Review: Water Avenue Coffee Company Pinot Noir Barrel Aged El Salvador (Portland, Oregon)

This coffee is going to likely be the closest I ever get to reviewing a flavored coffee on the blog. Water Avenue was on my “must try” list while I was in Portland, and it was the very last bag that I picked up. At that point, I had acquired two Kenyans, a blend, and an El Salvadorian coffee, so I thought I would pick up something from another country to round things out. However, once I saw and smelled this Pinot Noir aged El Salvador, it was game over. I had to try this.

This particular coffee is made by taking the green (unroasted) beans and aging them in oak barrels from the Sokol Blosser winery (based in Oregon’s Willamette Valley), that once housed the winery’s Pinot Noir. This made me pretty excited, as the Willamette Valley is famous for producing exceptional Pinot Noir grapes. The perfume emanating from the bagged coffee was like no other coffee I had ever smelled — all I could think about was red grapes and cherries and sweet honeysuckle blossoms. Extremely sweet aroma that was full of promise.

Whole bean: Red grapes, red wine, chocolate, cherries, honeysuckle. Ground, all of these aromas were intensified.

V60: I had to make this three times to get what I felt was a proper extraction – my normal grind settings were rather too coarse so I had to go a lot finer than usual in order to get a decent extraction time. Regardless of how long I brewed it for, I felt that this coffee made in a V60 was fairly generic. It “tastes like coffee” – which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but I was hoping for a lot more flavor based on the smell of the beans! It was slightly tannic with a dry finish, so it did remind me of wine, but not because of its aroma or flavor.

AeroPress: This coffee consumed straight as a concentrate was surprisingly smooth and sweet with a delicious full-bodied character. There was a brief hint of black pepper on the finish, and it had a lovely red grape note to it. Even though it was still rather subtle, I’d say this method tasted the most like Pinot Noir. I added water just to see what would happen, and it didn’t improve it in my view – if you want wine-like flavor, stick to drinking this straight.

Chemex: Thin and astringent. Bright, almost too bright to be pleasurable. This does smooth out over time though as it cools and gets less shouty.

French press: Rich, thick brew that tastes like the polar opposite of the Chemex version. If the Chemex was a long extended electric guitar solo, this is a bass solo. This particular method smelled the most like the whole beans, though I was still hoping for more grape/wine flavor than I got.

Summary: This coffee tastes lovely, but I don’t actually get much of the Pinot Noir flavor – it’s very very subtle. In my opinion, it smells better than it tastes… not that it tastes bad, but I was left wanting considering the ambrosial aroma. If you are a fan of El Salvadorian coffee, this is a nice one and I did enjoy it in the immersion methods most (AeroPress, French press). However, if you want wine, just have a glass of wine.

From the roaster: We love to celebrate relationships, and this project brings together two great ones: The Menendez family who grow coffee in El Salvador, and Sokol Blosser Winery of Dayton, Oregon. We age the Menendez’s green coffee in oak barrels that once held Sokol Blosser’s famous Pinot Noir, infusing the rich, chocolaty Salvadoran coffee with the poignant grape notes of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Water Avenue Coffee Pinot Noir Barrel Aged El Salvador

4 Replies to “Review: Water Avenue Coffee Company Pinot Noir Barrel Aged El Salvador (Portland, Oregon)”

    1. I’ve still got some if you want to try it, Victor!

  1. You should check out the barrel aged Konga from Goshen…I thought it was pretty damn good. I also got to compare it side-by-side to the same coffee that wasn’t barrel aged and it definitely had a stronger aroma and flavor.

    1. Noted!

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