Coffee Tasting: Decaf Santos

By | Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Once again I visited the wonderful Atkinsons Coffee shop and purchased a new coffee (to my taste buds) for tasting. This time I selected a decaf, and I hear some apparent coffee purists cringe at the very thought of a drink without the apparent caffeine kick[1], and went for the Brazillain bean Decaf Santos.

Santos is named after the port in which it is shipped from, as with most Brazilian beans, and is an Arabica from the Sau Paulo region of Brazil. I did a brief internet search on the bean after my tasting and discovered that there is some contention, some have it as a strong bean, others insist Brazilians are smooth and mild ‘to the cup’ which sounds like a gross generalisation. The general feeling is that the Santos is a bean deserving of a medium roast and is strong in acidity. The internet also cautions against using this bean for “modern methods” of production, by which I believe they mean coffee machines, no doubt it is better suited to traditional Moroccan styles, I used a cafetiere.

Atkinsons, and the skilled roasters they keep working there, roast this bean to a rich dark colour, giving it a non-internet approved dark finish, and it is to their credit that they do so as this bean is worthy of that challenge. They also manage to reduce some of the inherent acidity as all I could detect was a slight edge of bitterness in the aftertase, a non-too-unfamiliar effect for me as I like my coffee strong so put a little more bean to water than most others. I would actually put the lack of acidity or bitterness in this bean that I tasted down to the skill of the roasters at Atkinsons as once again I have to say they know how to get the very beast from their beans[2].

The Taste

[Please note this is not a professional tasting guide, just an enthusiast, I have used language that is in the register of food & drink tasting only to sound coherent, even if there is some debate as to whether this is fully cogent]

The first few sniffs of the coffee, both before and just after adding water, gave me an impression of dark chocolate that was hidden amongst the very strong notes of licorice with a touch of roasted hazelnut on the after scent.

The taste of this coffee is strong and full-bodied, it almost wants to kick your senses alive, that dark chocolate impression becomes more of a feeling in the taste and there is definitely an impression of spices hovering in the background. I was unable to exactly lock down what the spices were but it was reminiscent of maybe roasted cinnamon or burnt nutmeg (maybe I am just dreaming of an Xmas break), this was distinctly an impression as opposed to an effect.

Once I had enjoyed an espresso or two I moved on to trying this bean with milk and found it to be quite wonderful. Those rich notes really shine through and I would imagine that with the right strength of cup it would make a truly awe-inspiring latte (my personal preference is 2 parts coffee to 3 milk with latte, but I know others like a much lighter fraction).

[1] Those of you in the know will understand that caffeine does not in fact give you an energy boost, this is a misnomer, it in facts inhibits the work of a receptor in the brain triggering, eventually, a release of adrenalin, which is the energy kick you get. Its action is to suppress not invigorate.

[2] This was supposed to be “best” from their beans, but beast works just as well, and thanks to @coffeehopper on Twitter for thinking I had some trace of Genius.

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