Guatemala might just be coffee heaven, with diverse soils, rainfall, humidity, altitude and temperatures that produce seven distinctive regional types of specialty Arabica beans. The Huehuetenango region is just across the border from Mexico; it has high plains and the highest mountains in Guatemala with peaks over 12,000 feet. Dry, hot winds from southern Mexico sweep across the plain into the rugged mountains – protecting even the highest coffee farms from frost and creating a cool, humid subtropical micro-climate ideal for heirloom Arabica coffees.
The Guatemala Huehuetenango ‘Huixoc Estate’ coffee (pronounced wee-chok; Mayan, meaning “spring in the rocks”) that recently arrived at our Roastery, is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The prime terrior is rich soil with natural shade, regular rainfall and high altitude (to 5500 ft). For 5 generations they’ve grown Heirloom Arabica varieties Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai near the village of La Democracia in Huehuetenango’s mountainous heart. The springs are critical to Huixoc’s quality, providing abundant water for coffee and other crops, the workers and families, and energy for the estate’s coffee mill.
The Guatemala Huixoc Estate has the classic Guatemalan flavor profile of bright, winy acidity combined with medium-full body. It also feature crisp orange and winy boysenberry flavor and a finish with a lovely creamy, malty sweet chocolate note. These beans from Huixoc Estate are especially fine; giving you a very crisp, tight cup with an extra layer of sweet black walnut flavor.
Neil & Maria Empson have been importing top notch Italian wines and working with some of the finest Italian winemakers for over 30 years. In 2007, driven by their passion for the Salento region in the southernmost part of Puglia (the heel of the proverbial Italian boot), they decided to get more directly involved in the business and create their own label of Italian wines. The Salento regions windswept peninsula with warm Mediterranean breezes and deep dark red soils is a perfect place to grow grapes as is evident from the ancient vineyard sites planted there by both the Greeks and Romans. Along w/ their daughter Tara and friend Valentino Sciotti(owner of Farnese in Abruzzi), the Empsons searched the area until they came across some of the oldest vines in the region, in San Marzano. Employing the help of third generation winemaker Filippo Baccalaro, the team came together to create wines that were classic to Apuglia naming them after Maria, Tara and Neil(yep, looks like Valentino got hosed).
One of these wines is the 2011 Matane Primitivo. It has a rich ruby red color with violet tones along the rim. Your nose will be plunged into deep, meaty aromas of ripe blackberry, boysenberry, mulberry with touches of lavender, dried herbs, spice and vanilla. It has an excellent, full mouth feel, with loads of ripe berry fruits, along with mouth watering acidity that lends to a nice balance. A wine to pair with pizza, lasagna or marinara sauce pasta dish or dark winters nights by the fire.
If this sounds like something that you would enjoy, be sure to get yourself signed up to receive our wine deal email newsletter. This week, recipients of our email can save almost 25% off the Matane. If you are already signed up, then you know what to do from here.
A new arrival at the Barriques Roastery, the Monte Crisol Tarrazu comes from the heights overlooking the Tarrazu River. Technically it’s in Costa Rica’s West Valley, but the river’s the dividing line of these two production regions. The beans are Heirloom Arabica varieties Caturra and Catuai, which are shade grown at 1300-1500 meters altitude.
Monte Crisol is produced by CoopePalmares, one of Costa Rica’s best coffee co-operatives. The Co-op has 1350 members who benefit from our purchase beyond just the dollars involved. Members and families receive medical services, farmers have financial services, and the Co-op offers environmental consulting through the ‘Madre Verde’ Foundation. CoopePalmares coffees are UTZ Sustainable certified for their strong environmental focus – forest protection, recycling water used for processing and milling, and composting coffee wastes into organic fertilizer.
“Monte Crisol” has the personality and intensity that marks Tarrazu coffees as Costa Rica’s best. It’s medium bodied with terrific sweet acidity, enticing “coffee” aroma, bright citrus and red berry notes, with an extra sweet chocolate note you’ll find mid-palate.
