What I’m Drinking Now: The Four Barrel Memory Test Edition
I have three bags of beans awaiting review. Backed up, their flavors and aromas slowly fading from my palette, they await their turn in the spotlight here at danmarkham.net. in this post, I intend to take care of them all at one fell swoop. My other life has been calling, lately, so It’s been some time since I bought, let alone sampled, any of these coffees (I have since moved on to others and I hope to give my current store of beans their due sooner rather than later). You, dear reader, are going to have to have some faith in my taste memory — and, to be honest, so am I — especially for the first bag, less so for the other two. But let’s see what we can do.
It’s a bit of a Four Barrel love affair here, I admit, but it’s also a love of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, in Portland, OR and an appreciation of the fact that Four Barrel’s carrying Stumptown’s beans, for the time being, affords anyone, with access to the new kid on the Mission café block, an outstanding oppurtunity to sample an incrediblly wide variety of Stumptown’s coffee, sans shipping charges or the cost of a plane ticket with the destination PDX. I look forward to the day I am able to sample something that comes directly from the back of the house at Four Barrel but, until then, easy access to the products of a seminal west coast roaster is no bad thing.
So, here we go, in descending chronological order …
Guatamela, Finca El Inherto, Bourbon Varietal
Like I said above, this coffee is going to take a bit more heavy lifting, on my brain’s part, to remember anything specific — especially since I see no reference to it on Stumptown’s site any longer — but the general gist of it is this: this is a nice, solid coffee. It has a bit of the dusty spiciness that I remember getting in other Guatamalans with good sweetness and a mellow dose of acidity. It’s not a coffee that is going to hit you over the head with any type of unusually bold flavor but it’s not going to throw you any curve balls either so I suppose it’s all in the way you look at it.
Our next contestant hails from the home of the great Panama Canal, a country known as … well … Panama. I’ve reviewed a Panama before — Ritual’s Panama Boquete, Finca Berlina — and, whatta ya know, there is a bit of the same savory character found in that coffee, right here. This time, though, it was not as pronounced. The acidity was, let’s see, if memory serves, more bright than the guatemala mentioned above, with a more medium bodied feel.
I intended to pick up a bag of Colombian. I wanted to compare and contrast it with the Guatamala, the memory of which, at the time, was definitely fresher. No luck, though, as it’s shelf was bare on the day I entered. Instead, I was drawn to this particular African coffee for the lack, in it’s description, of any overarching berry flavors. I love a nice, berry sweet Ethiopian as much as the next brown-blooded coffee drinker but it seems, these days, that is all you get: a dry-processed Ethiopian bursting with berries. Wonderful, but I thought it was time to try something different (ironic, that an Ethiopian without berry flavors is what could be considered different, these days).
There was a lot of talk, on the description, of sugar and candied lemon peel that made it sound as if there was going to be a veritable symphony of sweet and citrus but I thought it was all a bit more subdued than that. The flavor that was put forth on the description that did, in fact, reveal itself to me, was that of Oolong tea. This was, probably, the most unique aspect of this coffee, quite possibly making it the most unique of the three in this review and elevating it to something quite unusual with respect to the entire portfolio of beans that I’ve tried. Very nice and, as stated above, a welcome change of pace from the surfeit of Ethiopian berry-bombs out there today.
So, there you go. Three coffees in one post. It’s a precedent setting event here. There are, of course, many more offerings to be had. At some point I hope to have given them all a little bit of my time.