8 Coffees from Southern California Roasters



The ever-evolving world of specialty espresso continues to see speedy development within the space of product differentiation, with a robust emphasis on processing innovation on the farm stage. Within the final decade or so, because the story of every particular person espresso has develop into extra essential to the buyer, it’s variation in processing technique that appears to get essentially the most consideration.

Maybe that’s as a result of processing technique, much more than tree selection, has the capability to decisively alter cup profile, permitting farmers to direct outcomes and make their coffees stand out in a spread of sensory instructions. Experimenting with processing technique additionally carries much less long-term threat for farmers than planting new tree varieties.

Sundown view of downtown Los Angeles, broadly the house of Regent Espresso, Espresso Republic, and The Reverse Orangutan.

This month, we concentrate on the contribution that roasters from Southern California are making in what’s a very innovating and thrilling time in espresso. Nevertheless, coffees from the eight roasters featured right here will not be wild, envelope-pushing merchandise of anaerobic fermentation or the result of different experimental strategies similar to including fruit, wine yeasts, or lactic acid to fermentations — practices which can be at present trending all through the excessive finish of specialty espresso. As an alternative, they’re quite pristine conventional washed-process coffees or coffees meticulously ready utilizing the now basic pure or honey strategies. However, all concentrate on processing of their narratives — although extra on the standard and nuances of processing than on novelty or distinction. As you learn the evaluations related to this report, you’ll perceive why — every espresso is exemplary in its processing class, and every espresso’s story speaks to the care round processing on the farm stage.

Traditional Washed-Course of Coffees Are Nonetheless Related

Whereas farmers and specialty espresso roasters throughout the globe are busy determining their relationship to processing experimentation (how funky is just too funky? How a lot manipulation is fascinating? Are anaerobics a passing fancy?), basic washed coffees nonetheless have a spot in client’s hearts, so even cafés serving molecular espresso cocktails at $12 a pop haven’t deserted them.

Three Southern California roasters whose washed Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras we overview this month are examples of the highest-quality washed processing, evidenced not solely by roaster and farmer narratives but in addition by the coffees’ presentation within the cup, which impressively foregrounds the basic character respectively related to every of those origins.

Crystal Pier at Pacific Seaside in larger San Diego, California, dwelling of Jaunt Espresso, Nostalgia Espresso Roasters, and Hen Rock Espresso Roasters.

Jimmy Silva, of San Diego’s Jaunt Coffee, says, “The SoCal espresso scene is targeted on high quality espresso, meals choices and the store surroundings. Our function in our group is to supply distinctive espresso, create relationships with colleges, organizations, and neighborhoods that encompass us, and have choices that attraction to our various district. The San Diego espresso group is eclectic within the sense that, relying on the place you go, you can find cafés that characterize their native communities and cultures fairly nicely.”

Once we blind-cupped Jaunt Coffee’s Kenya Nyeri Gathaithi (93), we knew it was a Kenya based mostly on aroma alone. Telltale black currant notes — alongside wisteria, lime zest, tamarind and cedar — peg this espresso as a Kenya. It’s wet-processed utilizing the standard Kenya “double-washed” technique, that means that after fermentation and washing the beans are soaked a second time in recent water, selling the readability related to the best Kenya coffees.

Silva says that Jaunt’s plans embody increasing its café house and making a devoted space for simply roasting. He provides, “We’ve managed to remain related by specializing in the standard and worth of our choices, centering our consideration on group assist, social media (advertising and marketing), and, in fact, our employees. With out our robust and supportive employees, there’s no method we may proceed to maneuver ahead.”

Kim Anderson, co-owner of Handlebar Espresso, behind the bar in Santa Barbara. Courtesy of Handlebar.

One among two roasters reviewed this month which can be utterly new to us is Handlebar Coffee in Santa Barbara. Based in 2011 by a Kim Anderson and Aaron Olsen, who met on the skilled biking circuit, Handlebar is a hub within the burgeoning culinary scene in Santa Barbara. The identify of the micro-roastery is a nod to their shared love of biking.

Handlebar’s Honduras Marcala (93) is richly nutty with an inviting butterscotch undercurrent and a balanced, bittersweet construction that provides it complexity and gravitas. Head roaster Geoffrey Leech says, “This specific espresso from Honduras got here throughout our desk nearly three years in the past. We had been initially searching for an espresso part, and after cupping the Marcala, we had been splendidly stunned that not solely did it have the standard that we wished so as to add to our espresso mix, nevertheless it was so pleasant that we determined to supply it as a standalone providing on the cabinets. We’ve carried the Honduras ever since and has develop into a staple in our cafés. The espresso is nicely balanced, providing just a little little bit of acidity and brightness however not a lot to discourage the on a regular basis client.”

Aerial view of Pacific shoreline overlooking Santa Barbara, California, dwelling of Handlebar Espresso and up the street from Moore Espresso & Tea.

