Mokafina ”Presto”—a big all-around blend

In the past week, I’ve been enjoying Presto, a big Arabica / Robusta blend from Mokafina, Belgium.

On the label, the product is described thus (translated from the Dutch):

Presto is an all-around coffee with a rich aroma, and a very full flavor with a nice balance between soft and very spicy. Ideal to start the day.

While the company does not give away the exact proportions of the ingredients, it seems that Presto has a pretty large amount of Robusta. According to the strength (?) graph on the label, this is the most potent one of the Mokafina blends that I’ve had the pleasure of trying.

As usual, I used my Bialetti Moka pot for brewing.

The bouquet was all about a harmonious mélange of nougat, vanilla, and flowers (hyacinth, perhaps, but not as strong as in, say, Lavazza Crema e Gusto). Now, such aromas are not rare in robusta-forward espressos. In this case, however, the interplay between the aromas was exceptional. Briefly, the coffee smelled fantastic.

Considering the bouquet, the flavor profile was slightly unexpected, but no less amazing. The main notes were (in this order)

  • dark chocolate
  • a pleasantly sour, cigar-like quality
  • a small tinge of vanilla
  • a hint of figs and raisins in the finish

In sum, Presto was exactly what the company promised. It was rich, flavorful, well-balanced, soft, and spicy—just like the other Mokafina blends I’ve tested. It was big, bold, and sophisticated, and yet on the other hand it was simple and easygoing enough to be called an all-around coffee. I liked it a lot!

I know I’m repeating myself, but this is important: Mokafina coffees are very, very good. In my opinion, all coffee enthusiasts deserve to have them on hand at all times. I urge every coffee shop in Finland—and elsewhere—to consider distributing Mokafina products!

Mokafina ”Da Vinci”—an espresso masterpiece

If this was a blindfold test, I would guess I was having a genuine Italian espresso made of Arabicas and Robustas (blended to the ratio of A/R 85/15 %?). However, I would be quick to add that this was no ordinary espresso blend.

Well, that’s almost exactly what this coffee is about. Only the country of origin is different.

Let’s hear it from the Belgian maker, Mokafina. On the label they state the following (translated from the Dutch):

Da Vinci is a superior coffee for the true coffee expert. Without doubt it is one of the best and darkest roasted mixes from Mokafina.

I couldn’t agree more.

The beans were slightly darker and oilier than the other Mokafina blends I’ve tried so far. Even so, the roast was nowhere near the darkness of Scandinavian ”dark roast” blends. It was only a tad darker than most Italian espresso beans.

As I ground the beans I knew the blend was going to taste fantastic. The Arabicas smelled rich and chocolatey. The familiar, pungent aroma of Robusta was there as well: floral, on the one hand, yet slightly earthy, on the other. I could tell that while the Robusta was not going to be overpowering, it was going to make itself known in the flavor profile.

Oh yes, the flavor profile. It made me dream of slow morning coffees in Rome. Just like a true Italian espresso, Da Vinci was pretty full flavored. I detected

  • chocolate
  • nuts
  • a pleasant bitterness
  • spices
  • earth
  • some florality
  • a hint of vanilla
  • maybe even a tiny hint of licorice in the background?

Even with this much flavor, the mouthfeel was not too heavy. Instead, it felt medium light, somewhat creamy and silky smooth.

In short, Mokafina Da Vinci is everything I love about espresso. It is a true masterpiece. The combination of strength and smoothness was so well made that apart from, say, Arcaffè Gorgona, I can’t think of a better ”Italian” espresso blend. In my opinion, every fan of Italian coffee needs to try it out.

Mokafina ”BGS”—Dark roast fans: This is for you!

Here’s my third blend from my new favorite coffee company, Mokafina (Belgium): BGS, or ”Black Gold Special”.

The company’s Dutch description of this 100 % Arabica blend can be translated as follows:

Black Gold Special is a strong, powerful and heart-warming coffee with a taste of chocolate.

