In about five hours from the time of this writing, I will be a married man. After a two and a half year courtship, I am marrying the woman who has truly become my best friend, Ashley.
With my being the founder of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and a former member of the coffee industry, and with her being the founder of Life’s a Grind, a manager at Starbucks, and a member of the family that owns Bolivia’s Best Coffee, coffee obviously plays a huge role in our lives and we wanted to celebrate our love of coffee during our wedding celebration.
So, the whole wedding will be coffee-themed. We have old coffee tins, brewing devices, jute bags, and coffee beans as decorations and, as a very special wedding favor for our guests, we tapped Passion House Coffee Roasters to create a custom wedding blend.
As a guest of the Table, I’m going to share some of this blend with you – digitally.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today I’ll be sipping a cup of Union Blend, an exclusive custom blend which was roasted by my good friends at Passion House Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
The coffees that make up the Union Blend come from three farms in El Salvador and Brazil: Finca Las Nubes in Santa Ana, El Salvador, Fazenda Rainha in Mogiana, Brazil, and Santa Lucia Estate in Carmo de Minas, Brazil.
finca las nubes:
The coffee of El Salvador is known for its old-growth heirloom Bourbon variety, and was first cultivated in the early 1800’s. El Salvador, compared to its counterparts in the region, has preserved a substantial amount of Bourbon varieties due to its Civil War in the 1980’s. During the years El Salvador had a Civil War, other countries were introducing Catimors and Catimor hybrids which have high yields, are resistant to diseases (like rust), but are sub-par in terms of cup quality.
Las Nubes was purchased by Isidro Batlle in the 1920’s and remains in the family. He liked to purchase high-altitude farms like Las Nubes and Kilimanjaro. This year the lots were separated by tablones or the different plots within the farm at different altitudes. The higher altitude tablones cupped out better. The cherry selection at Las Nubes is impeccable. They process only ripe cherries with a deeper red, but not overripe.
Fazenda Rainha, which has been in the family since 1890, had its 106th coffee crop this year. It is located exactly on Minas Gerais state line and has characteristics from the mountainous areas of Mogiana and from Sul de Minas. With a total area of 480 hectares, Fazenda Rainha has a coffee plantation area of 190 hectares. On this farm everything is done manually since its topography does not allow any kind of mechanization. Social and environmental sustainability is considered very important here. The owner has a program of planting native species to keep a better ecological balance. The farm has a school van to take children to school, a club and an official size soccer field for the employees’ benefit. There are 25 houses, all with modern facilities. The wastewater is treated to avoid polluting the stream that runs across the farm.
This farm is still producing “Bourbon” coffees, famous for their exceptional quality. In the region there are bourbon trees 107 years old. The beans are harvested on a sheet and prepared by the ‘pulped natural’ process that separates the greens. After harvest the beans receive the maximum attention possible so as not to lose any of the body and cup qualities that the region is known for.
Santa Lucia is a 205 acre farm within the Carmo de Minas micro region featuring fertile lands and rugged terrain with gorgeous coffee plantations cultivated at high altitudes that vary between 900 and 1,500 meters. Although sunny weather prevails, temperatures are mild and rainfall is distributed uniformly over the year. This exceptional terroir is the result of privileged natural features allied to careful coffee husbandry practices carried out with efficiency and devotion by smallholders. The environmental and social responsibility of the partner farms are among the main concerns of CarmoCoffees. The company prides itself that the production of its quality coffees is based on preservation of the local ecosystem and strict compliance with laws and regulations that promote good quality of life for workers.
origin: Palo de Campana, Santa Ana, El Salvador // Mogiana, Brazil // Carmo de Minas, Brazil
farm: Finca Las Nubes // Fazenda Rainha // Santa Lucia Estate
elevation: 1550 – 1600 // 1400 // 1100 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon // Yellow Bourbon // Yellow Bourbon
process: fully washed, patio dried // pulped natural // pulped natural
The aroma coming out of the cup is absolutely incredible. Very fragrant, sweet, aromatic, decadent—massive cocoa, caramel, cinnamon, brown sugar, Tupelo honey, rose hips, freshly baked raisin bread…
The flavor kicks off with a belly-warming taste of savories, sweets, and baked goods. Creamy dulce de leche, saltwater taffy, brown sugar, caramel, and chocolate ganache greet the palate up front, immediately setting a precedent for the rest of the cup. It’s going to be really hard for the finish to live up to my expectations just based on the flavor immediately post-brew.
But, boy, does it ever.
As it starts cooling off, the mouthfeel changes from smooth and creamy to fleshy and and marshmallowy. A soft and mellow mandarin acidity emerges, streaking down the sides of the tongue. That citrus acidity is accompanied by juicy notes of stone and pomme fruits—bright, crisp pink lady apple, white grape, plum, nectarine, peach, pear, currant, cranberry, raspberry, and a smack of cashew in the finish of each sip.
Full body; marshmallow mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
As I mentioned, this is a very exclusive custom blend that was created specifically for my wedding. However, I would be remiss not to urge you to look into the three coffees that comprise the Union Blend, all of which are delicious and all of which are available for purchase through the Passion House Coffee website: Brasil Santa Lucia, Brasil Rainha Microlot, and El Salvador Las Nubes #11. Furthermore, if you have an upcoming special occasion and you want to provide your guests with a unique favor to remember the day by, I would suggest reaching out to Passion House or another locally-owned roaster like Passion House to discuss creating a custom blend.
Ashley’s and my many, many sincere thanks to Joshua, Shannon, John, and Brian at Passion House Coffee for going out of their way to create such a special offering for our special day. We are very honored and privileged to call you guys friends.
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