Drink Magazine

Coffee Beers Tasting, June 24th: “Chicca” – Turin, Italy (Slow Food)

By Aristippos

Hueheutenango is a city near the Mexican border, found at an elevation of well over 6000 feet (about 1,900m). This is also the name of a district in the highlands of Guatemala. The name is originally Mexican and, just like “aguacate” (avocado), it comes from the Nahuatl languages (spoken by Azteken) and means “place of the ancestors”.

Huehuetenango is also a seed becoming popular amongst coffee experts and enthusiasts. This single origin, shade-grown arabica coffee grows at the foot of the highest non-volcanic mountain in Central America, gets picked by hand, is fermented, sun-dried and the city’s primary export.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, supported by the Slow Food organisation, Pausa Cafe (www.pausacafe.org) is a social cooperative in Turin (Piedmont), to the northern part of Italy. They import Huehuetenango’s coffee, roast it with wood and use it to infuse a beer they brew – Chicca.

Italians do not fool around. They usually know how to be pure and direct with taste. An espresso does not impart complex notes of cherries and flowers. It brews short, strong and under pressure, resulting in a direct and strong taste of c o f f e e. Just as direct is this Italian beer, the first one I have tasted from a series of international beers brewed with coffee.

My tasting notes -

The color is not what I was expecting from such coffee and from Italians. It is comparatively light and for the taste I got in my mouth, I would have expected more darkness.
The foam, of light caramel colour, did not have much body and dispersed fairly quickly.

As the colour promises, the aroma is very light, pointing mostly to hops, but with no clear sign of coffee. A light malt aroma is also perceived.

The tongue and palate are directly given the pure tastes of coffee and beer. In the combination both contribute equally to the taste, none overpowers the other. This is perhaps precisely what some might want.
The clear bitterness is strongly intertwined with some sourness.
It is a herb taste. Nothing as strong as a specific herb, but just the light aftertaste reminds of a layer of herbs.
There is no sweetness whatsoever. Perhaps a light nuance in the aftertaste.
It is a straight taste. The extra complex notes one is accustomed to are not really there.

It has a strong carbonation which goes well with the strong taste.

Overall impression:
This is not a complex world of tastes and nuances. It is a straight forward beer taste, combined, yes, well combined with coffee taste, but nothing that invites me to dwell upon my mouth experience. Thus, I find no reason to buy another Chicca in the near future.

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