Rob Beans Coffee Chiapas Mexico—I was left craving for more

I recently received a generous gift from Rob at Rob Beans Coffee: a bag of his Chiapas Mexico beans. Thank you so much!

The company website offers the following information on this coffee:

Fair Trade and organic beans from the Chiapas region, an area renowned for its great tasting quality Mexican coffee. These beans were washed and sundried processed, and grown at a high elevation 900-1100 meters.

Flavor profile: Medium Body, light to medium acidity, dark chocolate, nutty notes

All orders are roasted to order, and shipped within 24 hours of roasting.

– Single Origin

– 100% Arabica

– Roasted in Glendale, California

Some of the beans were a little lighter in color than others, but overall, the roast appeared to be medium or medium light. The aroma made me think of berries and vegetables. Very nice!

I tried brewing this in several ways.

Both the moka pot and my favorite AeroPress method—inverted, with steel filter (I will describe the method in greater length in a future post!)—brought out this ”edge”, if you will. I really struggled to find the right way to describe it. Let’s just say that while the coffee did not feel harsh or acrid in any way, and was perfectly enjoyable, it was a little too ”hard” for my personal taste.

But then I put the moka pot aside and switched my AeroPress steel filter to the regular paper one. I also tried the most basic brewing method suggested in the AeroPress manual that came with the original package. You know, use the AeroPress the right-side up, put one scoop of coffee in the chamber, add 175 F hot water to ”2” on the chamber, stir for 10 seconds, press for 20–40 seconds.

In my opinion, this simple method brought the best out of Chiapas Mexico. The coffee was exactly what was promised on the website, and more: medium bodied and pleasantly acidic, with some delicious berry-like notes in the high end of the spectrum, and some organic rootiness and nuttiness in the midrange, maybe a hint of that chocolate, too. Very, very pleasant. I was left craving for more.

I truly enjoyed Rob’s Mexican beans. I also discovered another favorite AeroPress recipe in the process! Thank you Rob, you really know your stuff!

You coffee enthusiasts out there, I strongly suggest you check out Rob Beans Coffee!

Black Rifle Coffee Company Freedom Fuel—Coffee with a capital C

Are you the kind of person who isn’t particularly interested in all those different nuances and flavor profiles that coffee enthusiasts talk about? You just want to have a cup of honest, dark roasted straight Arabica to kick start your day, right?

This one is for you: Freedom Fuel from Black Rifle Coffee Company.

This is what they say about it:

  • Ingredients: 100% Arabica Coffee
  • Dark roast
  • Heavy bodied roast with a kick of freedom.

The beans were pretty dark (roast level 4,5–5/5?), and had a beautiful, oily appearance.

The AeroPress brought forth a deep, rich Arabica goodness that was somewhat bitter and chocolatey (think of unsweetened dark chocolate), but very smooth.

When I brewed this in my trusty old Bialetti Moka, the upper register was a little more pronounced. It had a floral, menthol-like feel to it. At the same time, these higher notes never covered up the familiar lower-midrange tones of the dark roasted Arabica. The balance was perfect.

There was nothing fancy about this blend, but then that’s not what it was made for. For me, it just worked every day, all day, cup after cup. It also gave me a nice kick—a rare experience for someone who has a pretty high tolerance for caffeine. Fantastic.

Freedom Fuel = Coffee with a capital C. Get it from Black Rifle Coffee Company.

Black Rifle Coffee Company Thin Blue Line—A regular all day blend… or is it?

After reviewing Gunship, the fantastic ”Light roast” Colombian from Black Rifle Coffee Company, I’ve been enjoying Thin Blue Line, their ”Medium roast” Colombian.

As always, the BRCC bag description is brief and to the point. They state: ”Ingredients: 100% Arabica coffee. Tasting notes: 100% Colombian coffee roasted in support of the men and women of the thin blue line. A portion of sales will go to law enforcement charities. Medium roast. Best method for brewing: Any.”

Again, the roast is darker than the average Scandinavian light roast. The BRCC ”medium roast” is a lot like any Finnish dark roast (around 4,5/5). I like that!

Since Thin Blue Line appears to be a sister blend of Gunship, I decided to brew it using the same methods: my 3 cup Bialetti Moka and AeroPress.

As I brewed it in the Moka pot, I got a very nice cup of strong black coffee. It didn’t punch me in the face, really, but it definitely did wake me up. While I totally enjoyed it, I found myself thinking that somehow the full potential of this blend was not released.

