Hello one and all! Welcome back to my table here in the corner of this cafe. I’m really excited about this edition of Corner of the Cafe, because, at long last, we’ll be sipping a Colombian coffee from a roaster I’ve been meaning to try out for about five months now—Passion House Coffee Roasters, of Chicago, IL. Are you as excited as I am? I thought so.
Feel free to pull up a chair.
A few weeks ago, when I announced on Twitter that I intended to dedicate the entire month of December to holiday and seasonal roasts, Joshua Millman sent me a message and asked me to give his newest roast, the Colombia Primavera Microlot, a try. “It’s not a ‘holiday coffee,’ per se,” he said. “But it is my seasonal offering that I’d like to push during the holiday season.”
I was really determined to review nothing but holiday roasts, but there were a few circumstances: 1) I’ve been wanting to try Passion House for a long, long time, 2) the founder and CEO specifically asked me to review this coffee, 3) it is their seasonal offering, after all, and 4) I’m nothing if not diplomatic. Besides, in my holiday gift guide, I wrote that everyone should go out there and support locally-owned coffee companies during the holiday season—so consider this review an example of me standing behind my word.
Support your community and shop local, everyone!
Passion House is one of the (if not the) newest kid on the block. Johnny Come Lately. Joshua Millman, former roastmaster of Casteel Coffee in Evanston, IL, decided to set out on his own and founded Passion House Coffee Roasters this past March. Almost immediately, his new company started getting a lot of positive press and was even featured on Chicago’s NBC news. Because of all the hype surrounding Passion House, and just because I’m an ardent supporter of Chicago’s burgeoning specialty coffee industry, I’ve been wanting to try out some of their coffee for a long time; since they opened, really. When I got the opportunity to meet Joshua at the La Marzocco Strada EP event at Counter Culture Coffee’s training center in Chicago, I was even more excited about the opportunity to try one of his roasts.
So, here we are, almost nine months later, finally sampling his latest roast: Colombia Primavera Microlot.
Much like the review I wrote of Superba Coffee’s Colombian offering, this coffee comes from the city of San Agustin, in the Huila region of Colombia. This area is situated in what is known as the Colombian Massif, a group of mountains within the Andes Mountains. These peaks—which hit elevations of up to 4,700 meters—are home to several varieties of animals, flora, and vegetation, and also contain Sotará and Puracé—two of Colombia’s most prominent volcanoes.
Tucked away in these mountains, about 1,840 meters above sea level, is the Primavera farm, which has been farmed by Arnulfo Leguizamo for about 20 years. “The advantages of this land where my farm is located are a secret,” says Leguizamo. “But mainly because of the high altitude and the right temperatures we produce coffee with the best attributes for its taste.” And he’s right—the climate of this region is perfect for cultivating high-quality coffee; shade, warmth, volcanic soil, high elevations, tropical rainfall. San Agustin really does everything going for it when it comes to coffee production.
Besides producing great coffee, Leguizamo is also doing his part to help the environment. He has been a Rainforest Alliance Certified farmer for 4 years, and he is committed to the protection to the environment. He is protecting springs and birds, he is recycling trash, and he doesn’t spray out chemical products. These principles are because of his sons – he wants to keep his place at least without contamination or pollution so they can live and eat there in the future in a healthy way.
This season’s offering is no exception—Leguizamo has cultivated one of the best coffees to come out of South America this year. It even garnered the first place prize in this year’s Colombia Cup of Excellence. After trying it, I certainly have no doubt about it—the Primavera is truly a special cup of coffee.
I prepared this coffee this coffee with my Hario V60 pour-over and a dizzying aroma of tropical fruits and sweet red wine filled my kitchen. It wasn’t quite as heavy as the aroma of a fine Merlot, and not really light either; it was right in the middle, very reminiscent of France’s famed Beaujolais Nouveau. It was also floral (honeysuckle rose) and slightly nutty (almond).
The flavor followed suit. This coffee was very fruity from the get-go, and was consistent (and persistent) throughout the life of the cup. From beginning to end, this coffee featured an intense tropical fruitiness with notes of apricot, cherry, peach, mango, and passion fruit. There were also very faint notes of herbs that danced towards the middle of my tongue—jasmine, lavender, maybe even bergamot. Underneath all of this sweetness was a slight earthiness that had nuances of caramel and toffee.
The finish was thick and syrupy, and had a honey-sweetness to it. The aftertaste was kind of tea-like—I noticed a bit of astringency. The acidity was also quite formidable in this coffee—it wasn’t all that rounded or balanced, it was actually pretty high; like the acidity of a grapefruit.
I’m very satisfied that I got the opportunity to not only finally try out Passion House Coffee Roasters, but that I got to have this year’s Colombia Cup of Excellence winner—Arnulfo Leguizamo’s Primavera Microlot. This was a very sweet, very fruity, and winy cup of coffee that had an intense flavor profile from beginning to end. Not only does this coffee come highly recommended from industry professionals, it also comes highly recommended from me. But you better hurry—this coffee is seasonal and probably won’t last much longer. You can purchase it online at the Passion House website, at the Chicago warehouse at 2021 West Fulton, or you can buy a mug of it at City Grounds in Chicago (which is the only coffee retailer offering it), at 507 West Dickens in Lincoln Park.
Passion House Coffee Roaster’s Colombia Primavera would make a really great stocking stuffer for the coffee lover that’s near and dear to your heart this holiday season.