While I was away in Italy my friend, Eric, who lives in Dallas, sent me a bag of coffee from one of his favorite roasters, Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. It was a nice surprise coming home after ten days to a house without any coffee on hand (well, green beans, but even I’m not that desperate!) to find this surprise in a box from Eric!
He sent their Helsar de Zarcero honey process coffee, grown in Costa Rica. Here’s an excellent article on honey/pulped natural/semi-washed/semi-lavado (all names for the same thing) processing from Stumptown. In short, it’s a hybrid of washed and dry/natural processing in which the cherry is removed from the seed, but then they are dried with the sticky, slimy mucilage still intact. This type of coffee skips the fermentation and washing stages that washed coffee get, and it gets dried in the sun immediately. This has to be done carefully or it’s fairly easy for rot to set in. It’s a labor-intensive process (so is pretty much everything involving getting that cup of brown liquid in front of you!) but the end result is coffee that usually has heightened sweetness and body.
My bag was unfortunately roasted way back on Sept. 2, so it’s getting close to being a month old, but it’s still really good. I’ve had it in the Chemex twice and as espresso once. These are really dense beans and they have a light roast. I noticed right away in both of my manual grinders because they were tough to grind!
My first cup from the Chemex was fine, but without a lot of character. In the espresso machine the coffee seemed a little too bright, but I think it extracted too quickly, too, so I will have to give that another shot. Because the beans are so dense and roasted so lightly my usual 18g dose is a lot less volume of coffee than with other beans I’m used to using, so I need to compensate by adding probably two more grams to get the portafilter basket a little more full. When espresso extracts too quickly it can be sour, so that could be part of the problem, but then again light roasts and single origin coffees can also just be too bright for espresso outside of a blend to reign them in, too. We’ll see about that with further experimentation.
My second cup through the Chemex was really good, though. These beans smell AWESOME before they are even ground, by the way. My second cup had more body and a lot of caramel flavor which was a surprise considering that coffees like this can tend to be more fruity and acidic. It was a nice cup and I got hints of fall/winter spices in there from time to time. That being said they were faint hints WAY in the background, so it’s not like this is a spiced pumpkin coffee or anything like that! I really enjoyed this cup and I hope I can pull that out of subsequent uses because if that’s how the coffee turns out every time in the Chemex I am going to really enjoy the rest of this bag!