Cerro Azul, Black Honey, Gesha, Colombia, Venziano Coffee Roasters - Milk Based.
This coffee is so good I needed more space to write about it than instagram could provide.
Starting with the farm. Cerro Azul is one of many incredible farms run by Cafe Granja La Esprerenza in Valle del Cauca in Colombia.
Their coffee is regarded by many as some of the best on the planet. I have travelled far and wide to find and drink coffee, paid copious amounts of money for different coffees, and been made some wonderful coffee in the process. I would say this farm is in my top ten based on all those experiences.
In 2018, Lex Wenneker from the Netherlands used from Cerro Azul in the World Barista Championship and placed second. That same year I used an anaerobic natural Gesha from the same farm at the Southern Regionals in Australia (I came third) and many others have used their coffee in various competition formats. Where I'm going with this is that coffees used in competitions are usually among the best quality in the world. After all, competitors are using it to try and become the best barista!
This coffee was roasted by Veneziano Coffee Roasters in Melbourne. To most they need no introduction, anyone who observes Australian barista competition history knows very well these guys are always competing at the highest level.
Veneziano are part of what has become a formidable coffee conglomerate called the Nomad Coffee Group, a very large organisation within specialty coffee circles. It was because of their size that I shunned Veneziano for many years. In my experience, specialty coffee companies often go through growing pains and identity crisis' when they expand and become larger organisations, which makes being able to keep up with their founding principles more difficult as they grow. This naive assumption of mine was flipped on its head when I went to their cafe this year in Melbourne and was made this very coffee by the very talented, Gabrel Tan.
It was like a specialty coffee bar-mitzvah, a true journey from boyhood to manhood, all in one coffee. Gabrel and Veneziano shocked me that day. I am a fussy customer and I thought this was bang your head on the table, not give your girlfriend a sip good.
I had never had a honey processed coffee that tasted so good with milk. To be specific, this was a black honey. If you want a thorough explanation of that process, I recommend you watch the video in the link below by Stephen Leighton and Costa Rican producer Francisco Mena.
It tasted like dulce de leche, strawberries and an earl grey milkshake. I had never tasted earl grey in a milk-based coffee until that day, and that day is one I likely won't forget any time soon.
The most surprising thing about this coffee is that it was an 'omni' roast (roasted for all brewing styles). Usually when I am offered a coffee that is an 'omni' roast, I run. I will concede, some roasters do it well. The two best roasters in the world at doing it are Veneziano and Gardelli Coffee Roasters in Italy. I'm not saying it can't be done by others, it's just only the two mentioned above have mastered it (there could be more than that, I just don't know of them yet).
We served this at our last Melbourne pop up (considering doing one in Sydney once hell has finished freezing over), however it is still available at Abacus in Melbourne (I set up the frozen menu there, so I know they have the goods). If you are there over the next few weeks and want to have your own private specialty coffee bar-mitzvah, go and ask them for the Cerro Azul milky that the Sub-Zero guy told you about.
I'm going to write reviews about frozen coffees on Fridays. I will keep the other reviews coming, but I like taking trips down memory lane. Thank you to everyone that has encouraged me to keep writing about coffee. Obviously, I have my own weird way of doing it, which to me makes it genuine and an interesting read. My hope is that you learn a thing or two and perhaps even have a laugh. It's been a fun couple of years for little Sub-Zero, it is so good to connect and bond over what we all love, FROZEN COFFEE!
Honey processing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQBwzZmnRl0