While shopping at Whole Foods writing my earlier post about how to shop for coffee at a local supermarket, I bought a Bolivian coffee named "Colonial Caranavi" from Central Coffee Roasters. They roast in Rappahannock County, VA near DC. Well relatively. This is not to be confused with Rappahannock roasters I reviewed a few posts ago. I am unsure what the "Colonial" part means. I doubt the coffee was made from dead colonial labor, perhaps someone can enlighten me?
Central Coffee stood out to me due to its distinctive brown bag approach with an attractive front sticker displaying a short description of what the coffee tastes like, eschewing ridiculous descriptions that run on for 4-5 sentences. The bag read, "Sharp Fuller Bodied And Slightly Nutty." Sealed vacuum bags tells me that the roasters roasted the coffee a long time ago, and needs to be put in the vacuum bag. The brown bag says, I am roasted fresh, can be stored in a bag, and still be fresh. I am arrogantly proud of my coffee. (Arrogant is used only in the most positive manner here) It had a roast date on the bottom, 7-15. I bought it on the 29, making it two weeks on the nose. While normally this is when the coffee begins to loose flavor, I was not too worried.
1. For supermarket coffee, this was quite fresh.
2. Surprisingly, inside the brown bag was another "cello bag" that contained the beans and was airtight.
Onto the review: Here are my grading criteria.
1- Horrible/Bad: Does not deserve to grace any types of brewing methods. Most likely extremely stale, burnt..etc.
2- Meh: Generally displays uneven characteristics or muted flavors. The overall taste does not blend well, and could be improved up. Stale
3- Average: A well crafted coffee with either a one-dimensional flavor or hints of one. Moderately fresh.
4- Good: Demonstrates a good combination of flavors and/or is freshly roasted.
5- Excellent: Similar to 4, but demonstrates a complex arrangement of flavors and exceeds in quality from similar coffees.
Aroma: Upon opening the bag, I was hit by the "sharpness" of the coffee. Bordering upon pungent, the smell overwhelmed my nose with its sharp smell. After the initial overpowering aroma, a smooth chocolaty or nutty smell briefly followed. Unfortunately, I can't find the exact smell (of the first aroma) it reminded me of, certainly not bad, but not exactly a pleasant bouquet either. This was going to be a strong coffee, if the taste mirrored the smell. (Update: After the beans sat in my grinder hopper for a day or so, the pungency has smoothed over.)
Taste via Espresso:
The bean grinded well allowing a for a decent extraction. Though I may have to go one more click down as the crema appeared too light. The Bolivian had a full body/mouth feel similar to a Sumatran coffee. While it lacks earthy flavors, the Bolivian exhibited a pleasant bitterness enveloping the mouth with a dark taste. I tasted some of the nuttiness as the description says, which mixed well the bitterness. Five minutes after the espresso, the bitterness remained with a good mouth feel aftertaste.
Overall: Central Coffee Roasters crafted a fresh, pleasantly bitter coffee with a tinge of nuttiness giving the espresso a heavy feel that runs counter to the trends of other espresso's to add floral and citrus flavors. The Bolivian does not have a complex taste, therefore cannot score a four on the Metro Espresso scale. It earns 3.5/5 because of its freshness, 9.99 for 12 oz (decent price), and provides a solid espresso in the Italian tradition.