Esmeralda Cupping at Counter Culture Coffee
Yesterday we were invited to the newly minted Counter Culture Coffee NYC Training Center for a special cupping of the Esmeralda coffees available for auction this year. Katie and Meister were somehow able to talk CCC HQ into sending the samples to New York and invited everybody up to taste them, which was very nice of them. We were able to try 7 samples from the various areas of the Panamanian estate, and here they are:
Lot #1. Reserva De La Senora
This is the highest part of the farm at an elevation of 1,700-1,800M, and the rarest and most expensive. The 2 lots associated with it just sold today for $117.50 and $95.50. This makes this coffee the second most expensive coffee ever sold, behind the Esmeralda of two years ago.
We found orange, peanut butter, bergamot and strawberries in the fragrance and aroma, and orange marmalade or kool-aid in the taste with a strawberry-like brightness and sweet finish. I found it to be the most well-rounded and even of the coffees, but it wasn’t my favorite.
Lot #2. Caballeriza
This is another of the higher lots on the farm at 1500M, and is one of the new production areas. We found honey, cherries, strawberries, and chocolate in the aroma and fragrance, and orange, lilac, sweet caramel and stinky cheese (in a good way) in the flavor, with a tannic orange finish.
Lot #3. Mario Carnaval
Lots #3, 4 and 5 were really very interesting for us because, instead of separating the lots into growing areas of this farm, they separated them into harvest dates. I would never have thought that something like that would create such vastly different coffees, but it makes sense that weather would have possibly more impact on taste than a few hundred feet in elevation would. The Mario is the traditional award winning Esmeralda area of the farm.
In this lot, harvested in February (the time when Carnaval takes place in Panama), we found nuts, citrus, rose perfume and liquor in the aroma/fragrance, and hibiscus tea, sweet and sour (like chinese food), plum, and jarred cherries. This was agreed by many to have the best body, as it was juicy and clean, but not too syrupy, and it finished cleanly.
Lot #4. Mario San Jose
Mario San Jose, harvested in March (San Jose is the patron saint of the province, and his day is March 19th), was vastly different than Lot #3. We found currant, lime and chocolate in the fragrance and almonds and dried fruit in the aroma and break. It tasted like bergamot, strawberry jam, honeydew and cherry and finish with a sour lemon.
Lot #5. Mario Pascua
Pascua is spanish for Easter, thus this lot was harvested in April. In this one, we found BBQ, cherry almond and caramel in the aroma and fragrance, and bread & butter, squash blossoms, ginger, pumpkin seeds, and “easter ham” (courtesy of Eric) in the flavor.
Lot #6. Naranjo
This coffee is from on the the new production area in Jaramillo, near the Mario area of the farm. We found cocoa, peanut butter, potato, and almonds in the aroma, and orange, cherry and nuts in the flavor, with a sour grape-like lingering finish.
Lot #7. Colga
Another of the new-producing areas, this time in the Canas Verdes area near Lot #1. We found jasmine and orange blossom in the fragrance, and thought it was grassy and fennel-like in the aroma and break. The flavors were very simple and sweet, like candied apple and fresh corn, and it finished very dry.