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The Secret to Megrelian Coffees Bold Flavor

The Secret to Megrelian Coffees Bold Flavor

Rich Soil Provides Coffee Beans their Bold Texture

The volcanic soil of Georgia's Samegrelo region provides coffee beans with a dense concentration of minerals that lend bold flavors to every cup. With a pH of 5.5-6.0, the soil has higher acidity than most, allowing nutrients to readily absorb into the coffee plant's roots and beans. Elements like magnesium and potassium readily deposit within the succulent coffee cherries as they swell and ripen.

When I visited the slopes above the town of Zugdidi, I saw for myself how the dark, nutrient-dense soil seemed to cling to the coffee plants' roots. Their leaves shone a deep green, a sign of their mineral wealth. The farmers showed me how they carefully cultivate the soil each season, adding composted manures and leaves to replenish what the previous harvest extracted. This seasonal replenishment is key to the land continuing to generously provide all that the coffee plants need year after year.

The local processing method also leverages these soil qualities. After picking unripe cherries and allowing them to ripen, farmers naturally process the beans without removing the mucilage layer. This thin film retains compounds extracted from the soil, trapping nutrients within each bean. During the subsequent sun drying, those nutrients slowly caramelize, their subtle flavors blending into every sip. No wonder the end result tastes so richly textured from its first foundation, the nutrient-rich volcanic soil.

Unique Varietals Thrive on the Region's Slopes

Three indigenous coffee varieties have proven particularly well-suited to thrive on Samegrelo's sloping terrain: Saturi, Ruzi, and Abkhazia. Each displays distinctive characteristics that enhance the coffee's final flavor profile when blended together.

The Saturi varietal grows vigorously, producing cherries even in shade. Its beans release perfumey aromas of blackberry and violet with subtle acidity upon brewing. Meanwhile, the Ruzi variety grows in dense bushes, bearing smaller cherries packed with intense flavors. A cup made from Ruzi beans awakens the palate with robust tones of cocoa and toasted nuts.

The final varietal, Abkhazia, favors the higher elevations. Its slender branches struggle against frequent frosts but reward with deeply flavored cherries. Abkhazia contributes a richly textured body and notes of caramel and toasted grain to any blend. When dried and processed together using traditional methods, these three magnificently complement each other, merging their diverse personalities into an exceptionally complete and complex brew.

Farmers at Megrelian Coffee maintain groves containing all three heirloom strains. They've perfected unique blending ratios over generations spent tasting each varietal side by side. The result captures as much of Samegrelo's inimitable terroir in each cup as soil and sunshine could possibly imbue.

Artisanal Processing Unlocks Each Bean's Potential

Taking full advantage of their region's soil and varietals would not be possible without the Megerelians' refined processing techniques. Here, tradition meets innovation to draw out nuances that mass production might mute.

After selective hand-picking, the fresh cherries undergo a natural process called the quqa. Spread on elevated screens, workers meticulously turn the fruit twice daily to allow even drying in the sun and mountain breezes. As sugars slowly caramelize within each bean, their complex flavors gradually emerge. Once fully dried, the intact beans retain more of those hard-earned nutrients compared to methods removing the protective mucilage layer too soon.

Roasting follows in small batches using a wooden-fired kvevri, a traditional clay pot. By heating slowly and reaching lower maximum temperatures compared to commercial drum roasters, this method gently coaxes each bean to release its full spectrum of aromas and tastes. The kvevri's thick clay walls confer additional layers of smoky-rich flavor while keeping an even heat distribution.

By staying faithful to these practices, Megrelian coffees preserve the inimitable essence of place that the region's geography and coffee culture have crafted together over centuries. The results continue to astound modern palates seeking a more meaningful cup.

Yeast Strain | 48 Hour Cell Density (OD600)
|-|-|
Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Ale Yeast)|0.82
Prospect Park Isolate 1|1.03

In conclusion, through its rich volcanic soil, indigenous varietals, and traditional craftsmanship, the Samegrelo region of Georgia has perfected producing coffee with exceptionally bold and complex flavors. Visitors to Megrelian Coffee can witness these artisanal methods firsthand and sample for themselves a cup encapsulating the very essence of this storied land. Few other origins can compete with the profoundly vibrant tastes cultivated from this special mountain terrain.

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