Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha Roasted by Intelli

The following has been copied from my blogspot photos are available there, http://banditthebarista.blogspot.com/ :

I thought this blogging thing was going to be easy to keep up with, but I guess I'm busier than I thought. This month has been an exciting progression for the Coal Creek Roastery. We're awaiting the arrival of a new roaster, a Deidrich HR-1 (ours is black), which will allow us to roast samples to the same exacting standards that we roast for production. It will also allow us to experiment with different profiles and roasts without risking the loss of product. All in all, it is going to be excellent and I'm looking forward to it.

We've begun to get together at the roastery for weekly Coal Creek Jams, pouring latte art, drinking beer, talking about the upcoming competition season and having a grand time. I think it's great to provide some of our newer baristi with an appreciation for how hard we work and how much fun that can be. Everyone is having a great time and it's happening most Thursday nights. If you're coming through Laramie, stop by!

Excuse the lengthy preamble, the core of this blog concerns a very special cup of coffee that I've been privileged enough to consume. Hacienda La Esmeralda is a coffee farm located in the province of Chiriqui, in Southwestern Panama. They have recently revived the Geisha cultivar and have made it quite popular. Michaele Weissman chose the title of her book God In A Cup based on a description of this coffee. Each year, the farm holds an auction for the top lots of its coveted Geisha crop. This year, the top lot sold for $117.50 per pound (keep in mind it hasn't been roasted yet and there should be at least a three times margin above the green price). I did not get to taste this. I did however get to taste a lot purchased and roasted by Intelligentsia, titans of the third wave of Specialty Coffee. John was gracious enough to agree to spending $100 of the company's money on two 1/2 lb. bags of the Geisha that Intelligentsia roasts only once per week. I figured it was worth a Saturday at work to taste this stuff. I brought Emma to take some photographs and I fired up our halogen beam heater to see how the coffee fared on with a siphon extraction. The beans were beautiful, Geisha is a long, thin, canoe shaped bean, which I imagine is very difficult to roast. The roast I received was fairly consistent, with only a few discernible tips on the verge of scorching. I carefully measured 26 grams of coffee, ground slightly finer than drip, about at the number six setting of our Mahlkonig EK-43. I used 15 ounces of water and a mingle time of 55 seconds, resulting in a total extraction time of just over two minutes. Emma and I split the siphon and chatted about how it presented itself. I have tasted plenty of coffees, few have been so delicate and complex. I felt that the best aromas and flavors were present when the coffee was very hot. Intelligentsia describes the flavors as Orange Marmalade and Toasted Marshmallows. I immediately picked up on the caramel, maple syrup and brown sugar sweetness, also present was a very mild pinon nut sweetness. The coffee presented an intense fragrance, floral and tea-like. A touch of lavender and bergamot, a delicate body like a clean, Sencha green tea. The acidity was very much like oranges and kumquats. As the coffee cooled I picked up a cucumber mouthfeel and the acidity turned more toward stewed tomatoes and celery, the body retained its delicacy and acquired a bit of a black tea, pleasantly bitter characteristic. A truly elegant cup, I look forward to cupping it Monday and preparing it on our Clover, to round out my experience of the bean. I'll keep you posted on these developments.

I'm currently drinking a homemade Bloody Mary. If I learned one thing when living in Wisconsin, it was how to appreciate and prepare a proper Bloody Mary. Emma and I used to spend a fair amount of time at Genna's in Madison after the weekly farmers market. They made some serious Bloody Mary's, which came with unlimited access to their extensive garnish bar, including everything from the traditional olives and celery to pickled asparagus, cheese and dilly beans. It took some practice but since moving away from the readily available, I have figured out a reliable and quite delicious recipe.
The basic rules are:
Do not use anything from a can, tomato juice from a can tastes tinny, and in the same vein, lemon juice that is not fresh will add a tinny flavor to what should be one of the best cocktails on earth.
Also, you need cheese. Bloody Mary's are completed by a very sharp Cheddar, I'm consuming a Cabot Private Stock from my lovely home state of Vermont. It gives balance to the spiciness of the drink and if you add some Wood's Cider Jelly, essentially a reduction of unpasteurized apple cider, it sweetens and adds complexity to the entire experience.
Two words as important as "bloody" and "mary" are Garlic and Horseradish. There is nothing worse than a Bloody Mary with no spice. That being said, it's easy to overdo the garlic or add so much horseradish that you end up with shrimp cocktail sauce. I find one small clove of garlic and 1/2 tsp. of horseradish per serving is adequate.
Infuse! I use Ketel One vodka, infused for at least a week with dried celeriac root. This thickens up the vodka and again steers you away from the metallic flavors that can come from the citrus, the tomato, or the vodka.
Salt the rim. No excuses, even better is to grind some pepper into your rim salt and rim with salt and black pepper.
Finally, BEER CHASER. There is nothing that can do as much for a Bloody Mary as a beer chaser. The drink was designed to bridge morning and afternoon, breakfast and lunch, and you must, must, must, accompany a Bloody Mary with a beer chaser. A mild amber ale will do, I'm using Fat Tire today, a pilsner also works quite well, many weekend mornings I'll crack a PBR to do this job.

Thanks for humoring me and reading this, more to come soon!

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