Coffee Recommendation: Alterra Cafe Voltaire

Alterra Cafe Voltaire

My favorite coffee ever!In addition to being a Freemason, the 18th Century French philosopher François-Marie Arouet, better known by his pseudonym of Voltaire, was a also an avid lover of coffee.  As the picture shows, it’s been rumoured that he had a habit of consuming fifty cups of coffee per day.  While this is not impossible, it would be very unlikely.  In any case, his absurdist philosophies wherein he projected contemporary and ancient mindsets to their rational (and irrational) extremes, made for some of the best deep humor ever.  He was, in a way, the first Monty Python.

The coffee named for him shares his wonderous inspiration.  At the same time rational and complex, deadly serious and lighthearted, and incomprehensible yet stupidly simple.  It is the Philosopher’s Stone of coffee.

Body:  8 – medium-full bodied brew
Acidity:  3 – not dull or boring but subtly complex
Roast:  7 – medium-dark roast

The package notes speak of a rich and spicy cup.  This is a very rich coffee.  I’ll lay out the case now that this is two very different coffees:  one strong and one mild.  When brewed full-strength, the bold, rich flavors overpower the delicate spicy complexity.  However when slightly underextracted, the cup yields an intriguing piquancy that gives your tongue something to ponder.

As a Strong (full strength), I noted a leather-like aroma with notes of English tobacco.  It gave a moderate, buttery acidity on the tongue with a mellow dark-roasty flavor.  As a Mild (slightly underextracted), the aroma was that of fine dark-roast coffee with a hint of old leather and an edge of dark chocolate.  The overall flavor was of mild dark-roasted coffee with a subtle sharpness and a very full mouthfeel.

I highly recommend trying this coffee.  I wait each year for this to come around on Alterra’s weekly special.

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  1. #1 by Chadwick on November 26, 2009 - 2:23 PM

    Having now actually consumed this, I agree completely with your review. It is a rather intriguing coffee, with a lot of complexity to it that took quite a few cups for me to sort out.

    I will second your recommendation.

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