After two years, the nationally-renown Verve Coffee Roasters finally made its way to the Table a couple of months ago, when MistoBox included their stellar El Salvador La Palma in one of their shipments—a rare El Salvadoran coffee that really and truly took me by surprise.
Now, here we are in June, quickly approaching Summer, and Verve Coffee Roasters has once again found its way back to the Table to face the scrutiny of my cupping spoon; this time, with a Colombia (which, as I mention in just about every Colombia I write these days, has practically become the standard-bearer for specialty coffees—particularly in the last two or three years).
Today’s coffee, then, being a Colombia and being roasted one of the country’s most prolific roasters, is bound to impress.
We’re about to find out if it lives up to my expectations.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Colombia San Jose, from Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.
The Andes Mountain range passes through Colombia like a vein. If you follow it across the whole country you will also follow the best areas for coffee production. The further south you go the closer to the Pacific Ocean you go.
San Jose is a small village within the greater region of Pedregal, which is located in the southeast of Cauca. This small lot is the handiwork of seven producers in the area. They all manually de-pulp their cherries using hand-cranked machines and wash their coffee on site.
The isolation and altitude of this area are what make this coffee so unique. Classic Caturra shrubs dominate the growing hills of these farms. The high elevation of the mountains always brings out the best in the Caturra cultivar, and this lot is no different.
origin: Pedregal, Cauca, San Jose, Colombia
farm: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1700 – 1950 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Typica, Bourbon
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma coming off the Colombia San Jose is sweet and spicy, with tantalizing notes of creme brulee, Mexican hot chocolate, butterscotch, almond, and amaretto. Maybe even some notes akin to a white Russian.
Immediately post-brew, the coffee kicks off with a bang. Up front the flavors are sweet and savory. Caramel and honey coat the palate first, while granules of muscovado sugar sprinkle throughout. Cinnamon sticks, raw cocoa, and creamy vanilla show up in the finish.
As it begins its descent to room temperature, the profile of the coffee doesn’t change so much as it expands.
All of a sudden, silky and juicy fruit flavors explode onto the palate, breaking down the levee and completely flooding the mouth, rising and expanding and soaking and crashing into every corner—engulfing the tongue, pushing up against the roof, pummeling into the insides of my cheeks. A very, very distinct malic acidity dominates the profile, with honeycrisp apple, pomegranate, and Bosc pear being the prevalent flavors. These pomme fruits are accompanied by tart raspberry, orange peel, and fragrant rose hip aromatics, with their petals being the defining feature of its silky mouthfeel.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Colombia San Jose, from Verve Coffee Roasters, is one of those rare coffees that just doesn’t quit.
Honey and brown sugar are the dominant features of the cup, and these flavors run throughout the course of it—from beginning to end—and silky fruit notes introduce a long, satisfying finish that rounds out the bottom of the cup. Usually, with coffees like this, when the finish introduces itself so early, the cup ends up having a short life; the flavors up front dissipate quickly, then the finish just kind of – sputters out after a short time. Not so with the San Jose—not so at all; its finish just keeps going and going and going.
What makes this cup even more unique is that it never loses its dynamics or its complexity. Some of these coffees go for a long time, sure, but they thin out after a while and the consumer gets bored with them. This coffee, on the other hand, captivated me and held my attention from beginning to end.
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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.