Ross Street Guatemala La Bolsa Review

Our friend KC Coffee Geek kindly shared his thoughts and cupping experience with this months coffee, check out his experience below!

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A few months ago I put one of my favorite new roasters, Ross Street Roasting Co. from the small town of Tama & Toledo, Iowa, in touch with the guys at My Coffee Pub. They hit it off and decided to use Ross Street for their June selection and they also surprised me by asking me to curate the selection! I’ve done this in the past with another subscription service and it’s something I enjoy doing, but it’s also a lot of pressure because I want my clients to love the coffee as much as I do. In the complex world of flavor biochemistry there are no guarantees and Ross Street’s Brian Gumm made it extra tough on me by sending four really great coffees to have to pick from!

            A few weeks later a box from Ross Street arrived on my doorstep and we were on the cusp of a big deadline, so in a frenzy of brewing and tasting and note-taking I powered through three of the coffees and then took down the fourth in the evening after work that same day. I’m a 1-2 cup per day kind of guy, mind you! Of course, the last selection was the clear winner to me, and so I’m happy to present to you My Coffee Pub’s June 2016 selection: Ross Street Roasting Co.’s La Bolsa Estate from Guatemala.

            It was a tough choice. Brian sent me coffee from Nicaragua, Sumatra and Kenya, too, and I liked them all, but this La Bolsa was the one for me. Doing a little research on Finca La Bolsa, which is in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, I realized I’d had coffee from there roasted by a different company this year and loved that, too. I’m going to share my tasting notes and impressions of this coffee with you and we’ll see how things match up!

            La Bolsa has a long history of growing Bourbon and Caturra and they are previous winners of the Cup of Excellence and have received lots of other accolades. The farm has a school and uses hydroelectric power and other sustainable methods and it’s a jewel in the highlands of Guatemala. This particular lot is a Bourbon and Caturra mix grown in the 1400-1600masl range and it’s washed and sun-dried. I tried this coffee many times as a pourover as well as Aeropress, so let’s take a look at each one!

POUROVER

For pourovers, I use a 1:16 ratio in a notNeutral Gino dripper. This is a three-hole, flat-bottomed brewer like a Kalita Wave and it uses Kalita 185 filters, too. I brew with 28g of coffee and 450g of water. Including a 30-second bloom, the whole brew takes about 3:30-3:45 for most coffees. Prepared this way, this La Bolsa is a beautiful cup. It has a lot of sweetness as well as plenty of bright notes and it achieves a nice balance between the two. As a pourover, I found sugary aromas and a soft lemon acidity in the flavor with some hints of cherry in the later part of the sip. The finish is a touch dry and the aftertaste has vanilla and a bit of cherry in it for me. I absolutely love this coffee prepared this way and while I didn’t get to it myself I’ll bet this would be a tasty cold brew, too.

 

AEROPRESS

If you want to bring out the high notes and really make the acidity sing in the cup, try this one on Aeropress. I specifically used Brian Beyke’s famed “Stubby” recipe, which is a little complex at first look but really is quite easy to do if you don’t mind a little weighing and timing. The recipe can be found at the end of the article. In the Aeropress, this La Bolsa coffee gets bright! I found a lot of tart cherry and orange in both the acidity and sweet notes of the coffee prepared this way. My notebook reads, “Orange. Lots of orange.” As the cup cooled it picked up a very surprising and very noticeable buttery note that also had something floral with it. Both were a surprise since neither was present in the pourover samples I had. The cooler cup also had mellower acidity and I was reminded strongly of orange juice while drinking this coffee.

 

It’s cool to find a coffee that has so many different complexities when it’s prepared different ways. I really enjoyed this coffee and I hope it’s obvious to you as a reader why I picked it for this month’s My Coffee Pub selection! I also hope you are enjoying this one as much as I have been!

 

Brian Beyke’s Stubby Aeropress Recipe:

Grind 25g of coffee to pretty fine consistency… a little more coarse than pre-packaged espresso or Cuban coffee, I’d say. This is an inverted method, so put the plunger in the Aeropress and press it to the top side (the side closest to the “2” marking) of the “3” on the side. Add the coffee. Add 50g of just off-boil water and hit a timer. Stir well, then add 100g more water to reach a total of 150. This should bring the level to right at the top of the Aeropress. Put on the filter cap and filter, then carefully press until you just see a little coffee peeking out of the filter cap. At the 1:00 minute mark, flip the Aeropress onto your cup and press it out. It should take about 30 seconds to press out completely. Tare your scale and add another 100g of off-boil water to the cup, give it a stir, and enjoy!