The new crop of our Nicaraguan SHG has just arrived and it offers up a truly excellent drinking experience. Our Nic is a classic ‘washed central’ coffee; crisp, clean, sweet and medium-bodied. Nicaraguans have more mouthfeel and less brightly acid flavors then other centrals; they’re a well-balanced, sweet and exceptionally clean cup that features a finishing hint of black walnut.
Our SHG Nicaragua is cooperatively produced by farmers around Dipilto in Segovia, Nicaragua’s leading coffee producing area. It’s a mountainous zone (1250 Meters altitude) with Nicaragua’s highest peaks, extensive pine forests, abundant water and extraordinary biodiversity. Prodecoop, Nicaragua’s leading coffee cooperative, maintains rigorous Specialty standards for our coffee’s production and quality.
Nicaraguan coffees demonstrate remarkable versatility in a wide range of other roasts from light City, through Full City into the Vienna range. They have enough body to stand up to darker roasts with great balance, exhibiting savory and pungent, bittersweet flavor.
Stop by and try some at a Barriques near you or grab some online for your home brewing pleasure.
Check check check your calendar. We have moved the regular tasting day at Barriques Fitchburg to Friday nights from their usual spot on Saturday. You can get the full low down of the what is on the tasting calendar by visiting the events page. With the upcoming Single Malt Scotch tasting on Friday, November 9th, we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on any of the action.
Our first batch of Tea Forte Kati brewing cups flew out the door almost as soon as they hit the stores. The new stock along w/ some new designs has just arrived and we now have the Star Magnolia, Green Leaves and Grass designs available at a Barriques near you. At $11.99, this double-wall ceramic tumbler and integrated stainless steel infuser make brewing loose tea by the cup simple.
It’s that time of year again @Barriques. Our annual celebration of one of our favorite cocktails, the Margarita, takes place this Friday, July 13th at Barriques Monroe St. from 5:30 – 8:30pm. This years tasting will feature 6 fun recipes that will have your taste buds humming. To wet your appetite just a bit, here is a preview of one of this years concoctions.
In a classic cocktail shaker filled w/ ice add:
2 oz Manik Blanco tequila
3 tsp organic agave nectar
2 oz orange juice
2 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
Juice of half of lime and half a lemon
1 oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
Shake the liv’n day lights out of it until you work up a sweat, pour into a cool glass with a kosher salt rim and garnish with you favorite umbrella.
No RSVP is needed and so we look forward to seeing you all there on Friday night!
FEW Spirits has finally docked in Madison and is available at your local Barriques. A few of our Barriques gang had a chance to visit this amazing little artisanal spirits producer in downtown Evanston, Illinois earlier this Spring. For those of you who are old enough or attended Northwestern might recall that Evanston was the epicenter for the Temperance movement, led by Frances Elizabeth Willard who was President and Dean of Women at Northwestern in the late 19th century. Even though she passed away in 1898, her legacy kept the four square miles around Northwestern dry until 1972. More recently, Master Distiller Paul Hletko petitioned the city council to allow him to produce the first drop of distilled spirits in Evanston in over 100 years and FEW Spirits was born.
Their brand name, FEW Spirits, is a tongue and cheek name created using the initials of the previously mentioned Francis Elizabeth Willards. Their labels also harken back to earlier times and depict poster images from the 1st Chicago World’s Fair held in 1893. Each spirit is started in small open tub fermenters, distilled in 2 copper column stills (one reserved for only the gins). Their bourbon, rye and old tom gin are aged in small 5 gallon barrels to help expedite the aging process and increase the wood to spirit ratio. Their spirits are just phenomenal and Barriques is proud to carry their Rye, American Gin and Limited Edition 114proof Gin at our Monroe St, Middleton and Fitchburg locations.
Coffee’s conventional wisdom is exceptionally full of “everything you know is wrong” ideas and bits of information. While many of these are counterintuitive and fascinating, many other “facts” are just canards – unfounded or false information passed along from hearsay, innuendo or downright wishful thinking.
We love ‘em all, goofy, mysterious, outrageous and weak; and so here’s the first of a recurring feature where we uncover some of the Coffee world’s most garish chunks of Fool’s Gold….
