We are following up last week's stellar Kenyan with a washed yellow Bourbon microlot from the Retana farm in Guatemala. It's interesting that this farm grows coffee separately by varietal, and this one is noted for having exceptional sweetness. Unlike most coffees I drink, this sweetness is mostly presented in honey and generally sweet flavors, rather than specific fruits. The other tasting notes of Fuji Apple and Juicy Winter Pear lead me to believe this one should be soft and cleanly sweet and crisp. So what did I find?
Well, to be completely honest, this coffee has eluded me a bit. I don't know that I ever found the distinctly crisp apple or pear notes. The coffee was never bad and tasted sweet and in relative balance across a variety of brew methods, but I found the flavors to be more muddled or less transparent overall. Maybe I'm still coming off last week's in your face cherry candy high because this coffee was certainly very drinkable and good, just not super transparent. I think the low levels of acidity will appeal to many, but could be what I was searching for.
Brewed with the Aeropress and the Hario V60, it was easy to over extract cups, reducing sweetness and creating a dry or powdery finish, so a coarser grind and quicker brew time were the name of the game to retain some juicy acidity and crispness. Finding the balance to not underextract was also delicate, but that end of the spectrum proved to be more forgiving.
In the Aeropress I went fast and a bit cool, typical to the unconventional Aeropress ways.
- 18 grams in, water rested about 20-30 seconds off boil.
- Pouring to the top, using the inverted method, stir.
- Top off the water after the stir and cap with rinsed paper filter.
- I do kind of a barrel roll of a rotation while flipping the press at around 30-40 seconds.
- Press at 45 seconds for 25-30 seconds, for a total brew time around 1:15.
- Top off with a little extra water to taste.
These cups provided more crispness and acidity than the V60, but were easier to over and under extract, or in other words, more difficult to dial in. V60 cups were a bit heavier and more muddled, but more balanced and approachable overall.
On the V60 I went with:
- 1:17 ratio using 203*F water
- 3x dry grounds weight stirred bloom for 30 seconds
- Pour to 175g for a 15g dose or 225g for a 21.7g dose, stir
- Continuous pours maintaining that water level to final brew ratio
- 2:20 target for 15 gram dose / 2:45 total brew time target for 21.7 gram dose.
Results were similar when using this coffee as espresso. I found the best shots to take place in pretty normal parameters: 1:2 ratio in 28 seconds around 201*F. Again, the coffee produced good, drinkable shots, but I didn't necessarily get the wow factor, and they lacked transparency or something to really set them off. It's kind of funny that I say that though, because these would have been good standard shots at most cafes; very approachable and not divisive.
The weirdest thing is that the biggest knock against this coffee was that it didn't wow me. It was certainly good, and I think many will be happy with its approachable sweetness and low acidity. Available for $18 for a 12 ounce bag here, and be sure to sign up for Kuma's email list for occasional coupons. Tune in next week when we look at a different Guatemalan coffee from Kuma geared towards espresso.