Review: Octane Coffee Costa Rica El Higueron (Atlanta, Georgia)

Review: Octane Coffee Costa Rica El Higueron (Atlanta, Georgia)

A recent interview I heard on the Sound Opinions podcast was discussing the music listening habits of Spotify users, and the featured guest stated that their internal research indicated that most people who use the Spotify streaming service stopped listening to popular/current music at an average age of 33, and that people maintain a lifetime affection for music of their teens and early 20s. This made me think about my own music listening habits (at age 36), and while I still do seek out new releases, I don’t do it at nearly the frequency that I used to (it takes a lot of time and effort to stay current!). Do I maintain a love for music of my youth? Absolutely. In fact, I discovered my favorite band of all time, Ride, at the age of 12, and I just spent this past weekend crossing state lines to see them play two amazing shows. Would I love them as much as I do now if I had discovered them when I was 32 instead of 12? It’s an intriguing question.

One of the main reasons that I started this blog is so that I could have a record of my thoughts about particular coffees as I do these tastings. I wanted to learn everything I could about what’s out there and figure out which coffees I do like and which I don’t. As I’ve been doing this, my tastes have been evolving and I have learned to appreciate new things. For this reason, I’m reluctant to rule out drinking anything entirely, but I think I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my preferences for now. There’s music I appreciate on an intellectual level (but which doesn’t touch my soul), music I like, music I love, and music that makes me marvel that I exist in a world where that kind of beauty is even possible. I’m learning I am starting to feel this way about coffees as well.

Thus far, I’ve been less than thrilled with Costa Rican coffees. They haven’t necessarily been terrible coffees, but they have made me feel like I was on an awkward blind date, made me sob uncontrollably, and smelled like gasoline several days after opening the bag. On the one hand, I want to educate myself and learn everything I can about something before dismissing it as just “not my thing”… after all, not everything is love at first sight. It took me a while to get into cilantro but I love it now! On the other hand, life is short, and I question how much time I want to spend drinking coffee I’m not in love with, you know? Maybe that’s why people tend to just stick with the music they know they love as they get older.

Octane Coffee is an Atlanta-based company that has been in operation for 12 years, but has expanded into roasting and wholesale coffee in the last 4 years. They have cafes in three states: Georgia, Alabama, and West Virginia. Their website doesn’t feature their single-origin coffees, probably since they don’t even offer the option of online purchasing, but it does list coffees that are available wholesale. I only mention it since the names are amusing to me: Super Regular, White Lightning, and Gravy. I picked up this bag at their Homewood location in Birmingham, Alabama, and decided on this bag of Costa Rican coffee because it was in the optimal freshness window and the tasting notes sounded intriguing. Keeping an open mind as best as I can!

Whole bean: Smells like black tea leaves and bing cherry. Not a very sweet aroma. There is a slight hint of some sort of stone fruit (I wrote in my notes: plum??? Maybe??). Confounding.

V60: This is like tea + a splash of milk in texture and in flavor. It rings hollow in my mouth, like I’m getting just the outer edges of a sound and not the center. There is some bitterness on the finish, even with just a 2:47 extraction time.

AeroPress: The concentrate tasted like lemon pith. Adding water brought out a flavor like peanut shells. Not the peanut itself, but the sort of cardboard-esque flavor of the shells. I was suddenly taken to Texas Roadhouse in my head (and for those of you unfamiliar with this establishment, it’s the sort of place where people eat peanuts while waiting to be seated and they throw the shells all over the floor).

Chemex: Initial impression was that it had a chemical smell to it, but I think it was just that the top end was so strong. I can’t say it smelled like fruit or flowers or nuts or anything concrete, though – it just smelled astringent. It did seem to get better as I drank it. There was a slight tang to the aftertaste, like banana. Unfortunately for me, I hate bananas.

French press: This had the richest body of the four cups, and while the flavor was similar to the Chemex rendition, the thicker body seemed to make everything a little less objectionable by bringing more depth into the mix. If I had to pick a favorite preparation method for this coffee, it would be this one.

Summary: I’m close to dropping Costa Rican coffees from my playlist altogether, as I never really seem to be able to get into them. To me, they’re like a coffee version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (incidentally, a band quite popular in my teens, but one I never could get into!). I can’t fault Octane, as the beans do look beautifully roasted, and I can appreciate the work that went into this bag, but if I encounter another chance to buy Octane beans, I’m getting something else.

From the roaster: Floral, toffee, orange blossom, banana, lemon

This company does not appear to currently sell beans online, but you can purchase Octane Coffee at one of its retail locations in Alabama, Georgia, and West Virginia.

Octane Coffee Website

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