This has not been a good month for my coffee-blogging. We had some distracting news at the office, then a couple of weeks ago, I was laid low by a burning lump of fire in my throat that turned out to be strep. My daughter and eight other kids in her class, plus the teacher and some parents, probably came down with it too. It took a while to shake that, and the cure was in some ways worse than the illness, but I finally seem to be on the mend. At least I got some reading done. So I wasn't drinking as much coffee, and I still had quite a supply of the Ecuadorean beans from Whole Foods. About a week ago, though, I stopped by Cafe Grumpy with my daughter and was pleased to see some selections that were right up my alley. This is the first of the two. Name: Chapadão de Ferro - Microlot 494
Origin: Patrocinio, Brasil
Roasted: March 31 by Ritual Coffee Roasters
Purchased: April 5 at Café Grumpy, 224 W. 20th St., Manhattan, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description: "Clean and sweet, with beautiful acidity and flavors of butterscotch, dutch cocoa, and dried fruits."
In the cup: I was drinking this as an espresso most of the week, and had not been particularly impressed. But it was a lousy, busy week so I started fresh day with a regular cup, no milk. First I had to clean the Jura machine, which demands attention every 200 coffees or so. I dropped the white pill in the top and went through the rinsing procedure to get rid of coffee oil buildup. This may have affected the flavor of the espressos last week.
Here is the marketing pitch from RItual:
In the center of an extinct volcano in Patrocinio, Brasil, Ruvaldo Delarisse produces this natural, or sun-dried, coffee 1200 meters above sea level. The soil at Chapadão de Ferro is uniquely rich in iron, rendering the farm’s name (“Plateau of Iron”), as well as a flavor that is similarly unique to Cerrado, the eco-region. Ruvaldo sun-dries the coffee fruit off of the bean on concrete patios, which helps develop both body and sweetness in this coffee.
The Plateau of Iron, now that's a phrase to conjure with. Its a good coffee. It's not knocking my socks off. It's typical coffee acidity is easy to take (is that the "beautiful" part?) and maybe there is indeed a hint of cocoa (that is what caught my attention on the Grumpy menu). Butterscotch? I wasn't getting it. Dried fruits? Not really. I guess I remain something of a barbarian without a refined coffee palate. I found myself wishing I had instead picked up the single origin espresso from El Salvador -- Finca la Ponderosa microlot roasted by Verve -- that I had tried in the shop when I bought this. The barista pulled a shot that was funky, muddy and tasted like the side of a mountain, but I loved it. It was perfect for that moment, anyway. Still, this Brazilian is perfectly acceptable, better than most coffee you could get anywhere and better than many beans I have reviewed on the blog. I can't wait to try the other coffee I bought and have kept sealed in deep cool storage -- a Colombian bean roasted by Intelligentsia. Perhaps tomorrow.