Drinking off the Menu – by Aaron De Lazzer

It goes without saying that we keep ourselves pure around here with clean living and an abundance of FTO (Fairtrade Certified, Organic) coffee-however on occasion we do allow ourselves to dabble in the odd tipple that falls outside the realm of Fair Trade. Shhhh.

As a case in point, some fine, fine, contraband (not that kind) was recently brought back from Guatemala. More specifically it was from Finca el Pintado in the Antigua region and it was in parchment. This is small farm coffee, producing half a container’s worth of organically certified green, sold exclusively to one buyer.

The coffee from Antigua is also uniquely prized among many of the noted regions in Guatemala. It is also as scarce as hen’s teeth. Not only do you rarely see it on offer, when you do, you have to ask yourself “Is this the real thing?” More Antigua coffee gets sold than *cough, cough* get’s produced.

Many of you have not seen coffee in parchment before. It’s how the coffee looks after it’s been processed at the wet mill and dried. The outside shell acts like a protective layer and is typically removed just prior to export. Inside is the green bean. The seed really, which is what gets shipped to us in 150lb jute bags, and ultimately roasted.

Normally the parchment is husked mechanically but without that option you can do so manually and that’s just what we did. A tender and caressing milling, the likes of which most green coffee will never see.

Flush with about 100 grams of hand-milled green, the coffee was roasted and then cupped.

Fresh coffee has a vibrancy on the cupping table that has to be experienced to be understood and this was no exception. The cup was excellent and made me reminisce of a fine Autumnal TGFOP Darjeeling. A juicy, orange peel like quality to the tightly knit acidity. The clarity of the cup was pristine. To put a number on it, I’d peg it at 88.5-obviously something special. A coffee to be enjoyed black and lingered over.

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