I haven't had much time to find new coffees lately. It has been a rather busy few weeks, with a trip to Cleveland related to "After Voices," my wife's new poetry chapbook from Burning River, a local press. We've also had illness in her family, grim news in the journalism world, birthday gatherings and more happenings than I can count. On the Cleveland trip, we hit the highlights, with readings and a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We also stopped in at the local indie coffee chain, Phoenix Coffee, which also roasts its own beans. I'm kicking myself for not picking some up on the way out of town. Luckily, I still had this (shrinking) bag of beans from Stumptown.
Name Panama Carmen Estate
Origin 1700-1850 meters above sea level at the estate, caturra and typica varieties
Roasted: Sept. 24 by Stumptown Coffee.
Purchased: Sept. 28 at Stumptown in the Ace Hotel at 18 West 29th Street and Broadway, Manhattan.
Description "Extremely floral in the fragrance, sweet milk chocolate, notes of meyer lemon, mandarin orange and blackberry."
In the Cup Again with the meyer lemon, which is apparently a favorite descriptive term of Stumptown's tasters. For a couple of weeks, this bean has been my steeze. Whatever that means. Here are more details from Stumptown:
Carlos Aguilera’s Carmen Estate is a perennial top 5 finisher at the Best of Panama cupping event held each year to showcase the absolute finest coffees from around the country. His focus on perfect cherry selection, cleanliness in his mill and even drying sets his coffee at the top of the pack. This year’s lot comes from isolated areas of Carmen Estate that range between 1700 and 1850 meters above sea level. It is a 50/50 split of Caturra and Typica varietals which combine to form a sweet and complex varietal blend.
I've mainly had it as an espresso. I've seen a reference online to this coffee as "crisp and clean, like blackberries steeped in water." It was the favorite of my much more sophisticated fellow coffee-blogger at Man Seeking Coffee. (His description: "light, floral, chocolate, lime.") As anyone who bothers to read my coffee ramblings knows, it's the notes of chocolate, the nuts, the richness, that draw me in, and while I'm not a big fan of overpowering floral and fruit notes, I like them just fine when they are well-balanced. That is the case with this coffee.
Day after day, I have been downing shots of this without complaint. A sweet cup. It is light, goes down easy, dances on the tongue. Am I in love? Ah, not entirely, but it's good coffee, and I'd try it again. This is the fourth Stumptown coffee I've sampled since the shop opened in Midtown -- Montes de Oro, Blue Batak and Finca el Injerto were the others. So now I'm definitely a believer in the church of Stumptown. If I had a choice I'd still take the Montes de Oro, but this is a close second.
By the way, I heartily recommend this GQ article on the best coffees in the country, which features some familiar names for anyone who has been following my quest here: not only Stumptown, but Ninth Street Espresso, Ritual Roasters and Intelligentsia, among others. It is easy to imagine a coffee quest across America.