Frukt Coffee Roasters Espresso El Naranjo—berries and spices from Guatemala

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This was the first time I got to try a Frukt Coffee Roasters product. Frukt are a company based in Turku, Finland, where I was born. Also—just a fun fact for me—, they are located right next to the Arts Academy where I used to study, and where I also met my Wife many years ago. I will have to pay them a visit!

Anyway, Espresso El Naranjo belongs to the Fun line of Frukt coffees. On the company website, the coffee is introduced thus:

This fun coffee comes from Julio Cano, a second -generation coffee producer based in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. This coffee is Caturra variety grown at Julios farm El Naranjo at 1750 meters above sea level.

After the picking is done the coffee cherries are manually de-pulped and then fermented in special buckets for 48 – 50 hours. After the fermentation the coffee is fully washed and sun dried on patio for 12 days.

On the label, Frukt offer the following tasting notes: ”Prune, hazelnut, creamy”.

To my eye, the beans were ”organic” in appearance. That is to say, they were beautifully nonuniform in shape. The roast level appeared to be medium, approximately 3/5.

The ground coffee smelled fantastic. It had this sharp and sweet aroma of bitter almods and chocolate, maybe even some berries. Just the way I like it!

Since Espresso El Naranjo is (obviously) an espresso blend, I decided to brew it in my Bialetti Moka pot.

I was apparent from the first sip: The mouthfeel was definitely creamy.

Flavor-wise, Espresso El Naranjo was not quite as almondy as I expected. Yes, there was a certain nuttiness to it, but more than that, it was acidic, almost berry-like. At the same time, there was a spiciness that was reminiscent of cinnamon and pine needles. By the time I got to the finish, the nutty flavors came to the forefront as well. The long and sweet finish made me think of hazelnuts and burley pipe tobacco.

All in all, I really liked Espresso El Naranjo. I think it’s a very good espresso that offers you some of the best aspects of Guatemalan coffee, plus some very pleasant spiciness. You can get it straight from Frukt Coffee Roasters, or from Coffea, the great coffee shop in Jyväskylä. I will certainly try to get some more!

 

Italiamo Espresso Magnifico—an honest Italian espresso

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Like Caffè Tradizionale 100% Arabica, which I reviewed (and enjoyed) last year, Espresso Magnifico is part of the Italiamo line of Italian products marketed by Lidl, the German grocery store chain.

On the bag it says ”Arabica & Robusta”, ”Produced in Italy”. Other than that, there is little information on the contents. But that’s fine. Let the product speak for itself.

As you open the bag, you can instantly tell that there is Robusta in it: the bag aroma is  sweet, but earthy and pungent at the same time. The roast seems to be medium dark, around 3/5.

The aroma of the ground beans is naturally sweet and very chocolatey. Many of the classic Robusta elements are there as well—earth, flowers, and vanilla. However, dark chocolate is definitely the main feature. You get the impression that this is going to be a very full-flavored blend.

How does it taste, then? Well, it is quite flavorful indeed. Surprisingly, though, the dry earthiness takes center stage, while the chocolatey sweetness takes the supporting role. Overall, the flavor is not as full-bodied as one might expect. But then, this is not a high-end espresso blend anyway—it costs one third of the price of my beloved Pascucci Golden Sack.

So, is Espresso Magnifico ”magnifico”? Well, not exactly, but it’s definitely not bad, either. In my opinion, it is a reasonably fine grocery store espresso blend, made the Italian way. Quality-wise, it doesn’t seem to be far from classic espressos by companies like Lavazza or Segafredo Zanetti. I actually liked it better than many Scandinavian made ”espresso” blends. For me, it worked well as a dessert coffee after a big and spicy meal.

To be sure, I would prefer a full-bodied Pascucci blend over this, something like Mono Origine GuatemalaCaffè Bio, or (you guessed it!) Golden Sack. But considering the low price, Espresso Magnifico is definitely worth checking out.

La Torrefazione Silver Monkey—milk chocolate and dark berries!

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Here’s a blend that I liked very much: Silver Monkey, roasted by Kaffa Roastery, Helsinki, for the coffee shop chain La Torrefazione.

Silver Monkey is all about washed Red Bourbon from Nyamalinda, Rwanda. At 3/5, the roast level is around medium. On the label, the flavor profile is described as follows: ”Intense, deep and complex, with currants and plum notes, this coffee will carry you right to the heart of the Rwanda rainforest, the home of the Silver Monkey.” They also say this:

  • Fruitiness: 3/5
  • Body: 4/5

I just loved the aroma of the ground beans: milk chocolate and dark (red?) berries. I felt that this coffee would work perfectly in the moka pot, so that’s the gadget I decided to use.

In my opinion, the flavor profile was not super multifaceted, but it was definitely complex enough to keep me interested. The two aspects that I had detected earlier in the aroma were apparent in the flavor as well:

  1. the natural sweetness of milk chocolate (in the midrange)
  2. the softly acidic berry-like notes (in the upper register, but also kind of dark at the same time)

The mouthfeel was kind of ”medium”: not exaclty juicy, but not too creamy, either. Very pleasant.

