Brian Beyke

PERC Coffee - Mexico Finca Kassandra

Brian Beyke

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I don’t get the opportunity to try a lot of coffee from Mexico, which you would think might not be the case given its proximity to us as coffee consumers.  I feel like the most known of Mexican coffees is Chiapas.  I see it all around both second wave and third wave coffee locations, possibly due to its proximity to Huehuetenango Guatemala, which too is a popular region for coffee output.  Last year I had a natural processed coffee from Mexico - El Eden, and it just blew me away.  I don’t know why, but I just assume not seeing much coffee from Mexico means they don’t yield the best beans?  Either way, trying El Eden last year, and now opening PERC Coffee’s Top Shelf Finca Kassandra, I’m starting to see that the region does have some stand out offerings.  


Finca Kassandra is owned by the Rivas family near Totutla and Huatusco in Veracruz. Workers here have their own housing facilities, day care, and medical care.  The family owns 600 hectares, 320 of which is dedicated to coffee production. Only 8% of this, the equivalent to about 60 acres is dedicated pacamara, which makes it an exceptional microlot.  Considered an “exotic superstar,” the Pacamara variety is a rare hybrid of Pacas and Red Maragogipe beans, created in a coffee breeding improvement program by the Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research.  Along with well award winning coffees, the family is also well known for their macadamia nuts.

Details:

Roaster: PERC Coffee

Region: Veracruz, Mexico

Farm: Rivas family

Process: Fully washed

Varietal: Pacamara

Elevation: 1,500m

Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 241g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.39 TDS | 20.85% Ext. (Immersion mode)

A bit spiced on the nose, warm and inviting.

Jumping in you have this delicious baked apple sweetness that is crisp on the front end, a juicy starting body that gets syrupy as it finishes down the back of the tongue.  Quite an outstanding body and presentation- it’s fully flavorful in the mouth but refreshing and comfortably weighted.  I can tell this will be a good cup.  

That crisp acidity I mentioned earlier gets a bit more prickly- maybe pear, cranberry, even blackberry to a lighter degree.  It is rich in it’s complexity, and while I can say it has hints of cinnamon, the sweetness of the fruits actually seems to stand out a bit more coming off a bit candy-like as you find raspberry, date, fig, honeydew, apple, and when it gets more syrupy sweet at the end leaving fresh and juicy cantaloupe lingering as it transitions into this sweet, lightly salted, cinnamon finishing.  The aftertaste continues the complexity, as apricot, grape, and cherry notes also stir around with some brighter (read tart) notes of pomegranate and grapefruit also.

Almost the end of the cup is interesting as you slip into this craft chocolate profile- sea salted chocolate main note, a bit of a soft nectary fruit sweetness, sweet lemon or some other citrus, florals (believe it or not) and some kisses of honey.

 The last drops and coolest moments have all but softened into a lightly sweet grape, apple, nectarine, with an afterthought of leather.

 *Most unique cup of the makes.

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Brew Method:

Gino Dripper | 34g © to 555g (w) | 3:50 total time | 198 degrees | 1.34 TDS | 20.27% Ext. 

Oh man. So good.

The body feels like meringue in the mouth.  I can definitely notice the cinnamon, as if lightly sprinkled on these sweet and a bit tart notes of raspberry, pomegranate, apricot, cherry, apple, and cranberry.  But then, it begins to rapidly develop.

Tingly, crisp, nearly effervescent baked apple acidity with a juicy mouthfeel and maple syrup in the finish.  It continuously grows, barraging on the palate almost, these intense and tingly fruit notes with a complex and dense trail of tomato, herbs, plum, and grilled peach.

The further it grows the more it reminds me of a port wine, but also reminds of cream soda.  It’s deep and intense on one side, and sweet and relieving on the other.  There is this constant back and forth on the palate, like a wrestling mat for the flavors.  It is rich and slightly drying, developing massive notes of dried fruits in the finish, presented in this unique syrupy body, still with candy-like sweetness to the previous fruit notes mentioned. 

By the end of the cup you have these wildly bright and prickly notes- grapefruit, lemon, star fruit, pineapple, papaya…I don’t even know.  Yet, there are also these sweet candy-like fruit notes that stir around in a syrupy body, too- pear, blackberry, cranberry, pomegranate, grape, cherry, a bit of spice still and salted chocolate drifts.   I just… I just don’t know.

Clean, wild, bright finish.  

*Most wild cup of the makes.

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Brew Method:

Espresso | Crossland CC1 | Bottomless double basket | 19.2g in | 41g out | 0:29 total time | 202 degrees

Man that’s wild.  Crazy apple and lemon notes.  Second sip it is a puckerer, indeed.  Wild berry sweetness behind everything, candy-sweet like Bit-O-Honey.  Final sips are sweet lemon, and less like Lemonheads as about 100 Warheads all blasting at once.

