November 2013 Tasting Box

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George Howell Coffee Company

Acton, Massachussets

This month we’re excited to feature George Howell Coffee, a roaster who hardly requires an introduction. Founded in 2004, George Howell Coffee has become synonymous with high-quality coffees and the passionate people behind them. This month we are thrilled to bring you this Massachusetts based crew’s Kenya Mamuto. Howell first discovered this exceptional coffee during a purchasing trip to Kenya in 2005, where he scooped up the entire lot at auction. He was so pleased with the results that he forged an exclusive relationship the following year with the Mathagu family, who own and operate the Mamuto estate. For more than 40 years Walter Paul and Muthoni Mathagu have managed a 21-acre farm in the gently rolling hills of Kenya’s Kirinyaga region, just south of Mount Kenya. Climbing over 5,000 meters into the sky, the now-extinct volcano has blessed the surrounding areas with fertile red-orange soil that’s home to some of the most exceptional and expensive coffees in the world. A true family affair, the estate is now in its second generation of ownership under Patrick Mathagu and the farm’s name serves as a symbol of their commitment to keeping the operation in the family. The first two letters of the names Mathagu and Muthoni combine with the first two letters of the word “toto” - Swahili for children - to represent the past, present, and future of their estate.

Buy This Coffee

We feature truly small-batch, seasonal coffees. So there might not be any left. But that's a good thing! Only big corporate factories have the same stuff all year round.

  • Producer
    Mamuto farmed by Walter Paul and Muthoni Mathagu
  • Origin
    Kirinyaga, Kenya
  • Varieties
    SL-28, SL-34
  • Elevation
    1,545 meters above sea level
  • Process
    Washed
  • Our Notes
    Aromas of grapefruit and dark honey pave the way for a cup that's both intensely fruity and intensely savory, with bright tamarind and cherry balanced against deep, lingering flavors of oolong and buttered toast.

Detour Coffee Roasters

Dundas, Ontario

Look out, Costa Rica, there's a new micromill in town. Tired of sending their coffee to third-party mills, the Arrieta family has recently begun processing their primo beans at their very own mill, dubbed Vista al Valle. Now in its second year of operation, Vista al Valle has already garnered the prestigious Cup of Excellence award. To the coffee world, that's about equivalent to a rookie throwing a no-hitter in the World Series. The Arrieta’s actually own three farms–all located in Volcan–commonly referred to as Costa Rica’s bread basket. This particular cup comes from their La Casa property. This crop really impressed Ontario's Detour Coffee, who run one of the most eco-friendly, farmer-friendly roasteries around. At Vista al Valle, the Arrietas handle their beans from start to finish with no third-party processing, which Detour believes makes for a better, more controlled cup. Take one sip of this textured, balanced brew and you'll see – they're right.

Buy This Coffee

We feature truly small-batch, seasonal coffees. So there might not be any left. But that's a good thing! Only big corporate factories have the same stuff all year round.

  • Producer
    La Casa farmed by Oldemar Arrieta and family
  • Origin
    Lourdes de Naranjo, Alajuela, Costa Rica
  • Varieties
    Villa Sarchi
  • Elevation
    1,700 meters above sea level
  • Process
    Pulped-Natural
  • Our Notes
    Warm aromas of cinnamon and toffee and a dense, buttery mouthfeel complement red apple acidity and a sweetness reminiscent of maple and caramel.

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters

Dallas, Texas

Carlos Aguilera Franceschi is a member of the third generation of Franceschi’s to tend his farm, and you can taste that legacy in this delightful and complex cup. Named after Carlos' grandmother (the farm's original owner), Finca Carmen produces some of the best coffee Panama has to offer. Roaster Shannon Neffendorf of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters says Panamanian coffees are amongst his favorites right now, and this cup is a great example of why that’s the case. (In fact, this brew is so great its the first Panamanian coffee we have ever featured!) Carlos may be to the coffee born, but Shannon took a more circuitous path. Back in 2008, he left the corporate accounting world behind, rigged up a BBQ grill with a hand crank roaster, and started delivering his home-roasted beans like the neighborhood milk man. Since then, his coffees have become a Dallas institution, featured in many of Dallas' top restaurants, as well as in Shannon's custom-built European-style cafe. Ex-corporate life never tasted so good.

Buy This Coffee

We feature truly small-batch, seasonal coffees. So there might not be any left. But that's a good thing! Only big corporate factories have the same stuff all year round.

  • Producer
    Finca Carmen farmed by Carlos Aguilera Franceschi
  • Origin
    Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama
  • Varieties
    Caturra, Catuai, Typica
  • Elevation
    1,750 meters above sea level
  • Process
    Natural
  • Our Notes
    Aromas of raisins, brown sugar and roses open into a cup dense with red grape acidity and lingering flavors of dark rum and cacao.