Revisited: Caffi ”Etiopia Natural”—one of my all time favorites

After two months of concentrating on grocery store coffees, it’s time to get back to some high quality products.

The award winning Etiopia Natural by Caffi needs no introduction.

There’s also no need to restate my opinion on this coffee. I just wanted to remind you all that it is an amazing product that every coffee connoisseur needs to try. It is easily one of the most delicious coffees I’ve ever had.

I urge you to order some today. You can get it from the coffee experts at Caffi.

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Lavazza ”¡Tierra! Bio-organic”—At first: No. Then: YES!

Next up in my series of Italian grocery store coffees: Lavazza ¡Tierra! Bio-organic. This is a blend of 100% ”sustainably grown” Arabicas, ”roasted using authentic and traditional Italian roasting techniques” (6/10). The company describes the blend as ”[f]ull-bodied aromatic” with ”peculiar floral and fruity notes”. In my bag, the coffee was pre-ground in order for it to be ”[s]uitable for all filter coffee brewers”.

In all honesty, I did not think much of it at first.

The grind size was too small for my French press. I also found the flavor to be less than interesting.

The AeroPress succeeded better in bringing out the flavors. Even so, the blend seemed to be little more than a regular grocery store blend. ”Nothing to write home about,” I thought.

Finally, I just had to try ¡Tierra! Bio-organic in the Moka pot. I mean, despite the fact that it was made for filter coffee brewers, the grind size appeared to be perfect for the macchinetta. Lo and behold, my good old Bialetti brought the blend to life.

The mouthfeel was surprisingly creamy for a regular grocery store blend. Also, while the body was pretty full, it did not feel ”heavy” at all.

While the flavor profile was quite uniform, there were two aspects to it. On the one hand, the blend provided big and savory notes, with substantial acidity. It tasted almost salty. On the other hand, however, underneath the umami, the midrange was dominated by a naturally sweet almondy smoothness together with some medium dark cocoa. In my opinion, these two aspects worked together perfectly, with the almond/cocoa thing balancing out the savory upper register.

I enjoyed it quite a bit.

All in all, Lavazza ¡Tierra! Bio-organic must be one of the best ”organic” coffees I have ever found in a supermarket. Obviously, being a mass produced grocery store blend, it is nothing really spectacular. What it does offer you, however, is a solid, Italian coffee experience that you can enjoy at any time of the day. Just remember to brew it in a Moka pot!

First impressions: Segafredo ”Decacrèm”

Let’s be honest. I do not drink coffee for the caffeine. In my 13 years as a regular coffee consumer, I have never managed to develop a ”vitamin C” addiction. (You can read my testimony here.) Having said that, I am of the opinion that caffeine is an integral part of the whole experience of enjoying coffee. That’s why I’ve never been a huge fan of decaf products.

But hey, I don’t want to be narrow-minded! Since I recently found this new (to me) decaf blend, I decided to add it to my list of Italian grocery store coffees. So, without further ado, here are my first impressions of Segafredo Decacrèm.

At first glance, this was exactly like any Italian supermarket espresso. That is to say,

  • it was roasted ”medium”
  • it was pre-ground for macchinetta
  • it came in a small vacuum sealed ”brick”

On the pack, the company gave the following information:

  • Aroma: 3/5
  • Intensity: 3/5
  • Body: 3/5
  • Persistency: 4/5

Sounds about right to me! Flavor-wise, Decacrèm was definitely in the same ballpark with its sibling blends. It was a 100% Arabica blend with a nice acidic edge to it. Even so, the overall experience was quite ”soft” and semi-creamy. The flavor profile was surprisingly reminiscent of Bravo ο Κλασικός, the Greek grocery store blend I enjoyed recently: it had this dryish vibe of medium dark unsweetened cocoa powder, and yet it also reminded me of dried fruits. To me, the longish finish was the best part.