How is Handlebar wanting forward after the tough pandemic years? Leech says, “Like so many companies, we’re working our method again to pre-2020 normalcy, getting our meals program up and operating once more with the hopes that we are able to once more present the complete potentialities to the area people.”

Bird Rock Coffee’s Ethiopia Raro Boda (94) is the epitome of a basic washed Ethiopia with its citrusy-sweet, richly cocoa-toned and floral cup profile. Hen Rock’s enterprise mannequin has lengthy targeted on growing sturdy relationships with growers, and that is the third 12 months operating that the roaster has carried this espresso. It was processed utilizing the standard Ethiopia washed technique: The freshly pulped espresso is fermented beneath water for 24-48 hours, washed, then soaked in recent water for roughly two hours. After soaking the espresso is dried on raised beds for roughly 10-14 days. Co-owner and roaster Maritza Suarez-Taylor says this processing technique promotes a cup with floral, tropical, and citric aromas.

Co-owner Jeff Taylor provides, “The SoCal espresso scene, very like the remainder of the U.S., has actually grown prior to now 10 years. Our focus, for the reason that starting of Bird Rock Coffee in 2002 (and first café in 2006), is on high quality, distinctive varieties and total superb espresso. We’ve many direct relationships with producers that we’ve maintained for 13-plus years. That communication and friendship/partnership permits us to find nice coffees constantly and concentrate on what’s new and thrilling on the farm stage. We aren’t an organization that chases cupping tables for high quality; we concentrate on growth and upkeep with the producers we work with yearly. Our producers belief us to characterize them with nice roasting method and high quality within the cup.”

5 Coffees on the Pure-Honey Fruit Continuum

The remaining coffees we reviewed for this report had been all processed by both the pure or the honey strategies, variations on the theme of intensifying a inexperienced espresso’s impulses towards the expression of fruit within the cup. The pure course of merely implies that the espresso cherries are dried in the entire fruit (quite than stripping the fruit off the bean earlier than washing), and this historic, now-classic processing technique permits for growth of a variety of fruit notes within the aroma and on the palate. Honey processes, pioneered in Brazil however refined and popularized in Costa Rica, take away the pores and skin however depart various levels of fruit flesh on the bean, partly in an effort to modulate the depth and character of fruit notes within the closing product. Each pure and honey processes at the moment are ubiquitous all through the coffee-producing world, and the variety of coffees on the natural-honey spectrum we get for overview within the Espresso Assessment lab every year outnumber the washed-process coffees. So, we really feel assured in categorizing these two processes as basic at this level in specialty espresso’s evolution.

Taylor Fields of Nostalgia Espresso Roasters and Felipe Trujillo, proprietor of La Ventolera Farm, strolling to his farm in Colombia. Courtesy of Edgar Ontiveros, Nostalgia Espresso Roasters.

Two natural-processed coffees rose to the highest scores on this month’s cupping — Moore Coffee & Tea’s El Salvador Aida Batlle La Florida Natural and Nostalgia Coffee Roasters’ Colombia Geisha Cordillera Natural, each of which landed at 95 for his or her clear however intensely fruit- and floral-driven profiles.

Proprietor and roaster Gayla Moore, of Ventura-based Moore Coffee & Tea, echoes the concept profitable SoCal roasters purpose to excel in each meals and beverage, and that espresso continues to be a central a part of that story. She says in regards to the El Salvador La Florida reviewed right here, “I’ve adopted Aida Batlle for a while, and I make it a precedence to look out ladies producers. Batlle’s [use of the natural] processing technique ends in a style profile that matches each my palate and the roasting model I’ve developed over time, which is balanced and lingering.” The La Florida pure is a richly floral- and fruit-toned espresso with tropical notes of ardour fruit and star jasmine.

Moore continues to advertise the work of ladies on each the producer and retailer sides of the enterprise. She says, “It’s heartening to know my espresso is well-represented in my group, in addition to being appreciated by clients throughout the nation. I’ve been capable of keep related as a result of, at the beginning, I supply top-quality espresso. I additionally watch the marketplace for style and financial tendencies and am capable of adapt to adjustments whereas staying true to my dedication to glorious product and customer support.”

Taylor Fields, proprietor of Nostalgia Coffee Roasters, has nothing however reward for Felipe Trujillo’s Colombia Geisha Cordillera, which additionally earned a rating of 95. This natural-processed Geisha is deeply chocolaty and spice toned with throughlines of dried blueberry and magnolia.

Fields, who simply returned from visiting Trujillo at his farm, says, “What attracts us to any specific espresso can be what our clients love about it. Each single espresso we provide must be approachable, distinctive, direct commerce, and enhance the lives of those that work with it. This Colombia Geisha hits all of these factors occasions 10!”

She provides, “This Geisha can be distinctive due to our direct commerce relationship and story behind the espresso. Felipe is really serving to to form the following era of specialty espresso producers in Colombia. In partnership with [exporter] Unblended Espresso, he takes an incredible function in mentoring younger producers and creating pathways for them to enter the specialty market in america. We had been capable of go to with each Unblended Espresso and Felipe on the finish of June, take part in a discussion board and work instantly with the younger producers on the right way to enter the market and take the leap into investing in high quality over amount. Felipe is an inspiration to so many, and this Geisha embodies all of his arduous work.”

