I’ve been a longtime fan of Jared Truby and Chris Baca’s Cat & Cloud podcast and within the last month I reached out to them to try to score a bag of their blend, The Answer, to review for you fine readers. I didn’t hear back, but Jared and Chris are in the throes of getting their brick and mortar cafe opened up in Santa Cruz, CA. Between zoning, marketing, hiring, build-out, roasting, running their pop-up and the other 1,000,000 things business owners need to do, sending coffee to reviewers is probably pretty far down the list, so no big deal. And, what does it really matter when, once again, my pals at MyCoffeePub have read my mind (or maybe they have me under surveillance??) and sent a bag of Cat & Cloud coffee in August’s subscription box, anyway? It’s insane how often MyCoffeePub and I are on the same wavelength month after month! So, let’s chat about Cat & Cloud and this coffee and see what secrets it reveals (but first, links):
CAT AND CLOUD COFFEE COLOMBIA NARIÑO ISAAC BADOS
MyCoffeePub.com has been a longtime supporter of KC Coffee Geek and I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it 100 more… that day the box shows up on my doorstep always brings a smile to my face because I never know what this month’s coffee is until I open it up and find out. I just love the surprise and they do a fantastic job sourcing coffees for the sub. It’s just RIDICULOUS how often a roaster I’ve been thinking of or trying to reach ends up in that box. They must be monitoring my email and have my house bugged! Check them out and when you join you’ll be as happy with their service as I am, I am sure of it! I was stoked to see this Colombian coffee from Cat & Cloud arrive because of what I mentioned above as well as the fact that I love Colombian coffee!
I scoured the Internet for information about Isaac Bados and this coffee and I was stumped. What I do know is that it is from the Nariño department (like one of our states here in the USA), which is a prime coffee-growing region and the southwesternmost department of the country, bordering Ecuador. Nariño’s proximity to the equator allows coffee to be grown at ridiculous altitudes and most of the farms there are smallholder operations often no larger than 3 acres or so. So, it’s no wonder Isaac has eluded my search! This is definitely a washed coffee, but beyond that, I know nothing about it. Oh, and they’ve been using this coffee roasted by Cat and Cloud as Elixir this month, too.
Cat & Cloud is Jared Truby and Chris Baca, both coffee professionals with deep roots including Ritual and Verve, among others. I first learned about them about a year ago when I stumbled across their awesome podcast, and I’ve been a fan since. They’ve been working on a business plan for some time now, working and roasting coffee out of Castle Coffee Roasters and other places, sort of in gypsy mode, while things materialize. Focusing on one or two selections at a time, their philosophy is on quality rather than quantity. I was really curious how this first intro into their roasting would go since anyone can say anything about anything, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say. Would Jared and Chris’s philosophy on life and coffee come through in this Nariño selection? Let’s see…
I tried this coffee out first on my usual notNeutral Gino pourover setup. I use 28g of coffee and 450g of water for a 1:16 ratio. This produced a nice cup with sweet caramel and some florals in the aroma.
For 3-4 of the last 5 coffees I’ve brewed on my Gino I’ve been detecting a musty aroma and flavor in the cup. I was thinking it was just bad luck with some of these coffees (sometimes one single bean can taint the whole cup) but I had the time to try this on Aeropress, too, and it was clean as a whistle, so I have to really check out my pourover gear and see if that’s it. I keep everything super clean, so it would be a surprise, but again, those tainted type of flavors can come from very few parts per million. In any case, let’s not focus on that since I’m not sure whether this problem is me or bad luck running pourovers on coffee lately… this Isaac Bados had bright lemon candy acidity and downright sugary caramel sweetness. It was really delicious. I had time to try it on Aeropress, too, and that’s where this coffee revealed everything it can be, to my palate at least! UPDATE 12/9/16: IDENTIFIED SOURCE OF MUSTY FLAVORS IN COFFEES I WAS REVIEWING AND IT WAS ALGAE THAT WAS IN THE MUNICIPAL WATER SUPPLY DUE TO OUR UNUSUALLY HOT AND LONG SUMMER THIS YEAR. NO FAULT OF THE COFFEE ITSELF! MY APOLOGIES TO READERS AND ROASTERS!!!
Using Brian Beyke’s famed Stubby recipe brings out an AMAZING cup with this coffee. The sweet lemon candy acidity gets a boost to 11, and man, it is so delicious. This coffee is super-clean prepared this way and it also retains all of its sweetness. That sweetness carries on into the finish. The Stubby also seemed to enhance the body a little in this coffee and it gave a long-lasting, perfumed/sort-of-floral aftertaste that still had citrus notes in it. Really awesome. I didn’t even get a hint of that mustiness so either a bad bean made it into my pourover sample or something is in the glass Gino or my Hario kettle (which I wipe out and keep clean every use). Hmmmm…
I figured this coffee would be way too bright to work as espresso, but feeling a bit cheeky on Monday morning, I decided to give it a whirl anyway because you just never know. Using 16.5g of coffee I hit the 30g output mark in about 27 seconds (counting in my head, so I could be off in either direction by a few). When I get home from work this afternoon I’ll play around with it a little more. I suspect tightening up the grind 1-2 more notches will be perfect. Nonetheless, this made a darn nice cup of single origin espresso! It was certainly bright, again with the lemon/citrus acidity playing the major role, but it had decent body and a nice looking crema and it was sweeter than I expected, too. I got some hints of pineapple in the finish and the long aftertaste had me thinking I’d just had a few sips of IPA. With minimal dialing in and fussing, this pulled way better than I thought. It’s definitely a “third wave”/West Coast style espresso, being as bright as it is, but it was more balanced than I thought it’d be and even with my espresso bias leaning toward the caramel and chocolate side of the spectrum, I really enjoyed it. A little bit of dialing in and it’ll be fantastic, as least as a shot. Not sure how that bright citrus does with milk, but I tend to like my espresso the way God intended. 🙂
Given the ways I prepared this Isaac Bados coffee, I have to say the winner is the Aeropress, hands-down. The pourover was good, don’t get me wrong, but I just love bright, singing Colombian coffees and in the Aeropress this fits that description perfectly. Super sweet, bright and clean with glorious lemon acidity. I mean, this is everything I want in a Colombian coffee and it’s a spectacular introduction to Jared and Chris’s roasting and sourcing. I couldn’t be happier with this first look at Cat & Cloud!