Paulig Indonesia—a decent blend from the supermarket

I went to the local supermarket and found these: The Origins Blend series from Paulig, sold in these little 75 g (2.64 oz) ”Trial size” bags.

All of the blends in the Origins series are 100% Arabicas. Each one is named after the country of origin of the primary ingredient: Indonesia, Colombia, Tanzania and Guatemala. Also, each blend is roasted medium dark (3/5), and pre-ground for coffee makers or French press.

That being the case, I decided to let my Moka pot rest for a while (sob), and use my French press instead. I also decided to brew all of these blends following the same method. It’s very simple:

  • boil some water
  • add 14 g (0.49 oz) of ground coffee in the preheated FP glass carafe
  • after the water has cooled down for one minute, pour 200 g (7.05 oz) of it on top of the grounds
  • place the plunger on top, but don’t press just yet
  • let stand for 3 min 45 sec
  • remove the plunger
  • take a spoon and remove excess coffee grounds from the surface
  • insert the plunger and press
  • pour the coffee in a cup and enjoy

I tried Indonesia first. Obviously, it’s made of Indonesian beans, but has some South American in it too. That’s all the company tells us about the ingredients. They call it ”intense & spicy,” with flavors of wild berries, rich fruityness and hints of spices.

In my opinion, the overall flavor was on the darker side. The berries were definitely there. I detected some spice as well. On the other hand—just as promised—there was also a fruity aspect to it. While all of these aspects were apparent in the flavor profile, none of them was particularly pronounced. Take the berriness, for instance: With some other coffees you can say something like ”This tastes like raspberries.” But with Indonesia it was actually quite hard to say what the ”berries” were like. Similarly, the fruitiness did remind me of fresh cut fruits, but whether they tasted like stonefruits or something else, it was hard to tell. It’s like all the flavors were there, but the whole thing tasted kind of muted. Only the spiciness was a bit easier to understand. It didn’t taste peppery per se, but closer to that than, say, cinnamon or other baking spices.

The blend was pretty low in acidity, which was nice. The body was medium at most.

My final verdict? Paulig Indonesia may not be a gourmet coffee blend, but it is better than many other Finnish grocery store coffees. However, if I had to get a solid medium dark Arabica from the supermarket, I would certainly opt for a Swedish blend, say Reko from Arvid Nordquist, or Jubileum or Kharisma from Löfbergs.

Hannover 96 Kaffee ”Melange Alte Liebe”—a great morning blend!

Our dear friends came back from Hannover, Germany, and brought me this: Hannover 96 Kaffee ”Melange Alte Liebe” by Hannoversche Kaffeemanufaktur.

This is a special coffee blended for Hannover 96, the 2. Bundesliga soccer club.

On the Hannoversche Kaffeemanufaktur website it says that the blend is made from the best highland Arabicas on the planet. The company tells us it is velvety, highly aromatic and has a smooth, soft fullness. I would add that it’s roasted medium light (around 2,5/5).

I knew this blend was created mainly for the French press, pour over, AeroPress or coffee machine user in mind. However, I decided to try it (you knew it) in my Bialetti Moka.

This is just great. Initially, Hannover 96 Kaffee seems pretty ordinary, but that’s exactly why it is so good. It’s medium full in body. It’s not very sweet. Rather, it’s quite bitter (not unlike Gran Dia by Arvid Nordqvist) and acidic. And yet it’s not harsh at all, but—just as they say—smooth and soft. There’s some tobacco in the taste as well. Every now and then I also get a tiny hint of juiciness of some kind. In my opinion, this is a fantastic pick-me-up in the morning. A true no-nonsense blend, it would work perfectly with your bacon and eggs. I like it a lot.

By the way, this blend has one of the sweetest room notes I’ve known: very caramelly, and slightly tobaccoey. It brings back a fond memory from my childhood: Me and my best friend T, running around in his garden. T’s father, pruning his berry bushes, clenching his French zulu pipe, and smiling at us. The sweet, toffee-like aroma of Clan pipe tobacco. Just awesome.

Oh boy, Hannover 96 Kaffee is great. Get it if you can!

Turkish coffee from Artukbey!

One of my Iraqi friends brought me this: Sade Dibek Kahvesi from Artukbey, the Turkish coffee company. Fantastic, thank you!

