Cape Verde Fogo Island Starbucks Reserve Coffee leaves a questionable first impression. Like a sun-burnt old woman squatting on an city sidewalk wearing a mumuu and a leather jacket while chain-smoking, you feel like you should run away but strangely, you want to get closer and ask her life story. I drank this straight off the Clover machine and I’ll confess – that first taste was perplexing. One colleague tossed her cup immediately and declared, “Yeah, tropical fruit and floral? I’m not getting that.” But I found that this coffee tastes better at every phase of cool down. Wait to get past the first impression and you’ll be richly rewarded.
Just like with people, you have to know where this coffee came from to understand it. This coffee is a survivor. Sure it’s from a volcanic island, but we’re not talking about cushy mineral rich soil, lush green vegetation, and high altitude rain. No. This coffee comes from the school of hard rocks and black sand. Don’t expect it to be simple or gentle when it’s survived multiple near death experiences. Relentless trial by volcanic fire was first recorded in 1680. Since then, ten eruptions have been recorded with the most recent one in 2014.
This single variety of coffee has managed to exist on this archipelago off the coast of Western Africa for over 300 years. Isolated in the middle of the Atlantic in an extremely dry environment it’s a unique and pure varietal. It’s bold as old age, and as concentrated as royalty.
It’s a privilege to drink this coffee not just because it’s elite and low yield. The truth is we wouldn’t have this opportunity without the intervention of human services. This coffee would have been orphaned and extinct without the tender loving care of coffee aficionados who saw the potential in these coffee crops. Thanks to subsidy programs supporting investment projects in developing countries, this unique coffee has made it’s way to the United States.
When you hear “tropical fruit” don’t think of juicy, fresh, black currants. Think bold and hearty bananas. When you hear “floral” don’t think soft and pink. Think endemic, medicinal plants. However, even a person with true grit can’t front forever. If you commit to the end of the cup, you’ll get that sweet, full-bodied bouquet.
Which brings me back to the cup. Some people wake up looking fabulous and runway ready. Others have bad breath and severe bed head and need a minute to adjust. Cape Verde Fogo Island Starbucks Reserve Coffee falls in a different category altogether. I liken it to the Judgement card in the Tarot deck. Birth is a violent process. Resurrection is equally jarring. That first minute of being thrust into existence take some adjusting. But then you realize you are no longer shackled to the hard physical form. You’ve been released – brewed to your full potential. The floodgate opens and you tell your life story in a smell and a sip. You’ve reached your life’s purpose and you rest to be savored and enjoyed.
Also published on Medium.