Defects and "Defects?" Poor Quality Coffees?

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travis_rh
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#1: Post by travis_rh »

I'm curious to hear the group's thoughts on what they're seeing in their coffees these days.

First, I feel like, over the last few years, the number of defects and broken beans in "good" or expensive coffees has increased noticeably. How about you?

Second, have you noticed strangely deformed beans in any of your roasts? I haven't definitively correlated this to experimental or anaerobic processing methods but that seems to often be the case. Also, it seems more prevalent in Ethiopian coffees. Below are some examples of what I have seen.



This photo is a good example of what I'm seeing more and more. Some are sort of like shells, but a little different, a little more fully formed; others are sort of flattened and "blown out."


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baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

travis_rh wrote:... Second, have you noticed strangely deformed beans in any of your roasts? I haven't definitively correlated this to experimental or anaerobic processing methods but that seems to often be the case. Also, it seems more prevalent in Ethiopian coffees. Below are some examples of what I have seen.

This photo is a good example of what I'm seeing more and more. Some are sort of like shells, but a little different, a little more fully formed; others are sort of flattened and "blown out."
To me, shells are not that big a deal unless you are roasting dark - where the shells can be roasted into ash.

In general - there are exceptions, as below - pretty much any process is not going to be as good/easy at clearing out defect beans as floating the cherries in water (washed process).

During the shipping container shortage, etc., coffees were not as readily available as before, so roasters had to take what they could get, so perhaps grades weren't as high as before.

There are naturals, ASD, etc., that rival washed for lack of defects, but those farms/stations use quite a bit of technology and their coffees are relatively expensive. Here's Wilford Lamastus, whose Panama Elida Catuai Natural, ASD, etc. has been very clean. Contrast what he does to some processing in Ethiopia.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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luca
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#3: Post by luca »

I definitely feel, and have been writing for quite some time, that there has generally been an across the board quality decline. There are many good reasons for this, but the result for us is the same - quality is generally down, and prices are up.

I have noticed the quality decline most in Ethiopian coffees available to me in Australia, then in Kenyan coffees. I reckon 20-30% of my coffee purchases per year used to be washed Ethiopian coffees, but I haven't bought any from Australian roasters since about 2019. Generally, the floral aromas that I used to be able to find easily have disappeared and reduced in intensity, they are now fairly likely to have vegetal flavours and almost all of them have an astringent, dry, musty, hay-like character that roasters call "baggy" or "past crop". Kenyan coffees available to me have held up fairly well by comparison; they are still delicious coffees, but are a point or two down in quality. The issue for consumers is that roasters have continued to describe these coffees in exactly the same way to consumers. It's in nobody's interests to tell the whole truth.

On the visible green grading front, yeah, I guess I've probably seen more quakers and such around. Quakers are supposedly under-ripe cherry, and you really should collect them and taste them separately. So apparently quakers should be kind of processing method agnostic. But I would say that over the last few years, I've also seen a big uptick in carbonic maceration and all sorts of other processing methods. Anaerobics/carbonic maceration in particular seem to have a wide variety in green coffee appearance (bean to bean), and if you sort the different green colours and roast them separately, they taste different. Not to generalise, but there is certainly some expensive "innovative process" coffee on the market that is full of stuff that would be called SCA green defects eg. insect damage, sours, etc.

Anyway, people can take from this what they want to. I've raised this before and there are many people that want to bury their head in the sand and assert that the cheap coffee that they have bought and been told by the vendor is very high quality, in fact is. Maybe it is, and if they're happy, good on them.
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drgary
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#4: Post by drgary »

Luca,

Why do you think the floral notes are muted or missing in washed Ethiopians. Is it because of slow shipment and other factors interfering with access to very fresh greens?
Gary
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luca
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#5: Post by luca »

Hi Gary,

I wish I knew! If I knew, I'd probably be better at tracking down these coffees!
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drgary
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#6: Post by drgary »

I guess my question is more general. Do strong florals require very fresh greens?
Gary
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rockethead26
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#7: Post by rockethead26 »

drgary wrote:Luca,

Why do you think the floral notes are muted or missing in washed Ethiopians. Is it because of slow shipment and other factors interfering with access to very fresh greens?
Could it be from overuse of the land, depleting the organics and minerals that give the coffee its taste profile?

rmongiovi
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#8: Post by rmongiovi »

Would anyone find it surprising if changing weather patterns impacted the quality of coffee?

That's always the problem with produce. One year will be better or worse than another because the growing seasons weren't the same. Isn't that just the price of dealing with mother nature?

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drgary
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#9: Post by drgary »

It could be any of these things or all of them and more. I've had rare good luck when my roasting was less capable but the greens were fresh. There's a Christopher Feran blog post that adds some explanation to this. Also, tragedies like the pandemic and war slowed the supply of fresh, premium greens from places like Ethiopia.
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flyingtoaster
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#10: Post by flyingtoaster »

Changing weather patterns? :shock:

Defects are removed manually by cheap labor. Perhaps there are better job opportunities for potential coffee laborers.