I think people are beginning to realize they don't have to order coffee from a big name third wave coffee shop in California, Washington, or Oregon anymore. There is an uprising in the south and it's not one full of prejudice and ignorance -- it's an uprising of damn good coffee.
A perfect example of this is Onyx Coffee Lab's honey processed coffee from El Salvador. The coffee comes from Jorge Raul Rivera's farm which is renown in the coffee industry after winning the Cup of Excellence in 2014 with another honey processed lot. The phrase honey process is a common misconception in the world of coffee. Many see it at a coffee shop and are sold on the idea of honey sweetness combined with a rich cup of coffee. Processing coffee can be very complex and overwhelming to explain. The best way to understand it quickly is to first know that coffee is a fruit! Coffee grows up to become a cherry. The seed beneath the skin and pulp is what eventually is roasted and consumed. The processes are ways in which coffee farmers de-pulp and prepare the coffee to be sold for roasting. During the honey process the coffee is dried with some of the mucilage or body of the coffee fruit still attached to the bean. This mucilage is sometimes sticky and wet, thus the phrase "honey" comes into play. This sort of processing allows the coffee to develop a medium level of acidity which ultimately means amazing flavors and body from the coffee!
I had this coffee back in September which means it may be difficult to find for the rest of the season, don't worry though. Coffee roasters will tend to put out similar coffee as the seasonal crops allow them to. My first brew was 6 days off roast and it only became more complex as I continued to enjoy it. I brewed this coffee three different ways in order to really get to know and enjoy the flavor possibilities. There are no hard rules to my parameters, they are just ways I found the coffee tasted best.
Onyx Lab - El Salvador Finca Santa Rosa Lot 35: honey | 1700 Meters
Brew Method: Chemex | Grinder: Porlex Mini | Grind Size: Finely Course
Water Temperature: 197°F
20 grams of coffee in
45 grams of water for a 40 second bloom
Total of 320 grams of water that finished drawing down at 5 minutes (best draw down time is 4-5 minutes depending on taste)
Aroma: Sweet and Fruity
Tasting Notes: The first sip gave me chills. It was everything I was craving in a cup of coffee during an abnormally warm beginning of fall. The body was juicy and smooth with heavy fruit flavors. I experienced a citrus like acidity with subtle notes of sour berry (like pomegranate or cranberry). Imagine an orange peel infused dark chocolate bar.
Brew Method: V60 (no stir) | Grinder: Porlex Mini | Grind Size: Medium Fine
Water Temperature: 199°F
20 grams of coffee in
40 grams of water for a 30 second bloom
Total of 320 grams of water that finished drawing down at 3:10 minutes (best draw down time is 2:30-3:15 minutes depending on taste)
Aroma: Light, Deep, and Floral
Tasting Notes: There was more of a milk chocolate taste on the front end with the V60, likely because of the thinner filter allowing more of the coffee body to show up in the tasting notes. The citrus flavor was mellow with muted fruit notes. While the flavors weren't as bright, the coffee was richer and could appeal to those that aren't as into the bright and floral acidity the Chemex brings out.
Brew Method: Aeropress (inverted) | Grinder: Porlex Mini | Grind Size: Medium Course
Water Temperature: 195°F
15 grams of coffee in
Pour 100 grams of water -> Stir for 26 seconds -> Pour 120 grams of water -> Steep for 25 seconds -> Flip Aeropress with vessel ready -> Plunge for 40 seconds -> Enjoy!
Total of 220 grams of water that finished drawing down at 1:15 minutes
Aroma: Clean, Bright and Citrus
Tasting Notes: The aeropress brought out a combination of both citrus and bright fruit notes supported by that creamy dark chocolate finish. I use the aeropress typically near the bottom of my bag since it usually requires slightly less coffee for brewing. I also double or triple stack my paper filters to bring out the brighter notes a little better.
This Aeropress recipe is called The Weaver and can be found on the Aeropress Timer App.
This coffee pairs well with Andy Shauf's album, The Party, a wonderful concept album that takes one through the intricacies of high school relationships coming to a head in one evening. The Party is a perfect album to indulge in while enjoying a cup of this refreshing coffee. Please think of all the fall activities that are sure to ensue with family and friends while partaking in another great coffee from Onyx Coffee Lab.
(This post was made possible by the folks of + Coffee. They bring in coffee roasters from all over the south for the residents of Chattanooga to enjoy.)
If you have any questions about coffee, my brew methods, or just want to chat - feel free to comment below!