Brandywine Coffee Roasters is new to me, but I just knew I had to give them a try strictly because their bags are amazing. They do all of their own artwork, have a vast selection of offerings, reasonable prices, and run promotions via Instagram quite often. And when your coffee arrives, the packaging surely doesn't disappoint. Even the shipping box was well branded! Opening up the well decorated cardboard I'm greeted with colorfully sketched bags, delightfully unexpected info cards for each coffee, and an enamel pin! This first coffee of many comes by way of the Central Valley of Costa Rica, and is black honey processed.
This Catuai, Caturra, and Villa Sirchi varietal comes from a third generation husband and wife team operating out of the Cumbres del Poas micro mill. This eco-conscious couple choose to process their coffees naturally and via honey process because of the water savings. Honey processed coffees are kind of a cross between washed and naturally processed coffees where the coffee cherry is pulped but the inner skin or mucilage remains intact, and the beans are then dries like natural coffees. This creates coffee that is more consistent than naturals while retaining the body and low acidity characteristics of naturally processed coffees, without having such in your face fruit flavors, leaving room for a bit more clarity and subtlety.
Brandywine describes this one as having flavor notes of, "cranberry, raspberry, and apple juice." Admittedly, these descriptors left me perplexed, as I really struggled to coax out delightful notes such as these. As both pourover and espresso, the coffee was always smooth, full bodied, and rich, but never fruity or bright. Knowing the fine folks over at BCR were responsive from previous emails I had exchanged, I asked them what their brew recipe was. Their team promptly got back to me saying they're brewing it:
- Kalita Wave
- using a very coarse grind (9.8 on an EK43)
- 20 grams of coffee to 340 grams of water (1 : 17 ratio)
- 200*F water poured slowly for a final brew time of 2:30
I had tried ratios from 1 : 15 to 1 : 16.5 using water temps ranging from 196* to 202* and brewing times of 2:10 to 2:45. Pushing the ratio out to 1:17 or greater using a grind as coarse as possible and really focusing on water flow and pouring to control the brew time did help bring some fruit and brightness out, but I never seemed to really get it to pop.
Playing off the coarse grind recommendation, I tried this coffee at a 1 : 17 ratio in the Bonavita Immersion Dripper using a very coarse grind. I used 200*F water, steeped for 2:00, and then opened the valve for a final draw down time of about 3:45. This brought out a smooth, sweet, full bodied cup, but lacked the flavor separation the V60 provided.
As espresso, I had a similar experience. When I wasn't getting as much fruit as I would have liked I kept pushing the extraction, but this coffee likes a high ratio and a lower extraction. This meant shots from the VST basket were never that great, but I was able to get some decent results in the IMS Precision Double. In this basket I dosed:
- 18.5 grams in
- 42 grams out
- 27-29 seconds
- @ 200F
As espresso, like as pourover, this coffee was easy to over extract, sucking any fruit out of the equation. It sweetened up and higher brew ratios and faster times though.
In milk, oddly enough, I was able to get the most prominent cranberry and raspberry notes. As a 5 ounce cappuccino, the coffee took on a nice sweet berries and cream, characteristic of good light roasted, single-origin coffees that work well with milk. I was a bit surprised by how good this coffee actually was as a cappuccino.