There is something so lovely about story. Something about letting the imagination run, getting caught up in the words, the lines, the pages. Curling up with a good story and just getting lost. Story can be so vivid, so haunting, so poetic and piercing. The details unraveling bit by bit until you get the whole picture… the whole story. The folks behind Novel Coffee Roasters know all about it, and know there is more than just the story behind the coffee, there is the story of the coffee. The brilliant dance- the beauty within the binding. Today we are looking at the second offering from Novel, another example of great sourcing and undistracted roasting to provide you with your moment to get lost in the story. Today’s story is El Meridiano, Colombia.
In the Southern state of Tolima, a small collective of farmers produces amazing coffee despite nearby political turmoil. Tolima remains a hiding place for the FARC rebel paramilitary group, and clashes with government forces often put local residents in the crossfire. These independent growers micromill their own coffees and dry them on rooftops at mountain elevations reaching over 6000 feet. A shared cupping lab is responsible for sampling each lot and grading it by quality and taste. While multiple lots are sold as El Meridiano, our lot comes from only three stellar farms and was assigned the highest quality grade for its complex acidity and clean sweetness.
Shout out to the three producers responsible for this outstanding coffee: Einar Ortiz, Isaac Gonzales Leal, and Gildardo Gutierrez Tejada.
Roaster: Novel Coffee Roasters
Region: Herrera, Tolima, Colombia
Producer: Einar Ortiz, Isaac Gonzales Leal, and Gildardo Gutierrez Tejada
Process: Fully washed and dried on rooftop patios or greenhouses at the farm level
Varietal: Caturra, Colombia, Typica
Elevation: 1,500 - 1,900m
Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:45 total time | 200 degrees | 1.37 TDS | 20.30% Ext.
Brewing aroma of fresh pretzels and hints of spice.
First diving in has this soft, delicate note of red grapefruit coming out at first- light and beautiful, unlike anything I’ve ever had. It isn’t the acidity spot, but the fruit, very nicely displayed. It transitions into a creamy sweet finish. Quickly honey begins to come in, along with subtle notes of spice, but still hangs around these grapefruit notes with tangerine, lemon, and a bit of a nutty finish. Clean, crisp, and slick- light to medium bodied.
The more it opens the more unique qualities you find. You might find slight similarities to a nice clean Sumatra, hints of complex herbals stew around what seems like pear, plum, and currant. However, diving in just minutes after that the fruit notes lend way to grape, baked apple streusel, and streams of caramel sweetness, with chocolate malt and toasted nuts lingering.
You’ll notice by the aroma shifting to more fruits that it has reached stage two. In that, the fruit notes pop a bit more, still clean and juicy before transitioning into a caramel body and finishing, with a nice, dense, liqoury ending.
Gino Dripper | 34g © to 552g (w) | 3:45 total time | 202 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.30% Ext.
Very perfumed nose. Sweet, candy-like, date, caramel.
This one is an interesting cup. Immediately after brewing the aroma does a bit in the cup, and is also a slow grower.
This one is very, very clean. There is a sweetness there, but is so quiet right now that we’ll need to let the cup cool to see what it really offers.
When the cup cools enough you get a bit of an apple sweetness come out, some dried fruits as well. It still carries whiffs of cream in the end of the sips.
When the cup gives a slight aroma of creme brûlée, you know you are ready to drink. Plum seems to be the main note in focus, with a bit of a dry juiciness underneath and kind of a malty lingering.
Man, the aroma shifts again. Every time you get an aroma shift, you are going to notice a taste shift. The aroma is a bit outdoorsy, think autumn, campfires, and tailgating.
In the cup, a nice sweetness, half syrupy caramel and half sort of juicy dried fruits and currant, pretty complimentary of each other. It’s herbal-tea like, with berry pops along the way seeming in the acidity spot. A bit of a clean citrus note cleans up the palate too, taking you into a creamy then drying finish and before you know it, the cup is gone.
Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.40 TDS | 20.90% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Interesting dry aroma. Grape, wood.
Initial sips are sweet and syrupy. Rich, with a finish of sweet melted semi-sweet chocolate, hazelnut, and a bit of lemon note as well. Quickly, you also get lingering notes of cream, caramel, and plum as well. Very dessert-like.
Aww yea. Cooling a bit some of those clean grape notes come out, as well as date, apricot, and honey. You still have a richness too the cup, but being a Colombian it gives a really pleasing mouthfeel, bright cherry acidity moving into a raspberry or sweet lemon, with dense fruit flavors, floral hints arriving, a bit of a spiced/nutty/woody finish, with pops of anise, pralines, and mint. The finish is a bit dry, but leaves lingering flavors of caramel and nuts.
Cooling further the cup becomes a bit more bubbly to sip, a bit more like soda water. It’s incredibly clean, lightly sweet, and now has a delicate but more splashy and juicy front of raspberry and cherry with a smaller syrupy ending, with lightly lingering candy bar characteristics and whiffs of floral.
Final sips are lightly tingly plum and raspberry with tootsie roll sweetness.
V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:10 total time | 198 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.25% Ext. (preferred method)
Initial sips are richly sweet, smooth, clean to drink. The acidity is crisp with apple, and grape, possibly notes of raspberry with little bursts on the front of each sip along with fig, plum, vanilla, cedar, and a slightly complex herbal layer in the lows. Notes of toffee and chocolate stout or chocolate malt also reminiscent in the finish.
The mouthfeel lines the mouth, but also feels lightly juicy. It’s refreshing, sweet, while still satisfying that ‘good ol’ cup of coffee’ spot.
The sensation of apple and grape skin in particular stands out on the front the more it cools, while a slightly effervescent mouthfeel comes after, and sweeter cocoa notes clean up the finish.
The more it cools the sweeter these grape and cherry notes become, balanced citrus notes, caramel and praline sweetness, still sprinkled with cocoa powder and topped with toasted marshmallow.
This is a very unique Colombian. While some that I’ve really enjoyed in recent past have displayed great sweetness, this one is clean and complex, with a very unique profile and experience that is unlike other Colombians I’ve come across. The guys at Novel suggested trying this at a lower extraction, but in most of my makes I could never really dial in a comfortably lower extraction. Not that it took away from the overall enjoyment, but I know that if every cup would have yielded the results like the V60 did by hitting the lower extraction, this bag is sure to please the heck out of you. It is one of those coffees that is easy to drink, easy to drink too fast, but has plenty of nuances for a more regular specialty coffee drinker to marvel at. On top of that, it makes for a delicious espresso for milk based drinks. I’m incredibly thankful to be able to dive into both of these Novel offerings, and hope to share more of their stories in the future.
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.