We’re at the end of this month’s Barista Coffee Box, which featured Christiansburg, VA roaster, Brugh (said like “brew”) Coffee Company. This morning I’m checking out their Pango Pango from Sulawesi which promises notes of peanut brittle and dried cranberry, so without further ado…
BARISTA COFFEE BOX AUGUST 2017: BRUGH COFFEE CO. SULAWESI PT TOARCO PANGO PANGO
See all those links up top? Click on those to find out more about Brugh Coffee Company and Barista Coffee Box! Brugh is a husband and wife company founded on the idea of deepening all those connections between people that the coffee business is built on. They’re based out of Christiansburg, Virginia and are currently shopless roasters, using wholesale, retail and farmers markets to get the word out.
This morning’s coffee is the delightfully named Pango Pango, which hails from Sulawesi. Sulawesi is one of the large islands of the Indonesian archipelago and like a lot of that part of the world, the Dutch East India Company took control of its trade in the 1600’s. The Company controlled coffee production throughout Indonesia in the 1700’s and introduced Arabica species (probably Typica) in the mid-1700’s. For the most part, coffee in Sulawesi was and still is processed using the giling basah method of wet hulling. That began to change in the 1970’s with the formation of an Indonesian and Japanese joint venture company called PT Toarco.
Wet hulling is a bit of a strange bird in coffee processing and it’s unique to this part of the world for a variety of reasons. It’s possible to get high quality wet-hulled coffees, but suffice to say the people who source coffees in this part of the world are doing God’s work because they cup so many coffees before an acceptable one comes around. It’s this wet hulling that creates some of the very weird flavors that can be found in Indo coffee (and are only accepted from coffees from that part of the world where they’d be call defects anywhere else). And, it’s probably for this reason that the early “second wave” coffee roasters like Peet’s and Starbucks roasted coffee into the nuclear zone, since it would mask a lot of the weirdness inherent to so-so wet hulled coffees.
But, PT Toarco changed that in the 1970’s. They essentially brought Colombian-style washed/wet process coffee practices to Sulawesi. Instead of having naked, wet coffee lying around on the ground, road, next to the chicken coop or being transoprted in bags where it could get musty and moldy, PT Toarco’s south and central American method proved that coffee in Sulawesi could be handled differently, producing better, cleaner cups. This particular coffee comes from the Pango Pango area of Tana Toraja, a region of South Sulawesi where a lot of coffee is grown. This lot is mostly the leaf rust-resistant S795 grown around 1400-1600masl. This is a washed coffee in the style of south or central America rather than the traditional giling basah wet hull method. And, by the way, it is possible to get a good quality wet-hulled coffee, too, but it’s difficult because of the challenges the method poses on the coffee.
I used my standard pourover method of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. My Handground grinder was set to 3 and I used Third Wave Water in my preparation. This ended up being a fairly fast extraction, so you could probably tighten your grind a little to slow things down a bit. Brugh gives us tasting notes of, “peanut brittle, dried cranberry.”
I’m definitely getting peanut-like aromas from the cooling cup. Peanut butter/peanut brittle is a good descriptor of what I’m smelling. In some cases, peanut flavors indicate an under-roasted, underdeveloped coffee and it can be kind of gross to taste. Happily, that is not the case here, this is just the inherent nutty character of this coffee. I say this coffee has a medium-light body with a somewhat tea-like mouthfeel. It’s a tad astringent/drying on my palate in the finish and reminds me a bit of the feeling of drinking tea. This is a clean, bright cup with lots of high notes, but they’re soft at the same time rather than, for example, the sharp grapefruit notes of a bright Kenyan coffee. I’m getting a lot of orange notes, both a sweet OJ-like acidity and a bit of orange peel, too, which is a little more pithy and a little more pronounced in flavor. There’s something a bit savory I’m getting in this coffee, too, and the acidity, sweetness and savory tones all together conjure images of tomato for me. I know tomato is a weird descriptor in coffee and I usually find it in Kenyan coffees, if at all, but that combo of sweet, savory and bright acidity always puts “tomato” in my mind, although I wouldn’t say this tastes particularly tomatoey, if that makes sense. Although that being said, now that I have tomato on my brain, I do get a little of the feeling and flavor of having eaten a tomato on the finish and aftertaste of this coffee. I think there is a touch of saltiness to this cup, too, and that may be throwing me in the direction of tomato as well. I mentioned earlier how the extraction when a little fast on this coffee, so I wonder if I underextracted it a little. At least with espresso, underextracted coffees can have a bit of a saline note to them and while I wouldn’t say this coffee tastes salty, there is a bit of that in the cup that is driving me toward that tomato vibe. LOL
Getting away from tomato, and even with it in consideration, this is a nice, sweet, clean and very balanced cup. Sulawesi coffees like this tend to have that bright, yet sweet and balanced vibe like this coffee has and it’s almost like drinking fruit candy… sweet, bright, but also not tart or harsh on the acidity’s side of things. There is a little bit of nuttiness in the cup, too, but I am not getting peanuts or peanut butter or other signs of underdevelopment from this cup.
As I continue to enjoy this cup the sense of tomato is giving way to more orange and even the slight tartness of green apple. This is a bit of an oddball coffee for me, although I still like it. I don’t know if this is just sort of an unusual coffee or if I may have underextracted it some and that caused some of the flavors I was experiencing. That’s the only downside to the small packets in the Barista Coffee Box… with a full bag it’d be easier to play with variables and try out a few ways of brewing to see what would result. All in all, I like this coffee, but it doesn’t hit my coffee satisfaction centers in my brain the way others do. It’s as if my mind isn’t really even registering this beverage as coffee, but rather as something else. LOL So, I’m happy with this cup even with some of its odd characteristics, but it’s just not satisfying me the way I like coffees too. I know this is very intangible, but coffee is about experiences and this is mine.
Out of the four coffees in this month’s box from Brugh, I think the Konga natural was my favorite. I loved everything about that coffee and it was super tasty. The Nicaraguan comes in second, although not by much. The Peruvian selection was really good as well, but I found the other two to simply be a bit more dynamic and interesting. I’m really happy with Brugh’s roasting and this was another successful Barista Coffee Box!