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What’s in a name? Everything.

Would you like a cup of the Colombia Castillo Cauca? Or some Colombia Villa Maria Caldas Supremo? Or perhaps the Bolivia La Paz AA? At many other coffee shops, you’ll find names like, “House Blend” or “Espresso Roast.”  So, what’s with all of the crazy long names? Did you know that “Mandheling” (of Sumatra Mandheling) means “lost mother” or that “Yirgacheffe” is actually two Amharic words for “cool marshes?” Here are three reasons why our coffee monikers are long:

1. Shameful attempt to impress

Wouldn’t you rather drink a coffee with the name Guatemala Huehuetenango or Colombia Valle de Cauca, instead of the house Colombian? The long names and designations create some mystery to your experience. In addition, you’ll learn something about the world of coffee, about geography, and about various coffee designations. It may also force you to ask, “Hey, how do you pronounce “Huehuetenango,” and what does “Castillo” mean?”

Frank's visit to Nicaragua 2015

Frank’s visit to Nicaragua 2015

2. Pure Education

Here are a few designations that are found in our long coffee names:

AA: In Kenya, as in Kenya AA, or Kenya AB, it is about the size of the coffee beans. In Bolivia, Bolivia AA means that the quality is higher than the Bolivia AB.

SHG: Sometimes, if there’s room on the label, we’ll let you know that the coffee is SHG (Strictly High Grown) or that it has been grown over 4500 feet above sea level. Sure, we’re showing off, but coffee that’s grown at that high altitude is often more complex and hardier than lower altitude coffees. We can roast these high altitude coffees darker without ruining the flavor profile because when it takes a longer time to grow, the bean becomes more dense, grows larger, and more of the sugars are allowed to develop in the bean.

Peaberry: When one of the two coffee beans growing in the coffee cherry dies, the remaining coffee bean is often smaller and is called the peaberry. The farmer has the opportunity to separate the peaberries from the larger beans and sell it separately. Will the quality of the remainder of the crop suffer or is it too much trouble to separate the beans?

Supremo: Wow, that sounds like the coffee would taste, well, supreme. It might be great, but Supremo means that the coffee is the largest of the coffee beans in Colombia which measures, 18/64″ diameter. The next designation is Excelso which measures about 16/64″ in diameter. The terms Supremo and Excelso are similar to the Jewish dietary term, Kosher. Many people believe incorrectly that any food marked “kosher” is higher quality than non-kosher food. Farmers will separate their coffee by bean size to find the best possible flavor profile available. Su

Coffee Varietal Names: The various coffees that you purchase from Chazzano Coffee are from various different varietals like Tipica, Caturra, Maragaturra, Maragogipe, Paca, Bourbon, Pacamara, Catuai, or Catuai Amarillo. Would you buy a bottle of wine that’s labeled “Red Wine from Chile?” If you would buy nondescript wine, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post. Now, with the knowledge that coffee is twice as complex as your favorite Barolo, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, or Bordeaux, why wouldn’t you want to know what kind of bean is in your coffee? Maragoturra is a natural mutation of the Tipica coffee varietal. Which coffee beans do you like, Brazil Peaberry, Brazil Bourbon, Brazil Yellow Bourbon, or Brazil Cerrado pulped natural? Did you know that Castillo is a hybrid of many different coffees that have been blended for decades to create a hardier bean that coffee pests don’t like.

SWP/MWP: These are designations for two organic ways of decaffeinating coffee- SWP (Swiss Water Process) and MWP (Mountain Water Process). The organic process retains most of the flavor profile of the coffee. When you find coffee without these organic decaffeination processes, you’re probably buying MC (methylene chloride) decaffeinated coffee. DMC (Dichloromethane) or just methylene chloride is often used as a paint thinner, degreaser, aerosol spray propellent, and for…decaffeinating coffee. Is the DMC found in the final cup of coffee after roasting and brewing? I have no idea, but I’m just not comfortable serving coffee that has been treated with a popular paint thinner.

Frank's first time tasting a coffee cherry. It tasted like red peppers and honeydew rind

Frank’s first time tasting a coffee cherry. It tasted like red peppers and honeydew rind

3. Knowing the source of your food

It’s interesting, at least to me, that coffee grows in Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Guatemala, Yemen, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Timor, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Brazil, Honduras, Sumatra, Nicaragua, and many more places around the world. But where exactly in Nicaragua, in Matagalpa or Jinotega? Which coffee farm? Is it a large farm (Hacienda) or a small farm (Finca)? Is it from Don Francisco’s farm or from the Yader farm? If you know the source of your food, you make better choices in your diet.

When we combine the information about the size of the bean, with the exact coffee farm location, and with additional designations, you stop drinking a regular cup of coffee and you begin to bring greater meaning to your life and your place within the world. Come in at any time and ask us, I dare you, what the particular coffee names mean.

 

 

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