Manzanita Roasting Co. bills their El Gaucho blend as their “do everything” coffee from espresso to cold brew and anything in between. Last week I checked out El Gaucho’s espresso chops (link below) and today I’m taking a look at this blend as a pourover. Enjoy!
MANZANITA ROASTING CO. EL GAUCHO – POUROVER REVIEW
I have really been enjoying El Gaucho as espresso. It’s so well-behaved and pulls so nicely that it’s one of those blends that I enjoy watching extract in the bottomless portafilter as much as drinking it! It’s that good looking! Weston and Sam Nawrocki, the husband and wife team behind Manzanita with deep wine and culinary roots, designed El Gaucho to be their Swiss Army Knife coffee. Today I’m running the blend through my standard pourover setup to see how it does with a different extraction method. I’m using a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of Third Wave Water in a notNeutral Gino with Kalita 185 filter. My grinder is a Handground set to 3.
El Gaucho is a blend of coffees from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Colombia. I don’t know anything about the components of El Gaucho, otherwise, but it did win a bronze medal in the Golden Bean Awards! This coffee is roasted a little darker than most of Manzanita’s single origin offerings, although I wouldn’t call it a dark roast by any stretch. A few beans in my bag made it into second crack because I saw little spots of oil here and there, but this coffee is probably a Full City roast if that nomenclature means anything to you. It grinds really easily in my Handground and it puffed up beautifully during the bloom in the notNeutral. Manzanita bills this as a “chocolate, low acidity coffee” so let’s find out!
In the sip I get a lot of sweetness up front that is quickly backed up by some nice brighter, fruity notes in the middle. There is a caramel, milk chocolatey tone to the sweetness at the beginning of the sip that carries through to the lingering aftertaste, but the middle and finish of this coffee have a healthy citrus and fruit note. Technically, those flavors come mainly from acids in the cup, so the term “low acidity” usually means there is some restraint and balance to the cup rather than it has a less acidic pH. “Acidity” is a weird term in coffee because acids are a big part of what makes coffee taste good and without them, it’d be pretty gross, but to the layperson or non-coffee-obsessed drinker, acidity conjures a bad mental image. Suffice to say that this coffee has nice balance and is not an overtly bright cup, which is what most people think they don’t like in “acidic” coffees.
The brighter notes in the cup a lot of citrus overtones. A bit of orange and lots of tangerine… I’m even getting slight hints of grapefruit in this coffee… and in some sips and in the aftertaste I get very brief, fleeting notes of berry jam. I suspect that the Ethiopian component of this coffee is a natural, but I also suspect that it’s a small component of this blend because I’m getting those hints of berries I would expect from a natural, but they are super subtle. This coffee has a nice medium-heavy body and a slightly dry finish. It’s borderline “juicy,” which to me is a feeling on my palate of that induces salivation and makes me want to keep sipping at this cup.
The whole point of blends is balance. Using different components allows the roaster to emphasize some flavors while balancing others out. El Gaucho does that quite nicely. There’s a lot of citrus and some berry jam in this cup, and plenty of brightness, but it’s also firmly anchored by milk chocolate and caramel sweetness. In the aftertaste I also got hints of spices and pepper for some added complexity. This is a nice, easy drinker with no sharp edges and that’s exactly what a blend like this should be. This coffee drinks very nicely black but I can imagine it would play nice with milk and sugar, too. There’s just the slightest suggestion of roast in the background between sips, but this coffee has many of the characteristics of darker roasts that I like.
As much as I like this coffee as espresso, I think I actually dig it even more as a pourover. Espresso is my jam, don’t get me wrong, but I think it can be hard to pull out subtlety from coffee that is so concentrated. El Gaucho has quite a bit of subtle things going on in the cup that I missed with this coffee as espresso, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy this coffee both ways and get two perspectives on the same coffee. Yum!