This Planadas decaf has a beautiful sweetness for decaf coffee, a mix of raw cane juice and demurara sugar. Mild fruit tones come up too, banana bread aromatics and red apple in the cup, along with barley tea finish. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.
We picked up this decaf from an small export group in Tolima who represent a few of the small-holders in Herrera (including their own coffees). The short story is, they compiled this blend themselves from the coffees of neighboring farmers they are in touch with. It's a "custom" blend of sorts, but just not one WE put together. That said, there was no denying the cup clarity and surprising level of sweetness when it hit our cup table, a table shared with only non-decaf coffees from the same region. Needless to say, it impressed us, so we picked up a few bags. The coffee is processed locally, at what is the only decaffeination plant in the country. They use the ethyl acetate method, commonly referred to as "natural" decaf processing. That's only partly true. Sure, the two solvents used in this process occur naturally in some fruits, but what's normally used is synthetically produced. It's an effective method in that most of the caffeine is removed, and without the need for excessive heating of the coffee, much of the volatile compounds remain intact.
This blend of Planadas coffee resulted in a mildly fruited, sweet cup, a unique Colombia decaf. The dry grounds smell of raw sugars, a touch of barley malt, and a touch of banana. Once you add hot water, the banana smell builds along with brown sugar sweetness, culminating in a smell of fresh baking banana bread. The cup has a refined sweetness, convincing even at very light roast levels. At City+ it's shows a touch of the unrefined raw cane juice as well as "clear" sweetness of demurara. The cleanliness found in the cup is quite impressive, a soft-edged coffee with a near-disappearing finish. The cooling cup shows mild expressions of red apple, and a hint of roasted barley tea. This shows well from light to dark, and I think brews the best from City+ to FC, and FC to FC+ will make a great decaf espresso. Like some other decafs, the 'snaps' in the roaster are a bit difficult to detect, and in general, this one takes some heat to keep the roast progressing at a reasonable pace (not unlike our non-decaf Colombian coffees).