Today’s review is another sample I received from Royal Mile Coffee Roasters, Sitio Chapada from Brazil. This was another small sample of about 45g of coffee in the bag, so I used my standard Gino 15:1 pourover method and hoped for the best because I was only going to get one shot at it! Royal Mile’s Sitio Chapada is available direct for $13 for a 12oz bag.
This coffee is a relatively low-growing (1100masl) bourbon varietal from Fazenda Chapada, a coffee farm located in the southeast of Brazil in Carmo de Minas (surprisingly close to Rio de Janeiro on a map!). This coffee is a pulped natural, which is sort of in-between a washed and a traditional dry process coffee. Pulped naturals get pulped to remove the skins of the coffee cherry, but rather than being fermented at that point to remove the sticky, sugary mucilage layer as it would be in the washing process, this coffee is laid out on beds and dried in the sun with the mucilage intact. This is often referred to as “honey” processing, too. These coffees tend to be sweet and have more fruitiness than a washed coffee, but not as strongly fruited as dry processed coffees. I found a short video about the group of farms that I think Fazenda Chapada is part of:
The aroma on this coffee was sweet milk chocolate and nuts. It had a medium body and a surprising amount of acidity that came across with a raisin-like quality to my palate. At one point the coffee hit a temperature range where a lot of grassiness came out. Two or three sips were really grassy and kind of sour, but then thankfully that went away almost completely as the cup further cooled!
Once that grassy quality left the cup I picked up lots of nuttiness in the finish as well as some orange or tangerine sweetness in the flavor. For a few sips the coffee hit another temperature zone where I got these huge flavors of flowery perfume that I didn’t expect at all! One sip was just all flowers, and then I tried to get it again and the next two sips had a little of that flavor and then it was gone. As the cup approached room temperature it was all about nuts, but not necessarily a “roasty” quality and definitely not a peanut character usually associated with an underdeveloped roast.
I wish I had more of this coffee to brew up a few different ways to see if that grassiness was a palate aberration for me or what, and to try to chase those floral notes I picked up, but alas! For a relatively low-elevation Brazilian coffee this was surprisingly complex as these are often pretty straightforward and relatively one-dimensional coffees, in my experience. No doubt the processing played a part in that and it’s exciting to see so many coffee growers playing around with the many parameters of coffee processing to develop the flavors they want in their coffees. I know in the coffee community there are people who think this is “cheating” but personally I think processing is a very important step in producing coffee, and the goal of everyone in coffee is to make a pleasant, enjoyable experience for the drinker, so it’s hard for me to understand how ANY manipulation of the growing, processing, storing or roasting process is “cheating.” LOL