All in all, I liked Silver Monkey quite a bit. I think you would do well to check out La Torrefazione and Kaffa Roastery!

La Torrefazione El Armadillo—syrupy but sharp

IMG_20191118_090827Here’s another one from La Torrefazione, the Finnish coffee shop chain. As was the case with Pachamama, which I reviewed a while ago, El Armadillo is blended and roasted for La Torrefazione by Kaffa Roastery, Helsinki.

El Armadillo is a blend of washed Caturra and Bourbon from Finca la Bolsa, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The roast level is 3/5. On the label, the company calls this coffee ”syrupy and smooth”. They also say this:

  • fruitiness: 3/5
  • body: 4/5

As usual, I tried brewing this coffee in both the AeroPress and the Bialetti Moka.

With the AeroPress, I couldn’t quite find the essence of this coffee. Even if I tried several different recipes, it was hard for me to say what it was supposed to be about.

In my opinion, El Armadillo worked better with the moka pot. Both the bouquet and the room note were caramelly and sweet, like brown sugar. Very pleasant. However, I found the actual taste to be kind of nondescript. I did notice that the mouthfeel was full and syrupy—which was great. But rather that being ”smooth”, I found the overall experience to be quite acidic and sharp. I’m not saying it was bad by any means. I just didn’t enjoy it very much.

This was a little baffling for me. I mean, I usually like everything that comes from Huehuetenango. For instance, last year I absolutely fell in love with the Finca Bella Elisabeth coffees I got from Kahwe. For some strange reason, this one didn’t do it for me.

La Torrefazione Pachamama—the fruity Colombian

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Next up: Pachamama from La Torrefazione, the great Finnish chain of coffee shops. Actually, this coffee is blended and roasted for La Torrefazione by Kaffa Roastery, Helsinki.Pachamama is a blend of washed Caturra and Castillo from San Lorenzo Colombia. The roast level is 3/5. The company gives us the following tasting notes: ”Tones of cherry and pecan, a complex acidity and a chocolatey finish will complete this sustainable experience.” They also say:

  • fruitiness: 3/5
  • body: 4/5

First, I tried brewing this in my moka pot. I got a pleasant acidity of fresh cut fruits, something like kiwi. The other thing I noticed was the midrange nuttiness. Only then did I look at the label on the bag. According to the company, it was not supposed to taste like fruits, but cherry. OK! Be that as it may, I found the flavor profile to be a delightful combination of two different aspects, fruit or berry-like high-end, and the nuttiness in the middle. The mouthfeel was nice and juicy.After several cups, I decided to this it in the AeroPress, too. I used my favorite inverted method, only this time with a paper filter. All of the fruitiness/berriness was there, but this time a delicious milk chocolate flavor was added to the nutty midrange. I started to recognize some of the familiar characteristic of many Colombian coffees. Maybe the chocolateyness of the midrange was emphasized due to the fact that the paper filter tends to tame that high-end sharpness somewhat, who knows?If you happen to visit Helsinki, be sure to check out La Torrefazione and Kaffa Roastery. They really know their trade!

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!

Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Casa—the Italian powerhouse

I love Italian coffee. I’ve always had a special affinity for Segafredo Zanetti products. In 2010, as I was just starting to get into coffee, their classic Intermezzo was the first espresso blend I truly fell in love with. Soon after that, I tried their Espresso Casa. I remember liking it a lot, but the huge caffeine kick was the one thing that really stuck in my mind.

Recently, I noticed Espresso Casa was available at my local supermarket. I wanted to find out whether I would still feel the same way about it. I was kind of suspecting that now, after all these years of drinking coffee, it would feel like any regular espresso blend.

Man, was I wrong.

First, it was delicious. Of course, Espresso Casa is not gourmet coffee. But it was really good. The Arabicas were nutty and slightly sweet. The Robustas were earthy and bitter, but not overly so. They were slighlty floral and vanilla-like, but not so much as in, say, Lavazza Crema e Gusto. The whole thing was reminiscent of Intermezzo, but it was not as earthy and dry. It was full flavored, but very creamy and smooth. All the different flavors were in perfect balance.

Man, it was almost as good as my beloved Pascucci Golden Sack.

Secondly, the caffeine. Oh boy, the caffeine. I’d like to think that I have a pretty high tolerance for caffeine. Even then, two moka pots of this after a big breakfast made my head spin like no other blend.

If you want some hair on your chest, this is the deal.

I really like Espresso Casa. In my opinion, it is one of the best Italian espresso blends you can find in your local supermarket. That said, I don’t think I could have it every day. It is just too strong in the caffeine department. But if you need a quick pick-me-up in the morning, or if you want to feel like Marlon Brando, this is the perfect choice.

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.