Coast Peaberry (Australia)
Some background info: Peaberry coffee beans are a naturally occurring anomaly where the coffee cherry develops only one bean with a completely rounded surface, rather than two with flat surfaces. Take a look at the photo to the right (link to source). Most sources will tell you that the beans result from stress to the coffee plant, such as insect damage or drought, but also confirm that they will pretty much always occur in some coffee cherries harvested at the tip of the branches of the coffee plant. As a result, 2 -7% of a coffee farmer's crop will usually be peaberry, which will be screened out and sold separately. Peaberries are usually considered a defect in conventional lots, but are sold as individual lots, too. The flavour of peaberries is usually described as a concentrated version of the conventional bean.
About this peaberry: Australian coffees are rare enough, but Australian peaberries? My sense of curiosity was instantly piqued when Mark from St Ali told me that he had some in stock. After Tim Wendelboe used some of the peaberry from Mountain Top to win the 2004 WBC, we tried out a blend using the regular MT coffee and were very happy with it. (This was at Maltitude, the cafe that I used to work at in the city.) Since then, I had only had some relatively disappointing Australian coffees and had certainly never even heard of "Coast" coffee. It was a very pleasant surprise to have a traditional double-shot cappuccino from Toshi, perhaps one of Melbourne's best baristi, earlier this year. The phrase "best coffee of the year" springs to mind. It was rich and unctuous; the closest thing to a rich hot chocolate that you will ever get out of coffee. So when they roasted up the last of the bag, I couldn't help but buy some for myself and for my boss, Andrew, at Maling Room.
The tasting notes:
The coffee was roasted on the 17th and I drank it at home from the 20th to the 25th. Through my Silvia/Rocky combination, I was unable to recreate the magic that Toshi had earlier created. The resultant espresso was low in acidity and tasted of cocoa, cutting through milk well, but I was unable to bring out the sweetness to transform it from cocoa to hot chocolate. I had earlier mentioned that it would be awesome to blend this with some Daterra Sweet Collection. Of course, I picked some of this up from Mark as well and blending them together produced great espresso off the back of the Daterra. A french press brewed on the 24th had a berry aroma that I couldn't discribe more precisely than that, but that flavour did not make it into the cup, which was full-bodied and low in acid, unexpectedly becoming sweeter and sweeter as it cooled!
On the 26th (9 days old), I took Andrew's 1/2kg into Maling Room, which was fortunate, as the house blend was quite unimpressive on the day. Not having been able to repeat the "wow" experience from St Ali earlier in the year, I was unsure how it would go through the Synesso. We dialled a head to 201F and found that, as an espresso, it wasn't overly impressive by itself; chocolatey, for sure, but not terriffically complex, nor was the mouthfeel anything special. The thought that it would make a great blend component was again confirmed when Andrew just had to show off the Sidamo that he'd roasted that week. Of course, there was only 10g or so left, so he pulled an impromptu blended shot. Score; lovely acidity with some chocolate. Sure, the extraction paramaters were off, but pretty good overall. Anyhoo, the customers went bannanas over the milk drinks that went out for them and within a few hours it was all that I could do to snag the last double shot for myself:
more steam than my Silvia ;P
Roast Magazine on Australian Coffee