View:  Image / List
Tags Selected:
  • Costa Rica Helsar -Magdalena Vega

    $6.50 / Lb. (or less)
    Archetypal "Costa Rica" coffee character in terms of balance. Nut to chocolate tones, caramelized sugar, apple, and walnut. Dark cocoa and mulling spice with developed roasts. City+ to Full City.

    This lot is from a rather small farm owned by Magdalena Vega. She delivers all the coffee fruit to the nearby Santa Lucia farm where it is processed at the Helsar de Zarcero micromill. The vast majority of her finca is planted in Caturra cultivar, though there is Catuai variety also mixed in. (In truth, farms are rarely planted exclusively in one variety of coffee). Magdalena inherited the farm from a larger plot shared between her seven brothers. It measures at less than 5 hectares and tops out near 1700 meters, producing about 10k lbs. a year of exportable green coffee. We have had a buying relationship with Helsar de Zarcero mill, and the owning partner/manager Ricardo Perez, for close to 10 years now. Each year we see quality refinements to their process, with new drying beds, warehouse space and dry mill equipment being added in the past season. And we see a consistent quality in that comes from their processing methods, a clean-tasting, classic Costa Rica character with both brightness and balance.

    The fragrance of Magdalena Vega's coffee is a bit subdued coming out of the grinder: a muted presence of dry spice, raw sugar, and barley tea. Hot water expands the aromatic profile with a smell of oatmeal cookie and raisin billowing in the steam, along with a faint smell of roasted nut. The brewed coffee has flavors of what I think to be archetypal "Costa Rica" coffee character in balance, nut-to-chocolate roast tastes, and restrained sweetness of caramelized sugars. City+ roasts proffer an apple flavor, both flesh and skin (the slight bittering aspect), a walnut note, and an underlying unrefined sugar sweetness. There's an acidic impression like fresh apple too, malic in nature, adding a pleasant brightness to the cup. Full City roast flavors of dark cocoa and mulling spice come up, fading into a black tea flavor in the finish. It's a great drinking coffee, restrained and not too showy, with cleanliness you expect from the origin.

  • Costa Rica Helsar Cascara Coffee Fruit Tea

    $5.75 / Lb. (or less)
    It's tea, made from coffee, and you can eat it! Yes, these dehydrated coffee cherries are crispy, tart and sweet. No roasting necessary, just steep a fruited tea, or use as a snack in place of dried fruit. Flavors of hibiscus, tamarind, passion fruit, apple, raisin. With or without sweetener, this one's great. 3 oz per bag

    Coffee, or tea, or both? When you wet-process coffee, the skin is difficult to save, and usually becomes part of the compost mix for the farm. But in Arabia and Africa, the skin of the cherry is used to make a very potent tea called Qishr (also spelled Kisher). In fact, making a tea from the dried coffee fruit pre-dates roasting the coffee seed to crush and steep in water, coffee as we know it. And even today, the price of Qishr is higher than the price of coffee in an Arabic market. Cascara is the name used in Central America for these fruit skins, and a perfect name for the tea made from them as well. If you like fruit-blend herbal teas, especially those with fruited flavors like hibiscus, rose-hips, tamarind, orange peel, mango, apple, you should like Cascara tea a lot. It makes amazing iced tea as well, and with a very moderate amount of honey can be very pleasant. The best way to make Cascara tea is in a French Press, or you can use any method you would use for preparing herbal tea. Brewing like filtered coffee does not work well as it benefits from a long steep time (5 - 8 minutes), and you can make it a bit strong, then add water (or pour over ice) to taste. Traditionally, Qishr has additions of cardamom pods and sugar while brewing, and that is another interesting preparation with Cascara as well. Does it have caffeine? Yes, since all parts of the coffee plant do ...but we don't know how much, and it will certainly depend on steep time and the amount used to make each cup. What's interesting about this cascara, is that it is dehydrated - part of a joint effort on the part of the folks at the Helsar micro-mill in Costa Rica, and a research team at the University of Costa Rica. They found that cascara has 50% more antioxidants than cranberries, and are using dehydration for drying the cherry to near 0 moisture, making for a crisp and very edible product. Yes, edible! In addition to tea, try using it in place of dried fruit on cereal, yogurt, or even on it's own. Expect to see the occasional stem too, easily spotted and removed. And while the final produce is not certified organic, they are only using coffee cherry from Helsar's three organic farms.