Now that is exactly what this blend is like.

Before we get into the flavor-profile, however, I should mention that the BGS beans looked very much like the other Mokafina medium roasted Arabica blends I’ve had. Since the other blends worked extremely well with my Bialetti moka pot, it seemed only natural to brew BGS using the same device.

Right off the bat, BGS tasted somewhat darker than it looked in the bag. It was bold, strong and powerful. Yet there was a familiar, cozy feel to it. It was ”ordinary” enough to be enjoyed multiple times a day. It was simple enough not to require too much attention, which made it a very good companion for work.

The flavor profile was mainly about dark, unsweetened chocolate. There might have been tiny hints of lighter cocoa and vanilla as well, but they stayed in the background. On the other hand, there was a smoky, almost leathery quality to it that balanced out the sweeter notes. In my opinion, these two aspects complemented each other very well.

While BGS was pretty big, it was not one of those blends that are in your face, shouting at you. Even with its full flavored potency, it never felt heavy or overpowering. Instead—a lot like the other Mokafina offerings that I’ve had the pleasure of trying—, BGS was a very agreeable, well-behaved coffee blend that felt smooth, somewhat creamy, and medium-light in the mouth.

To sum up, BGS is an excellent straight Arabica blend that would appeal to fans of dark roasted coffee. I’m sure many of my Finnish friends would love it. Flavor-wise, it’s in the same ballpark with many popular Scandinavian ”dark roast” blends. Only the quality is better. When Mokafina blends finally become available in Northern Europe, I can see people rushing to stock up on BGS!

Mokafina ”Resto”—big, refined, and excellent

This is Resto, a 100% Arabica blend I recently received from Mokafina, Belgium. Thank you, I really appreciate it!

On the label, the company describes the coffee thus:

Resto is a carefully composed and subtle mixture of the noblest and most rigorously selected Arabicas. A very refined coffee enjoyment with a delicious, mild and slightly acidulated taste.

As I opened the bag, everything told me that this would be an ”Italian” experience. Accordingly, I decided to brew the coffee in my beloved Bialetti three cup moka pot. But before doing so, I obviously had to put it into my lovely Wilfa Svart Aroma grinder.

The aroma of the ground beans was very rich and chocolatey. It reminded me of naturally sweet dark chocolate, and a touch of unsweetened cocoa powder.

As I expected, both the bouquet and the actual flavor profile were dominated by semi-sweet dark chocolate notes, and a hint of dark cocoa. In this sense, Resto was not unlike its sister blend, Mokafina Santos. In comparison to Santos, however, it was more chocolatey and less cocoa-like. The chocolatey side was also balanced out by a dark bitterness, similar to that found in many good Italian espressos. As was the case with Santos, the bitterness was very pleasant, and it seemed to come ”from within” the blend. As a result, the flavor profile was pretty robust and muscular, but on the other hand, it didn’t feel harsh at all. Actually, the blend felt surprisingly light in the mouth. It was at the same time both strong and potent, and  clear and transparent.

Try to imagine an experienced, well-trained natural bodybuilder, who is confident enough not to have to display his strength to anyone. Instead, he can act like a gentleman, always being courteous to everyone around him. To me, this is what Resto was like.

In Resto, Mokafina has created another excellent, medium 100 % Arabica espresso in the true Italian style. It is big and bold enough to satisfy any espresso purist. Yet it is refined and delicate enough to be enjoyed at all times. I liked it a lot!

Oh yes, and by the way: it would work extremely well as a base for café au lait, cappuccino, or caffè latte.

I really wish Resto was made widely available here in Finland, and everywhere else! There’s no doubt it would have myriads of regular buyers. Who would be the first to distribute it?

Mokafina ”Santos”—a very smooth ”Italian” espresso

A couple of days ago, I received a generous package from Mokafina, the Belgian coffee company: five of their coffees, and three cool Mokafina branded Ecoffee Cups. Thank you so much!

