There's an intriguing new project launching next week from the folks at Counter Culture Coffee. It's called “Variety: Bourbon”, an evolving product meant to explore the inherent characteristics found in a single coffee variety, regardless of county of origin. The Bourbon variety is prized for its sweet and clean cup characteristics, and known for its high quality, making it a fairly ideal choice for the first of several future CCC projects that will focus on variety over country of origin.
Counter Culture's initial offering of “Variety: Bourbon” is a blend of two distinct coffees, one from Finca Santa Elena in El Salvador, the other from Finca Nueva Armenia in Guatemala. In the future, this project will feature different coffees, some blended, some single origin, similar to CCC's ever-changing “Apollo” espresso blend. More information on the project is available here via CCC online.
If you're curious to try or buy “Variety: Bourbon” in a cafe setting, here's an (admittedly incomplete) list of some of the shops around the East Coast and Midwest that will be offering this coffee after its June 11th launch date:
*Everyman Espresso, NYC
*Not Just Coffee, Charlotte, NC
*Roast, Milwaukee, WI
*Empire State South, Atlanta, GA
*Condesa, Atlanta, GA
*Dose, Nashville, TN
*Barista Parlor, Nashville, TN
*Kudu, Charleston, SC
*Big Bear, Washington DC
*Zojo Cafe, Urbana, IL
CCC answers some questions concerning their new line of coffee:
Q: How long will the first version last?
A: A number of months: we're trying to make this as stable as possible, in part so that we can list the components on the label. Anticipate only 2 or 3 reformulations of Variety: Bourbon every year.
Q: So it will be available all year?
A: That's our goal! It's a challenge to source the increasingly rare Bourbon variety year round, but our coffee department is up for the challenge, and has secured some great Bourbon varietal coffees for the future. Nothing is certain in coffee, but our idea is to have this available all the time.
Q: Doesn't focusing on variety obscure the coffee's origin or the farmers?
A: Our “Source” line is about celebrating farms and their geographies (we always talk about the farm or the co-op, and locate the “source” on the map). In this case, we're just exploring a different aspect of coffee, its botanical variety (notice, a botanical illustration replaces the map on the bag). We maintain our commitment to transparency, traceability, and farmer celebration: this is not an attempt to obscure the farmer or the geography, but just to celebrate a slightly different aspect- variety?
Also worth checking out is this educational film on varieties, developed by Counter Culture for in-house training but now available for free on Vimeo. It includes a helpful biology review, and an in-depth look at the arabica species and its many varieties. If you've ever been curious about attending one of CC's Pro Series classes, this video offers a snapshot of that style of coffee higher education.