I found it hard to determine whether the decaf process had altered the flavor. I think it had. While Decacrèm was by no means weak in body, it might have felt somewhat ”hollow”. That said, it was not the hollowness of those cheap Bellarom blends people buy from Lidl. The body was just lighter than expected.

It was actually quite nice to have one more cup of Italian coffee after dinner without having to lose my sleep. If that sounds appealing to you, you might want to get some Decacrèm and see for yourself.

Segafredo ”Emozioni 100% Arabica”—surprisingly nice!

One day, I had to quickly get some pre-ground Italian coffee. I walked into my local supermarket and noticed this: Segafredo Emozioni 100% Arabica. Since I hadn’t tried it before, I decided to give it a go.

On the package, Segafredo tells us that Emozioni is (obviously) a ”100% Arabica blend with a vivid fragrance.” We are also told that the roast level is ”medium”. The ”sensory profile” is described thus:

  • Aroma 4/5
  • Intensity 4/5
  • Body 3/5
  • Persistency 5/5

As I always do with Italian blends, I brewed Emozioni using my Bialetti Moka pot.

Both the body and the intesity were medium. The flavor profile was quite simple and straightforward, but not monochromatic. In my opinion, there were two main notes:

  • medium dark, semi-sweet chocolate
  • a sour, cigar-like quality

Both of these aspects worked very well together, with the slightly smoky cigar-like thing taking the lead role.

As expected, Emozioni didn’t exactly knock my socks off. After all, it’s a mass produced grocery store blend. Even so, I found it to be a perfectly enjoyable all day espresso made in the true Italian style. If I ever run out of higher quality coffee, I can see myself buying it again.

Oh, one last note: While I rarely use any additives in my coffee, I must say that Emozioni worked quite well as a foundation for oat milk café au lait. The moderate intensity was subdued nicely by the oat milk, but it was still strong enough not to feel weak or diluted. I imagine that this blend would provide a nice base for a caffè latte as well.

Segafredo ”Intenso”—Intense? Yes, but…

This is Intenso, another Segafredo blend manufactured for the Italian espresso maker by Meira, the big Finnish coffee and spice company.

On the bag, we are told that this ”is an Italian-style, dark roast, organic coffee with a flavour reminiscent of the robust, dark and strong characteristics of Italian coffee.” The roast level is ”3”.

For brewing, I used both my Bialetti Moka pot and the French press.

Either way, the results were less than appealing.

Now, Intenso was pretty intense indeed. There was a healthy dose of acidity, and some bitterness as well. I immediately got the impression that this was going the be a very flavorful blend. Ironically, however, the actual flavors were hard to detect. To be more precise, there seemed to be none to speak of.

Everything in Intenso made me think of those cheap (actually, a lot cheaper) Bellarom blends they sell in Lidl.

If that’s what you like, you might consider trying it. As for me, I would rather get a pack of Lavazza Qualità Oro.

Segafredo ”Pausa”—a reasonably good ”Italian” blend

Here’s another grocery store coffee that I’ve wanted to try: Segafredo Zanetti Pausa. To be precise, this blend is manufactured for Segafredo by Meira, the traditional Finnish coffee and spice company. Since Pausa is not listed on the international Segafredo website, one wonders if it’s only made for a limited (Scandinavian?) market.

On the bag, there is some information on the product:

Segafredo Pausa is an Italian-style, dark roast coffee with a flavour reminiscent of the robust, dark and strong characteristics of Italian coffee.

We are also told that Pausa is ”[s]trong in taste”, and roasted ”very dark” (4). Judging by the images on the bag, the company appears to suggest that the blend is suitable for French press and auto drip machines.

Well, if it’s supposed to be an Italian-style blend, it should be tried in the Moka pot first!

Indeed, Pausa was similar to many Italian Arabica espresso blends. (It appeared to contain no Robusta.) While the mouthfeel was by no means harsh, the flavor profile was on the bitter and acidic side. I also detected the following notes:

  • semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • salted licorice—not unlike Moak Gusto Bar, but not quite as much
  • some smokiness
  • the tiniest hint of vanilla

The French press version was nice, but it offered no real surprises. In my opinion, it was ”just good coffee” with few nuances and little complexity. I definitely preferred the Moka pot version.

