The Paz has quickly become the hottest seller in our Amsterdam store since we began roasting on-site in 2020. Easy, approachable, and quite a crowd-pleaser. This is the coffee to select if you want a great cup of coffee and no nonsense.
The Paz comes from the big daddy of them all, Brazil. Far and away the world’s largest coffee producer, Brazil sets the tone for the rest of the world when it comes to volume, price, quality and consistency.
Brazil being the monster that it is when it comes to coffee, you can of course expect to find all kinds of different beans there. And in fact you do get a great deal of robusta coffee from that country. I try not to hate on robusta, as everything has its place in the world. However, to be totally honest, it’s just nowhere near the quality of arabica. At Coffee & Coconuts, we use only 100% arabica beans, including for our Brazilian beauty, Paz.
For the quick-and-dirty on the difference between robusta and arabica: robusta is so-called for its large, thick trunked (“robust”) plants, with big oversized floppy leaves. The plant is tougher and hardier, easier to grow, and survives well in hot, humid low-elevation areas. The flavor is often reminiscent of toasted corn or other grains, sometimes veering into the very harsh and even “chemical-tasting.” Furthermore, the caffeine compounds in robusta tend to give you a harsh, jittery, dizzying kind of “high.”
(In fact, when people tell me they tried coffee once and never again because the caffeine gave them a headache or a stomach ache, I often gently try to suggest that they probably drank robusta, and that they might have a much more pleasant time with a cup of arabica!)
Arabica, by contrast, has caffeine compounds that are associated with a bright, alert, focused kind of “high” that coffee drinkers love. The trees are more delicate, more prone to disease and therefore somewhat more difficult and expensive to cultivate. And arabica coffee loves sunny days and cool, crisp nights, meaning that it’s best suited to high elevation mountain ranges and plateaus in the tropics. The flavor is far more refined, sweeter, with much more pleasing acidity.
Our Paz arabica comes from the Fazenda Passeio estate, owned by Adolfo Henrique Vieira Ferreira, in the lovely southern province of Minas Gerais. It’s grown at 1200 meters above sea level, quite high for Brazil. The crop consists of a mix of Mondo Novo, Acaia, and Yellow Catuai varietals, the latter of which is so-named because instead of the standard red at harvest, the cherries turn a deep, golden yellow! Our friends at Trabocca supply us this coffee.
Like most Brazil arabica, the Paz is processed using a style called “Pulped Natural”. This means that the coffee cherries are “pulped” first, separating the thick outer skin from the bean, the parchment, and the sticky fruit inside. Then these slick, sticky, sugar-coated beans are left to dry out on large patios, sometimes with the help of mechanical dryers if the weather turns wet. The result is a sort of halfway profile between the clarity and cleanness of a washed coffee, and the sweetness and body of a fully natural coffee.
The Paz is the darkest roast we carry. Of course, for us, that doesn’t mean too dark. You’re not going to encounter a bag full of oily black rocks, like at some international chains I could name. Nevertheless, we roast the Paz just a little bit longer than the other coffees in our repertoire, because we want to give you a very distinct and pleasing cup.
We roast this coffee right up to a bean temperature of about 211 to 212 degrees. This is right on the cusp of what’s called “second crack”, so-called because it’s the second time during the roasting process that the beans actually make an audible popping noise, like popcorn!
“First crack” happens around 190 degrees (for this coffee at least). This is a stage that all coffees go through during roasting. Free water molecules in the matrix of cells within the coffee have turned to vapor and are building up pressure inside the beans. When this pressure becomes too much, the cells rupture and the entire structure of the bean “pops” open, making a little pop-pop-pop sound inside the roaster. (If you ever visit our flagship store and see me leaning in with my ear next to the machine and a funny look on my face, you now know what I’m listening for.)
“Second crack” is a similar phenomenon, except this time it’s the carbon dioxide and aromatic gases that have built up inside the beans. When this pressure builds up and releases, the sound it makes is more like tack-tack-tack… a little more hollow and light sounding than first crack. Because this phenomenon is related to the pressure inside the beans, it’s possible to induce second crack by taking the beans right up to the cusp of this point and then suddenly changing the air pressure surrounding them.
And that’s just what we do! I know the beans will begin to enter second crack at about 212 degrees so, watching carefully how the color and texture of the beans are changing as they near this critical point, I will then suddenly stop the roast and eject the beans from the roasting drum into the cooling tray. The sudden change in ambient temperature and pressure surrounding the beans is just the little nudge they need to begin cracking. I know we have a perfect Paz roast when we’ve achieved this “cracking in the cooling tray” result.
The result is a beautiful, deep rich brown color, with a soft glow of oil just beginning to show at the surface, like a surfer babe’s skin glowing in the sun. The flavor of the coffee at this stage is very rich, full-bodied and sweet. We get great body and mouthfeel off the Paz, full chocolate and nut flavors, and a muted acidity with just enough pop to keep the whole profile balanced.
Most of the best espressos I have had the pleasure to try in my 15 years in coffee have been Brazil-based. There’s a rich, creamy, smooth character that you get from pulped natural Brazil arabicas that is almost impossible to find elsewhere in the world. For that reason, the Paz makes an excellent choice for home espresso.
We specifically designed this coffee to go great in your home espresso set-up. These machines can make such nice coffee, but as most owners of these machines can tell you, you really need the right beans. The profile of the Paz starts and ends with 1) great sweetness, 2) rich, full body. You’re guaranteed to get a lovely shot of espresso at home with this coffee.
We don’t think you should have to have a huge professional set-up costing tens of thousands of euros (although wouldn’t that be nice?) just to enjoy great espresso at home. So one of our main motivations in creating the Paz was to fill that niche for the home espresso drinker.
Also, recently there has been a huge growth in popularity of instant “pod” machines, such as Jura, Nespresso, and Keurig. These machines are wonderful, giving you a fresh cup of coffee in almost no time at all. Unfortunately, because the emphasis has been on speed and convenience, the actual coffee that goes into the pods has sadly been pretty awful in many cases.
But there’s no reason you can’t have world-class specialty coffee in your pod machine! The Paz was carefully calibrated to perform beautifully in a Jura or similar machine, so that people at home or in their office could get a perfect cup of sweet, smooth, chocolatey coffee every time.
FInally, for more conventional drip-brewing set-ups, the Paz is a favorite choice for people who hate brightness in their coffee. The low acidity profile means that you can get a nice, full-flavored kick with no sour quality at all. Some people don’t want an “adventure” when they drink coffee, they just want something sweet and nice! When I travel back home to visit my family, I bring a bag of Paz. I know it’s guaranteed to be a hit.