About the bean
Our new batch of Nicaragua FTO makes us think of balmy nights and basking in the pause of the season. This is a smooth, creamy cup, pleasant and sweet (even a bit nutty), with a chocolate finish (that ranges from caramel to baker's chocolate depending on the roast). A fine summer companion, easy to sit with, and that's what these slow-down days are calling us to do.
Nicaragua coffee is known for quality and, increasingly, variety of flavour. Most of the country's offerings are shade grown and cultivated at high altitudes. The world's largest coffee beans (elephant beans) are produced here. Typically, beans from this region are similar in character to other Central Americans but Nicaraguans are the mild ones of the bunch.
Summer fine. Deep dive into this coffee pause.
Region: San Juan del Rio Coco, Madriz
Supplier: Procafe RL Cooperative (approx. 90 small-holder farmers)
Process: Sun dried, washed Arabica
Certification: Fair Trade, Organic, Smithsonian Bird Friendly (Bird friendly, organic, shade-grown coffee supports bird conservation, a healthy environment and the livelihood of small-scale farm owners).
Process: Sun and mechanically dried
Altitude: 900 - 1,900 masl.
SHG: Strictly high-grown
EP: European Process (Indicates the coffee has undergone rigorous sorting - usually by hand to ensure defective beans and foreign material have been removed).
Full City roast profile brewed in a French Press: This is the sweet spot. The bean's brightness is balanced by a pronounced sweetness and a smooth, round body; a most enjoyable brew. Opt for a pour over brew for more expression or a plunge-press for amped-up body. A lighter roast (City) gave us a muted sweetness (stone fruit, roasted chestnut) and a medium to high acidity; the nutty flavour really developed on the cool-down.
Embrace the darkness - this is a bean suited to a Vienna roast, espresso and for chillin' (cold-brew style). And that's what we did!
Cold Brew (Full City roast, coarse ground) brewed in a Bodum Bean Cold Brew Ice Coffee Maker: Using a 1 to 4 coffee-water ratio, we let this one sit overnight and supped our chill Nicaraguan for breakfast. What a delight! At this temperature, we have a more fruity cup (watermelon, a touch of cucumber) with a splash of nut. This is just the ticket for a hot summer night; maybe even add a dash of cream or milk. So nice.
Roast recommendation: The dark side. For an explanation of our different roasts, see here: http://greenbeanery.ca/pages/roasting-chart.
About the bean
We're welcoming a new coffee to our selection. The Brazil Natural comes to us from a very large farm in the Cerrado region of the world's most famous coffee-producing country, and, as its name makes clear: this bean was dried naturally. The natural method of drying coffee is an ancient practice that involves leaving harvested beans to dry under the sun. Simple!
This process has been likened to red wine by some connoisseurs with a renewed interest in the natural method. Like red wine, more of the skin and the fruit is absorbed. Because the seed of the coffee cherry is imbued with more of the coffee fruit's sugars and nutrients, the final result can be flavour magic. You will sometimes hear the term "wild in the cup" associated with naturally processed coffees. This method provides more in the way of flavour brilliance as well as flavour quirks. Its inconsistencies is one of the reasons why the wet method of washing the coffee seed off the fruit became the preferred process of the two. But never discount the merits of risk, coffee lovers. And this pick pays off.
A sweet softie with a thick body. Our favourite Brazilian bean in stock right now alongside the Brazil Planalto.
Grown at a low altitude of only 800m on a large farm and harvested mechanically. These indicators do not suggest the favourable outcome a bean cultivated at a higher elevation on a smaller farm with hand pickers does but this natural Brazilian is a total pleaser. In a country without the growing altitudes of more elevated coffee-producing regions, the natural process can accomplish more fruitiness, more flavour, more complexity.
Our taste test: Brewed in a French press at a City roast profile, we enjoyed a soft, velvety body reminiscent of white chocolate, a medium brightness (acidity), with a caramel underlay and some fruity flair. A pour over brew enhances these fruit notes. A most enjoyable, sweet aftertaste which is typical of the natural drying process.
For those of us who prefer a darker roast, the Brazil Natural brewed in a French press at a Vienna roast profile made a memorable impression. The deeper richness did not overwhelm or undermine the cup's balance. Great espresso potential here.
