Review: Metropolis Coffee Company // Colombia Alto Palmar-Viotá

Review: Metropolis Coffee Company // Colombia Alto Palmar-Viotá

Hello once again, my coffee friends. Welcome back to my table, here in the corner of this cafe.

The last few weeks have been pretty crazy around the country with barista competitions and brewers’ cups and that one thing they did out in Portland – what was that again? United States Barista Championship or something like that?

(A very sincere congratulations to all of the winners, by the way – good luck in Vienna!).

It’s been a little hectic past few weeks here at the Table too: A Table in the Corner of the Cafe finally came under my complete ownership, we did a major redesign of the site, introduced advertising, started featuring guest reviews, drank all of the Stumptown Coffee that Chicago currently has to offer, all the while trying to wrap my head around the bizarre fluctuation in the Table’s popularity. April’s been dizzying!

So, today, now that the waters are starting to calm a bit, I wanted to get back to basics and review coffee from an old friend: Metropolis Coffee Company. Being a Chicagoan, it’s really easy to take Metropolis for granted, because they’re practically everywhere in this city. I think I may have mentioned this in a tweet, that I all too often forget just how great Metropolis is just because it’s so accessible.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, Metropolis Coffee Company is a first-rate roasting operation; it pains me that I take it for granted so often, but it’s nice that this is the company that I consider “home.” After being away from Chicago for so long, diving into coffees from Portland, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, NYC, Nashville, and everywhere in between, it’s nice to come home to Metropolis every now and then, kick off my shoes, and relax with some seriously specialty coffee.

Ready for a small breather? Feel free to pull up a chair.

A couple weeks ago now, a guest writer, Claire, wrote a review of Heart Coffee Roasters’ Colombia Alto Palmar that I really enjoyed reading and sharing with all of you out there in cyberspace. While in The Wormhole one day, I saw that they were brewing Metropolis Coffee Company’s version of the same coffee, so I pounced on the opportunity to compare my notes with her’s.

This region, in the south of Cundinamarca state, has been producing coffee for well over a century. According to local history, the first seedlings in the area were planted in 1883 by pioneer Nicolas Saenz in a farm named Liberia. As Claire mentioned in her review, over the years the Viotá area has suffered the effects of various political and civil conflicts. Most recently, between 1994 and 2004, the region was almost entirely controlled by armed militants. This seriously affected coffee production, with a great number of producers forced to abandon their farms and move to Viotá town in search of safety. Over the past five years, however, the security situation has improved vastly as a result of the government’s campaign against guerrilla groups, and now peace has returned to the region. Coffee farmers have been able to move back to their plantations, and are now once again producing high-quality coffee.

the basics:

Origin: Cundinamarca, Viotá, Colombia
Farm: APROCAVI Growers’ Association Viotá
Elevation: 1400-1800 meters above sea level
Cultivars: Typica, Caturra, Castillo
Process: washed, patio dried
Certifications: standard

the coffee:

I love the aroma of this coffee. It’s sweet and inviting, with notes of caramel, honey, and roasted almond, but there’s a playful twist of citrus in it. It welcomes you in, but stops you at the door to warn you that “the house is a little messy right now.” You don’t pay any mind, though – this friend always exaggerates a little clutter.

The first sip is pretty decadent with bold flavors of caramel and strawberry wine. It’s sweet, slightly drying, and glides across the roof of your mouth over a palate-coating syrupy bed. There’s even a slight touch of plum and red grape.

As the cup cools, it’s almost like a different coffee as it suddenly becomes very tart and tannic, though it still retains a syrupy honey sweetness (which saves it from being overbearingly tart). This is a really juicy cup of coffee now, like fresh pineapple juice with a bit of lime squeezed into it. There’s a slight tinge of sweet citrus, like tangerine, and the crispness of a Granny Smith apple.

Light body; syrupy, palate-coating mouthfeel; high, sparkling acidity; dry finish.

the bottom line:

This is something we’ve been seeing over and over and over again at the Table: Colombia is the up-and-coming region for coffee production. Of all the coffee-producing countries in the world, Colombia has the most to prove and the most prejudice to overcome. However, as we’ve seen over the past few months, a lot of the stuff that’s coming out of Colombia has been fabulous. This Alta Palmar-Viota, from Metropolis Coffee Company, is certainly no exception – it offered a fairly complex cup, a lot of flavor, and a pleasant overall experience. It’s smooth and juicy with flavors of caramel, red wine, honey, lime, and pineapple that finishes crisp and dry.

As I mentioned earlier, as a Chicagoan it’s all too easy to forget about Metropolis just because their coffee is in 75% of the cafes and restaurants in this city, but it sure is nice to come home to them every once in a while. It’s a privilege that a company like Metropolis is the Ace up my sleeve. Thank you, Colombia Alto Palmar-Viota, for reminding me how truly great Metropolis Coffee Company is.

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