There is something about a family-run company that warms your heart, isn’t there?
Well, okay, if you have watched Succession on HBO, you may have a slightly different view of what a family-run business could be, but as a general rule, they’re a good thing. We like them.
Which is one of the reasons that I was very excited to be reviewing Volcanica Coffee – a family-owned coffee roaster that focuses on exotic coffees, based in Atlanta. The family originates from Costa Rica which is where the passion for, and knowledge of, coffee was formed.
They have made it their mission to bring more exotic and flavorsome coffees to the US, and they now carry more than 150 different varieties – covering decaf, flavored, single-origin, estate, and peaberry coffees.
They source their beans from volcanic regions from all over the world – hence the name. The theory is that these regions produce some of the most distinct tasting coffee beans in the world, creating truly unique flavors.
That’s the theory, but it’s our job to see if it works in practice – let’s have a look at 5 of their coffees to see how they stack up in our Volcanica Coffee review.
Volcanica Costa Rican Reserve Tarrazu Coffee
Tasting notes: Nuts, Honey, and Caramel
Specifically, we’re heading to the Tarrazu region. With between 1200m -1700m altitude this area is particularly well known for producing full-bodied and finely acidic coffee beans – this one certainly lives up to that reputation.
The coffee trees are exposed to plenty of rainfall and cold temperatures at night, which helps the beans to develop a fuller palette, while the high altitude increases the acidity. The combination creates a really unique tasting coffee.
Tarrazu coffee is well thought of around the world, but unfortunately most of the time when you see Tarrazu, you are getting a coffee blend that only includes about 5% Tarrazu beans. Volcanica has produced this coffee with 100% pure Arabica Costa Rican Tarrazu beans.
This is a single-origin dark roast, which really enhances the acidity as well as the chocolate flavors. I used it with a drip coffee machine, and it made a wonderfully strong and full-bodied coffee. As well as chocolate, I also got strong hints of nuts and honey.
The thing you’ll notice most when you try this coffee is how silky the taste is, and how this is juxtaposed with an intense and bold flavor. It really does pack a punch, but at the same time is so smooth that it will leave you wanting more and more.
You can use this with almost any form of coffee, including espresso, but I would really aim to use it with a drip machine or a French press so that you get to experience the depth of the flavor.
Volcanica Dominican Red Honey Coffee
This is made with beans from the Jarabacoa area, which you will find around 500m above sea level – not quite on the scale of the Costa Rican coffee above, but these beans are still grown at high altitudes.
So, what is with the Red Honey? To be as brief as possible, it refers to the way that the coffee bean is removed from the fruit or cherry. The cherry consists of the skin, the bean, the parchment, the mucilage, and the pulp. It is the mucilage (a thick, honey-like substance) that we are interested in here. The two most common ways of removing the bean are with water, or by drying them out in the sun and then removing it mechanically – both remove the mucilage.
With all Honey processes, the cherries are peeled, but the flesh is left inside – the mucilage remains. The way Red Honey differs from the other forms of Honey processing (white, yellow, gold, and black) is down to how long the beans are left to dry. Red Honey is usually done in shade, which slows down the drying time.
This is all well and good, but what effect does this have on our cup of coffee? Well, this Dominican Red Honey Coffee is a fantastic example of what this process can produce. A truly memorable and unique taste – sweet and fruity, almost as if someone has added a spoonful of honey, with hints of strawberry.
It makes an amazing espresso – sweet, yet strong, smooth, yet powerful. It really is a wonderful coffee and one that you will be desperate to show off when you have people over for a drink.
Tasting notes: Stone Fruit, Strawberry
Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee – Blend
Tasting notes: Chocolate, Orange, and Lemon
Over to one of the most famous areas in the world for coffee production – Blue Mountain in Jamaica. Renowned all over the globe for producing one of the premium coffee beans, and generally at a price that reflects that!
What makes Blue Mountain coffee so special? Well, there is a unique climate up there – a burning sun (so hot that fire is a genuine risk), a misty cloud cover (giving the mountain a blue hue), the rich volcanic soil, and the high altitude of 1,800m. This all means that the trees and their fruit grow very slowly – producing coffee beans packed full of flavor.
Not only is the quality a big influence on the price, but it is also very scarce – producing only 0.1% of the amount of coffee Columbia produces. All coffee produced here is also protected by regulations of the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority which ensure the quality is upheld.
It is no surprise to see Volcanica offer Blue Mountain coffee, even if this one is ‘only’ a blend. You need to be careful of Blue Mountain blends as a general rule – they often include very little actual Blue Mountain coffee, and just use the name to sell substandard coffee.
That is not the case here though, with 30% pure Blue Mountain beans this blend is the only one that is approved by the Jamacia Coffee Board. You can see why – a fantastic and versatile coffee that is packed full of citrus flavors, with notes of chocolate underneath. It is absolutely bursting with flavor and before you’ve finished the cup you will be thinking about the next.
Volcanica also offers a 100% Blue Mountain Coffee – but the price may put you off! For the rest of us, this is a great coffee to treat yourself with.
Guatemala Peaberry Coffee
Tasting notes: Strawberry
We have tried to pick very different coffees for this list, to highlight the range that Volcanica offers, and this is another wonderful example of their dedication to providing some of the more difficult-to-find coffees – the type you won’t necessarily find on the shelves of your local store.
This offering from Guatemala is a peaberry coffee – that refers to the type of bean itself, rather than where it comes from or the fruit. Peaberries are the result of a naturally occurring mutation where only one bean is produced, rather than two. This can happen with any variety of coffee beans, from any region.
The great appeal of peaberry coffees is that, as there is only one bean there, they are thought to contain a much stronger flavor and, as a result, are often much sweeter.
As they are smaller than regular beans, it takes a lot more skill to roast them well. Fortunately, the guys at Volcanica know what they are doing in this regard!
This is a medium roast. Which is perfect to bring all of those delightful fruity flavors to the fore. It is another coffee that works best in a drip machine or a pour-over – these methods help to draw out the taste even more and produce a great full-bodied cup of coffee. The taste is intense, but also incredibly smooth. If you haven’t tried a peaberry coffee before, this is a great one to start with.
Espresso Dark Roast Coffee
Tasting notes: Sweet Caramel
The fact that this is one of the more common coffees is also represented in the way Volcanica markets this. All of the other coffees that we have covered have extensive write-ups about the origins of the beans, how they roasted etc. Not this one.
This is 100% Arabica bean coffee, and it is recommended for use with “super-automatic espresso makers”. What else do you need to know…?
Don’t get me wrong – this is still a fantastic drink, and makes such a great espresso. It is sweet, light, and even a little spicy. It is delicate in terms of acidity but has a strong intensity to the flavor. It makes a great cappuccino.
This is Volcanica showing off, more than any of their ‘more exciting’ coffees. This is them producing something brilliant with something common – the true art of roasting to perfection.
With many of their other coffees, the hard labor is done by the bean and they enhance it. This one is all about them mastering their craft, and I urge you to give it a go.
Volcanica Coffee roasts some of the most wonderful coffees in the world. They source beans from some of the most amazing coffee-growing areas, which helps them to create some truly brilliant coffees for almost any budget.
Do not understate the role that they play in this though – they really know what they are doing when it comes to roasting, so even their cheaper offerings are fantastic and well worth giving a go.
If you consider yourself to be a coffee lover, then you really need to explore the Volcanica website – we have barely scratched the surface of what they produce, but hopefully, we have provided you with a great starting point for you to begin your search for your next favorite coffee.