    Cascara has a raisin-prune smell, clean and clearly fruited. It shares many light, and tart smells and flavors with dried hibiscus, the flower used to make jamaica tea in Mexico. As soon as you add water you smell tamarind, accompanied by delicate floral to herbal smells. As mentioned, the flavors of many dried fruits come out in this tea: hibiscus, tamarind, raisin, dried apple, dried passion fruit, and mango. The cascara/qishr we've had in the past benefited from a touch of sweetener, but this one is quite sweet on it's own. We steeped 10 grams in 350 ml of water for about 8 minutes and the brew had a simple syrup quality, very sweet, but free and clear of the unrefined aspects of raw sugar. It has bigger body than most herbal and black teas, on it's way to apple juice in weight. Fool around with steep times, ratios, and additives to find the combination that works best for your taste. As the cup cools in temperature, the silkiness and weight of the liquor becomes more and more apparent, as do sweet to tart fruited flavors like apple, yellow cherry, and ripe cranberry. Possibilities for the use of Cascara tea seem endless; cooking, sauces, baking, beer brewing. It's a tea...but it's coffee...and now also a snack? A unique coffee product, to say the least.

  • Costa Rica Helsar Santa Lucia

    $6.40 / Lb. (or less)
    Santa Lucia makes a lovely cup at City+, honey and toffee sweetness counteract a bittersweet core, top note accents include dried peach, dried whole banana, and coconut chips. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.

    This is a separated lot from Santa Lucia farm, one of the three farms surrounding the Helsar micro mill in Costa Rica's West Valley area. The mill and farm are run by Ricardo Perez, who along with his two brothers, each manage a farm and operations at Helsar. The Helsar mill was one of the first in the region to break up lots by individual producer instead of bulking coffees together. Not only do they process the coffee from their farms, but they also process the coffees of a few dozen neighbors (coffees we also tend to buy annually - Miguel Rojas, Magdalena Vega, Asdrubal Chavez, and others). The coffee quality is due in part to the excellent processing methods at this mill. Each year they make improvements, the past few years adding new dry milling equipment, more and improved raised drying beds, warehouse space for improved storage of coffee in the resting phase (reposo). Helsar uses forced demucilage equipment to machine-wash their coffee, an efficient method with low environmental impact that has similar outcomes to traditional wet-fermentation processing. As for the farm, Santa Lucia is planted in Caturra, Catuai, and Villalobos, and they use only fully organic farm practices. This lot is a separation of only the Villalobos cultivar, which is a dwarf mutation of Typica. Santa Lucia was certified organic until last year, when the brothers decided to forego the certification due to cost and bureaucracy, though they continue to operate 100% organic.

    Cupping a City+ roast of Santa Lucia, the ground coffee brings a subtle sweetness to the table, bittering core coffee characteristics present with a layer of unrefined sugar sweetness mixed in. The coffee makes quite a transformation from this humble start, wet aromatics giving promise of a bigger coffee than the fragrance lets on to. A coconut and dark chocolate smell comes up in the steam, along with fruited accents that are still a little on the dull side, but their presence is definite. And the brewed coffee gives the final show, a sweet undercurrent of toffee and honey flavors, offsetting central bittersweetness. There's life breathed into the fruited tones sensed early on in aroma, and they take form as accents of dried peach, whole dried banana, and coconut chips. Santa Lucia has lovely apple/malic acidic impression at this roast level too, which adds definition to the flavors in the cup profile. Body is noticeably juicy too, and I think taking a shade darker (Full City) will yield dense bittersweetness and viscous mouthfeel, not to mention make a good option for Costa Rican single origin espresso. 

