Aura’s New Bag Explained
Our redesigned Aura Coffee bag labels deliver a lot of information specific to the coffee inside. Here’s an overview of what it all means.
Single Origin vs. Blend
A Single Origin refers to coffee that comes from a very specific region in a country, collection of farms, or a single estate. Most of our coffees are estate coffees. Estate coffee farmers proudly endeavor to produce the highest quality coffees, and expect to receive the highest prices for their dedication. Single origins tend to be high-quality coffees with discernible flavors and aromas. Background information is available regarding the farm, soil, terroir, the farm operators, and the local people who pick and process the coffee.
Micro lots are coffees from a specific section of a farm. These usually earned and received a premium at auction.
A Blend is the combination of two or more coffees. Aura's blends are a combination of single origins that we think produce a synergy of tastes equally as interesting as our single origins alone. Our Red Sea Moka Java is an example. Aura has designed some popular breakfast blends over the years, such as Kuma! and Boker Aura. In our recurring seasonal blends we attempt to capture in coffee taste and aroma a feeling or a holiday theme (Purim Blend, Springtime Blend, Almost Heaven). Espresso d'Aura is a 100% arabica blend of five coffees that have decreased sourness, increased sweetness, and leave a long lasting pleasant aftertaste.
Species and Variety
The two most common species of coffee from the genus Coffea, are arabica and canefora and a lesser-known species, liberica. Arabica coffees are the best regarded and most sought after specialty coffees. We only offer Arabica. There are many varieties of arabica coffee: Bourbon, Catimor, Catuaí, Caturra, Geisha/Gesha, Ethiopian Heirloom, Java, Longberry, Maragogype, Pacas, Pacamara, Typica, etc. Coffee varietals will display variations in shape, size, color, density, and center cut. The farmer’s choice of coffee varietal is often dictated by tradition and farming technique. Varieties have different taste characteristics. Bourbon tends to be sweet with mild acidity, for example. Geisha/Gesha tends to have a light, tea-like body, a jasmine aroma, and a complex flavor. Pacamara is a hybrid of Pacas and Maragogipe. SL-28 is another prized hybrid that initially gained fame in Kenya in 1930. You’ll see several of these varieties in our selection of coffees.
Terroir is a familiar term in the wine industry and is utilized in coffee production as well. Terroir refers to the set of environmental factors that contribute to the coffee’s taste and character. These include, soil composition, rain and sea-breezes, shade or forest canopy, animal habitat, farming practices, etc. You’ll see the elevation (often a range of elevations) where a coffee grew listed in meters above sea level (masl). Generally speaking, the slower a coffee plant grows, the more time the sugars have to develop. This can lead to sweeter, more complex coffees. Higher altitudes are usually associated with cooler climates, and there is some correlation to higher quality. But masl is just one piece of information. Some island coffees grown at just 200 masl have a chilly local climate which creates delicious coffee.
Coffee isn’t really a bean. It’s the seed of a fruit: a berry, normally called a “cherry” for its round shape and typically (but not always) bright red appearance when ripe. To get to the seed, producers must remove the sticky fruit. Machinery, water pressure, and even fermentation may be used to do so. This is called coffee processing, and the processing method used will also affect the flavor of the coffee. Many countries have long-standing traditional methods of processing and this has led to some generalizations about the taste and body characteristics of coffees from certain regions of the world. However, many modern estate farms process their cherries using multiple methods, so it is an important piece of information that may help you select coffees that you may enjoy. Here’s a brief summary:
Wet/Washed: The cherry pulp is removed by water and then the beans are dried. This method adds very few flavors to the coffee, meaning you can really taste the seed’s natural profile.
Dry/Natural: The coffee bean is slowly dried under the sun while still in the cherry. This method offers a sweet, fruity taste. The result of this can be a delicious coffee with heavy body. It’s also an environmentally friendly option.
Honey & Pulped Natural: These coffees were dried with varying amount of the cherry still attached to the seeds. Some of our choicest tasting coffees are pulped natural.
Monsooned: This processing method is unique to coffees from India. It recreates the flavors absorbed by coffee held aboard wooden sailing ships enroute to Europe in the 1700’s. Today’s “monsooning” carefully exposes the raw coffee seeds, under controlled conditions, to a varying wet and dry environment during the rainy seasons. A very popular coffee.
Organic and other Certifications
At Aura several of our current coffee offerings have some form of certification.
Organic means producers cannot use synthetic substances such as most pesticides, herbicides. Fertilizers must be 100% organic, and processing must not involve any chemical. Interestingly, many coffees in smaller remote farms are still grown using all-natural traditional practices (without organic certification).
UTZ is an organization that provides training for coffee producers on sustainable farming. The UTZ program covers better agricultural practices, farm management, environment, as well as programs for improving social and living conditions for farm workers. It is designed to increase both quality and yield, and as a result, UTZ says that their farmers receive better incomes.
Rainforest Alliance coffee was grown in a climate-smart, eco-friendly way, minimizing damage to local forests and waterways. Farming practices support the growth or regeneration of local forests—and as a result, helps local wildlife to thrive.
Cup of Excellence is an award measuring the quality of the coffee beans as submitted by the producer. Many coffee producing countries have their own annual Cup of Excellence awards. These best-of-the-best coffees often fetch the highest prices at auction.