While on a trip to Austin, Texas, friends of mine who run specialty clothing and accessories boutique Parts and Labour took me out for coffee and introduced me to Cuvee Coffee. At the time, I wasn’t as deeply into coffee as I’ve become, but the experience spawned the realization that coffee can have nuances and flavor past “dark” or “full-bodied.” I mean, I had been drinking La Colombe for years so I was under the belief that coffee should taste like what I’ve come to understand as a “heavy roast” profile. Some people say “burnt,” but that’s more pejorative. My next visit to Austin a full year later, we visited Cenote where they serve Cuvee and this time it made a major impression. Life-altering, if I can be dramatic. I wanted this coffee all day, every day and so has begun my coffee journey. While La Colombe is considered specality coffee I prefer to say that Cuvee was my “first” foray into the third wave of coffee. Cuvee was my gateway drug. And that’s why I’m writing about a few bags today.
Types of Cuvee Coffee
So far the Decaff Spicewood 71 has been my favorite decaf of all the coffee’s we’ve tried. It sounds strange but I pick up hints of smoked brisket in the beans (then again, I’m also a BBQ fanatic). I’m told that sometimes the way that decafs are processed, a certain meat-like flavor can be imparted on the beans. To clarify, it’s not like I’m chomping into a slice of my smoked brisket but there are “notes” of the smokiness. Cuvee writes that the Spicewood decaf will be “sweet and delicious with a full body.” I didn’t taste the sweet — but I’m searching for a sugary sweet so maybe there is a sweet that I’m not sensing — but it is extremely delicious. For me I taste savory, which would go with the meat, and maybe some kind of smoked cayenne pepper. The body is full but not overpowering. It does teeter on the edge, but it hits the spot for this guy. One last thing, I really like the smell of this coffee ground. I’m almost tempted to buy a bag and grind a few beans at a time to keep the scent in the house.
I could see this coffee being a house coffee almost anywhere. By which I mean its flavor profile is accessible and easy to drink: dark enough to win over a crowd but not French or Italian roast. To me the overriding smell is a beautiful but subtle melon, like honeydew. Cuvee’s description reads: “Melon fades to toffee and caramel. Citrus balances a chocolate body.” I can taste the intial sweetness (where the melon and toffee come in) and am left with a well-balanced taste of what one would expect from a great cup of coffee.
The San Jose Ocana of the Bourbon varietal is something to behold and the real standout of the three in taste. I relate the sweetness here to a really good homemade cookie. It’s not direct, but my comparison was a really smooth and light vanilla soy milk. Sweet, slightly nutty, and very silky. Cuvee writes on the bag: “White grape acidity, toffee, silky body that fades to a vanilla finish” so maybe I was, in some capacity, close? This coffee is a joy to drink. The “mouthfeel” (to cop a fancy coffee word) gives a light coating that goes down easy and leaves you with just a touch of brightness. That must be the white grape acidity. If you like the experience of sitting witha good cup of coffee, as well as the flavors, this cup is for you.
I prefer to pour over a beehive dripper or cold brew with a 24 hour steep.
I love the Cuvee bags. They are so pretty and the collector in me wants to keep these framed or on display somewhere. I’m extremely happy with the purchase and feel that the value for the dollar spent is beyond reasonable considering some shops charge $5 to $7 more for a 12 oz. bag. Living in NJ, we do get burned on the shipping both in the time it takes to arrive at our door and added cost, but it’s a fair trade.
In addition to these three bags we purchased, I picked up two more at the Nolita Mart in NYC. I’ve yet to truly sample them in an at home setting. To write about them would be slightly premature. I did have an iced coffee of the Las Mingas and it was shockingly thick and really, really strong — almost like a cold brew. Whether that was due to the brewing method or the beans is unknown to me yet.
Over all, I’m exceedingly pleased with the quality and variety of Cuvee’s beens. Knowing how much I like an Ethopian I’m looking forward to trying theirs next time: The Ethopian Cuberow!