The last of 4 coffees I ordered from the fine folks over at Brandywine Coffee Roasters is La Pastora Tarrazu, a fully washed Caturra and Catuai varietal from Costa Rica. This coffee was the most developed roast of the four I ordered, and the only one leaning towards more of the "comfort" notes with lots silky sweetness and tamed acidity. The coffee is not overly complex or nuanced, but when brewed or pulled just right, the tasting notes can easily be identified.
I would say BCR's tasting notes of "creamy, graham cracker, and confectioner sugar" are spot on. I always try a coffee before I look back for the identifiers to see if they line up with what I'm experiencing without any flavors already in my head. These being a little less common, I couldn't quite put my finger on them, but once I read the card, it made total sense. I would say the graham cracker definitely comes through more as graham cracker sweetness rather than just flavor, the confectioner sugar lingers in the background as the sweet flavor as well. As the coffee aged a bit more, I found the creamy body to become more pronounced in a creamy nutty cashew type flavor, particularly as espresso.
One thing that I really appreciate about Brandywine's coffees are that the roasts do seem adequately and properly developed enough that all have been single origin espresso capable and friendly. Some of them have definitely been more demanding on the barista skills and prep technique, but they will all pull great shots. For this coffee:
- I dosed 18 grams in the 18 gram VST basket.
- Pulled shots on the quicker and shorter side to 30-33 grams out.
- In 25-27 seconds around 198-200F.
I did tighten the grind on a few shots for longer extractions and found the flavors got a bit muddled and the coffee definitely became less interesting, though still good, leaning more towards a comfort/traditional shot that worked well as a cappuccino, where more of that creamy, powdered sugar and nut butter sweetness came through.
I also pulled some shots to longer yields, and felt the graham cracker body and depth to be lacking above 1:2 ratios.
In the V60, I found the best balance of sweetness and body in well extracted cups timing out around 2:30 and a 1:16 ratio. Brewing parameters were:
- 20 grams in to 330 grams out
- :30 second stirred bloom with 50 grams of water
- Pour to 200 grams making sure to really get all of the grinds submerged.
- Stir, and then continue slow intermittent pours to maintain that water level to 330 grams.
- 2:30 total draw down time.
For whatever reason, I found the first few cups from the bag to be the best, and as the bag aged, the nut flavors become more prevalent and the graham cracker flavor diminished. This seemed to happen after about 7 days post roast.
Overall, this coffee was definitely a bit more comfort oriented than the lighter, more nuanced, and with higher acidity coffees I've been drinking as of recent. There really wasn't any fruit notes present at all, but it does make for smooth, approachable, sweet, and balanced cup that works well as espresso and brewed. A very reasonable $12.50 for a 12 ounce bag here.
I've really enjoyed trying and using all of the coffees I ordered from Brandywine and I'm sure I'll be ordering from them again. Their packaging and design is awesome, and I really like the vast and continually changing selection they offer. Until next week, enjoy the fall weather!