In summary, the Finnish made Segafredo Zanetti Pausa is a reasonably good, dark roasted, medium bodied Italian-style grocery store blend. While it is hardly ”gourmet”, there is nothing wrong with it, either. If there is no Lavazza Qualità Oro available, I can see myself buying it again.

Arvid Nordquist ”Classic Franskrost”—Bitter Chocolate!

Here in Finland, Arvid Nordquist coffee is available in almost every supermarket. Having tasted many of the blends by the big Swedish coffee manufacturer, I find it easy to understand why they have gained such a popularity. They offer good quality for the price point.

Now, this is one of their blends that I had not tried before: Classic Franskrost. Obviously, the Swedish name refers to a classic French roast. Indeed, the roast is pretty dark. Even so, the beans are significantly lighter in color than some American dark roast blends I’ve had recently. The roast level appears to be somewhere between a classic Italian espresso and Freedom Fuel by Black Rifle Coffee Company or the fantastic Two Group by E’s World Coffee.

According to Nordquist, Classic Franskrost is a blend of Arabicas from Brazil, Colombia, Central America and Eastern Africa. They describe the aroma and flavor profile thus: ”A dark chocolate aroma. A powerful flavour full of nuance, with a hint of vanilla. A long aftertaste with balanced acidity.” The company also offers the following information:

  • Roasting: Extra dark (9/10)
  • Acidity: Light (5/10)
  • Spiciness: Vanilla (8/10)
  • Body: Powerful (8/10)
  • Fruitiness: Black currant (6/10)
  • Nut chocolate: Dark chocolate (10/10)

Since Nordquist implies that Classic Franskrost is suitable for all brewing methods, I started with (you guessed it!) my trusty Bialetti Moka pot, and then—inspired by the ”French” roast—I unearthed my good old French press. I used James Hoffmann’s Ultimate French Press Technique which, by the way, is your ticket to amazing coffee.

The moka pot brew was all about bitter chocolate. Try to imagine the flavor of an unsweetened, intense 75% dark chocolate bar, and you get the picture. While I also detected the vanilla, it was not quite as prominent as the company promises. To me, the black currant was nonexistent. Instead, I tasted the greenish sourness of a light wrapper cigar. Quite pleasant, actually.

As expected, the French press version was more well-behaved and subdued. Even so, the general flavor profile remained the same. Only the cigar-like flavor was harder to detect.

To sum up, Arvid Nordquist Classic Franskrost is a nice Scandinavian dark roasted blend that offers better quality than many other grocery store coffees. Honestly, I did not find it as nuanced as the company seems to suggest, but I wouldn’t describe it as a one-trick pony, either. I think it’s worth checking out. That said, if you want really great dark roasted coffee with lots of complexity, I would suggest you order some Two Group from E’s World Coffee instead.

Lavazza ”Qualità Oro”—the best grocery store espresso?

This is one of the blends that I have wanted to try for a long time: Qualità Oro from the Italian coffee giant, Lavazza.

According to the company, Qualità Oro is ”[a] unique combination of 6 varieties of Arabica beans from amongst the finest of Central and South America, expertly crafted and perfectly blended. The perfect symphony for a superior taste every time, since 1956.” They also state that the roasting is ”medium”, and the intensity is 5/10. As for ”aromatic notes”, the company gives ”fruit” and ”flowers”.

If I understand correctly, the blend is only available pre-ground. As Lavazza states, it is ”neither too fine nor too coarse, and designed to guarantee a perfect espresso every time.” They also claim that it is ”ideal for the Moka pot.” Oh, yes please! (You don’t have to guess which coffee maker I chose for brewing this blend!)

I found the bouquet to be rich and very pleasant. It made me think of dried fruits, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla.

