Happy Leap Year Day, coffee lovers! I hope Leap Year William brings you all the love and happiness a heart could desire this Leap Year. Welcome to my table here in the corner of this cafe. After topping this blog’s all-time high for views in one month in January, I thought that February wouldn’t be as successful since, even with Leap Year, there are still two less days in the month. However, all of you sitting with me here at the Table proved me wrong by absolutely pummeling the Table’s personal monthly best into submission before the month was even halfway through. Many, many, many thanks to all of you for making this website at least moderately successful!
Today, this rare 29th day of February, we’re going to be tasting the Guatemala Montecristo from one of my favorite coffee shops in Chicago, Ipsento Coffee House.
Are you ready to leap into this cup? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Feel free to pull up a chair.
You may recall, once upon a time, I wrote a review of Ipsento Coffee House – this place is seriously one of my favorites in the city and is staffed by some of the coolest coffee folks in the industry. Besides being an amazing place to enjoy a cup of coffee, though, they’re also an up-and-coming roaster – consistently slinging out increasingly good-quality coffees. They’re not at the level of a, let’s say, Bridgeport or Dark Matter or Passion House, but they’re certainly well on their way to becoming much more prominent than they are now. I can recall a time when their merchandise shelves had only a few bags of a couple different coffees – nowadays, they’re getting more adventurous having more quantity and more variety on their shelves.
This Finca Montecristo from Guatemala, for example, is a fairly new arrival at the store and represents, I think, a shift in Ipsento’s focus. At one time, they were focused on providing a couple good, solid coffees; now, they’re being more adventurous and exploring other regions. At one time they offered a Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa from Huehuetenango – which is a good coffee, but, let’s face it, a safe coffee. Huehuetenango is pretty popular when it comes to Guatemalas. Ipsento had already dipped into this region, so instead of going back, they set their sights on a micro lot on Johann Nottebohm’s Nueva Granada Esate in San Marcos.
Origin: San Marcos, Guatemala
Farm: Nueva Granada Estate, Montecristo micro lot
Elevation: 1400-1600 meters above sea level
Process: washed, sun-dried
Certifications: Rainforest Alliance, Direct Trade
The aroma cupping out of this cup is almost too much to handle – so sweet and silky, practically begging me to sip it. “Come on, Drew! Have a taste! You know you want me!” Whoa, take it easy Montecristo. Let’s take things slow – I don’t want to make the mistake of moving too fast, like I’ve made with so many coffees before you. This coffee emits warm and inviting scents of Granny Smith apple and caramel or maple, even some fainter notes of almond.
Taking my first sip, I am greeted by a sweet, sweet mixture of white chocolate and brown sugar, and a lighter raspberry fruitiness that really does well to offset the heavier, more sugary flavors. The coffee has a medium, albeit thick, body and a creamy, sappy, silky mouthfeel that coats the palate. Underneath all of this sweet, there’s a tart green grape acidity that swirls around the mouth, giving the coffee a nice, clean finish with a refreshing aftertaste.
This coffee is really tasty, so I’m fighting the temptation to drink it like someone’s going to take it away from me. This coffee almost demands you to slow down, and take your time with it. Really listen to what it’s saying to your palate.
the bottom line:
The Guatemala Montecristo, from Chicago’s Ipsento Coffee House and Roaster, is one good cup of coffee. It has some moderately complex flavors that gave me difficulty pinpointing at first, but overall, these flavors are so pleasant that, even as a cupper, you’ll find yourself not really caring about specifics – just enjoying your time with a fabulous cup of coffee. This medium-bodied coffee has flavors of white chocolate, caramel, brown sugar (like a creme brulee), and hints of raspberry with a green grape acidity that makes the cup really well-rounded and balanced.
I’m really impressed by this selection form Ipsento – it tastes like they’re up to good things over there, and are continually improving. By leaps and bounds, even! (Sorry, again – I had to). I’m excited to see how much more they develop in 2012.
On a related note, my friend Jillian Barthold does the screen printing for Ipsento’s packaging – check out more of her work at jillianbarthold.com!
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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.