Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Review of Guatemala San Pedro La Laguna

Originally submitted at Coffee Review

Produced in the spectacular mountain basin surrounding Guatemala's Lake Atitlan by small-holding producers from trees of the Bourbon, Caturra and Typica varieties. Founded in 1994, Kaldi's Coffee is a quality-oriented small-batch roaster with several cafes throughout Missouri. Visit or cal...

Guatemala San Pedro la Laguna

By The Espresso Vein from Columbia, MO on 10/17/2010


3out of 5

Pros: Balanced Acidity, Unaggressive and simple, Not Bitter, Smooth Taste

Cons: Roasted Too Light, Mild aroma above 190 F, Tea-like body, Thin Or Watery Mouthfeel/Body

Best Uses: French Press, Slow-brew only, V60 unfit for this coffee, Chemex or Clever approved, Automatic Drip/Filter

Describe Yourself: Home Roaster, Shop Consultant, Barista Trainer

I almost always brew with pour-overs because I like the clean mouthfeel of filtered coffees. At first, I used the Hario V60-01 on this coffee, but found it to brew too quickly and leave the coffee too light bodied and tea-like. Therefore, I tried again with a 6 cup Chemex, which has a significantly longer brew time (about 3.5-4.5 minutes). After the second round, the results were more favorable, but not outstanding. If I were judging for the Coffee Review, and I am not, I would give this coffee an 88 or 89, mostly for lack of body. Please note though, other brew methods such as French Press, or even automatic drip may have differing results. For those wanting a laid-back, Sunday afternoon brew, this may be a good choice.


Grind Size, of Course. But What About Dose?

Maybe it's just me, but I have been having a lot of trouble with my brewed coffee lately. Part of the problem comes from heightened awareness of the particulars in the process of brewing. I am a perfectionist when it comes to coffee, especially when I am the one "behind the bar." The other part of my problem comes from a lack of information/thought on the issue at hand.

When brewing with a pour-over, the general consensus on the coffee weight to volume of water ratio is about 2 grams per ounce. I generally agree with this assessment.  Another often talked about factor is water temperature, which is expected to be within the small window of 195-204 degrees. Here, I agree as well. Grind size is of course, paramount. Everyone knows this and adjusts accordingly (for pour overs, somewhere between "espresso" and "drip" is expected).  But after following all the guidelines and suggested measures, I still find myself disappointed with some brews.

Maybe some of the coffees I use just suck? This is possible, but not likely. I roast my own to my own taste (usually around the city to city+ range, a standard roast  level for the American taste bud). If  I'm not drinking my own, I'm drinking Kaldi's Coffee or Northwest Coffee, both artisan roasters in St. Louis. Though artisan, their coffees are very different. Kaldi's roasts lighter, Northwest, darker (around a full-city).

When I use these same coffees in pour-over brews, I am almost always disappointed with the Northwest brews. This is the coffee the most unlike mine or Kaldi's, so some taste difference is expected.  My disappointment goes beyond taste though, it is almost always linked to its characteristics affected by brewing.

The Northwest Coffee seems sharp, biting, and aggressive- way too intense for such dark roasts.  I am beginning to think that using the same brewing parameters for coffees with different Agtron ratings should not be done. If we adjust grind size for roast level (I have heard this suggested many times, most recently from a link posted by Tim Wendelboe, by Dr. Brew from Bunn) why not also dose?

I have decreased the grams/ounce to 1.7g/oz when using these darker-roasted coffees, even coffees of my own. So far, the change has been fairly noticeable.  In my coffees, the brew seems under-extracted, but the body seems to be just where I like it.  Here, my problem is trying to manipulate body when I shouldn't. When brewing Northwest coffees, everything checks out just like it should.  So, therefore, I do think there is something to changing the dose, and grind size, for significantly darker than average roasts.

Check back soon for my post assessment of Kaldi's Coffee's newly cupped and rated coffee Guatemala  San Pedro La Laguna, a 91 by the Coffee Review!  Even though I don't agree with such subjective rating systems, I do appreciate the chance to try an excellent coffee.

Lord, thank you for this beautiful Sunday morning. Bless the ministers around the world as they bring Your Word. Keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.