All of these blends seemed to be suitable for espresso/moka pot use. Fantastic! On the label of each coffee bag, there was a simple graph describing the strength (?) of the product. I decided to start my series of Mokafina reviews from what appeared to be the ”lightest” coffee of the batch.

So, here’s my review of Mokafina Santos.

The description on the label was concise. If I could translate the Dutch text correctly, it said this:

Santos coffee is a smooth coffee with a full, smooth taste. The beans are of Brazilian origin, the largest coffee producer in the world, boasting a wide variety of flavors.

Other than that, it only said that Santos is ”100% Arabica bonen”. To me, the roast seemed to be medium—very similar to many Italian espresso blends.

Having ground the beans, I immediately knew that I was in for a treat. I was greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of semi-sweet natural cocoa, chocolate, and a hint of marzipan confectionery. So, aroma-wise, too, the coffee was very much reminiscent of some of the best Italian espresso blends.

It was clear right off the bat that I was going to brew Santos in my Bialetti Moka. Here’s what I found.

The bouquet was very engaging: cocoa, chocolate, and a slight tinge of smokiness. The mouthfeel was semi-creamy and silky smooth, just as promised. I almost thought I was having a cup of great European hot chocolate.

Flavorwise, Santos was medium-full bodied. It tasted like medium dark, naturally sweet cocoa mixed with some chocolate. In the background, I might have detected some cinnamon as well. Accompanying this, there was also a hint of a pleasant smoky bitterness to it—again, similar to that found in great Italian espressos. This bitterness was by no means a dominant feature, however. Rather, it seemed to ”come from within” the coffee, to add some robustness to the flavor profile. Even so, the overall experience was extremely well-rounded and smooth.

While I usually never add milk to my coffee, I should add that Santos worked really well as a base for café au lait. I imagine it would be the perfect base for cappuccino and caffè latte as well.

In summary, I found Santos to be a very enjoyable and smooth Italian style straight Arabica espresso. It was mainstream enough to be enjoyed by anyone, at any time. But the quality was so good that it did make me wish I had it on hand at all times. From this, we come to my last point.

At present, Mokafina coffees are not available in Finland. If you ask me, however, every coffee lover should get the opportunity to try and enjoy this blend. Therefore, in my opinion, every serious coffee importer should be in the race to be the company that distributes this fine product.

A big thank you to Mokafina for this opportunity! I can’t wait to try the next blend!

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.

Café Liégeois Mano Mano Puissant—potent but smooth!

dav

Next up: Puissant from Café Liégeois, Belgium. As the name would suggest, this is one of the more potent blends in the company’s Mano Mano line of coffees.

On the bag, there is little information on the ingredients. The company only tells us that ”[c]e mélange contient, entre autre, du café de… Inde”. That is to say, ”this blend includes, among other things, coffee from India” (my translation). Based on the flavor profile, however, I assumed that this is a blend of Arabica and Robusta. While it was hard to guess the proportions, there seemed to be a generous helping of R in this—which was nice!

As on the other Café Liégeois coffee bags, here too the flavor profile was described by the familiar graph. It could be interpreted thus:

  • Rondeur: 10/14
  • Intensité: 12/14
  • Fruité: 5/14

The roast was dark, somewhere around 4/5, in my estimation. Just the appearance of the beans made me think that this would be suitable for moka/espresso use. I was right! (I guess don’t have to tell you that I chose to use my Bialetti Moka!)

The bouquet reminded me of pine needles and dark baking cocoa. These were the main players in the actual flavor profile, too. There might have been a hint of something floral in there as well (Robusta!), but it was by no means a prominent component. While there was some acidity and bitterness—both very pleasant—, on the whole, the blend was very well behaved and smooth.

So, if you’re looking for a Robusta forward espresso that is

  • flavorful
  • smooth
  • very satisfying
  • but something that won’t punch you in the face…

then Mano Mano Puissant from Café Liégeois might be a good choice. I think you should give it a try! In Finland, you can get it from Kahvikaveri.

