Written by Dylan McClain
Yes, by all means, let's do an event showcasing our new lots from Mexico. Yes, yes, let's make it a party. Yes, fine, let's make it a challenge as well. That's nothing new. It's what we do.
We channel creative energy.
Good thing we work with coffee, or else we might run out of things to do.
So we started with a blank canvas and a palette of four coffees. Free association had us building drinks with apple cider, marionberry jam, cactus, aguas frescas. No bad ideas at this stage of the project. Hell yes it was fun. A world of options. Crazy situations started to seem logical. We could wheel in the GS3 and make 100 cappuccinos. I experimented with fresh hops and cold brew. That idea sank quickly only to find new life in a cold brew competition a few weeks later. We talked affogatos. We explored pairings with Mexican junk food. What if we have people show up and we are just blasting music and pulling shots of all four lots? How much caffeine can people tolerate at 7pm?
Tasting notes for the sample roasts were skewing toward rich fruits and nutty tones. Plums, prunes, jordan almonds, apple pie. Fantastic malic acidity. The Fetco downtown was making the Grapos El Porvenir taste like nectarines. The Santa Lucia on french press was a pillow fight between almonds and toffee. Corinna was calling it a hug in a mug.
Back at the warehouse we were dialing in the coffees on siphon. Ah the siphon, what an intriguing device. If you've never seen one in action, just picture what Bill Nye's home coffee game is like. Our tinkering was producing lovely brews that were soft and sweet, revealing a level of finesse to the Mexican lots that I hadn't noticed in our cuppings.
Liza kept showing me photos of the cupping rooms in Xalapa, which looked like the gilded dining halls of Mexican royalty. We cycled through aeropress recipes as she flipped through her album, filled with fantastical images of the wet mill and coffee mountains and row after row of young coffee trees.
Back home I built an aeropress assembly line and brewed 18 batches of the Santa Lucia, which I froze into 70 perfect cubes of coffee ice. At the event we splashed these ice cubes with tamarind soda. That drink was a big hit. The sweet and tart soda was straight up electric against the rich, fragrant tones of the Santa Lucia. The afterparty version of this drink was rum and turbinado sugar, and also kicked ass in a serious way.
Somewhere in the mix we decided on coconut milk ice cream, which brought tropical flavors to our chilled brew of Grapos El Porvenir. This was served at the end of the event, and our lively discussion took a pause. For a few magical moments all you could hear was the clink of spoons in porcelain cups.
I don't remember much about the cleanup. Liza and I talked excitedly over one another as we chucked dishes into the sanitizer and haphazardly bagged up the leftover coffee ice. I hope Marshall took a lot of photos. What a crazy ride. As usual, we learned more from what didn't work than we learned from what did. I can't wait for the next project, when's it going to be? A month or two? No problem. It's what we do.