February 2021 - Secret Label has buttery body and chocolate ripple cake. Sendle is back

Date Posted:11 February 2021 


“Fashion is neither moral or immoral, but it is for rebuilding the morale.”  — Karl Lagerfeld.


February 2021

Welcome to our subscriber newsletter.

Apologies, we are running late due to a delay in arrival of a coffee for this month's Secret Label program.

News of lower volumes for Brazil's next crop may create further pressure on an already "tight" global coffee market to push up pricing.

This coming season is what is referred to as an "off cycle" in Brazil - the world’s largest producer and 5 times bigger than the #2 coffee growing country.

Off-cycle is a phenomenon of nature where the coffee trees have high productivity for one season and then less tissue development for the next season whilst recovering.

Along with the off-cycle, recent lower rainfall in some of the larger growing areas is creating a water deficit during the critical post-flowering period when the trees need good water to set and develop fruits (cherries).

Reports estimate Brazil's harvest will be 30 - 35% lower than the recent crop (which generated bumper volume). Averaged out, it's likely around 25% lower yield and for the #1 producer of coffee, brokers and traders will shift to other origins to make up the numbers.

They say when Brazil sneezes, the global coffee market catches a cold.

When we said never again to Sendle, did we really mean it ?

Yes of course we did..... those wounds were hurting at the time.

Sendle's Sydney segment was failing in December and with no method to switch off or isolate Sydney it was not possible to keep the rest of Australia available to Sendle.

But as is often the case in the roulette of pain that is parcel logistics in Australia, AusPost managed to stiff us so bad, over and over throughout December, January and into February we are seriously concerned at their conduct and repeated avoidance of any responsibility.

For the last 7 weeks customers have been begging for the return of Sendle - who would have thought that was possible, not us. Welcome back Sendle we missed you.

As always, we encourage our customers to choose the shipping option that best suits their needs and to please ensure you pay attention in the checkout as the cheapest option is always displayed first - this will vary based upon location and cart volume.

Toot Toot
What's floating our boat this month has some exciting news for Decaf drinkers, the new Colombian Supremo is a lovely lot and we discuss the changes to our popular blends to improve the performance in black-only brews.



February 2021 Secret Label

Before we start, let's explain how Secret Label works for those of you new to the program.

We often receive emails from customers asking for help in how to re-order more of a specific Secret label coffee from the past.

Sure, we get it......a coffee really pumped your tyres and you absolutely must have some more.

Sometimes the request is for a Secret Label 3 to 6 months previous and in the world of coffee, that's almost another season or a lifetime.

Each month's Secret Label is a standalone creation. Think of it as a seasonal dish.

We have just enough coffees to reach the end of the calendar month without knowing in advance how many kilos will actually sell. It’s part crystal ball and part fly by the seat of your pants.

The lots we use for Secret Label are only available in small quantities, e.g. from 400 - 1100kg each and these are what is generally referred to as a "micro" lot.

They are specialized coffees, typically cherry picked by the farmer as premium grades and segregated or isolated at the farm to be packed and sold separately by the farmer as they command higher prices commensurate with the improved qualities of these carefully graded lots.

Once the holding has gone, we can't go back and buy more as often the micro lots represent the top 10% of a crop, so it's only ever a small volume from a farm's harvest and a one-time shipment event.

Now onto February.

One of the coffees was late arriving this month and ironically it’s a type that prefers a longer period of time post roast to develop (or what is referred to as de-gassing) before revealing it's true colors, so we had to be sure it was going to meet our high standards.

The hero of this blend is a coffee origin never featured previously in our Secret Label program and rarely do the stars align for us to bring together this combination.

There's not many origins left that have yet to play a role in our Secret Label Program and one of the beans in this month’s Secret Label blend seems forever in short supply (well, at least for the last 6 years).

We are excited to play with this punchy, lively and spicy origin to generate something completely different in the cup. As a side-note, it's also a notoriously difficult coffee to blend - rarely does it play well with others.

After all, Secret Label is about discovery and exploration, taking a risk and going on a journey into the wider edges of the coffee spectrum by pulling together a solution that gives us memorable moments.

Salted caramel, spicy, rich notes of chocolate ripple cake, big buttery body and dried fruits that linger in a long brooding dark syrupy finish. This coffee will continue to develop and build up complexity as it ages – just like a fine wine.

Too many coffees taste similar and it seems that so many lazy roasters copy the same safe, boring templates or lack the courage to push the envelope and venture into areas that are risky for fear of alienating their customers.

February's Secret Label is a distinctive coffee unlike most other coffees you would normally find in the Australian coffee market.

We are loving the buttery body and rich texture - this coffee likes time to really develop it's potential......it may take up to 2 weeks from roast date, but it's well worth the wait. Don't let that stop you though.

AROMA - forest fruits, cocoa

FLAVOUR - salted caramel, spicy, rich notes of chocolate ripple cake.

ACIDITY - low, mallic.

BODY - full, buttery.

BALANCE - Great mid-palate burst of flavors.

AFTERTASTE - Long buttery body with a dark syrup finish.

OVERALL - Complex and spicy.

For a limited time only - ending when the allotment has run out which may occur before the end of the month.

Sorry, no 500g packs available.

Grab it here - February 2021 Secret Label


Toot Toot

Whilst it's only been a few months, somehow it feels like an eternity waiting for our special Colombian Decaf to arrive.

The good news is it's landed in our warehouse and we are certainly relieved at having our special Decaf lot back on deck. That's one more COVID-related annoyance that will return to normal.

The new lot of Colombian Supremo from our favorite region Narino has an amazing juicy note of caramel, dark chocolate with a sweet citrus acidity and long cherry finish - all the things we look for in a great coffee.

This lot of Colombia Supremo continues to surprise and excite us as it took a full 11 days post roast to really bloom and develop it's powerful cup profile. No doubt, one of those classic qualities that just keeps on building sweet complexity with age. It's been moving fast and already half a ton has walked out the door in the last couple of weeks. Lovely.

Most of our blends have undergone changes over the last few weeks as new season and new arrivals are staged through the blend components.

This is a normal and largely undocumented process we undertake every 6 or 8 weeks as different lots cycle through our holdings based upon rotating harvest schedules.

To give you some context, most blends have between 3 or 5 components from different origins and with harvest occurring at various stages throughout a calendar year, it results in up to 24 different lots to integrate in any 12 month period.

Coffees change and that's a good thing otherwise we would all get bored with the same flavors.

We have talked before about how difficult it is to generate ideal results for both black and milk-based espresso - they require opposite or contrasting acid profiles and often when the bias shifts too far in one direction, the other suffers.

I've spent months and months fine tuning the performance of blends in a black espresso environment without losing the critical elements required by the 93% of espresso drinkers in Australia that prefer to add milk or dairy alternatives. No easy task and we hope black coffee drinkers are enjoying these subtle changes.