Brazilian coffee roasted by Blue Bottle in San Francisco. I must say, I'm continually dissapointed with the beans I get from Blue Bottle. The small company draws huge crowds to its tiny stand in Hayes Valley all week long, and I love getting espressos and cappuccinos there myself. The company's Mint Plaza cafe is also a monster draw, especially after the NYT profiled it for a $20,000 siphon machine it imported from Japan to make coffee. The place has become a mecca for foodies, as well as coffee geeks, for the machinery, expertise and offerings. One of the best shots of espresso I've ever had came from Blue Bottle - during the Golden Glass wine & food event in San Francisco a few months ago, Blue Bottle brought two machines - a La Marzocco GS/3, the holy grail of home-use espresso machines, and a manual machine, who's manufacturer is slipping my mind. Manual means the barista pulls a lever that dictates how much water goes through the grounds. It takes considerable skill to be able to make a good shot with a lever machine, and this one certainly showcased both the barista's skill and the quality of the beans. It was an Ethiopian coffee from Misty Valley (what an evocative name) and it was so sweet, perfumed and delicious, that I made my non-coffee drinking friend try it, and even he was surprised at how exotic good single-origin espresso could taste.
So, that being said...This coffee, the Nossa Senhora de Fatima....just isn't up to par. The beans look like they've been roasted very dark, and as a result, most of the flavor profile is something other than what you might expect from a quality single-origin coffee. It should taste smoother, have some fruit flavors. Instead, it tastes like a cross between rubber and pencil led. Yuk. The best thing I can say about this coffee is that it takes milk well, and in a cappuccino, you don't notice the bad flavors as much. It tastes more like dark chocolate. Well, maybe baking chocolate, the really bitter stuff. But diluted with milk.