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Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14.3g © to 227g (w) | 2:00 total time | 207 degrees | 1.39 TDS | 20.40% Ext. (preferred method)

Deliciously sweet dry aroma.

Brewing aroma is immensely beautiful. Warm fruits, sweet citrus, lemongrass and florals.

Wow. Such a different cup than any other make.  This one now is crying out floral notes.  It still carries the great body presentation found in other cups: crisp on the front (where you find most of the herbal and floral notes, mixed with raspberry, lemon, strawberry and apricot), juicy body (where you notice the grape, apple, pear, lychee, mango, pineapple juice, honey, lime), and then a syrupy ending (orange marmalade, caramel, nougat, chocolate).

Mid cup it continues to grow a drying mouthfeel and lingering tomato, grilled peach, and spiced plum notes- still with lemongrass and other floral notes lowly lying in the lingering finish.  Dried fruits like date and raisin seem to come out a bit, along with a more tickling cranberry juice-like front end.  This coffee is a full saturation of flavor across the palate, no place is left untouched.  The body, while having so much going on, still manages to be immensely clear, sitting cleanly on the tongue (now articulating some melon as mentioned in previous makes) with really sweet and clear flavors filling, swirling, and tantalizing the mouth.

The final sips are richly complex with candy-sweet and nuanced fruits, deeply flavor saturated, silky in mouthfeel with lingering floral notes, citrus, and to a softer degree chocolate mousse.  Every bit as enjoyable as the Yirgacheffe offerings I’ve been raving about lately.  

 

*Most balanced and floral cup of the makes.

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Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:25 total time | 203 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.15% Ext.

Oh yes.  I was concerned the profile I got in the V60 was a fluke and I wouldn’t be able to replicate it.  While this seems a bit more juicy, I think it’s similar.

 Floral and fruitied on the front, this method does have a bit of those baked cinnamon apples notes like the earlier methods though.  Still carries that great body progression: crisp, juicy pops, syrupy finishing.  Great herbal balance in the cup, light light chocolate whiffs in the finish.  

 Actually, the cooler it grows it begins to feel more like the Gino make.  The acidity is still rather tame, with more rich notes than in the V60. Similar fruit notes can be detected: lemon, raspberry, apricot, pomegranate, sun dried tomato, apple, mango, pear, date, raisin, caramel, chocolate, with spice notes in the finish as well giving it a bit of a savory touch.

It isn’t until the coolest stages that it gets as clear as the v60 make, and in those final sips you get some melon-like pops, but the salted chocolate comes back like we found in the aeropress to close out the cup, still with some floral and wine lingerings.  

Probably should mention that it wasn’t as close to the V60 as I initially thought, but the floral and herbal levels were much higher in this make than any others outside of the V60.

 

*This cup is a good mixture of everything.

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Brew Method:

Shaken Iced Bonmac | 28g © to 280g (w) | 140g ice | 3:00 total time | 203 degrees

This is weird iced.  It is crisp initially, which is usually welcomed to the cup.  So after this apple crispness it sort of, like in the hot cup, tried to figure out what it wants to be. There are more savory notes that would remind one of spaghetti sauce, but at the same time you find bursts of stone fruit sweetness like peach with a syrupy finish.  It’s quite baffling, as baffling as the Gino make was.  To confuse you even further, there are these floral notes that are trying to gain your attention, with lingering notes of Tootsie Rolls.

As it sits even longer it does seem to have more of the sweetness I mentioned than not.  It resonates mainly on these apple, raspberry, peach, and caramel notes that slide into a chocolate and light floral finish with slightly spiced or savory lingering.

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This coffee can seem a bit infringing.  It starts off similar to when you first get a roommate in your place, has moments when they are sleeping on your couch when you want to watch television, and towards the end the tartness of those fruits, while you love them, is when he doesn’t pay his rent.  This literally is one of the most challenging and bizarre coffee’s I’ve ever experienced.  I had some cups that were incredibly delicious, I believe the V60 make was one of my favorite cups of coffee I’ve made in recent memory.  Other makes, they just really stretched my senses in every way imaginable in attempts to grasp what this coffee was offering.  Part of me likes that challenge, and likes to experience shifts and development changes - like a roller coaster.  However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say my preference would be to really soak up everything a coffee has to offer without such volatility or abrasiveness.  I have mixed feelings on this coffee.  It was definitely one of the most memorable coffees I’ve had- explosive, pungent, unique in it’s body presentation, and had some of the wildest flavor experiences I’ve encountered in a coffee, but other times it may have just crossed outside of the amount of wild I can handle.  I tried to highlight at the bottom of each make what my experiences were in comparison to the rest, but that is just my own experience with the bag.  The only way for you to really know what it’s like, would be to pick some up before it’s gone. 

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.