First of all, what a name! S&W Craft Roasting out of Coatesville, Indiana sent me a huge (full pound!) bag of their… get this… Honduras COMSA Marcala SHG FTO SO Espresso last week and it’s good stuff, but that name! You can buy this coffee directly from S&W for just $13.85 for a full pound bag, which is crazy value!
Let’s start with what the heck this crazy name means… The coffee is from Honduras and you don’t need me to tell you that, and specifically from Marcala, near La Paz in the southwestern part of Honduras. COMSA is Cafe Organico Marcala, S.A., a cooperative of farmers that was started in 2000 to become organically certified (by Bio Latina) coffee growers. The “FTO” part of the name is the Fair Trade certification COMSA received in 2006. “SHG” is a coffee term for “Strictly High Grown,” which means the coffee was grown above 1200 meters above sea level, producing a denser bean. Some countries may refer to SHG coffees as SHB or “strictly hard bean,” which is synonymous with SHG coffee because denser beans are harder beans. And, finally, SO Espresso is “single origin” espresso, meaning it’s not a blend.
So, what we have here from S&W Craft Roasting is a high grown, dense coffee grown by a co-op of organic farmers in Marcala, Honduras who have also gained Fair Trade certification. Whew! The specs S&W give on their website is that the coffee consists of Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Catuai and Pacas varietals, all washed and sun-dried (as well as mechanically dried) and that the beans are from 1300-1700masl. They say they roast these beans a special way to enhance the viscosity of the shot and they recommend it best with milk-based drinks.
S&W has impressed the heck out of me with their coffee, so I trusted them enough to make a special trip to the grocery store just for some milk to test their theories out! I usually drink espresso without anything in it. You can see my milk-pouring skills in the photos, too, but luckily a pretty pour tastes the same as an ugly one!
My espresso is still mellowing out. The crema is a little bubbly still, so it’s still off-gassing CO2 from the roast. Espresso often takes a week to 10-11 days to really hit its optimal point off roast, so I expect this coffee will just continue to improve over the next couple weeks. I have plenty to be able to test that theory!
As plain espresso, this is a thick, syrupy shot with lots of raw sweetness in the form of molasses and dark chocolate. It’s definitely a chocolate bomb, and I love that. I didn’t get a lot of fruit in my cup, but that could change with time possibly.
This espresso definitely cuts through the milk of a cortado, which is my favorite milk-based drink because of the size (it’s basically a mini-cappuccino). What I love about this espresso in milk is that the fruit acidity is pretty minimal. Sometimes higher acidity espressos will take on an almost sour-milk type flavor that I don’t love. This Honduran COMSA is chocolate, roasted nuts and the sweetness of the milk. It’s really, really good!
S&W continue to impress me with their roasting. They are full of surprises… Two guys in basically rural Indiana, an informational but basic website and simple labeling and packaging. Yet the cups are great and they prove with each coffee, to me, that they really know what they are doing! Hopefully readers aren’t judging the book by the cover because S&W have some really good coffees to share and you can rest assured that their efforts are making it into the cup rather than being spent on fancy packaging and websites (not that there is anything wrong with THOSE, either! I’m a sucker for both! LOL)