  • El Salvador La Esperanza Bourbon

    $5.95 / Lb. (or less)
    La Esperanza has a unique herbal side that finds harmony with layered raw sugar sweetness. Molasses sugars, basil, sweet bell pepper, licorice, and celery soda were noted in our cups. City+ to Full City.

    Finca La Esperanza is owned by the Belismelis family, and is located in Chalatenango-Alotepec, situated between the Santa Ana and Pacayita volcanos. At 210 hectares, La Esperanza is a fairly large farm, planted in Bourbon and Pacas, and with an altitude range 1000 - 1350 meters above sea level. Management of the farm has recently been put under the control of the folks who run a local dry mill, and who employ the help of agronomists who devise specific farm management plans. La Esperanza is made up of several "tablones", or sections, the demarcations set by geography and clusters of coffee trees. This particular lot is harvested from Tablon Zapote, that is in the higher part of the farm (1200 - 1350 meters), and borders El Boqueron National Park. 

    This lot from La Esperanza has an interesting herbaceus side that's heightened in the light and middle roast levels. Describing a coffee as "Herbal" can have a polarizing effect on enthusiasm, but I assure you the herbal flavors found in this coffee play off sweetness well, and work to create layered complexity. At City+ and Full City roasts the coffee has a simple syrup sweetness, and smells of sweet bell pepper. Hot water brings up a similar appeal, and the break produced a much denser brown sugar sweetness, as well as a note of cooked pumpkin. City+ and Full City roasting helps to develop this coffee's sweetness, and the flavors spans all types of raw sugars, with molasses-like pungency. Herbal-type notes that were much more pronounced when cup testing from a spoon - basil, bell pepper, licorice, celery -  find harmony when brewed using a full imersion method like French Press. No matter what your brew method is, La Esperanza's complexity is sure to show the most with a couple days of rest, as well as after letting the coffee cool down in temperature. Heat does a good job of obfuscating characteristics like sweetness and top notes, which is why we sit with the cooling cup for at least 20 minutes during the review process, tasting it over this time span, noting the shifts in cup profile throughout.

  • El Salvador Santa Ana Finca Malacara

    $6.05 / Lb. (or less)
    Malacara has a mix of brown sugar and malt syrup sweetness, graham cracker accent, and understated tea-like acidity. Full City roasts have a flavor of chocolate muffin. City+ to Full City+.

    The Malacara Estate goes back over 125 years, when the Alvarez family planted the first shrubs to populate the farm on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano. Now four generations deep, the Alvarez family continue to manage Malacara, which has expanded throughout the decades into three different plots: Malacara A, B, and C. This coffee is from plot C, which is located on the north side of the volcano at roughly 1500 meters above sea level. The farms are 90% planted with Bourbon and Typica types, and are wet milled onsite at Malacara. This is a fully washed coffee, meaning that the whole cherry is removed with a depulping machine, then the mucilage-covered seeds are fermented in order to remove the sticky layer that remains. The coffee is then dried on patios before being milled by Beneficio El Borbollón, who prepare the coffee for export by removing the layer of parchment, separating screen sizes, and sorting out physical defects. A comfortable coffee to roast, Malacara takes on a uniform color as you move through the stages of roast, and is therefore fairly easy to judge roast level by the changes in physical color. 

    The dry fragrance has an oat and malt sugar smell, subtle nut accents, which together have a sweet cereal appeal. The wet aroma has a similar malty smell to it, and also honey sweetness, and a pistachio scent comes up in the steam when breaking through the crust. The sweet smells leading up to the cup offer a fairly accurate representation of the cup that follows. City+ is a great starting point roast-wise, a sweetness defined by notes of brown sugar, malt syrup, and a honey graham accent as the coffee cools. Malacara has an understated tea-like perceived acidity, which affords a layer of clarity in a coffee that might otherwise be fairly two dimensional. Full City roasts are chocolatey, and with a sweet wheat flavor bears a likeness to a chocolate muffin, and bittersweet chocolate roast tones last in the aftertaste.

