CURRENT INSOBRIETY STATUS: two 12oz beers and 85ml of Hangar One vodka.
Last weekend while reconvening the gaming group of old with beers and Steins of Science, I stopped by the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company to see what interesting things they had on offer in the Fair Trade section. As a hedonistic epicure, I do not require my delights to be procured in an ethical manner, especially if the tears of the downtrodden improve the flavor, but I am always drawn by the oddities the Fair Trade section tends to have. This week, my discovery was the Malabar.
Where is Malabar you might ask? To people that have heard me previously rant about the disingenuous use of “natural background” statistics without looking for local variations, you might be more familiar with the modern province of Kerala, in India. Kerala has some truly beautiful, coconut strewn, purple sand beaches made of the sediment runoff from the Western Ghats…which have a naturally occurring radiation dose rate of roughly 14000mrem/yr (my annual occupational dose limit per the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is 5000mrem/yr). This is because that beautiful purple sand is mostly monzanite, a thorium/uranium bearing mineral which may ring a bell to those of you that read the Origin of Funranium on the old site, oh so long ago. By comparison, the natural background in the continental US, on average, at sea level is about 360mrem/yr.
I drunkenly digress. Where’d my glass go?
INSOBRIETY STATUS UPDATE: two 12oz beers and 125ml of Hangar One vodka.
When I opened the jar of freshly roasted Malabar, I was sold on the first sniff. I am eternally on the hunt for good light roasts which should preserve as much of the fruity flavor of the coffee cherry as possible. My scorecard currently is 1-1 with Panama (quite good, actually improves with age unlike all the other BBotE, worth repeating and sharing with the world) and Brazil (disappointing flat nutty flavor, maybe I got an old stale batch, not in a hurry to try again). Several pounds went home with me to play with.
The resulting BBotE was quite complex and I am still wondering about it. Similar to the Ethiopian, it exhibited high oil extraction with beading on the surface when poured. Initial aroma struck me as having a hint of cucumber. No one else agreed with this and questioned my olfactory sanity. A general synesthesia agreement of a “green” smell was met. Subsequent tasting I conducted with a different group 7 hours later did not strike me with the same cucumber smell, but the following day it happened again. My nose may be broken.
On to flavor.
The initial flavor struck me as cool, not quite minty, and coating. Then the mid and late palate came in and stayed. To me, it tasted like a walk along the canals outside of Melbourne, FL smelled. Florida is freakin’ alive compared to California and it is not possible to walk on an unpaved surface in that state without crushing some flowering low to the ground plant. It was sweet, green, broken leaf & stem smell with the floral aroma of stomped flowers and it kept shifting.
The Vodka Test: as is usual, after my initial tasting I add what is roughly enough straight Hangar One vodka to make a roughly 3:1 BBotE to vodka mix to see what the alcohol can pull out. Bizarrely enough, I got the taste of honey. Again, my sanity was questioned and madness of the tongue proclaimed.
The experimental 2L batch of Malabar is now gone, but I think I will be playing with it again. It’s a shame Santa Cruz Roasting Company is an hour away.