Chromatic Coffee Newsletter

26th May 2017

Summer of ‘17 is shaping up to be an exciting time for our Chromatic family! We've got new recipes, a new cafe in downtown San Jose, and several new and returning coffees.


In this inaugural issue of the Chromatic Coffee Newsletter, we delve into some of the tasty upgrades at our café. There are new brew methods and other options available for sampling a wider variety of our offerings, plus we wanted to share the unique origin stories of a few of our current coffees. We've also broken down our decaffeination process for you, and we'll get into Chromatic’s unique Radio Project, for those who aren't yet familiar. Check it out!

Slow Bar Update


In order to keep providing a café experience that marries awesome service with delicious coffee, Chromatic has transitioned to Kalita Wave brewers! Due to the flat-bottom design, Kalita Waves produce evenly extracted cups of coffee that emphasize all the subtle (and not so subtle) flavor notes of our coffees. In addition to switching brew methods, we are also selectively curating our slow bar offerings to highlight two rotating coffees. It’s our hope that these thought out changes will only add to the experience of drinking a cup of our hand brewed coffee. In addition, we have expanded our drip coffee offerings to three rotating coffees-- two single origins and one seasonal blend. It is our hope that with this revamp you can engage with a wider spectrum of what we offer.   


As with all of the relationships we establish with our producers, our coffees all have unique origin stories that weave together what is possible when individuals collectivize with the goal of making an awesome product that is also great for the community…

Current Single Origin Offering
La Virgen, Colombia

Process: Washed

Cultivar:  Caturra (60%), Colombia/Castillo (40%)

Tasting notes: Clove, Velvety, Persimmon  


The single origin we are currently highlighting at the Slow Bar is the La Virgen grown in Colombia. Like many of the coffees we carry, La Virgen has an interesting origin story. In 1715 the daughter of a wealthy landowning family donated three hectares of land to erect a town to be named after La Virgen de Guadalupe. Over the years the town became known as La Viciosa, but after a deadly earthquake devastated the town it was re-christened Guadalupe in honor of La Virgen who protected them.     


126 years later four coffee farmers from the La Esperanza región: Javier Joven Penagos, Javier Figueroa Núñez, Fernando Guzmán and Pablo Cuellar organized a small collective of local growers with the objective of improving their income and quality of life. By offering higher volumes of coffee to exporters, they have been able to achieve higher prices for their crop. Today the group has about 100 members and during 2011 they sold 400,000 kg of parchment coffee to several exporters, mainly coffee RFA and Cafe Practices. Javier Joven Penagos, one of the founding members, is the current president of the group.



Returning Single Origin Offering

Kunjin, Papua New Guinea

Process: Fully washed and dried


Cultivar:  Arusha, Blue Mountain, San Ramon

Tasting notes: Meyer lemon, Kettle corn, Thyme


Named after the centralized plantation mill where it is processed, Kunjin, is an exciting coffee for us to share with our community because of its potential for good. Caught between existing tribal culture and new Western influence, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a coffee market with a bright future. PNG started commercial coffee production in 1920 and relies primarily on subsistence farmers who also grow coffee—there are no coffee farmers, per se. Each garden might have anywhere from a couple to a couple hundred trees of coffee, and parchment deliveries can range from 25–65 kg. PNG has great potential, but it's still far away from hitting its peak. It has heirloom varieties and great altitude, but its social and economic problems make it extremely hard to achieve top-quality coffee. We are proud to be part of PNG’s growing economy and journey in producing quality coffee.




New Decaf Offering and Decaffeination Primer!

SugarCane Decaf, Colombia

Process: Wet process, sun and machine-dried, E.A. decaffeinated  

Cultivar: Caturra, Castillo

Tasting notes: nectar, toffee, cookies


We are all excited to introduce our new perennial decaf option -- SugarCane E.A. from Colombia! SugarCane is brought to us via Café Imports who are employing a twofold approach that enables them to distribute some of the highest quality decaf coffee available. Instead of purchasing already decaffeinated green coffee beans, Café Imports selects special microlots at origin for the purpose of decaffeination. This is exciting because it allows for more traceability which helps improve overall quality. Secondly, Café Imports is using the naturally occurring solvent Ethyl Acetate (found in sugarcane) to decaffeinate their green coffee. The name SugarCane E.A. is a direct reference to the natural solvent used during the decaffeination process that helps preserve and add to this coffee’s unique flavor. The following is a quick overview of why decaf coffee is difficult to produce and the steps involved in the process.



