Black & White Coffee Roasters is a roaster based in the Raleigh area of North Carolina owned by Kyle Ramage (the 2017 US Barista Champion) and Lem Butler (the 2016 US Barista Champion). They’ve been on my list to try ever since watching the Baristas documentary a few years back, which featured both of them. When I heard about their El Paraiso coffees, I knew the time to try them could wait no longer!
Fermented coffees are becoming the new rage because of the unique and intense flavor notes the process can produce. Anaerobic (oxygen-free) fermentation involves processing the coffee as normal (washed, natural, etc.) and then storing the coffee in a fully sealed and oxygen deprived fermentation tank for 24-72+ hours.
This specific coffee was part of a three coffee set. All three of the coffees were the same original coffee, but each underwent different types of anaerobic processing. Diego Bermudez, owner of Finca El Paraiso, processed the coffee in different ways and documented all of them. These three were each fermented differently (which was the only difference between the three different coffees) and the difference is astounding. Trying the three coffees side-by-side, the two things I was struck by was:
- I couldn’t believe these were all the same coffee,
- I couldn’t believe the incredibly strong fruit notes that were able to come from the coffee.
Of the three (Lemon Lime, Red Plum and Tropical), the Tropical was hands down my favorite, which is why I am featuring it in a full review below.
The coffee begins with a sweet, incredibly fruity, pineapple-filled fragrance that bursts of tropical fruit as you begin to brew. The flavor was hard to explain because it was something unlike anything I have ever tasted before with coffee. It was incredibly sweet and fruit-toned with notes of fruit punch, tropical fruit (pineapple, mango) and some subtle fruit notes. As the coffee cooled it also took on the personality of a tropical black tea. The coffee had some great brightness and a syrupy, silky body that was otherwise pretty light. The fruity sweetness in the coffee was stronger than I have ever tasted before in a coffee. The finish was sweet, bright and full of the lingering tropical fruit notes.
The coffee was incredibly unique and complex. The fruit notes continued to evolve throughout each sip and as the coffee cooled.
The Bottom Line
The El Paraiso coffees were some of the most unique and exciting coffees I’ve ever tried with Tropical leading the way. As Alex Wallace shared on Instagram, they made me re-evaluate what a “fruit bomb” coffee truly can be. If you haven’t had a chance to try a fermented coffee yet, you have to make it a priority to give it a try.