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
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/Water: 18g/2 oz (approx)
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).