June 2021 - Best Sumatran in a decade, Secret Label jammy sweetness, Coffee price hike
Date Posted:8 June 2021
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso
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When only the best will do
It's been a while since we have seen a 90+ point coffee land in our warehouse and last month we scooped an amazing lot scoring 92+ (or apparently 93+ points, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves).
So we are mighty pleased and excited to offer the absolute best lot of traditionally processed Sumatran coffee to arrive into Australia in perhaps the last decade - an exceptionally special lot of Blue Bianca, this is a top-dog, one-off - we knew it and we pounced.
See below for more details.
This month's Secret Label offering is all about jam.......yep, those delicious jammy notes of strawberry and raspberry that lift great coffees enabling an exceptional balance across both black and milk brews.
Absolutely loving the sweetness on this coffee.
Rising prices impact global coffee market
The news keeps on getting worse for raw coffee supply chains with significant shifts to higher prices and lower levels of availability.
Read our blog below on what's driving an extra $1+ per kilo to coffee today.
Current Melbourne lock down
We are now into the 2nd week of lock down here in Melbourne and so far it's not anywhere near as restrictive as the events last year. In fact, there seems to be even more vehicles on the road early in the morning and evenings when I'm driving to and from work.
Kind of hard to imagine the freeways being blocked and congested at 6am during lock down, traffic reports of gridlocks that early in the morning seem contrary to what the lock down is aiming to achieve - one possible explanation is the ongoing fear in using public transport forcing commuters to use their vehicles.
Fingers crossed, there have not been any major panic buying so far, although last week was busier than normal.
The parcel freight networks also appear to be holding up well with some seriously rapid delivery times in Melbourne since Sendle flicked their switch in favor to allocate more shipments to Couriers Please over Fastway/Aramex. We hope this positive trend continues.
The good news is Victorians can see a path out with a gradual loosening of restrictions from this Friday.
June 2021 Secret Label
Last month's Secret Label took a walk into fruit driven sweetness with some amazing aromatics and complex flavours.
This month, we are focusing on jammy notes that generate intense sweetness with a winey finish that lingers in the cup.
June's Secret Label uses two exceptional micro lot coffees that work together beautifully and we are loving the balanced notes of sweet strawberry and raspberry in the finish.
There's a fair bit going on with this cup.........black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, black tea, lime, brown sugar sweetness with hints of nougat and hazelnut.
A coffee that's rich and smooth, full-bodied with refined acids, it's superb as a black or with milk. A true versatile performer across any brew application.
We have talked previously about how difficult it is to prepare a coffee that works across black and white and this month's Secret Label just shines so well in both areas.......the key to it's impressive performance is intense sweetness of it's acids, oozing quality.
Often coffees with lower acids can be muted or even sour in milk, but this Secret Label blend has amazing abilities to produce a wonderful range of sweetness without being acidic.
Grab it here - June 2021 Secret Label - All gone already. Best bet is to choose from some other fantastic coffee bean blends online here.
A very special lot of Sumatran coffee
Whilst there are many similarities between coffee and wine the most common yardstick used to measure quality or grading is a structured and calibrated point scoring system.
However, you can't use the same rule of thumb in wine and apply it to coffee as it's far more common to see wines scoring 90 points or higher than it is to see coffees scoring 90 or above.
As a long time wine and coffee lover (with zero skills in judging wines), I'd compare say a 92 point wine with an 84 point coffee. Whilst that may come as a surprise to wine enthusiasts, it's important to keep in mind that scoring systems for coffee often apply rather ruthless deductions on the slightest hint of a "defect", sometimes it might be the "perception" of a defect that marks down a coffee.
To put this into context, 90+ point coffees represent less than 0.25% of the total coffee market and a 90+ point coffee has become a bucket list experience with some over-hyped retailers charging like a wounded bull for the pleasure - demanding up to $10 or more per cup and $80 - $160 per kilo for these rare and exclusive coffee.
Historically, typical supermarket coffees range from 74 - 80 points (although they are now ranging slightly better offerings from authentic branded specialty providers, shame about the terrible lack of proper freshness and I'd seriously question whether the supermarket shelf version of a branded specialty coffee was the same as it's direct retail version - because nobody is checking this of course and supermarkets are notorious for taking a large clip of the margin).
Cafe coffees pop within 78 to 83 points with perhaps a few exceptions ranking fractionally higher.......and we really mean it's only a small percentage that venture above 83 points. Feature coffees tend to play in the 82 - 86 point range.
It's then a hard slog getting from 86 points up to 90 and beyond. In fact, the path can be so steep few actually make it, hence why the amount of coffee scoring 90+ is quite limited.
Our award winning and highly popular Kenyan is perhaps the closest match to a 90 point coffee coming in around 88 to 89 points on a good season and yes, it does depend upon the season.
Last month we scooped up a few tons of the absolute best traditional Sumatran to land in Australia over the last decade. A special lot of Blue Bianca and a veritable needle in the haystack moment.
Available in the mycuppa store here Blue Bianca.
Rising coffee prices
So what's pushing up the cost of coffee in 2021 ?
Well, to start with there's been poor weather (lack of rains and low soil moisture at critical growing stages) in the world's largest producer Brazil on top the normal off-cycle period of lower crop yields. When the world's #1 coffee producer has bad news, the rest of the global market braces for the pain.
Then a crisis developed in Colombia with a prolonged freight stoppage in the world's 2nd largest arabica producer.
The situation in Colombia has caught everyone by surprise with a total halt of all goods movements for the last 7 weeks - trucks, trains and sea ports all shutdown everywhere, affecting everything, not just coffee. A challenging combination of road blocks, strikes, protests, COVID-related stoppages, etc.
There's a glimmer of hope Colombian roads and ports are only now partially starting to open in limited areas, but the backlog of freight will take many months for things to return to normal.
With short positions emerging in both the #1 and #2 largest producers, it seems there's no escape from entering a cycle.
Coffee prices have risen up to 35% since a low in early April and instead of the normal pattern over the last couple of years where a spike is followed soon afterwards by a retreat back down, this time it's remarkably different as the index has found a new, higher floor price since February when the market started to run higher.
There's a measurable impact on average around $1 to $1.50 added per kilo as it stands today and forecasters are predicting more rises to come throughout this year. Our guess is this may stretch to $2/kg by the end of July if the bad news from Brazil and Colombia does not improve as shortages in the big origins have a habit of spilling over to smaller origins when buyer switch.
The inflation fears in some parts of the global economy, particularly the US, are pushing investors into commodity futures and coffee being one of these key agricultural assets being bought up by traders seeking either higher performing asset classes or safer havens compared to risky bond markets.
Coffee farmers and exporters are sitting on their produce, reluctant or even refusing to enter into new contracts on the hope of holding out for higher prices. It's not unlike vendors selling real estate anywhere in Australia right now.....wait long enough and you just might snag that exorbitant and obscene price !
As we noted in a previous newsletter article, when there's a rising market many coffee companies quickly jump into lower qualities to maintain margin, but that's not always a smart move as the Australian coffee industry is a competitive beast servicing highly sophisticated consumers with discerning tastes and high expectations that won't blink at trading brand loyalty for a diminished experience.