Interesting things seem to be happening at one of my favorite New York coffee haunts, Café Grumpy. For one thing, the shop's official blog is looking flashier and busier. And Grumpy -- which turned me on to many of the best roasters in the country (Intelligentsia, Verve, Barismo, and Ritual) -- is now roasting selected coffees of its own at its Brooklyn location.
I missed the Kenyan roast, but there still seemed to be an ample supply of this Finca Chichupac selection from Guatemala as well as a Finca Carmen from
Panama at the locally owned chain's Chelsea shop.
I'm happy to see all the local culinary coffee purveyors step up their games lately. Perhaps the arrival of Stumptown has something to do with that. Now if only a few more of them creep uptown into the 30s, 40s and 50s, a section of Manhattan that remains a Starbucks-dominated wasteland. Name: Finca Chichupac
Origin: Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala
Roasted Nov. 3 by Café Grumpy in Brooklyn.
Purchased Nov. 9 at Grumpy's Chelsea location at 224 W. 20th St., between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description "Candy apple aroma leads to a full-bodied cup. Granny smith apple brightness rounded out by caramelized brown sugar sweetness."
In the cup It stands to reason that a shop that has proven to be such a good judge of others' coffees would roast a fine one of its own. My only gripe is the lack of other documentation on the Grumpy site, apart from the short and sweet, "Autumn we love you." Indeed. But through the power of the Internet, I did find this brief interview on YouTube with Julián Alquejay of Finca Chichupac at last year's Cup of Excellence. The plantation is owned by 13 families in a region with a horrific history of government-directed mass murder and genocide of the Mayan population in the 1980s. Here is an article on the continuing legacy of that time and the civil war that ended in 1996.
Right now Grumpy is offering two of its own roasts, this Guatemalan and a second from Finca Carmen in Panama (presumably from the same farm as this Stumptown selection). I decided to go with Guatemala, and I'm glad I did.
I definitely caught the candy apple aroma, especially when drinking this as a regular coffee. It also makes a great espresso, and I thought I detected a bit of nut, not mentioned in the official tasting description above. The sweet finish definitely takes the edge off the fruity brightness. It's a great cup of joe.
That does not leave me any less conflicted, sampling these nuanced flavors, made from beans grown in an impoverished nation near former killing fields, as I sit in my comfortable apartment in the middle of the richest city in North America, far from the .bullets and butchers of men. Such thoughts certainly puts one's own petty troubles in perspective, at least.