Corvus Coffee Roasters Maker’s Reserve – Hacienda la Esmerelda

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Corvus la Esmerelda BagI had a three-day work weekend in Denver, CO right after the turn of the year and, lucky me, my flight came in really early and meetings didn’t start until noon on Friday, so I had a nice large window of time to hit some coffee shops. One of the ones I made sure to visit was Corvus Coffee Roasters and they had a couple nice coffees to give me to try out. The place itself is great and I’ve been digging one of the coffees, their Maker’s Reserve Hacienda la Esmerelda. It has great mouthfeel, nice red fruit acidity that is more “midtone” and lots of balance. It also works spectacularly as espresso. You can find this excellent coffee in 12oz bags for $23 on Corvus’s website. Read more below!

Disclaimer: This coffee was provided as a complimentary sample for Corvus is not an advertiser and this is not a paid review (nor are any others on this site) and the cost of the sample didn’t affect the outcome of this review.

Corvus la Esmerelda boxInterestingly until I finished my first cup of this coffee I was under the impression that I was drinking the King of Coffees, the gesha/geisha varietal that rose to fame a few years ago thanks to the Peterson family who owns Hacienda la Esmerelda in Panama. It was only after my first evaluation that I realized that not all the coffee that comes from this farm is the gesha varietal and this is actually la Esmerelda’s Diamond Mountain coffee. I’ve never tasted a gesha before and they are supposed to be incredibly floral and citrusy and I was getting sweet red fruit and a wonderful round, midtone acid character and I was starting to question what all these tasters were talking about with geshas being like a cup of flowers! LOL Much to my surprise, and delight, I read the tasting notes on Corvus’s site and did some research on the CORRECT coffee after my tasting and it turned out my brain was wrong but my palate was correct!

This coffee nails it even before you get near the beans inside the packaging! Corvus presents this special coffee in a beautiful black box that closes with a magnetic closure. The label shows a map of Panama and is simple and elegant, and the silver foil Corvus logo makes you feel like you’re opening a jewel, which you kind of are, really! Inside is a stark white bag with a tasteful white label describing the coffee within and what to expect. In a way I’m glad I ASSumed that this was gesha and didn’t read the label until later because tasting notes can definitely influence the review, like it or not, so I’m happy to know I tasted what I tasted even while struggling SO HARD to appreciate the famous layers of flowers you’re supposed to get in a gesha! 🙂

Corvus la esmerelda bag backThe coffee itself as whole beans/seeds smells GREAT, something I find with a lot of the naturals I drink. Coffee aroma as they brew when I make pourover is hit or miss for me. Sometimes I get a lot of aroma, sometimes hardly any, sometimes what volatilizes off the top isn’t all that pleasant. In this case, the aromas coming off the coffee bed were awesome and I can easily say this is the best smelling coffee I’ve brewed in a long time.

In the cup the aromas leaned more toward a sugary sweetness, almost like cotton candy. It has good mouthfeel and creates a really juicy sensation. There is good acidity in this coffee, taking the form of “red fruit” (plums and berries, to me). The acidity really hits the sides of my tongue and creates this pleasant “round” sensation in my mouth and it made me think that there are different “tones” of acidity. Some of the Kenyans hit a really “high” tone that I guess I would associate with lemon, lime and grapefruit. As we come into the more “midtone” acid notes I would say sweet orange, plums, red fruits and berries would reside here. In other words the acidity was there but had a lot of balance and wasn’t as “hot” as it can be with some coffees, if that makes any sense at all!

This is a sweet coffee, but not a sugar blast. This is strictly for adults! In Gino dripper there is a slight earthy undertone, not at all unpleasant, and I noted a bit of a savory character in the finish, especially as the coffee cools.

Corvus la esmerelda espressoWhen I have enough coffee to do so in my sample I like to run a few shots through my Gaggia machine and see what it does as espresso. This often backfires as not every coffee that is excellent as a drip works as espresso, but other times the results are amazing. This is one of the latter. For some reason when I pulled this shot I chilled the demitasse ahead of time for about 5 minutes in the freezer. Not sure why as I’ve never done that before, so perhaps I was possessed by some benign coffee spirit! LOL I went with a standard 18g in, 30-32 out in about 35 seconds or so and it was awesome! This is a pretty light roast on a pretty dense bean, so I would suggest bumping up the dry coffee amount to the 20-21g mark so it fills the portafilter basket a bit more.

Because of how fruity this coffee is I assumed (again!) that it would be too “hot” as espresso, but my shot was bright, fruity and had a ton of sweetness to balance out the acid. All the flavors in the drip were there, just concentrated to a ridiculous degree. Body was good and would probably be fantastic with a little higher weight of coffee in the basket. I got very excited and emailed Phil at Corvus about my discovery, but of course, he already knew! 🙂

This is a special coffee. It excels both as drip and espresso, it’s complex yet inviting and it hits every note I absolutely love in coffee! Hacienda la Esmerelda’s gesha coffees get all the press, but this Diamond Mountain catuai varietal is no slouch, in the slightest. I think this coffee really shows that the Peterson family has a well-earned reputation in the world of coffee and I am happy to find that their name, as well as that of their farm, are well known in this industry for good reason rather than hype & marketing.