If I am not mistaken, Four Barrel is still sourcing their green beans from the Pacific Northwest’s seminal “3rd wave” coffee mini-empire, Stumptown but they are now roasting in-house. I wish that I would have tasted this coffee while FB was still relying on Stumpy for their roasted beans but, alas, t’is not the case. No side-by-side comparison is possible but no matter. It’ll have to stand on it’s own merits.
And it does.
I have always enjoyed my Stumptown experiences. Never a bad cup, have I had, when their product was at the center of the mix. I’ve tried cappuccinos in locations in Portland and Seattle and imbibed a cup of french-pressed brew sitting at the luxuriously massive communal coffee table at the Ace Hotel location in downtown Portland. Never a bad cup. Never a stand-out either, though (I hope I won’t be shot for that comment the next time I enter Portland…I can feel paranoia creeping in already). The espresso drinks? Scrumptious. The coffee? Good. Great, even. Solid, high quality offerings. Like I said before, never a bad cup. There has never been a moment, however, that has made me step back and take note of a flavor I have never experienced, though. There has never been an “ah-ha” moment for me in a cup of Stumptown coffee and I am not going to say that has happened now.
For one thing, I am not going to say this has happened now because there is no way I could possibly chalk up the pleasantly dusty, lightly spicy, uber-chocolaty flavors I found in the Colombia Los Idolos I just drank solely to Stumptown. They sourced the beans, of course and that’s no small feat. Good beans are an incredibly important initial step towards a good cup of coffee. No silk purses, if you know what I mean. I’m sure, though, that in the hands of someone without skill, those meticulously sourced beans could be rendered an undrinkable charcoal mess.
Secondly, I can’t remember having an unparalleled experience when drinking Stumptown coffee. Remember, “solid”, yes, but I cannot remember anything that stood out. But this. This, to me anyway, is pretty much what I like in a solid Colombian coffee. Spice? Check. Chocolate? Check. Dryness? Check. It’s all there. Let’s double-check that chocolaty note. It’s there in droves and it’s really the stand-out component of this coffee. It hits you first and it is quite intense. It’s what I’ll remember long after the bag is empty.
And that’s the crux of the matter, right there. As I said, no side-by-side is possible. I never tasted this coffee in the hallowed days of yore when Four Barrel was but a dribbling baby of a roasting operation so I have no idea what this coffee tasted like before Four Barrel got it’s hands on it but as I said before, solid quality but nothing especially exemplary. Here they are, though: Stumptown sourced beans roasted by Four Barrel and here I am drinking what is a stand out coffee, an exemplary example (can I say that?) of a classic region. That’s new.
Postscript: Quadcam? Quadcam.