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Locked & Loaded: Tasting Blue Bottle's New Honduras Marcala

Photo by Mat Honan

Seasonal coffees are all the rage lately: Think, coffee you can only get at certain times of the year.  Blue Bottle recently added a new one to its lineup, Honduras Marcala. I tried it twice today, first at home, and then again at Cento, where they are serving it up as their current drip. So how was it? 

Let's step back first and look at the bigger trend. Roasters offer seasonals only a few weeks out of the year. The promise is that you're getting a coffee at its absolute peak of flavor. Well, sure, but there's also a little psychological trick happening as well to encourage you to buy.  A seasonal offering promises some degree of exclusivity and limited availability. Get it now, or never again. Brag to your friends that you tried this exclusive roast, that they can't get now.

So sure, you're probably buying better flavor, but you're also definitely buying into a little bit of marketing. It's gotten so big that some roasters now offer permanent seasonal espressos: the brand name remains the same while the beans in the mix are constantly evolving.

But back to the Honduras Marcala. Blue Bottle just started offering it this month. It's a washed, organic coffee, consisting of Bourbon and Catuai varietals. I made some this at home on my V60, and then tried a second cup at Cento. Both were roasted on July 26.

Right away, you taste a little honey and nut. It's rather bright (think, acidic) but enjoyably so. It was good--quite good--but not exceptional. Worth trying if you're there, but not worth a special trip. 

Mat Honan is a coffee-obsessive who prowls the city in search of the perfect cup. Each Wednesday, he writes about San Francisco coffee culture for 7x7.