Serious Eats: Drinks

Five Great Colombian Coffees You Should Try

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[Photo: Liz Clayton]

One of the most famous coffee-growing nations in the world, and host to the recent World Barista Championships, Colombia is on many people's minds right now as beautiful fresh crop coffees fill cups around the world. We were lucky enough to get our hands on some of how this year's harvest is being presented by some of the country's finest artisan roasters. Distinguished often not just by farm, but by farmer name, these coffees primarily hail from the early 2011 harvest and each express their roaster's take on this beautiful and varied terroir. Let's taste!

El Meridiano

Roasted by Barismo (Arlington, MA)

Versatile enough to have been roasted for both filter coffee and espresso by Arlington, Mass boutique Barismo, this Colombian coffee pairs regionally characteristic cherry, big red-fruity notes with a fantastic lime acidity. The taste is deep red but the effect is sparkle with a smooth mouthfeel, surprising brightness, and a soft strawberry sweetness. Long cherry finish. Sometimes it's a good thing to see red...

Nido De Oro

Roasted by Verve (Santa Cruz, CA)

When surfers roast your coffee, it's not surprising to get big, joyful flavor, and the profiles at Verve express a sort of delight in selection as well as roasting. This wet-processed coffee is a milk chocolate toffee mouthful—or is it a cherry cordial? There's a lingering sort of leafiness, but ultimately Nido De Oro aims straight for the candy counter and largely succeeds with a tremendously sweet and approachable cup.

El Roble

Roasted by Terroir/George Howell Coffee (Boston, MA)

Coffee veteran George Howell brings decades of experience to Boston-area roaster Terroir, and this offering from the Santander region of Colombia is meant to be representative of the area's unique microclimate. A deep cherry aroma opens into tart Granny Smith apple peel. It's got the tiniest hint of earthiness at first, but soon the smooth mouthfeel of dark brown sugar, taste of young cherry and a caramel finish bring this well-rounded coffee full circle.

Einar Ortiz

Roasted by Barismo (Arlington, MA)

Of the two coffees we tasted from the talented micro-nerdy Barismo, this is the more linear: direct red-fruit, with notes of date, caramel, hint of tangerine, and an aroma as rich as cherry frosting. Floral hints on the aroma. This coffee was smooth and mild with a still-pleasing acidity, and would be an easy, pleasurable cup at any time of the day.

Luis Eider Reinoso

Roasted by Madcap (Grand Rapids, MI)

An intriguing entry from Madcap, this small lot of coffee—the farm experienced bad weather last year—was purchased in its entirety by the Grand Rapids roasters, along with a lot from Reinoso's brother Didier. Complex with a slight bergamot aroma and the tiniest twinkle of lush leather, this coffee spins webs of brown sugar and orange blossom honey, floral and sweet, tart and acidic with a short finish.


Disclosure: All coffees were provided as samples for review.

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