Case Study Coffee Roasters is one of my favorite roasters in the country and they’ve been supporters of KC Coffee Geek since the beginning. They do a fantastic job roasting coffee and if you’re ever in Portland you need to visit one of their locations at least once. I’m partial to the Alberta St. location because it’s a few blocks from two of my other favorite PDX places, Boxer Ramen and Salt & Straw ice cream! But I digress… Case Study have a nice relationship with the family that owns Finca Los Congos and other farms in Nicaragua. The family has been working coffee in Nicaragua for generations and had to flee in the country in the late 1970’s when civil war broke out and the government seized all their property and mills. Re-established in the 1990’s, Finca Los Congos is an award-winning producer of specialty coffee and Case Study have been featuring their coffees, processed different ways, for the past couple of years at least. Los Congos grows the giant Pacamara varietal and Case Study featured the natural, washed and even cascara (the dried fruit skins that can be made into a tea or other drinks) in flights for their customers. Case Study Coffee Roasters do not have an online store, but you can try calling them and seeing if they’ll ship coffee to you. That was their recommendation in the past!
Before we get rolling, here are some links of interest:
- Finca Los Congos Pacamara Natural review from 2016
- Finca Los Congos Pacamara Natural and Washed review from 2015
- The Story of the Family Behind Finca Los Congos
- A Case Study in Coffee Variety and Processing
- Los Congos: Relationship Coffee from a Barista’s Perspective
So, today we’re looking at Case Study Coffee Roasters washed Pacamara from Finca Los Congos in Nicaragua. I really loved the natural version of this coffee that I reviewed last week. It had a dry fragrance of berry flavored cereals like Frankenberry and Booberry (usually not a selling point, but in this case, yes). The flavors had pineapple with a hint of tart funk as well as milk chocolate and it was quite complex. Last year I was totally blown away by the washed version of this coffee, which was dripping with watermelon flavors for me.
I’m not getting the watermelon from last year. I am not picking up much to talk about in the aroma (I used my usual 1:16 ratio of 28g coffee to 450g water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filters for my samples of this coffee). As the cup cools there is a crisp green apple-like acidity (malic acidity) with a little citrus in the acidity, as well. The citrus component lands sort of in between lemon and orange for me, leaning a little more toward the sweeter citric acidity of orange. There is a buttery flavor in this cup as well as pecan in the second half of the sip.The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium and the flavors are structured and clean. The nuttiness and that appley/orangey/lemony acidity are the two main components in this coffee for me. Quite a bit different coffee than what I tasted last year, but that’s how seasonal crops go, especially with coffee!
As is often the case, last year, I was over the moon with the washed version of these coffees and this year I’m all about the natural. About the only similarity I’m finding is in the acidity, I think. While the washed Pacamara has more of a lemon-orange vibe, it’s not a stretch to see how with a little fermentation it could easily drift over to the slightly overripe flavors the natural had. There are threads connecting these coffees, but this is a great case study on coffee processing, for sure! There are so many variables to coffee from year to year that it’s perfectly normal for that to happen. These two coffees are so different, yet they’re the same varietal from the same trees growing on the same farm. One gets dry processed and the other wet, and they are as different as two coffees can be! I would really encourage you to try both if you can get your hands on them. They’re both excellent!