  • Guatemala Acatenango Gesha Lot #209

    $18.10 / Lb. (or less)
    Lot #209 has "fresh" aromatics, jasmine and gardenia florals, pearl and Assam tea, clean sugar sweetness, lemon water, mandarin orange, bubble gum, and peach hard candy. City to Full City (tops).

    Lot #209 is the first of a series of individual Gesha lots we purchased from a coffee estate in the Acatenango region. We buy this Gesha every year, and this year we decided to offer seperated lots instead of blending into one final coffee. We found that all of the coffee lots share similar cup characteristics. Afterall, they are the same cultivar pulled from the the same farm. But flavor profiles did vary slightly, as did our scores, and so we think it's only fair to offer them as unique offerings to highlight their differences, and to keep things fresh. If you don't know the story of the Gesha cultivar, it is an old coffee type from Ethiopia that was brought to an experimental coffee garden in Costa Rica years ago as a specimen sample. It was distributed to a few farms for testing on small plots, but not much was thought of it until one of these, Esmeralda in Panama, separated it from the other cultivars and entered it in the national competition. It was so outrageously different, with fruited and floral character like a Yirga Cheffe coffee from half a world away. Now that the word is out, other farms that received some of the seed have tried to separate their Gesha coffee as well, as is the case here. The results are always a bit different: the cultivar "expresses" itself differently in terms of cup flavors at each location, influenced by weather, soil, altitude and the like. And with this coffee from the region of Acatenango, we have a Gesha cup that expresses much of that floral intensity that's become synonymous with the "Gesha" name. Harvest was quite productive this year again as the owner of the farm has dedicated even more of his farm to this varietal, which after putting it to the cup test we've decided is a very good thing.

    Floral sweetness is part of what's unique about the Gesha cultivar - perfume-like, sweet, complex, and 'fresh' - a set of aromatics we've come to associate with Spring and Summer, the time when this Gesha arrives. The dry fragrance of lot 1 is a bit more subdued than what we expect from this coffee. Jasmine notes do accent raw sugar sweetness, but I wouldn't say it "bowled us over" as it has in the past. (That said, put it next to another coffee from the region and I think we'd all say otherwise!). The wet aromatics, however, are where fresh florals and clean sugary sweet smells reach their apex, a perfumed gardenia-like scent, and cooked stone fruit, pectin sweetness underneath. Jasmine and rose water florals are apparent at a fairly wide roast range, however I would caution against taking anywhere near Full City+ as the roast tones will dominate much of the top note complexity. We do get customer feedback from time to time asking what all the fuss is about with Gesha, and I would say 9 times out of 10, they roast the coffee too dark to find out. I love drinking light and even closer to middle roasts of this coffee (City to City+), where citrus flavors of lemon water and mandarin orange highlight the cup, and vibrant acidity threads together the complex accent notes that hang way out in the aroma: lemon and limade, pearl jasmine and sencha teas, bubble gum, and peach hard candy. This Gesha has surprisingly juicy body when taken into City+, which sets it apart from many other Geshas we've tasted, a weight that supports the intense cup characteristics and sweetness. The finish is filled out with notes of cardamom spice and even a light dusting of cocoa powder in roasts beyond City+. Full City roasts are enjoyable, but I personally wouldn't compromise this complex cup character with darker roasting. As usual, these Gesha beans iare dense and large, and I found that the coffee benefited from a handful of seconds beyond the completion of 1st crack, ensuring roast evenness.

  • Guatemala San Diego Buena Vista SWP Decaf

    $7.05 / Lb. (or less)
    This decaf'd version of San Diego Buena Vista has a sweetness like brown sugar, with a barley malt syrup and grainy chocolate flavor that in conjunction taste like chocolate stout. Big body, and loads of bittersweetness. City to Full City+. Good decaf espresso.

