My old friend Palo Alto is back in our coffee roaster. I first cupped this coffee when I was an apprentice and fell in love with its robust flavor, bright acidity and incredible balance. Images of strength and grace come to mind, like a gold medalist figure skater that just happens to be a 1 ½ ton rhinoceros. Coffee, like other agricultural products, is harvested once a year. Palo Alto comes into port in the United States in mid- to late spring. Last year, I was saddened to hear that several other roasters had pre-purchased the entire lot. We searched for another Central American coffee that could take its place, but none could compete. This year we were able to secure 30 bags!
"Finca Agua Tibia" (meaning tepid water) is located on the Fraijanes Plateau just 25 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City. The farm is over 150 years old with old growth varietals like Bourbon and Typica. All of the coffee is shade grown, and in fact 75% of the land is set aside as a nature preserve. There is also an ornamental nursery and an award-winning dairy. All of the wet processing is done by hand with the aid of a fresh water source on the farm.
The Palo Alto is roasted to a light medium (known as a "full city" in the specialty coffee industry). I love offering this coffee to folks that enjoy a dark roasted coffee because they want deep flavor. The Palo Alto has more flavor at a light roast then most other coffees that are burnt to a crisp. All of this flavor is typical of the Bourbon cultivar. They are big and in your face. Expect deep bittersweet chocolates balanced with a creamy mouth-feel. There is even a small homage to whiskey on the tongue. As the cup cools a hint of cherry cordial creates a beautiful finish to this great coffee. I hope you enjoy the Palo Alto this year, I know I will!
Mark: Palo Alto Azul
Altitude: 5,000 feet
Grade: SHB (Strictly Hard Bean)