Roast Recommendation: To preference.
About the bean
We have our favourites, too!
Ah, Brazil. There's an awful lot of coffee in Brazil ... But we keep going back to this one because it's our favourite from this coffee producing powerhouse.
Our Brazil Planalto is sourced from the family-run Planalto Estate in the highlands of Nova Rezende, in the south of Mina Gerais - the country's main producer of milk and coffee. The farm's 3,600-foot altitude and surrounding natural forest create a unique microclimate, perfect for growing high-quality coffee.
The Taste Test
Hario V60 drip brew - American Roast
Very aromatic during the brewing process. This is a particularly well-balanced coffee with some jazz to it - yellow fruits and a medium-high brightness. This bean is one we enjoy because it offers more than the typical bean from Brazil, although it does offer nutty notes and good body as you might expect from a Brazilian coffee; the Planalto brings some extra special.
French Press - Full City Roast
Notes of chocolate and nut emerged at this roast profile. A Full City cup proffered a sweet and pleasant coffee; most enjoyable.
The Brazilian Planalto is a great pick for espresso, drip brews and, if it were summer, cold brews.
Species: Arabica, single origin
Cultivar: Yellow Catuai / Mundo Novo
Altitude: 1,200 m
Flavour: Citrus, slight berry; rich and caramelized.
Certifications: Humaniterra Foundation, UTZ Certified, Aliment préparé au Québec
Roasting recommendation: Nice light; medium to dark is also just right.
Beyond the cup
The Planalto Estate covers 350 acres of strictly preserved native forest and vegetation. Liquid wastes from coffee processing are recycled and treated. Coffee pulp is reused for its nutritional value.
Estate employees enjoy a full range of benefits, as well as salaries above the regional average. Worker safety is a priority.
About the bean
Strictly Soft (SS) | Fine Cup (FC)
The Swiss Water Process begins with pure water and ends with amazing coffee that is 99.9% caffeine free.
Brazilian beans with a 17/18 screen size tend to be a more consistent, higher quality offering without the pungent floral notes associated with smaller, less mature beans.
Fine Cup (FC) beans are a specialty grade coffee. Strictly Soft (SS) beans are grown at relatively low altitudes (under 4,000 ft).
Medium body, chocolate and nut notes. Good for both drip and espresso.View full product details
About the bean
It's finally been warm enough to add some ice to our favourite beverage and this pick is perfect for both hot and chill preparation. Our current batch of Cerrado is a blend from four farms in Brazil's Minas Cerais state - the biggest producer of this coffee powerhouse nation. The price is great on this one and it's a damn fine representative of Brazil's charms: body, balance, sweetness and those nice nutty notes we look for from this region. Check out the Japanese Iced Coffee recipe we used to sample the Cerrado below.
Great price, versatile and tasty - a Brazilian favourite.
Region: Cerrado Mineiro (Minas Gerais state)
Altitude: 800- 1,300 masl.
Full City roast brewed in a Hario V60 pour over (served as Japanese Iced Coffee)
For the Japanese Iced Coffee, we used the same ratio as we would for a regular V60 pour over brew: 30g of coffee to 500ml of water. But instead of using all of that water, we used half for brewing (250ml) and the other half (250ml) to make ice cubes. Adjust the ratio of coffee to water to suit preference but be sure to replace half of the water with the same in ice cubes - the ice cubes lock in flavour and dilute what could be a too-strong cup. The genius of this method: there's no need to refrigerate. You will, however, need a manual pour over for the job. Our go-to brewers are: Chemex and the Hario V60 dripper. Help yourself to the recipe we followed here.
Feel free to add extras. We recommend popping in peppermint, just mint, orange or lemon peel, a sprig of rosemary - whatever you fancy. By itself, the iced coffee is potent, sweet and pleasantly permeated with notes of dark chocolate and dried plums. We're looking forward to a summer of Japanese Iced Coffee.
American roast brewed in a French press
Nice balance, good body, medium brightness and a sweet caramel deliciousness followed in the aftertaste.
Roast recommendation: City to Full City (soft bean, will roast quickly). For an explanation of our different roasts, see here: http://greenbeanery.ca/pages/roasting-chart.