What’s Brewing – Panama Carmen Estate

English: View of the Rio Caldera from the home...

English: View of the Rio Caldera from the homemade bridge near Volcan Baru national park, Boquete. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I am hesitant to call something a good all-rounder, this is probably the most apt description for this variety from Panama’s Carmen Estate. This tag often carries with it the connotation of being solid without ever reaching any great heights. I don’t think that is probably a fair description of this crop, however is something I keep coming back to in trying to describe it for this review.

As I mentioned in my previous Coffee post, the expectation for this “honey” processed lot was for a fairly full-bodied brew with reasonably low to medium acidity. A little on the Carmen Estate from Ministry Grounds:

Carmen Estate is situated in the Paso Ancho Valley, which is located in the Chiriqui province, close to the border with Costa Rica in western Panama. Paso Ancho Valley lies on the western slopes of the Baru Volcano. The Baru is an inactive volcano located between the Boquete and Volcan-Candela areas. At 3,500 meters above sea level, the Baru is the highest point in Panama. The Baru Volcano has provided very rich, deep and fertile soils to the Paso Ancho Valley micro region. This coupled with regular rainfall and appropriate altitude are a key factor in the outstanding quality portrayed by the coffee produced in this micro region.

Expectations aside, how did it actually taste?

The Whack

– Panama Carmen Estate
– Altitude: 1250–1500mtrs
– Crop Year: 2013
– Varietal: Catuai Caturra Typica
– Processing: Washed

Latte; Hario V60 Pourover; Aeropress

Milk course – When brewed with milk, there is enough body to carry the drink, and a nice creamy finish, however the low acidity and overly subtle fruit flavours result in a fairly middle of the road experience overall.

V60 – Hints of stone fruit sweetness in this form of brewing; really came to life after most of the heat had come out of the brew. A fairly long, subtle finish. I suspect this would make a great cold brew.

Aeropress – Performed pretty well in this method. Noticeably low acidity, with undertones of the fruitiness seen in the V60 above. Both the V60 and Aeropress would be my preferred methods of consumption with this particular varietal.

Conclusion; Know this
Overall, a solid performer across most forms of brewing. A couple of points to note however. Firstly, the sweetness of the brew increased significantly as it cooled, and perhaps would be well suited to a cold brew. In addition, it would probably work quite well in a blend, providing some body in the middle and creaminess to the finish. I’m of the opinion it just needs a little more fruitiness to drive the overall flavour profile.

Rating 3.5/5

Wait…there’s more
Thankfully, brewing the Carmen Estate overlapped with another batch of roasting which included this Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a variety I have always found brings a lot of fruit to the cup.

Hence, a blend was created with 40% Carmen Estate, 40% Yirgacheffe, and 20% Indonesian Blue Batak. The Yirgacheffe added a great burst of fruitiness, with blueberry and lemon/lime flavours, whereas the Blue Batak provided a hint of spice, which together, improved the milk based drink significantly and really packed more sweetness into the V60 and Aeropress.

So to conclude, the Carmen Estate is certainly an enjoyable drink as a single origin, however is at its best when part of a blend with varietals that will provide a little more acidity and add to the overall flavour profile.

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