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Feb 9, 2012 03:42 PM

Four Barrel Guatemala Antigua Cadejo replacement?

I recently fell madly in love with Four Barrel's Guatemala Antigua Cadejo coffee, only to learn yesterday that they're completely out of it, now and for the foreseeable future. I haven't felt this sad since the last time Trader Joe's took away a mainstay. Does anyone have a recommendation on an SF coffee similar to the Four Barrel Guatemala? I loved, in particular, how not bitter it was--not a trace of bitterness--while still having what amounted to a maddeningly delicious complexity.

Also loved the chocolatey notes. Also, it wasn't overly sweet. It was near-perfect, in other words. (For what it's worth, I usually make Aeropress Americanos with a touch of milk.)

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  1. You can try mail order for Stumptown of the same bean, or check Rainbow who sometimes carries bags. Small lot beans, which are supposedly seasonal do tend to go in and out of stock.

    I'd also suggest asking Four Barrels what else they are offering in it's place that's similar?

    Not a lot of roasters offer that type of roast that brews syrupy (and if I recall the Guatemala has chocolate-y hints?) but Verve, and sometimes Sightglass come close. Still, I would stick to the roaster you had success with.

    10 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      Thanks! I did pick up a blend the very friendly guy at Four Barrel recommended. I didn't love it this morning, but I'm going to experiment more with how strong I make the coffee, etc.

      1. re: carbonara

        I really like their blends but they probably shouldn't have tried to replace your single source preference with a blend.

        Checking out the Four Barrel site, maybe the Colombian San Augustin would work? There's a really limited selection online. Wonder what that's about.

        1. re: sugartoof

          Thanks, sugartoof. I tried the Colombian San Augustin today and, though it's tasty, there's something more one-dimensional about it that will probably keep it from being my fallback. I'll keep experimenting. I remember having liked Blue Bottle, so maybe I'll revert to trying some beans from them...or from Verve or Sightglass. From reading around Chowhound, people seem to have some good things to say about Ecco and De la Paz, too.

          1. re: carbonara

            I really like De La Paz a lot, and I've tried a number of their beans, but I would have a hard time suggesting any single one. They might carry a Guatemala Antigua, now that I think about it. The Oscillations espresso blend makes for a good coffee, but it's probably darker than you like, whereas some of the other beans can come out thinner.

            I haven't had anything at Ecco that strikes me as a good match, but Coffee Bar on the other hand suddenly comes to mind....some of their coffee is on the bitter side, so you'll have to ask for a suggestion, but they also get that thick, rich coffee extraction it sounds as if you like.

            Oh, and yes, Blue Bottle must have a good replacement for you too, but it's an expensive place to experiment with.

            Finally, I really would check into Stumptown mail order, as they are (or were) co-owners with Four Barrel and have similar approaches, and often the same bean sources.

            Let us know what hits the mark.

            1. re: sugartoof

              If you want to go mail order. Redbird is probably the most popular site to order from these days. If you want some references go to coffeegeek where there are almost 40 pages of posts on them. His 5lb including express mail shipping is the best deal on the Internet. And the coffee is fantastic. I have probably ordered 50lb of roasted coffee from them in the last year.



              And what may interest you in particular.


            2. re: carbonara

              Yes, that was a great bean.

              Ecco came to mind - I think the Bazil - but also Barefoot. If you're "south of the border" (aka rte 237) you should stop in where you can taste & smell multiple. They even have cupping days. I think it might have been the redcab blend, but maybe the Palo Blanco had the same richness.

              Cafe Zoe in Menlo Park, fairly near the freeway, serves Verve. The barristas there don't really have The Touch, but ask for your espresso extra short ("brian style") and it's a good cup. I think they pull mine at 14 seconds.

              1. re: bbulkow

                A 14 sec pull? A little fast isn't it?

                1. re: poser

                  Yeah, as I understand it, a quick pull is the mark of rushed poor technique, giving inferior extraction.

                  Wouldn't a "short" espresso just mean they're throwing half the shot out?

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    short and long means more and less water. A short is a ristretto. A long is bitter, which is better for lattes.

                    Short shots do signal extraction problems, but not poor technique. The right technique is to catch the extraction at a particular point, when you have most of the flavor and less of the bitter. If you have dry beans, or a coarse grind, or too much pressure, you'll find your shots faster.

                    If you pull to time (which they used to do) and ignore taste, you'll have bitter shots. You have to pull based on the machine.

                    It is impossible on their equipment to get longer shots that taste good. They've upgraded everything, taken Verve's barrista class, I've tried their machines.

              2. re: carbonara

                I'm drinking a cup of Blue Bottle's Oaxaca Adopta un Cafetal right now, and it's excellent: no bitterness, a strong undertone of chocolate. I like it a lot. We brew in a Chemex, so you may get different flavor notes, but it could be worth a try. Here's the description from the Blue Bottle website:

        2. OK, everytime I see Antigua, GT in the title, it gets me a little distracted as i spent a lot of 2010 and 2011 in Guatemala. if you only left out Antigua.

