Saturday, August 11, 2007

Puro Scuro

Perhaps the best blend I've ever had...

"We have been working on this blend for a very long time. It started with a lucky accident about a year ago. I was working with some premium Sumatras and a combination of Yemen and Ethiopian coffees toward a Mohka-Java blend. But I didn't want it to be all bass note, all deep end. It is the problem with some blends intended for darker roast levels - there is a big "hole" in the cup profile, and that hole is located in the medium/bright range of the cup. I stumbled across a combination of coffees (no, I am keeping this one a secret!) that could do all this, and offer some nice aromatics to a darker roasted blend.

Another key factor: I also wanted a blend that had a darkly sweet finish, not ashy, not carbony. With this blend I wanted to prove that I am not anti-darkroast. The problem is, too many dark roasts are simply burned. Roast this as intended and I think you will find the cup decription and the name to be fitting!

Oh, the name? I wanted to call it Barnabas Blend (from my favorite '60s TV show Dark Shadows) but Puro Scuro has a better ring to it, and says a lot about the cup: Pure Dark, in Italian. So the sole remnant of the Dark Shadows theme is our motif for the coffee, a bat.

Overall, this blend boasts exceptional depth - yes it is one deep cup ... what we call "good coffee to brood by." The blend leaves a lingering, graceful finish on the pallate. The target roast range is from Full City+ with a few snaps of 2nd crack, to a Light French roast. In between those two, is a Vienna roast where this blend excels. My favorite is a roast stopped about 20-30 seconds after the first sound of 2nd crack. (Don't think that roasting it to darker French stage makes it more intense; it is most intense at a Full City+, but don't go lighter becase it has odd baked flavors at the City+ stage).

There is some variability in the cup results based on how long it is rested, how it is brewed and (mostly) because this blend involves a healthy proportion of dry-processed coffees. If you want every batch to be exactly the same, don't buy this coffee. If you like to taste a range of flavors, and enjoy complex shifts in character, then you will enjoy the Puro Scuro. The cup has intense sage and anise herbiness, with lingering dried apricot notes. Alternately, I get intense spiciness in the cup; clove with jasmine hints, over a darker tobaccoy flavor. There is a sweet mollasses note in the aromatics that reemerges in the finish. I think it makes excellent espresso too; a rare but accurately-named "dual-use blend."

This blend of green beans available exclusively from Sweet Marias, is all the reason one needs to get into home roasting.