I’m super excited this morning to share the first of a handful of coffees from The Barn in Berlin, Germany with you! This morning I’m checking out a fresh Colombian, so without further ado…
THE BARN COLOMBIA LA MONTAÑA
I love to try foreign-roasted coffees. For obvious reasons, most of of what I review comes from the USA because of freshness and markets (i.e. I get contacted by a lot of Australian roasters who then find out I’m in the USA and decide not to send coffee, which is fine and makes sense). I had a coffee from Japan subscription for over a year and it was great. It’s just fun to experience another country’s coffee culture, if nothing else. So, I was stoked when I got a message from The Barn, in Berlin, Germany, asking if I wanted to try some of their coffee! Heck yes! I’ve been following The Barn on Instagram for a couple years. They sent me one of their sampler boxes, which contains a bunch of small coffee packets (around 35-40g of coffee in each one) and a tote bag, book and brew guide. It comes in a box with cool brass staples and big rubber bands holding it together, making it look like a steamer trunk from the early 1900’s, to me.
The Barn cafe was founded by Ralf Rüller in 2010 and initially served Square Mile coffee from London. About two years later, The Barn started roasting for themselves. In an interview with Unpacking Coffee, Ralf candidly said, “You know, we don’t start this to make the world better. We do this because we are really greedy and we want this fantastic product, but at the same time we can only achieve that if we give the farmer more money, and more knowledge, and empower them.” I love that quote! The Barn is quite infamous for some of its policies that make it into the media now and then, too. Such as, no music in the roastery/cafe, no baby strollers allowed, no armchairs, no menus. They wanted to “force” interaction between people, not between people and computers.
Getting to this morning’s cup, I chose the La Montaña from Nariño, Colombia as my entry point into The Barn’s sample box. This coffee is “filter roasted” which appears pretty light. It was produced by Segundo Omar Muñoz and consists of Castillo and Caturra varieties grown at 1850masl. It’s a washed coffee, as you’d expect from Colombia. Finca La Montaña is a small, 2-hectare farm located near Peña Blanca and the Barn gives us tasting notes of, “syrupy black currents, wild honey, tart acidity coupled with a chocolate base.” They say it’s like a fusion of a Kenyan and a Colombian coffee. I used my standard pourover setup for this coffee of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of Third Wave Water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filter and a Handground grinder set to 3.
Man, first couple sips and I’m hooked. I feel like I have been drinking a lot fewer Colombian coffees recently than in the past and it’s an origin I simply love. Like my favorite Colombians, this La Montaña from The Barn is bright and vivacious right out of the gate. There’s something almost “alive” about Colombian coffees for me and this one has that in spades. This coffee has a medium body with a syrupy mouthfeel and a slightly dry finish. There’s a lot going on and this reads as a really complex coffee to me. With the dry finish and so much going on I find myself taking fast sips and trying to catch every nuance as quickly as I can! 250g of this coffee would be gone fast here at World Domination Headquarters and I’m already sad I only have enough for one pourover in these sample packets. Boo hoo for me…
On the front end there is a lime-lemon (more lime than lemon, with lime’s characteristic bitter note) acidity that is killer. It jumps right off that sweet base and is super bright and forward. I get a tartness in this acidity, as well, that carries through the entire sip and into the finish and aftertaste. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a black currant, so I can’t comment on that descriptor, but there is something slightly raisin-like with this note, but also not unlike the tartness that comes with some fermentations, too. I get a similar type of sweet-sour tartness that I’d expect from a Berliner-Weiss (appropriate!) beer or that I’d expect from some of the funkier, more aggressively Central American natural coffees, but without the ferment notes. This is a “clean” type of tartness. It’s super-delicious and leaves a juicy feeling on my palate, making me want to sip more and faster.
As I was typing the above, I found the currant in the aftertaste. It’s a raisiny, but fruitier-than-raisin note than lingers for a long time on my palate in the aftertaste and appears in the finish, for me. Wow, this is an excellent cup! It’s bright, complex and vibrant but that juicy tartness and the sweet, syrupy body both give the coffee balance and dimension that makes it super drinkable. This is definitely a “wow coffee” for me and it’ll stand out in my mind as the Colombian coffee all others get compared to this year, I am certain. I fretted a little bit, this morning, about which coffee I should pick to get a good intro to The Barn’s roasting and those worries melted immediately with this coffee! LOL Fantastic, fantastic job.