Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Coffee Commentary: Vienna Coffee Company's Organic Balinese Blue Krishna

Look at this beautiful batch of beans that I took straight from the bag of Vienna Coffee Company's absolutely delicious, wonderfully different Organic Balinese Blue Krishna coffee.
I actually went to the Vienna Coffee roastery last Friday and was given the five-star tour of the place, which is, of course, everything I expected out of a place that roasts coffee but isn't a coffee shop in addition to that. Their roasters are nice and state of the art; there was a table of fellows, including the roast master, sitting around shooting the bull and/or talking business (I didn't eavesdrop to find out which), and a very helpful lady working the retail register that answered lots of my questions, talked shop with me for a bit, helped me pick a couple of coffees, showed me their facility (said five-star tour), and was all-around pleasant to talk with. I found out that they roast nearly continuously: three days a week during the summer and full-time during the winter (because it apparently gets wicked hot in there in the summer while roasting), and that the coffee is constantly being cycled around, sold and moved, and is therefore always fresh and great. I picked up two kinds that I'd never tried before and promised to write about this one (though eventually both will get some attention) as I was leaving. I would have done it sooner, but I really wanted to experience this coffee fully before I said anything about it.

This coffee is different from any other I've had. The flavor is almost... tangy, I think, though not in a bad way... when made into faux-espresso either in my Aeropress or in my moka. It's a very pleasant flavor that more strongly reminds me of my espresso-drinking experiences in Tuscany a few years ago than any other varietal or roast since. In fact, I would dare say that it was a distinctly familiar taste that harkened back to my time in Northern Italy, although my research on the matter indicates that this coffee is usually sent to the Japanese markets instead of those in Europe or America. The interesting combination of flavors is, of course, most poignant and tantalizing when it's taken black, though they all stand up very well and play quite interestingly with sugar. Adding cream after that mellows the flavors considerably, although it still results in a very pleasant cup (or cappuccino) that has an extremely unique taste that my wife says is her second favorite or maybe favorite of all (after Sumatra Mandheling, like anything can compare with that rich, full flavor).

The first thing my first taste test told me about this coffee, however, was "this will be good brewed cold." I had to get a new French press for that, though, and hence part of the delay. I realized that there's one at my mom's house that no one on earth but my brother uses, and since he lives more than 90% of the year out west in New Mexico and California, I figured I could swipe it temporarily with no harm nor foul. That's what I did, but I forgot it accidently on my first trip there -- warning, this link is to another blog I keep about my family life and the ridiculous dealings with a ridiculous teenager that resulted from this forgetful episode, so foodies in particular might not find any interest in it -- because Mom is so interesting... and had to wait another day to start this fifteen-hour-long experiment. Finally I did it, and I was right, though many of the tangy, interesting notes that scream to be enjoyed cold don't bloom as strongly in the cold brew as they do in a hot one. Then again, I didn't find them to be as strong in hot-brewed coffee either, at least not compared with pressure-brewed stuff. Still, it was delicious: almost certainly a pinnacle moment in my list of cold-brewing experiences.

All-told, I'd say that I strongly like this coffee and will definitely be getting it again... and again... and again. To quote the nice lady at the Company, "this one is kind of a party in your mouth, and it's hard to describe. Some seem to really like it, and some seem not to." My advice: try it.

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