Getting ready to replant espresso bushes at Felipe Trujillo’s La Ventolera Farm. Courtesy of Edgar Ontiveros, Nostalgia Espresso Roasters.

Sadly, though this was Trujillo’s first harvest of this Geisha, it is going to even be his final for the following few years, as all of those Geisha bushes died attributable to extreme rain and chilly.

Once we requested Fields about her roastery’s SoCal ethos, she replied: “I initially fell in love with espresso whereas in Chicago, as these cafés supplied a respite from the bitter chilly winters and welcomed all sorts of espresso lovers. At Nostalgia, our vibe, values, and approachable roast profiles purpose to evoke that sense of hospitality, embrace, and pleasant nature whereas sharing the sunny SoCal heat with as many individuals as doable. On the finish of the day, Nostalgia is a fusion of Midwest hospitality with the idyllic Southern California life-style.”

Two honeys and one other pure spherical out our top-scoring coffees, all scoring 93.

Chino-based Espresso Republic’s Ethiopia Gigesa Natural (93) is fruit-toned and sweetly herbaceous with notes of Bing cherry, marjoram, honeysuckle, salted caramel, and fresh-cut oak. The roaster didn’t reply our request for remark by publication time, however the espresso is price looking for out amongst choices by Southern California roasters. It’s a sun-dried espresso within the basic Ethiopia fruit-and-herb model.

Leon Nie, founding father of Regent Coffee in Glendale, loves Costa Rica’s Hacienda Sonora (93) a lot that this lot, produced from the regionally developed Villa Sarchi selection, is the third espresso he’s carried from this farm. Leon, who got here to the U.S. from China in quest of higher alternatives for his household, now operates a profitable roastery in his adopted dwelling. He says of the Southern California espresso scene, “I believe SoCal specialty espresso is in a really quick growing interval. My spouse, Di Yao, and daughter and I moved to the U.S. in 2015, after which, it wasn’t straightforward to discover a respectable specialty espresso store. I’m so fortunate and honored to be among the many rising quantity now.” He nonetheless considers himself a scholar of espresso and hopes to develop organically with a concentrate on high-quality coffees and chilly brew. The Costa Rica Villa Sarchi honey is juicy, balanced, and cleanly fruit-forward.

Jamil Radney (left) and Geoff Clark, co-owners of The Reverse Orangutan, in a self-described “enjoyable kinda ‘we’re gonna drop the toughest mixtape’ shot.” Courtesy of The Reverse Orangutan.

One other roaster discovery for us right here at Espresso Assessment is The Reverse Orangutan, a Glendora-based roaster whose Ethiopia Shantawane Buncho Honey (93) we loved for its vibrantly sweet-tart profile supported by candy herb and cocoa notes.

Jamil Radney, co-owner, roaster and lead barista, says, “The specialty espresso scene right here is experiencing a gorgeous new stride as espresso outlets proceed to push the bounds on scrumptious espresso. There are such a lot of new gamers within the business with so many alternative approaches to sourcing, roasting and philosophy, it’s great. Our function is to ship severe gourmand shit with an approachable demeanor. We expect espresso needs to be good, straightforward to understand, and one thing you’re excited to get pleasure from. Our visitors love that we aren’t afraid to herald enjoyable experimental heaps, and so they get enthusiastic about new and rising flavors coming from these proficient farmers and mills.”

Radney and Geoff Clark, co-owner and director of inexperienced buying, who collectively based The Reverse Orangutan in 2018, have 20 mixed years of expertise within the specialty espresso business working for numerous cafés within the Southern California area. Radney says, “We lower our tooth as baristas within the burgeoning third-wave scene, the place latte artwork and pour-overs grew to become the norm. Throughout our tenure as baristas, we noticed the business changing into too unique, and we imagine we are able to make a change in that regard. We imagine espresso needs to be approachable, informal, and significantly gourmand. Our firm’s identify is an homage to a chess sport that occurred within the Twenties. One of many gamers consulted an orangutan about what their first transfer needs to be, and the chess opening has since been known as ‘the orangutan offensive.’ Our enterprise philosophy is that the world has made its first transfer, so we’re taking part in our counter-offensive, The Reverse Orangutan. Our identify is our tenet in how we method the espresso sport.”

It was clear in speaking with these roasters, each the skilled and the newcomers, that along with a laser concentrate on high quality and obsession with meticulous processing, one other SoCal theme emerged relating to the necessity for accessibility and consumer-friendliness. We wholeheartedly second this aspiration, as high quality and entry will not be — shouldn’t be — mutually unique (as is usually the case with wine).

We had been barely capable of contact on the expansive vary of specialty roasters and coffees in Southern California this month, however even with this small collection of basic washed, pure, and honey-processed coffees, it’s clear that the area is upping the specialty espresso ante for us all.



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