I turned off the air conditioner in my house five days ago. Yesterday the temperature crept up into the nineties outside, and in my house, the insulation I so fervently felt I needed made sure to keep that thermal energy from escaping. And so here I sit, sweating beneath the impotent, oscillating ceiling fans. My body radiates in a futile attempt to generate a moisture barrier to cool my skin through evaporation, adding to the haze of humidity that permeates my lungs like second-hand smoke in a crowded bar. I pick up where I left off on a dog-eared page of Out of Africa, hoping Karen Blixen will carry me off to a place where the heat seems justified. And where I might crawl into bed under a translucent net to keep from the mosquitoes that so debilitated Henry Morton Stanley on his long trek across Tanganyika in search of Dr. Livingstone.
My legs are tired because my lungs don't work right because of this damned air conditioner. And because I rode my bicycle 68 miles yesterday. A twinge of pain in my knee. And in my ankle, where I turned it on a rubber tire trying to reenact my youthful and more agile days of high school football. And a scene drifts across my mind, as if a movie projected on the shadowy ceiling silhouetted by the outline of deer antlers, of Hemingway's gangrene-addled invalid adventurer in the Snows of Kilimanjaro.
I've just finished another AA Cafe podcast, and I can still feel the hike and conversation with Steve Holt of Ninety Plus Gesha Estates on the farm, in the mountains, surrounded by rainforest, sweating in the unbroken rays of the midday sun. Steve brings us up the mountain and around the largest Gesha farm in the world, describing the coffees of Panama; and across the Atlantic Ocean, across the dark continent, to the origin of coffee and of Ninety Plus to tease us with tastes of what's to come from Ethiopia this year.
Ethiopia is having a good year for coffee, and we hope to gather a nice crop from a variety of regions and processes (or of the influence of fruit, as Steve Holt defines it). The newest of our Ethiopian coffees is from the Harrar region. It's called Deep Blue, and it is a dry-processed coffee, which means the fruit had a large influence on the taste of the coffee. This Harrar Deep Blue is a product of many very small farmers, who picked the coffee cherries when they ripened and laid them whole on mats and cement patios to dry and shrivel into coffee raisins in the high-elevation equatorial sun. The coffee, from its terroir and its unique varieties and the weather that allowed the coffee to dry properly at each farmer's home, blends together to give us brilliant flavors of chocolate and blueberries and cinnamon. So good.
Reminds me of an experiment we did back a couple years ago in Colombia, at the farm of Las Animas, where we asked Gabriel and Orfilia Escobar to let the fruit influence their coffee. And I remember my visit last year to Concordia, when I rode in the back seat of a pickup truck over dirt roads, winding through coffee trees with no leaves bearing immature green fruit that would never ripen because of a fungus called the Eye of the Rooster. We rolled up to Finca San Rafael, where Alfredo Correa tends his grandmother's coffee and has produced such an amazing product for us in the past, but instead of picking or milling or sorting coffee like Alfredo usually is during the harvest, we found him working on his motorcycle. The Eye of the Rooster took 95% of Alfredo's crop and the sweat of all his years of toil dried up on the mountainside and was replaced with the sweat of a young man with almost nothing to show and no way to pay. Somehow Alfredo produced one bag of super-high-end coffee this year that rivals the best washed coffees we've offered, and we have that bag. It's a great example of fruit influence in a washed coffee.
I've just finished a cup and washed it down with a rinse of water and the taste instantly transported me to another sweaty time in college, working for my dad. He is adamant that it must be hot inside in order to lay commercial floor covering, and so we worked on dirty concrete floors with scratchy carpets and heavy ceramic. And all day long, we drank coffee out of the little metal-covered plastic lid that screws on the top of my dad's beat-up green metal thermos, on our breaks and in between our breaks; and when we needed some water, we would fill up that empty cup and the residual coffee would lend a distinct, mild, flavor to the water. And the residual coffee in my mouth lent a coffee taste to everything.
The "coffee taste" can't be so easily generalized or genericized any more, as the variety of DoubleShot Coffees spans a breadth of flavors broader than all the Scotch of Scotland. And even one coffee can become three (like the Holy Trinity) when extracted through different methods. We are going to do just that. One coffee, three brewing methods. On June 28 at 7p here at the DoubleShot, we will premier Alfredo Correa's Colombia Finca San Rafael through pourovers, presspots, and espressos. Three different stations will allow you to learn the method, pose questions of the barista, and enjoy the unique flavors that permeate each cup. Alfredo's coffee has depth that is best explored through different types of extraction.
This event is brought to you by Coffee Illuminati, and proceeds will be used to build a swingset for the children at Ninety Plus Gesha Estates. You can register for this event at the DoubleShot by talking to your barista or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org