E’s World Coffee—One Grouphead

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 ”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!

Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo ”Aino”—”Rustic” is the word

Here’s another filter coffee I recently got from Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo (Mikkeli, Finland). The bag description reads as follows (my rough translation):

AINO—light roasted coffee

The AINO coffee grows in the Southern parts of Rwanda. Among the coffees of Eastern Africa, Rwandan coffees are often the softest [roundest?], sweetest, and the most florally nuanced.

Additionally, the company tells us that the roast level is 2/6.

Since Aino is sold as a filter coffee, I brewed it in my AeroPress. (You knew it! I used my favorite inverted recipe!) The bouquet was interesting. I detected

  • red berries
  • some fresh fruits
  • nuts
  • a little something that made think of a farm house, even a stable

I kind of liked the rustic, organic aroma.

But what did it taste like? Briefly, it was quite good. Like Louhi, the other Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo product I reviewed a few days ago, Aino was pretty full-flavored, without being overpowering. At the same time, though, it felt juicier and more acidic in the mouth than the creamy Louhi.

I’ll have to admit that I was hard-pressed to find the essence of this coffee—the ”thing”, if you will. Granted, I detected several different flavors like berries, fresh fruits, nuts and… I wanted to say ”earth”, but I’m not sure that’s the right word. Let’s just say Aino was earthier and less sweet than Louhi. While all of these flavors were there, I couldn’t quite figure out whether they wanted worked together or not. Mind you, the coffee did NOT taste bad. Not at all! Actually, Aino was a relatively enjoyable middle-of-the-road filter coffee on the rustic end of the flavor spectrum. That said, it was probably not created to knock your socks off, or make you go ”wow”. To me, it was ”just coffee”—but in the positive sense.

Take that for what you will. As for me, I am looking forward to trying the other Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo blends!

My favorite AeroPress recipe?

I know. I owe you an explanation.

I have often referred to my favorite AeroPress recipe, but I’ve never given you a thorough explanation of how exactly I use the great plastic coffee maker. ”Inverted, paper filter” is hardly a proper description of my chosen recipe. It is high time I shed some light on the matter.

Before we get into it, however, I’ll admit that I didn’t invent the recipe myself. What follows is the Up Coffee Roasters (Minneapolis, MN) method I originally learned from the handground.com website. You can find it (and many other great recipes) here.

Recipe
  • Coffee: 17.5 grams
  • Grind Size: Setting 2 on Handground
  • Water: 230 grams at 195F
  • Water-to-Coffee Ratio: 13:1
  • Brew Time: 2:30
Method
  1. Pre Infuse with 50 gram of water for 40 seconds 
  2. Slowly pour water until brew reaches up to 150 grams of water 
  3. Stir at 1:15. Begin to pour again at 1:45 slowly until water reaches up to 230 grams 
  4. Stir at 2:15 Screw cap and invert Aeropress on to a heated carafe and press coffee out until you begin to hear the coffee fizzing. 
  5. Ideal end finish time 2:30.

I should add that I really like the AeroPress steel filter, for it retains all the natural oils of the coffee, thus giving me the Moka-like experience that I love so much. Recently, however, I’ve gravitated to using a paper filter, since it takes the edge off some of the harsher blends.

Furthermore, while it might be interesting to experiment with different recipes (and I probably will at some point), this is the one that works for me. Instead of trying to find the ”perfect” brewing method for each coffee, I’m interested in the coffee itself. Using the same AeroPress recipe for each filter coffee makes it easier for me to compare the coffees and figure out their characteristics. Therefore, if you see me writing something to the effect of ”I brewed this coffee in my AeroPress”, you can be sure that this is the method I used.

So, there you have it! Try it for yourself!

Kirjalan kahvipaahtimo ”Louhi”—a lot of flavor!

Last week, on my way to Northern Finland, I drove through the historic city of Mikkeli. I’d been hearing good things about Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo, the local artisan roastery, so I wanted to see what the hype was all about.

I found the Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo coffee shop in a beautiful, peaceful area close to the city center. There was a relaxing, retroish vibe to the place. The interior was beautifully designed, and yet kind of homely. The owner was kind enough to answer my questions about their products. She even offered me a cup of their new coffee to try before buying. I wish I’d had more time to sit down and try out a couple of blends!

Anyway, I purchased two of their products. This is the first one: Louhi, a medium roasted organic filter coffee. As many of you might notice, the product is named after the ”wicked queen of the land known as Pohjola in Finnish and Karelian mythology” (Wikipedia). Even the package reminded me of classic Finnish design.

Even so, the product itself is made of organic coffee from Sidamo, Ethiopia. The roast is medium, 3/6 on the Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo scale. On the label, they describe the flavor profile as multidimensional—fruity and citrusy on the one hand, nutty and herbal on the other.

