I was traveling during the 2010 Guatemala Cup of Excellence auction and couldn't enter a bid on my favorite coffee (Las Macademias, #2). Well, it went for near $20 and that was too much for me anyway. It's a great coffee, but how great? That's the question I keep asking myself about these auctions. And then there is the very high price we paid in the normal course of my coffee-sourcing adventures for an exceptional coffee. This is a microlot from a farm in San Martin Jilotepeque called Finca La Esmeralda, and we are paying a hefty premium for it is very pleasing to the farmer, and I rate it 1 point less than Las Macademias. Does that make this coffee a steal? Or is Macademias via CoE just unreasonable? That's what I keep asking myself; the calculus seems off, very off. Why not pay great premiums direct to farmers on small lots, without the hoopla? The farm size is about 11 hectares planted in coffee, two of which are planted with yellow bourbon. The coffee is shade grown and at an altitude of 1600-1650 meters above sea level. Yellow Bourbon is a variant of the usual red Bourbon type, a classic old varietal that originated on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion), and named for the royal family of France at the time. It's an ideal coffee for high altitude cultivation, and results in dense physical structureof the coffee seed. This is great for roasting, as it promotes even heat transfer, and less damage to the bean structure. Bourbon coffees tend to have a "classic" Central American cup profile.
I cupped this on a table with many other Guatemalas and the crisp, clear brightness jumped out immediately. The dry fragrance at City + roast has cocoa powder, honey, and hazelnut. Adding hot water, the aroma has a maple syrup sweetness and a nice granola bar scent as well (perhaps the honey syrup and nut combination, mostly). The cup has a brilliant acidity (brightness), clean almond hazelnut roast tone and cocoa in the finish. The sweetness is simply stunning, and has a cane sugar flavor, and the bright notes keep the cup lively as the temperature dips. As it cools the body seems syrupy, and this pairs well with the sweetness and nutty roast tones. It's a classic Central coffee from a classic cultivar. Roast appearance suggests a very dense coffee, with little expansion in the crease, and no cracks in the ends. I haven't roasted to Full City for espresso yet, but the potential for a great shot is definitely there.
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