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 ”Pusupuisto”—Guatemala!

Here’s another coffee from my favorite source, Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

This one, Pusupuisto, is made by Lehmus Roastery, the award winning coffee company based in Lappeenranta, Finland. It is a blend of washed Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai Typica, Maragogype, and Pache. The roast level is 3,5/5.

According to the company, Pusupuisto is ”a medium roasted, rich coffee” that has ”a soft mouthfeel”, and aromas (sic) of toffee, cocoa, and a hint of chocolate.

Sounds like something I would like a lot.

For brewing, I used the usual suspect: my trusty Bialetti Moka pot.

The mouthfeel was quite rich, but maybe not as creamy as one would have expected from a Lehmus Roastery blend. It was very pleasant nonetheless.

I definitely got some of the flavors (”aromas”?) that the company mentions in the description. That said, instead of actually tasting like toffee, cocoa, or chocolate, this blend provided a mélange of flavors that were in that particular ballpark—if that makes sense. There was more to it, however. I also detected dried fruits (figs, perhaps) and a tinge of red berries. These brought some juiciness and a pleasant acidity to the blend. To me, the overall flavor profile was quite multifaceted, yet very well balanced.

In summary, Pusupuisto from Lehmus Roastery is a very good and flavorful blend of Guatemalan coffees. You deserve to check it out!

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!

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!

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!

Bellarom Ethiopian Sidamo—Better than the others, but still…

QUESTION: What are the most read coffee reviews on this website?
ANSWER: The reviews on Bellarom and Italiamo coffees from Lidl, the German supermarket chain.

OK, I’ll give you some more! This review is on Bellarom Ethiopian Sidamo. On the bag it says:

This coffee comes mainly from the southern province of Sidamo in Ethiopia – from the origin of coffee. This coffee from high-altitudes convinces with its intensive flavour, low acidity and spicy, fruity and floral aroma.

They also describe the aroma and flavor thus: ”Fruity, Spicy Aroma with a Flowery Flavour”. Furthermore, the ”strength”—whatever that means (flavor? caffeine? darkness of roast?)—is said to be 6 on the scale of 10.

For an inexpensive coffee like this (9,98 € / kg), the bag note was surprisingly good. It was exactly what the company promised: fruity, spicy, and floral.

As I brewed the coffee in my Bialetti Moka pot, I noticed that in addition to the features mentioned above, the bouquet was dominated by a sweet, caramelly aroma. (Can an aroma be sweet? Well, you probably see what I mean.)

The flavor profile, however, was a little disappointing. The main notes were caramel, baking spices, and baking cocoa. There might have been a tiny hint of fruitiness as well, but it was really hard to detect. The floral notes were absent altogether. That said, the finish was nice. It reminded me of the rich nuttiness of American burley pipe tobacco. The mouthfeel was semi-creamy and pleasant as well.

Like other Bellarom blends, Ethiopian Sidamo left me with mixed feelings. Yes, it was relatively flavorful. At the same time, the flavors were kind of nondescript, resulting in a flavor profile that was a little… meh. I’m not saying it was bad, but in my opinion, it wasn’t particularly interesting, either. It really didn’t highlight the fruity and floral qualities of Sidamo beans. Maybe that’s the price you’ll have to pay for inexpensive coffee.

I will say one thing, though: Ethiopian Sidamo was better than the other Bellarom blends I’ve had in the past. But if your local Lidl happens to be carrying their Italiamo coffees (made in Italy!), I would opt for those instead. Their quality is considerably higher.