I should probably ask my friend who speaks Turkish, but I think ”Sade Dibek Kahvesi” means ”plain coffee.” This coffee is supposed to be brewed in a cesve (or briki, or ibric, depending on where you are). That’s why it’s ground super fine. I tried to do some research, but I couldn’t find any information on the ingredients. Judging by the bag aroma, I think it’s mostly, if not all, Arabica. But then there’s also the familiar funk you get from Turkish and Greek coffee. I honestly don’t know what it is. (If you do, please tell me!) Someone told me the smell comes from the way the beans are processed. The word is there is some mold in the coffee. I’m not sure if this is true, but the coffee certainly smells like that. In my opinion though, it’s not unpleasant at all. The more I tried to analyze the aroma of the ground coffee, the more I thought it smelled like salted licorice. Quite interesting!

I actually bought my first cesve in order to enjoy this coffee. I admit that it has taken me some time to learn the Turkish method of brewing coffee, but I think I’m getting close. I’ve found the right coffee-to-water ratio, and the right amount of heat. I can get a pretty nice crema, too. However, I’m no expert. That’s why I’ll just give you some initial impressions.

I liked this coffee very much.

I tried to make it with some sugar, as is customary in Turkey. It was OK. But since I don’t have a sweet tooth, I usually left the sugar out, and enjoyed the ”plain coffee” taste. It was strong and flavorful, but ”medium” enough to enjoy any time of the day. It was pretty basic, but in a very good way. It just worked for me every time.

All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. It made me want to learn more about Turkish coffee. Artukbey Sade Dibek Kahvesi is a product I would definitely want to try again!

Lucaffé Classic—the quintessential espresso

Oh wow. I’m in love.

I’ve wanted to try Lucaffé blends for a long time. For some reason I never got around to ordering them. Until now.

The first one I got is this: Lucaffé Classic. I seems to me that this is their flagship blend. It’s made of 80% Arabicas and 20% Robusta.

This blend is so great that I’m at a loss for words. But let me at least try.

It’s

  • pungent
  • big
  • bold
  • masculine
  • full flavored
  • smooth
  • a lot of dark chocolate
  • some vanilla
  • cigar-like
  • earthy
  • bitter
  • savory, and yet
  • naturally sweet
  • even some raisins or figs (in the finish).

Lucaffé Classic is the quintessential Italian espresso, just made better than most—oh wait, it’s right up there with my beloved Pascucci blends. If that’s what you like, you’ve got to try this. In Finland, you can get Lucaffé products from the good folks at Crema. Their Helsinki store is great, and also their online service is fantastic. Now, go go go!

Drop Coffee Roasters Samaichacha—fresh fruits and milk chocolate

Our friends moved back from Stockholm, Sweden, and brought us this: Samaichacha from Drop Coffee Roasters. Thank you so much!

Samaichacha is all about washed Caturra from Bolivia. On the label, the roastery provides the following information: ”A medium bodied cup, notes of crunchy pink apple and milk chocolate, with a floral hint. A lasting aftertaste and mouthfeel reminding of mature red wine.” The roast is medium-light at around 2/5.

As I ground the beans, I got a mouthwatering aroma of milk chocolate and fresh fruits, which made me think of some of the fantastic products from Turun Kahvipaahtimo.

I tried brewing the coffee in both my AeroPress (inverted, steel filter) and moka pot. Either way, I got a beautiful combination of juicy fruitiness (not as in the chewing gum, but in real fresh cut fruits) and milk chocolate. The fruitiness was always there, but the chocolate thing balanced it out nicely, and brought some nice higher midrange body to the flavor. Honestly, I didn’t detect any actual wine-like flavor, but the long finish did remind me of the way a good Merlot feels in the mouth.

Samaichacha is definitely a high quality product, no doubt about it. I really enjoyed it, especially in the morning. I guess I’ll have to crash at my brother’s place in Stockholm, and get some more!

Esplanad Espresso Blend—pure Italy!

If you want very good espresso, try this: Esplanad Espresso Blend from Café Esplanad, the legendary café/bakery/roastery in downtown Helsinki, Finland.

This blend brought back many fond memories from twenty years ago, when me and my Wife were studying in Helsinki. On Sundays, we would often go to Café Esplanad, to enjoy the great tea and coffee, and the huge (around 9″?!) cinnamon rolls.

Esplanad tells us that their Espresso Blend is a ”Classic espresso roast” that’s made from 50% Brazilian, 40% Colombian, and 10% Indian beans. The company also offers the following ”flavour notes:” roasted walnuts, dark chocolate.

