The O-G purveyor of specialty coffee in Arizona, Cartel Coffee Lab is my go to when I want to pick something up locally or I'm in between shipments. Cartel's modus operandi is lightly roasted single origin coffee, they don't do any blends, and they typically have a heavy emphasis on Central American offerings. Like many specialty roasters, Cartel has developed a relationship with the farm of this particular coffee, from the Gomez family, hence the name, Familia Gomez. This washed processed Caturra varietal is said to be Cartel's favorite offering of the last year, with a description of, "honeycrisp apple and rock candy with a remarkably clean finish."
This lead me to believe this was going to be a pretty light and soft coffee, which the first brewed cup proved otherwise. I typically start the first cup kind of in the middle of basic brew parameters (1:16 ratio) knowing I can go either way from there, and was thoroughly surprised by how rich, sweet, and thick this coffee was at a middle of the road cup of 20 grams in to 320 grams out (1:16) in 2:45 total brew time, using 200*F water. The coffee smelled and coated your mouth with a silky but very full aroma of the kind of scent and flavor you get when you imagine that "rich coffee flavor" smell.
Thinking this was perhaps a bit heavy given the description, I pushed the brew ratio out to 1:17 to see if more clarity and transparency of flavors came through. I guess I should have trusted the description though, because there wasn't much else to be found. This coffee was simply a great take on a classically rich Colombian. The best way I can describe it is if you imagine what comes to mind when you think of the rich aroma and flavor of coffee filling a house, kind of like those old school Foldgers commercials, this is it, but in the best way possible. At 1:17 the coffee lost some of this, so I do think brew ratios at 1:15 - 1:16 are ideal for really maximizing how rich this coffee is.
As straight espresso, it's very similar, rich, sweet, the specialty version of a classic Colombian profile, but not overly complex or nuanced. I pulled shots at a variety of parameters to try and manipulate more out of it, but like when brewed, this coffee is what it is, and that is not a bad thing at all.
Unexpectedly though, this coffee sang as a cappuccino. It created a rich and creamy capp like I haven't had in a long time. It was super sweet with a great classic balance of caramels, nutty and roasty flavors, really leveraging that richness. I feel a little bad about putting coffee this expensive into milk drinks, but these were certainly some of the best cappuccinos I've had in awhile.
Speaking of the price, this one isn't cheap at $22 for a 12 ounce bag. I think it makes it a bit easier to digest when you realize this is a partnership with this farm, and hopefully more of that money is going to these farmers and this family. Pick it up an Arizona Cartel location, via their webstore, or join their newly revamped subscription service here.