The AeroPress got the best out of this coffee. All the different nuances were much more apparent. In a way, the blend came alive.

By the way, I probably should have tried Thin Blue Line in my basic filter coffee maker as well. But I enjoyed it so much the AeroPress way that I forgot about it. Anyway, I think that the blend would work perfectly in a Moccamaster or any regular coffee maker.

Here’s what it tasted like. After my first cup I went: ”OK, Colombian coffee, roasted dark or medium-dark. That’s about it!” Yes, I immediately noticed the familiar nuttiness of Colombian beans, and the soft bitterness of the dark roast. That said, there was absolutely no raggedness around the edges. Quite the contrary, the mouthfeel was very smooth and enjoyable. I got the impression that Thin Blue Line is all about your middle-of-the-road working man’s coffee in the best sense of the word—you know, something that could be enjoyed at any time of the day without having to think about it too much. I thought this would be the perfect companion while working at your desk, in the workshop—or at the police station!

But then: ”Oh wait, there’s more.”

The finish. Yes, the finish! For me, this was the best part. It was a combination of a round nuttiness (walnuts?) and the sweetness of dried figs and raisins. It made me think of those classic Danish burley-forward pipe tobaccos. Plus it stayed with me for a long, long time.

All in all, Thin Blue Line was a lot like the other BRCC masterpieces I’ve tried: It offered a no-nonsense coffee experience that would satisfy any seasoned law enforcement officer, and yet it had that little extra something to it, the finesse that would spark the interest of the gourmet coffee specialist.

Thin Blue Line is yet another prime example of what is so great about Black Rifle Coffee Company: They are able to take a very basic concept and turn it into something amazingly good.

Black Rifle Coffee Company Gunship—dark, exquisite and powerful

I hate procrastination. I want to get things done.

However, this blend made me think. For two weeks, I was trying to figure out how to phrase it. – Phrase what? you ask.

How fantastic it is.

How awesome it is.

How powerful it is.

How nuanced it is.

What else could you expect? I mean, this blend was made by one of the greatest coffee companies on the planet.

Gunship from Black Rifle Coffee Company, the United States of America.

Ever since my author friend—a coffee lover whose husband is a real American gunship pilot—pointed me to this blend over a year ago, I’d wanted to try it. I’m so happy I finally got to do so!

The bag description was limited to the essentials:

  • Ingredients: 100% Arabica coffee.
  • 100% Colombian coffee roasted to a smooth, nutty flavor.
  • LIGHT ROAST
  • Best method for brewing: Any

The information about the roast made me smile. Up here in Northern Europe, a roast like this would usually be called dark, maybe even very dark (around 4–4,5/5), but for the BRCC veterans, this is ”light roast”. I like that!

Since they say that this blend can be brewed using ”any” method, I decided to try it in  my favorite ones: Inverted AeroPress with a steel filter, and my Bialetti Moka pot. It was clear right off the bat that the flavor profile was similar either way, only the Moka pot obviously made the experience more intense.

So how did it taste like, then? This is where it got a little tricky for me. Gunship was such a complex mélange of all these fantastic flavors. Think of

  • the nuttiness and chocolateyness of Colombian coffee, just roasted to the point where it all starts to get slightly bitter in a good way
  • pleasantly sour light cigar leaf
  • a tiny hint of rootiness

In addition to this, there was a touch of intense sweetness that reminded me of condensed milk—even if I didn’t add milk to my coffee. And while I say that the sweetness was intense, I don’t mean to say that it was overpowering in any way. Quite the opposite: The sweetness stayed ”within” the overall flavor profile, or ”mixed in” with the other elements, if that makes sense. It let the nutty, cigar-like rootiness take center stage. But at the same time, it made the black coffee goodness feel extremely creamy and smooth in the mouth.

Very pleasant.

Gunship was exactly like all the other BRCC products I’ve tried so far: On the one hand, it was highly sophisticated and exquisite. On the other hand, it made me want to load the barbell with 245 lbs and aim for my personal record on the bench press.

I don’t need to repeat myself. Gunship is just fantastic. You should get it as soon as you can. You can do so here.

Joe Coffee Company ”The Daily”

dav

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.

Instant coffee? Why not?

thumbnail

The mailman brought us a surprise package from our good friends in Nagoya, Japan. It included this: Starbucks Via Coffee Essence, Christmas Blend, Vintage 2018, dark roast.

Now, I remember Starbucks 2017 Christmas Blend very well: unlike many European Christmas coffees that have an added flavoring, the Starbucks offering was a nice, unflavored, dark roasted all day blend. So when we got this, I was really interested to see what the 2018 version is about.

