So a bit more than a week ago a very good friend of mine who lives near Santa Cruz went out of his way (and dug deep into his pocket) to send me some freshly roasted coffee from the new café Cat & Cloud. This is a new establishment by Chris Baca, Jared Truby and Charles Jack. They’re veteran Third Wave folk, who’ve been roasting, competing, and simply serving damned good specialty coffee for 10+ years. I found out about their new café when this said friend sent me a link to their podcasts. If you haven’t heard them, go give them a listen. They’re refreshingly happy, candid, and low key. A nice change from all the bullshit stuck up attitudes and idiotic obfuscation I always encounter around Specialty Coffee. So now, not only am I addicted to coffee, but I’m also addicted to spending half an hour a week listening to these dudes shoot the shit. So without further ado, let’s talk about the coffee that my friend sent me.

Here’s the bag, ahem, first we have to make sure we know it actually arrived to Rome!

Yes, here’s the bag again in the comfort of my domestic abode:

It’s using Tiffany mint color.

I dig it, and the design of a little cloud holding a cat’s hand. Simple, uninhibited, nice. This bag was still available on their site as of last week, and it seems they’ll be offering single origin soon. It’s a blend, yes, a blend, and quite good on at that. The label doesn’t make any fuss about what’s hiding inside, and you have to go to the website (here) to find out what the ‘Answer’ is indeed. It’s a Caturra, Yellow Bourbon, and Heirloom blend from several farms from the Huila, Mogiana and Yirgacheffe regions of Colombia, Brazil, and yes Ethiopia. They don’t have a ‘roast’ date prominent, and if you look under the bag you can see when it was done. Nothing in the back.

It took me about 4 different weight and grind fineness ratios to get this straight, but once I did, man, I hit the sweet spot with this coffee every single time.

The beans  are clean, light and not oily.  Opening the bag I got a super fresh whiff of what? Charred black death as is usual for my Roman coffees? Nope. Fresh fruits, and a tangy tart scent of blueberries. This bag was full of floral scents, open, light and inviting.

As usual here, I make beans pass the test on my 1960s Caravelle Arrarex espresso machine.

This is how they looked going in.

At first I had put in 12g for a 30g shot and it was too much. The portafilter in the Caravell is small, so that’s the numbers I work with. I reduced the grind fineness on my crappy Hario hand grinder, and at 10g in to 25/30 out you get an amazing golden shot. Simply spot on every time with a rich cap and excellent body.

Once I ground the beans the smells simply intensify, and you start getting a more peppery tangy blueberry smell. Very sweet, round, and bright. Actually it took me a while to figure out what the sweet smell was, but I think it was closest to a bubble gum “Bubblicious” smell. Really fun!

Well, tasting it, it only got better.

The number one surprise of this coffee, in comparison to 90% of the other third wave roasts I’ve had before is that this coffee was not acidic in any way. It had near zero acidity. This is what I mostly associate with light roasted coffee. You always get a nice dose of acidity to get that floral taste. Here, nothing. It was smooth silky, sweet tartness that opened to a complex sensation of bright smells and tastes of berries again and a tinge of light toffee. It was delicate, not heavy, and the crema I was getting from this was amazing, for it being an Arabica mix. It was great!

I’ve been having it for almost a week now (finished today) and the evolution of the beans over the course of this time (being opened and then suffering the crazy Roman humidity) has been good. The spike in floral scents has calmed down a bit and yet the beans are still delivering really great performance in the cup. On the whole the last cups where a bit more muted as expected, but still zero acidity that can burn a hole in your stomach as much as a crappy uber bitter espresso can here in Rome.

I gave these beans a try as filter coffee, and they’re great there too. Obviously a different beast, but good. The color is a dark amber close to red, and the flavor scaled quite back from the espresso, but very balanced. Not as fruity, but what I tasted were the perky blueberry and floral-like flavors.

Overall, a kick ass espresso – and by far one of my favorites. I’m a bit biased of course for Verve coffee (which they know a thing or two about), so my opinion might be based on this type of coffee profile. But whatever, the fact that it was a killer espresso, fruity, and tangy without the acidity was a real surprise and something that pushed the bar for me even higher when I approach other coffee.

And to my friend who spent more on shipping the damned bag than on the beans themselves. THANK YOU!!!!

Here are some pix stolen from Google Maps of the café.

Cat & Cloud Coffee Co.
3600 Portola Dr.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

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