Kahiwa El Jardín—like a good chardonnay

During the recent COVID-19 closure, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters moved their roastery to the Lahti city center. As the lockdown restrictions were eased, they opened the new facility, complete with a cool new cafe and wine bar. The other day, I went to see the place, and to buy some beans as well.

After showing me around, the CEO, Mr. Joonas Reinikainen introduced me to their new product: El Jardín. The first thing I noticed was that the company had replaced the brown paper bags with matte black ones with cool labels on them. On this particular label it said that El Jardín is hydro-honey processed Castillo from Colombia, roasted 2/5 on the Kahiwa scale. The tasting notes were listed as follows: Guava, grapefruit, hibiscus.

Now, I have no idea what guava and hibiscus taste or smell like! I do know that the one is a fruit and the other is a flower of some sort. Despite my obvious lack of knowledge in this area, I could easily tell that the ground beans had a ”high”, fruity, and floral aroma to it. However, the floral notes were a lot lighter and more refined than the familiar Robusta florality that you get with good Italian espressos. It was apparent that this was going to have a pretty sophisticated flavor profile.

I brewed El Jardín in my AeroPress (inverted, paper filter). The bouquet was quite similar to the aroma of the ground beans. In the mouth, the coffee felt light and juicy, but there was a little hint of creaminess too. The body was pretty light as well, but by no means hollow. In my opinion, the ”high” notes of grapefruit dominated the flavor profile. Even then, there were other fruity flavors to fill up some of the midrange—perhaps that was the guava? The floral notes became apparent in the finish. In the aftertaste, I think I might have detected some of the more familiar ”Colombian” flavors as well, such as nuttiness, and even a hint of chocolate, but I’m not 100% sure about it. Overall, the coffee was on the dry side of the flavor spectrum, but the fruity flavors gave it just enough natural sweetness to make it interesting.

To sum up, El Jardín is a very good, well-balanced, and surprisingly fruity Colombian. Now that I think of it, it is a lot like a good chardonnay. Get yourself some from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, and see what you think!

Record Coffee Co. Maustetyttöjen kahvi—”Finnish” coffee, only a lot better!

I recently got my hands on this cool coffee: Maustetyttöjen kahvi, a signature blend created by Record Coffee Co. (Kuopio, Finland) for Maustetytöt (Finnish for ”Spice Girls”!), the pop duo, known for their retro beats and characteristically Finnish lyrics about misery, depression, even suicidal tendencies. The description on the coffee bag would be pretty hard to translate, but I will say that it’s pretty hilarious for anyone who has heard the duo’s songs.

But now, on to the coffee itself. The ingredients were listed on the label:

Etiopia Guji, Ambela, washed
Tansania AA Karatu Estate, washed
Kenia Siret Peaberry, washed

The coffee came pre-ground for filter use, so I decided to brew it in my AeroPress (my usual method: inverted, paper filter). In my estimation, the roast level was medium, around 2,5/5.

The second I opened the bag, I knew that this was going to be really, really good. The main notes were

  • honey
  • fruits, both fresh and dried
  • red (?) berries

The bouquet was equally amazing.

In the mouth, the coffee felt very creamy, like honey. It was somewhat acidic, in the best sense of the word. While the blend was on the mild side flavor-wise, it was still surprisingly flavorful and nuanced. Everything I had detected in the bag note and bouquet were there in the flavor profile as well (in this order):

  1. honey
  2. dried fruits
  3. fresh fruits
  4. a hint of fresh (red?) berries

On top of it all, there was this DELICIOUS high note that I couldn’t put my finger on. There was something familiar to it, but even after consuming the whole bag of coffee, I couldn’t tell what it was. Anyhow, I absolutely loved it.

Somewhat unexpectedly, I found myself comparing this blend to the most popular Finnish grocery store coffee, Paulig Juhla Mokka (read my review!). While the two blends are by no means similar, the flavor profile in this RCC offering was not unlike the one in the Finnish classic. It felt a bit like having a gourmet version of Juhla Mokka. Therefore, I like to think that Maustetyttöjen kahvi would appeal to people who love their traditional Finnish coffee, but want to have something better—in this case, a lot better.

Last time I checked, Maustetyttöjen kahvi was sold out. I’m not surprised at all. It was so good! Even if you couldn’t get your hands on this particular blend, I highly recommend you try other products from Record Coffee Co. I certainly will!

