At a Glance: blend (Ethiopia, Haiti, Peru, Brazil); full body; earthy, nutty, spicy, floral; low acidity; washed

Greetings once again, coffee friends. Welcome back to my table here in the corner of this cafe. For the next few posts, we’re going to be doing something pretty cool – teaming up with Jamie Ferguson, of The Coffee Adventures, for a series of celebrity coffee reviews. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a coffee bearing the name of one of my favorite actors, Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation – a non-profit organization chaired by the actor, Leonardo DiCaprio – recently teamed up with Philadelphia-based gourmet coffee roaster, La Colombe Torrefaction to create a coffee blend which will benefit the regions the beans came from. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) – which was founded in 1998 – works on a variety of environmental and humanitarian issues including wildlife protection, forest preservation, healthy oceans, water access, disaster relief, and climate change.

LYON, the result of the La Colombe/LDF collaboration, is a blend of coffees which hail from the Moredocofe Co-op in Oromia, Ethiopia, the COOPCAB Co-op in Gros Cheval, Haiti, the Agraria Co-op in Naranjillo, Peru, and the Airton Jose Magni farm in Cerrado Minas, Brazil.

La Colombe is notorious in the coffee industry for being one of the most socially and environmentally conscious companies around. All of their coffees are “strictly Earth conscious,” ethically traded, and the company participates in the LCT Farm Assist Program. Furthermore, La Colombe is heavily involved in goodwill programs like Project Afrique, Fair Trade Alliance, Rainforest Alliance, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and Project 1,000 Wells among others. La Colombe Torrefaction is doing so much good in the world, it’s as though they’re just as focused on the world around them as they are on their business.

So it’s no wonder that Leonardo DiCaprio, one of Hollywood’s socially-conscious elite, would want to team up with them.

the basics:

(listed respectively)

Origins: Oromia, Ethiopia // Gros Cheval, Haiti // Naranjillo, Peru // Cerrado Minas, Brazil
Elevations: 1650-2200 // 1500-1600 // 1100-1500 // 1100-1200 meters above sea level
Varietals: Natural, Heirloom // Typica // Typica, Bourbon // Bourbon, Catuai
Processes: washed // sun-dried
Certifications: organic, shade-grown, Rainforest Alliance // Fair Trade, shade-grown // organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade // Rainforest Alliance, UTZ

the coffee:

I prepared this coffee five different ways over the course of three days, struggling to find the right method to get the absolute best sample of this coffee as I could. I used my Hario V60, automatic brewer, and Chemex with little to no success; but when I used my French press and bialetti, things started to look up. When I went to the La Colombe store here in Chicago, and had it served to me as an espresso – that’s where the sweet spot was.

LYON has a sweet aroma, with floral notes of violet, mixed tinges of nuts and roastiness. La Colombe described this blend with terms like medium-bodied, lightly roasted, velvet, nectar, and sweet, but I have to disagree. Each time I prepared it, I found it to be the precise opposite.

This is a pretty heavily-bodied cup of coffee that has a lot of roastiness to it, though I won’t go so far as to label “dark roast.” Instead of sweetness and nectar, I found it to possess spiciness and almonds. There’s even a fair amount of earthiness to it; this is where I found La Colombe to be accurate, though – rather than a gritty earthiness, LYON had a silky, smooth, velvety earthiness that coated the palate.

the bottom line:

One dangerous line to toe when it comes to creating blends of farms that will be directly affected by the sales of the blend is overreaching. It’s very easy to go a little overboard picking beans to put into a blend, and this excess almost always result in a very convoluted coffee; and with four regions being represented in LYON, La Colombe/LDF flirts with being excessive.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is a bold organization that is dedicated to taking on an expansive array of very big issues. This sort of ambition can only be fueled by a coffee that is equally big, and bold. LYON is a fairly heavily-bodied cup of coffee, tinged with flavors of roasted nuts, spices, and burnt orange peel, but has a rich, floral, sweet, and silky velvety coating that covers the palate.

However, this is a strong blend so it needs to be brewed strongly to get the fullest flavor – French press, Moka pots, or espresso machines (I also prepared the coffee a bit weaker, using one less tablespoon of grounds than the normal dosage – this took away some of the bolder flavors, but also made it a bit less intense).

La Colombe Torrefaction and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation are two wonderful organizations that are both fully committed the environment, and they teamed up to create a pretty good cup of coffee to assist in their commitments – 100% of net proceeds from LYON sales goes to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Through purchases of Lyon, you will make a significant impact on projects that defend lands and oceans, protect clean water, help endangered species, aid disaster relief, and support alternative and green energy effort.

LYON is available at Williams Sonoma as of February 1, select Whole Foods stores, La Colombe Torrefaction cafes, and online.

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