In the immortal words of The Beatles, Christmastime is, indeed, here again. The next few weeks are going to be filled with reviews of festive coffees from all over the country, all roasted specifically to help you and yours celebrate the holidays.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this café. Today, we are getting into the spirit of the holiday season with a cup of the Batdorf and Bronson Holiday Blend. Feel free to pull up a chair.
The 2012 Batdorf and Bronson Holiday Blend really pulls out all the stops for this offering.
Two Nicaraguas, a Kenya AA, and a Guatemala all wrapped up together in pretty paper and a bow on top. This, really, is an incredible collection of coffees, and I can’t wait to see how they complement each other.
The first coffee is grown in Matagalpa, Nicaragua at Finca Los Placeres. The name of this farm means pleasures, which will hopefully translate in the cup. The farm sits on a mountain ridge and when standing at the highest point of the farm, you cannot help but be overwhelmed with the majesty of the surrounding peaks and the beauty of the forest that extends to the valley below. Los Placeres is blessed with a pure, fast-flowing spring that permits an extremely clean washing of our coffee.
The second Nicaragua—from Finca San Jose, in Jinotega—sits perched on a cliff high above the beautiful Lago Apanas, north of Jinotega. The road to the farm is steep and difficult to manage in the wet season, but the views more than justify the trip. There are few other places where the sunsets are as beautiful. Besides the views, the high altitude and volcanic soil help this farm produce a truly exemplary coffee.
The colonial town of Antigua has some of the finest coffees in all of Guatemala—rivaled only by the Huehuetenango region in my opinion. We’ve had several coffees from this region here at the Table, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about it again now.
The last coffee in this blend, though, is from an area in Kenya that I’ve never tasted—Lenana. Lenana is located near Mount Kenya and is named in honor of one of Mount Kenya’s three massive peaks—a site considered holy to the Kikuyu tribe. This coffee is pulled together from smallholder farmers in the region that have very small farms, many having only a few hundred coffee trees (one tree produces less than two pound green).
origins: Matagalpa, Nicaragua // Jinotega, Nicaragua // Lenana, Kenya // Antigua, Guatemala
farm: Finca Los Placeres // Finca San Jose // smallholder farmers // Las Pastores
elevation: 800-1100 // 1200 // N/A // N/A
cultivars: Caturra // Java Nica // SL28, SL34 // Typica, Bourbon
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Rainforest Alliance // standard // standard // standard
When the water first hits the grounds, I’m struck by a rush berries and cherry blossom. While the coffee is blooming and brewing, however, these aromatics disappear and are replaced by a bouquet of spices—cinnamon and coriander, most notably. There is also a dash of hazelnut and macadamia thrown in for good measure.
The flavor is nearly identical to the aroma, particularly up front. It’s spicy, with notes of cinnamon, cardamom, cherry tobacco, and other baking spices. It’s also roasty toasty and warm down in the belly, but it’s not over roasted. Not at all—it gets right up to the point of being over roasted, then turns back. I’m okay with it, though; like I wrote yesterday, roastiness is a flavor note that I look for in a holiday coffee—particularly the flavor note of roasted nuts.
Which this coffee has plenty of.
All the way through this cup, there are nuts-a-plenty. Roasted almonds, cashews, and macadamia. Following closely behind a tin of trail mix: this cup has all of those notes, cranberry, raisins, milk chocolate, and orange peel acidity, all floating on a slow and lazy river of malty molasses.
Full body; thick, syrupy mouthfeel; complex acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The 2012 Holiday Blend, from Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters, is a fine example of a holiday roast and a great one to start off our month-long holiday coffee series.
Now, if I were drinking this cup any other time of year, the roastiness would be a turn off. However, this time of year guarantees instant forgiveness. This coffee is so rich and warm and hearty and roasty toasty, but not excessively so—which is one of the things I look for in a classic holiday coffee. Furthermore, this cup is deep and complex; it starts off with that spicy heartiness up front, then progressively travels through a range of dry and tropical fruit flavors.
Again, many thanks to my friend Jason Dominy and the rest of the folks at Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters for this fine gift. Their Holiday Blend was a fine cup to kick off the holiday season, and I’m really excited to see what the rest of the month has in store for us.
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