One of my many resolutions this year was to review less coffees, but from a wider variety of roasters.
An excellent way to do exactly this, I discovered, is to get connected with a coffee subscription service. I recently befriended the folks at MistoBox, who sent me their January box of coffee samples (and, again, my many thanks to them). In this box were four pouches of coffee, all of which will be receiving reviews here at the Table.
The first of those comes now.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of Finca El Puente Honduras, from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters in Dallas, Texas. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Finca El Puente sits high up a mountain near the town of Marcala. Moises Herrera owns the farm which he purchased shortly after moving to Honduras from Guatemala. Moises and his wife, Marysabel Caballero, care for their workers as well their environment, and this care shows in the quality of their coffee.
Marysabel Caballero and her husband Moises Herrera are working with over 200 hectares of land planted with coffee together with Marysabel’s father, Fabio Caballero. They are 2nd and 3rd generation coffee farmers and Fabio has been rewarded many times for his commitment to developing coffee quality in Honduras.
Although they only have one farm that is certified organic, the Caballeros are working a lot to improve their soil and therefore produce organic fertilizer made from cow and chicken manure mixed with pulp from coffee cherries and other organic material. This is used in addition to some artificial fertilizer to ensure that the coffee plants get the nutrients they need. The soil is analyzed annually to provide proper nourishment to the coffee.
All water used for processing is filtered before it is released into nature again. There is no use of pesticides on the farms as fungus and other coffee diseases is controlled by controlling the amount of shade.
Oranges, avocados, flowers, bananas and other fruits is also grown at the farms, but mainly for the pickers to eat and to create biodiversity at the farms that ensures good growing conditions and shade for the coffee trees.
The local pickers that are hired to harvest the coffee get paid more than is normal in the area because they are required to sort the cherries during picking. Therefore the pickers are equipped with two bags during picking—one bag for ripe coffee berries, the other for immature and/or damaged coffee.
This coffee came in second place at the Honduras Cup of Excellence in 2005 and third prize at the SCAA “coffee of the year” as recently as 2010. As a result of the quality of their coffees, they have established close relationships with roasters like Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture Coffee,Tim Wendelboe, and, of course, Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters.
origin: Marcala, Chinacla, La Paz, Honduras
farm: Finca El Puente
elevation: 1500 meters above sea level
cultivar: Bourbon, Catuai
process: fully washed, patio dried
certification: Direct Trade
As I grind and brew the Finca El Puente Honduras I am surrounded by an explosion of dried fruits and perfumy floral aromatics. Cinnamon and brown sugar appear up front, but I’m more lulled in by the dried dates, fig, and raisins. What I’m most impressed by, though, is the big bouquet of lilac, violet, lavender, and hibiscus that fill the air between my nose and the cup.
Immediately post brew, this cup has a dry sweetness that is similar to the aroma with those notes of fig, raisins, and dates. This coffee is mellow and subtle up front, but it has a rich body that is mostly defined by a maple syrupy flavor and complementary mouthfeel. Towards the end of each sip there’s a distinct cane sugar note that tickles the palate.
Closer to room temperature, it actually becomes more floral; big bouquets of lilac and rose hips greet the tip of the tongue with each sip before floating up to the roof of the mouth, leaving behind a slightly dry finish, the mouthfeel is a bit more earthy and soily, and a startling lime acidity bubbles up in the middle of the cup, cracking through the earthy surface. Along with it stream sweet and juicy fruits like plum, raisin, and cinnamon apple cider, propelled forward by creamy vanilla, lavender, and brown sugar.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; lime acidity; slightly dry finish.
the bottom line:
The Finca El Puente Honduras, from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, is a cup that really took me by surprise. I was expecting to be completely underwhelmed by it; I was expecting a cup that didn’t have much flavor. What I got instead was a cup that brimmed with flavor and explosive aromatics.
At the farm, they call this particular coffee “The Purple Princess” and there’s certainly no reason why they shouldn’t. This is a very elegant cup that is equally complex as it is delicate; it is a cup that would make anyone sipping it believe that they have synesthesia because with its lilac, violet, lavender, plum, fig, raisin, and date notes, purple is all you can taste. This is the sort of coffee that you want to serve to royalty because of how elegant and dignified it is.
A beautiful coffee.
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