Limited Edition and Exotic
Until very recently I had a chip on my shoulder about Gesha hopefully that is all cleared up now! The relevance is that Alejo offered us a micro amount of either Gesha or this SL28. This SL28 for me was so far removed from what the varietal meant to me until we tried this, so we just had to have it. Complexity on another level and also what a statement for a grower to be able to say….”We can also do this….🍹” Famously Alejo once said, “My best micro-lot should be the last one I produce in my life”. This is from the man (family) who consistently delivers Cup of Excellence winning lots, year after year.
This is in my top 5 top coffees of 2021 and that is why I have saved it, in vacuum bricks, ready for the hectic month of December. We have had some top coffees this year too….as you may remember. Thank you if you have been part of the encouragement, by trying some.
Farmer: Alejo Castro
Farm Volcan Azul
Area: Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Established: 1850, 5th generation farm.
Altitude: 1540-1720 Meters above sea level
Varietal; SL28 Most famous for making great Kenya’s blackcurranty.
Process: Anaerobic Natural
Recipe 60-70g a litre
Roast: Medium Filter, cool drop.
Cup Potential: Filter
Aromatics: Bright and Tropical| Body: Light- Medium| Acidity: Red Grape, papaya, currants, grapefruit|
I am pinching myself writing this coffee up. With coffees like this and Halo Beriti I am quietly having a case of imposter syndrome. I am not worthy!
If I had to sum up this lot; in short I would say this is “Like the mighty SL28 varietal at its very best, with more of everything!” There is such a broad range of sweet, ripe, tropical, and citric fruit over the opening minutes. Unlike many other varietals and anaerobic natural coffees, this has an incredible sweet grapefruity acidity, which is a big part of the identity of the SL28. To me, this is a cup of ripeness and tropical fruit sugars, but not boozy. On cooling some of the sweetness fades, leaving a spicey, currently, plummy long citrus finish. Intriguing, deeply complex, and 99% of my perfect cup of coffee.
We always brew back to front with espresso. Biggest and mildest drinks first, leading up to the Apex or espresso if you will. Recipe-wise, we found this just worked like a dream in the usual parameters but extracted longer (in time) due to the lightness of the roast.
Milk-based drinks: 16.5-17.5g of dry into 34-35g of espresso liquid in up to 35 seconds. In an 8.5-9oz this is a little like an Irish coffee. Creamy dairy, disguising a strong under-belly, which in this case is citric not whiskey of course. Moving down to a 5 or 6oz flatwhite, this is bright and wild. Crazy citrus and good whole milk is something.
16-17g of coffee into 45-50g of liquid in 35-40 seconds. This is riotous. It’s a light roast (relatively speaking) it is deeply sweet in filter brewing but in espresso, the acidity levels increase, due to the extraction. I love this. One coffee can be so diverse and in espresso could be a washed fresh crop Kenya, with more than a little blackcurrant. If it is around long enough, I have a plan to try a few “what-ifs” to see if there is an advantage to brewing far outside of the norm.
Volcan Azul is a 5th generation farm, producing many different single varietals and processes. The long game is the aim of quality, which we especially like at James Gourmet. The whole process is controlled by the farm and the operation is relatively small. These are all things that work for us. Coffee on a human scale with a history