As summer winds down and we work our way through the rest of the Central American seasonal coffees, the roasters are able to turn their attention to microlots and to coaxing single origin espresso roasts out of outstanding brewed coffees. First up on the Volta menu: Honduras. In solidarity with the campesinos working the farms of Honduras from the border of Guatemala to the mountains of Nicaragua, we are currently featuring a first-ever microlot coffee from Roberto Salazar's Finca Pashapa and a special Black Cat Project edition of Intelligentsia's La Tortuga.
Counter Culture Coffee has been working with Sr. Salazar to elevate the quality of the coffees of several farms outside of the town of La Labor, in the northwest corner of the country. CCC roaster Tim Hill explains how this particular microlot came to be:
El Lechero is a three-hectare parcel of Finca Pashapa named after a tree with milky sap. When Roberto tasted coffee from this part of the farm, he discovered something special. It shouldn’t have been a surprise; the area is at 1520 meters and has a particularly high concentration of Typica and Bourbon coffee trees. Roberto kept that special parcel in the back of his mind, and kept working to create great coffees from the rest of Finca Pashapa, focusing especially on ripe cherry picking. This year, Roberto paid pickers more to take a little extra time and care on El Lechero, and once again it was kept separate.
Only 15 bags of green coffee were harvested for this microlot selection. We will be featuring it as our limited availability coffee for the next week. Stop by soon, because the Lechero won't be around for long. We are offering Counter Culture's El Lechero on the Clover for $3.25 a cup.
To the southeast of La Labor, Fabio Caballero's Finca La Tina is a jewel among coffee farms. As the first coffee farm in the Mogola region of Honduras, Finca La Tina has been in Sr. Caballero's family for three generations-- since its founding in 1930. Intelligentsia buyer Geoff Watts describes the farm:
At over 5,400 feet, La Tina farm is one of the highest farms in Honduras. The views are breathtaking, and there is no doubt that this piece of land is a wonderful place to grow coffee. Of course, growing the coffee is really just one step in many that lead to a great cup. The preservation of the quality that nature produces is as important in the equation as the actual growth. The sequence of events that take place after picking, beginning the moment that the cherry leaves the tree, help to define the difference between an "artisan coffee farmer" and a "harvester."
We've been offering the brewed coffee as La Tortuga, a blend from lots harvested at Finca La Tina and from Sr. Caballero's son-in-law's adjacent farm in Maracala. We also earlier featured a microlot brewed coffee from Finca La Tina, but it only lasted on the menu for a week before the supply ran out. Now we are getting one last gift from Mogola: a Black Cat Project single origin espresso based on a small lot of coffee from Finca La Tina. As with many single origin Central American espressos, the Finca La Tina espresso is bright. My first exposure to an early test roast, at the Chicago roasting works, reminded me of a lime popsicle. Now that we've had a chance to play with it here in Gainesville, we're coaxing out a deeper piloncillo-brown sugar base that counters the lime-zest intensity at the front of the shot.
The Black Cat Project Finca La Tina espresso is available as a .25 cent upcharge for any espresso drink. Personally, I like it as a straight double-- but then again, I like extra-hoppy IPAs. Matched with sweetly steamed milk, it makes the perfect summer cappuccino.