A super high-grown micro-lot from Carmen Estate, it is a surprisingly balanced coffee. Dense body and creamy mouthfeel are the context for very sweet roast notes with caramel, brown sugar, creme brulee, ripe orange. Accents of vanilla, malt, orange peel, warming spice. City+ to Full City
Carmen Estate is a farm we have worked with for many years now. It is located high on the hillside above the large, well known Finca La Florentina. In fact, La Florentina used to buy the coffee cherry from all the surrounding farms to augment their own. La Florentina is down in the flat valley and Carmen Estate is roughly another 500 meters higher up. Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, and is a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi Aguilera (Carmen was his grandmother) and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independent micro-mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees using new techniques. This farm uses the de-mucilage process where the mucilage is stripped off the parchment layer using friction, rather than traditional fermentation. I was very impressed with the high altitude and excellent practices of Carlos and Finca Carmen. This coffee has been in the top 10 of the Best of Panama competition too many times to count, from #2 to #5 spot every year in fact. The entire farm is very high altitude; it starts at 1750 meters, an altitude many farms don't even reach, and goes up from there! We have a special arrangement to buy this coffee each year from a particular part of the farm around 1900 meters, a small micro lot. Altitude isn't the only factor that matters with coffee, but it does allow coffee to ripen slower and creates greater bean density. Density and slow maturation are important factors in cup quality.
This coffee is known for acidity and brightness but this year it cups more like a sweet caramelly coffee, more about the syrupy body than bright, piquant flavors. The dry fragrance has a blunt and bold brown sugar sweetness, smells of sugars being caramelized and butter, praline almond. The aroma from the light roasts have malt and lemon in the wet aroma, but the balanced sweetness comes out at C+ to FC roast, with molasses and caramel-laced chocolate cookie character. On the break there is a lot of vanilla and creme brulee aromatics! The cup is all about ripe orange notes and sweet caramel in context with dense mouthfeel. There are still accents of clean vanilla, malt, a zest of orange rind, and a trace of warming spices in the finish. Note: This is actually quite stunning as an SO espresso as well, but fairly bright.