Current Coffees: June 2010

A quick run-down of Volta's current coffee menu...

Organic Nicaragua Los Delirios: Finca Las Termopilas

Aromatics awash with fresh wildflowers, golden raisin and cane sugar. A laid back acidity furnishes a smooth mouthfeel that glides across the palate with Dutch cocoa, fig preserves and a touch of green grape. A gentle finish comes through in notes of malt and black tea.

The Canales family and the El Eden cooperative group continue to be among the most proactive and quality-conscious organic farmers in Nicaragua. The farms themselves are well maintained and almost entirely self-sustaining—they generate the fertilizer they need using manure from the bulls and cows, cherry pulp, and organic waste material from the banana trees and other crops they grow. The ecosystems on the farms can best be described as lush, and there is a great abundance of shade, a good diversity of tree type, babbling creeks running through the land, and a ton of wildlife. Los Delirios itself comes with quite a pedigree, hard earned through a particular focus on details at the farm and a visible dedication to continuous improvement of the farm infrastructure. Our first experience with this farm was in 2004 when it took first place in the Cup of Excellence competition, making history by becoming the first certified organic coffee to win a CoE event.

Nicaragua: Finca San Jose (available after 6/4)

One of the seven Mierisch family farms, Finca San Jose is the baby of the bunch, purchased in 2003. Some of the properties, ranging in scale, have been in the family for generations upon generations and others have come and gone due to implications of the Nicaraguan Revolution and the coffee crisis that hit in 1980 -2000. The acquisition of Finca San Jose in 2003 was risky, as the family had not yet fully recovered from the tough financial crisis but Dr. Mierisch saw promise in the overgrown fallow slopes overlooking Lake Apanas.

Just a couple of months of clearing and pruning and the coffee trees began to recover from the neglect. A few years after that, Intelligentsia was introduced to Finca San Jose. Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts now looks forward to every new harvest with Finca San Jose. Each new year brings about noticeable improvements in quality. What was once a plain, innocuous coffee is becoming a clean, shiny, juicy, nuanced cup. It just keeps getting better and better. Rightly so, their efforts are vigorous and fervent. The long-awaited rewards are beginning to appear.

Cherry preserves start this layered cup with a pleasant tartness, but not far behind are the sweet flavors of raisin, plum, and a textured, buttery mouthfeel. Baked apples and cinnamon lead the finish of this beautiful coffee.

Costa Rica: Flecha Roja

Peanut brittle, sweet walnut and citrus fruit provide enticing aromatics. A popping acidity cools into a mellow marmalade. Sustaining notes of maple, crème brulee and cherry bring about a counterbalance, lending depth and composure. The finish is resolute but leaves hints of nut toffee.

Panama: Finca Santa Teresa El Machete

Our El Machete is produced by an innovative farmer named Juan Pablo Berard. His dedication to coffee quality and social and environmental sustainability are obvious in all endeavors at the farm, from funding Casa Esperanza (a school for his workers’ children) to separating individual lots of coffee to preserving forest on his property.

Forest blackberries, concord grape and a pleasant winyness dominate the nose. The body is full, dense and silky in texture; reminiscent of Black Forest cake. The lime acidity underscores notes of St. Germain and muscat grape as the finish tapers into cocoa and nutmeg spice.

Tanzania: Edelweiss Finagro Estate (available after 6/4)

[flickr-photo:id=3761353377,size=m]There is a ton of excitement around here about the coffees from Edelweiss/Finagro. It has quickly become something of a staff favorite, especially out in Los Angeles. It may be because the coffee has something of a mixed personality, in the best of ways. African coffees are perennially among our favorites on the cupping table, but they are also among the most challenging from a sensory perspective. The brilliantly unapologetic acidity and occasional savory tastes in great Kenyan coffees can sometimes be intimidating to the uninitiated. The complex floral and perfume-like aromatics combined with the lemongrass and delicate citric notes in fresh coffees from Southern Ethiopia can be so intoxicating that consumers accustomed to old or milder coffees don’t quite know what to make of them at first. But the Edelweiss, and Tanzania coffee in general, contains flavors coffee drinkers are familiar with in Central American coffees while keeping a very distinctly African identity. The coffees from Oldeani have been getting better and better each season, and still have not even glimpsed their true peak.

Tanzania has long been growing coffee in the shadows of more familiar African nations like Kenya and Ethiopia. In recent years its neighbor to the north (Rwanda) pulled off an astonishing climb up the Specialty ladder and has made a compelling bid for the attention of quality coffee drinkers worldwide.

A bursting, apple-like acidity leaves an impression of hazelnuts and cranberries through a finish that stays zesty and proper.