Arcaffè Meloria—a classic Italian A/R espresso

This time, I’m reviewing Meloria, an honest espresso made in the Italian way by Arcaffè (Livorno, Italy). It is a classic blend, comprising 75% Arabicas, and 25% Robusta.

Again, there’s a description on the bag:

Meloria is named after the shallows of Meloria, made of rocks arising 2 miles in front of Livorno. It’s made of estate coffees only (75% Arabica) and created for those who prefer a strong taste. It produces thick and long-lasting cream. The high percentage of unwashed coffee makes it a full-bodied blend.

The company also states that the blend is ”Strong, Complete”. The familiar graph describes the flavor profile thus:

In my opinion, these statements hold true—for the most part, at least.

As I brewed Meloria in my Bialetti Moka, I immediately detected the familiar Robusta notes: the bouquet was vanilla-y, and slightly floral.

The mouthfeel reminded me of the other Arcaffè blends I’ve had: It was smooth and creamy, but pretty light, almost juicy. Very nice!

What about the flavor profile? Despite the smoothness of the blend, there was a classic ”Italian” bitterness that seemed to ”come from within the blend”. Try to imagine a big, soft (rubber?) ball with a silky smooth surface, and a hard core, and you may get a picture of ”where” the bitterness was ”located” in the blend. (Please bear with me, these things are quite difficult to describe, even in Finnish, my native language!) Anyway, the vanilla flavor was pretty noticeable, but then there was also a deep chocolate note, accompanied with some of that florality. None of these flavors was super dominant. Rather, they were very nicely balanced.

To sum up, out of the four Arcaffè espressos I’ve had, Meloria was probably the most traditional. While it didn’t offer any big suprises, it was very enjoyable, to the point where it made me dream of my next trip to Italy.

In Finland, you can get Arcaffè blends from Crema, Helsinki. I highly recommend you do so!

Arcaffè Gorgona—An amazingly good Italian espresso

In these past days, I’ve returned to what I really like: espresso blends from Arcaffè, Livorno, Italy. This time, I’ll give you my thoughts on Gorgona, their Arabica/Robusta espresso blend.

On the back of the bag, the company states:

Gorgona, named after one of the Tuscan Archipelago’s islands located in front of Livorno, is blended with single estate coffees: two kinds of Arabica (85%) coming from Brazil and two washed Indian coffees: an Arabica and a Robusta (selected for and by CSC). it’s perfect for who prefers definite taste [sic!].

From this description one gets the impression that in addition to the 85% of Arabica, the remaining 15% consists of both Arabica and Robusta. However, on the label it says that there is 85% Arabican and 15% Robusta. Be that as it may, I’m interested in the flavor profile! And there is some information on that too:

Of course, I had to brew Gorgona in my Italian coffee maker numero uno, the Bialetti Moka.

Right off the bat, I could tell that the quality of the coffee was very high. (What else would you expect from a traditional company like Arcaffè?). The mouthfeel was smooth and creamy, and yet pretty light at the same time.

The flavor was moderately complex. I detected the following notes:

  • very nice bitterness—this is not to say that the blend was harsh in any way; rather, the bitterness seemed to come ”from within” the flavor profile
  • a tiny hint of pine needles
  • cinnamon
  • dried figs
  • liquorice

As was the case with Arcaffè Roma, here too the overall experience was quite unique: Gorgona was kind of fullbodied and masculine (well, it’s Italian espresso!) on the one hand, and light, sophisticated and almost juicy on the other. In this way, it offered the best of both worlds, and yet the whole thing felt very much ”together”. This seems to be an Arcaffè trademark; I’ve never experienced anything like it in other Italian coffees. I really, really like it! Lastly, I should also mention that the liquorice flavor was only barely detectable in the finish. So, even if you don’t like liquorice, I don’t think you would be offended by this blend.

As you can guess, I can highly recommend Arcaffè Gorgona. Like its sister blends, it is an amazingly good Italian espresso! In Finland, you can get it—and other Arcaffè products—from the good folks at Crema, Helsinki.

Greek espresso—Uh oh.

This is a bag of Greek espresso that I found in my local Oriental grocery store. I love Greek coffee, so I just had to buy it.

I wish I didn’t.

