Muki ”Muki-kahvi”—”Scandinavian” coffee made better!

Last week, I made my first visit to Muki (Finnish for ”mug”), Helsinki, the cool brick and mortar store that specializes in high quality coffee, tea, chocolate, and other related delicacies. They offer a nice selection of interesting coffees, ranging from classic Italian espressos to the exquisite products of several Finnish micro roasteries.

As for me, I wanted to try the coffees blended and roasted for Muki by Holmen Coffee, the Helsinki based artisan roastery. The man in charge, Ari-Matti, was kind enough to offer me both of these blends to try. Thank you so much!

The first one is this: Muki-kahvi. Now, on the label, there is little information on the ingredients. The Muki website, too, only reveals that this is a dark roasted (level 4/5) ”city coffee”. That’s kind of cool. I mean, let the product speak for itself!

Since I was told that this coffee was made with the regular coffee machine user in mind, I decided to try it in my AeroPress. I generally don’t use a coffee machine anyway. Oh, as you can probably guess, I used my favorite AeroPress recipe for brewing.

First off, the mouthfeel of Muki-kahvi was quite light and juicy. Even so, the body was not weak by any means. Perhaps ”medium” would be the word to describe it.

The flavor profile was quite interesting. Admittedly, after the first sip I went: ”OK, this is like… regular coffee.” But after a couple of cups, I started to get it. The juiciness of the mouthfeel made me think of (red?) berries. Surprisingly, though, there were no berry flavors to be detected. Instead, I got

  • nutty bitterness
  • caramel
  • dried fruits

These midrange flavors, mixed with some ”soft” acidity made for a very pleasant combination. On the one hand, Muki-kahvi was pleasantly bitter, which made it a good choice for my morning cup. On the other hand, the blend had enough natural sweetness to balance out the bitterness. This resulted in a flavor profile that was robust enough, yet quite soft and pleasant.

Apparently, Muki-kahvi was not created to knock your socks off with exotic flavors. Instead, its purpose appears to be to satisfy the regular coffee lover on any occasion. This is exactly what it does, and it does it really well. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes the classic Finnish or Swedish grocery store blends but wishes to have something better.

Pay a visit to Muki and get yourself some Muki-kahvi! In addition to the cool brick and mortar store, the good folks at Muki have recently opened their new web store, too. Check them out!

E’s World Coffee ”Two Group”—the epitome of DARK roasted coffee

If you read my last review, you could tell that I loved the dark roasted One Grouphead blend sent to me by Mr. Earnest Rawlins, the award winning roast master of E’s World Coffee (Anchorage, AK). My second blend from E’s World is this: Two Group. On the company website, the blend is described as follows:

A blend of South and Central American coffee focusing on the nuttiness and cacao characteristics of the beans. Making a bold, full bodied blend of hazelnut, caramel, vanilla and dark sweet chocolate. Best enjoyed as an espresso, but never limited.

On the bag, the roast level was categorized as ”Blackest”—the darkest roast made by E’s World Coffee. Indeed, the beans were very dark and oily.

As usual, I brewed the coffee in my Bialetti Moka pot.

In the bouquet I detected dark chocolate, molasses, some cinnamon, and perhaps a tinge of hyacinth-like florality. The aroma was absolutely mouthwatering. Somehow, it made me think of Christmas. It also made me anticipate a flavor profile that’s both bold and well-behaved.

So, how did it taste? Two Group was more dark chocolate forward than the slightly lighter One Grouphead. That said, it was no chocolate bomb. The chocolatey aspect was balanced out by a very pleasant spicy piquancy that made me think of pine needles. Add to that the midrange sweetness of molasses, and a higher vanilla note in the finish, and you get the picture.

Again, the mouthfeel was extremely smooth and creamy. The big, bold flavors were always there, but instead of being in your face, they were polite enough to come in after the pleasant introduction made by the mouthfeel.