(click to enlarge)

Decaffeination and Your Coffee

The primary challenge of producing decaf coffee is selectively extracting as much caffeine as possible without removing the other compounds that provide flavor in the least invasive way possible. As we’ll learn, Café Imports’ approach of using ethyl acetate (E.A.) provides the best of both worlds.


All decaffeinated coffee is processed prior to roasting and regardless of the specific method used, there a few basic steps that always happen. First, the green coffee is warmed (to make it porous), rinsed with a solvent several times to remove as much caffeine as possible, dried and the solvent is removed. The difference between methods* is the solvent used, and whether it is used directly or indirectly. The main solvents used are methylene chloride, ethyl acetate and carbon dioxide. In the direct method the solvent of choice is applied directly to the green coffee after warming. In the indirect method** the solvent of choice is used to extract the caffeine from the water the green coffee has been soaked in.


The advantage of the direct method is that the solvent is able to selectively bind with the caffeine molecules, making it possible to preserve all of the other delicious compounds in the coffee we love. Our new decaf option has been processed using the naturally occurring solvent ethyl acetate in the form of fermented sugar cane. As we have learned this approach allows for the most caffeine to be extracted as possible while preserving the other raw ingredients we need to develop during the roasting process.  


*Other methods used include super critical CO2 extraction and the Swiss Water Method ™

**Also known as water processing

Radio Project

What is our Radio Project?

Coffee has an incredibly complex chemical structure, there are more than 1,000 different known compounds that attribute to its smell, flavor, and physiological effects. Despite this level of complexity, the act of brewing coffee involves only two things -- great coffee and water. The latter of these two ingredients is the major focus. The Radio Project is Hiver’s interpretation of the Scandinavian roast style approach that aims to elevate the terroir (enzymatic compounds) of the coffee fruit as opposed to highlighting the roast (sugars’ browning or dry distillation) itself.  The aim of the Radio Project is to roast or “dial-in” the coffee to suit a specific mineral balance in an intentionally filtered water ratio, in this case, ~65 parts per million (PPM) with a calcium/ magnesium (cal/mag) ratio of 2:1. Our Radio Project coffee isn’t about roasting super light, but about roasting the coffee to its potential and using the right water to  extract those elements.

Water Science

Radio plays with water and its potential to make an even better cup of coffee. Let's first delve into a little water science...

Hard vs. Soft Water

On the surface, the distinction is simple, hard water has a high mineral content, while soft water has a low mineral content.


Essentially, a ‘hard’ water with a low tds, while ‘soft’ water may have a low quantity of cal/mag at a 1:1 ratio, but more specifically, only sodium ions. This is in contrast to the other “standard” roasts, which are tuned to the industry “standard” of 150 PPM. or the darker, DAYTRIP (coming Summer ‘17), which can perform well up to 450-500 PPM (San Jose tap water). This means that Hiver has developed a roast profile for the coffee that, when brewed, marries perfectly with our water available at the café***


*** The low tds grouphead on the La Marzocco Strada

What makes the Radio Project special to Chromatic and our customers?

At Chromatic we believe in treating each coffee as a unique crop with its own complex and delightful personality to share. In order to help share this uniqueness with everyone, we take the time to design custom bags and create roasting profiles that develop the natural flavor present in each green coffee bean. The Radio Project is an exciting experimental undertaking that allows us to showcase a special coffee we feel would benefit from this roast style treatment.


Currently, the Chelchele from Ethiopia, is being roasted for the Radio Project. It taste like fresh strawberry shortcake and has a wonderfully bright and creamy texture. We invite you to try this awesome coffee as espresso or cup of brewed coffee at our stores!

*Radio Project is exclusively available at our cafés*


To read more information on the Radio Project, check out this blog post: