Top 10 coffees of 2019!

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This is my last post for this year: the Black Coffee Journal top 10 coffees of 2019!

During the past year, I finally managed to get better acquainted with some of our local Finnish artisan roasteries. I did get to enjoy at least 74 different coffee blends or single origin coffee products from 9 different countries and 28 companies, but our domestic roasteries swept the board. Their offerings were just so good! That said, two blends from abroad made the ”honorable mentions” section.

Just like last year, all of the products that made my top 10 list were high-end coffees with no detectable added flavoring. This time, however, they were so different from each other that it wouldn’t have been fair to try to compare them with each other. Therefore, instead of ranking the coffees, I decided to organize them into three categories according to the approximate roast level (light, medium and dark) and present them in alphabetical order according to the company name. The resulting list can be best thought of as a pool of fantastic coffees, from which you can pick any product you want and end up enjoying a truly memorable experience.

One last thing before we get to the actual list: I used two different methods to brew these coffees. The ones that were intended for espresso were brewed in my three cup Bialetti Moka. Those that were intended for other brewing methods I prepared in my AeroPress, with one of my favorite inverted methods and a steel filter. Also, I enjoyed all of them straight, with no additives.

So here’s my top 10:

Light

Medium

Dark

Honorable mentions

  • Ogawa Coffee (小川珈琲) Blend 3 Original (the best grocery store coffee, Japan)
  • Pascucci Colombia (the all-around morning blend, Italy)

You could not go wrong with any of these coffees. Also, you would do well to check out any products that these great roasteries provide. They really know their stuff!

Extra special thanks to everyone at Cafetoria Roastery, Kaamos kahvipaahtimo, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Kahwe and Turun kahvipaahtimo! Also, many thanks to all of my friends who gave me all kinds of coffees to try!

I’ve already got some fantastic coffees in store for 2020. I can’t wait to tell you about them!

Artisan Café Muchagara – AA—sweet rhubarb pie, just like mom made it

Wow. Just wow. Here’s another winner from the great Artisan Café, Helsinki.

Muchagara – AA.

This is what the roaster says about it:

In my estimation Muchagara – AA is roasted medium light, around 2/5. It also says ”Filter” on the label. Since I’m not a pour-over guy, really, I decided to brew it in my AeroPress. (Of course, I had to try it in my Moka pot, too!)

When I got this bag, I had high expectations, and for a good reason: the last product I got from Artisan Café – Red Guji – was probably one of the greatest coffees I had ever tasted.

As I opened the blue bag, I went: ”Berries, just like Red Guji. Oh wait, not berries. I’m smelling rhubarb. Rhubarb and baking spices.” This is pretty much the picture I had in my head as I was enjoying this coffee. The mouthfeel was very juicy. The taste was very fruity, in the rhubarb way. On the other hand, the spiciness made me think of cinnamon. These two aspects worked extremely well together. The whole thing reminded me of the traditional Scandinavian style sweet rhubarb pie my mom used to make when I was a kid.

I absolutely loved this coffee. I found myself brewing a cup after another.

Artisan Café produces some of the best coffees I have known. Granted, their products are not cheap. But they are worth every dime. So, if you happen to be in Helsinki, do yourself a favor and pay them a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Artisan Red Guji—One of the best. Period.

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Today I decided to open the bag of Red Guji I received from Kaapo Paavolainen, the great barista of Artisan Café, Helsinki. My bag was a sample and thus didn’t have a label on it, but as the company tells us, this is a single origin coffee from ”Ethiopia. Natural Processed. Heirloom Microlot. Espresso.”

Briefly, this is one of the best coffees I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Period.

The second you open the bag, you get an aroma of light milk chocolate and berry pie—the one mom used to make when you were a kid. I know this may sound pathetic, but I’m not kidding: the smell almost brought tears into my eyes.

As you grind the light roasted beans, a sharper, berry-like aroma appears. Definitely red berries. Think of ripe and fresh raspberries, but smashed into the kind of jam you put in a Scandinavian style birthday cake. By now the milk chocolate has turned into dark chocolate. It has also taken a back seat to the berries. Every now and then you get a tiny hint of almonds, too.

What about the bouquet? At this point the red berries seem to be stewed, and the chocolate aroma is more pronounced. You could just sit there and smell it all day long.

The taste is very berry-like and kind of acidic, but quite smooth at the same time, if that makes any sense. The chocolate is there all the time, too. Both of these flavors—berry and chocolate—are kind of separated, but kind of together. If you allow, I will admit I was reminded of the famous concept of one person acknowledged in two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably. Simply amazing.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of berry-like espressos. I’ve tried quite many of them, but that particular flavor profile just never has felt right for me. Until now. In Red Guji, Artisan Café has created a masterpiece, a true winner.

You owe it to yourself to check out Artisan Café. You can do so here.