This is a very apt description. Having ground the beans, I got an aroma that was fruity (think of fresh and dried fruits), nutty, and somewhat herbal.

As I always do with filter coffees, I prepared Louhi in my AeroPress.

Let me try to describe the taste in terms of color: In my opinion, the high end of the flavor spectrum was yellow and light green; it was dominated by fresh fruits and herbs. The midrange, however, was orange and light brown; it was reminiscent of dried fruits, nuts (hazelnuts?) and Digestive crackers. In my opinion, these were the main notes. Even the mouthfeel was creamy and solid (cf. the good fats found in nuts and Digestive crackers!). In other words, the nice, fruity piquancy was accompanied by the somewhat bitter herbality, and the moderately sweet taste of dried fruits, nuts, and crackers. Despite this multidimensionality, the overall flavor was very much ”together”.

To sum up, Louhi from Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo is a very nice, medium-bodied and flavorful filter coffee that you can enjoy on any occasion. Try it! You might like it. I certainly did!

Tyyliniekka Sprezzatura Kahwe—This. Is. Amazing.

As many of you already know, one of my favorite coffee companies in Finland is the Tampere-based Kahwe Roastery.

Recently, the Kahwe CEO and master roaster, Joel Marttala collaborated with Tyyliniekka, the Finnish online lifestyle magazine, to create an exciting new gourmet coffee. In the process, they consulted Uuttaja, the well-known coffee and tea expert, who lent his expertise in the effort to fine-tune the product. As a result of their meticulous work, Tyyliniekka Sprezzatura Kahwe was born.

Mr. Marttala was generous enough to send me some of this new coffee to try. Thank you so much!

Now, as thousands of Finns know, Tyyliniekka creates a lot of exciting content about high-end watches, cars, apparel, interior design, lifestyle in general, and—yes!—coffee. It seems fitting that their new signature coffee should be made of only the very best ingredients.

Indeed, Tyyliniekka Sprezzatura Kahwe is a blend of washed Castillo and Geisha from Huila, Colombia. The roast level is 3/5. On the label, the company states that this coffee has a sweet and slightly toasted flavor, with nutty and fruity nuances.

First things first: I loved everything about this coffee. That said, I venture to offer a small gloss to the tasting notes provided by Kahwe. In what follows, I will offer my personal opinion about the aroma and flavor profile.

As I opened the bag, I immediately thought of herbs. Mediterranean herbs, to be exact, such as basil, or oregano. While I’m not sure that this serves as an accurate depiction of the aroma, this is the image that came to my mind every time I smelled this coffee. While I also detected some of the familiar nuttiness of Colombian beans, this was not a major component of the aroma.

Whether I brewed Sprezzatura in my AeroPress or used my trusty old Bialetti Moka, the flavor profile remained the same. Obviously, with the moka pot, the flavors were more pronounced.

Flavor-wise, Sprezzatura was extremely well-balanced. To me, the high-end of the spectrum was reminiscent of Italian tomato sauce, spiced up with a generous helping of basil or oregano. Mind you, the coffee did not taste like tomato sauce, but that’s the association I made. That’s quite a statement coming from someone who loves Italian cuisine more than anything. The acidity was soft—think of olive oil based tomato sauce that has been cooked for an hour or so. The midrange, on the other hand, was dominated by a semi-sweet caramelly aroma, and some nuttiness. Lastly, the finish revealed a very small hint of tobacco, and some vanilla. Even so, this coffee was definitely on the savory side of the flavor spectrum. I found it to be extremely pleasant.

In short, the new Tyyliniekka Sprezzatura Kahwe is just amazing. It is easily the best Colombian coffee I’ve ever had. It will be on my list of Top 10 Coffees of 2020, for sure. I highly recommend you check it out. You can start by reading the story of this coffee on the Tyyliniekka website (in Finnish). After that, do yourself a favor and order a bag or two from Kahwe Roastery while supplies last! You will be pleased you did.

Again, a big thank you to Kahwe Roastery for giving me the opportunity to experience this masterpiece. Keep up the great work!

Paulig Presidentti Gold Label—Finnish grocery store coffee at its best

A while ago, I was asked to write reviews of two blends by Paulig, Presidentti kahvi and Presidentti Gold Label. As you can tell from my first review, I was positively surprised by the regular Presidentti. This time, I’ll say a couple of words about the Gold Label version.

First, the packaging is pretty classy. One gets the impression that Gold Label is the high-end version of the traditional Presidentti. Whether or not this is a correct interpretation, the coffee itself is pretty good.

