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!

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!

E’s World Coffee ”Three Head”—solid American coffee… and more!

Oh, this is great: Another generous package from E’s World Coffee (Anchorage, Alaska)! This time, the award winning master roaster Earnest Rawlings and his wife sent me two of their lighter roasted coffees. As some of you may remember, I absolutely loved the previous two blends I got from them. One Grouphead and Two Group easily made my list of Top 10 Coffees of 2020. Naturally, I was pretty excited to receive some of their other products. Thank you so much!

So, here’s the first one: Three Head. On their website, E’s World describe this coffee as follows:

A blend of Central American coffee crafted to delight the taste buds. The flavors of cocoa and roasted almonds, hazelnut and brown sugar with medium body, rich flavor and smooth follow through. This #3, was blended for manual brewing, auto drip, French press, pour overs and Cold brew. It absolutely shines using the auto drip method. Enjoyed to be brewed as a good rounded, cup of coffee. (No milk or sugar necessary) 😉

Briefly, this is exactly what you get.

I should also mention that the blend is categorized ”Black”. As I’ve mentioned earlier, E’s World Coffee products come in four degrees of roast: ”Blackish”, ”Black”, ”Blacker”, and ”Blackest”. So, Three Head is the second lightest roast offered by the company. Even so, it is quite dark indeed.

Since I don’t really use the auto-drip machine, I tried brewing the coffee in my AeroPress. Here’s what I found out:

Yes, the body was medium. The mouthfeel was very smooth and milky.

What about the flavor? Initially, I thought that Three Head is just solid black coffee in the American style. While it was very enjoyable, it felt a lot like a straightforward all day blend—not unlike some products by Seattle’s Best Coffee or Starbucks (without the ”Starbucks note”, of course). After a couple of cups, however, I started to realize how complex it actually was. Three Head offered a wonderful mélange of flavors: roasted almonds, nuts, some cocoa, and perhaps a hint of bitter chocolate—talk about ”Central American” flavors! There might have been a tiny hint on vanilla and baking spices as well.

In this way, Three Head was a lot like some medium to dark roasted filter coffees made by my favorite Japanese coffee companies. It actually reminded me of Blend 3 Original by Ogawa Coffee (小川珈琲). (Both blends are numbered ”three”!) If you ask me, Three Head might be a big hit among Japanese lovers of solid black coffee.

I loved every single cup!

Now, hurry up to the E’s World Coffee website and order some Three Head! You will be sure to feel their love for excellent coffee!

My top 10 coffees of 2020

In 2020, I got to enjoy at least 73 different coffee blends or single origin coffees from 12 different countries and 33 companies. Now it’s time to wrap up the year by listing the very best products!

While I had the opportunity to try all kinds of coffees, all of the products that made my top 10 list were unflavored high-end coffees. That said, I included one flavored coffee and one grocery store blend into the ”Honorable Mentions” category.

Like last year, the products were so different from each other that it wouldn’t have been fair to compare them with each other. Therefore, instead of ranking the coffees, I organized them into three categories according to the approximate roast level (dark, medium, and light). Of course, the darkness of a roast is a subjective matter. It is also probably not the best way to categorize coffee products. Obviously, there are so many other factors that affect the flavors. However, I wasn’t able to come up with a better way to list the coffees. So, in each of the three categories, I presented the coffees in alphabetical order according to the company name. The resulting list can be thought of as a pool of excellent coffees. You can pick any product you want and end up enjoying a truly memorable experience.

I used two different brewing methods. Espresso coffees were brewed in my three cup Bialetti Moka pot. On the other hand, the coffees that were intended for other brewing methods I prepared in my AeroPress, with my favorite inverted method and a paper filter. I used no additives.

So, here we go. My top 10 coffees of 2020:

Dark roast:

Medium roast:

Light roast:

You could not go wrong with any of these coffees. Unfortunately, some of these products might already be out of stock. If that is the case, you could check out any product from these great roasteries. They really know what they do.

Lastly, there were three blends that did not make the top 10 list but still deserve to be mentioned.

