Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Coffee: Espresso Appreciation in 3FE

Another Sunday, another enlightening coffee class in Third Floor Espresso (3FE) on Middle Abbey Street. This time the name of the game was "espresso appreciation" and 3FE had selected four coffees for the event.

The first coffee was a Brazilian single-origin called Sol Nascente. We talked about how it tasted; descriptive words included "walnut", "caramel" and "wooden". It's hard to turn a taste into such descriptions but I think that gets it across pretty well.

Next up was "Jailbreak", rightly a 3FE favourite. It's a blend of 40% El Salvador Finca La Fany, 30% El Salvador Finca Argentina and 30% Nicaraguan Limoncillo. The point of this choice was to illustrate the richness of a good blend compared to a typical single-origin coffee - and indeed this came through clearly thanks to the wonderful, complex flavour of this coffee. After the nice but unexciting Sol Nascente my first impression was the wonderfully high acidity of Jailbreak, its delicious zing. That's some damn fine coffee.

The third coffee was another single-origin, Sumatra Raja Batak. Participants described it with words like "charcoal", "tart" (like raspberry) and "cinnamon".

Then there was Jabberwocky, named for the monster in the Lewis Carroll poem. A blend of El Bosque, Finca Licho and Kenyan Kaguya, this one seemed to really get people's attention: "sherbet", "passion fruit", "almond", chili-flavoured dark chocolate... The variety of the descriptions reminded me of 'the spice, melange' from Dune, "never twice the same". (Jabberwocky probably doesn't give prescience, but maybe I just needed to up the dose.) Jabberwocky might be "never twice the same" in another sense: 3FE say that it's a hard coffee to get right, and - in contrast to Jailbreak - very unforgiving.


But wait, there's more! There was in fact a final mystery beverage. Before tasting the coffee we were served a herbal-style tea, brewed from the coffee pulp. It was strong and sweet. The coffee itself, La Illusion, reminded me a little of rooibus. That doesn't do it justice though: this is an amazing single-origin coffee. The complexity of its flavour matched the blends. "Awesome" might not be the most descriptive of words for a coffee's taste, but it is entirely accurate.

We finished up the class by each choosing a bag of coffee. I went for Jailbreak for its combination of acidity, flavour and ease of preparation.

Next weekend, Jordan Andrews - the current Irish Latte Art champion - is presenting a class on Latte Art.

Review of previous week's event

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