This is probably the most unusual coffee we have on the menu. Not only is it from Thailand - which is unusual in itself, seeing that specialty coffee has only just starting to play an increasing role in the otherwise heavily instant-coffee-focussed sector over there - it is also a specialty grade ROBUSTA. Robusta is a different species of coffee from the more widely known Arabica. The vast majority of Robusta is low quality coffee that gets processed into instant coffee. In recent years though, there has been a slow but growing move towards producing higher quality specialty grade (or 'Fine') Robusta as well.
So what is the difference between Robusta and Arabica:
Robusta coffee as per the name is slightly more robust as a plant. It is less prone to suffer from climate fluctuations, pest and plant diseases. It generally grows at lower elevations and produces higher yields. It also contains significantly more caffeine compared to Arabica beans which helps it defend itself against insects and other plant pests (caffeine being a natural insecticide and anti-microbial agent). However, in terms of the flavour in the cup Robusta usually produces a less complex, less acidic and less fruity cup. Bad Robusta usually makes for a bitter, burnt and rubbery cup of coffee but if done right - as in the case of Hneng Khonlak - it can be quite a different story: this coffee, while still slightly less complex than the Arabica coffees on our menu - is super rich in it's chocolaty and nutty notes. It has this amazing buttery note that reminds us of freshly popped buttered popcorn, with hints of spices like cinnamon and coriander. As Espresso you get all the notes that we love about a proper traditional Italian Espresso - the chocolate, the depth, the body, the spicy earthiness - without the more unpleasant aspects of bitterness, astringency and burnt flavours. It is kind of like the reinvention of a classic that way. If you love espresso, this one is for you!
100% ROBUSTA, medium roast
Region: Kra Buri, Ranong
Altitude: 600 masl
Producer: Thawat "Hneng" Khonlak
Process: Fully Washed
Varietal: High Elevation Robusta
Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, Buttered Popcorn, Brazil Nuts
Recommended for: Espresso