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A Look at Our 3 Decafs 

(03/25/14)

Each time we send off new coffees for decaffeination at the Swiss Water Process factory like antelope sprinting across the prairie, we're looking carefully through our coffees for great candidates and new possible blends. We have have a wonderful example of a decaf version of one of our Proyecto Xinabajul coffees as well as 2 new blended decafs which provide truly unique and remarkable decaf profiles.

I actually tasted all of the decafs without looking at the coffees' pages or Dan and Tom's notes first and had some really nice surprises. Mostly that the flavors I found in each of the blends before I realized they were blends. That clarity and articulation of flavor is just simply unmatched in other decaffeinated coffees. Each of these decafs also lend themselves to a range of roasts, but most interestingly they all shine as light roasts which tend to be not so great for decafs as roasters generally are trying to cover up the "decaf" flavors of the coffee.

The dry fragrance is sweetly fruited with cherry and more tart berry notes along with a sweet honey finish. The aroma is even more deeply fruited with a more candy sweetness. There's a jammy mouthfeel in the warm cup with lots of fruit and cocoa, honey, candy nougat and lots and lots of fruit. I was unaware that this was a blend of a washed and dry processed coffee when I first tasted it, but it makes perfect sense and that happens to be one of my favorite blends as it tens to balance out the berry notes with a slight citrus edge. That bergamot and honey of the washed coffee are the perfect highlight for the cocoa and berry notes. I also blended this coffee with the Xinabajul decaf it tasted like straight up cherry pie.

This was another coffee that I was not aware was actually a blend. I approached cupping this coffee expecting an El Salvador, and for the most part that's what it is with caramel and cookie notes throughout with a mostly malice acidity, but it's undercut with just a bit of a citrus note that makes the whole cup a little brighter and sweeter through the finish. The dry fragrance and aroma did not really betray the blend with mostly the caramel and crisp malice notes coming through. The warm cup had caramel and cookie with the bright apple malice acidity with a long lovely sustained brightness, which is the first sign of the washed Ethiopia coffee present in the blend. This is such a great example of subtle blending in a way where you're really just trying to promote one element of taste in a way that will support the main component. This blend is an awesome espresso as well, based in many ways on a classic espresso profile when taken a little deeper in the roast.

 

The Xinabajul decaf did have some of the biscuity flavors that I might associate with a decaf coffee, but definitely leaning more to the sweetness with lots of cocoa and more of a cookie/biscuit note in the fragrance and aroma. The warm cup has the biscuit note but with an apple brightness in the middle of the palate on the City+ roast. It's a fairly mild cup and there's some vanilla wafer with the cocoa right on the front of the palate as it cools with more sweet apple. As the coffee continues to cool it really opens up nicely with lots of sweetness and brightness throughout in a perfect balance. This is a clean, sweet, approachable decaf with lots of potential in the roaster.

Read more on Proyecto Xinabajul and on some Decaf Fundamentals here:

http://www.coffeeshrub.com/shrub/content/guatemala-proyecto-xinabajul

http://www.coffeeshrub.com/shrub/content/decaf-fundamentals