For Fans Of: Autumn, Christmas, Black-tie affairs.
Black Oak Coffee Roasters is a roaster I have seen a lot about. No surprise, they seem to have a lot going for them. Based in Ukiah, California they approach coffee in a culinary manner, both for Mendocino County and afar.
Their desire is evident when looking at their lineup of coffees. Not only is their branding on point, but for for every white bag of single origin in stock, they seem to have a black bag of blends, enough to visually please and also allow for easy identification to customers of all sorts. We’ll talk more about Black Oak in the coming write-ups, but for now let’s dive into our first selection, San Diego Buena Vista, Guatemala.
As coffee roasters we treat coffee with a culinary approach, like a fine wine, with seriousness and respect. Our passion is sourcing small lots of coffees from individually named farms, and roasting them to showcase the aroma and flavor of the farm or co-op itself, without putting too much roaster influence on it. Using our vintage 1957 Probat roaster along with state-of-the-art, computer-controlled roast control technology, we roast for sweetness, nuance, and balance. We strive to provide a vibrant community space where you can experience great coffee minus pretension, be comfortable, stay awhile. We try to make the menu a second home for the Starbucks customer while simultaneously challenging the coffee connoisseur. - Black Oak Coffee Roasters
Acatenango is one of the under appreciated growing regions of Guatemala. It has always been overshadowed by nearby Antigua, and in fact many Acatenango coffees were sold as Antigua lots for many years. In mill-mark Antiguas, this is still the case, since farmers who sell cherries or the collectors who round it up and bring it to the mill rarely respect such boundaries. But Acatenango coffees come from some of the most beautiful farms I have seen in Guatemala, and San Diego Buena Vista is a case in point. I have visited this farm and was impressed with their practices, the way they have separated all the cultivars on the farm, and the beautiful condition of the mill. When I was there, all the harvest was in, and they were reconditioning the mill, replacing bearings, cleaning and painting. Reinvestment and pride are always good signs at a mill! Cleanliness doesn’t hurt either, and the SDBV mill, while quite old, was beautiful, even down to the flowers rimming the office alongside the drying patio. - Coffee Shurb
Roaster: Black Oak Coffee Roasters
Region: Acatenango, Guatemala
Farm: San Diego Buena Vista
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
V60 no stir | 14g © to 228g (w) | 2:05 total time | 200 degrees | 1.32TDS | 19.95% Ext.
Brewing aroma of cinnamon, apples, date, caramel, and other spices.
The nose is aromatic, caramel, brown sugar, sweet fruits almost melon-like, Apple Jacks, and Christmas confection assortments from Snickerdoodle cookies to peanut butter fudge.
First sips are buoyant- almost soft, warm, cinnamon brown sugar syrupiness that quickly shakes off the weight and rolls into high and clean apple notes, crisp and spiced.
So, it’s plump initially, then peaks with plum, pomegranate, cranberry and apple, then sort of mellows out again with vanilla lined and florally spiced and silky caramel.
Clean fruits appear as it cools- grape, date, apricot, more crisp and almost candy-like apple, all kissed with honey and sweetly spiced with a slightly dry but mostly creamy lingering finish.
Even further it strips away a lot of those other fruits and you find these soft, juicy, slightly spiced and clean apple notes dance on the palate, with floral infused honey along with hints of green tea guiding the way to a lightly splashy finish. So a little more similar to the crisp, sweet Guatemalan profile you may love, but with the added complexities and pre-show entertainment before you get there.
Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 200 degrees | 1.33 TDS | 19.89% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Wet aroma of dried fruit, specifically cranberry, nuts, sweet and a bit spiced, apple. It comes off like trail mix.
The nose is sweet. Apple, honey.
The first sips are sweet with apple and caramel at play. It initially hits the mouth really juicy, as if it will grow really plump, but then it gets crisp and a bit thinner going down. Rich, spiced a bit with cinnamon, some nuttiness, and some plays off that initial sweetness with a bit of tartness from plum, cranberry, raisin, and brown sugar sweetness in the end.
Classic Guatemala profile.
Coming back later the cup is moderately saturating on the palate, syrupy in mouthfeel, sweetened with apple and apricot, with just enough spice in the cup to balance the whole thing out.
They weren’t lying, the middle of the cup is sweetened just like a Snickerdoodle cookie and chased with a caramel apple cider. This is a perfect coffee closing Summer and heading into Fall.
It remains delicately syrupy and sweet, apple lead and perfectly spiced, with vanilla, lavender, almond butter, apricot, and raisin cleaning up the finish, with some balanced citrus in there that adds to the cup without distracting.
Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:45 total time | 202 degrees | 1.30 TDS | 19.20% Ext.
First sips of the cup are a bit drying, with notes of cinnamon among other tea-like spices, dried fruits, and under that some honey-like sweetness. It definitely wrestles in the mouth, trying to define if it is more sweet or more spicy.
As it opens, a comfortably syrupy body begins to form with vanilla, brown sugar, apple, raisin, cherry, dried cranberry, light lemon zest, and almond coming forward on the front of the sips, still fading to a more spiced finish trailing; still drying like a mulled or dry wine.
While the ending still carries some trails of nuttiness, it moreso gives up flavors of carmel apple, apricot, and raisin in a lightly syrupy and splashy body with a slightly drying and spiced finish.
Gino Dripper | 34g © to 560g (w) | 3:45 total time | 201 degrees | 1.30 TDS | 19.85% Ext.
If you like a delicate cup, this one is for you. It is quieter than previous makes, and cleaner, but it could be the age and could be the grinder/prep. Either way, it is silky in mouthfeel with raisin, prune, cinnamon baked apples and spices.
That silkiness only lasts until the drying finish kicks in. The cup is sweetened by brown sugar, rather highlighted in this make, still crisp in the cup with apple and plum, and lower in the cup are lighter elements of caramel and vanilla, always carried in a spiced cider finish.
It is a slow grower, as the mouthfeel begins to get a bit more syrupy. Actually, it feels a bit cream-like, coming across like whole milk in mouthfeel, with warming spices and dried fruits filling the back end. Caramel and raisin specifically grow in the lingering finish, a bit rustic but still balanced and clean.
The final cooling is honey in sweetness, easy to drink, and sweetly spiced.
As the seasons turn, there is always a particular coffee profile that seems fitting, both of the season you are leaving and the season you are entering. The San Diego Buena Vista would definitely be that coffee. For as much as it gives up in comforting spices and rusticness it equally delivers in sweetness and syrupiness. Crisp, clean, and excellently executed, this coffee gives that classic Guatemalan profile, structured, balanced, and always dancing on the lines of sweet and savory with full enjoyment.
Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.