During my last trip to Los Angeles, I had a little time to kill before returning my rental car, so I decided to try out Cognoscenti Coffee on my way to LAX. They had coffee from multiple roasters offered that day, none of which I had tried yet (Commonwealth and Four Barrel among them), and I opted to go with the featured pourover coffee from Ritual Roasters. Since I had to get to the airport, I got my coffee to go.
Let me tell you, I was walking to my rented silver Volkswagen Beetle and I took a sip of this coffee and stopped in my tracks (luckily for me, this wasn’t New York, so no one ran into me from behind while cursing me for being a stupid tourist!). I was so surprised by the flavor of the coffee… a little plummy, with semi-sweet chocolate and warm spice. Complex. Medium-bodied. Sweet and satisfying.
Once I got through LAX security, I called up Cognoscenti and demanded (nicely) to know exactly what it was that I was served that morning. They told me that it was Ritual’s La Esperanza microlot from Colombia. I thanked them and resolved to order a bag online once I got home. However, I soon discovered that it was not available online. Coffee is a seasonal product and my timing was both lucky (because I was able to try it at the shop) and unlucky (because I couldn’t buy more).
Dismayed, I’ve been checking Ritual’s website regularly ever since April to see if I could get my hands on some. No luck yet.
On a recent trip to Denton, TX I remembered that Cultivar Coffee has a shop there, so I went to grab a bag. Cultivar is a regular on “best of” Dallas lists for their superb coffee, but their two locations (East Dallas and Denton) are both pretty far from my home, so I rarely have a chance to get to their shops. I got very excited when I saw this bag of Cultivar coffee with the words: Colombia, La Esperanza. It’s a pretty appropriate name for the coffee farm, really — I’ve been waiting for this coffee for what feels like a long time! Obviously, Cultivar may not roast in exactly the same manner that Ritual does, but I hoped that the fact that these beans originated from the same farm would lead to a similar cup.
Whole beans: Rich aroma. Buttery and spicy (like baking spices).
V60: From the first swallow, I was hooked. THIS is what I’ve been missing! It was perhaps a touch less flavorful than I remembered from my cup in Los Angeles, but the flavor profile was all there: semi-sweet chocolate. Dark stone fruit. Spicy and satisfying. Delicious!!! I brewed this at a 2:45 extraction time. When I adjusted the setting one notch finer on my grinder, it made it a 3:15 extraction time which happened to result in less fruit flavor and more bitterness. I’ll stick with 2:45.
AeroPress: Very dark and smooth. No fruit flavor. Somehow, this method makes the beans taste like a very dark roast coffee as opposed to the medium roast that it is. Rich, buttery body that coats the inside of the mouth. I mostly got a flavor of bittersweet cocoa here. I did not try it with milk and sugar, but it seems like it would be delicious.
Chemex: Brighter yet less interesting to me than the V60 or AeroPress versions. There was not as much sweetness and this cup had a powdery finish to it.
French press: More fruity/plummy than any other method. Delicious intensity of flavor, along with a thick, syrupy body. This had the flavor that I was missing (just slightly) in the V60.
Summary: At long last, I found the coffee I had been looking for. Thank you, Cultivar! The flavor of the french press was exactly what I wanted, but I also want it with the cleaner finish from the V60. Maybe a Clever Coffee Dripper will get me the result I want? I will continue experimenting to find my perfect balance. In the meantime, I think it’s very safe to say La Esperanza was worth the wait. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another cup to brew!
From the roaster: Syrupy. Baking spices. Berries.
Cultivar Coffee Colombia La Esperanza