February 04, 2021
So strong was the subscriber feedback from the launch of Tim Varney’s Stella Coffee label as our September 2020 feature, that we took all of two seconds to agree to a Stella sequel, welcoming Tim back for an encore performance as this month’s featured coffee roaster. Tim, a 15 plus year industry veteran, and current project director at hospitality co-working space Worksmith, started up Stella Coffee last year as a side project and labour of love to highlight some of the world’s best coffees.
In its short life, Stella Coffee continues to go from strength to strength, and for this month’s feature Tim has selected two incredible coffees - one from an “elite” region of Brazil and one - a real taste surprise - from our near neighbours to the North, Papua New Guinea. According to Tim, Stella Coffee strives to tap into a sense of pure nostalgia with its roasts, using coffee as a vehicle to transport the drinker to a moment in time, or facilitate an escape from the mundane.
“We're always looking for coffees with unique character profiles, but also coffees that really represent the flavour profile of a particular region,” says Tim. “In the case of our espresso selection, this is a classic representation of what many Brazilian coffees are known for - plenty of sweet, nutty characters, milk chocolate and dried fruit characters. We certainly have this in spades with the Cachoeira de Grama.”
And for filter lovers, “The Roots #1 on the other hand, comes from a region that has perhaps been a little under appreciated - we believe this coffee will be a new and surprising experience for many. Coffee from PNG has been in Australia for a long time, but recently a more interesting expression of their varieties and terroir have snapped into focus.”
ROOTS #1 (FILTER ROAST)
Roots #1 Farmers Association is a progressive cooperative of more than 1,500 smallholder producers from the Eastern Highlands of Papua New
Guinea. The association was started by farmer Tony Tokah in 2012 in an attempt to organise members of his community to deliver coffee more cost-effectively and share resources. Most farmers in the area don't have coffee "farms" but rather coffee "gardens," very small plots of land on which they grow the crops they need for the household as well as to sell for income. Coffee is an important cash crop in PNG, and organising into a group with their neighbours and associates has helped the farmers of
Roots #1 earn a better price for their offerings at the mill. Roots #1 also has a focus on encouraging strong female producers to participate in the coffee business. The coffee is picked ripe and depulped on the same day. It's fermented dry for about 26–36 hours, depending on the temperature, and washed after the fermentation is done. The coffee is then dried on raised beds for 3–5 days, again, depending on the weather.
Tasting Notes: Intense honied sweetness, red apple acidity, with a soft mouthfeel and subtle floral notes.
CACHOEIRA DE GRAMA (ESPRESSO ROAST)
Fazenda Cachoeira de Grama is owned by the Carvalho family and managed (along with 48 other area farms) by Stella’s export
partner Bourbon Specialty. The farm is located in Vale de Grama, which is home to some of Brazil's most "elite" coffee farms, and is an incredibly beautiful region, with rolling hills surrounding the coffee plantations.
The beans for this month’s feature come from a 411-hectare plot with about 100 hectares planted to coffee. The farm has 27 full-time and about 40 seasonal employees tending to the Catuai and Yellow Bourbon trees on site, the oldest of which dates back to 1956! The farm has an on-site school for all employees' families to use, and there are about 300 enrolled. The school is jointly funded by the Brazilian government and the farmers in the area.
Tasting Notes: Classic Brazilian. Nutty sweetness, and dried fruit character. The bean is a peaberry, so has strong, bright, concentrated flavour. Excellent malted milk character.
Varney implores coffee lovers to, “Keep things simple, please! For filter, the golden rule is 60g to 1000g of water. Lock this ratio away, and simply play with the grind to get the coffee tasting the way you like. Espresso is always going to be a trickier prospect, I'm sure you already have a routine and a brew profile that you like. My starting point is always a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water, messing around with the grind texture will ensure I'm hitting a brew time of around 30 seconds.”
Suggested Recipe (Filter): 60g per litre of water
Suggested Recipe (Espresso): 1:2 coffee to water ratio
We are sure our subscribers will love and appreciate this month’s unique feature roasts from Tim Varney and Stella Coffee as much as we have. From the team here at Thieves, have a good month until next time - and enjoy the coffee!