• Rating: [rating:4.5/5]

I’ve recently written about my new-found appreciation for Colombian coffee — a growing region I’d long written off as an example of style over substance; marketing over matter. The past few weeks I’ve had not only opportunity to eat most of my prior sour words, but also the sweet pleasure of some fine Colombian coffees with which to wash them down. And this one… well, it’s the sweetest yet.

Andrew Barnett’s Ecco Caffe is a boutique coffee roaster in Santa Rosa, California. I don’t know if he’d care for that description — boutique — but it fits. Andrew’s got an exceptional palate; more, he’s got damn fine culinary instincts and a rep as one of coffee’s nicest guys. (Let’s see him dodge that one!)

But this isn’t about Andrew, really, it’s about Olga Laura and her family coffee estate, La Virginia. La Virginia, in the Huila region of Colombia, has the great good fortune of volcanic soils, fresh spring water for washing and fermenting its coffee, and sunshine enough to patio-dry. This triple threat offers the potential for great coffee… that, and meticulous management makes the coffee of La Virginia a grand cru, one which handily bested every coffee save one for top price in this years Colombia First Harvest Cup of Excellence.

Andrew’s take on roasting is hugely respectful of the coffee; this one’s just this side of Full City — no evidence at all of 2nd pop or surface oils — and ideally suited to this bean. Ground, the coffee effuses chocolate candy sweetness, enveloped by orange blossoms and ripe summer fruit, virtually none of which is dimished as it brews. In the cup its acidity dances gracefully in counterpoint with a golden, honeyed sweetness, subtle cocoa undertones and an astoundingly rich and creamy body. As the cup cools its honey tones give way to flavors of sun-kissed summer grapes, still warm from the vine… at once sweet, tart and juicy.

Available now at Ecco Caffe… and I wager it won’t be available for very long.

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