This is not beans, nor pre-ground, but instant coffee, packed in single serving pouches. The package description is pretty short. The company tells us that Vintage 2018 is made of rare aged Sumatra coffee, blended with bright Latin American and smooth Indonesian coffees. They also say it’s spicy and sweet.

Like its predecessor, the 2018 Christmas Blend is all about unadulterated coffee flavor. There are no added seasonal flavorings to it. I honestly cannot detect all the different coffees included in the blend, but the ”spicy and sweet” part seems pretty accurate. This is actually pretty tasty for an instant coffee, very much like a good, basic drip coffee you can get at a Starbucks shop. It is dark, but mild enough for your first cup in the morning. The familiar ”Starbucks note” (I still don’t know what it is!) is there, too, although a bit more subdued than in the 2017 version.

All in all, Starbucks Christmas Blend, Vintage 2018 may not be exactly mind blowing, but it certainly is a nice and easy way to start your day!

Black Rifle Coffee Company Fit Fuel

View this post on Instagram

Fit Fuel, a 75% Arabica/25% Robusta blend from @blackriflecoffee. They call it Medium Roast, but also state: "Roasted rich and bold to kick-start your fitness." To me, the latter description seems more accurate. The beans are pretty dark and oily, and as such, remind me of some overpriced blends from another American coffee company. But that's where the similarities end. The FF bag aroma is just amazing: Some sharpness from the dark roasted arabica, but then the earthy robusta goodness, too, which the other company never has. Also, you get the same wonderful side note that AK Espresso had: hard metal and baking spices. In the cup, a spicy floral note (hyacinth?), along with a feel of sweet-meal biscuits is added to the bouquet. Oh boy, this is amazing already. The taste itself is so multidimensional that it's almost impossible to describe. In my coffee drinking "career," I've never experienced anything like this. It's rich and bold, as they say, it's hard and masculine, it's spicy and strong, and yet it's so delicate and sophisticated. This, ladies and gentlemen, is truly a winner. Fit Fuel goes straight to the top of the list of all coffees I've had the pleasure of enjoying. #blackriflecoffeecompany #fitfuel #thebestcoffeeever #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

A post shared by Harri Huovinen (@harrihuovinen) on

Black Rifle Coffee Company Silencer Smooth

View this post on Instagram

Silencer Smooth from @blackriflecoffee. They say: "100% Colombian coffee roasted to a smooth, light flavor. Our lightest roast." Just like with its big brother, AK Espresso, when you open the bag, you know it: there is no messing around with this bad boy. The beans are surprisingly dark for a light roast, but make no mistake, the presentation is excellent. The bag aroma is smokey, spicy, nutty and slightly sweet, in that order. This is exactly what you get in the final product, too. Oh wow. This is a bold and powerful blend, yet—as the name would suggest—oh so smooth. You could enjoy this any time of the day. I've never been the biggest fan of light roasted coffee, but if this is what light roast is about, count me in! SS is hands down one of the best all day blends I've ever had. #blackriflecoffeecompany #silencersmooth #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

A post shared by Harri Huovinen (@harrihuovinen) on

Black Rifle Coffee Company AK Espresso

View this post on Instagram

AK Espresso from @blackriflecoffee. The bag description says: “A blend of light roasted Colombian and dark roasted Brazilian coffee, creating an indestructible, balanced espresso.“ The second you open the bag, you know it: This means business. You get a familiar aroma of medium roasted 100% Arabica—which this is—, but stronger, more muscular than what you would expect. The beans are of high quality, and have an oily feel to them, not unlike some other American blended coffees, but not nearly as buttery as some Starbucks products. I could be wrong, but judging by the looks, there seems to be around 60% Colombian and 40% Brazilian (?). Brewed in my Bialetti, this might not be the most full bodied blend out there, yet it is very potent. It's by no means harsh, yet it has this "hard" edge to it. Just like they say: indestructible and balanced. Very appropriately named, too. Now, I haven't shot an AK, but this does remind me of the classic 7.62 RK62 we used to use in the military. Fantastic, fantastic. Lastly, there is something absolutely delicious in the finish, that I cannot put my finger on. It's kind of metallic, but at the same time reminds me of baking spices. Very subtle, very unique, and just awesome. I hope I could have this every day. Thank you so much @vanessarasanenauthor for hooking me up with BRCC! #blackriflecoffeecompany #akespresso #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

A post shared by Harri Huovinen (@harrihuovinen) on