Right now I have a crush on Guatemala El Bosque, washed Bourbon from Kuma Coffee in Seattle.
The vapors off the top of the brew give signals of sugary sweetness mixed with something that reminds me of rich volcanic soil if it were sewn with cocoa nibs. Drawn like a moth to the flame, I take a sip and close my eyes. A starburst of acidity lights up my palate in a shimmering rainbow of flavor.
Immediately I’m transported to a prehistoric jungle landscape with a confectioner’s twist. Grape gum drops hang from low branches, bottles of root beer sprout from the ground and bunches of candy bananas drape over the footpath.
Solidly sweet. Right away grape and cherry notes spring forth but are balanced by a milk chocolate creaminess. My mind’s eye sees a hard piece of purple candy floating on a lazy river of chocolate. As the cup develops, notes of caramelized sticky-sweet toffee are revealed that culminate in a root beer-like character.
But this coffee has a hidden treasure. A rare and exquisite flavor presents itself to those who are patient. Completely forgetting about the flavor descriptors on the label of Kuma’s wandering bear emblazoned brown bag, I noticed a familiar flavor from real life but not something I’ve tasted in coffee, yet. And that’s when it hits me… banana. As it cools, I detect the fresh notes of fructose unmistakably characteristic of ripe banana. What a fun flavor!
Grapes and bananas have the highest sugar contents of all fruit. It makes sense that these two flavors would be present in one of the sweetest coffees of the year. I could characterize this coffee as a banana split that fell into a root beer float – but that would be ridiculous. This coffee is very balanced and not wildly sweet like a natural. The sweetness is supported by the milk chocolate body that allows it to stand out but not steal the show. I liken the lingering banana finish to rounded dense over-ripeness produced by a table side flambe.
Well done to Miriam Villanueva who produced this bourbon that grows as high as 1,800m on the hillsides of her farm in Chimaltenango. The higher the elevation, the denser the bean, the longer it takes to ripen, and thus allowing the sugars to develop – giving way to unique coffee experiences.
Region/Farm: El Bosque, Miriam Villanueva
Elevation: 1,800 masl