I really like the folks at Manzanita Roasting…
They are always excited to take part in our community events, assist and collaborate with other coffee professionals, and are just all around good people. When Weston (the head roaster) invited me up to their roastery and new café build-out, I absolutely had to take them up on it. There’s nothing better on a crisp Saturday morning than coffee with friends.
To make my visit even better, on my way out they handed me a bag of their espresso blend, El Gaucho. It was so fresh I had to wait a week before dropping it onto my hopper. The blend is of three coffees from Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Colombia. This creates a well-balanced coffee with all of the chocolaty notes you’d associate with Colombia and Guatemala, with a hint of floral from the Ethiopian beans.
Once ground the fragrance is sweet, nutty, and chocolaty; it makes my mouth water. This blend is what I would call a ‘Gateway Espresso’. It’s perfect for those who may not have developed the palate for more intensely fruity or floral forward espressos. This provides a solid foundation of chocolate, but the bitterness to give you a basic understanding of acidity and balance.
When steamed milk is added its no wonder it won a bronze medal in the milk based espresso category from The Golden Bean. It really shines as a cappuccino or cortado, and holds onto the flavor notes, and mellows out the acidity. I'd liken it to a cup of steamed chocolate milk. I can't really stress how approachable this espresso is, either straight or in a milk based drink.
Manzanita recommends pretty standard brew parameters, those being 18 grams in, 30 out, in 25-27 seconds. This of course makes a perfectly fine shot of espresso that would please the even the most picky espresso enthusiast, but I like to play around and I've been on a ristretto kick lately. I packed the portafilter with 20 grams at the same grind level as the Manzanita recommendations, and ran the shot for 35 seconds with an output of 22 grams. This created a thick, syrupy sweet shot that maintained more acidity and intensity when milk was added than the standard directions. It may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.
Overall this espresso is great for all applications, and is extremely drinkable. Also, considering it could be used for drip or cold brew, this means its very versatile. That is why Manzanita Roasting's El Gaucho Blend receives a 'Stock It' on my rating scale.