Bold Bean Coffee Roasters out of Jacksonville, Florida, has been one of my all-time favorite roasters for a long time now. Their coffees are exceptional every single time and they’re so consistently good at sourcing and roasting that they really set the bar high. I love them and I’m not afraid to say it! LOL They surprised me with a package of three coffees a few weeks ago and I’m finally getting space in my queue to post the reviews, starting with today’s black honey process coffee out of Costa Rica (and, I love Las Lajas coffees as much as I love my friends at Bold Bean!). Links are below, and don’t forget to read, share and comment!
BOLD BEAN COFFEE ROASTERS CUMBRES DE POAS
Now that I’ve embarrassed myself by fawning over yet another one of my favorite roasters, let’s have a look at this coffee. Cumbres de Poas means “top of Poas” in Spanish, so presumably the coffee is grown somewhere on or near the slopes of Costa Rica’s Poas volcano. In fact, a peek at a map shows Sabanilla, the town near the farm, in the district of Alajuela, is to the south of Poas. Nailed it. LOL This coffee is grown by Oscar and Francisca Chacón at the famed Finca Las Lajas. Growing altitude is 1450masl and the varietals in the cup are Catuai, Caturra and Villa Sarchi. Las Lajas gets its well-earned reputation from their organic and sustainable farming practices as well as innovative water-conserving “honey processes.” Today’s coffee uses their black honey process, and I think it’s the first one I’ve had using this particular processing method.
Honey processed coffee doesn’t use any honey at all. Scroll to the end of the review for a brief video about Las Lajas. Honey processing is a hybrid between traditional washed process and natural processing. In honey processing, the coffee is picked and sorted and then run through a mill that removes the cherry skins and, to some degree, some of the sticky, honey-like mucilage that surrounds the cherry seed (what we call a coffee bean). With the mucilage intact, the beans are spread out and dried. Honey coffees tend to be a little cleaner and less fermented than naturals, but they also tend to be sweeter and have more fruity flavors and body than a washed coffee. Usually, for my palate, honey process coffees are hard to distinguish from washed coffees. This may be the first honey process I’ve had that, if I were blinded, I probably would’ve guessed it was a natural.
Most mills name their honey processes according the level of mucilage left on the coffee as it dries. So, a little mucilage left is usually called a “yellow honey” while more being left on the coffee beans is “red honey” and so one. Las Lajas is unique in that they leave 100% of the mucilage on all of their coffees, but the amount of turning the coffees get dictates how much the mucilage ferments and influences the flavors. Their yellow honey coffees get turned hourly on the drying bed, while their red honey gets turned a few times per day and their black honey, like today’s coffee, is only turned once per day.
I used my usual 1:16 pourover ratio in the notNeutral Gino with 28g coffee and 450g water and about a 3:00 total extraction time. The aroma from the cup is basically straight brown sugar syrup! It smells so good! This is one of those coffees that I’d be happy just smelling and smelling! I usually leave my review cup next to my computer and clean it out the next day. That little bit of coffee at the bottom evaporates off and if you’ve ever smelled that super sweet, pure caramelized sugar-like residue left in the cup after the liquid evaporates off… that’s what this coffee smells like. It’s one of my favorite scents in the world. I need to figure out how to bottle it and start making some barista cologne or something!
Getting past the aroma, the coffee has a lighter body than I would expect from such a heavy, sugary aroma. Right up front there is a light, fruity sweetness that has lots of purple grape and a bit of raspberry in it for me. In the middle of the sip this transitions into more of a pineapple note, both sweet and a little tart, and then in the finish the purple grape soda-like note comes back with a hint of lemon acidity. As the cup cools that grape soda note just builds and builds and I absolutely loved it. Even with that hint of lemon acidity toward the end of the sip, the brightness of this cup comes mostly from the grapey flavors and this is a very balanced cup. The aftertaste lingers quite a while and it’s grape soda and sugar all the way and I love it. I know my description probably sounds like this may be an overly sweet, cloying coffee, but it isn’t. It’s nicely balanced and has a lot of structure, so the flavors seem quite crisp and separated rather than jumbled together. All the way down to room temperature, this coffee was absolutely delicious to drink and I loved everything about it.
This coffee is killer! This is the second coffee in the last couple weeks that I’ve gotten that grape soda vibe from and I’m a sucker for that soda as well as the flavor note in coffee. This is why I’m such a Bold Bean fanboy, you guys.