What better way to round out the end of the week than with a new Guatemalan coffee from my pals, Nick and Charlie, at S&W Craft Roasting? It has been a while since I’ve had any of their coffee and I’m excited to dive into this one!
S&W CRAFCT ROASTING GUATEMALA ATITLAN CHOCHAJAU
Two things I’ve learned by writing this blog almost every day are to not judge a book (coffee) by its cover (bag) and that there is some darn good roasting going on in some of the most out of the way places here in the United States. Both of these things apply to one of my favorite roasters, S&W Craft Roasting! S&W are located in Coatesville, Indiana, a town of 546 people located about an hour west of Indianapolis. Who would expect a couple of guys to be running a drum roaster with some pretty nice specialty coffees through it there? Not me, and yet here we are! I’ve had quite a bit of Nick and Charlie’s coffee over the last year or two and not only do they do a really good job with their roasting, but their pricing is insane. All their bags are for full pounds of coffee and this one is $15. That’s an unbeatable price. Yeah, sure, S&W are never going to win a packaging award, but once you get over that, you’re in for a treat, every time.
Today’s coffee is S&W Guatemala Atitlan Chochajau. S&W say that this is their lightest roasted coffee to date, but that it’s also developed enough to have a full body and good solubility in the brewer. This is an organic selection comprised of Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai and typica varieties. These are grown around 1600-1800masl and this is a washed coffee. S&W say to expect flavors of, “graham, honeysuckle and Clementine acidity” and at heavier extractions, “jasmine and spice tones with a heavier mandarin acidity.” They recommend pourover or immersion brewing for this coffee.
I used my standard 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder was set to 3 and I used my homebrewed version of Third Wave Water (to their published specs) because I was feeling nostalgic about my old chemistry lab days recently.
I get a nice caramel note in the aroma from this coffee. Getting right into the coffee itself, I am surprised by the flavors I’m getting from a washed Central American coffee. It’s always hard to say, but I think if I was tasting this blind I would call it a honey process coffee or a washed Ethiopian, maybe. For a washed coffee I am getting a lot of fruitiness, bordering on what I would expect from a Central American natural. There is a light berry note in the background and some apple juice like sweetness and brightness in the cup. I am definitely getting a lot of tangerine/orange notes in the acidity and there is a very defined orange juice quality to the acidity in this cup, too. The acidity profile in this cup has a hint of tartness that is coming across as that slight lactic or acetic “sourness” that you get from some more heavily fermented naturals, which is why I think this coffee is tricking my brain into thinking this coffee is a natural with a bit of ferment funk (which I absolutely love, by the way). But, because this is a washed coffee and not a natural, that slight tartness is not ferment funk, it’s just tricking my brain into thinking it is, so this remains a nice, clean cup that I would expect from a washed Central.
This is a really coffee and I’m digging it! Nick and Charlie have done a great job, as usual, with it. When it comes to Guatemalan coffees I usually love the really sweet (with that origin, the more sugary the better) ones the most, but this coffee has a lot of that, too. It’s just more fruit sweetness than caramels and chocolates. And they are right about the body in their description. Despite being a light roast, this coffee has a nice mouthfeel and a medium-heavy body that is a substantial presence on my palate when I’m drinking it. The aftertaste drops off relatively quickly, but that just made me drink more of this coffee and faster! Another bonus to the full pound bag! The front end of this coffee is all fruity sweetness, then that orange/tangerine/clementine acidity barrels in with that lovely tartness note for the second half of the sip and the long finish. As much as I know this isn’t a natural with a healthy ferment kick, I just cannot shake that notion from my brain and I love that, too. This is such an unexpected coffee and I’m really falling in love with it. At cooler temperatures I would definitely call this a natural in a blind taste test. Wild!
This is a killer coffee. Clean, balanced, super bright and vibrant without being abrasive at all, and I love the “playfulness” of the flavors that keep tricking my brain into thinking it’s not what it is. When you drink the volume of different coffees I do, the vast majority of which I adore, it’s so cool to be surprised like this by a cup of coffee. It’s a small think, but a heck of a way to start a Friday! Without a doubt, this is 100% a definite buy recommendation.