Four coffees from Airship Coffee in Arkansas mysteriously showed up at my doorstep recently and it’s finally time to start getting the reviews out! I am still working on a roaster profile story because there are some blanks in the story that need to be filled, but in the meantime, let’s look at some of Airship’s Coffee, something I’ve been looking forward to since this mystery box was found!
AIRSHIP COFFEE EL SALVADOR PACAMARA NATURAL
Since I don’t know the full story behind Airship Coffee, I’ll spare you too many details that may be incorrect, but I do know the company was started by Mark Bray and it’s located in Bentonville, Arkansas in the northwest part of the state, about five hours or so from World Domination Headquarters here in Kansas City! I first heard of Airship from some tastings they were doing at About the Coffee here in KC and I was under the impression that Airship was an importer, so I was surprised to find these four roatsed coffees arrive. I also know Mama Carmen’s in nearby Fayetteville, Arkansas, are associated with Mark somehow and share space with Airship. So, I’m waiting on word from northwest AR before I tell the rest of the story, but the bottom line is that Mark knows coffee and we’re all going to benefit from that! With Mama Carmen’s, perennial favorite Onyx Coffee Lab and now Airship all roasting in that part of the state (not to mention Mylo Coffee Co. in Little Rock), Arkansas’s coffee roasting scene is exciting as hell, to put it mildly!
So, let’s see this coffee… I’m starting out with a Pacamara natural from El Salvador. This is a traditional sun-dried natural coffee grown by Mario Valiente, Sr. in Calera, El Salvador, which sits at around 1700masl. Pacamara coffee is the famed hybrid of Pacas and Maragogype varietals that was first grown in El Salvador around 1958. So, the Salvadorans should know Pacamara! These are some of my favorite beans to look at just because so they are so HUGE! They dwarf even the largest Kenya AA beans and they just make me smile every time I pour some out of a bag. The fragrance of the beans in this bag is amazing… full of red fruit and a hint of ferment.
Airship Coffee recommends brewing this coffee with a medium grind on a Kalita pourover or a Bonavita drip brewer. I used my usual notNeutral pourover (same three-hole flat bottom as a Kalita) with Kalita 185 filters. I use a 1:16 ratio (28g coffee, 450g water) and it takes about 3:30-3:45 for the total brew to happen. Airship’s tasting notes sound awesome: “jasmine floral, crisp green apple, clove spice, cinnamon, vanilla cream, brown sugar, red raspberry, cabernet, pineapple, mango, toffee, dark cherry. The acidity is brilliant and juicy. The body is ultra-creamy with a lingering vanilla creme aftertaste.” Wow!
Aromas coming off the cup were typical of a Mesoamerican natural, for me… a bit of berry/red fruit and a hint of ferment, just like from the dry fragrance of the beans. The sip yields a complex flavor profile, to say the least. I’m hit with green apple acidity up front, raspberry sweet-tart flavors and an interesting savory component that carries on throughout the cup. There is a healthy ferment to this cup, which some people feel like is a “defect” but I disagree with. Sure, maybe in a washed coffee it’d be weird, but part of the magic of natural coffees is that they will pick up some degree of ferment flavor from the sun drying and I absolutely love it. I like it when it’s subtle and I like it when it’s insane and turned up to 11, as with the Pacamara Funky Natural (use the search bar to read more) I had a few months ago from Japan! It’s hard to describe what I taste as “ferment,” but it’s a slightly sour (also in a good way) funkiness but not like earthy funk… like I said, it’s tough, but it’s delicious and it adds beautiful character and complexity to natural coffees, in my opinion.
Anyway, moving along, toward the end of the sip I get a nice pineapple note, both sweet and a bit tart and there is a milky note to the finish, which is just on the dry side of neutral. I knew I was going to love this coffee when I opened the bag and got a good smell of it, and the cup didn’t disappoint! I can’t wait to bring you the other three offerings from my pals at Airship Coffee and stay tuned for a full roaster profile, too! Amazing job from these guys!