Costa Rica Volcan Azul SL28 Exotic One Roast
Costa Rica Volcan Azul SL28 Exotic
Limited Edition and Exotic
I feel privileged to be able to offer you this coffee again. This lot is divisive. This is one of the most unusual cup profiles, that is so “out there” and edgy, but also why we are here. Over 3 years, we have bought this SL28 from Alejo and every time it has something new.
Until very recently I had a chip on my shoulder about Gesha hopefully that is all cleared up now! When you work with a producer, over the years they allow you access to the “special stuff!’ Three seasons ago, Alejo offered us a micro amount of either Gesha or this anaerobic SL28. Gesha is very fashionable and I am lucky enough to have tasted the Cup of Excellence-winning Geshas from Volcan Azul last Summer. The coffee was incredible, however, this coffee genuinely made me happier.
This SL28 for me is far removed from what the varietal usually represents and hence we just have to have it. Complexity on another level and also what a statement for a grower to be able to say….”We can also do this….🍹(wild crazy thing)” Famously Alejo once said, “My best micro-lot should be the last one I produce in my life”. This is from the man (family) who consistently delivers Cup of Excellence winning lots, year after year.
This is in my top few top coffees of 2023 and that is why I have saved it, in vacuum bricks, ready for now! We have had some top coffees this year too….as you may remember. Thank you if you have been part of the journey.
Farmer: Alejo Castro
Farm Volcan Azul
Area: Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Established: 1850, 5th generation farm.
Altitude: 1540-1720 Meters above sea level
Varietal; SL28 Most famous for making great Kenya’s blackcurranty.
Process: Anaerobic Natural
Recipe 60-70g a litre
Roast: Medium Filter, cool drop.
Cup Potential: Filter
Aromatics: Boozy, ripe, oaky, high sweetness| Body: Light- Medium| Acidity: Blackcurrant, red winey, grapefruit.|
Upfront this is how coffee that is barrel-aged in red wine and brandy casks should taste, but can’t. Red grape must, boozy ripe wild fruit and fermented and distilled fruit sugars just fill your senses. It is so wrong, so non-coffee, but so incredibly good and coffee-ish at the same time The depth of this coffee is immense and if you have been part of the SL28 journey with us and this farm, you will know just how complex this coffee can be. Balanced red winey acidity marries with the blackcurrant (perfection) and a little grapefruit on the finish. On cooling a boozy ripeness builds with some cocoa and lychee notes. Words cannot do this coffee justice. This season the fruit is closer to what we hope from an SL28, yet has all of the wildness that we hope for.
Now I have planted the seeds of cassis, oaky red wine tannins I may have lost some of you. For some, this will be too much and for others (like me) this is a fermentation that has taken this coffee to an amazing place, with a favourite varietal.
We found resting this coffee for a full week-10 days made espresso brewing so much better.
We always brew back to front with espresso. Biggest and mildest drinks first, leading up to the Apex or espresso if you will. Recipe-wise, we found this just worked like a dream in the usual parameters but extracted longer (in time) due to the lightness of the roast.
Milk-based drinks: We tried a few different kinds of milk and Semi-skimmed was the winner. We just had more fruit and that booziness really came through.
In an 8.5-9oz this wild. Dry coffee weight:16.5-17.5g into 34-35g of espresso liquid in up to 35 seconds. Red wine tannins, red grapes, and brandy-like.
Moving to a 5 or 6-oz milk-based drink, this is bright, wild, and more intense than the 8-9.
We did try some more current recipes of 19g into 32g of espresso at 96, 95 and 94C. This is the new 18-30? It is still a pleasant drink but you get more body at the sacrifice of depth. The former is to my mind a way of using more coffee, to compensate for the roast level being on the light side. So many shots later I am still happy with this…
17g+ of coffee into 45-50g of liquid in 30-40 seconds. This is riotous. It’s a light roast (relatively speaking) and unsurprisingly bright. The good news is this is not a super-high acidity, so you get a balance of crazy fruit and booziness and a winey acidity that just works. I have probably had too much fun setting up this coffee and playing around with it.
Volcan Azul is a 5th-generation farm, producing many different single varietals and processes. The long game is the aim of quality, which we especially like at James Gourmet. The whole process is controlled by the farm and the operation is relatively small. These are all things that work for us. Coffee on a human scale with a history