Following Test Subject Zitron’s ebullient article on the Huffington Post, I received a flurry of emails. Some of them were not offers for male enhancement. One was from the nice folks at Caffe Vita who asked if I was interested in experimenting with their wares and if I would be so kind as to share the results with the world.
As if you could stop me from doing so. Much to Funranium Mom’s despair, and now my Lovely Assistant, it is nigh impossible to shut me up when there is something I am itching to share. And oh my, is there a scratch…
I felt the best approach for comparison was to ask for a region I’d already tested extensively from a variety of farms, roasters, and roasts (Ethiopia) and for something that they were proud of, something that got them excited. This is akin to how I test new bartenders; I will ask for a drink that I love and make extremely well myself (the exquisite Manhattan) and then I will ask them to “show me their moves” as Dance Dance Revolution says. I judge by my standard and then I prepare to be wowed by their standard. Caffe Vita did not disappoint, providing a statistically significant quantity of their Ethiopia Nigusie Lemma and Guatemala Mundo Nuvo (no link available).
The challenge is to catch everything that was observed in this coffee’s BBotE. The overwhelming consensus is that, regardless of form (hot & dilute, straight & cold, or mixed with vodka), toffee/chocolate is the dominating flavor but far from the only one.
And while the consensus of was chocolatey delight for flavor, the smell that stuck me most dramatically was that of pipe tobacco. As a child, I used to love stealing my great-grandfather tobacco pouch and smelling it. During extraction, I was instantly transported back to the that pouch with the Southern Railway logo. To others, the nose was generally found to be a bitey toffee aroma. And I quote, “A pleasant piquancy you never get off a Christmas toffee”. Yes, someone has spent too much time pretending to be a Victorian toff, so forgive him.
As a hot water dilution, I found a similar martini-like dry sensation to other Guatemalans I’ve tested but only on the front sides of the tongue, which played well with the rich butter pecan flavor. On the exhale, it was strangely floral. As a son of the Great State of Florida this could just be my flower programming, but I swear it was hibiscus.
Straight and cold BBotE, as stated before, varying degrees of chocolate were claimed by the tasters with a creaminess familiar from the coating fats of the Ethiopia & Colombia Finca Yara tests of yore. It tasted decidedly sweet and salty milk chocolate to me with a nice earthy/buttery coating character. One claim was made for shortbread, calling to the creamy buttery flavor, and we could see that. A nutty/fruity note was also claimed, though those claims were all over the map of stone fruits. I was inclined toward apricots, but that pecan was strong. Such is the challenge with the experiential flavor reference library of the mind trying to put words to flavors.
By far the most interesting response was from Test Subject James’ jalapeno sullied palate. And I quote, “Briny, canned tuna…but sweet with chocolate. I like it!” I think there may be a future for hard chocolate shell encapsulated sashimi. Foster’s Freeze and Starkist should get together it seems…
When combined with vodka for the customary test of alcohol opening, the typical increase in sweetness was observed in the BBotE but with a muting of the pleasant piquant bite. Otherwise, no significant change flavor just a lengthening the the duration of aftertaste.
Because I can’t leave well enough alone and thought the flavor complex enough that something interesting might happen, I mixed a modicum of the Mundo Nuvo BBotE into a glass of absinthe over ice. It became “annis Oreos”. Chocolate, creamy, pricking of of the previously stated piquancy, a subtle absinthe bite and coolness. Very enjoyable.
Another batch is running now to check for reproducibility of flavor.
Next: Caffe Vita’s Ethiopia Nigusie Lemma