#1 “KEEP YOUR COFFEE FRESH BY PUTTING IT IN THE FRIDGE”
Ah, the fridge myth, the wooly mammoth of coffee urban legends. As conventional reasoning goes, the fridge keeps veggies and meat fresh, so it must work for coffee too… Well – not so fast,my friend…
According to Dr. Science, refrigerators remove heat by constantly circulating cold, dry air around food. Circulation is critical; the more movement of cold air the faster warm food gets cold, and today’s high efficiency fridge has terrific air circulation.
BUT – the huge volume of dry swirling air ruthlessly extracts food moisture, aromas and flavors, circulating them through every cubic inch of the interior and its contents. This is a very bad deal for fresh coffee: great coffee starts with tons of volatile aroma and flavor, but you’ll never taste it if it goes hurtling around the cold box.
By the way, percolators suffer for the same reason but opposite cause – heat. They extract flavor from coffee by boiling it, forcing aroma and flavor out of the brew and into the open air; this is why percolator coffee is known as ‘a beautiful smell that tastes like hell.’
Coffee beans in the fridge also suck up and retain every smell that blows by – Dr. Science’s term for this is hygroscopic. Brewed coffee discloses the full itinerary of food or any other item it was shipped with, and many roasters find, to their sorrow, that their beans made the trip to market sitting next to oregano, freshly painted furniture, animal hides or fertilizer – mmmm, tasty. Hygroscopic is strike two and three for the refrigerator, chock full of smells (berries, cheese, melon, etc) wafting ceaselessly on the cold air….Hey, can I get you a big cup of garlic-cheddar-cherry French Roast?
So how do you guard the flavor of your beans? Buy coffee every 7 – 10 days and store it in an airtight container away from light, extreme temperature and humidity….No fridge, no freezer, no funny business – Do that and you’re golden!
Here at Barriques we are kinda obsessed with terrior(tare-wah). In fact, it is at the core of our quest to always strive to stock and serve you the best products that we can find and produce. So what exactly is terroir and why is it so important? In wine-speak, terroir is referred to as the ‘sense of place’ which, to be honest, might muddy the waters even further. Sense of place? What does that mean? Let’s take Chianti as an example. Most people are familiar with this red wine from Italy. However, most do not know that it comes from the region of Tuscany, made of predominately Sangiovese grapes and produced in such a way by the community of growers in that region, such that the wine carries the distinctive mark that can be only recognized as Chianti. That mark is the wines unique terroir, its sense of place. The reality is that without even knowing it, people make terrior based decisions about what they enjoy in a bottle of wine all of the time by making statements like, “I like Napa Cabernets”, “Do you sell any Oregon Pinot Noirs”, or “I prefer Australian Shiraz”. What they are really commenting on is the wines distinct terrior character.
So what gives a wine its terroir? The earth and soil composition of where the grapes for a wine are grown are often mentioned when discussing terroir, yet this is not the sole driver that gives a wine its unique character. In addition to the dirt, the climate, geography, and unique production methods the individual farmer or community of grower/producers has upon their crops all come into play. The term was originally coined by the French to describe the individualistic qualities of a particular wine region, village, vineyard or sub-sect of a particular vineyard that imparted a certain quality that could not be replicated anywhere else. Ferreting out these differences took hundreds of years of observations by winemakers who figured out which grapes planted in a particular locale exemplified and personified that regions best qualities. Regulations inFrance were set up to protect a certain regions identity under a system called AOC (Appellation d’Origin Controlee) and here in theUS we have similar system called AVA (American Viticultural Area).
The cool thing about terroir is that it transcends to coffee and tea as well. As many of you know, there is a big difference between say an Ethiopian from the province of Sidamo which tend to display good lemon/citrus acidity, spice and chocolaty aromas versus coffee beans from Columbia that purveys a pleasant sweetness and full nutty flavor. In teas you have high altitude, single estate Oolongs versus hillside or valley Pu’er teas. The more pleasurable, desirable and distinct characteristics or rarity of each type of wine, tea or coffee lends to its marketability and often times its price.
Have other questions about terroir? Leave them in the comments below and we can talk shop. Thanks.