The final stop of my #GRcoffeecrawl—I wanted someplace “safe,” someplace where I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I was going to get a really great cup(s) of coffee. Of course, when you’re in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and you’re looking for the best cup of coffee around, you need look no further than Madcap.
Over the course of the next week or so, hopefully I’ll be able to show you just why Madcap is one of the best things going in the Great Lakes region. Until then…
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of the Madcap Coffee cafe. Today, we’re sipping three different coffees that we’ll explore in the immediate future. First up: El Roble Costa Rica. Feel free to pull up a chair.
El Roble is a small family farm that is operated and managed by Carlos Eduardo Monge; it’s located in the heart of Tarrazu—arguably Costa Rica’s most famous coffee-producing region—, just outside the capital city, San Jose. El Roble grows mainly Caturra coffee and delivers ripely picked cherries to the ASOPROAAA Mill.
ASOPROAAA is a non-profit organization focused on supporting small family farms in the Tarrazu region. The organization started in 1998 focusing on organic cattle farming and added the coffee program in 2006. ASOPROAAA works with individual family farms by offering education and funding.
A commitment to quality is a key focus in the organization as organic fertilization, selective picking, and other quality standards are requirements. Multiple lots from ASOPROAAA have received Cup of Excellence honors, including the El Roble, which won third place this year.
This is the second year that Madcap bought coffee from this particular mill.
origin: Cedral de Acosta, Tarrazu, Costa Rica
farm: El Roble
elevation: 1700 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma of this cup seems to be pretty typical of a Tarrazu. It’s pretty nutty, has some floral aromatics, a bit of a deep raisin scent. The most pleasing scent coming out of the cup, though, is this black tea-like play that is really sweet. It reminds me of the Black Currant tea blend from Peet’s Coffee and tea in that it has this really nice cherry bubblegum scent.
The flavor is pretty good, too. The cup starts out with a big flavor of milk chocolate and roasted almonds. This is like drinking one of those almond Hershey bars—rich and smooth, with a tinge of salt.
As the cup cools off a little bit, the chocolate seems to melt—instead of a dominant flavor that the tongue can taste, it becomes more of a consistency; it’s creamy, smooth, and it covers the palate. Meanwhile, juicy fruits begin to develop and it tastes like chewing a… well… a Juicy Fruit. No, it’s more like a Gusher. Each sip pours in a rush of cherry, plum, red apple, and a massively juicy blood orange acidity that cuts the chocolaty sheet in half, streaming directly down the middle of the tongue and pushing the chocolate to the sides—like Moses in the Red Sea. “Let my taste buds go!”
No, just kidding—keep it coming.
As flavorful as this coffee is, I do have one complaint, though: the roasted almond flavor seems just a bit too roasted. Throughout the cup, each sip ends with that almond finish, but it also leaves behind an astringency that’s more common in peanuts—a roastiness that I can feel on the roof of my mouth. It’s the feeling your mouth gets when you eat a coffee bean.
Medium body; smooth, creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean, nutty, astringent finish.
the bottom line:
This, the El Roble Costa Rica, is a solid offering from Madcap Coffee Company. I’ve never been particularly taken with Tarrazu coffees—probably because most of the coffees I’ve had from this region were cheaply bought, darkly roasted, and cheaply sold. In short—cheap, in price and in quality.
(And that is a word you, nor I, could ever use when describing Madcap—neither in quality, nor, indeed, in price.)
The El Roble, though, while it mostly embodies a pretty typical Tarrazu (nuts, chocolate, etc.), it has a lot of other really great things going for it (particularly that fruitiness that just wouldn’t stop). While it’s not one of the better coffees I’ve had this year, it’s certainly one of the best I’ve had from Costa Rica in a while.
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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.