I’ve been keeping my eye on Dallas, TX roasters, Novel Coffee, ever since I saw their packaging on Roasters.co a handful of months ago. Most readers know I am a sucker for a nicely designed coffee bag, but it’s what’s inside that’s most important as I’m sure you’d agree! Novel is a relative newcomer to Texas’s burgeoning coffee scene and they have roasted up an interesting coffee in their Cielito y Maria from Colombia! You can buy this coffee through Roasters.co for a very reasonable $15/bag and if you use the code “KCCOFFEEGEEK” when you checkout you’ll get 10% off your order!
This coffee is grown at the ridiculously high Santa Helena farm near Buesaco in the Nariño region of Colombia at 1950masl. This means lots of sun, slower growing and lots of temperature peaks and valleys, all things that can mean something special once the coffee makes it to your cup. The coffee is named after Cielito Villada and Maria Paz Villada, the daughter and mother, respectively, who own Santa Helena. This coffee is 100% Caturra varietal.
This isn’t a beginner’s coffee, per se, as you need to brew it carefully. I didn’t love my first experience with this coffee, which I brewed using my usual parameters in the Gino dripper. In fact, I wrote the following in my Field Notes that I use for a coffee journal: “surprising bitterness and acidity in the cup. There’s an earthy quality to it. Herbaceous. Need to spend some time with this coffee.” That last statement is code for, “I’m not really digging this coffee just yet!”
I posted that it was “interesting” on Instagram/Twitter and Novel picked it up right away and they recommended that I treat this coffee like a Kenyan because it’s so high-grown. Novel said they were getting their best cups at a 17:1 (so like 21g of coffee to about 350g water) water to coffee ratio by pulse pouring (to keep the coffee bed low) it in a Chemex for a total brew time of a very fast 2:30 total! I tried a couple times to get that short of a brew time and with my ancient wall-mounted PeDe grinder that makes powder, boulders and everything in between I just couldn’t get there.
Then it struck me that Novel’s recommendation sounded a heck of a lot like an AeroPress recipe, so I decided to take that route and the coffee did way better for me that way! I used an inverted AeroPress method using 17g of coffee to 240g of water. I usually add about 1/2 the water, give it a few stirs to make sure all the grounds are wet, then top it off to 240g and stir a few more times. I’ll let it sit until about 1:15 or so, then stir a few times again and at 2:00 I stir a couple more times to agitate the grounds, capped it, flipped it and pressed for a 2:30 total. I used the standard paper filter.
The Cielito y Maria really shined this way! It was like night and day compared to the muddy, bitter and acidic earthy coffee I discovered on my own. The coffee had nice body and a pleasant, long aftertaste. True to what Novel told me, this coffee was definitely like a Kenyan in its bright, juicy acidity! Acidheads will love this coffee! The base notes of the coffee were a little chocolate and ash but each sip was quickly dominated by lime acidity. Also in the high notes I found hints of tropical fruits. Not quite pineapple and not quite mango, but something not unlike either of those fruits, as well as a little peach. As the cup cooled I noticed a little nuttiness to it, too.
The acidity of the coffee drilled into my cheeks and the sides of my tongue and I found it to be almost effervescent. Overall this is a complex cup of coffee that requires some work in the form of weighing and timing everything out, which is why I don’t consider it a coffee for beginners. That being said, the extra effort is well-rewarded with a juicy, fruity, beautiful cup!