Early this week, a photo popped up on our Instagram feed showing an impressive cathedral on the town square of Concordia in northwest Colombia. It was a hint to the whereabouts of Brian, our roastmaster, who left last week on a solo trip to visit coffee contacts deep in the Colombian mountains. The cathedral bells begin ringing "early in the morning for all to hear,” the post noted, with the hashtag #wakeupcall.
This week, as Brian has been roaming Colombia, we have been roasting and serving on pourover the Colombian coffee that helped set the DoubleShot apart as an innovator, our Maduro.
In 2010, Wine Spectator featured the DoubleShot’s Maduro El Botón in an article by Mark Pendergrast, author of the coffee history Uncommon Grounds. He described it as “singular.”
“I have been drinking knock-your-socks-off coffee that few have yet had a chance to sample. Rich, balanced, chocolaty, fruity, yummy,” his article began.
Pendergrast went on to describe how Brian partnered with Hacienda El Botón, the farm of Ariel Montoya, to bring the first natural coffee from Colombia to the United States.
“When Brian Franklin sent me some of the El Botón,” Pendergrast wrote, “I was at first impressed with the beans themselves – gorgeous and fat, at least twice the size of regular coffee beans. When I filled my palm, they were lighter, less dense than regular beans. Following Franklin’s instructions, I used more grounds than usual in the brewing process.” The results, he wrote, “were extraordinary.”
Hacienda El Botón has been growing coffee trees of the Maragogipe variety nearly 4,500 feet above sea level since 1931. Maragogipe coffee trees are larger than other coffee trees and produce big beans, which are sometimes called elephant beans.
Coffee in Colombia is typically processed using a “wet” method, in which the skin is removed from the coffee cherry and the pulp allowed to ferment in vats of water before it is washed off and the coffee dried. But on a visit to El Botón in 2009, Brian spoke with Montoya about experimenting with the dry method on his Maragogipe beans. In this method, coffee cherries are dried naturally in their skins on raised screened beds, allowing complex flavors to develop in the beans.
Thus, Maduro was born. The experimentation has continued every season and the coffee has only gotten more delicious, as Brian describes on our website:
“This year, the coffee has less in-your-face fruit aromas and tantalizes with a myriad of flavors. My notes include tangerine, cocoa, cherry, black tea, cantaloupe, and lavender. Very complex and delicious cup.”
Last spring, Andrew Jolly, otherwise known as the DoubleShot’s governor, accompanied Brian on a trip to Hacienda El Botón and saw the dense walls of Maragogipe trees with their broad, green leaves for himself.
“They're everywhere, in every direction you look, and the scope of it all takes your breath away a little,” Andrew says. “How on earth do they pick all of this coffee? The shade from the trees envelops the grove and it seemed more still, more quiet, and like the area demanded a sense of reverence from me. I could peer out from between the trees and it felt like an endless horizon in front of me –with the wispy pillows of mountain fog and clouds occasionally blocking the terrain below. I came back later on foot, determined to run a few miles on those same trails and to see if I could reach the top of the mountain again. I didn't come close, but I was happy to be alone so that I could take in more of the scenery. I walked down the same paths that coffee pickers would use whenever they were harvesting the bright, red cherries from these trees. The paths follow up and down steep terrain and I could tell how difficult it must be, especially with the weight of harvested coffee strapped around you.”
Anyone who witnesses the amount of work that goes into producing a specialty grade of coffee will leave with a different perspective about their morning cup, Andrew says. “It's hard, dirty, and exhausting work. There is so much purpose behind all of the steps of production.”
Andrew says his travels to El Botón and other coffee-producing regions of the world have given his work serving those coffees to DoubleShot customers an added level of conviction.
“I want to be able to do them (the coffees) justice,” he says. “Otherwise, what was the point of being so particular in the first place?”
We’ll have fresh-roasted Maduro on pourover through Monday. You can also get it by the pound. Our bakery has come up with cherry almond granola bar that’s drizzled in chocolate and designed to bring out the Maduro’s delicious fruitiness.
Try them together. And if you’re really feeling adventurous, close your eyes as you sip and imagine the bells of Concordia calling you awake.