I was excited to open January 2016’s box from my Kurasu Japanese coffee subscription this month because it contained coffees from Guatemala and Kenya. The first few months of the subscription were quite Yirgachefe-centric and while I love Ethiopian coffee, there is a big world of coffee out there and I’m interested in how Japanese “third wave” roasters handle other origins, too.
This month’s coffees come from Taoca Coffee in Kurakuen, Japan. Taoca’s shop appears to be about halfway between Kobe and Osaka, although Google Maps doesn’t seem to be as clear in Japan as it is here in the USA! Regardless, it’s somewhere in the Hyogo prefecture (basically like one of our states), so just walk around until you run into it. LOL
Today I am looking at Taoca Coffee’s Santa Clara Microlot from Guatemala. Finca Santa Clara is located on the slopes near Antigua at a range of 1550-1800masl. The current owner of the farm is a 4th generation coffee farmer who has been operating it since 1988. 1 Finca Santa Clara seems to be “all-in” when it comes to quality. 2 This particular microlot is 100% Caturra varietal.
There is a nice write-up and a very informative interview with Taoca san on Kurasu’s website that is very worth reading.
Visually these coffee beans are pretty to look at and the roast level looks a little darker than some of the other beans I’ve gotten from Japan, although that rarely means much [EDIT: after writing this review I read Kurasu’s interview with Taoca Coffee’s owner and, in fact, he included a dark roast, this Guatemala, and a light roast, the Kenya, in his offering for the subscription!] They looked great. I used my usual 1:15 ratio in my notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filters to brew my cups of this coffee.
Tasting notes for this coffee in Taoca san’s interview include, “muscat grapes, cocoa, sweet chocolate, honey.” I found this coffee to have a pleasing bitterness level and I enjoyed the darker (but far from what most readers probably think of as a “dark roast”) roast profile on this coffee. The aroma is sweet with notes of caramel and while the overall flavor profile is sweet, too, it has a very “adult” level of bitterness to it that I liked a lot.
The flavors are chocolatey with a slightly sweet finish that is, at the same time, full of cocoa notes. It has a full, round body and a long aftertaste that has a bit of smoke and roastiness in it. There isn’t a lot of acidity in the flavor of this coffee but there is a bit of a lift from an undercurrent that reminded me of purple grape soda.
This a delicious coffee and a great example of how a darker roast can be incredibly well done. It’s complex and fun to drink and I think Taoca did a fantastic job on this coffee! I love it!