    San Diego Buena Vista ("SDBV") has consistently provided us with top quality Acatenango coffee, a sizable all-bourbon separation from their farm on the slopes of the volcano. They continue to plan new bourbon plants from their nursery each year, and this season's harvest topped 200 bags, which allowed us to send a small chunk for decaffeination at the Swiss Water Decaffeination plant in Vancouver, Canada. We've worked with Swiss to process good tasting regular coffees into good tasting decafs for several years now, and are once again awed by the similarly flavored cup between this decaf and non-decaf pair. Sweetness is central to the SDBV bourbon cup, and remains an integral part of this coffee's profile post-decaffeination. This isn't a decaf you'll need to roast dark in order to obfuscate pasty and savory flavors. SDBV shows well at light roasts as well as dark roasting, and is as versatile in brew method as it is roast level. I roasted a few batches on a small home machine and had no problems hearing first cracks too, which can be a little trick with decaffeinated coffee, and can lead to over roasting. You can expect to see some bean fracturing and broken beans, which comes with the territory of any added decaffeination process, but does not affect the cup. If you're a Behmor user,  consider giving your roast grid drum a shake before loading in the machine to let any small bean fragments to fall away outside the roaster. 

    This decaf version of San Diego Buena Vista ("SDBV") shows classic balance of a washed Guatemalan coffee. A mild cup all around, with the robust sweetness inherent to this coffee, SDBV brews well at a wide range of roasts, and is a great option for decaf espresso too (or a sweet base for espresso blending). The dry fragrance at City roast level has a smell of brown sugar on toast, a touch of rye malt in the background. City+/Full City roasts have a dark bittersweetness in the wet aroma, like burned sugar and Dutch cocoa powder. I was really taken aback by the level of sweetness in the cup, especially considering I tasted next to a non-decaf Huehuetenango coffee. Acidity is muted in comparison, a common affect post-decaffeination, but not lost altogether. And the sweetness is like brown sugar, barley malt syrup, and with a grainy chocolate flavor that reminds me of chocolate stout. Full City has impressive body, still loads of bittersweetness, and a hint of cinnamon powder in the finish. Espresso shots show long and layered chocolate bittersweetness and viscous mouthfeel, and you'd be hard pressed to guess this is decaf at all.

  • Guatemala Xinabajul Familia Castillo

    $6.85 / Lb. (or less)
    Nougat and unrefined sugars come through at City+, with toffee covered nut, a pistachio note, and black tea brightness. Sweetness will hold up to bittering chocolate roast tones of Full City and FC+. City+ to Full City+.

    Each year we find new folks in Huehuetenango to buy coffee from, and sometimes we're lucky enough to find a whole family of coffee producers. The Castillos are such a family, and this lot is made up by Edwin, Arcenio, and Cornelio in the Hoja Blanca area of Cuilco - neighbors, family members, "Familia Castillo" (that's Edwin, and Arcenio along with other brother Felino in the first picture). Hoja Blanca is rife with coffee farmers, like many of these highland regions, and it's an area we've been buying coffee from now for some time, with Finca Regalito/Famila Villatoro being one of our longest interests. These farms are situated right around 1700 meters, and Caturra and Bourbon make up the lion's share of varietals, but some Typica trees are also in the mix at a much lower volume. Processing is handled onsite, the coffee is patio dried, and then trucked down to a dry-mill in Antigua. This is year 2 for our Proyecto Xinabajul, and we're pleased to offer these newest members.

    This coffee boasts raw sugar sweetness in middle roasting, and a pleasant nuttiness that make for a great daily cup. The dry fragrance has a date sugar smell to it, and accented by roasted almond, and brown sugar. The wetted crust has a saturated brown sugar sweetness and cinnamon accent, that has a pastry smell like coffee cake. I really enjoyed both of my roasts of Familia Castillo which were roughly City+ and Full City, both showing convincing levels of sweetness, nougat, unrefined sugars, and more. They both also had a roasted nut quality that along with the sweetness came off like caramel or toffee covered nut. Letting a City+ brew cool a bit, a sweet hazelnut flavor comes through, along with candy-coated pistachio in the finish, and black tea brightness highlighting the cup. Full City roasts are chocolatey indeed, and I'd bet the sweetness holds up at Full City+ too, balancing out the increasingly bittering roast tones that come with it.