From the moment I cut the bag open, I knew I was in trouble. I could tell it was a basic straight Arabica, but it mainly smelled like an old warehouse.

Since it was a Greek product, I tried to brew it in my briki. No, no. Too coarse. It also didn’t taste good. I decided to give it another try in my moka pot.

Uh oh. Try to imagine having liquid cardboard boxes and shipping packaging tape. Add to that a tiny bit of bitter Arabica flavor, and you’ll get the picture.

This is probably the first time in my life that I’ll have to discard almost 500 g of coffee. It is totally undrinkable.

Hamwi Café Extra—extra cardamom!

I recently reviewed Hamwi Café Classic, the Turkish style coffee with cardamom flavoring, made in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This time, I’m taking a look at its big brother, Hamwi Café Extra. On the package, the company calls it a ”Premium blend”. They also say there is ”Extra cardamom” in it.

First, there are many similarities between the two blends. Just like Classic, Extra…

  • is probably a straight Arabica blend (the company offers no information on the ingredients)
  • is pre-ground for cezve/ibrik/briki
  • is roasted medium
  • has a distinctive aroma of cardamom
  • doesn’t produce a lot of crema
  • is very black in the cup
  • tastes like natural coffee, spiced up with natural cardamom
  • lacks the moldy funk that you get with some Turkish and Greek blends

Secondly, obviously, there are differences as well:

  • in Extra, there is a LOT of cardamom: 25% (!)
  • in the bag, the cardamom aroma is so strong that it’s almost menthol-like
  • the cardamom flavor is not as piercing as one might expect based on the bag note, but beware, it is pretty spicy
  • Extra does taste like coffee, but the coffee-to-cardamon ratio makes one wonder whether it should be called a ”coffee cardamon drink” or ”dessert” (!), rather than flavored coffee

In sum, I found Hamwi Café Extra to be an interesting experience. For me, personally, the amount of cardamom was a little too much. I’m also not sure if I would call it a ”premium blend”. That said, there’s nothing wrong with it! It’s actually quite good for what it is. For instance, the coffee (or what you can taste of it!) and the added flavoring work very well together. If you want to have something really spicy after a big meal, AND if you can find it, give it a try!

Hamwi Café Classic—Turkish coffee w/ cardamom

A couple of days ago, I happened to find some new-to-me coffees in my local oriental grocery store. Since I love oriental coffee, I just had to pick up a few packs.

This is the first one: Classic from Hamwi Café, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is a Turkish style coffee with cardamom flavoring. It is pre-ground for cezve/ibrik/briki.

The first thing I noticed was that the ground coffee was really dark in color. The roast didn’t seem super dark, however. I was wondering whether the color was due to the added spice. It definitely smelled like cardamom! The lovely aroma made me think of traditional Finnish cinnamon rolls. Yummy.

Every time I have flavored coffee, I want to know about the coffee itself. Unfortunately, there was not much of a product description on the package. It really only said that there is 10% of cardamom in the coffee.

As I brewed Classic in my cezve, I was surprised by the fact that unlike similar coffees from Turkey or Greece, it didn’t produce a lot of crema. The end product was ”just coffee”, black coffee. And when I say black, I mean literally black. Even so, the flavor was not very dark. It felt like a medium-full straight Arabica blend, with a tiny hint of nice bitterness, but not too much. Due to the added cardamom, however, it was slightly difficult to pick up the basic flavor of the coffee.

Speaking of the added flavoring, there was nothing artificial to it. Unlike some other flavored coffee products, which can be quite sweet and goopy (think of Lion Coffee products—which I like a lot, by the way!}, Classic was all about natural coffee, spiced up with natural cardamom. While the amount of cardamom did seem like quite a lot, the coffee and the flavoring worked very well together.

One more thing: In Classic, there was none of that (lovely!) moldy funk that you get with some Turkish blends from, say, Artukbey, or the Greek ones from Coffee Island or Loumidis. Maybe this could make Classic more approachable for some of us Westerners! All in all, Hamwi Café Classic was a nice ”all day” type of Turkish coffee blend with a twist. I liked it!

Arcaffè Mokacrema—smooth & full-bodied straight Arabica

Here’s Mokacrema, my second blend from Arcaffè, Livorno, Italy.

On the bag, the company describes the coffee as follows:

Mokacrema is a prized coffee blend produced by our company since 1949, made of 100% C. arabica with a high percentage of coffees coming from high ground estates of Central America and Ethiopia.

