Wednesday, April 13, 2005


plunging into blue

it's so tempting to mine the titles of dylan songs here isn't it? my favorite being "it's all over now, baby blue."

chris tacy of stumptown told me he believed that yesterday's ravishing indigo was even better in a cafetiére.

this dry-process or natural ethiopian mao (named for the initials of the exporter, mohammed abdullahi ogsadey) horse harrar is generally renowned for its body along with everything else, so in a press pot, which tends to emphasize body, it'd be no surprise to expect a heavy, almost-sumatra level of body/mouthfeel.

and so this morning i tried the experiment. in the press pot, this amazing coffee did exhibit one serious body.

i also thought the passion-fruit character was more pronounced, as was the chocolate aftertaste. but i thought the caramel, syrupy note was overshadowed, and frankly, the beautiful blue-ness seemed a tad shorter lived. when cool, the winey-ness was also more prominent, i felt.

i can understand why someone fond of intense and extreme flavors (one meaning of the coffee-tasting term "wild") -- well, that's me, actually! -- would prefer this in the press.

but, in short, although body is one of my favorite attributes in coffee without a doubt, i think i may prefer this coffee in a vac pot. it may come out more a little more "balanced."

what exactly do i mean by this term? scaa chief ted lingle in his indispensable coffee cuppers handbook defines this term as "applied to the liquoring properties of the coffee brew, denoting a pleasing combination of two or more primary taste sensations."

let's break that down a bit. the "liquoring properties" in coffee are those compounds that actually dissolve into the water and are responsible for the taste of the coffee, as opposed to the aromas/bouquet. (think the left side of the scaa flavor wheel.)

the "primary taste sensations" are of course the basic sweet, sour, bitter, salt.

this is a little more exact than some uses of this term, and when you hear offer this word you sometimes have to inquire a little as to how the cupper means it. when i use "balance," i will always be thinking of the lingle definition.

note that in my discussion of the stumptown harrar yesterday i remarked how the coffee contained elements both sweet and winey. winey being a form of the basic taste sour, i'm saying that when brewed in a vac pot, this coffee has a more intriguing "balance" between sweet and sour as you continue to drink it, to my mind.

i found this morning that the press pot increased the winey and reduced some of the sweet, do you see what i'm getting at now, dear readers?

(we can see the overlapping coffee vocabulary thing also happening, i think here in chris' original discussion of this coffee as having a notable "clarity." he has a very interesting use of this term that i find noteworthy.

"clarity" on the other hand, he writes, i define as: - first and foremost with clearly defined flavours, - beyond that - where you can, over time, discern layer after subtle layer deep into the coffee. so "clean" can be and is applied to any coffee and "clarity" is most commonly associated with high quality washed coffees.

that's a really cool way of thinking! but because of my cupping background, as meager as it is, i personally wouldn't talk that way. but it's a great insight, hmm? sorry for the digression. . .)

all of this a long way to say i think vac pot is the way to go for this gorgeous brew. however, once i see where chris is coming from, and how he is framing this coffee in his experience, i completely understand why he likes it better in a press.

i encourage you all reading this to do the experiment yourself with the stumptown harrar -- which way do you prefer it? and then just take a bit of time to walk around with why you might feel that way. . .what your own passionate, emotional experience of this coffee will be. . .

because of course, in the end, it's your coffee!

posted by fortune | 7:32 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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