On the other hand, the mouthfeel was relatively creamy and quite smooth. The rich intensity and the medium full body made themselves manifest a few seconds after the first sip. Nice!

Flavor-wise, Qualità Oro was uniform, but not monochromatic by any means. On the one hand, the blend was pleasantly acidic, medium robust and intense. On the other hand, however, the semi-sweet notes of dried fruits, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla were all there in the flavor as well. I’m not sure I detected the ”flowers”, though, but who cares? For a powerful floral experience, you could always get some Crema e Gusto from the same company!

In my opinion, Lavazza Qualità Oro may be one of the best espresso blends available in a Finnish supermarket. In my opinion, it would be the perfect choice for those occasions when you’re traveling, for instance, and cannot find high quality artisan coffees. I will certainly be getting some more!

Lavazza ”Espresso Italiano Classico”—good enough for the price

So you want to make some Italian coffee, but there are no good coffee shops around? OK, you walk into the local supermarket, and see bags of Lavazza Espresso Italiano Classico. But is it good?

Here’s what I think.

It’s OK. Obviously, it is not the most flavorful espresso on the market. But what can you expect? It’s a mass produced blend that is sold in regular grocery stores. It also costs less than half of the price of better Italian espressos.

Lavazza does not provide much information on Espresso Italiano Classico. They only tell us that it is

  • a straight Arabica blend
  • roasted ”light”
  • aromatic and velvety.

They also say that the intensity is 5/10—whatever that means.

Since we are talking about a ”classic” Italian espresso blend, I just had to try making it in my Bialetti Moka pot.

Initially, it felt very smooth and pleasant in the mouth. Then, after two of three seconds, I was hit by the ”intensity”. It was somewhat acidic, and it had this piercing vibe to it which made me think of Illy espressos. But then, after another three seconds or so, it calmed down considerably. The finish was extremely well-rounded and mild—perhaps you could call it ”velvety”—, almost to the point where I couldn’t really detect the flavors anymore.

So yes, Espresso Italiano Classico seems to do exactly what Lavazza suggests. It is a decent Italian style espresso for anyone on a budget. I probably will not buy it anymore, but I do think that it is good enough for the price.

E’s World Coffee ”Four . . . .”—The Perfect Morning Blend

This is my fourth blend from E’s World Coffee (Anchorage, AK). Coincidentally, it is also called Four . . . . On the company website, the product is described as follows:

Crafted for it’s floral aromas. This blend is a superb mix of Central and South American coffees roasted at a full city roast. It boasts, a complex range of flavors (black tea, dried fruit, brown sugar, hazelnut and milk chocolate). While having a medium overall body and delightful tastes with every sip.

The blend is roasted ”Blackish”. This is the lightest roast offered by the company. In my opinion, it is quite similar in darkness to many good Italian espresso blends. For a compact explanation of ”full city roast”, check out this article.

Since this coffee was created for the pour over/filter category, I did what I usually do: I used my AeroPress (several different recipes).

The mouthfeel was very similar to the one in the darker Three Head: extremely smooth and milky.

As for the flavors, I couldn’t have articulated it better; everything E’s World promised was there. Just like their other blends, Four . . . . provided (sorry for repeating myself!) a wonderful mélange of flavors. This time, however, the point was not to distiguish individual flavors from the whole profile. Instead, the blend was all about… well, the blend, or the collaboration of the flavors.

In my opinion, Four . . . . is the perfect morning coffee. It is moderately complex, yet simple enough to work well in those early hours when your palate has not woken up yet. It is a delicious midrange-forward mixture that will not force you to think too much. It is medium robust, yet mild enough not to punch you in the face. It provides everything I want in my morning cup. Truly excellent!

Now, show some love to E’s World Coffee and order some of their fantastic blends! You will be happy you did!

Lastly, I want to offer my gratitude to the master roaster Earnest Rawlins and his good wife for giving me the opportunity to taste these great coffees. Thank you!