An interesting Colombian coffee: I’m used to Colombians being predominantly “coffee” flavoured, with lots of body and solid undertones that just scream “coffee”. I’m not used to getting acidity, citrus, wine like characteristics from many Colombians. That’s where this coffee stands out.
My very first impression after taking a sip of the Estrella Del Sur from Batdorf & Bronson was “red wine”. It’s hard to explain - it doesn’t really taste like any red wine, but it was just the impression I got. As that settled down and I started to examine it more, I think the surprising acidity (in a medium-good way) is what fooled me a bit. That, and almond extract taste (which is different from whole bean almond taste). As a side note, I learned several years back that the almonds used for 100% pure almond extract are not the same as the ones you can buy whole nut off the shelf. The ones used for extracts are actually quite bitter compared to the store-bought ones. In extract form, they exude a more winey, sharp taste than whole almonds do. But I digress.
In fact, I want to back up a bit - I should address the aromas of the coffee, before and after grinding. In a word, enticing. B&B describes the aroma as citrus blossom: they aren’t lying, though it is a bit of an exaggeration. I happen to own a Meyer Lemon tree and it is doing is second seasonal blossoming as I type this - and the smell off this whole bean coffee and the lemon blossoms are definitely reminiscent, though you have to really seek it out. That said, the smell of this coffee is enticing and pleasing. Some of this carries through to the brewed cup.
In the cup, the flavours are the aforementioned almond extract, a slight buttery toffee flavour, coupled with a medium body and a bright acidity that mellows out quite nicely as the cup cools. This isn’t one of Batdorf’s cheapest coffees (they have some around $14.95), but at $16.50, it’s not unreasonable.
Brewing Style: Pourover, 32g coffee ground to medium grind; brewed in a Coava Cone V2, 450g water used. Siphon: 28g coffee ground to slightly-finer than medium grind, brewed in 3cup Hario, metal mesh filter used; 340g water used, steep time of 80 seconds.
I’m trying to come up with “every-consumer” ratings for these coffees. It is still a work in progress, but for now, I’m giving three ratings: approachability for newbies who normally take milk and sugar in their coffee; black coffee afficiandos who don’t care about cupping scores, and a basic cupping + pricing score where my scale is as follows: 80pts is a basic value, good tasting coffee; 85pts is an above average, good value coffee; 90pts and above is an exceptional coffee. My points rating also reflects on the coffee’s price - the better the price + better the taste = higher points.
Newbie Approachability Rating: C+. Newbies who normally put milk and sugar in their coffee will like this coffee with only milk in it, since there’s a lot of transferred sweetness that comes into play with milk added. That said, they won’t love it in the sense it will immediately convert them off added sugars for all coffees. They might still wince at the flavour without milk or sugar, since this coffee’s staring acidity is higher than average. It does mellow out nicely however.
Overall Rating: B-. Those who enjoy coffee brewed using slow-food methods (ie, anything but a auto drip or percolator) should enjoy this coffee. There’s enough character and change going on in the cup that maintains a good vibe in the taste at least until the coffee’s temperature is tepid. The flavours are a bit surprising if you drink a lot of different Colombians, and I like that.
Cupping Score: 84.5. Price, at $16.50 for 1lb is not terribly expensive but is still slightly above average grocery store whole bean prices. Aroma is quite good, the taste is quite nice and changes slightly (mainly the acidity drop with temperature), but it’s not in the exceptional league. Worth a try, especially if you’re ordering several types of single origin coffees from B&B.