  • Guatemala Xinabajul Pequeños Granjeros

    $6.85 / Lb. (or less)
    This Xinabajul coffee has the building blocks for a balanced brew, bittersweet up front, moving into sweeter chocolate notes like tootsie roll, chocolate taffy, and impressive underlying sweetness. A subtle green apple-like impression lends a mouthcleansing effect in the finish. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.

    Xinabajul is the name of the original Huehuetenango town, and this coffee comes from small-holder farmers in the greater department of Huehue. The small coffee producers in this area had few options when selling their coffee locally; they could take it to the large mills down at lower elevations and get paid the going rate, or they could sell it to "coyotes" who drive the dirt roads in their trucks paying cash for coffee. Neither offered any extra price for quality, even though the coffees were grown higher and tended with greater care than the big farms down at lower elevations. For the last 7+ years, we've partnered with local coffee people to offer higher prices if the farmers could meet our quality expectations in the cup, and this lot is testament to that success. Given that the localities where we are buying coffee are little more than extended family groups, we have found if we involve a brother or sister, they will tell all their coffee-farming kin and soon we have a network of farmers interested in our project. We wrote an in-depth and detailed description of the project as well.

    City+ roasts have a toffee nut sweetness in the dry grounds, like almond brittle candy. Full City adds a bittersweet smell that together comes off like cacao bar with candied almond bits. Adding hot water heavily boosts the cacao bittersweetness, especially at Full City, but really in both of our roasts (City+ and Full City). Breaking through the crust releases layers of chocolatey smells, roasted cacao nib, baking cocoa, Hershey's bar, and earth-toned carob. I'm hit with a bittersweet cacao flavor up front when the coffee's hot, that settles into sweeter chocolate flavors as the cup cools down a bit, like tootsie roll, and chocolate taffy. The volume of sweetness comes up as the coffee cools too, balancing out the cocoa roast tones in Full City roasts, the building blocks of a balanced brew. In terms of acidity, there's a subtle green apple-like impression that lends a mouthcleansing effect in the finish. With impressive levels of sweetness and bittering roast tones, Pequeños Granjeros proves to be balanced at a wide roast range, as light as City+ and all the way into the beginnings of 2nd snaps. More than worthy of trying as single origin (SO) espresso too, as well as a bittersweet base to an espresso blend. Try starting with a 2-bean blend of 2/3 Guatemala to 1/3 wet processed Ethiopian and adjust to taste.

  • Guatemala Xinabajul San Pedro Necta

    $6.35 / Lb. (or less)
    Toasted muscovado sugar and roasted almond take the lead, with vanilla and cinnamon powder accenting the finish. Soft acidity like Red Delicious apple. Chocolate undertones flourishes at Full City. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.

    San Pedro Necta is one of several small towns perched on the spine of a mountain in Huehuetenango. The area has produced some really nice coffees, but the opportunity finds its way to large farms who can market their coffee and enter competitions rarely spreads to their small-scale neighbors of this area and their neighbors. It's been 7+ years since we partnered with locals to try to reward these small farmers with better prices than they had ever seen, if they could grow and process coffee that meets our ideas of quality. In the past the only options to local farmers was to sell the "coyotes" who drive around offering cash for coffee, or to sell the bigger farms and mills in the zone. But neither rewarded the farmer with a better price for quality coffee. With our "Proyecto Xinabajul" we're working to change that, and have grown from importing a single container ship full of coffee in our first year, to nearly 5 this past season. 

