Category Archives: Tasting notes

The last of the @barefootcoffee Santa Marta

The last of this smoky, tangy, BBQ’d fruit beauty hit the Chemex for the first time this morning. My thoughts?

I should have done this sooner.

So much fruit, lightly structured, with a slightly viscous body

It was very much same in the V60, only the bass notes — the richness of the fruit, the intensity of the smokiness — were fuller and rounder, all the more to undergird the El Salvador’s signature tang. In the V60 it was the main course at a backyard BBQ. In the Chemex it was dessert. This is not to say we’re talking liquid smoke. No, no, no. Far more subtle. Far more. It was part of the whole. It’s always dangerous when you start talking about smokiness. Just to be clear. Moving on…

Here in “The Lab” I have, at my disposal, three pour-over drip devices: a Chemex, a V60 and a Clever (is a Clever really pour-over? … mmm…).

My advice? Skip the Clever and use the V60 or the Chemex, flat-bed, circular pour. We’re talking the V60 here for this technique and we’re talking “flat-bed” and circular versus “pre-coning” the grounds and pouring slowly in the center. That worked wonders for a Sightglass Rwanda I was messing with a short time back (much thanks to @worstofthewurst) but for this El Sal, the “flat bed” technique left the higher notes hefting the load while some of the richer fruit and body went AWOL. Good stuff. And from my hometown, no less.

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The last of the @barefootcoffee Santa Maria

The last of this smoky, tangy, BBQ’d fruit beauty hit the Chemex for the first time this morning. My thoughts?

I should have done this sooner.

So much fruit, lightly structured, with a slightly viscous body

It was very much same in the V60, only the bass notes — the richness of the fruit, the intensity of the smokiness — were fuller and rounder, all the more to undergird the El Salvador’s signature tang. In the V60 it was the main course at a backyard BBQ. In the Chemex it was dessert. This is not to say we’re talking liquid smoke. No, no, no. Far more subtle. Far more. It was part of the whole. It’s always dangerous when you start talking about smokiness. Just to be clear. Moving on…

Here in “The Lab” I have, at my disposal, three pour-over drip devices: a Chemex, a V60 and a Clever (is a Clever really pour-over? … mmm…).

My advice? Skip the Clever and use the V60 or the Chemex, flat-bed, circular pour. We’re talking the V60 here for this technique and we’re talking “flat-bed” and circular versus “pre-coning” the grounds and pouring slowly in the center. That worked wonders for a Sightglass Rwanda I was messing with a short time back (much thanks to @worstofthewurst) but for this El Sal, the “flat bed” technique left the higher notes hefting the load while some of the richer fruit and body went AWOL. Good stuff. And from my hometown, no less.

26 grams – panic in the morning

The silence of the early morning is pierced by the sound of an alarm clock.

DAN sluggishly begins to move. He rolls his body toward the sound of the alarm, reaches out and with an experienced, well-aimed but still blunt and fumbling paw at the darkness, brings his hand down hard on the source of the alarm, activating the snooze.

NINE MINUTES LATER

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. The alarm goes off again and, with the same lumbering swing DAN again hits his target, temporarily disabling the alarm.

NINE MORE MINUTES PASS

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. Once again the alarm sounds and DAN, reluctant to awaken, snoozes the alarm yet again.

ANOTHER NINE MINUTES…

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

DAN lies motionless on his back in the darkness as the alarm continues to sound over and over again.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

Nothing else on his body moves – not his arm … not his foot … not his head – nothing except his eyelids. His eyelids, in fact, shoot open, seemingly by force and remain wide open as he attempts to force himself awake.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.

DAN rolls over and definitively shuts the alarm off. Now he's awake.

DAN (TO HIMSELF)

Shit. I was going to hit up Modern for a cup of coffee. It's a no-go now. Why can't I just wake up with the damn alarm?

DAN Sighs. He sits on the edge of the bed in the darkness and in a small fit of self-loathing, initially laments his lack of discipline and the various and sundry negative effects it has on his life. Soon, though, his mood brightens.

DAN (TO HIMSELF)
Well. I guess I'll just take this opportunity to make a cup myself. I'll mess with the V60. I did, after all, want to try that long pre-infusion technique I read about on Twitter. And I still have some of the El Salvador I got from Flying Goat left. This'll be good.

DAN fondly recalls the his trip to Santa Rosa – his nephew'a fifth birthday party, his happening upon an old coworker at Flying Goat and the recommendation he received for the El Sal.

He gladly recalls the crisp acidity of the "Siberia" El Salvador that he has noticed on other occasions. He remembers the distinct nuttiness he found in the aroma, the heavy jamminess in both the body and the aroma and the refreshingly dry finish. He does this sort of thing often with other coffees and other memories. The anticipation of the aesthetic and sensory experience of brewing good coffee and the joy of experimentation ib trying new brewing techniques is often what gets him up in the morning.

With that, DAN rises from the bed, turns on the light, puts on his clothes and heads out to the kitchen.

INT.  KITCHEN

It's still early morning. The light isn't yet peeking out over the horizon but the sky is beginning to lighten, slowly transitioning from an inky black flecked with bright pins of light, to a flat, dark blue.

DAN walks to the cupboard and pulls the bag of El Salvador out of the cupboard.

Surprised, he marks its lightness.

A twinge of panic swells inside him.

DAN (TO HIMSELF)
Do I not have enough? Wait-wait-wait, how much do I need again?

DAN's formerly brightened mood is on the wane as he fumbles through the interface on his iPhone looking for the note where he has recorded all of his brewing information. He was really looking forward to messing with the long pre-infusion technique and now…

He finds the note and frantically scans the document for the information he needs.

He finds it.

DAN (TO HIMSELF)

26 grams! Alright.

He grabs a bowl, places it on the scale, tares the weight, opens the bag and begins to pour the beans.

As the beans fall into the bowl – TINK … TINK … TINK, TINK, TINK … TACK, TACK, TACK-TACK – DAN is like a man addicted to betting at a horse track, the one with the his betting tickets crumpled into his fist, with the beads of sweat rolling down his face, with the arms set level at his sides, fists pumping the air, attempting to will his horse to victory with the sheer force of his voice.

DAN (TO HIMSELF, THE SCALE AND THE BEANS)
Cuuuuummmmm-awwwwwnnnnnnn 26!

DAN's eyes dart quickly from the volume of beans growing in the bowl to the scale's readout – which is slowly climbing up – and back again, and to the beans, to the scale, beans, scale, beans, scale…

It's a race between the emptying bag and the slowly rising number on the scale's readout.

TACK, TACK, TACK-TACK…

…TACK, TACK, TACK-TACK.

TACK.

The sound of the beans falling into the bowl abruptly ends as the bag falls empty.

All of the beans that were in the bag are now sitting in the bowl.

There is a distinct silence. Everything seems to slow as DAN's eyes slowly fall, for a final time, toward the scale's digital readout.

He needs just 26 grams…

DAN pumps his fist in the air.

DAN (TO HIMSELF … THE SCALE AND THE BEANS)
Yes!

His mood restored, DAN brews up a batch of the El Salvador, using the long pre-infusion method to great effect – it deepens the nuttiness and the jammy notes in the aroma and the body, leaving the crispness intact.

The sun rises, victoriously vanquishing the darkness from the sky.