In Two Group, Mr. Rawlins has created a true masterpiece. It is both dark, bold, and potent AND very well-behaved, and sophisticated. While I usually seem to gravitate towards lighter roasted coffee, Two Group certainly made me reconsider my position about dark roasted coffee. It must be one of the most pleasant black blends I’ve had to date. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

If you like very dark roasted espresso, you have to try Two Group. Do yourself a favor and order some from E’s World Coffee!

E’s World Coffee ”One Grouphead”—the most enjoyable dark roasted coffee I’ve had

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the Instagram posts by Mr. Earnest Rawlins, the award-winning roast master, barista trainer, and coffee equipment expert at E’s World Coffee, Anchorage, AK. His colorful packaging designs and the general positive vibe have really caught my attention.

One day in August, I received a message on Instagram. It was from Mr. Rawlins himself! He was asking whether I would like to try some of his coffees. Oh wow, absolutely! Thank you so much, sir!

Before we get into the first review, however, let us look at some of the general information E’s World Coffee provides on their blends. On the company website, they tell us:

E crafted the blends so that One (#1 GH) and Two (#2 GH) would be excellent for Espresso and Milk based drinks, while Three (#3 GH) and Four (#4 GH) were for auto drip and manual brew methods. Needless to say you can use them either way […].

My first review is on One Grouphead blend. Now, the label indicates that E’s World Coffee products come in four degrees of roast: ”Blackish”, ”Black”, ”Blacker”, and ”Blackest”. One Grouphead belongs to the ”Blacker” category, that is to say, the second darkest roast.

Indeed, the beans were really dark and oily. The appearance and the smoky bag note reminded me of those Black Rifle Coffee Company products I love so much, and some of the darker blends by Starbucks (without the ”Starbucks note”, of course!).

According to the E’s World Coffee website, One Grouphead is

[a] mix of medium and dark roast South American coffees with highlights of caramel, mild citrus, roasted almond and chocolate. A rich full body, blended specifically for espresso and milk based drinks. It can also be enjoyed as a brewed bold cup of coffee.

Since the blend is ”blended specifically for espresso”, I decided to make it using my go-to machine for brewing espresso blends: the Bialetti moka pot.

The bouquet was exactly what I expected: chocolatey and smoky. Flavor-wise I detected…

  • unsweetened dark chocolate (think of those 75 % dark chocolate bars)
  • a pleasant bitterness: roasted almonds and some smokiness
  • caramel
  • citrusy notes
  • a faint hint of salty liquorice and cinnamon in the finish

The one thing that really surprised me was this: Despite the boldness of the flavor profile, the mouthfeel was extremely smooth and creamy. There was absolutely no raggedness around the edges. The big, bold, and bitter flavors seemed to come in slowly ”from the inside” of the flavor profile. Just amazing.

In summary, One Grouphead is an extremely well made blend. It is easily the most enjoyable (very) dark roasted coffee I’ve had in ages. If you prefer your coffee black, roasted in the true American style, you should hurry to the E’s World Coffee website and get some of their products. You won’t be disappointed!

Lehmus Roastery ”Pusupuisto”—Guatemala!

Here’s another coffee from my favorite source, Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

This one, Pusupuisto, is made by Lehmus Roastery, the award winning coffee company based in Lappeenranta, Finland. It is a blend of washed Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai Typica, Maragogype, and Pache. The roast level is 3,5/5.

According to the company, Pusupuisto is ”a medium roasted, rich coffee” that has ”a soft mouthfeel”, and aromas (sic) of toffee, cocoa, and a hint of chocolate.

Sounds like something I would like a lot.

For brewing, I used the usual suspect: my trusty Bialetti Moka pot.

The mouthfeel was quite rich, but maybe not as creamy as one would have expected from a Lehmus Roastery blend. It was very pleasant nonetheless.

I definitely got some of the flavors (”aromas”?) that the company mentions in the description. That said, instead of actually tasting like toffee, cocoa, or chocolate, this blend provided a mélange of flavors that were in that particular ballpark—if that makes sense. There was more to it, however. I also detected dried fruits (figs, perhaps) and a tinge of red berries. These brought some juiciness and a pleasant acidity to the blend. To me, the overall flavor profile was quite multifaceted, yet very well balanced.