On the package, it says that this is an ”aromatic coffee blend, finalized with best beans of the season [sic] from East Africa. Fruity flavoured Ethiopian beans together with lighter roast bring out the nuanced taste of this 100 % Arabica coffee in its full glory.” The company has also added the familiar graph, which can be interpreted as follows:

  • Body: 2/5
  • Acidity: 4/5
  • Flavor: 4/5

The bag note was rich and pleasant: dried fruits, medium dark milk chocolate, and some nuttiness. The aroma reminded me of the regular Presidentti, but it was a little darker. That said, it didn’t smell ”darker” in the way that a darker roast would. Granted, Gold Label is roasted slightly darker (2/5 on the Paulig scale) than the original Presidentti (1/5). Here, however, the ”darkness” made me think of dried fruits as opposed to fresh ones.

I decided to brew it in my AeroPress, using the inverted method I know best.

The flavor profile was predictable but pleasant. It was a harmonious mélange of both fresh and dried fruits, medium dark milk chocolate, and nuttiness. It was full flavored, but medium-mild in strength. It had a rich, natural sweetness to it, and yet it was robust enough to work in any situation. Moreover, there was a substantial amount of acidity. Even so, it did not feel sharp or harsh in the mouth. Instead, the acidity was quite soft and pleasant.

Presidentti Gold Label might be one of the best Finnish coffees I’ve purchased in a supermarket. In my opinion, it encapsulates everything that most Finns seem to like about their coffee, and makes it even better. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it became one of my favorite blends, it certainly was enjoyable. If you want to experience Finnish grocery store coffee at its best, get some Presidentti Gold Label from Paulig!

Jacobs Krönung—the middle-of-the-road grocery store blend

The other day, I had to get some coffee to brew in my hotel room. I only had my AeroPress with me, so it had to be a pre-ground blend. Jacobs products seemed to be available in every supermarket. Since I’d never had their coffees (!), I decided to get a pack of Krönung.

On the bag, there was virtually no information on the ingredients.

At first, I didn’t think much of this blend. It was… just coffee. After a couple of cups, however, I started to detect different nuances. The flavor profile was dominated by a nice nuttiness and accompanied by a pleasant bitterness. There was some acidity as well, but not much. Overall, the coffee was pretty well-rounded. It was on the dry side, but it had just enough natural sweetness to make it work in any situation.

Just as I expected, Jacobs Krönung was little more than a middle-of-the-road grocery store blend. But if you only need a pick-me-up in the morning, it does the trick reasonably well. I probably will not buy it again, but I’m happy I tried it!

Paulig Classic—a nice morning cup

How to make better coffee when traveling? My suggestion: Try to avoid the coffee makers you find in hotel rooms. Instead, throw your AeroPress in the bag, and you’re good to go!

On my trips, I like to buy whatever coffee is available in supermarkets. It’s kind of fun to see what the locals drink.

Last week, I spent some time in the beautiful city of Riga, Latvia. At one supermarket, the shelves were filled with regular Swedish and Finnish blends—you know, brands like Löfbergs and Paulig. Especially, Paulig Classic seemed to be everywhere in Latvia. I could be wrong, but I’m assuming this blend is not available in Finland (?), the home country of Paulig. At least I had never even seen it before. So, I immediately wanted to try it!

The bag description was quite short:

Paulig Classic is a sophisticated coffee blend, roasted from the finest Latin American coffee qualities. The taste is long and harmonious and you can find a round and nutty aroma from it.

This seems like a pretty accurate description!

While there was no further information on the ingredients (other than ”100% Arabica”), Classic felt like a blend of (mostly?) Colombian coffees. It was very nutty and slightly bitter. I don’t mean that it was harsh in any way. Quite the contrary, the acidity was low, and the flavor profile was well-balanced. In my opinion, the combination of nuttiness and bitterness made Classic a good choice for the morning cup. In this sense, it reminded me of another Scandinavian grocery store blend that I’ve liked in the past, Gran Dia from Arvid Nordquist.

I liked Classic more than many other Paulig products. Obviously, it is not a super high quality blend, but perfectly enjoyable nonetheless!

Revisited: Kahiwa Galeh Natural

One year ago, I reviewed Galeh from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Lahti, Finland.

If you read my review, you can tell that I liked it a lot.

I wanted to see if I still liked it as much as I did last year. So, as I happened to visit the Kahiwa coffee shop recently, I decided to pick up a new bag of Galeh.

The product seems to be pretty much as I remember it. It is all about naturally processed Heirloom from Ethiopia.

The company appears to have changed a couple of things, however. Not only has the packaging changed, but also the name has been revised, with the addition of the adjective ”Natural”. Tasting notes are slightly different as well. Last year, they said that the coffee tasted like rowanberry, rosehip, and nougat—which it did. This time, however, the notes read as follows (my translation): ”Raspberry, nougat, jamlike”. Lastly, whereas the roast level used to be 2/5, it is now 1/5. In any case, the roast is very light.

What was it like, then? Oh, it was very, very good! My comments from last year still hold true:

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).

If you like light roasted Ethiopian, you owe it to yourself to check out Galeh Natural. You can get it from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters!