs roasts them? Or does your roaster select and buy his own green beans and you select from his inventory. A big difference since if this is the case your ROASTER does select the coffees you use in your bar. and by the sounds of all your posts i thought you already were a roaster and green bean buyer and...
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Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Mon Jun 05, 2006 4:00 pm

...and what? :twisted:

You won't hurt my feelings, I don't have any!
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Postby John Sanders on Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:27 am

jimmyo wrote:...and what? :twisted:

You won't hurt my feelings, I don't have any!


Jimmy im not here to hurt your feelings not my intention at all, although it would be nice if you could sit back and listen to everyone for a while instead of being mr answer guy. To PUKE out answers without understanding those is nonsense. And you have been pukin alot lately.
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Postby trish on Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:45 pm

the colonel is annoyed?
At the risk of "getting into it", I don't really see how Jimmy was puking out anything pretentious here...he seems genuinely interested in the conditions and isn't that a great thing?
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Postby trish on Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:55 pm

Peter G wrote:

I've heard the same as Duane: El Salvador seems to be a low production year, owing to heavy rains during flowering and the volcano. I have heard no official speculation about overall quality, although I've been pleased with the coffees I've seen so far.



As reported to me, this is not the case. The volcano's ash was actually washed away fairly quickly with Stan's rains.
Please chime in here if you are someone with expert knowledge here, because we as buyers get a lot of stories and I'd like to get some info that is not...well, how can I say this...biased in some way.

On another note (which I offer to my favorite barista nerd today, Jimmy) there is speculation that CoE El Salvador 2007 or 2008 will be very interesting. Some who knows - not I, but somebody who claims understanding of these things- thinks that the volcanic ash will somehow miraculously manifest itself in an amazing cup in about two years....go figure..
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Postby Robert Goble on Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:04 pm

trish wrote:the colonel is annoyed?
At the risk of "getting into it",...

Let's leave this question unanswered. I will edit or delete any further comments on this. Carry on with the thread, and drivers please note the yellow caution on the oval.
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Postby James Hoffmann on Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:40 pm

This is maybe one Duane can clarify, as I know he spent a little bit more time at San Roberto than me - but I think the period of very very heavy rain wasn't too good for the crop and there was some water damage to some of the coffee. But I could be mistaken....
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