Now, I’m not sure about this, but I would assume that the 10% Indian is Robusta. The remaining 90% must be a blend of different Arabicas. The bag note, the bouquet, and the actual flavor profile are very similar to those in Pascucci Golden Sack—which, by the way, is 10% Robusta and 90% Arabicas. This is great, especially if you consider the fact that nowadays many ”espresso” blends made in different countries do not actually seem to resemble real Italian espressos at all. For example, in my opinion, many Scandinavian ”espressos” are roasted way too dark. This one was different, though: the presentation, the roast (around 3/5), the aroma, and the flavors were pure Italy. Very nice!

At first, though, it took me some head-scrathing to figure out what this blend was about. As I opened the bag and brewed this in my moka pot, the basic flavor profile was very much like in any basic Italian espresso. At the same time, however, I detected a funny sidenote. Cardboard? Really? At other times, there was also a piercing, dark note which reminded me of raw rubber. I’m pretty sure this was the robusta. Strange as it may sound, I actually liked it quite a bit.

But after the beans had been exposed to air for a while, the ”cardboard” and ”rubber” flavors dissipated completely. After this, the blend was all about the familiar aromas and flavors of the best Italian coffees: dark chocolate, confectionery and almonds. These different aspects were in perfect balance. The overall experience was naturally sweet, bitter and almondy at the same time, just like my beloved Golden Sack.

All in all, Esplanad Espresso Blend is a delightful espresso in the classic Italian style. It is probably not the most unique coffee blend on the planet, or something that would knock your socks off. But what it does, it does really well. I can highly recommend it to anyone!

Joe Coffee Company ”The Daily”

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Here’s a coffee blend I got from the States: ”The Daily, House Coffee” from Joe Coffee Company, New York.

This is a blend of washed Caturra, Bourbon and Pacamara from Guatemala and Columbia. The label promises ”Chocolate, Caramel, Medium Body.” The roast is on the lighter side, somewhere around 2,5 on the scale of one to five.

As you open the bag and grind the beans, you get the familiar aroma of marzipan and chocolate that reminds you of many light roasted Finnish grocery store coffees (e.g. Paulig blends).

Figuring out the flavor profile was a bit of a challenge for me.

The moka pot brought out a nice, fruity acidity, a ”high,” citrusy note. There was also some midrange chocolateyness, but not much—the midrange was not very strong in this blend, which made it seem slightly hollower than some similar blends. On the very bottom of the flavor spectrum there was a small amount of dark chocolate. This added a hint of nice bitterness to the overall taste.

Brewing this with my AeroPress (inverted, steel filter) sometimes brought out more fruity flavors. I say ”sometimes,” because even if I tried to follow the same exact method of brewing, the fruityness wasn’t always as apparent. When it was there, it was not citrusy, but sweeter and ”softer.” In other cups, however, the fruityness was replaced by a certain bitterness. This was not the same bitterness of dark chocolate that I detected earlier. Rather, it was a nutty bitterness, which reminded me of another ”daily” blend, Grand Dia from Arvid Nordqvist.

By the way, ”The Daily” had a nice room note. The other day I was enjoying it while working. For some reason I had to leave my study for a moment, and left my cup on my desk. When I got back, the room was filled with a citrusy, slightly chocolatey scent. Quite pleasant.

Summa summarum—In my opinion, there were three main aspects to the flavor profile: acidity, fruityness and nutty bitterness. For some reason, the proportions seemed to change quite a bit. The acidity was always there, but sometimes the overall flavor felt fruitier, sometimes more bitter. Whether this was due to small changes in the water temperature, I couldn’t tell. Be that as it may, the blend seemed slightly inconsistent and unpredictable. On top of the three main aspects mentioned above, there was some chocolate as well, but not much. I wasn’t able to detect the caramel at all.

Perhaps the overall flavor profile was not the most unique or mind-blowing. But just as its name would suggest, ”The Daily” seemed to work well enough as an all day every day blend. I found it to be a good choice for my morning cup. I might not book a flight to the States just to get it, but I’d be happy to enjoy it if I got it again.

The perfect complement to your morning coffee?

What would be the perfect complement to your morning coffee? Yes, I know. To each their own, right? Right. But here’s what I would say.

First, some background: A few years ago I decided to make a 180 degree change in my life. I started exercising regularly. I totally revamped my eating habits. As I tried to collect information on how to live a healthy life, I happened to read about a protein pancake that some athletes like to have for breakfast. I tried it, and instantly fell in love with it.