This time, the Arcaffè graph showed us this:

I think this is a pretty accurate description.

As was the case with Arcaffè Roma, here too the mouthfeel was pretty smooth and rich. Mokacrema was slightly more acidic, though—and that in a very pleasant way. The acidity was mostly apparent in the high end of the flavor spectrum, which was floral and citrusy, just as promised. But then, to balance out the flavor profile, the midrange was malty and honey-like. Even then, the overall experience was not too sweet, in my opinion. Lastly, in the lower midrange I detected a very pleasant, almost earthy and slightly bitter layer of baking spices.

At first sip, Arcaffè Mokacrema might not have been as mind-blowing as its sibling blend, Roma. However, after several cups, I started to appreciate it for what it is: a very good, smooth, yet full-bodied straight Arabica espresso, made in the traditional Italian way.

If you love true Italian coffee, you should try Arcaffè Mokacrema! In Finland, you can get Arcaffè blends from Crema, Helsinki.

Arcaffè Roma—Italy at her best

If you’re like me and love Italian coffee, you should try the espressos blended by Arcaffè, the traditional coffee company in Livorno, Italy. I recently got four of them, and here’s the first one: Arcaffè Roma.

On the bag, the coffee is described thus:

Complex
Sweet

Roma is a fusion of multiple Arabica coffees, originating from Brazil and high ground estates in Central America, Ethiopia and India. This blend has been produced without alteration (apart from wartime) since 1926.

Talk about a long tradition! I like that.

There’s also a cool graph:

The aroma of the ground beans was definitely caramelly, and cocoa-like.

The body was smooth and rich, and yet the mouthfeel seemed to be on the lighter side, ”medium” at most. Actually, Roma felt almost juicy in the mouth—an unexpected experience indeed, considering that this is a no-nonsense Italian espresso blend. And yes, the acidity was ”medium”, at least no more than that.

The flavor was medium full. The overall experience was caramelly and cocoa-like, and there was some of that natural, nutty sweetness of American burley tobacco leaf as well. All of these flavors were in perfect balance.

Even the aroma of the emptly cup was great. It evoked a memory from my childhood:

– – A cool summer evening in the Finnish archipelago. I’m standing in the garden of my friend’s house, watching his dad tend his lovely rose bushes. The sweet and caramelly aroma of his aromatic pipe tobacco. – –

Back to Arcaffè Roma: I loved everything about it! Roma is Italian straight arabica espresso at its best. It is flavorful, but very well balanced. It will satisfy the hard core espresso lover, but it will do so very gently. I can’t say how much I loved it.

If you haven’t tried Arcaffè Roma, you are missing out! In Finland, you can get Arcaffè blends from the coffee experts at Crema, Helsinki.

Café Liégeois Mano Mano Subtil—nuanced, yet simple and rustic

dav

This week, I’ve been enjoying Mano Mano Subtil from Café Liégeois, Belgium.

On the bag, the company tells us that that ”this blend includes, among other things, coffee from Bolivia” (my translation). That’s all they say about it, really. OK, there was the familiar graph, too. This time, it said this:

  • Rondeur: 10/14
  • Intensité: 9/14
  • Fruité: 13/14

The roast was medium dark, somewhere around 3–3,5/5. Right off the bat, it seemed to me that this coffee would work really well in the moka pot as well as the AeroPress. Again, I was right! Either way, the mouthfeel was very smooth and creamy, just like in the other Café Liégeois coffees I’ve had the pleasure of trying. This seems to be part of their trademark!

What about the flavor profile, then? At first, I was having a bit of a hard time articulating what Subtil tasted like. After several cups, however, I started to figure it out. I concluded that the main notes were medium dark milk chocolate flavor, and fresh fruits. But there was also a nice bitterness that seemed to come ”from within” the coffee, if that makes sense. What I’m trying to say is that Subtil felt smooth and slightly bitter at the same time. It was also somewhat nuanced, yet simple and rustic. I liked it!

Despite its name, Mano Mano Subtil from Café Liégeois might not offer you the most subtle flavors you can think of. Anyhow, I found it to be a pleasant all around blend that you can brew in any way you want, and enjoy any time of the day. I think it’s worth checking out! In Finland, you can get it from Kahvikaveri.