          Have you considered mail order? Fernando's in Antigua is the second best coffee in Guatemala ... but it is only because I like dark roasts. So in all of GT, Cafe Saul was my favorite for a straight from the bean cup. Fernando's has a killer coffee that is a mix of its regular beans and espresso. It was the last thing I had before leaving GT. IIRC, I had two. But that doesn't apply to your situation.

          Anyhow, Fernando is somewhat of a coffee geek with a committment to lical, quality fair-trade coffee beans. Let me ammend that to Fernando is a laid back coffee geek serious about a quality product. He does mail order because of the demand from people world-wide to order his ambrosial beans. Here's the website.

          Lord, it took me 10 minutes to find that website link. The Chow database search was failing and picking through google took time. Yeah, i can't do anthing that time consuming often. Here's my report about fernando's in general

          1. Thanks, all. I love that there are so many possibilities. I think I'll try Redbird first, as it looks comparatively inexpensive ($12.50 for a pound), and work my way up from there. Sugartoof, I called Stumptown and talked to them about their Guatemala Fina El Injerto coffee, which sounds as though it could very well fit the need, so I'll try that next. Will report back, though it'll probably be a little slow, as I'm the only coffee-drinker in the household and I rarely have more than one cup a day.

            10 Replies
            1. re: carbonara

              As an aside, the Stumptown Guatemalan beans are typically the easiest to find retail, second only to their mediocre Hairbender blend. They're crowd pleasers, and usually cheaper when you find them in a store (closer to $12). I will say, I go through their beans quicker than any other. There's a lack of density to these roasts, which may have something to do with the processing before they're roasted, or maybe there's some over-roasting involved. Good luck with the Redbird in the meantime.

              1. re: sugartoof

                It is the beans themselves. The majority of Guatemala beens come from Fina Filadelphia. After taking the tour and seeing how they graft beans and a lot of other stuff. It is the beans. They boast of being a supplier to Starbucks. They are arabica beans.

                Where you will find quality beans are from the small fincas with coffee grown in rich volcanic soil. That is where these beans excel and they go to small roasters like Fernando's in Guatemala and I would guess that Four Barrel gets its beans from one of the smaller fincas (farms) that are producing top quality beans.

                Also, IIRc, there are seven specific coffee growing regions in GT that can range from chilly and hilly to the overly hot and toasty coast. it matters where in Guatemala the beans are grown.

                I don't know Catahoula's Guatemalan connection, if any. But I know in Central American he does tend to buy small farm, fair trade, quality beans.

                And seriously ... anyone who is a human being ... you want to buy fair trade. During the Filadelphia tour i asked at each stop what people were paid in specific jobs. Even by Guatemalan standards it was amazingling low for grueling work. And sadly, Filadelphia was one of the better larger companies in Guatemala.

                1. re: rworange

                  Stumptown and I would assume Four Barrel (depending on their current relationship) buy "Direct Trade" on their Guatemalan beans. Pictures of the farms and everything.

                  Fair Trade is said to have hurt some farms profitability, and a lot of smaller roasters place little value on it. A lot of the Fair Trade stuff ends up at places like Walmart now. Also, farms turn out different quality beans, and sell seconds to the large retailers. The best beans go up for auction, and sure enough, the profit margin is absurdly low, with the main markups coming from the distributors. Good beans are pretty competitive at auction though.

                  Reflecting back, I've had the same featherweight grind from Stumptown beans out of other regions too. The Guatemala ones kept their density better than others. They're known for burning their beans slightly (not as bad as Starbucks) but if that's what gives it a syrupy quality, and rich flavor, it's a fine trade off for going through a 12oz. bag quicker than I normally would.

                  Ma'velous Coffee on market carries Stumptown.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    One of the funniest things to me was walking into a small cafe in Antigua and seeing the word "Stumptown" on one wall. As the guy said, it doesn't all have to be local beans. He was one of the few, maybe only, brewing beans grown in other countries which he bought from Stumptown occasionally.

                    Ah, a new term I haven't caught up on yet "Direct Trade". I wouldn't dismiss Fair Trade as this link states

                    "Coffee fair trade coffee performs at least two important functions. First, by widely publicizing abuses in the traditional market, assuring participating coops a minimum price, and placing a certification label on products, fair trade organizations have made consumers conscious of the impact their choices have upon farmers. Secondly, by influencing consumer choice, fair trade is beginning to have an impact on the broader coffee market, where the bulk of coffee is produced and sold. As large retailers such as Sam’s Club and Dunkin’ Donuts sell more fair trade coffee to meet consumer demand, larger players in the traditional coffee market, such as Nestle’, Kraft, and Proctor and Gamble, may begin to move increasing portions of their coffee into fair trade, thereby affecting a much larger group of farmers than those select few who produce premium coffees for the specialty market. "

                    I guess the best thing is to trust your coffee roaster that they are aware of the prices paid and labor practices.

