My wife just returned from Haiti. I won’t go into the details of her trip–you can read about it at www.maine-hope.blogspot.com — but when she came back, she had a surprise for me: genuine Haitian green coffee. There was about three pounds of it in a plastic bag. I was pleased (I had asked her to get some for me), but knew that the beans in the bag awaiting my inspection were probably going to be in rough shape.
Little did I know . . . they were quite a bit worse than I had imagined. Upon opening the bag, I was hit with an odor of mold–never a good sign. So, below are a few pictures of the green coffee itself. Doesn’t look too bad, right?
Here’s a close-up:
How ’bout one more?
Just about every defect in the book with these beans: unripes, chips, insect damage . . . those beans on the bottom right are covered with mold.
What I ended up doing was sorting them as best I could, and this is what I came up with:
Not specialty grade, by any stretch of the imagination, but quite a bit better. It took about 30 minutes to pick out an ounce or two of beans. We’re talking one decent bean per 50 or 60. You can still see that the beans above have issues (the one in the center, for example–pale yellow accompanying the green), most of which would be due to poor drying. And the moisture content was still very high (thus, the mold), but here’s a side by side with a recent sample arrival of a new crop Sumatra. The Haiti coffee is on the right:
The actually end up looking somewhat similar. Sumatras usually ship with a higher moisture content, due to how they are processed–soon after the coffee is picked, the cherry fruit and parchment are stripped from the bean in one fell swoop, while the beans are still very moist and sponge-like. The Haitian coffee, on the other hand, was probably dried whole on the ground, and then perhaps pounded in a pestle and mortar until the seeds emerged. Just a guess, though. Here’s another comparison shot, with washed coffees from Nicaragua and Peru as points of reference:
And a close-up of the Peru sample:
You can see the beans are much more uniform-looking and are lighter in color (they look a bit more faded in this light than they actually are).
But here was what came out of the sample roaster
And the brewed coffee was actually pretty decent. It had nice lively aromatics, and some pleasant chocolate in the aftertaste. Much more along the lines of a Sumatra than a Caribbean coffee, but not bad.
Thoughts on what this all means in my next post. Time for bed.