Café Liégeois Kivu—CREAMY!

dav

On the border between Congo and Rwanda, the high plateaux bordering Lake Kivu are favourable to growing high-quality coffee. The altitude and the humid tropical climate, combined with the richness of the soil, give the grain a slight citrus taste, as well as beautiful persistence in the mouth.

This is how Café Liégeois (Belgium) describes Kivu, their dark roast (4/5?) coffee that comes from the Amka coop, Kivu region, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They are so right. This is exactly what you get with this coffee.

On the bag, the flavor profile is described further by a graph. It could be interpreted thus:

  • Rondeur: 9/14
  • Intensité: 8/14
  • Fruité: 13/14

As was the case with Café Liégeois’ Chiapas Mexico which I reviewed a couple of days ago, there was no information on the bag about suggested brewing methods. So again, I ended up brewing the coffee in my Bialetti Moka, and in the AeroPress (inverted, paper filter). Whichever method I chose, I really liked what I tasted.

Brewed in the moka pot, the bouquet was truly great. It smelled like chocolate, marzipan, cream and sugar, and fresh fruits. The mouthfeel was exceptionally creamy, too, perhaps even oily. I loved it! While the flavor profile was not super complex, it did have different aspects to it. I tasted pretty much all of the things I had detected in the bouquet; the chocolate, marzipan, cream and sugar, and fresh fruits were all there. But then, on top of that, there was the same extremely high note that I had detected eariler in Chiapas Mexico. As I was reviewing that blend, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. At the time, I thought it was kiwifruit. Now, however, after reading the Kivu bag description, I went: ”Yes, citrus!” In both Chiapas Mexico and Kivu, this citrusy tinge was barely noticeable. Even then, it added some personality to the flavor profiles.

Again, as could be expected, the AeroPress made the overall experience a little ”softer”. Having said that, the flavor profile was pretty much the same as in the moka version. The mouthfeel was almost equally creamy and pleasant.

Man, these Café Liégeois products are good! I really think you should check them out. In Finland, you can get them from Kahvikaveri.

Café Liégeois Chiapas Mexico—all day every day!

dav

This is Chiapas Mexico by Café Liégeois, Belgium. It is a medium roast (3/5?) coffee from—you guessed it—Chiapas, Mexico.

On the bag, there was not much information on the product, but the company does tell us this: ”Rich and complex, it reveals very fruity, exquisite aroma notes. Fair [trade?]. The perfect blend between flavor and solidarity.” Additionally, the flavor profile was described by a graph. It could be interpreted thus:

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

Since there was no information about suggested brewing methods, I ended up brewing this coffee in the ways I know:

  1. in my good old Bialetti Moka, and
  2. in my trusty AeroPress (inverted, paper filter).

Either way, I really liked what I tasted.

In my opinion, the Moka pot brought the best out of this coffee. The bouquet was truly mouthwatering: it was tobaccoey, creamy, caramelly, and fruity. I could tell that this was going to taste pleasantly acidic—which it did.

There were two aspects to the flavor profile: On the one hand, Chiapas was relatively robust, with the flavors of tobacco, nuts, and some caramel. On the other hand, however, it made me think of yellow stonefruits (apricots?), maybe even some kiwifruit. These two aspects worked extremely well together. The end product was robust enough to wake me up in the morning, and yet sophisticated and delicate enough to work as a dessert coffee.

As could be expected, the AeroPress made the overall experience ”softer”, or more muted; the individual flavors were not quite as intense. Brewed this way, Chiapas seemed to be exactly what I like to have first thing in the morning: an honest, middle of the road Coffee, with no bells and whistles.

I found Chiapas Mexico from Café Liégeois to be a pleasant ”all day every day” type of coffee. Granted, it didn’t blow me away like some higher-end coffees would, but it did precisely what it was supposed to do. I will definitely order some more! In the meantime, I’ll be excited to try other blends from the same manufacturer!

In Finland, you can get Café Liégeois products from Kahvikaveri. Check them out!