Case Study Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR are one of my favorite roasters and shops. The last time I was in Portland they hooked me up with sample bags of their entire current lineup to try out! I couldn’t believe their generosity and I’m blown away by the consistency of how great their coffee is. Today’s review is of a Colombian coffee they source directly from Finca el Oso in the famed Huila region.
Case Study discovered this coffee, Finca el Oso, and the farm’s owner, Marisol Bolanos, during a buying expedition to Colombia last summer. You can read more about their adventure on their blog, but when they visited the farm they were amazed to find that the coffee grew a few miles away, and several thousand feet above, Marisol’s house and they use horses to get to the coffee and bring it back down for processing. The farmers do this at the 1700masl farm every day for three months during the growing season twice a year! You have to check out the photos and the whole story on Case Study’s blog!
I was intrigued by this sample because the bag has, “dark roast” written on the bag. That’s a decidedly un-hip move for a third wave coffeeshop in a third wave city, but bucking trends is one of the things that defined third wave coffee to begin with, wasn’t it? Opening the bag revealed a pile of nicely roasted coffee beans, very uniform in color and very far from the black, oil-covered beans most of us default to when we visualize “dark roast” in our minds! Darkness is in the eye of the beholder!
I used my trusty notNeutral Gino dripper to prepare my cups of this coffee and the cup had a sweet, cocoa aroma. I picked up a little acidity in the sip with hints of sweet cherries and nicely developed sugars. There was a little graham cracker in the finish, too, and maybe some sort of warming spice, but that was so faint I couldn’t really put my finger on a better description.
The body was syrupy with a pleasantly lingering aftertaste and the overall flavor profile reminded me of milk chocolate and cherries. Not surprisingly, the cup was extremely inviting and each sip made me want to take another right away!
As much as I enjoyed this coffee as a pourover I decided it was worth the risk to run it through my Gaggia espresso machine, too. I started with 20.4g of coffee and only pulled 17g in 42 seconds, so I used too much coffee and/or tamped it more firmly than I thought I did. That being said it was still an interesting and respectable shot! The body and mouthfeel were thick, silky and even a little slick as you’d expect for a ristretto style shot. Rather than getting any cherry out of it like I expected I got a lot of citrus acidity, leaning toward grapefruit. It was totally unexpected and quite pleasant, especially for a shot that I thought, based on the low volume and a long pull, that was going to be nasty!
This coffee rocks. Of course, “dark roast” is a very subjective term, so it’s not “dark” like someone who likes *$ would define it, but at the same time there is a wonderful flavor profile with plenty of “sweet acidity” (is that even a thing?) that even the most die-hard acidity freaks should be able to appreciate!
I can tell why Case Study fell in love with this coffee and the farm in Colombia and think they did a great job bringing that love to the cup on this Finca el Oso!