Esmeralda day

Made my way down to Headquarters in Durham, NC today for the Friday cupping. The week’s table featured the Panama Esmeralda, which was conspicuously missing all those quakers this year. Sadly, that did not prevent its mouth puckering tartness, still prominent in the finish and aftertaste. Don’t get me wrong, it has a bushel full of fruity flavors packed in layers of floral complexity. This is a very unusual coffee in that respect. But still, the disappointingly thin (tea-like) body rolls over into grape skin and banana peel astringency. It continues to escape me why everyone gives a pass to those aspects of this most sought after coffee. There is all that burgomot and citrus, but it is not, to my taste, the total package. It is, nonetheless, a peculiar curiosity.

I am not a roaster, but I can’t help but wonder if a shade or two darker might tame its wild heart.

Glasses of Gesha stacked and ready to grind.

Glasses of Gesha stacked and ready to grind.

A pretty package.

A pretty package.

  1. Phil,
    I appreciate the honesty here. On the other hand, I cannot offer much except that our experience is with some profiles, it tastes like you describe, with others, it doesn’t.

    Tannic and astringent notes along with a thin character should be a great concern if you see them because that does sound like a roast issue such as roasting raw.

  2. The taste and roast profiles on this batch are quite purposefully achieved by those who have labored on and crafted this batch. It is where they intended it to be. The accent of brightness on most of the company’s profiles is quite intensional, as it reflects the ideals of those who make these decisions, and places a premium on the greatest possible expression of origin character. We (CCC) live up to every bit of our reputation as a light handed roaster. In this particular case, I am not a fan of the resulting balance. The acidy nature of this Gesha is so pronounced that I do not doubt a darker version, sufficient to significantly soften it, would necessarily eradicate a healthy portion of the quantity of fruit in this basket.

    I believe that the expression “roasting raw” is a little bit misleading in the way you use it. I see that you mean it to indicate a level of roast that is at one far end of a spectrum, and I can appreciate the bell curve is fattest in the middle of any spectrum. However, to say that a roast level is raw is exaggeration, if not an outright hyperbole. If a batch has passed a complete first crack, then all moisture has been driven out. If the color has passed from a yellowish shade to a brownish shade, there has been sufficient Malliard reactions to satisfy any criteria one may establish for an organic material to be considered cooked. Whether or not it has reach an individual’s idea of being done or not at that point is a matter of taste.

    If this term is something one finds useful for internal discussions, then by all means, use it. In context of industry wide discussion, it seems to me to be borderline deceptive, as some may take the term literally. I can assure you that no CCC batch comes out of the roaster raw in a literal sense.

    In the coffee industry there is certainly a colorful pallet of tastes, and if we wish not to be seen as exclusive and snobby elitists who group together in invitational cliques, we must accept and appreciate a variety of opinions. I try to be careful not to dismiss others’ careful intentions as technical errors or uneducated mistakes even when they fall outside of my personal preferences.

  3. Thanks for your honest take. It’s nice to hear someone not completely smitten with Esmerelda. I haven’t had CCC’s version and I’ve only had it once before, but I have to say I was certainly disappointed, at least given the price, and would find it hard to justify more than a cup. I certainly think it’s good. It tends to produce a complex and amazing cup, but so light and so delicate. I think what you’re getting at here – and my issue with it as well – is that no matter how good it is, it seems ironic that the world’s most sought-after coffee (or whatever the right description is here) ends up tasting more like a wonderful tea than a wonderful coffee.

  4. Roasting raw is not relative to roast degree. You can go into second and still have this. It simply implies ‘al dente’, if you will, so the term is sharply accurate. You are roasting it but it isn’t ‘cooked’ at the finish of a roast, regardless of outward visual appearance. That should be enough for you to find a relative term you use.

    Not a statement about your product, but I made the note as it reads, if you see astringency, thin, and tannic, it might be a roast issue.

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