    The dry fragrance of San Pedro Necta has nice sweet smelling dry fragrance, allusions to ginger snap cookies at City roast level with a mix of dark sugar and subtle spice notes, and Full City roasts shift to strong bittersweetness that is accompanied by wafts of raisin and cola. There's a nice range of smells here, and adding hot water ushers in more roasted nut type smells in the light roast, whereas bittersweetness remains resolute at Full City, and breaking through the crust gives off an incredible smell of dark chocolate with dried fruit accents. As a cup, my City+ roast San Pedro Necta showcased flavors of toasted muscovado sugar and roasted almond, vanilla and cinnamon powder accents in the finish. Acidity is on the 'slight' side, but still offers a soft structure ala Red Delicious apples. There's a chocolate undertone too that flourishes when you reach Full City roast level. A nice, rich flavor of fine Dutch drinking cocoa comes through in darker roasts and hangs on long after the final sip. This is a great drinking coffee, and one that fits the daily drinker roster - sweet, balanced, bodied, and without any 'over the top', top notes. San Pedro Necta also makes a great dual-use coffee with SO espresso shots displaying rich chocolate tones and inky mouthfeel in the Full City roast range.

  • Guatemala Xinabajul Santa Barbara

    $6.85 / Lb. (or less)
    City+ roasts are front-loaded with brown sugar sweetness, apple-like brightness, and aroma of five spice.. Apple and a faint orange oil note as the cup cools, with dense caramel sweetness, and a fading baker's cocoa finish. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.

    This Guatemala coffee comes from small producers in the Santa Barbara municipality of Huehuetenango, an area with high altitude farms starting at 1500 meters and reaching 2000 in some areas. The farms where this coffee was sourced sit right around 1700 meters and are planted mostly in Caturra. This is an area of small holders, not estates like you'd see in the lowlands. The topography wouldn't allow for sprawling farms as the hillside is jutting, and where instead small hamlets are situated in the lands carved out in the surrounding hillside that is sprinkled with countless tiny farms at a couple hectares each. Pulping and fermentation of the coffee is handled locally, and the coffee is, for the most part, patio-dried. Dry-milling happens at a mill in Huehuetenango town (this is the first year) where they are equipped with state of the art equipment, and with the infrastructure to properly handle small lots of coffee. "Xinabajul" is the name of the project/partnership we have with local coffee people to offer higher prices to farmers that meet our quality expectations in the cup. Given that the localities where we are buying coffee are little more than extended family groups, we have found if we involve a brother or sister, they will tell all their coffee-farming kin and soon we have a network of farmers interested in our project. We wrote an in-depth and detailed description of the project as well.

    This small producer blend has a profile of candied sugar and soft spice notes, with heavy cacao/chocolate bittersweetness as you pass the middle roast range. Grinding this coffee produces a sweet toffee smell, along with understated clove and roasted nut accents. At City+ roast level, adding hot water brings up a complex, sweetened cocoa smell, like a dark chocolate hot cocoa, marked by raw sugar and cinnamon stick. Brewing my City+ roast produces a cup that's front-loaded brown sugar sweetness, and an apple-like brightness is apparent. A smell of five spice marks the aroma of these middle roast levels, adding a layer of complexity to the dark sugar and nut attributes dominating the cooling cup, leaving an impression of spiced pecan shortbread cookies. Apple and a faint orange oil note are sensed as the cup cools, but more or less are obfuscated by dense caramel sweetness, and a fading baker's cocoa flavor in the finish. We roasted one batch to just north of Full City+ right before 2nd snap territory, and were rewarded with a chocolatey espresso option or brewed coffee, underlying flavor of dark chocolate pudding, muted fruit accents, and powdery cocoa in the finish.

  • Guatemala Xinabajul Señor Aler

    $6.80 / Lb. (or less)
    Aler's coffee has a sturdy core of sweet and bittering tones at Full City roast, which will lend itself to milk drinks. A wonderful honey accent comes out in the cooling cup, accenting cocoa roast notes, and developing a flavor aspect of honey-infused dark chocolate truffles. Crowd pleasing brew, and fantastic chocolatey espresso. Full City to Full City+. Good for espresso.

