A new start (for me)

There has been a change in my personal life.

This means that I will have to reconsider my priorities. In practice, I will have to stop blogging about coffee for now.

For some of my readers, this may sound dramatic. But it’s not that something is wrong.

I’m not sick. My family is doing great. I’m still interested in high quality coffee. I’ve also been getting more readers than ever before—thousands of clicks every month. Briefly, I’m feeling better than ever.

I just need to refocus. I need a change.

I guess life can be like that.

So, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all of my readers and supporters. Kudos to all the great coffee companies who have supported me over the years, and sent me their fantastic products to review. Thank you so much for your generosity and cooperation. It has been a lot of fun!

Now it’s time for a new start. I wish you all the best.

God bless,

Harri

theblackcoffeejournal.com

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Cafetoria ”Peru Cuzco”—right up my alley!

I’ll be brief: This coffee is so good that it’s hard to put into words.

My favorite coffee company, Cafetoria (Helsinki/Lohja, Finland) has released yet another masterpiece. Peru Cuzco is handpulped and washed Typica from Paucartambo-Cuzco, Peru. The roast is called ”medium”, but it is on the lighter side, 2/5 on the Cafetoria scale. The images on the label appear to suggest brewing with the AeroPress, Chemex, auto drip machines, or the French press.

Well, I did use the AeroPress, but I also had to try it in my Bialetti Moka. Either way, it tasted amazing.

Peru Cuzco was everything the company promises on the label: I definitely got the blue berry juice, vanilla, and dried fruits. However, I think I also detected some dry woodiness, like pencil shavings—just enough to balance out some of the fruitiness. Right up my alley!

Again, it’s hard to articulate how good it is. You’ll have to try it for yourself! So, hurry up to the Cafetoria website!

Caffi ”Brasilia Yellow Bourbon”—solid & flavorful


Here’s another treat from the coffee masters at Caffi (Lahti, Finland): Brasilia Yellow Bourbon. It is made of pulped natural Yellow Bourbon from Fazenda Miaki, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Briefly, this was excellent stuff. It was a lot like Caffi’s delicious 2021 easter coffee which I tried last week. No wonder: This particular Yellow Bourbon is one of the three ingredients in that blend. Here, however, it gets to shine on its own.

The company describes Brasilia Yellow Bourbon as well-balanced, ”soft”, and slightly nutty. They also state that the aftertaste is chocolatey and sweet.

As always, I used both the AeroPress and my good old moka pot. Either way, the results were excellent.

First, I really liked the mouthfeel. It was very creamy and somewhat oily. The word that kept coming to mind, however, was ”heavy”.

Flavor-wise, two things came to the fore. On the one hand, the Yellow Bourbon was pretty intense in acidity. It felt almost berry-like, but not quite. Be that as it may, I enjoyed this aspect a lot. On the other hand, underneath the acidity, the main notes were (hazel?)nuts, chocolate, and cinnamon. Overall, the flavor profile was reminiscent of the easter blend but—as could be expected from a single origin coffee—not quite as multidimensional. Even so, I found it extremely flavorful and pleasant.

Another notable feature was the room note: Two hours after brewing this coffee, my kitchen still smelled like sweet cinnamon rolls!

If you want to treat yourself to some high quality single origin coffee from Brazil, try some Brasilia Yellow Bourbon! Order it straight from Caffi, or find it in better tea/coffee stores, such as Teeletti in Lahti.

Caffi ”Kukko Kahvi”—exquisite and ”ordinary” (very good!)

This is Kukko Kahvi (i.e., ”rooster coffee”), the 2021 Easter coffee from Caffi, the award-winning roastery based in Lahti, Finland.

According to the company website, this is a blend of three ”strong” bourbon coffees:

  • Miaki Yellow Bourbon (pulped natural, Brazil)
  • Santa Maria Red Bourbon (washed, El Salvador)
  • El Mirador Anaerobic Orange Bourbon (carbonic maceration, Colombia)

The roast is ”light medium”.

The Yellow Bourbon is said to bring the coffee a hefty mouthfeel and some sweet chocolateyness. The Red Bourbon, on the other hand, is described as slightly nutty. Lastly, the Orange Bourbon is said to add a mix of plums and oranges.

All in all, the blend is described as ”sweet”, ”harmonious and rather strong”. The company also states that it has ”an interesting, fruity aftertaste”. The mouthfeel they call ”rather heavy”.

