I’m starting this work week off with a natural Costa Rican coffee from Broom Wagon Coffee in Charleston, South Carolina. I love naturals and so I’m excited to try this one out!
BROOM WAGON COFFEE COSTA RICA TARRAZÚ TIRRA NATURAL
Jeremias and Rachel Paul surround their Broom Wagon Coffee brand with imagery from cycling. Even the name, Broom Wagon, is from the iconic vehicle that would “sweep up” dropped Tour de France riders and bring them to the finish line. Many of Broom Wagon’s coffee bags are from the special points leader jerseys of the Tour, like the polka dots of the King of the Mountains and the yellow leader’s jersey. I’m not sure if the sky blue and white stripes of this particular bag has any tie-in with cycling, but it’s bright and clean and uses a pretty color and it’s definitely a stand-out against a wall of more conservative coffee bags! In the short time Jeremias and Rachel have been roasting coffee under the Broom Wagon moniker, I’ve gotten to try a handful of their coffees and I’m always impressed!
This morning’s coffee is a natural from the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica. It was grown and processed by CoopeTarrazú RL, a popular co-op that exports a lot of excellent coffee from the region. This lot is Caturra and Catuai grown around 1400-1500masl. Broom Wagon say they loved this coffee last year and were delighted to find that it was even cleaner this year, “really showcasing this coffee’s sweetness and juicy black cherry notes while leaving out the booziness that sometimes can dominate naturally processed coffees.” Additionally, Broom Wagon gives us tasting notes of, “black cherry, pear, brown sugar.”
To quickly review coffee processing methods, the “natural” or “dry process” method involves picking coffee cherries (coffee is a fruit about the size of a regular cherry with, usually, 2 seeds inside. Those two seeds are what we call coffee beans) and then hand sorting them. Unlike other methods of processing coffee, naturals are then laid out on raised, ventilated beds where they start to dry out, break down and ferment. Naturals are turned regularly and watched carefully. When this part of the process is done, the fruits are seprated from the seeds and then a lot more gets done down the road. Coffee beans are like little flavor sponges, so as the fruit breaks down they absorb sugars and all sorts of chemicals from the fruits that impart sweet, fruity flavors to the coffee. And, as Jeremias mentioned, sometimes some fermenty, boozy notes, too (which I actually quite like in my natural coffees).
I used my standard pourover method of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita filters. My Handground grinder was set to 3 and I use Third Wave Water for all my coffee brewing. From the bag to the grinder to the cup, the aromas coming from this coffee are clearly those of a natural coffee. Fruity, a bit fermented… a lovely aroma across the board. I did get some cherry in the aroma from the brewed cup but something wholly unique I’ve never smelled in coffee before that was rich and deep and dark. I think it was a lot like the aroma of a complex single origin chocolate bar. This complexity transfers into the flavors from this cup, too. There is black cherry in there as well as some reminders, to my palate, of super ripe peaches and apricots. There is a good balance to this coffee and it gets some tart notes from all those fruits. I really get any citrus or malic/apple acidity or some of those classic, common forms of acidity in this cup. It’s really more of a tartness I associate with this cherry and stone fruit flavors I’m getting. Of course, now that I write that and the cup is cooling, there are some hints of lemon candy peeking through.
This is a medium-full bodied cup and the aftertaste lingers for a long time. Those same fruit flavors dance around on my palate and disintegrate into some ferment notes. I would agree with Broom Wagon that this isn’t a boozy coffee, but there is plenty of ferment in the cup to make someone like me happy. This is a nice natural, for sure. It’s not the berry-dominant profile I come to expect from Ethiopian naturals, which are the most common natural coffees to find on the market. I really love Central American natural coffees like this and the ones I’ve had from Nicaragua. They seem more… adult… to me than the sweeter, sugarier ones from Africa. There is a depth and complexity in Centrals I don’t find in their Ethiopian counterparts, although I love a good Ethiopian natural coffee as much as anyone else, too! Great roasting from the Pauls and an excellent example of a cool, quirky coffee that is delicious and delightful to drink that a small roaster like Broom Wagon can offer to customers without having to buy a thousands and thousands of pounds of! Get this before it’s gone, which I suspect will be pretty soon!