After really, really enjoying Black Coffee Roasting Co’s Sulawesi Rantekarua, I’m back with another coffee from this Missoula, Montana shop. This time it’s their seasonal blend, Topo, which contains both Colombian and Ethiopian coffees in this iteration. All the links are below and let’s drink some coffee!
The Little Montana Guide for Coffee Lovers (stumbled on this link and it’s great! Had to share!)
BLACK COFFEE ROASTING CO. TOPO
Missoula is lukcy to have Black Coffee Roasting Co. focusing on all organic coffees from around the world, located in a sweet Quonset building and judging by Yelp and Google reviews, doing great service, it’s a cool business in a cool town full of cool people! I posted several articles above so you can learn more about BCRC and their mission. This morning I’m sharing Black Coffee Roasting Co’s Topo with you. Topo is an organic (of course!) blend that changes with the seasons. I don’t know anything about Topo’s individual components, so I’ll focus on what I’m tasting instead… And, because I had some extra time this morning before heading into work, I ran it through the espresso machine as a bonus, so we’ll see my espresso impressions of Topo at the bottom of the page!
This iteration of Topo is a two-component blend consisting of a Colombian and an Ethiopian coffee. I’m not sure what the percentages are, where the individual coffees are from, etc. BCRC says, “This years Topo is an incredibly lively and unique coffee from Ethiopia and Colombia. It is full bodied without being heavy.” They go on to say, “It is structured but less like the Eiffel Tower, more like the Sagrada Familia. Think high mountain meadow. Vibrant. Wild. Windy.” They offer specific tasting notes of, “Nougat, pineapple and ginger.”
I used my standard pourover setup of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder set to 3 and I am using Third Wave Water, as always. It’s a safe guess to assume the Colombian coffee in Topo is washed, but the Ethiopian could go either way. Especially in espresso blends, it’s common to see a natural Ethiopian show up to give some sweetness and fruitiness to the flavors. That being said, I don’t get anything natural-tasting in this Topo. No berries, no ferment notes, nothing like that, so I’m guessing the Ethiopian component of the blend is also a washed coffee. I just ran to the kitchen and did a quick visual inspection of the beans. It’s hard to say exactly which beans are Colombian and which ones are Ethiopian, although since Ethiopian coffees are almost always a mix of many farms’ coffees and many heirloom varieties, the peaberries (round beans that come from coffee cherries that only have one seed instead of two inside) are definitely Ethiopian. In any case, all of the beans have a wrinkly sort of texture to them, indicating they’re washed, while naturals have a smooth surface. So, my eyes and my palate are in agreement!
This coffee does have nice body and mouthfeel, which leans toward “creamy” or “milky” for me. Although these coffees are roasted light to medium, there is a healthy amount of caramelization in the sugars and a warm, toasty/roasty component without exactly having roasty flavor notes themselves. I hope I’m making sense! The initial sip is sweet, warm, inviting, and then the acidity and brighter components come in around midway and into the second half of the sip. Pineapple is here for sure and with all that sugar caramelization in the roast, it’s impossible not to think of pineapple slices grilled over charcoal during a barbecue. This tropical pineapple note carries long into the aftertaste, too. I’m getting a little nuttiness in this cup and also hints of lemon candy acidity, probably from the Ethiopian component, although a more tropical, roasted pineapple note is certainly providing more top-end brightness than the hints of lemon I’m getting. In the aftertaste, which sticks around forever, there is sweetness and a sugary feeling sitting way back on my tongue, almost into my throat, and other tropical notes, especially mango, which I’ve been eating quite a lot of lately (who can pass up on a 60 cent mango??). There are some spicy notes in the aftertaste, too, like baked sweets with warming spices… nutmeg, ginger, pie spices, that sort of stuff. Nothing specific, to my palate, or overt, like a spiced or flavored coffee, but just some added complexity in the cup that translates nicely with all the other flavors.
Topo is awesome! As a pourover, this coffee is exactly what a crowd-pleasing blend should be. Its flavors are warm and inviting and easy to enjoy. It’s sweet and clean. Sweet enough that even a little more would be on the cloying side of things, but it gets right up to that edge. The tropical fruitiness balances that sweetness out perfectly but also complements it perfectly, too. It brightens the cup but the caramel, sugary sweetness and those tropical fruit notes work exactly right with one another. Super coffee! I’m digging these two-component blends this summer. I was wowed last month by Blueprint’s Tektōn V7 and BCRC’s Topo is completely different, but just as tasty in every way. I took a second run at this coffee almost a month off-roast and it was every bit as good. Maybe a little mellower, but this is a coffee that has nice shelf life and I enjoyed it just as much as I typed my tasting notes up in this story. And with a late start at work this morning, you know what that means…
After a few calibration shots I actually settled on a fast extraction for this coffee. Now, it’s not “sold” as an espresso blend, mind you, but I always want to know, “Will it espresso?” LOL I ended up really enjoying the flavors I got with a 20.0g dose in the portafilter and a 46g shot that extracted in a way-too-fast-to-be-good 23 seconds and it tastes great! MInd you, this is also 28-day old coffee I’m playing with at this point, but still. Nice body, a thick, nice-looking crema, and the flavors are very tropical and bright but there’s still a lot of sweetness in there. The tartness I’d associate with just-ripe pineapple is in here along with more mango. There are some single-origin chocolate bar notes in there, too, and really it’s a NICE third-wave style shot. Once the cup cooled I was picking up a little saltiness so a longer brew time is necessary, but minus that, these parameters really work for this coffee. It’s very “Colombian” in the flavors.