I've come to appreciate sellers and roasters who blog about their single-source culinary coffees, giving some background on the beans, how they found them, who grew them. So it was that I learned that "Nimac Kapeh" is (reputedly) a Mayan phrase that means "the place of coffee." As I have hinted before, my personal Nimac Kapeh is Café Grumpy on 20th Street in Chelsea, which is where I found myself again on Thursday after my daughter and I were thwarted on a trip to a nearby knitting store, which was closed. I picked up two bags of beans, including this one. Name: Nimac Kapeh
Origin: Atitlan region of Guatemala
Roasted: Feb. 9 by Barismo of Arlington, Ma.
Purchased: Feb. 14 at Café Grumpy, 224 W. 20th St., Manhattan, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description: "Tea-like, floral, and a mellow soft red fruit acidity."
On his blog, Jaime van Schyndel of Barismo describes the trip to the obscure Atitlan region and the challenges in identifying the right beans. The final choice was a blend of small lots from many different farmers:
When we traveled to Guatemala this year, the coffees we identified with most were the Atitlans. It was a good weather year this year there and the product from Atitlan had stronger, almost Yirgacheffe-like, aromas. Soft rose and cherry blossom floral were descriptions we uttered more than a few times. The problem was finding a clean coffee that fit our tastes. This coffee struck us as a very balanced and fruit forward coffee... It was the best Atitlan we found on the trip... part of a large mill blend where farmers submit the farm lots which are so small you are unable to break the receipts down to a single farm but only down to a single day or stretch of days.
I noticed that the blog post said the flavors varied depending on how it was prepared, with a hotter cup resulting in the tea-like flavors. The bag recommended brewing it as a regular cup with some fairly specific instructions (205 degrees, 1 tbsp per five ounces of water). So I tried my best to approximate that, too.
I tend to prefer espresso, regardless of the recommendations, but since I had also bought a bag of espresso beans from Brazil (more on that later this week), I figured I would follow the instructions this time.
On opening the vacuum-sealed bag, I was caught up short by the fresh aroma. Mmm.
On tasting the cup, I definitely caught the cherry and tea-like flavors described at the Barismo blog (though I have never had old-time teaberry gum, another comparisons made by Van Schyndel). Again, I am by no means an expert in these matters -- just trying to teach myself.
The Nimac Kapeh was a bit like sipping tea, with no hint of the bitterness or sourness you sometimes get with coffee, even supposedly good beans. I was happy to drink it black, when my tendency is to add skim or soy milk when I drink by the cup, as opposed to espresso, which I take straight these days.
It had a rich, sweet finish (Barismo compared it to brown sugar -- I guess so). Very interesting. I'm going to enjoy this one and miss it when it's gone. It was a great complement to a quiet, pleasant Sunday in the middle of a long weekend, listening to music with my wife and puttering around (our daughter was on a play date).