This is going to be quite a lengthy review, so I’m just going to get right into it. This coffee, Butterfly Kiss, is a blend comprised of two of 2014’s most spectacular coffees: Costa Rica Las Lajas and a natural Ethiopia Chelelektu. I’ve had both of these coffees here at the Table and both of them are absolutely off the charts, so I can’t even imagine what they taste like together.
Check out the video from the Canadian coffee subscription service, The Roasters Pack, in which De Mello Palheta founder and roastmaster, Felix Cha, explains his inspiration for the Butterfly Kiss blend.
COSTA RICA LAS LAJAS:
Dona Francisca and Don Oscar Chacon of Las Lajas Micromill are third generation coffee producers in their family. They inherited their farms from their grandparents and are known for being one of the first to process high-quality Honeys and Naturals in Central America and for participating in the Cup of Excellence auction in 2009.
Las Lajas is an organic micromill located in Sabanilla de Alajuela in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. Organic coffee in Costa Rica is almost non-existent and with this caliber of cup makes it one of a kind; they believe in the preservation of the environment hence their organic practices. Las Lajas processes coffee from their family farms’; these lots are fully traceable and separated by day. Water use is minimal since coffee is not washed. During the harvest Francisca will measure the brix contents in the coffee cherry to determine the optimal time to pick their coffee. 21 – 22% brix content has been the maximum they’ve seen.
Las Lajas carries several distinct processes from this mill. For today’s coffee the “yellow honey” process was employed—this honey process of leaving 100% of the mucilage on in all “levels” of honey is distinctive to Las Lajas. This just shows that terminology can mean various things region to region and farm to farm.
Buying from Ethiopia continues to be a challenge. The cupping table always shows some amazing coffees; however, buying through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange continues to be difficult it you require some traceability or back story with the coffees. You have to become a detective. Good thing I’m becoming quite good at spotting the clues.
This coffee comes from around 500 small holders who hand pick the cherries, and is grown at around 1850-2000 metres’ altitude (on average). These small holders then sell the freshly picked cherries to the Chelelektu mill, which is located in the Kochere zone just outside the town of Chelelektu.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the “Butterfly Kiss,” from De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters in Toronto, Ontario. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia // Sabanilla de Alajuela, Costa Rica
farm: Chelelektu Washing Station // Finca San Luis
producer: smallholder farmers // Oscan Chacon
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange // N/A
elevation: 1800 – 2000 // 1300 – 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom // Caturra, Catuai
process: natural // semi-washed, patio dried
method: Hario V60
I haven’t gotten a butterfly kiss since I was a little boy, but I do remember what they feel like; and this coffee’s aroma is a fantastic representation of that sensation. It is soft, genteel, delicate, complex, and it tickles the tip of the nose with notes of lilac and rose petal, red berries, and milk chocolate.
My first few sips of the coffee present my palate with a flavor that is the perfect embodiment of its aroma and of its name—light, airy, complex, intricate, delicate. A very lightly creamy texture spreads over the tongue, and soft notes of vanilla ice cream, honey, and cocoa play out.
As the cup cools off, the coffee becomes even more pleasurable. As the profile up front plays out, more flavors are introduced in each sip: strawberry, peach, nectarine, graham cracker, almond, and a silky bouquet of floral aromatics that play out in the finish of each sip.
Light body; creamy mouthfeel; berry acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
In terms of profile and texture, this coffee is exactly what I was hoping it would be in light of its name. It is light, airy, soft, gentle; the word that Felix Cha used to describe his blend was “charming”—it’s certainly fitting, and an accurate summation of the coffee.
Moreover, however, De Mello Palheta’s Butterfly Kiss is absolutely delicious and a near-perfect sipping experience; just about as close to perfect as a coffee can come, really.
It is very charming. And it is very lovely. And it is very likely the best coffee I’ll have all year.