I opened the box, and there, rested on a bed of aspen wood, lay an amber bottle. And a cup, crafted to a particular shape. And inside, the bottle contained a symphony of flavors and aromas that is Gesha.
Gesha is a varietal of coffee, just as Pinot Noir is a varietal of wine grape. The Gesha is a very rare coffee, so unique in its inherent flavor characteristics that it has dominated the Best of Panama coffee auctions since its rediscovery in the mountains of Boquete in 2004. And much like certain grape varietals which produce the finest wines when grown in the perfect terroir, the Gesha thrives and excels in the terroir of the Cordillera de Talamanca mountains in western Panama. And in fact, the Gesha is so good that our friends at Ninety Plus, who have sourced the absolute best Ethiopian coffees we've ever roasted, bought a Gesha farm in those Panamanian mountains, and are now producing some of the best and most interesting coffees on the planet.
We've just introduced the best of the washed coffees from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates, as our holiday offering for Thanksgiving, and it is really rocking the foundations of what we believe a coffee can bring to the table. It's amazing what the Gesha varietal tastes like and smells like, and I can't think of anyone better suited for farming it than Ninety Plus. They've made it their mission to discover what cultivation and picking and processing techniques make coffee better, and they've implemented what they know at their farm in the Volcan region of Panama. I visited there in January, and came away with a better understanding of Gesha coffee and what the future may hold for our palates.
Lycello in the hands of the right roaster will destroy any preconceptions you have about coffee. Whether you are a coffee drinker or not, the Lycello experience will change your mind and your facial expression and the taste in your mouth, just like it did for us. I taste a lot of coffees, and this one did it for me. And you know, DoubleShot is the right roaster. Our 15-kilo Vittoria roaster seems like it was built 59 years ago specifically to roast this coffee. The way the roaster is designed, the convectional heat from its perforated drum brings out the brighter notes of the Lycello, while the radiance and conduction from its cast iron body encourages the base notes that round it and enhance its complexities.
As a part of the 2 Barrel Project, as if the Lycello on its own weren't enough, we've put together a package to help you really get the most out of the coffee. I'm going to roast the coffee for you starting tomorrow, leading all the way up to Thanksgiving, and we're packaging it in a 200 gram amber glass bottle. I commissioned a local potter, Teresa Rechter, to make custom-shaped cups for your Lycello experience that perfectly transfers the coffee in the cup for your ultimate sensory experience. The cup is included with the coffee. I've also included a pamphlet that describes more about the coffee, and gives you step-by-step instructions for the perfect brewing method for this coffee. The bonus in this package is a recipe for a food pairing that helps accentuate the citrus and nutty and caramel notes in the Lycello.
Mark Brown (of Argentfork
) and I recorded a podcast (AA Cafe #82
) about the Lycello, in which I interviewed Steve Holt of Ninety Plus Coffee. Listen to the podcast, and you'll hear more about the farm and why this coffee is called Lycello. When I asked Steve Holt how he responds to people who ask why the coffee is so expensive, he responded to those people, "Why are you spending so little on your coffee?" And Steve is right in this. The 200 grams of coffee you're getting in the Lycello experience will produce, when brewed according to our specifications and the Gold Cup standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, enough brewed coffee to fill 4.5 wine bottles. At $50 for the Lycello experience, that's the equivalent of an $11 bottle of wine. Listen to the podcast here: aaCafe.org
When you finally get to grind and brew and taste Lycello, here's what you're going to experience:
Florals. Floral notes are extraordinary and rare in coffee, and these are huge, perfumey fragrances of jasmine. Black tea and citrus accompany the jasmine, which really make for an aromatic trio. Lemon. Sweet lemon. A bit of wood comes out in the wet aroma, but it's sandalwood, not cedar like we usually find in coffees. Milk chocolate fills the gaps and sweetens this cup, and is rounded out with a nutty taste; the taste of cashews. It's a super-complex coffee that changes with each sip as the cup cools. And the Lycello cup is shaped purposefully to enhance all the flavors that occur throughout your experience from first sip to last drop.
We'll begin shipping tomorrow and continue as needed Friday, Saturday, and Monday, so you'll have it for Thanksgiving to share with your family and friends.