Hello Friend, welcome to February.

This month is an interesting time for fresh coffee. In many ways, it's one of the most exciting and thrilling moments of the calendar year. Nearly every day we receive parcels of mail containing samples of green coffee spanning the coffee producing world many times over. The subsequent cuppings are as beautiful as they are daunting. As we select fresh coffee and build out our menu for the rest of the year, many of our contracts from the previous harvest are beginning to reach the end of their time with us. All of this to say, this is a moment of metamorphosis. A necessary point in the life cycle of green coffee.

With many of the more familiar producing countries in the middle of harvest and export season, a small handful of origins have already exported their crop. One of these countries is Rwanda. I’m always drawn to coffees from Rwanda for their clarity of flavor, and distinct origin character. Lot #13 from the Kanzu washing station is an excellent example of Rwanda’s amazing flavor profile and quality potential. This particular lot has a gentle lemongrass and mulling spice flavor, with a pleasant pop of fresh plum acidity. It’s an easy drinker loaded with nuance.

Next we have a brand new offering from a familiar farm. Finca El Zacatin is well known among our fans of naturally processed coffees with big personalities and heavy fermentation flavors. This year we’re rewriting the script of what El Zacatin can produce. This harvest we opted to bring in the washed offering of their wonderful pink bourbon. Pink bourbon is one of our favorite varieties here at the roastery, and many of the varietie’s hallmark characteristics can be found within this cup. It’s light and tropical, with a herbaceous salinity. The washed processing here captures everything in perfect clarity.

This final coffee is contentious. Decaf is something many folks have strong opinions about. I came up as a barista in a time when silly phrases as provocative as “death before decaf” were lobbed from all sides of the coffee bar. I like to think the industry has matured since then, though I’m not sure many of our assumptions about decaf have. In the last few years (in certain parts of the specialty market) there’s been a move away from large-scale, industrial decaffeination of coffee in favor of a more ad-hoc approach. Much of this move has been enabled by new and interesting ways to remove the caffeine from green coffee. At the forefront of this innovation is ethyl acetate, or as some simply refer to it - sugarcane process. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty of how it works (though I would encourage you to look it up, as it’s a very interesting process) and say this, decaf has never been this good. This current iteration is from Colombia and tastes like a thick slice of chocolate cake with a cocoa powder dusting and maldon salt garnish. There’s a decadence and sweetness to this cup that I can’t say I’ve ever experienced from a decaf before. If you’ve never had a cup of coffee after dinner, here’s your opportunity.

Talk soon,

Matt

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