Coffee Review- The Barn El Diamante

I found The Barn’s El Diamante perplexing at first.  It’s one of the lightest-roasted Honduran coffees I’ve ever encountered - at least in appearance.  The beans appear a light brown, and the aroma from the bag is reminiscent of milk chocolate.  However, that chocolate smell is mixed with an interesting complexity that many Bourbon coffees tend to have, which is floral and slightly grassy.  

In my experience, it often takes some coaxing to get a thorough extraction from lighter-roasted coffee.  This is because light roasted beans tend to be less soluble than those of a medium or dark roast.  To extract more out of the coffee, I usually try making the grind size finer, lengthening brew time, and/or agitating the coffee while brewing.   
As a result, at first, I found myself having a hard time getting a good extraction out of El Diamante.  My first several pour overs on the Kalita wave tasted somewhat sour, light in body, and quick to finish.  I ended up needing to tighten the grind quite a bit finer than I usually do in order to get the flavor I was looking for.   I wanted that milk chocolate deliciousness I could smell in the beans.  The brew time on my Kalita Wave ended up needing to be 3:45-4:00 in order to get the target flavor, which is longer than the usual 3:15-3:30 I usually shoot for.
Eventually, I was able to get it.  The coffee, with the right extraction, has a delicious smoothness that lingers throughout each sip.  The notes seem to be a lemongrass acidity, milk chocolate body, and a silky finish.  What I really enjoy about this coffee was that it has a nice acidity that makes the smooth chocolate flavor interesting and almost challenging.  I’m willing to say it’s my favorite Honduran coffee I’ve had so far.  It’s been a delight taking this coffee along with me this month.
Last weekend, I went on a backpacking trip through Los Padres National Forest with some old college buddies.  We hiked eight miles down into a canyon and camped next to some hot springs on Saturday, and hiked back up through wind and snow on Monday.  While planning for this trip, I knew I needed to take some sort of caffeinated beverage, and I decided to forego the usual ultra-light instant coffee and take along my aeropress and some pre-ground coffee.  On our first morning in the canyon, in brisk 23 degree air, I lit up my tiny backpacking stove, heated some water scooped from the hotspring, poured some pre-ground El-Diamante coffee into the aeropress, and made an extremely un-scientific cup of coffee.  I didn’t weight the coffee or water, and I counted the brew-time in my head without the aid of a timer.  It was truly barbaric.
Truth be told, the coffee I made on this trip tasted amazing.  Maybe it was the high of being in nature that made it taste so good, or maybe it was some special ingredient in the hot spring water.  The coffee I made on this trip was leagues better than any instant coffee my hiking mates brought along.  And even though each cup tasted slightly different since I wasn’t accurately measuring anything, each one was fantastic to wake up to and drink before hiking.  
Does this mean that you can make delicious coffee at home without a scale, a kettle, freshly ground coffee, and a timer?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’m afraid to try now that I’m back from roughin’ it.
My recipes:
Kalita Wave
29 grams of coffee, ground on a 24 (my Baratza Encore) or a 7 (Bad Coffee’s EK 43)
460 grams of water, 210 degrees
Pre-head server, rinse filter
Bloom coffee with 70 grams of water for 30 seconds.
Pour water in three stages - 130 grams of water for each stage.  After each stage, wait for water to almost complete drip out.
After pouring last stage, tap the dripper against the server a few times to level bed.
Total brew time: 3:30-4:00 (depending on coffee)
Camping Aeropress
1 Hario scoop of coffee (14-20 grams), ground on a 12 a couple days earlier (my Baratza Encore)
Rinse filter and preheat your mug with hot water.
Dump coffee in.  Pour hot water just off the boil into the aeropress, about an inch from the top.  Water should be scooped straight from a hot spring.
Put the plunger in the top, and count to a minute in “One-Mississippi’s”
Push the plunger down over about 15 seconds until it hisses.
Enjoy your camp coffee!

Review by Eric Gulley
Photo Credit: David Wahlman @wahlmanphotography