Guatemala Alotenango - Guacatepeque Small Producers
City, Full City, City+ with Stretched Drying, City+ with Stretched Development post 1st Crack, and one surprise
This coffee is a careful construction, built by blending some smaller batches together. Each batch was selected for what it gave to the whole and how it worked with the other coffees, the most important thing being the excellent preparation. This area against the Volcan De Fuego in Alotenango has a couple really important things that lend themselves to really sweet and balanced coffee, outside of the preparation itself. The volcanic soil is rich with organic inputs from the surrounding forest preserve for one, but that soil must be managed since there's also a high presence of volcanic ash. These farms have decent elevation for the area as well as excellent bourbon stock, and the forest preserve also protects the water supply which is vital.
The coffee cups as a very sweet forward offering. There's not a lot of fruited notes in this coffee outside of the sugary raisin-like dried fruit notes, but can show some crisp malic apple in the lighter roasts. The caramel, almond, cocoa and countless other sweet descriptors that come to mind when drinking this coffee though make it a really approachable and roastable offering, you can do a lot with this in the roaster and still have a coffee that almost anyone is going to be really happy with, and it also is an excellent component in an espresso but can stand on it's own in producing a sweet SO shot with a long finish.
This coffee was an early arrival, we had it available in early April. We were very excited to have such a fresh sweet offering from Central America up this early, it was a priority for us this year. We recently put this coffee up in one of our regular blind cuppings and were pleased to find that it had actually bumped up a little score wise. There were some grape like tartaric notes in the cup, as well as an abundance of caramel, cocoa and spice. The excellent preparation on the coffees that went into this lot really shows here in the way this coffee has settle since arrival and how the sweetness has even grown a bit since we first launched it.
This had a really bright dry fragrance, crisp malic apple but also a good deal of citric acidity too that showed even more livelier in the wet aroma and break. All the sweetness is there right away even in the hot cup. The mouthfeel is pretty wet and open, not thin but not quite juicy either. The crispness of the malic apple really accentuates this mouthfeel with how it punctuates the finish. This is the brightest cup, not quite the sweetest, but this performed really well in a V60 brew, really light and sweet, and made an excellent iced coffee using the half water half ice for the water volume method.
Sweet toasted malts on the dry fragrance and aroma, and with that toastiness there's a deep deep honey raisin sweetness in the wet aroma and break especially. There's a long syrupy finish, toasted caramel in the front end of the cup, and some of that honey raisin, but this roast is much more caramel and cocoa sweet than fruited. This make a great press pot brew, and I had some excellent clever brews of it as well, those classic crowd-pleaser cocoa notes all throughout it.
City+, with stretched drying
This roast had the deep raisiny sweetness as well as some fuji apple on the dry fragrance. It wasn't as brilliant as the City roast, but there was still that brightness and with a deeper sweetness. The mouthfeel in this cup was juicy to syrupy, and very candy sweet. The fuji apple was present, but also some black cherry, and a syrupy cola-like flavor in the finish. Cherry Coke! This was my favorite roast, the sweetest for sure, though I could see crisp brightness of the City roast winning folks over this one, as it did Dan who mentioned pear sweetness, but got a little more toasted maltiness off of this coffee as well. I felt like this was the most versatile roast service wise and would do something similar with maybe a little more color on it for an SO espresso.
City+, with stretched development
I mostly did this roast to reiterate a point about when it's best to stretch a roast for a positive result. As I figured, the dry fragrance on this roast was almost completely flat with just a bit of malted sweetness. I really added not a whole lot of time in this stretch, the same amount of time which I stretched the drying stage out for, just at a different point, a little over 45 seconds. There was very little to no acidity, and the body was flat and flabby. The most significant difference though is that there was just not a lot of sweetness, it wasn't devoid of sweetness, but the shapelessness of the cup, formlessness, just really left everything pretty flat and malty.
Surprise Secret Roast
I threw this roast on the table to try to shake things up as well as perhaps gain some perspective on the other roasts. This roast was identical to the City roast, the difference was that it was the Burundi Teka (http://coffeeshrub.com/shrub/coffee/burundi-teka). I really like to put these African bourbons blindly on the table with Central American bourbons to see how they differ or if they stand out. You do see some similarities here, but the coffee definitely did stand out on the table. Rich syrupy pear and tartaric white grape notes in a brilliant cup. This coffee is cupping amazingly and we actually had it a couple different times in a couple different roasts on some blind cupping tables with it scoring exceptionally and just tasting so crisp and lively. This coffee has some serious legs. The one similarity to the Alotenango was the spice laced throughout the cup that gave some complexity to the cup.