After that, I’ve tweaked that recipe many times over the years, playing around with different ingredients, changing the proportions, et cetera. I’ve found that the following works best for my personal nutritional requirements:

  • 1 ripe banana (preferably a big one)
  • 0.3 cup of oats
  • 1 heaping scoop of sugar free whey protein powder (I prefer SportLife Nutrition Whey 80, vanilla or chocolate flavor)
  • cinnamon (a little [too much!] goes a long way)
  • 1 big egg
  • 1 egg white
  • optional: 0.5 tbsp of natural, unsweetened peanut butter

Put it all in a mixer. Pour the batter on a pre-heated, lightly oiled frying pan. Cook on both sides. That’s it.

Add to that a cup of high quality coffee, made in the 3 cup Bialetti Moka pot. Black, no sugar. Voilà! The perfect breakfast, in my opinion.

I love it so much that I can’t think of a morning without it. I know I’ll be hungry two hours after I finish this breakfast, but that’s OK. Then it’ll be time to have a healthy mid-morning snack, and another cup of good black coffee.

Kahiwa Galeh—light roasted excellence

I’ve been traveling a lot this week. Every time I’ve come back home, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a cup or two of this: Galeh from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters. Oh, what a treat.

Galeh is all about natural Heirloom from the Limu Kossa farm in Ethiopia. The roast is light at 2/5. As for tasting notes, the company provides the following description: rowanberry, rosehip and nougat.

I couldn’t agree more. As I’ve said before, I generally don’t eat berries, let alone rowanberries or rosehip. But I remember trying to taste those as a kid. If I remember correctly, this is exactly what rowanberry and rosehip tasted like. Be that as it may, I can say this: Galeh has two different aspects to it. On the one hand, there is this ”soft,” slightly nutty and sweet nougat flavor (yes, it’s definitely nougat, not milk chocolate). On the other hand, there is the acidic flavor of some kind of red berries. These two aspects work together perfectly. The finish is medium long and nougaty. Absolutely delicious.

As far as the strength and body are concerned, Galeh is on the lighter side. At the same time, though, there is nothing weak about it. It is light enough to be a good breakfast coffee (macchinetta or even AeroPress), but full-bodied enough to satisfy the hard core espresso man after a big meal (macchinetta/espresso).

That’s it, really. Galeh is probably not the most complex or multifaceted coffee I’ve had, but it certainly is an excellent product that I think every light roast enthusiast should try. I enjoyed every sip of it. Highly recommended!

Lehmus Roastery Lauritsala—an amazing mélange of flavors

During the past week, I’ve been having some really amazing coffee. After I finished my bag of Sammonlahti from Lehmus Roastery, I opened this: Lauritsala from the same company.

Lauritsala is a blend of Monsooned Malabar, S-795/Kent Arabica natural from India, and wet hulled Tim-Tim/Caturra Arabica from Sumatra, Indonesia. The roast level is 4/5, and is called ”French Roast.” Lehmus describes this as a pretty full-flavored blend at 4,5/5.

Let’s get this straight: I liked it very much.

At first, however, this blend really made me think. The bag aroma was pleasant, and yet it took me several days to put my finger on what it was reminding me of.

On the label it was suggested that Lauritsala would be especially suitable for filter and French press. So I tried it in my new drip coffee maker. The result was perfectly OK: a cup of high quality, dark roasted Arabica coffee. However, I still couldn’t quite figure out what this blend was about. After that I brewed it in my AeroPress (one of the inverted methods), with the same result. (Lately, I have not been a big fan of French press coffee, so I decided to leave that contraption on the shelf.)

After a little hesitation, I decided to put the blend into my trusty Bialetti moka pot, with a finer grind size. It was like a light bulb went on. Suddenly all the different aromas and flavors appeared.

Just. Amazing.

Picture yourself standing in the beginning of a beautiful forest path in mid-September. After the rain, you can smell wood, roots, turning leaves, some delicious mushrooms. Next, try to imagine mixing all that with a generous helping of molasses.

Quite a mélange of aromas and flavors.

In this sense, Lauritsala was not unlike Sammonlahti: there were several savory elements to it, and then also the sweeter, molasses-like aspect. In this blend, though, the rootiness was more prominent than the molasses. The mouthfeel was very similar in both blends: creamy and smooth, with no harshness at all.

What more can I say? Just like its darker sibling, Lauritsala is an extremely high quality blend, only more complex.

Get it from Lehmus Roastery. You owe it to yourself.