A new shipment of George Howell's arrived fresh yesterday (roasted Monday)! I order two pounds every four weeks, I find that is about the time it takes to really soak in the flavor and nuances of a particular coffee.
I tried the La Soledad first and am sipping it as I write. Guatemalan coffees have been my favorites for a long while now, because of the "crisp acidity." A little on Guatemalan coffees from Kenneth David's quintessential resource Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying:
"The highlands of Guatemala produce several of the world's finest and most distinctive coffees. The mountain basin surrounding the austerely beautiful colonial city Guatemala Antiqua produces the most distinquished of these highland coffees Guatelmala Antigua, a coffee that combines complex nuance (smoke, spice, flowers, occasionally chocolate) with acidity ranging from gently bright to austerely powerful.
Generally, Guatemala has preserved more of the traditional typica and bourbon varieties of arabica than many other Latin American countries, which may account for the generally superior complexity of the Guatemalan cup. Most Guatemala coffee is grown in shade, ranging from rigorously managed shade on large farms to the serendipitous thickets of small growers."
La Soledad contains Bourbon, Pache, and Caturra varieties, and is produced in the Acatenango region of Guatemala, near the city of Guatemala.
Interestingly, there are three live volcanos around the region, which might explain some of the coffee's complexity... (reminds me of a personal story about forest fires and apple cider... mmm). This region is on the other side of the beautiful ancient city of Antigua’s two (of three!) volcanoes, one of which is currently spewing smoke.
La Soledad’s quality dominates this coffee region, having received several Cup of Excellence awards over the years. The 270 acre farm averages over 5,000 feet in altitude and is heavily shaded with soil-enriching leguminous trees.
Henio Pérez's family has owned La Soledad, named after his grandmother, since 1895.
Anyway, back to the coffee.
Howell describes this coffee as "full bodied, honeyed, smoky-orange and dark chocolate notes, balanced with that classic razor-fine acidity." A gem of a Guatemalan coffee all around.
Using the nifty wheel from my last coffee post, I came up with much the same thoughts, though I thought that though the coffee's taste was certainly sweet-acidy-piquant, that there could be hints of a winey-tang. As far as aromas go, La Soledad deftly bridges the gap between enzymatic-fruity-citrus-apple and sugar browning-chocolaty-chocolate-like-dark chocolate... The depth and complexity of Guatemalan coffee is hard to beat. Mmm! Enjoy!