At Full City Pico y Placa is a delicious mix of high % cacao and sugar in the raw, incredibly viscous mouthfeel, and compact bittersweetness. A touch of lemon juice at this roast, and chocolate stout finish. Full City to Full City+. Espresso.
"Pico y Placa" is a phrase I picked up on a recent visit to Medellin, Colombia. It has to do with a law enacted in order to cut down on traffic congestion by prohibiting groups of cars and motorcycles to be on the road during peak traffic times based on the last number of their license plate ("pico" peak, and "placa" plate). I learned of this because our trip to Urrao from Medellin fell on a day where our host wasn't supposed to be driving his car, which left us rushing to get out of the city limits by 7am. Not so relaxing, but I do like the way the name rolls off the tongue! This workshop strays from the African-based ingredients of the previous few Workshop blends. OK, there is a small amount of washed Ethiopian coffee, but 2/3 of the blend is made up coffees from Colombia and Guatemala. Why? Well, we wanted this latest addition to have chocolate notes at it's core. And "chocolately" it is. Both Colombia and Guatemala ingredients are wet processed, coffees that when taken to the outer reaches of Full City promise intense bittersweetness but with balance, and impressive inky body. The Ethiopian ingredient we're using is much more muted in terms of top note complexity, and brings citrus vibrance without being distracting. It too is laden with cocoa roast tones with roast development, adding to the overall flavor matrix. We constructed this blend with espresso in mind, but City+ roasts will serve up a good cup of coffee too. For espresso try starting at Full City (my personal fave in terms of balanced sweet and bittering flavors), edging south if you need to tone down acidity.
All three ingredients used in Pico y Placa are capable of producing incredibly rich chocolate notes when roasted to Full City and beyond, each bringing their own unique set of top notes to construct a complex and bittersweet espresso blend. Roasted cacao nib smells come up from the ground coffee, which if you haven't smelled before, have a chocolatey smell for sure, and with subtle fruited accent smells too. I only roasted this blend to Full City, which produced impressive level of sweetness, and I'm sure this will make a delicious darker roasted espresso too for those who prefer 2nd crack roast development. My first espresso attempt was my longest extraction, roughly 20 grams of coffee going in and 45 grams liquid over the course of 28 seconds. Definitely nothing "thin"about it at this ratio, though not as dense as the one that followed. Flavors are a mix of high % cacao bar and sugar in the raw. The bittersweetness is well balanced, and the cup is lightly marked by a 'pop' of citrus up front. Fruited accents come through, especially in the finish, and come off like dark chocolate covered raisin. I loved the shorter shot I pulled next - 20 grams coffee in, 30 grams espresso out over 30 seconds - so viscous, and dense in terms of flavor profile and mouthfeel. A chocolatey richness dominates the shot, and up front there's a syrupy flavor of dark chocolate stout beer, giving way to to a citrus note that's equal parts tart juice and bittering peel. Layers of cocoa/chocolate notes flourish in the finish, along with subdued dark fruit accents, and compact bittersweetness leaves a lasting impression. I'm impressed by viscosity in both long and short shots with a milky weight and feel, and would make an incredible cappuccino.