    This coffee is made up of several small lots of coffee from the Villatoro family, a group we buy coffee from in the Huehuetenango highlands. A good portion of this lot came from Aler, whose coffee we recently sold on it's own as "Peña Blanca -Señor Aler". He has two farms in Peña Blanca, La Libertad, both sitting around 1700 meters, and working their way up toward 1850 meters above sea level. This coffee comes to us through a joint-effort of a local micro-mill owner who is able to process and separate the micro-lots we approve, and a highly sophisticated dry-mill who handle the finishing touches and export the coffees for us. It's also part of our "Proyecto Xinabajul" small holder project in the region, which you can read more about HERE.

    The dry fragrance of this lot from Aler Villatoro has a resinous sweetness at Full City, blackstrap molasses and palm sugar accents, along with roasted nut accents. A subtle vanilla scent comes up in the steam off the wetted grounds, and sugar browning sweetness is bolstered, and along with nutty tones, culminates in a candied pecan smell. The cup of Full City roasts shows developed sugar sweetness paired with a bittersweet flavor of high % cacao bar when hot. Body is incredibly dense, a characteristic that is easily improved upon with more roast development. I found this coffee to have a sturdy core of sweet and bittering tones, which will lend itself to milk drinks. A wonderful honey accent comes out in the cooling cup, accenting cocoa roast notes, developing a flavor aspect of honey-infused dark chocolate truffles. Brewing a pour-over at this roast level yielded balance of unrefined sugar and sharp bittering cocoa flavors, a crowd pleasing and inviting cup.. And as espresso, this one's a home run. Our Full City roast excelled: silky mouthfeel, high % cacao bar, and, pine/green herbal accents in the finish.

  • Honduras Lesquinas Don Romero

    $5.85 / Lb. (or less)
    I was taken a back by the level of bittersweetness at Full City+ roast level. Unsweetened cocoa, and raw cacao nibs pair well with burned sugar sweetness. A rustic side comes through as Cavendish tobacco, and cedar chips, and, I would venture this will appeal to folks who enjoy Sumatran coffees. Full City to Full City+. Good for espresso.

    The farm of Don Romero is located in the Lesquinas area, not far outside Corquin. Altitude varies, and the highest parts seemed to be right around 1550 meters above sea level. This area is home to a lot of larger farms, several of which are now abandoned due to rust outbreak some time back. This farm as well as his other that we buy "Lesquiñada" saw their own rust attack a few years back, prompting them to chop down the entire farm and replant in resistant varieties. Can't say I blame them. 32 hectares in total, the farm is now planted in a mix of Parainema, and Icatu. The plants are young, going on 3 years, and this is the first year of real production. Honestly, our hopes weren't high that the coffee would be good, so we were pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be one of the stand out coffees during selection. The coffee is mechanically washed using large mechanical demucilage machines. These use much less water than regular depulpers, and Romero soaks the demuliaged coffee in fresh water in order to help clean off some fruit that remains post processing. All of the water he uses to process his coffee is subjected to a multi tank filtration system, the final product being recycled to water crops.

    The dry fragrance of Mr. Romero's coffee has a butter toffee nut smell, sweet and with a roast smell that gives that nutty impression, and with hints of aromatic wood. I took one roast to the very start of 2nd snaps (my thermocouple reading was 438f, and I had 2nd snaps occur in the cooling tray only), and was taken a back by how pleasant the bittersweetness was in the cup. The aroma had a high level of bittering cocoa roast tone, smells of unsweetened cocoa, and raw cacao nibs, but along with equally weighted burned sugar sweetness, that carried over well into the cup too. Body is immense in the Full City/Full City+ roast range, as are rustic cocoa flavors, and notes of Cavendish tobacco, and cedar chips accent the middle and finish. This isn't a particularly 'bright' cup, and is much more about focused bittersweetness and body, and with the rustic tones outlined, I would venture this will appeal to folks who enjoy Sumatran coffees. Even though it's from another side of the world, it shares similar rustic, bittersweet traits that are a big part of wet hulled Indonesian coffees. Our Full City roast had a flavor of high % cacao bar with dark fruit undertones. Full City and beyond roasts are sure to work wonders as single origin espresso.