In (The Holiday) Season

[flickr-photo:id=4181766373]While some people might have dreams of sugarplums around this time of the year, here at Volta we're always looking forward to December for a more coffee-focused treat: the return of the in-season South American coffees. We already had a preview of the new coffees in November with Peruvian selections from both Ecco Caffe and Intelligentsia. The first weeks of December brought us the first two coffees from one of Intelligentsia's favorite farm projects: Colombia's Finca Santuario. Santuario is, in the best sense, an experimental collaboration between farmer and roaster. With input from Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts, farmer Camilo Merizalde has planted small plots of some of the most treasured varieties of coffee, optimizing the farm's elevations and micro-climates to bring out the best of each different crop. The first two coffees from the farm for 2009 are the wonderful El Mirador Typica and Heliconias Bourbon. The Mirador's syrupy body starts out with flavors that are are nutty and aromatic, but bloom into dense molasses, raspberry candy, and dark cherry as it cools. The Heliconias Bourbon (as in coffee variety, not Kentucky whiskey) has fewer bright fruit notes, but has a big body with hints of roasted nut and caramel as the cup cools.

From here out, the South American coffees come fast and furious. We already had preview samples of Ecco Caffe's Cachoeira Yellow Bourbon Espresso and Brazil/Yirgacheffe Ecco Espresso on the machine last week. Next week we'll have a sample of the single-farm Brazil Fazenda Sertaozinho espresso. Look for much more Ecco espresso to turn up throughout the rest of the year and into 2010. We'll also see two micro-lot coffees from different Colombian farms from Intelligentsia in two weeks, along with the return of Brazil's Agua Preta coffee. We hope to see Bolovia's Anjilanaka back in the shop by the first week of January.

In other coffee news, we will be featuring two exquisite coffees from Vancouver's 49th Parallel Roasters this week: the Epic Espresso Holiday Blend on the guest espresso grinder, and Ethiopia's Wonda Worka Collective Yirgacheffe coffee. We look forward to working with 49th to bring many more exclusive coffees to Gainesville.

New Chocolates & Gifts

Thanks to local Italian foods importer Andrea Tosolini, we have several new chocolate bars from both Maglio and L'Artigiano. From Maglio, we have new crop single origin bars from Cuba, Santa Domingo, and New Guinea. We also have their fine milk chocolate bars in stock, along with a real treat: dark milk chocolate with carmalized popped rice. Think of it as the best Crunch bar ever devised. We also picked up another twist on L'Artigiano's amazing combination of chocolate with sweet sea salt from Cervia, Italy: 54% dark milk chocolate with a layer of hazelnut buttercream and a sprinkling of Cervia sea salt. It is my single favorite new bar of the season.

We are also pleased to announce the return of the new, improved Escazu bars, from Raleigh, NC. All Escazu bars are now made in-house from bean-to-bar. Hal is importing the best beans directly from farms in Central and South America; the beans are toasted, crushed, extracted, and blended entirely in his workshop. The result is a jump in quality across all of their bars, along with more special runs of limited edition bars like the 60% Carenero Venezuela bar with goat's milk. Taza Chocolate, from Somerville, MA, is also working bean-to-bar; their chocolates are all stone-ground and have a rustic crunch that brings to mind old-new-world chocolates from Mexico. Their limited edition 75% dark bar from a single co-op in Chiapas, Mexico, is a very special example of their craft.

Finally, we made sure to stock up on coffee-making and gift items around the shop. We have Chemex brewers and filters, Hario Syphon brewers, Intelligentsia diner-style mugs, and many varieties of whole-bean coffee to choose from.