                    I'm a little uneasy about direct trade not requiring business be done with collectives for some issues mentioned in that article. Seeing where your food comes from can stink. I almost gave up coffee like I've given up bananas. .

                    Another good link ... no matter how good the intentions, it seems someone always figures out the loophole

                    1. re: rworange

                      The idea is valid, but the reality is it doesn't work, and the best roasters have been leaving Fair Trade to the chains. Walmart is the largest buyer of FT coffee. You pay more for less quality in some cases, and the farmers still aren't getting their fair share.

                      Here's an article explaining some reasons why:

                      another related story:

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        From your link

                        "This means that private estate farmers and multinational companies like Kraft or Nestlé that grow their own coffee cannot be certified as Fair Trade coffee, even if they pay producers well, help create environmentally sustainable and organic products, and build schools and medical clinics for grower communities."

                        ROTFLMAO ... that is one seriously flawed study.

                        Yeah, Nestle and Kraft care. It reminds me of those Chevron commercials showing wildlife and all the good that oil company has done for the environment.

                        As to quality ... yes i imagine some of that goes on ... but ... it is just too vast to address

                        Listen i can only speak of my limited experience in one small country ... a few encounters with fincas and the workers who are part of those cooperatives.

                        Government-wise the quailty of the coffee isn't just lip service. This is a financially desperate country whose leaders do know one thing and that is the necessity of reputation and they do more than one would expect to ensure that.

                        Environmentally, I saw the unimaginable damage ... I can't stress that enough ... unimaginable ... when tropical vegetation is ripped out for coffee or whatever.
                        Yet Fair Trade has turned some of that around ... at the least it has stopped more of the same old, same old.

                        As to making progress to the Fair Trade goals ... that any progress is made at all in Guatemala is a damn miracle.

                        Peace Corp workers and church groups leave scarred for life and disallusioned because nothing gets accomplished. That is the joke when you sit down with someone from the Peace Corps and ask what they accomplished over the years. That once starry-eyed idealist almost always gives a cynacle snort.

                        So that Fair Trade has accomplished anything ... and it has ... good for it.

                        To dismiss it so casually as not working is a US way of thinking

                        From what I've been reading, even people involved in Fair Trade don't think it is a failed effort.

                        What makes me suspicious of that link is all the mentions of large companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, Nestle, etc. The argument that paying decent prices is killing quality and not effective in doing the social work and environmental good that can be accouplished by these mega giants.

                        1. re: rworange

                          No idea what you're saying, but you can watch a film clip showing where Stumptown gets their Guatemalan beans here:
                          and read personalized credit to the farmers as artisans themselves, with descriptions like "For the first time, Arturo Aguirre and son Arturo Jr. separated out all of the Peaberry from their Finca El Injerto Bourbon. After placing in the top tier at Cup of Excellence for many years, the Aguirres opted to hold an invitation only auction for some of their coffees. We obtained all of the Bourbon Peaberry available."

                          The reason Fair Trade beans are typically inferior is because where they previously could only sell their best beans, cooperatives now buy at a set price including the beans that previously would have been discarded. They are often sold without expiration dates in chain stores who want to give customers a false sense of social consciousness. Fair Trade is simply marketing.

                          The farmers themselves have to front the expenses of getting certified, and getting into the program, where quality/craft becomes meaningless. A top product yields the same price as a mid range product, flaws and all. The higher fees go to the cooperatives, but there's no evidence it gets passed on to farmers at all. Fair Trade is mostly a con. Luckily there are alternatives, and they're paying tribute to the farmers and small cooperatives, and if you really care, you can seek those beans out.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Well, i guess we just disagree. My experience is that fair trade coffee is usually quality coffee and far from a con, it has been a positive thing.

                            That first quote you disagreed with about the two important functions of fair trade was by Geoff Watts, of Intelligentsia Coffee and a proponent for direct trade. He notes the problems and benefits of Fair Trade as well as Direct Trade.

                            There was a problem with that link so here it is again

                            1. re: rworange

                              That's not a quote from Geoff Watts, but a summation of his stance, which is a judicial one. He thinks Fair Trade is a positive for Dunkin Donuts drinkers, and hopes it will effect that kind of mass production, and at the end where there is a real quote, he acknowledges that Direct Trade needs improvement too.

                              He actually doesn't advocate for either but Intelligentsia does Direct Trade, and currently has a 12 oz. bag for $82 originating from Colombia, which suggests a mark up far beyond what a fair trade farmer would get. They list the producer/coop, the season they're available, not just the country, but the region, the process, and all sorts of other info that's unavailable under Fair Trade.

                              Just as I encourage you to drink whatever you prefer, I'd say the same with the labels which have meaning to you. There are people who prefer Peets over Ritual... and the social responsibility aspect isn't likely a factor.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                If you like Four Barrel's Guatemala single blend you'll like Sightglass and De La Paz. Also try Ritual roasters. They all carry Guatemala single source coffee. I personally prefer a bit stronger finish and prefer Coffee Beanery (9th and Irving) Guatemala Antigua, Martha Bros as well as Equator.