The Coffee: Panama Volcancito Don K
The Roasts: City, City+, Full City, Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide. ">Full City+
Don K is named for the grandfather of Ricardo Koyner, who produces this coffee from Panama. Koyner's grandfather built the Kotowa coffee mill in Volcancito de Boquete, which is still fully functional. It's quite impressive to see the 100 year old mill come to life, a wonder of wood and leather and chains set in motion by a single hand operated crank in the center of the whole deal. Koyner no longer processes coffee in the mill, but now uses a modern Colombian Penagos coffee mill which is extremely water efficient. While the Gesha coffee get all the hoopla these days, there are still some amazing non-gesha coffee to be had.
Sweetness and body are really to key touchtones of this caturra. Aleco describes the coffee as an ice cream sundae, and for good reason. Chocolate, fudge, caramel, and a rich creaminess in the mouthfeel hit the nail right on the head. I did a range of roasts, City to Full City +, with the thought that not only could this bean stand up to darker roasts, but it could shine there as well.
City - This was a characteristic City roast because of the bright citric note right on the dry fragrance that carried through the cup all the way through cooling. There was a malty sweetness characteristic of the City roast as well, but as it cooled, it was almost like caramel corn. What made this an atypical super-light roast was that the body was still HUGE. That chewy, creamy body really lent itself to the caramel notes. I thought this was a nice iteration, but that definitely this coffee requires a deeper roast level to really develop the sweetness. The citric and green apple brightness has a nice crispness to it, but I feel like more sweetness is in order.
City+ - Cake frosting-like sweetness on the dry fragrance. This is an incredibly round and balanced cup, with just the right lift right in the middle of the palate, verging on stone fruit, but with just a touch of malic crispness to it still. This cup was delicious and would show really well in a v60 brew, but I still felt like I could get just a bit more development of the acidity.
Full City - The dry fragrance was the mildest of all 4 roasts, but once the coffee cooled it opened up with some delightfully tangy stewed stone fruit all through the finish. The sweetness showed graham cracker, vanilla, and caramel, and the body just keeps getting bigger and bigger, so creamy and like Aleco said, actually rich, like, this is what richness truly means in a coffee. I thought that this was the perfect roast, and my clever brews of it were so spot on. When I tasted this coffee with some others, they felt like the City+ was the sweetest, but that this had the most complexity to it, with plum skin and vanilla.
Full City+ - This of course had a roast fragrance, while only having had a couple snaps of 2nd in the drum and tray. On day 2 there were a few spots of oil, but just a few. The most exciting thing about this roast progression and these amazingly uniform beans was the incredibly display of expansion on the beans. There was a concentrated refined sugar sweetness right on the tip of the tongue that was present in the hot cup all the way through to cool. The finish did have some distinct roasty notes to it as expected, but there was also a really decadent chocolate cake note in the cup. This would make a tremendous mocha or pair so nicely with a richly chocolate dessert. At a tasting that I did of these roast levels, this roast was the favorite of some of the public cuppers. They thought that is was at once familiar because of the roastiness, but much much sweeter than what they usually see in a dark roasted coffee.
City+ and Full City were my favorite roasts, but for sure I could see some applications for a Full City+ roast of this coffee that would be very crowd pleasing. The City roast had some real nice elements to it, but to my tastes I felt like it just hadn't quite reached it's potential, but certainly if you favor the more citric fruit notes over the stone fruit, then City was still a creamy bodied and sweet cup with that snappiness in the finish.