10 Apr Coffee Extraordinaire
Just stepping in the doors, you know you are in the right place. The earthy scents of caramel, the rich aroma of chocolate, and a slightly twangy edge to it all, and you’ve found Airship Coffee Roasters. Zephan and Mark are both smiling when I enter. They have a surprise waiting for me.
These enthusiastic owners have set up a surprise coffee cupping, just for me. They have laid out four very diverse coffees, from all over the world, with different processing methods. They are patient and thorough in their explanations with me, as I dive into a world of exotic smells and flavors.
Mark shows me how they rank a coffee: flavor/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, sweetness, clean cup, and overall. We smelled first the whole beans for each coffee. Then Zephan ground each, and we smelled again. Yes, the scents had changed. After that came the hot water. We let the grounds form a crust on top (about one minute) then I had the privilege of breaking the crust. With my spoon, I inexpertly pushed the grounds away from me, releasing the scent into the room. And once again, the scent had changed, developed, deepened. Zephan cleaned away the grounds, exposing the dark, rich liquid beneath. It was time to taste.
In order to taste like an expert, you must suck the coffee into your mouth in a spray, mixing as much air in with it as possible. I was terrible at this, but I did my best. The flavors were so complex that it was almost overwhelming. We continued tasting even after the coffee had cooled, as even that will subtly affect the flavor.
One coffee in particular changed with each step of the journey. It was different each time I returned to it, and in a good way. But the star of the show was a natural processed bean that, no joking, has a fruity profile. The dried beans smelled like blackberries, but the finished coffee had a watermelon candy flavor. It changed forever my assumptions about what coffee can be.
Airship roasts all of their coffees from around the world right here in Bentonville, Arkansas, but their flagship cafe is Mama Carmen’s in Fayetteville. When you sign up for a New South CSA share in Fayetteville, choose Mama Carmen’s as your pick-up location. They will have pick-ups at their location on Fridays from 4pm to 6pm (2850 N. College Ave). It is also the perfect time to pick up some world-class coffee for the weekend ahead.
Want to learn more? Visit their website here.