A few weeks ago, before I set out on my #GRcoffeecrawl, I sent out a tweet asking for suggestions of shops and roasters to visit while I was in Grand Rapids.
Andrew Heppner, the owner of Populace Coffee, replied almost immediately, “Ninth Bridge Market in Ada.” When a person replies that quickly, you can’t take their suggestion lightly.
Ninth Bridge Market is a nifty little knack-knack shop that also serves up sandwiches and pours cups of Bay City, Michigan’s Populace Coffee.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the tiny shop in the equally tiny Ada, just outside of Grand Rapids, I was dismayed to find that they had closed their doors for their day. I was even more dismayed to learn later that soon, they’ll be closing their doors for good.
Andrew was equally dismayed at my wasted trip and, so, decided to make up for my efforts by sending me a sampling (a very hearty sampling, indeed) of one of their newest offerings to include as a late edition of my #GRCoffeeCrawl.
(Many, many thanks to you, Andrew!)
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of Populace Coffee’s Honduras Jose Milton Madrid. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Coffee out of Honduras has had a terrible reputation. Local buyers are known for buying wet parchment regardless of the quality and blending it all to come up with an average quality. The little good coffee that was found would fade and turn old rather quickly.
In the past eight years, though, things have been changing rather quickly. New regions have been discovered, processes have been improved, and most importantly, specialty coffee importers are taking notice of this tiny country and are personally assisting the farmers there advancing their production quality even further.
One such company is Cafe Imports, the importer that brought us this coffee from Las Quebradas.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find much information about the farm other than the basics below, so let’s get down to brass tacks.
origin: Santa Barbara, San Luis Planes Village, Honduras
farm: Las Quebradas
elevation: 1450 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
First of all, the aroma of this coffee is light and airy. It’s fragrant and complex. It’s perfumy with a fragrance of floral aromatics that lightly brush the tip of the nose and baking spices that tickle the nostrils. It also has just enough baked chocolate cake and tangerine to save it from being completely one-dimensional.
Up front, the first few sips of this coffee are reminiscent of the aroma. There’s a spice to it, of pepper, oregano, and cooking spices. There’s a slight vegetal taste to it, too—one of the acidity of a juicy tomato on the vine.
Now that the cup is cooling off, it’s completely different.
Those cooking spices have given way to baking spices—instead of spicy oregano and peppers, I’m getting a sweet cardamon, cinnamon, and allspice. There’s a very sweet, very pleasant of freshly baked brown bread and cane sugar that does not quit. It has the dry fruit sweetness of currants and raisins, the bittersweetness of dark chocolate, the tarty sweetness of green apples, and the sweet, juicy acidity of blood oranges.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; lemon acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
I’ll bite—I wasn’t all that impressed with the Honduras Jose Milton Madrid the first few times I brewed it. I wasn’t. I thought it was too weak, too delicate, and still, somehow, too roasty. This coffee is toward the lighter end of the roast spectrum—I didn’t think that it was taken to its fullest potential, honestly.
Then again, the very fact that it is a Honduran coffee colored my initial opinions of it, too—Honduran coffees very seldom interest me. I’ve never had one that I really liked—I’ve had some that were okay, but none that I was really happy to have spent money on.
After letting it sit for a few more days, after adjusting my approach to it… I really started to take a shine to this coffee.
It’s not that the coffee is delicate, it’s that I wasn’t brewing it correctly—this coffee almost demands to be brewed using an immersion method, but it also demands a refined and clean pour. I liked this coffee in my Aeropress, but I really liked it in my Clever. There are an awful lot of unique flavors in these grounds and only immersion really brings all of them out.
That being said, it did also bring out more of that roasty astringency. That roastiness does fade with time, though.
Try this coffee for yourself. Brew a couple cups in the first few days of having it, then compare it to a few cups after about ten days. You’ll be amazed at the difference. You’ll be amazed by the flavors of this Honduran coffee.
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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.