Honorable mentions:

  • Hamwi Café Classic—the best flavored coffee (cardamom) (United Arab Emirates)
  • Loumidis Papagalos (ΛΟΥΜΙΔΗΣ ΠΑΠΑΓΑΛΟΣ)—the best Greek grocery store coffee (Greece)
  • Paulig Presidentti Gold Label—the best Finnish grocery store coffee (Finland)

Special thanks to everyone at Cafetoria Roastery, E’s World Coffee, Kahwe, Mokafina, Muki, and Rob Beans Coffee for making this possible!

Now it’s time for me to take a small break and enjoy some great blends I recently received from the USA. I’ll be back in early January to tell you about them!

Happy New Year!

Paulig ”Christmas Coffee”—semi-sweet cinnamon rolls!

The other day, as I went Christmas shopping, I got this: Christmas Coffee from Paulig, the Finnish coffee giant. Nice! I had never had it before.

On the bag, Paulig does not give away a lot of information about the product. The description is pretty concise:

A delicious coffee blend, flavoured with real cinnamon and cardamom. This secret recipe, particularly for Christmas, has been perfected by our years of experience.

Other than that, the company only reveals that the roast level is 3/5. Oh yes, the symbols on the bag do indicate that the (pre-ground) product is intended for filter coffee machines or French press. Of course, I decided to make it in my AeroPress. It worked really well with my trusty plastic tube!

The bag note was very pleasant and natural. There was absolutely nothing artificial to it. The aroma was reminiscent of traditional Scandinavian cinnamon rolls and gingerbread cookies.

I could be wrong (?), but to me, Christmas Coffee appeared to be made of 100% Arabica beans (from Latin America?). That’s the way it felt, anyway. Whereas many flavored coffee products seem to be quite mild, Christmas Coffee was medium-full in body.

The flavor was naturally sweet and slightly bitter. While there might have been some midrange nuttiness to it, I found myself mostly thinking of fresh baked semi-sweet cinnamon rolls, spiced up with a hint of black pepper. The whole thing was bready, bakery-like, and somewhat spicy. I found myself enjoying it in the morning, and multiple times during the day. It was really good!

Get a bag of Paulig Christmas Coffee from your local supermarket, and see if you like it too! Merry Christmas!

Mokkamestarit Vanilla coffee—Vanilla… and more!

Here’s yet another coffee from Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co. (Tampere, Finland). The name, Wanhanajan vaniljakahvi, is difficult to translate exactly. Basically, it refers to vanilla coffee as it used to be in the olden days.

So, this is coffee with added flavoring. On the their website, Mokkamestarit elaborate that it tastes like vanilla cream. They also reveal that the roast level is 1/5. Obviously, the coffee is pre-ground. Other than that, there is little information on the blend.

First, let me confess: I have no idea what vanilla coffee might have tasted like in the past. Therefore, I can only compare this product with other flavored coffees that are available now.

That said, as soon as I opened the bag, I was greeted by an aroma I remember smelling as a kid. It’s a faint memory. I’m entering a confectionery store with my mom. The mouthwatering mélange of aromas: chocolate, fresh licorice, cakes, coffee, baking spices… Lovely!

I used my AeroPress for brewing this coffee. Perhaps the grind size could have been a little coarser, but it worked reasonably well with my trusty plastic tube.

Due to the added flavoring, it was somewhat difficult to tease out the flavors of the actual coffee that went into this product. I think the basic flavor profile consisted of midrange notes of chocolate, (hazel?) nuts, and a small hint of tobacco.

But what about the added flavoring? I detected some vanilla, for sure, but there was more to it. Licorice and anise? Chocolate and cream? Obviously, it could also be that the vanilla flavor accentuated the chocolatey flavors of the coffee. I’m not sure! In addition to these flavors, however, I couldn’t help but think that there was something artificial to the topping: both the flavor and the mouthfeel reminded me of glycerol. No, I’m saying it was unpleasant. It just did not feel very natural, either.

All in all, Wanhanajan vaniljakahvi was not unlike the Hawaiian blend I had a year ago, Hazelnut Coffee by Lion Coffee. Obviously, both the flavoring and the coffee itself were different. However, the overall vibe was very similar: medium mild Arabica coffee with a generous helping of added (not only natural?) flavoring. If that’s what you like, you might want to try it out! You can get it from the Mokkamestarit online store.

