We opened the first of the three bags at about 8:30pm Friday night. Unlike the Esmerelda, which flicked your nose with its lemon zest, upon opening the bag and inhaling, my first thought was... um, coffee?
Really. There's no other way to describe it. It smelled like you'd imagine great coffee should smell. Rich, deep, earthy... coffee-like. Both Therese and I caught solid whiffs of cocoa powder (not chocolate) and Katie added that it was "throaty", by which she meant it didn't smell smoky, but it "felt" smoky in the back of her throat.
Throaty. Now that's a great descriptor.
Here's where it got interesting. As we were tasting the first press pot and comparing notes, Chris walks in. He'd already committed to buying three cups on Saturday (today), and was reticent to sip a preview because of the late hour. But we twisted his arm (figuratively - he already has a broken collarbone).
We both tasted something that hit us as salty - but it was at the tips of our tongues where you sense sweetness, so it couldn't be salt. We also tasted pear and cocoa. The finish developed into rounded citrus notes which seemed to just "evolve" as the coffee swished in our mouths. As the coffee cooled, the citrus and cocoa became more prevalent, the smokiness/throatiness disappeared.
If there was one word to pin on this experience, it would be "smooth". Moreso than the Esmeralda, the Santa Ines is complete, fully rounded, crisp and clean. Not a trace of bitterness. Complex, surely - we'll be sipping some each day until we run out to try and better experience its full range of complexity. Right now the best we can do is say, "yum, that's great coffee".
Drink it black. The Santa Ines demands you drink it black. Even if you don't like black coffee. Just try it. We bet you will be very surprised that coffee can be this refreshing.
We dropped a line tonight to Vince Piccolo at Artigiano to see if he'd experienced anything similar to that "saltiness" we experienced. (And no, it's not the pot or anything related to the brewing. We checked that.) It wasn't unpleasant, it was just unexpected. But very interesting.
UPDATE: We talked to Vince and he suggested that the "salt" was most likely a characteristic that would disappear in a few hours and that it was simply something associated with opening a new bag.
Sorry about the blurry photos (again). Not sure why this keeps happening... it's not drinking, for sure. There's nowhere near enough of that happening these days.