I’ve had a bag of Ritual Roaster’s Finca Matalapa La Cidra, El Salvador sitting in my cupboard, nearly empty, for almost a month now. And no notes. Nothing. Search as I might, I can’t find a single tasting note I’ve made on this coffee. The roast date on this bag is September 10th. Man! Falling down on the job, that’s what this is.
But I’ll take this as somewhat of an experiment, something to pique my interest, lemons…into lemonade: how does this coffee taste when it is truly, beyond all debate, past its prime? Do some coffees hold up well even long after they are deemed, by common practice, stale?
In my experience there has been at least one coffee that, indeed, has held up well against time and common practice: Ritual’s Finca Moreno, Santa Barbara, Honduras that I wrote about last December continued to brew a fine cup even two weeks past its roast date (and here’s an interesting turn of events: I wrote about two coffees in that post and the other was…drum roll, please….Ritual Roaster’s Finca Matalapa, El Salvador, the CoE winning instance of it…talk about revisiting an old friend).
This is, of course, a decidedly unscientific exercise, at least in terms of the methods used in this post, but I am not going to let that stop me. I am going to compare my notes about this aging beauty against Ritual’s notes on the same coffee. I brewed the old La Cidra in a press-pot. I made the judgement that it would do the best job of coaxing out any off-flavors if there were any to be had.
Lets take a gander at the bag and the flavors claimed to reside within: “pineapple, lime candy, maple”, is what the bag states. The description on Ritual’s website is similar: “Lively and sweet, with flavors of ripe pineapple, lime candy, and a subtle maple finish”.
So, what did I find in the “stale” bag? Honestly, nothing but good things: a woody fragrance in the grinds and an unami-like savory character (“tang and saltiness like miso soup”, is what I wrote), a sweetness (tamarind and molasses), a thick viscous body and a pleasant lime acidity in the cup.
Even taking into account the differences in flavor perception between two (or more) different taste buds, I think the the La Cidra held up respectably well to the ravages of time. The pineapple and maple turned into and/or was perceived as something more concentrated and the lime acidity was still there, possibly in a less pronounced form but still pleasantly present in the cup. Impressive.
This has me thinking that I need to be more rigorous about this, that it would be interesting to re-create this using my own tasting notes and that this has the makings of a new series of posts examining the degree to which any number of coffees’ flavor profiles are changed by time.
“Old coffee”. Yeah. I like it…