Ed. Note… I am pleased as punch to introduce you to my very first guest poster: Joanne Wong.
I met Joanne while frequenting Oakland’s “Original coffee taproom”, Modern Coffee and I’ve enjoyed and greatly appreciated her take on the coffees she’s tasted. It’s always instructive, enlightening and a ton of fun tasting and waxing prosaic about coffee with her.
When she tweeted out that she was able to score samples of some new coffees from one of Oakland’s newest roasting endeavors, Highwire, I had to get her on here to get her take on them and give you, dear reader(s), the benefit of her no-bullshit style of coffee connoisseurship.
Without further ado…
It’s taken me four days to get this coffee right. FOUR DAYS. But my patience has been rewarded.
I’m not known for exacting coffee preparation — quite the opposite, given my lackadaisical tendency to scoop beans vaguely by volume and pour however the hell much water I feel like down the gullet of my V60 (pictured above), sometimes just barely escaping overflow out of an opaque container below. Thanks to the recent acquisition of a Hario glass decanter with 100 mL markings, I can now vaguely and lackadaisically measure water volume, much to the delight of one Tom Baker.
Back to the coffee. The beasts to be tamed are depicted above, and they are from the very first batch of coffees released by Oakland, CA’s Highwire Coffee Roasters, formerly known as Peaberry’s Coffee and Tea. I could go into the history, acquisition, and new directions of the companies in question, but I am less investigative reporter and more Let Me Google That For You, and I’m pretty sure Dan asked me to write this more for my tastebuds than my journalistic skills.
In a vast lagoon of lightly-roasted “third wave” coffee with descriptors like lemon curd and grape Jolly Ranchers (which are disgusting and belong nowhere near coffee), Highwire’s Coffee may seem startlingly dark. The coffees are probably closer to a medium roast, geared less to showcase novel adjectives and and more to adaptively display the depth and beauty of each coffee’s origin.
The Kenya Kamuthanga, which I first tasted Day 2 after roast, is affable and juicy, as Kenyas are, but with a darker edge which reminds me of Korean roasted corn tea. While the Kenya is lovely, it’s the El Salvador Santa Adelaida that has a more interesting story to tell.
After making many perplexing carafes of coffee that were akin to drinking effervescent liquid charcoal, I gave the El Salvador some air, literally and figuratively. I left it to contemplate its own untamed existence in an open jar for a few days. Today, Day 5 after roast, I made a V60 with a coarser grind and slightly cooler water. The El Salvador shone with jewel-like facets of fire-roasted sweet-tart stone fruits and well-caramelized brown sugar; it amazes me how much the juxtaposition of delicate acidity with the darker roast profile rings on the palate (and how many hyphenated terms I can fit in one sentence). Suddenly, there is balance in the world, and all is right. Or… maybe that is the caffeine speaking.
I look forward to future offerings from this newly reborn roastery. Check them out.
’til next time,
n.b. – It is intended that this post have a soundtrack.