I'd like to introduce you to a new series of posts, in which I talk about my latest successful coffee discovery. What's new about that? These posts will be subject to those happy moments when I think I've hit upon my own personal nirvana, as the title says, and can easily share the moment with you--without trying to get you all wound-up and obsessed. You wouldn't want that, would you? Because if you want to see obsessed, you merely have to read my other posts. Of course, this particular post does seem to jump right into obsession... guess I'm still working the kinks out.
An obsession comes to an end (for now)
In previous posts, you may recall that I've lately been trying coffee from Klatch, Deep Cello, Velton's, and Portola Coffee Lab. I make no secret that my perfect coffee experience has all the fruity, chocolate-hazelnut complexity and richness of Portola's Roney Villela Brazil microlot, combined with something like Deep Cello's Nostromo for that dark chocolate "bottom end".
Yes, you did mention that.
I sampled Klatch's Belle Espresso, but although I found it to have a nice fruitiness, I still wasn't quite satisfied with its flavor profile, which tended toward dark roasted flavors. I was pursuing something akin to Velton's Bonsai Blend--brewed in my Sowden Softbrew. My first hit of Bonsai Blend had been a nirvana moment, because it seemed to produce a whole range of flavors. Unfortunately, upon recently attempting to repeat that success, something went wrong. I noticed a ton of out-gassing throughout the time I was using the roast. Too much CO2 meant a weaker brew. But each day, the result improved, and just when the flavors were starting to get more richness and complexity, I had used-up all the beans.
What to do?
I could order some more Bonsai Blend. But of course, I was still curious if I could do better. I was so happy with the flavors from Portola's Brazil, but I just wanted a little something extra. Something like the very bottom hit I got from Nostromo. But what could I get that could possibly combine those two flavor profiles?
Yes, I wonder what?
What could I possibly use to blend the qualities of Roney Villela Brazil with those of Nostromo, which as far as I could tell, would be the perfect pairing, if only I could figure out what to buy next?
A Perfect Blend
Funny how the most obvious things escape us. I had already ordered a new bag of Nostromo, hoping Deep Cello's new roast profile didn't turn it into tuna surprise (this might be stressing you out, so in the interest of keeping this post a calm and happy place, I'll tell you now: it didn't). So I picked up some Brazil from Portola Coffee Lab. If I was right, the two would blend seamlessly and without interfering with each other.
And it worked. I tasted a seamless blending of Nostromo, a dark roast that exhibits a narrow range of dark cocoa, almond, and roasty flavors, with Roney Villela’s Brazil microlot, a medium roast that exhibits complexity in all the areas that Nostromo lacks, such as fruitiness, acidity, and other brighter flavors unique to the Brazil SO, but also caramel and chocolate. These two coffees were especially suitable because of the Brazil’s strong display of flavors, which held up nicely to the Nostromo’s rich but not overpowering flavors.
I tasted the milk chocolate, hazelnut, and fruitiness of the Brazil, and the dark cocoa of the Nostromo.
It was a moment of nirvana, and it took me here:
Syro's Cafe - Taipei, Taiwan
Addendum May 30, 2012: Two Coffees Go Their Separate Ways (or The Trifecta Strikes Back)
This morning, the wife and I were enjoying our morning coffee on one of my vacation days, and I decided to try different settings on the Trifecta just to see how it affected the two coffees. First we sampled the Nostromo using different settings, and then the Roney Villela. I ended up reducing the grind setting on the Preciso just about to drip. By the time we were done, there was a clear best setting for turbulence for each coffee.
Nostromo: Use setting E on the Trifecta. Had I tried this earlier, I would have realized that the dark chocolate and hint of almond I was tasting was hiding a very nice full-on chocolate biscotti. Kudos to Justin! But I wonder how many people will have a chance to taste what I'm tasting, given I had to use the extreme turbulence setting on a Trifecta to bring it out?
Roney Villela: Use setting C on the Trifecta. I tried using a higher setting for turbulence, and found that the best qualities of this SO were only diminished by undesirable flavors. But on C, this coffee amazes with its intense plum fruitiness, and blends well with milk, where you taste more of the chocolate and hazelnut.
Once I had gotten the best of these two coffees, I went back to preferring to drink them separately. For one thing, it was now doubtful I would enjoy mixing plum with licorice. But for another, whereas I once thought the Nostromo not quite up to the task of satisfying me on its own, I now craved to revisit its chocolate biscotti flavors. Both of these coffees are truly outstanding, and I encourage others with Trifectas to try them and see for themselves.
As for those without Trifectas, I'm still using my Softbrew at work, and will continue to blend these two coffees for my four minute brews.
Addendum June 2, 2012: It's All Good
After trying the two roasts blended together after brewing them separately, I take back my reservations. They work perfectly together, as well as individually. Jeez, I post so many retractions you'd think I was farming this out to my dog. Let me assure you, his palate is nowhere near as sophisticated. He actually thought "D" was a better setting for the Nostromo.