It’s August, and things are quiet here in Austin, as they generally are during the dog days. UT kids are gone for the summer, families are on vacation, and anyone still around is hiding out in air-conditioned or water-filled spaces—or both. It’s the calm before the storm of Austin fall, back-to-school, UT football, ACL Fest, etc.
As a coffee roaster in Austin, August is always a good month for a reset. A great time to start a new project, introduce a new product, or just work on getting the ship right in anticipation of the busy months ahead. At Little City, August also represents a reset in our seasonal coffee program. Fresh coffees are arriving from Central America and parts of East Africa, and harvests are in full swing in South America. That means lots of travel, lots of cupping, and lots of great new releases in the months ahead. This month we are featuring an amazing microlot from a new partner in Nicaragua and taking a deeper look at the current components in our classic Congress Avenue blend.
Featured Microlot: Finca Zeledón, Nicaragua
Isabel Arauz Zeledon began farming at the age of three, caring for cows and horses and growing potatoes with his godfather. He met Victoria when they were teenagers and the two eventually married, devoting their lives to family and agriculture. In 2019 they purchased their farm, Finca Zeledon, in Jinotega and have been growing excellent coffees there since.
Isabel and Victoria are members of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, a direct trade farming collective that helps to connect growers of high-quality specialty coffee directly with coffee roasters and other buyers around the world. In addition to facilitating trade relationships, Gold Mountain also helps its members add value to their businesses by providing access to credit and loans, technical assistance, and various social programs.
This month’s featured coffee is a fully washed microlot from Finca Zeledon. It is a blend of Red Catuai (a cross between Mundo Novo and Caturra, bred by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) in Brazil), and Caturra Estrella (an offshoot of the more common Caturra variety that was, according to the folks at Gold Mountain, a bit of a failure). Bred in an attempt to bolster Caturra’s disease resistance while maintaining cup quality, Caturra Estrella only accomplished the latter. While the plant is still susceptible to leaf rust, the cup quality is uniquely its own and often described as complex, sweet, fruity, and floral. We find this particular lot to have lots of blueberry juiciness, a sweet and floral aroma like wildflower honey, and a tart refreshing finish akin to cranberries or pomegranate.
Roaster’s Choice: Congress Avenue
Named for the historic street where Little City began, Congress Avenue is our signature blend and our best seller. A well-balanced, medium-roast blend with sweet flavors of caramel and milk chocolate, it embodies our motto, “everyone deserves a great cup of coffee.” As with all our blends, we rotate its components seasonally to ensure freshness and consistency year round. The current components are:
Fazenda Recanto Fully Washed (Brazil) – We began purchasing this sweet and chocolatey coffee from long-time friends and partners, the Magalhães Paiva family, a few years ago. Unlike the pulped natural process more commonly seen in Brazil, this coffee goes through a controlled fermentation after pulping and a full washing to completely remove all of its mucilage before drying. The result is a clean and transparent cup with sweet chocolate and almond flavors and a refreshing citric finish reminiscent of some of the best washed coffees from Central America. It’s an excellent example of the impact that post-harvest processing can have on flavor. In fact, we will replace this coffee in the blend soon with a high-grown coffee from Veracruz, Mexico, a region far from Brazil and not traditionally thought to produce similar coffee profiles.
Black Condor Blend (Colombia) – Sticking with fully-washed coffees for their clean and traditional flavors, the other half of Congress Avenue is currently composed of an amazing Colombian coffee spawned from a project between grower Emmanuel Enciso and the Bayter brothers, Elias and Shady, of Forest Green Coffee. In 2016, they together built a purchasing and processing station in Gaitania, Tolima that is strategically located in the center of 15 coffee producing villages in the region. With high standards for purchase and a rate typically 30 percent above market value, Forest has identified 30 to 45 independent producers in the area who are able to meet their high standards of quality and consistency from harvest to harvest. Black Condor combines the best of these growers in a coffee that is sweet and buttery, with caramel, honey, and citrus notes.