No More Dirty Coffee

Please stop selling dirty coffee.
Please stop putting dirty coffee in your espresso blends.

I really don't care about the excuses.
I don't care that "it's the cleanest coffee from Yemen this year." If it's dirty - it's dirty.
I don't care about "it having unique, for a Sidamo, flavors of fermented peach and sugarcane." If it's dirty - it's dirty.
And I don't care that you think "we need a Sumatra for body in our espresso." If it's dirty.... well then it's just flat out bad.
No more excuses.

I don't want to drink your dirty coffee anymore.


tonx said...

I love it when you talk dirty Chris...

Klaus Thomsen said...

So. Well. Said!

jeremybb said...

What do you mean by "dirty"? Is this literal, or is it a flavor descriptor?

chris said...


It's becoming a hybrid descriptor in the sense that is is both a flavor descriptor and a value judgement.

The traditional flavor descriptor is defined as follows:

Sivetz defines "dirty" as - "undesirable fuzzy taste that dominates the coffee flavor background"
Aron describes "dirty" as - "literally a dirty flavor that is not earthy or must"
Lingle describes "dirty" as - "an odor taint in the coffee beans that produces a dirt-like after-taste sensation" and "results when fats in the green coffee absorb organic material from the ground during the drying process during harvesting"

At a value judgement level, dirty is rapidly becoming another way of describing a specific class of processing and handling defects that includes modly, baggy, foul, musty, caustic, fermented, medicinal, rioy, foreign, quakery, rubbery and woody.

Unknown said...

can you give any examples of dirty coffees that are commercially available? I would like to order a bag and identify the tastes you are describing.

chris said...


Coffees change all the time - so it's hard to know what you have access to right now.

If you look through some of the earlier posts here you'll probably be able to identify some coffees that were considered "dirty" by folks (check out the "State of SF coffee" series for example). I don't, however, know if any of these coffees are available anymore.

The (speciality) coffees that seem to most commonly exhibit "dirtiness" are semi-washed coffees from Indonesia (look for generic Sumatras and PNGs), naturals from the middle east (Yemen) and Africa, some of the low grown coffees from Mexico and some Indian coffees. Now.... there are coffees from these regions that are NOT dirty just as there are coffees from other regions that are seriously dirty. But this should be a start.

In general, it should be hard to find dirty coffee from good roasters. You should have to go to lesser roasters - those who are buying mostly spot market and/or commodity coffee to find these coffees.

Sadly... it's not as hard as it should be.