Honest Coffee Roasters are a company based out of Franklin, Tennessee. You’ve probably never heard of Franklin before, but it’s about 20 minutes outside of a town you probably have heard of… Nashville. The Honest story goes back to the late 1800’s when one of the principal’s great-great-grandfather started selling coffee in his general store in Franklin, sourced from the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville. Coming full circle, Honest Coffee got their brick and mortar start about a year ago in a gorgeous-looking historic building called The Factory. Roasters Brice Sturmer and David Morris earned experience at Luna Coffee as well as Crema Coffee Roasters and High Brow Brew, respectively, before finding their way to Honest. Co-owners of the business also own interest in Franklin Juice Co. as well as Five Daughters Bakery.
Looking at Yelp and other social media outlets, it’s easy to tell that people love Honest Coffee and the place looks awesome and is decked out. This was no shoestring startup! Honest sent me a few of their coffees recently, so let’s have a look at the first one, the El Palto from Peru. Unfortunately (but it’s a good problem), it looks like they’ve sold out of this selection already, so it’s no longer available for purchase. It looks like they were using this coffee as a do-everything, from filter to espresso and in signature drinks, so let’s have a look!
Honest’s El Palto is a microlot, sourced from Olam Specialty Coffee, that was grown in Peru by Marcial Delgado Villalobos. Villalobos is a member of the JUMARP cooperative, usually referred to as El Palto (bearing that in mind, “El Palto” coffees can be microlots from specific farmers or mixtures of multiple farmers’ coffees, so one El Palto is not necessarily the same as another roaster’s El Palto!). The co-op was founded in 2003 and has 189 active members, with a goal of bringing these farmers’ coffees to the specialty market and earning a better price for their product.
El Palto is grown in the Cajamarca region of Peru and this lot is a washed Typica. The coffee is certified Fair Trade and SHG (Strictly High Grown), meaning it was grown above 1350masl, and it underwent “European Preparation,” meaning defective beans and foreign material was sorted out, by hand, before the lot was sold. Honest gives tasting notes of, “caramel mouthfeel, clementine, pleasant” for this coffee.
It has been raining Peruvian coffee in Kansas City these days, and so far, I like it! I wish this coffee wasn’t sold out so you could try it, too! It has a nice roast profile giving it lots of clean, bright flavors along with a sweet base. The most obvious attribute of this coffee is the acidity. It’s definitely citrus and in the orange category. It has a bit of a lemony element to it but it’s also soft and round and sweet, so I think clementine or tangerine is a pretty good jumping off point as a descriptor. That citrus note is definitely the star of the show for this El Palto, but underneath it is a nice counterbalance of caramel sweetness and, in the aftertaste, something that reminded me of tropical fruit. This coffee has a solid medium mouthfeel and a pleasant and long-lasting aftertaste, but it does have a bit too-dry of a finish for me. That’s a major nitpick, so in an overall delicious coffee, it’s no big deal, but it’s there and worth mentioning. This is just a flat-out gorgeous cup of coffee and it’s a good start to a the trio Honest sent me to evaluate!