Our second box arrived just before Christmas (perfect timing!) and we've been loving trying three more artisan coffees across the festive period.
What have we been drinking?
FINCA BOSQUE LYA
STEAMPUNK COFFEE ROASTERS
Producer: Lya Castaneda
Region: Santa Ana, El Salvador
Notes of... cocoa, nougat, nuts
Finca Bosque Lya achieved fame in speciality coffee circles when it took first place in the 2004 Cup of Excellence. Whilst the competition's focus is all about cupping, if extra points were awarded for a farm's beauty then Bosque Lya would be in an even stronger position.
This is 96-hectare farm- 64 hectares of which are dedicated to coffee and the balance being left as natural rainforest. In many parts of the farm, it is difficult to recognise what is pure forest and what isn't, since so many shade trees are used.
There is an abundance of wildlife including birds such as hummingbirds, Orioles and hawks, and many migratory species. Mammals include wild cats, armadillos, deer and possum. There are endless beautiful flowers including colourful rare orchids and epiphytes that grow on branches of the trees.
The views from this farm are also jaw-dropping, with the mountains and volcanoes of west El Salvador and Guatemala on the horizon. The towering El Chingo Volcano takes centre stage in this dramatic scene.
ISLAND ROASTED ARTISAN COFFEE
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra
Region: Tambopata Valley, Peru
Notes of... chocolate, hazelnut, floral
Shade grown in the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of 1600-1800 metres amongst the most beautiful flora and fauna of the Tambopata Valley, this coffee is traditionally farmed and produced without the use of pesticides or chemicals.
The coffee beans are first fed and washed by pure spring waters and then harvested by hand by local indigenous Quechuan and Aymara speaking families who have worked the area for generations in harmony with the land.
This coffee has won several awards: in 2013 it came second out of 51 entries in the Rainforest Alliances's Cupping for Quality, held at the Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Lab in Long Beach California.
In 2012 it was one of the best coffees of the year in the Roasters Guild Competition. It won first place in the National CafA expo awards in Lima and was the coffee used by the third place winner in the UK barista final.
FINCA LOS MANGOS
ISLAND ROASTED ARTISAN COFFEE
Varietal: Pacas, Catuai
Producer: Leidy Chinchilla
Region: La Labor, Ocotepeque, Honduras
Notes of... honey, cream
This coffee is part of an initiative from one of Island Roasters green bean suppliers to match growers with roasters to form direct trade relationships which benefit the grower in the form of getting the highest price for their coffee (considerably more than the FAIRTRADE rate).
The roaster gains exclusivity to some amazing micro-lot coffees that may have otherwise been mixed with other coffees in co-ops. This is truly sustainable trade.
This is the second year Island have been working on this farm and this year's crop is even better than last. Leidy Chinchilla inherited the farm from her grandmother, her main income is from coffee but she also produces fruit such as bananas, limes and mangos.
She grows Pacas and Catui varietals which are shade grown at around 1200 m in the rich volcanic soil. When at optimum ripeness, cherries are carefully picked by hand and are transported to COCAFELOL where they are wet processed for 24 hours. Drying is in greenhouses, mechanical dryers and patios.
I literally find it mind-blowing to be able to find out so much information about the coffee I'm drinking. For me, it makes the drinking experience all the richer for understanding the heritage of the coffee, who has produced it and what flavour notes to look our for.
I can honestly say that each coffee we've tried from Blue Coffee Box has been delicious in its own right - and each stands alone with individual flavours, aftertaste, scents etc. This box contained the fourth, fifth and sixth coffee for us to try, and all six we've tasted I would happily drink again - superior to most coffee-shop coffees and certainly WORLDS away from anything instant, I'm definitely becoming a bit of a coffee snob!
My favourite from this months selection was the nutty Finca Bosque Lya which smells like heaven, and tastes rich yet really smooth with clear nutty and chocolatey notes, it's quite naturally sweet and we've found it to be the perfect after-dinner coffee.
As we found with last month's box, these three pouches are an ample supply which lasts hubby and I for the whole month. I'd say we drink on average about 5/6 cups each of the good stuff per week, opting for our favourite instant the rest of the time for ease, budget etc.
We enjoy our all our coffee white using Oatly Barista foamable milk, which if you haven't tried in your coffee yet YOU MUST. It makes honestly the most delicious coffee you'll ever try - creamy, rich and smooth without the calories of whole milk or cream.
We've been so impressed with our Blue Coffee Box subscription that we bought a 3 month gift subscription for Liam's Mum and Stepdad as a Christmas present - they are also hugely into their coffee, and they're so excited to try out some boxes - with their first box arriving this week!
GET £9 OFF YOUR FIRST BOX...
Use coupon code MB912 at the checkout and receive £9 off your first box making it only £8.99 (what a BARGAIN!!)
The code can be applied to gift boxes or the longer subscriptions, too.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS & HAPPY COFFEE DRINKING...
Mrs B xxx