Roast Review: Via Volcán
Jun 14, 2023Daniel Kennedy

Roast Review: Via Volcán

It’s time for another coffee tasting and this time we will be reviewing two distinctly different roasts from Via Volcán.  Via Volcán is a roaster out of Alexandria, Virginia. What sets them apart from the typical companies I come across is that they actually own the farm where they grow all the coffee - how neat! The family farm is located on the slopes of the Barú Volcán in the province of Chiriquí, Panamá. Therefore, this already exquisite single-origin coffee receives quite the special treatment. Beans are selectively harvested and sundried on site before being roasted in small batches in Virginia. You can read more about Chris and Janina’s story here.

We have Via Volcán’s two specialty coffees to share with you today! The first is what I would call a more “classic” espresso, relative to the more wild coffee we tried second. Without any more spoilers, let’s dive into this roast review! 

Panamá Caturra

First impressions

“Ah, now this makes me think of Sunday mornings with my parents as a kid,” I said after I opened the bag and inhaled the aroma of freshly ground coffee. Typically on Sundays we would spend time at a local bagel shop and, though I wasn’t a coffee drinker at the time, I remember the mesmerizing smell of coffee my parents sipped on. The Caturra seemed like it would be a medium to dark roast and there were notes of spiced nut and honey. As always, we wouldn’t look at the bag label until after we reviewed it on our own.

I handed the bag to James, who smelled the beans and said that it seemed full bodied and carried notes of spice. He said there could also be fruit and hints of chocolate. We agreed there could be something sweet like honey amongst the layers too. Single origin coffees are always so unique, even in the initial impression.

This roast can be brewed as a pourover or espresso. We went with the espresso that morning, knowing we would be using the next roast as a pourover. We also were drinking it before walking the dog on a very cold day, so an espresso felt right! 

We took out our Wacaco scale, grinder, and Picopresso and started the process of making the espresso. The espresso brewed perfectly as usual, producing a beautifully colored liquid and thick crema top.  

Tasting notes

I tasted my espresso and was surprised by a certain sweetness or brightness. I took another sip and guessed there could be notes of citrus fruit. Other than the possible citrus, I tasted raisin, chocolate, and honey. I loved that the acidity really balanced out the medium body and elevated the velvety mouthfeel. 

“It seems a lot more citrusy than I imagined,” said James. “I’m getting lemon or orange as well as toasted nuts at the end.” We agreed this was a very well balanced espresso and loved the pleasant experience of acid and chocolate layers.

The reveal

We were eager to hear how they described this coffee after having our own unique experience. They say that, “Caturra has a vibrant acidity, medium body, a fragrance of lemon, an aroma of pine nuts and caramel, and a round creamy, and clean taste.” This definitely aligns with what we tasted and we’ll be recommending this coffee to friends for its ability to please all palates!

Panamá Geisha

First Impressions

“Wow,” I said after my first impression smelling the beans. It was incredibly floral and distinctly different from all the coffees I had smelled this year.

James eagerly took the bag from me and smelled the beans next. He noted apricot as well as something even sweeter and sugary. We agreed on the floral and fruit and identified that there seemed to be a few layers, as one would expect with single origin coffee. 

James poured the beans into a grinder and said that based on the bright color of the beans he expected he would really like this coffee! We took out our Cuppamoka and brewed a full cup of Geisha coffee to share.

Tasting notes

Already from the smell of the freshly brewed coffee, the floral notes were even more evident. This was confirmed in my first sip where I experienced a grassy taste unlike anything I’d ever tried. It was quite reminiscent of tea. This excited me because I had seen tea-like notes on a coffee wheel before but hadn’t yet experienced it for myself, at least not so obviously as this.

James commented that it was very floral and less acidic than the espresso. He also noted something sweet and bright. We talked about how light and airy the mouthfeel was and it made for such a pleasant sipping experience.  Since this drinks like a tea, we can imagine having it on sunny mornings and weekend afternoons.

The reveal

In their words: Panamá Geisha, one of the most highly rated coffees in the world, is a light bodied coffee with a complex, delicate flavor profile, floral aroma, and notes of citrus, honey, and jasmine. Our recommendation is to get your hands on a bag of this ASAP, if available, as it will provide a unique experience for coffee lovers!

Jun 14, 2023 Daniel Kennedy