One of the most complicated and time-consuming tasks for any roaster is creating a distinct yet highly palatable espresso that can compliment any milk-based beverage while also being able to stand alone. Finding the right coffees to suit the espresso process and the appropriate proportion of each is a tedious endeavor resulting in a number of variables. Each of these variables has a direct influence on taste overall. This is why an espresso can sometimes be the product of almost a year’s worth of work. But through excellent sourcing and routine quality assurance, we have crafted a blend that truly represents the uniqueness of all our coffees while maintaining the traditional qualities of espresso we love.
Ursus Arctos was originally composed of two Guatemalan coffees: Antigua Hunapu and San Luis del Obispo. Last summer, I began experimenting with the crisp acidity of the San Luis del Obispo together with the rounded mouth feel and resonant creaminess of the Hunapu. As independent coffees, each extended a slight sweetness and a milk chocolate body, playing nicely into the qualities which makes Antigua a premier coffee producing region in Guatemala. But they also lacked the depth we wanted to display in our espresso. We were determined to match these clean, washed-processed Guatemalans with something that would leave a highly perceptible aroma and finish. Naturally-processed coffees tend to be more complex and have some beautiful, almost perfumed aromatics, something the washed Guatemalans were lacking.
As fall progressed, we had to decide which natural processed coffees we were going to use to slightly upset the balance we had created with our Guatemalans. We discovered two excellent El Salvadorian coffees through the Hi-U project. Hi-U is an organization whose mission is to provide only top-quality specialty coffee. Not only are these coffees specialty grade (the top 1%` of all Arabica coffee), but they are some of the highest quality of specialty-grade. Hi-U also implements processing techniques from the producer level that ensures traceability of their product. In the natural process, they ensure only red, ripe cherries are selected for cleaning and dried on raised patios to allow air circulation and as little contact with the cherry as possible. For green buyers like Augie’s, this is a coffee that speaks directly to us.
Both the El Salvador El Otimismo and the El Salvador San Jorje offered the best qualities of Bourbon a natural juiciness and piquant acidity, most reminiscent of citrus. The dry processing brings about an amazing blueberry quality of Ethiopian Harrar.
On a symbiotic level these coffees work best. Ursus Arctos is a well-defined espresso complemented by the dry fragrance of Tahitian Vanilla, cinnamon, and cherry, but also carrying delicious peach notes as well. Aromatically, the blueberry becomes dominant in the nose along with characteristics of jasmine. This espresso is characterized by elements of blueberries along, notes of tangy nectarine, and a warm buttery mouth feel. On the finish it delivers clean plum and a resonating cocoa aftertaste.
On espresso, we tend to profile coffees and roasts that best represent attributes we enjoy about them. For the washed coffees we may need to bring out the subtle chocolate qualities and emphasize them by pushing the roast further. This will create a more pleasant, thicker body to the espresso. Our naturally processed coffees often have a fruitier presence and we tend to take a different approach for these when roasting. Essentially, Ursus Arctos is an espresso which represents the best aspects of Augie’s assurance to quality sourcing, roasting, and brewing. But moreover, the objective behind Ursus Arctos is to find some kind of common ground in enjoying espresso. We want to deliver something accessible to the novice coffee drinker, but complex enough to stand out to the connoisseur. And after nearly a year of dedication to this concept, we've accomplished that.