12oz / 340g
We named this racy blend after San Francisco’s Octavia Street, most of which used to be underneath the massive Central Freeway, but is now a tree lined boulevard leading into Hayes Valley, giving that neighborhood a new lease on life. It is here, in a repurposed shipping container on Octavia and Hayes, that we serve our coffee to symphony musicians, construction workers, civil servants and moms with strollers. A community green space ties the whole thing together. So come visit us for a drink next time you’re fresh off the road, you’ll be happy you have to stop here anyhow.There’s a freeway of activity going on in this blend, and to better explain, here’s our roaster/ resident poet Christopher Harris with a wholly different take on Last Exit:
Life is a road. A road is a story. A story is an espresso. Syllogistically, then, life is an espresso, the kind you savor when the travel’s over and it’s the hour for contemplation at long last. In this our scene of life, the journey through winter has ended and we find that an abundance of fresh coffees abound, like a whole week’s forecast of moderately sunny, moderately warm days. This journey’s end is also, paradoxically, a starting-out, which is another kind of story we don’t have time for presently.
Nevertheless, to begin where we began, to begin means to be at the base or foundation of something. Last Exit has for its foundation Nancy Majano de Arenivar’s Monte Rey, a coffee composed of Bourbón and Pacas varieties, exceptionally mild, sweet and round. A thick, honey-like body is its hallmark, like honey clinging sweetly to a piece of honeycomb. Dense flavors of plum pudding and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds accompany.
Once under way, a journey is all about becoming: sensations turning into thoughts turning into further thoughts of thoughts–it’s all so bewildering, but in a good way, like a dream that’s a little scary and a little sweet or perhaps bittersweet. What is the coffee that sustains the all-important middle chapters of this espresso odyssey? Los Gigantes: Los Gigantes is that coffee. Many small producers, the Desarrollo Producers, contribute their Caturra, Castillo and Bourbón in creating this coffee whose telltale sign is a graham cracker sweetness topped with marmalade and berries.
There comes a point in every peregrination. There comes a point we call the peripety, the turning point, the point at which the journey’s no longer the same journey it once was, and you know it somehow. In the journey that is espresso, we talk about the top notes, those that are flashing, ephemeral and lovely as the dance of sunlight on the surface of a wind-agitated lake where you’re the only person there to observe it (or maybe there are one or two other people, but they’re not talking or looking at something stupid on their mobile devices, but rather just having a surveil of the same phenomenon you are while maintaining a silent reverence). The Hunapú Producers of Guatemala offer up a one-hundred-percent Bourbón coffee that is the work of many small farms located on the slopes of the Agua and Acatenango volcanoes. Somehow both gentle and intense simultaneously, this fourth of the quartet reminds one of all manner of lemon, from magnolia flower to lemongrass to lemon-poppyseed cake.
All journeys’ ends that are also beginnings must also come to an end, and so on. But as for ends, they should be culminations, should be high-water marks. Imagine beginning to exit off of life’s difficult (but rewarding) highway: this is the Last Exit, for what lies beyond the last exit is for some other intrepid soul to discover, one with the heart of a nomad-wanderer, one with more gasoline and fewer important interpersonal connections than we’ve got to maintain. In any case, Maria Zelaya’s Typica and Bourbón she blends into a coffee she calls Hacienda Carmona, named for her paradisiacal estate situated in Guatemala’s Antigua region. This last quarter of our story is almost all aroma: heady jasmine, mysterious violet and delicious grape, like grape jelly on a piece of warm toast. A true capstone.
The drama of life is best with an epilogue that could serve as well as prologue to tomorrow’s act. What is the effect of all of these sensations and flights of fancy? Somehow we find more than a sum of parts. We look back at the moment we knew the journey would be over, and then it was over, and then we thought about the time we knew it would all be over soon, though not yet, which was then, not now as it were. That moment tastes like super-ripe PEAR and pear skin, heavy with a jasmine florality; then a spiced complex of ANISE and baked fruit; then a dense, lasting body like a chunk of HONEYCOMB. We go to bed to so that we may recuperate for whatever arrives as we arrive in tomorrow. And if dreams are a kind of journey, we are reminded that journeys are a pretty serviceable metaphor for just about everything, this piece of writing included.
We recommend starting with the following brewing recipe:
Dose: 17-18 grams in a VST “18g” or “17g” Strada basket
Temp: 198-200 degrees at the group
Time: 28-32 seconds
Brewing Ratio: 50-60% or 30-35g of liquid
Pump Pressure: 8.5-9 Bar or 105-110 psi at the group
Days Rested: 7-12