Now brewing: World-class coffee at CDO café

Cagayan de Oro’s pioneering slow-food restaurant has done it again!

Since the start of this month, Circa 1850 has been serving Single-Origin Coffee to its habitués who understand and appreciate there’s more one can get from a P160 cup of coffee than a simple beverage.

Single-origin coffee is coffee grown within a common geographic origin, like a farm, or more commonly, coffee from multiple farms in the same general area, or coffee from multiple farms in the same country.

In the case of Circa 1850, they serve Colombia Huila from the Caturra, Colombia and Castillo coffee beans carefully roasted for you by no less than Chef Eric Yap. 

“These are grown by mostly small family owned farms in the growing region of the department of Huila, in Southern Colombia at altitudes of 1,200-2,000 meters,” Chef Eric notes, continuing Circa’s tradition of sourcing its ingredients from small farmers who grow their produce naturally.

Most producers pick and process their own coffee at their micro-wet mills and then dry and deliver these to factories for dry milling, sorting and packaging. The three main regions in Huila where coffee is predominantly grown include Garzon, Pitalito and Neiva.

But that’s not all that makes this single-origin coffee special. 

It is also undergoes a Fully-Washed process which produces the highest quality coffee but requires a lot of skill and water to be done correctly. Some of the world’s finest (and often the most expensive) coffee are created using this process.

Through the fully washed process, the outer layer of the coffee beans skin is removed, after which the beans with its mucilage is fermented in water for 1-2 days or even longer. After the fermentation process, the bean is then washed from its mucilage after it has released its aroma.

“This fully washed coffee is a perfect example of why we love coffee from Columbia,” Chef Eric notes. But growing and processing the coffee bean are but two of the three steps which makes this coffee extra special. 

Besides being single-origin and fully washed, Circa’s Huila Coffee is also brewed using the pour-over process. 

According to the website BlueBottleCoffee.com, the ritual of the pour over is like a meditation:

“There’s no machine in your way, no flashing green lights, no electric power cords. Just you and a few simple tools. The final cup is reminiscent of one from a drip coffeemaker, but noticeably more delicate and complex. Observe the bloom, experience the first trace of coffee-drunk steam, notice how the spiral of the pour alters the final cup. This simple experience gets you in tune with your coffee.”

Thankfully, we had Circa’s Clinton to make sure we didn’t ruin our cup of single-origin fully washed coffee from Columbia by bungling the pour over process.

Similar to the tradition in many countries where dishes are cooked at your table, having coffee prepared with the pour-over process in front of diners contributes to the unique experience.

First, Clinton brought us the glassware consisting of a carafe, dripper and filter paper. Next, he pours a little water through the filter to remove any residual taste or smell which could contaminate the coffee.

After carefully measuring the exact amount of ground Huila single-origin, fully washed coffee beans into the filter, he gently shakes the dripper to level out the surface of the grounds.

Next, he pours about ¼ cup of hot water over the coffee, starting at the outer rim and moving inward in a steady spiral toward the center of the grounds, making sure all the grounds are saturated during the first pour. Then, he pauses for about 30 seconds so the coffee grounds can “bloom.”

He then pours the remaining hot water over the coffee in roughly 2 to 3 equal parts, pausing between each pour to allow the coffee to drip and the waterline to drop about a thumb’s width (being careful not to dry out the grounds). 

Starting from the center of the grounds, Clinton pours at a medium flow rate, moving out to the edge and then back into the middle. The idea behind this second pour is to sink all of the grounds on the surface of the bed. This creates a gentle turbulence that “stirs” the coffee, allowing water to more evenly extract the grounds.

Now your coffee is ready for drinking!

“The cup is rich and sweet with layered notes of chocolate, caramel and sweet cherries,” notes Chef Eric, but each person having a different palate, promises to make this a unique experience. 

Personally, we found the coffee an excellent digestif! It has a distinctive bouquet, light and not overpowering. However, my son Leon remarked the first pour to be better tasting than the second. Maybe there’s a secret to keeping the taste for all pours?

All things notwithstanding, a truly excellent cup of coffee worth trying at least once in your lifetime, if only for that special occasion or milestone. 

Cheers!

[Photos: It takes proper technique, patience and skill to produce a perfecly bloomed cup of coffee as demonstrated by Clinton; Circa 1850 Eatery]