In summary, Pusupuisto from Lehmus Roastery is a very good and flavorful blend of Guatemalan coffees. You deserve to check it out!

Lehmus Roastery ”Kimpinen”—a creamy all day blend

I noticed that there were some coffees left in the Lehmus Roastery (Lappeenranta, Finland) lineup that I still hadn’t tried. So I got this:

Kimpinen, a ”medium roast” (3,5/5) blend of several different beans from Minas Gerais, Brazil (natural), and Coatepec, Mexico (washed). It contains Bourbon, Yellow Bourbon, Catuai, Yellow Catuai, Catimor, Maracaturra, Maragogype and Typica Arabica / Bourbon, Caturra, and Typica.

On the bag, the company states that this is a nutty and creamy blend on the darker side. They promise that there is a moderate amount of acidity and ”fullness”. It is also suggested that the blend works with filter coffee machines as well as espresso machines.

As you can guess, I wanted to try it in both of my favorite gadgets, the Bialetti Moka, and the AeroPress (several different recipes).

To me, the most memorable thing about Kimpinen was the creaminess. In the mouth, it felt exactly like the other Lehmus Roastery blends. They must be some of the creamiest coffees I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. There’s something luxurious about them. With Kimpinen, however, the creaminess was not only about the mouthfeel. It had a creamy flavor as well. On the other hand, the flavor profile was dominated by a round nuttiness. Very pleasant indeed.

Other than that, I was hard pressed to find anything to say about it.

Oh yes, with some cups I thought I detected a hint of this sweet, coconut and anise type of flavor that that reminded me of English Liquorice allsorts. Mind you, the blend did not taste like Liquorice allsorts, but there was something to the overall vibe that made me think of those flavors I used to love as a kid.

All in all, Kimpinen was a very good middle of the road coffee that could be enjoyed any time of the day. While it did not exactly make me go wow, I found it to be a pleasant all-around blend. Get yourself some from Lehmus Roastery!

Mokafina ”Presto”—a big all-around blend

In the past week, I’ve been enjoying Presto, a big Arabica / Robusta blend from Mokafina, Belgium.

On the label, the product is described thus (translated from the Dutch):

Presto is an all-around coffee with a rich aroma, and a very full flavor with a nice balance between soft and very spicy. Ideal to start the day.

While the company does not give away the exact proportions of the ingredients, it seems that Presto has a pretty large amount of Robusta. According to the strength (?) graph on the label, this is the most potent one of the Mokafina blends that I’ve had the pleasure of trying.

As usual, I used my Bialetti Moka pot for brewing.

The bouquet was all about a harmonious mélange of nougat, vanilla, and flowers (hyacinth, perhaps, but not as strong as in, say, Lavazza Crema e Gusto). Now, such aromas are not rare in robusta-forward espressos. In this case, however, the interplay between the aromas was exceptional. Briefly, the coffee smelled fantastic.

Considering the bouquet, the flavor profile was slightly unexpected, but no less amazing. The main notes were (in this order)

  • dark chocolate
  • a pleasantly sour, cigar-like quality
  • a small tinge of vanilla
  • a hint of figs and raisins in the finish

In sum, Presto was exactly what the company promised. It was rich, flavorful, well-balanced, soft, and spicy—just like the other Mokafina blends I’ve tested. It was big, bold, and sophisticated, and yet on the other hand it was simple and easygoing enough to be called an all-around coffee. I liked it a lot!

I know I’m repeating myself, but this is important: Mokafina coffees are very, very good. In my opinion, all coffee enthusiasts deserve to have them on hand at all times. I urge every coffee shop in Finland—and elsewhere—to consider distributing Mokafina products!

Mokafina ”Da Vinci”—an espresso masterpiece

If this was a blindfold test, I would guess I was having a genuine Italian espresso made of Arabicas and Robustas (blended to the ratio of A/R 85/15 %?). However, I would be quick to add that this was no ordinary espresso blend.

Well, that’s almost exactly what this coffee is about. Only the country of origin is different.

