Last year, Chicago welcomed Gaslight Coffee Roasters into its fold of celebrated specialty roasters; proving, once again, that some of the most exciting stuff in the coffee industry is happening in Chicago and at incredible regularity.
Somehow, however, even though I’ve visited their flagship cafe at Milwaukee and Fullerton a few times and have tried a few of their coffees, none of their roasts have received a review at the Table!
Until today, of course.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Colombia Giovanni Lizcano, from Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
This is a milestone coffee for the fine folks at Gaslight, as it is their very first exclusive lot, made possible by Coffee Shrub.
This coffee is grown by Giovanni Lizcano on his farm, Los Cauchos. The farm is almost completely populated with Caturra plants, but little smatterings of Typica and Bourbon pop up throughout the property. This particular coffee was picked from a microlot on the farm that is 100% Bourbon.
Giovanni manually depulps the coffee cherries on a Gallo depulping machine, ferments them in one of two tiled tanks for 16-20 hours, and then washes them in the same tanks. He brings the wet parchment just about a mile across the valley to his home where he has raised parabolic drying beds on his roof.
origin: La Palmera, Pedregal, Colombia
farm: Los Cauchos
producer: Giovanni Lizcano
elevation: 1800 – 2100 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The Colombia Giovanni Lizcano’s aroma is an intensely perfumy combination of raw honey and cane sugar, predominantly, while soft stonefruits and floral aromatics push their way into the mix.
The flavor up front, immediately post-brew, is really unique. To be honest, I almost can’t quite put my finger down on what I’m tasting. It’s kind of spicy, with touches of ginger and cinnamon, and it’s somewhat sweet with those honey and brown sugar notes that were present in the aroma (also present is a smattering of raw cocoa nibs), but it also has this astringency to it that tastes of salty roasted peanuts and, even more subtly, lemon peel.
As it cools off, the cup really fleshes out and becomes more what I was hoping for when I ordered the coffee on this brutally hot Summer day.
A lush, juicy green grape acidity swirls up from the bottom of the cup, glides down the sides of the tongue, and drives into the sides of the mouth. Meanwhile, other juicy fruit flavors flood the taste buds, particularly at the tip and in the middle of the tongue: plum, agave, red apple, nectarine, apricot, maybe even a faint hint of lime.
Light body; juicy mouthfeel; green grape acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
Gaslight Coffee’s first experience at the Table, overall, was a success, but not without a hiccup or two along the way. The Colombia Giovanni Lizcano is a unique coffee with an unusual temperament and complex frequencies. I can imagine that this is the sort of coffee where even the most minor of adjustments at the roasting stage can create wildly different profiles.
The profile of this particular cup, what I’m guessing, was designed to please a wide swath of people—because it has a lot of elements that people with widely varying taste preferences can appreciate. While I wasn’t crazy about the assumed roastiness up front, I really enjoyed the juicy fruits at the end; and I’m sure there are those that preferred this cup the other way around. So this isn’t a coffee for anyone, but it’s certainly a coffee for everyone. If that makes sense.
For me, though, I wish that this Colombian coffee was the latter half of the cup all the way through… and then some. Maybe it was the aforementioned heat clouding my judgement, but I really wanted this cup to be bright and lively and effervescent and acidic and juicy. I wanted those tropical fruits to really pop! on the palate and I wanted that green grape acidity to be tart and sparkling.
Mick Jagger was wise beyond his years when he penned, “You can’t always get what you want,” though.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.