Mokkamestarit ”Costa Rica La Pastora Anaerobic”—Scandinavian lingonberry pie!

As I was buying this single estate coffee, the roastery had just ran out of labels for it. But no worries, I can tell you what it is: Costa Rica La Pastora Anaerobic by Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co., Tampere, Finland.

Now this one was unique! As I opened the bag, I immediately knew that I was going to get something different. On the one hand, the bag aroma made me think of semi-sweet crackers—Digestives, perhaps, or maybe even gingerbread cookies. On the other hand, however, there was this high, piercing note that reminded me of lingonberries. The whole thing smelled like a traditional Scandinavian lingonberry pie.

As always, I used both the Moka pot and the AeroPress.

The mouthfeel was silky smooth. The body was somewhere between medium or medium-full.

The flavors matched the bag aroma. In the middle of the flavor spectrum, Costa Rica had a ”brown” flavor of sweet and savory Digestive pie crust that had a hint of gingerbread to it as well. In the upper register, there was this ”red” acidity of lingonberries. In the spicing department, I detected some vanilla and light baking cocoa.

Now I think I know the reason why Mokkamestarit ran out of labels for Costa Rica La Pastora Anaerobic. It is very, very good. While it was unlike any other coffee I remember tasting, I found it to be extremely enjoyable!

Mokkamestarit ”Guatemala Huehetenango”—flavorful & solid

Here’s another offering from Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co., Tampere, Finland: Guatemala Huehuetenango. It is made of washed and sundried Catuai, Caturra and Paches. The roast level is 3/5.

The company describes this product as fruity. Supposedly, there are notes of melon in the aroma. They also state that the coffee is moderately acidic, and that it provides a fresh finish.

As always, I used both the Moka pot and the AeroPress for brewing. Either way, the mouthfeel was semi-creamy, and the body was medium full.

The flavor profile was not exactly monochromatic, but not super nuanced either. While I was unable to detect the melon-like aromas, I did get some fruity and fresh flavors. On the other hand, there was also quite a bit of nuttiness that had a nice, bitter edge to it. I found myself thinking of bitter almonds. These two aspects—the high, fruity flavors, and the midrange nuttiness—worked so well together that most of the time I didn’t even think about them as distinct from each other. Instead, I just enjoyed the ”one” solid, medium-full flavor.

In sum, Guatemala Huehuetenango was a nice experience. To be honest, it did not blow me away like Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko did, but I liked it quite a bit nonetheless. It is very good! I think you should give it a try. Check out Mokkamestarit, and get yourself some!

Mokkamestarit ”Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko”—’S Wonderful

The other day, I got the opportunity to visit the famous Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co., Tampere, Finland.

This is one of the coffees I purchased: Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko. It is made of washed Heirloom from Kochere district, Ethiopia. The roast is light (1/5). On the label, the aroma is described as being reminiscent of nutmeg and apricot. They also mention it has a tea-like quality. The acidity is said to be grape-like.

The aroma of the ground beans was amazing. It reminded me of fresh fruits and berries. It also had a caramelly nuttiness to it.

I decided to start with my AeroPress. Before I noticed, my coffee grinder was almost empty. It was that good. Luckily, I had just enough coffee left to make one last cup in the moka pot. That way, it tasted even better!

The mouthfeel was creamy, perhaps even oily. It felt as if the coffee ”melted” and spread all over my mouth. For a brief moment, it also left a nice coating on my palate. Fantastic!

The flavor profile consisted of two main parts: The high end of the spectrum was dominated by the acidity of fresh fruits, and perhaps some berries. On the other hand, the midrange was all about the naturally sweet, caramelly nuttiness. While these two aspects were easily distinguishable, they matched each other so well. It was like the perfect marriage between the two. In addition to this, there might have been a hint of vanilla as well.

Oh yes! I liked this. A lot.

You owe it to yourself to check out Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko from Mokkamestarit. It is truly wonderful.