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This is an estate grown organic Robusta, grown right alongside Arabica plants on the Kalibendo Estate. I don’t have much experience with robusta, but here’s what I’ve learned so far. First, organic robusta is very hard to find. The varietal was genetically created to be able to grow at low levels with high yields, at the expense of losing its good taste (think Florida tomato industry…) So most of it IS grown at low levels where pests are a problem. This also causes most robusta to be very small and a soft bean — tricky to roast and suscepitble to burning. Third, robusta does not have a lot of body to it and tastes “thin” and “rubbery” Fourth, it smells awful when you roast it and has quite a bit of chaff. Fifth, why even bother?
But if you’re like me, you’ve heard all about this elusive terrible robusta and are curious to see it first hand. So here is a good one for you to experiment with. It’s a rare size 18+ screen (in other words, the bean is a jumbo Colombia Supremo!) It’s an estate-grown organic robusta from Java, which along with India, boasts the reputation for the best robusta in the world. In my limited experience, Java robusta is best. And finally, it really isn’t all that bad, and has almost no chaff. You’ll have no problem roasting this in your home roasting units.
So here’s what you do with it. You almost always want to roast robusta dark. I’m taking this one to 414, about 15 seconds into second cracks (the 2nd cracks are late), but you could definitely go darker. There aren’t any complex undertones to unlock, so you might as well go for as much taste as you can and roast it into the 2nd cracks. Then, unless you want scoffed at by coffee snobs, you keep it to about 10-15% in your espresso blend to give it a nice edge and potency.
But the secret thing you can do with it is create a high-caffeine drip blend. Blend it with something light and sweet, like a Tanzania or a New Guinea. Roughly 50-50 and you get a cup of coffee that 1 — makes everyone extraordinarily cheerful and 2 — tastes different than what you’re used to, but is not offensive — just different.
Drink it 100% straight, and call me nuts, but in a pinch I could handle a cup of this. I’ve definitely had Brazils and Colombias that were far more unpleasant. The aroma is deep and intoxicating, the body is on the thin side, but not altogether missing. The flavor is that of a bitter coffee, but if you pair it with something like dark chocolate, it’s pretty dang good. The aftertaste is only mildly earthy. If anything, a feature that contributes nicely to a blend.
So there you have it. I don’t expect it to be a good seller, but it’s a robusta I can stand behind. If you’re curious or adventurous, go ahead and try a pound and let me know what you think.