Let’s hear it from the Belgian maker, Mokafina. On the label they state the following (translated from the Dutch):

Da Vinci is a superior coffee for the true coffee expert. Without doubt it is one of the best and darkest roasted mixes from Mokafina.

I couldn’t agree more.

The beans were slightly darker and oilier than the other Mokafina blends I’ve tried so far. Even so, the roast was nowhere near the darkness of Scandinavian ”dark roast” blends. It was only a tad darker than most Italian espresso beans.

As I ground the beans I knew the blend was going to taste fantastic. The Arabicas smelled rich and chocolatey. The familiar, pungent aroma of Robusta was there as well: floral, on the one hand, yet slightly earthy, on the other. I could tell that while the Robusta was not going to be overpowering, it was going to make itself known in the flavor profile.

Oh yes, the flavor profile. It made me dream of slow morning coffees in Rome. Just like a true Italian espresso, Da Vinci was pretty full flavored. I detected

  • chocolate
  • nuts
  • a pleasant bitterness
  • spices
  • earth
  • some florality
  • a hint of vanilla
  • maybe even a tiny hint of licorice in the background?

Even with this much flavor, the mouthfeel was not too heavy. Instead, it felt medium light, somewhat creamy and silky smooth.

In short, Mokafina Da Vinci is everything I love about espresso. It is a true masterpiece. The combination of strength and smoothness was so well made that apart from, say, Arcaffè Gorgona, I can’t think of a better ”Italian” espresso blend. In my opinion, every fan of Italian coffee needs to try it out.

Mokafina ”BGS”—Dark roast fans: This is for you!

Here’s my third blend from my new favorite coffee company, Mokafina (Belgium): BGS, or ”Black Gold Special”.

The company’s Dutch description of this 100 % Arabica blend can be translated as follows:

Black Gold Special is a strong, powerful and heart-warming coffee with a taste of chocolate.

Now that is exactly what this blend is like.

Before we get into the flavor-profile, however, I should mention that the BGS beans looked very much like the other Mokafina medium roasted Arabica blends I’ve had. Since the other blends worked extremely well with my Bialetti moka pot, it seemed only natural to brew BGS using the same device.

Right off the bat, BGS tasted somewhat darker than it looked in the bag. It was bold, strong and powerful. Yet there was a familiar, cozy feel to it. It was ”ordinary” enough to be enjoyed multiple times a day. It was simple enough not to require too much attention, which made it a very good companion for work.

The flavor profile was mainly about dark, unsweetened chocolate. There might have been tiny hints of lighter cocoa and vanilla as well, but they stayed in the background. On the other hand, there was a smoky, almost leathery quality to it that balanced out the sweeter notes. In my opinion, these two aspects complemented each other very well.

While BGS was pretty big, it was not one of those blends that are in your face, shouting at you. Even with its full flavored potency, it never felt heavy or overpowering. Instead—a lot like the other Mokafina offerings that I’ve had the pleasure of trying—, BGS was a very agreeable, well-behaved coffee blend that felt smooth, somewhat creamy, and medium-light in the mouth.

To sum up, BGS is an excellent straight Arabica blend that would appeal to fans of dark roasted coffee. I’m sure many of my Finnish friends would love it. Flavor-wise, it’s in the same ballpark with many popular Scandinavian ”dark roast” blends. Only the quality is better. When Mokafina blends finally become available in Northern Europe, I can see people rushing to stock up on BGS!

Mokafina ”Resto”—big, refined, and excellent

This is Resto, a 100% Arabica blend I recently received from Mokafina, Belgium. Thank you, I really appreciate it!

On the label, the company describes the coffee thus:

Resto is a carefully composed and subtle mixture of the noblest and most rigorously selected Arabicas. A very refined coffee enjoyment with a delicious, mild and slightly acidulated taste.

As I opened the bag, everything told me that this would be an ”Italian” experience. Accordingly, I decided to brew the coffee in my beloved Bialetti three cup moka pot. But before doing so, I obviously had to put it into my lovely Wilfa Svart Aroma grinder.

The aroma of the ground beans was very rich and chocolatey. It reminded me of naturally sweet dark chocolate, and a touch of unsweetened cocoa powder.

