What I expected from Ecco’s Brazil Santa Terezinha was what I have been led to expect from all of Ecco’s coffees — a complex, multi-layered cup of liquid elegance. What I got at first, though, was a simple, solid cup of coffee. I wasn’t dissapointed but I wasn’t wowed either.
When I picked up the Terezinha from the fine and talented folks at Modern Coffee in Oakland, CA they mentioned that what stood out most from their experience with it was the unsolicited and uniform praise heaped on it by their customers. Now, It is normally simply the nature of the café business that the majority of one’s customers are not likely to go out of their way to let you know how much they enjoyed their cup of coffee. There is a vastly greater chance of you hearing what’s wrong with the cup — call me a cynic — but many of Modern’s customers were, indeed, going out of their way to let them know they thought the Terezinha was an excellent cup of coffee. I was intrigued. I brought a bag home.
Ecco has a reputation — here at “the lab” and elsewhere. Elegance. Refinement. Sophistication. These are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of the coffees I have had from Ecco. We’re talking Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, maybe Cadillac. That’s the expectation set by past experience with Ecco. Ecco is refined. Ecco is sophisticated.
What Ecco is not, is simple. Here, though, is a cup that just says “drink me every day, I’m uncomplicated” It’s easy to enjoy — mellow and sweet with just a touch of tartness. Simple. Solid. Just a nice cup of coffee. For the coffee snob — in which group I proudly claim membership — there isn’t much there in the cup.
There’s plenty up front. The whole beans smell sweet and like a loaf of yeasty Italian bread. In the perfume of the grinds there’s a sharpness, some sour notes (in a good way). I got concord grape and meyer lemon Add to all that, marzipan (from the back of the spoon, after breaking the crust in the press-pot). In the cup, though, it all changes dramatically. in the cup the Terezinha is just … well … a simple nice coffee … at least at first …
It’s only when it cools that the Tererzinha really comes alive. Now, this is the case with almost all coffees, that piping hot, you are not going to get all that a particular coffee has to offer. You have to let it cool a bit before the fullness of flavor (if, in fact it is there, of course) comes to the fore. So it wasn’t entirely unexpected that this coffee would open up a bit given a chance to cool off. It’s just that not only did the Terezinha require a greater amount of temperature loss before the complexity that was evidenced before and during brewing returned but that the change was so dramatic. Back, was the meyer lemon, the sweetness (mellow and round in the cup). Added to that was a hint of vanilla. Harder to coax out are the oolong flavors (that nice floral-fruit aroma). I had to swirl the mug a bit.
So, patience, then. It will be rewarded. What, at first blush, is a simple cup will come alive and that trademark Ecco elegance and refinement will finally make itself known.
Just the facts
Coffee: Ecco Café’s Organic Brazil Auction Lot Santa Terezinha
Brewing method: Press-pot
Source: Modern Coffee, Oakland, CA