Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Coffee Review: Organic Bolivia Anjilanaka by Intelligentsia

It doesn't take much to get me to brew up some coffee at Casa Hernandez. My cousin, and fellow coffee connoisseur, Fabian just got a new bag of Intelligentsia Coffee that he wanted to bring over and brew up. Obviously, this is a no brainer for me; bring it on over!

So, thinking about it, this post could go two different ways:
1) I explain to you, in deep unnecessary detail, the visit from my cousin Fabian. This would include our family history, embarrassing stories from our childhood, and us ending our visit with a nutritious family dinner consisting of sloppy joes and curly fries.
2) I give you, in brief detail, our findings from our awesome coffee brew party.

Let's go with option 2.

Organic Bolivia Anjilanaka
Roaster: Intelligentsia Coffee
Region/Farm: Caranavi, Las Yungas
Processing: Wet Processed
Varietal: Typica, caturra, catuaí

We decided to prepare this coffee two different ways so we could determine which method we thought would be most tasty for our home brewing. Here were our findings:

Method: V-60 Pour Over
Grind: Course-Medium
Grind/Water: 26g/410g
Pour Method: 60 (agitate/bloom)-140-220-300-380 (agitate)-410
Initial Water Temp: 200 F
End Water Temp: 152 F
Extraction Yield: 19.23%
TDS: ???? (because I messed up in my measurements...bahh)
Aroma: Berry, spices
Taste: Fruity, cloves, dark chocolate (especially as it cools)
Mouth feel: Slight acidity, mild.

The Verdict: This is the part where most of my friends would say, 'yeah, I have no idea what those numbers have to do with coffee, just tell me how it tasted.' Alright alright! So at first slurp, it honestly did not taste as good as I had imagined it to be. Usually that first sip, if you brewed it right, is where you get those crisp, clean, slightly acidic notes on the tip of your tongue (obviously depending on what kind of coffee you have). This had a bit of a bite to it. I wish that I would have been able to measure the TDS (total dissolved solids) because that would have given me a pretty good indication if I brewed the coffee too strong. However, one thing you always want to remember with coffee is that it is complex. There are many variables that contribute to the overall taste of the coffee. The first variable I thought of was the water temperature at the time of consumption. The serving temp I had for this coffee was 152 F, which for me is usually a bit too hot for my liking (I usually like mine in the 140-145 range). So I waited about a minute for it to cool and once I had it at about 145 F, it was pretty good. Coffee continues to develop character as it cools off, so keep that in mind when drinking your coffee. The fruitier notes definitely kicked in once it had time to cool.

So was it amazing? No, however it was still good. One thing I'm trying to stay away from is knocking specialty coffee roasters for not having shockingly amazing coffee. To me, as long as their products taste good I'll consider that a win for them.  Typically your South American coffees end up being a bit heavy ended, such as your Brazil's, your Columbia's, etc... Given that, and the fact that I'm a bigger fan of the wilder berry tasting coffees, I'd say that this coffee was good. Have I had better? Yes, but this stuff still knocks the pants off that Yuban you had at work this morning.

After less than stellar results from our pour over, we were interested to see what this coffee offered run as an espresso...

Method: Mypressi Twist Espresso
Grind: Fine
Grind/Water: 18g/2 oz (approx)
Pre-infusion: Yes
Shot Pulled: 20 sec
Initial Water Temp: 207 F
Aroma: Berry, dark chocolate
Taste: Bright apricot, brown sugar, slight limy acidity
Mouth Feel: Light yet full body, mellow
Coffee drinker by day, amazing musician by...well,  by day too. And night.

The Verdict: Smiles were all around with this coffee done as an espresso.
Fabian's first words after finishing his shot was "Dude, lets make another one!"  Crema was nice and rich in color. The sweetness given off from this coffee as an espresso was smooth and mellow, yet sugary with a hint of acidity as you finish it. We sipped that shot and gave each other imaginary high fives and 'atta boys, thinking that this coffee had redeemed itself in our graces. There was no debating between the two of us that this coffee is best served as an espresso rather than pour over. Again, it's not a bad pour over, it's just better as an espresso.

Overall, it was a nice side by side comparison between the two coffees. One coffee done two ways. Both tasted good but the espresso just tasted better. We felt that the espresso brought out the more subtle fruity notes and made them more vibrant and noticeable. It's neat how brewing coffee as an espresso does that. A friend of mine once described espresso brewing as a caricature, or exaggeration  of that particular coffee; meaning if the coffee tastes of berries, it's likely to taste really bright and vibrant as an espresso. Or if it had subtle chocolate undertones, an espresso would really bring out that chocolate to the forefront of your tasting, making it rich and dark.

If you ever get your hands on Intelligentsia's Organic Bolivia, try it different ways. I believe that the beauty in coffee is in it's complexity. There are so many factors that contribute to the coffee's overall taste, so play around with your brew methods. Don't be afraid to mess up. Record what you do, adjust your variables when somethings off, and repeat your method once you get it just right. In the words of the late Aaliyah:
"If at first you don't succeed, you can dust it off and try again, you can dust yourself off and try again, try again."
Literally. Dust off that portafilter and try again (wow, that quote worked perfectly for this coffee entry).


  1. Wow I feel honored to be on the blog hahha....should have documented the casas de lamina....or is that another day?

    1. Dude, that Casas! That mess was no joke on the spro. Definitely needs it's own entry. haha

    2. By the way, I like how that picture of you has nothing to do with coffee and is actually a pic of you eating chips and salsa. haha

  2. Hahah I know I saw that! Well that's ok, it shows the we do other stuff thn just drink coffee lol

  3. I gotta give it to you... U are quite the writer Bobby. I have never had an interest in coffee. Heck... I just got my first regular, boring coffee maker for Christmas. Which, by the way, I had no idea how to even make a simple cup of coffee. A bit embarrassing I must say lol. But somehow, after reading your blog, it has sparked an interest in me. So my question to you is what kind of coffee would you recommend to a first timer like myself? If I were to walk into one of your many spots you have raved and ranted about lol what would I order to slowly introduce me into this new world of coffee that is so foreign to me?

    1. Ahh! Love it Kris!

      So for a first timer, I would say:

      1) Pick out a light roast coffee, first and foremost. Light roasts maintain the most taste while darker roasts tend to mask the flavor with more woody/burnt tastes. Imagine cooking a steak rare (most juicy, most flavorful) versus well done (mostly that BBQ'd/woody/dry/burnt taste). Dark roast is what most of your Starbucks Coffee is (Medium to Dark roasts with an occasional light done not so well...I could go on with them but won't).

      2) GENERALLY (because there are always exceptions) your African coffee's tend to be very fruity, often tea like in taste. These would be your Rwanda's, Kenya's, Ethiopia's, etc... For a first timer, I think you'd be most impressed with an African light roast coffee. Again, I speak in generalities because there are a lot of places that are producing some ridiculous coffee that is uncharacteristic of their origin.

      So in summary:
      I would suggest you try a light roast African coffee. Try it black first, just so you can see the difference in quality coffee versus Folgers or Starbucks. Take your time when drinking it. Sip it like an expensive wine or a really good glass of Nesquick. :-) And if you want sugar or milk afterward, just put a tiny bit so that you're not masking the flavor of coffee with those additives.