Since I got the impression that this coffee would be suitable for pretty much any brewing technique, I tried it in the AeroPress (my favorite recipe) as well as in the moka pot. Either way, the results were very good.

First, the mouthfeel was pretty full indeed. It was very creamy, perhaps even oily—just the way I like it!

What about the flavor profile? In my opinion, there were two main aspects to it:

  • The high end was very ”high” and fruity, and pleasantly acidic. It made me think of the light green color of kiwifruits.
  • The midrange was nutty, nougat-like, and slightly bitter. In terms of color, it could be described as medium light brown.

Despite their differences, these two aspects worked in perfect harmony.

To sum up, this year’s Kukko Kahvi was extremely flavorful and exquisite, while at the same time it was ”ordinary” enough to be enjoyed on any occasion. I truly enjoyed every sip.

If you haven’t done so yet, check out Caffi! They really know their stuff!

Lavazza ”Espresso Barista Gran Crema”—pretty average

Sorry for the two week silence! There are two reasons for it.

First, I’ve been busy with my other writing projects.

Second, I’ve been trying to figure out something positive to say about this espresso blend: Espresso Barista Gran Crema from Lavazza.

Today, however, I decided to give up. In my opinion, it is not very good.

As could be expected from an Italian coffee product, the bag description is pretty concise. Basically, the company only states this:

A selection of exquisite blends, gently roasted to enjoy the aroma and creamy texture of authentic Italian espresso.

They add:

  • velvety and balanced
  • roasting: medium
  • intensity: 7/10
  • body: full

As far as the roasting, intensity and body are concerned, the description sounds about right. Flavor-wise, however, Espresso Barista was kind of boring. It was rather full-flavored, indeed, but I found it difficult to determine what the actual flavors were; it was kind of bitter and savory, but I was unable to describe these attributes further. It didn’t taste chocolatey, but it was not nutty, either. What about ”velvety” or ”balanced”, then? No, most definitely not.

Now, I do like the fact that there are many different Italian espresso blends to choose from. I also like many Lavazza products. However, considering that they do a much better job with blends like the quintessentially Italian Qualità Oro or the savory ¡Tierra! Bio Organic, I don’t see why anyone would want to buy Espresso Barista.

It’s pretty average, after all.

Kulta Katriina ”PLUS Boost”—Seriously?

Honestly, I didn’t expect miracles from this coffee.

Kulta Katriina is one of the most basic Finnish coffee blends you can get from any supermarket. It is manufactured by Meira, the traditional coffee and spice company based in Helsinki, Finland.

While I’ve never been a huge fan of regular Kulta Katriina, I wanted to try the newer version: PLUS Boost, which boasts 30% more caffeine. The company describes the product as follows (my direct translation):

Kulta Katriina Plus Boost is a high quality filter coffee, which naturally contains 30% more caffeine than the average filter coffee. Our high caffeine coffee comes from Rainforest Alliance certified farms in Vietnam and Central America. High quality coffee varietals and the dark roast (3/5) give Kulta Katriina Plus Boost coffee a strong and full flavor.

Since I don’t use the regular auto drip machine, I decided to brew this coffee using The Ultimate French Press Technique I learned from James Hoffmann’s great video.

Based upon the experience, I’m not sure I can agree with the description.

First, despite the claim that this coffee is strong and full flavored, I found it to be rather hollow and dull. It was definitely not more than medium in body. I also found it difficult to detect any particular flavors. To me, the whole thing just tasted like inexpensive grocery store coffee. That said, there was one note in the aroma that I could put my finger on. It’s really hard to describe, though. Do you know the smell you get when you meet someone who has been drinking too much alcohol the day before? Well, that’s the only thing I could think of as I had this coffee. Gross.

After two cups of this, I got a feeling that I will never drink coffee again.

Now, that is not a good sign.

But what about the caffeine? Indeed, this blend was stronger in the C department than your regular supermarket coffee. Even so, it was nowhere near the level of, say, some straight Robustas. In my opinion, the higher caffeine content did not make up for the lack of flavor, or the disgusting aftertaste.

I can promise you this: I will never buy Kulta Katriina PLUS Boost again.

Bonus tip: If you want to get good coffee with tons of caffeine, I would suggest you purchase a pack of Segafredo Espresso Casa instead. That’s great stuff for the price, and it is guaranteed to make you light-headed.

