In my seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect home-made espresso, I was stopped short last weekend by a bean that came incredibly close. I just didn't have time to write about it, so I've been drinking it all week, alternating with this oddly tea-like but delicious coffee from Barismo that seems better suited to what the non-Americans call a cup of American coffee. Which can be a lovely beverage, no matter what the snobs say. Anyway, I bought these espresso beans at the same time, and have been enjoying that Brazilian flavor that took Frank Sinatra to no. 6 on the charts in 1946. Name: Fazenda Esperança Sweet Tooth Espresso Yellow Icatu
Origin: Campos Altos, Brazil, in the Cerrado region
Roasted: Feb. 9 by Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco
Purchased: Feb. 14 at Café Grumpy, 224 W. 20th St., Manhattan, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description: "The aroma of this espresso carries the shot, with ripe and fruity notes of lychee and concord grape, and a cherry soda sweetness emerges before a subtle dark chocolate finishes the shot," Ritual reports on its Web site.
The Pour: When I first tasted it, I thought, this is the shot I've been looking for. It was the chocolate-like finish, not overpoweringly sweet, but smooth and delicious. No bitterness whatsoever. I'll take the taster's word on the cherry soda (see those Coffee Song lyrics below), but it must be just a hint. A strong flavor like that would be a turnoff to me -- though cherries and chocolate is a great combination. Anyway, the description might lead you to think this is more like a hot chocolate, and that is not the case. It's a coffee that a coffee lover should love. Hm, I seem to be gushing. And I am definitely heading back downtown to see if there's any more left.
(While poking around on the Web, I found some blog reviews of an earlier crop of beans from the same farm.)
Ritual is promising that 2009 will be the year of the "Sweet Tooth Espressos,"
San Francisco is notoriously a city of coffee fanatics, which from time to time makes me wish I lived there (alas, the journalism opportunities are not so great). I can only hope that Grumpy orders more as the year continues. (More on how Ritual roasts).
Here is what Ritual says about Fazenda Esperança:
Produced by the Souza family--João and Tiago--in Campos Altos, Brasil, this coffee is specially roasted for espresso preparation. Their farm, Fazenda Esperança, is located in Brasil's Cerrado eco-region, known for its exceptional natural, or sun-dried, coffees--made possible by the particularly arid climate. After the Yellow Icatu trees are harvested, the coffee fruit naturally dries on concrete patios until it can be easily hulled off of the coffee bean. Because of the extra contact time that the bean has with the fruit, the coffee absorbs more sugar, which is evident in the shot.
It is not clear to me if this is the same Souza family. But doesn't that just make you love the Web? I must admit to being a sucker for these descriptions of hand-crafted coffee processes.
Now, how does that Sinatra coffee song go?
Way down among Brazilians Coffee beans grow by the billions So they've got to find those extra cups to fill They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil
You can't get cherry soda cause they've got to fill that quota And the way things are I'll bet they never will They've got a zillion tons of coffee in Brazil