Saturday, December 30, 2006

Major Surgery

I went to Home Depot the other day, and came home with a couple giant new pots, a butt-load of dirt, and some rooting hormone. Four hours later my beloved tree had become but one of 13. A massive pruning session was a bit scary, but I really feel like it was the right thing to do. I used up all my compost in the new mix, worms and all.

I knew the three plants in one pot had to be root bound, but what I say did surprise me a bit. Their new homes are MUCH larger, and the queen tree of the trio is enjoying a new life in a pot 30" across. It took over 100 pounds of the new soil mix to fill.

The best looking tops became my first attempt at propagating. I am happy to report that all 10 of the new plants are thriving. A few of them were rife with the buds of my fly crop, and they continue to develop. I built a mini-greenhouse out of wood dowels and saran wrap, and it has been living in a sunny spot on an old heating pad.

One of the new little plants sprouted the nicest flowers yet. It is clear that the wet and humid environment of the little greenhouse has been a real treat for the new additions. It allowed me an opportunity to get some great photos of the jasmine fragranced gems.

Some of you may remember in the SERBC this year I used a little pumpkin that grew in my compost pile as a centerpiece. Well, some of those same seeds made it into my plant's new pots, and a few sprouts have appeared. Just for kicks I think I will see how well they develop.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Special Day

Friday was a great day. While some may think I am a bit of a kook for caring so much about this, my glee shall go unabashed. While one ounce of roasted coffee may not seem like much to most, it is an overwhelming and bountiful harvest to me.

On Friday afternoon, after passing my tiny little bag of roasted beans around for anyone to see, I set about the good old cupping ritual. I was pleased to get to share my little liquid treasure with a small group of co-workers who took some time away from there duties to grab a spoon and a sip.

I prepared the precious cup. While not as fragrant as most of the great coffees of my employer, I was satisfied by hints of tropical fruit. The water added little to the aroma, but the taste did suprise. While my friends and colleges were supportive, I was aware that expectations of any perceptible postive flavors were low. The coffee proved simple, sweet and straightforward. Peter felt is was a close representation of what a true Java coffee should be. No acidity and good body, a coffee that goes best with a more complex companion in a blend. While overall the flavor experience was positive, I must admit that a mild but persistant acrid aftertaste followed me around for a while after.

So what is next, you ask? Beside an attempt to bring one professional's humble insights into our changing industry to the public view, I must now take on an even greater pursuit in my Quest.

One pound of fresh coffee, for sale to the highest bidder. All the money collected donated to a coffee related charity. Give me a year, please.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Wee Little Roast

Perhap I was being optimistic, put I found after weighing entirty of the crop, that my previous estimation of 50 grams had to be reduced by half. On Wednesday I faced the challenge of roasting the smallest batch (can I call it a batch?) of coffee I have ever tried.

The San Franciscan sample roaster at Counter Culture was in for it. I dug deep into my rusty bag of roasting tricks, tweaking the gas pressure and airflow to a point where I was able to test roast a "batch" or two with another coffee. I managed a bit of temperature control, and when it was said and done, 7 minutes and about 420 degrees later, Finca Nueva Berlin was roasted.

I was a bit nervous at first, but the test roasts proved that the ol' girl was still as capable as ever. Don't get me wrong, I doubt I could hit the production roast parameters at CCC like I used to, but heck, I least I didn't burn my precious cargo.

Cooling time was remarkably quick.

So there you have it. A couple of days for resting and out gassing, and the cupping will commense. Geez, I hope I don't spill it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Final Countdown

It is finally time. The harvest is complete, the beans are prepared, and the roaster is warming up. I am going to roast the massive booty of beans in the middle of this week, and cup them on Friday. Anyone who wants a spoonful (that’s may be about all there is to share!) should show up at Counter Culture Coffee world headquarters this Friday the 15th, at 3:00pm.

On another note, I have made a major decision for my plants near future. As much as I have enjoyed the overwhelming growth over the past year, I have decided to prune it. I spoke to Aida Batlle at length during her recent visit to North Carolina. She pointed out some things I was not aware of. One interesting tidbit was that it is rare for each branch to produce more than once. Seems if I don’t prune, even though my tree should continue its vertical growth, my harvests will eventually need a ladder to retrieve. The choice to prune now is made tougher by the fact that I am already seeing a significant number of new buds develop. I think if I were to let them develop a fly crop even better than the one I am about to roast would be eminent. That said I still believe that the pruning is a good idea. I will finally be able to attempt to separate the three plants, and repotting to a larger container for the main tree will be made easier as well.