Lehmus Roastery ”Peru Huabal”—amazingly flavorful!

A few days ago, I received a generous package from the award winning Lehmus Roastery (Lappeenranta, Finland). Thank you so much! It’s always nice to have some Lehmus coffee. After all, they are one my favorite roasteries.

This is what I got: Peru Huabal, Lehmus’ new limited edition coffee that comes from the Urbano Ramirez Vasquez farm in San Antonio, Huabal district, Peru. On the label, we are told that this is natural Catuai, which has been lightly fermented and dried over the course of 30 days. According to the company, the coffee is ”softly sugary and sweet”.

As always, I used both the AeroPress and my good old Bialetti Moka for brewing. Either way, the results were absolutely amazing.

First, the mouthfeel was classic Lehmus: Incredibly creamy. I was even reminded of the ”oiliness” of some Charles Liégeois products. I loved it.

Flavor-wise, Peru Huabal was amazingly flavorful, yet very well balanced. I detected the following notes (from top to bottom):

  • fresh cut tropical fruits—the natural sweetness and fruity tartness made me think of kiwifruits
  • nougat
  • hazelnuts
  • a pleasant bitterness

All in all, Peru Huabal tasted sweet indeed, but in the midrange, there were many other flavors as well. I could almost have called it robust. It was so flavorful and sophisticated that I found myself thinking I should probably get a few packs more to really tease out all the nuances. For now, suffice it to say that I was left craving for more. It was very, very good.

Get yourself some while it lasts! You can now use the discount code ”blackcoffeejournal” to get 15% off all 15€ (or more) purchases of coffees, teas, and cocoas at the Lehmus Roastery website. The offer is valid through March 20, 2021, in Finland only. The code cannot be used in conjunction with other discount codes. Happy shopping!

Kahvikeisarinna ”Ritari Rohkea”—Vietnamese Robusta!

Recently, I received a message from Ms. Mei Hong, the CEO of Kahvikeisarinna, the Tampere (Finland) based company that specializes in Vietnamese coffee. She kindly asked if I wanted to test an initial version of a new 100% Robusta coffee which they were developing with Kahwe, the great artisan roastery that is known for their amazing coffee products.

Would I like to test a new Robusta coffee? Of course! I love Robusta!

Along with the beans, Ms. Hong was kind enough to provide me with phin coffee drippers and some condensed milk for the true Vietnamese coffee experience.

While I really liked the initial version, I promised I wouldn’t write anything about the coffee until they had tweaked it to perfection.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is it: Ritari Rohkea (”The Brave Knight”). It is 100% washed Robusta, cultivated by Mr. Toi Nguyen at Future Coffee Farm, Bao Loc, Vietnam. The roast is ”dark”—somewhat darker than a basic Italian espresso.

Now, I knew that brewing Vietnamese coffee in a moka pot would probably be considered unorthodox. But I just had to try it anyway. That’s just the way I seem to find the essence of any given coffee.

In the bouquet, I detected all the classic robusta notes:

  • flowers
  • vanilla
  • some earth

The mouthfeel was extremely smooth and creamy.

All the different flavors worked together in perfect harmony. I musical terms, the notes could be described as follows:

  • soprano: vanilla & toffee/caramel
  • alto: semi-dry acidity & pencil shavings
  • baritone: medium dark chocolate & some hazelnuts
  • bass: tacit

But then I tried brewing the coffee in the phin dripper. That’s when the magic happened.

The mouthfeel remained very smooth, but the initial flavors were pleasantly dry and mildly acidic. This aspect of the flavor profile was mostly about the ”pencil shavings”. Very soon afterwards, however, the flavors shifted to a semi-sweet combination of hazelnuts, toffee, and some chocolate. There was a hint of vanilla in the finish as well.

The flavor profile offered me the perfect combination of robust masculinity and gentle sophistication. It was potent enough to provide a good base for Vietnamese coffee drinks that use the sweet condensed milk. At the same time, however, it was subtle enough to be enjoyed on its own.

All in all, I found Ritari Rohkea to be an excellent product. It must be one of the best straight robustas I’ve ever had. If you like Robusta, you owe it to yourself to get some from Kahvikeisarinna. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to get a phin dripper as well!

Kudos to Kahvikeisarinna and Kahwe roastery for the fantastic experience!

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.

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!