On espresso: Colombia El Portal from Heart by Steve Willingham

We're pulling another stellar coffee from Heart Roasters this morning: Colombia El Portal.

Here's a little about the coffee from the roaster:

It is a very special time of year here at Heart Coffee. We have our first fresh crop Colombian coffee on the menu. We are very happy to introduce you to El Portal.

El Portal is grown on the slopes of Cauca, Colombia. It sits not only east of the Huilan border, but also east of Puracé (one of the most active volcanoes in Colombia). Cauca is home to some of the higher altitude coffees in Colombia. El Portal's elevation contributes to the acidity of this coffee, which is not overly intense, but very present in the brewed cup. 

The coffee is grown by Idali Guevara Rivera. The farm is currently 1.5 hectares which is smaller than 3 football fields. In this space he grows terrific castillo variety plants. If you are unfamiliar, castillo is a newer variety created in Colombia. Castillo produces high quality crops and is resistant to roya (coffee rust). El Portal is no exemption to the variety's ability to create excellent tasting coffee. 

Swing by today to try out this coffee as an espresso, and maybe you'll catch it as a pour over tomorrow.


On Chemex: Colombia El Cairo by Steve Willingham

This morning we're breaking into a new coffee roasted by George Howell Coffee from a farm called El Cairo. We're tasting notes of vanilla and spices with a little passion fruit on the finish, and it is delicious.

This coffee is grown by Lucas Melo Pinchao in Nariño, Colombia. Pinchao has owned El Cairo for twenty years, and has benefited from having a farm with an elevation as high as 7,500 meters above sea level in some places. In specialty coffee, we usually see a correlation: the higher the elevation, the sweeter the coffee. This coffee is no exception.

El Cairo is also a good example of specialty coffee transcending the usual labels of organic and fair trade. Pinchao doesn't have either certification, but he does grow all his coffee using strict organic practices and is paid very well for his work due to the demand for coffee of this quality.

Now for the really fun fact. This coffee was harvested in July 2015. Normally, we wouldn't want a coffee that old because it would start to lose its acidity and start to taste lackluster. However, George Howell does things a little differently:

We treat these coffees specially, from export to storage before roasting to guarantee farm-fresh expressions of terroir – the first thing lost when green (raw) coffee ages. We vacuum seal green coffee and then freeze until ready for roasting. This stops the aging process in its tracks, allowing great vintages to outlast their seasonality in all their glory – great for the farmer and for the consumer!

Come try out this coffee on the Chemex bar today or tomorrow.

Colombia Manantiales del Frontino Geisha by Steve Willingham

We just received a new batch of coffee from Novel Coffee Roasters. The Colombia Manantiales del Frontino Geisha is a particularly exciting coffee. You guys may remember the Geisha (or Gesha) varietal from a special we did earlier this year. These coffees are really special, and I'm particularly excited to have one from Novel, one of our favorite roasters. Here's what Kevin Betts has to say about it:

Photo courtesy of Novel Coffee

Photo courtesy of Novel Coffee

Manantiales del Frontino boasts 170 hectares of dense, native forests and mountain streams that provide rich nutrients to its soil and thriving coffee trees. Farm owner Andres Felipe Londoño grows his Gesha variety coffee on only 10% of his farm, intentionally chosen for its nearby pine trees that provide shade and temperature control. Also cultivated here is a strong conviction for ripe cherry selection and perfect processing, all which contribute to the amazing clarity and incredible sweetness in the cup. Champagne-like acidity dances on the tongue and flavors of elderflower and mango are vivid and unforgettable. These attributes led this coffee to score higher on our cupping table than any other coffee we've carried this year!


This coffee will only be available temporarily. We'll have a few 6oz canisters for $25 and we'll feature it on the Chemex bar this weekend, but we have a very limited quantity. Don't wait until next week to get this coffee!

Why does our decaf actually taste good? by Michael Power

Let's talk about something that, in the specialty coffee world, does not get a lot of attention: decaf. Yes, I hear all you "death before decaf" people out there, but let's think about it. There are some wonderful coffee drinkers out there that cannot have caffeine, and people who want to both drink coffee after 4pm and sleep at night. This has created an increasing amount of people who are interested in how decaf is being prepared. So, this week at Clarity, we are going to put the spotlight on our decaf. 


Los Idilos is a Columbian coffee from the Huila district. This blend of Typica and Caturra varieties is grown between 1500-1700 meters above sea level in partial shade, which plays heavily into the flavor. Then it is fully washed and sun-dried, just like most of the other coffees we have. In fact, it isn't grown in any special way as a decaf coffee. Its caffeine content is the same as any other coffee we might feature. It's only after the cherry is turned into dry green coffee that it is sent not far from the farm to the decaffeination mill, Descafecol, before it is then shipped to Portland to be roasted by our friends at Heart Roasters.


There are multiple ways to decaffeinate coffee. Here's the cool thing about this decaf: a natural compound called Ethyl Acetate (EA) is used to remove almost all the caffeine. This is sometimes called the natural decaffeination process. 

Ethyl Acetate sounds scary, right? Well, it isn't. EA can be found two ways. There is a synthetic EA that is used for multiple household items, and also a naturally occurring EA that is created as a natural product of fermenting sugar cane. This coffee uses the latter, which is our favorite because we like keeping things natural around here. Natural EA is found in beer, wine, vegetables, and fruit. In fact, EA is one of the most common esters found in beer. Bonus: coffee cherries have natural sugar cane present in them, so a lot of farms are repurposing their cherries to create EA to leave a smaller carbon footprint. EA is sweet and a natural solvent, which makes it ideal for decaf coffee.


Now that you understand Ethyl Acetate, here's the process of decaffeinating this specific coffee. 

  1. After the coffee has been picked, depulped, and washed, it is sent to Descafecol, the station that decaffeinates coffee. 
  2. The beans are hit with steam in a chamber to allow the pores to open.
  3. EA is mixed with water and the beans are washed, naturally dissolving the caffeine.
  4. The coffee is hit with steam again to wash off most of the EA before it is packed and sealed. A small amount of EA is left on because EA is a byproduct of sugar cane, so it is naturally sweet. 

All of this leads to a decaf that has definitely changed our perception of what decaf can taste like. Currently, we are getting tasting notes of sweet berries with an extremely clean finish like our favorite fully-washed Ethiopian coffees. 

This coffee is available as both a pourover and espresso.

For more reading, check out this blog post from Ceremony Coffee and this from Sweet Marias.