As I expected, both the bouquet and the actual flavor profile were dominated by semi-sweet dark chocolate notes, and a hint of dark cocoa. In this sense, Resto was not unlike its sister blend, Mokafina Santos. In comparison to Santos, however, it was more chocolatey and less cocoa-like. The chocolatey side was also balanced out by a dark bitterness, similar to that found in many good Italian espressos. As was the case with Santos, the bitterness was very pleasant, and it seemed to come ”from within” the blend. As a result, the flavor profile was pretty robust and muscular, but on the other hand, it didn’t feel harsh at all. Actually, the blend felt surprisingly light in the mouth. It was at the same time both strong and potent, and  clear and transparent.

Try to imagine an experienced, well-trained natural bodybuilder, who is confident enough not to have to display his strength to anyone. Instead, he can act like a gentleman, always being courteous to everyone around him. To me, this is what Resto was like.

In Resto, Mokafina has created another excellent, medium 100 % Arabica espresso in the true Italian style. It is big and bold enough to satisfy any espresso purist. Yet it is refined and delicate enough to be enjoyed at all times. I liked it a lot!

Oh yes, and by the way: it would work extremely well as a base for café au lait, cappuccino, or caffè latte.

I really wish Resto was made widely available here in Finland, and everywhere else! There’s no doubt it would have myriads of regular buyers. Who would be the first to distribute it?

Mokafina ”Santos”—a very smooth ”Italian” espresso

A couple of days ago, I received a generous package from Mokafina, the Belgian coffee company: five of their coffees, and three cool Mokafina branded Ecoffee Cups. Thank you so much!

All of these blends seemed to be suitable for espresso/moka pot use. Fantastic! On the label of each coffee bag, there was a simple graph describing the strength (?) of the product. I decided to start my series of Mokafina reviews from what appeared to be the ”lightest” coffee of the batch.

So, here’s my review of Mokafina Santos.

The description on the label was concise. If I could translate the Dutch text correctly, it said this:

Santos coffee is a smooth coffee with a full, smooth taste. The beans are of Brazilian origin, the largest coffee producer in the world, boasting a wide variety of flavors.

Other than that, it only said that Santos is ”100% Arabica bonen”. To me, the roast seemed to be medium—very similar to many Italian espresso blends.

Having ground the beans, I immediately knew that I was in for a treat. I was greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of semi-sweet natural cocoa, chocolate, and a hint of marzipan confectionery. So, aroma-wise, too, the coffee was very much reminiscent of some of the best Italian espresso blends.

It was clear right off the bat that I was going to brew Santos in my Bialetti Moka. Here’s what I found.

The bouquet was very engaging: cocoa, chocolate, and a slight tinge of smokiness. The mouthfeel was semi-creamy and silky smooth, just as promised. I almost thought I was having a cup of great European hot chocolate.

Flavorwise, Santos was medium-full bodied. It tasted like medium dark, naturally sweet cocoa mixed with some chocolate. In the background, I might have detected some cinnamon as well. Accompanying this, there was also a hint of a pleasant smoky bitterness to it—again, similar to that found in great Italian espressos. This bitterness was by no means a dominant feature, however. Rather, it seemed to ”come from within” the coffee, to add some robustness to the flavor profile. Even so, the overall experience was extremely well-rounded and smooth.

While I usually never add milk to my coffee, I should add that Santos worked really well as a base for café au lait. I imagine it would be the perfect base for cappuccino and caffè latte as well.

In summary, I found Santos to be a very enjoyable and smooth Italian style straight Arabica espresso. It was mainstream enough to be enjoyed by anyone, at any time. But the quality was so good that it did make me wish I had it on hand at all times. From this, we come to my last point.

At present, Mokafina coffees are not available in Finland. If you ask me, however, every coffee lover should get the opportunity to try and enjoy this blend. Therefore, in my opinion, every serious coffee importer should be in the race to be the company that distributes this fine product.

A big thank you to Mokafina for this opportunity! I can’t wait to try the next blend!