I was fortunate enough to start the new year (2015) off with a quick work trip to Denver that left me with a few free hours to do some coffee exploration. I ended up at Little Owl, Corvus and Novo. Not a bad introduction to Denver’s coffee scene! Novo’s cafe is awesome, super modern but comfortable at the same time. I enjoyed a nicely made cortado while I was there and bought this bag of San Sebastian, a washed coffee from Huila, Colombia for $16. Here’s where you can order it.
This is an interesting coffee that proved to be very versatile. As a drip (Gino dripper, similar to Kalita) it is pretty straightforward and approachable without a ton of complexity. I didn’t perceive a lot of acid in this cup, so rather than the fruit flavors most of the acids found in coffee produce this leaned more toward the roastier side of the spectrum. The body and mouthfeel were good and there was dark sugar in the aroma and flavor. The sweetness was more raw, rather than like caramelized sugar. More of a brown sugar tone. At the same time I didn’t get any of the astringency, dryness/chalkiness or metallic twangs that can accompany roastier notes in coffee. There was a little bitterness, like a bittersweet chocolate that was pleasant, in the aftertaste. This San Sebastian struck a very nice balance, pulling all the things I like out of that part of the flavor spectrum without anything I didn’t like.
I tend to have good luck with these types of coffees in my espresso machine, so I gave it a whirl. This is where the coffee really shined for me, and it turns out Novo will serve this as espresso in their cafe at times, too. Good choice because it’s awesome as espresso! Using a pretty standard recipe (about 19g in, about 30g out in around 30 seconds) I pulled some shots that turned out to be like liquid bittersweet chocolate with nutty undertones. What really knocked my socks off was the mouthfeel, though. The espresso I got from these beans was super thick and incredibly silky. I drink a lot of espresso and this really stood out in terms of mouthfeel. It was truly incredible! The flavor was deep and rich and it was a huge surprise. I absolutely loved this as espresso and it would pair up great for any of the milk drinks, if that’s your thing. I don’t even want to know what this would taste like as an afogatto because that may be too much to handle!
It’s nice to find single origin coffee that is so solid as a drip and stunning as an espresso. I don’t find that everyday, so it really stands out as a testament to Novo’s roasting abilities as well as their sourcing and handling of this coffee. My only regret is that my budget didn’t allow me to buy 3-4 of their coffees to share with my readers!