My top 10 coffees of 2020

In 2020, I got to enjoy at least 73 different coffee blends or single origin coffees from 12 different countries and 33 companies. Now it’s time to wrap up the year by listing the very best products!

While I had the opportunity to try all kinds of coffees, all of the products that made my top 10 list were unflavored high-end coffees. That said, I included one flavored coffee and one grocery store blend into the ”Honorable Mentions” category.

Like last year, the products were so different from each other that it wouldn’t have been fair to compare them with each other. Therefore, instead of ranking the coffees, I organized them into three categories according to the approximate roast level (dark, medium, and light). Of course, the darkness of a roast is a subjective matter. It is also probably not the best way to categorize coffee products. Obviously, there are so many other factors that affect the flavors. However, I wasn’t able to come up with a better way to list the coffees. So, in each of the three categories, I presented the coffees in alphabetical order according to the company name. The resulting list can be thought of as a pool of excellent coffees. You can pick any product you want and end up enjoying a truly memorable experience.

I used two different brewing methods. Espresso coffees were brewed in my three cup Bialetti Moka pot. On the other hand, the coffees that were intended for other brewing methods I prepared in my AeroPress, with my favorite inverted method and a paper filter. I used no additives.

So, here we go. My top 10 coffees of 2020:

Dark roast:

Medium roast:

Light roast:

You could not go wrong with any of these coffees. Unfortunately, some of these products might already be out of stock. If that is the case, you could check out any product from these great roasteries. They really know what they do.

Lastly, there were three blends that did not make the top 10 list but still deserve to be mentioned.

Honorable mentions:

  • Hamwi Café Classic—the best flavored coffee (cardamom) (United Arab Emirates)
  • Loumidis Papagalos (ΛΟΥΜΙΔΗΣ ΠΑΠΑΓΑΛΟΣ)—the best Greek grocery store coffee (Greece)
  • Paulig Presidentti Gold Label—the best Finnish grocery store coffee (Finland)

Special thanks to everyone at Cafetoria Roastery, E’s World Coffee, Kahwe, Mokafina, Muki, and Rob Beans Coffee for making this possible!

Now it’s time for me to take a small break and enjoy some great blends I recently received from the USA. I’ll be back in early January to tell you about them!

Happy New Year!

Cafetoria Rwanda Mahondo—one of the best filter coffees I’ve had this year


Yet another winner from Cafetoria Roastery: Rwanda Mahondo, a truly fantastic filter coffee, made of naturally processed, sun dried Bourbon and Jackson from Gayenke district, Northern Rwanda. The roast is medium (2/5).

Since I’m not much of a pour over man, I decided to brew this in my AeroPress. As always, I tried several different brewing methods. These are my thoughts about the blend.

As soon as I had my first sip, I went: ”Another example of how well Cafetoria describes their coffees.” As with their other coffees, you get precisely what they promise on the label. With Rwanda, it’s all about ”[b]lueberries, grapes, raisins, oak, creamy body, cola, Porto wine”.

What a great experience this was!

The mouthfeel was juicy and creamy at the same time—”syrupy” would perhaps be the best word, if it didn’t make you think of something extremely goopy and sweet.

Now, Rwanda Mahondo was kind of sweet, but not too much. Also, it was very flavorful, without being overpowering in any way. It was an amazingly complex, yet a very soft mélange of flavors. I detected everything they had listed in the description. For me, though, the cola flavor was only barely detectable. Also, I thought I tasted some burley tobacco in the finish. Be that as it may, this was one of those blends that make you want to have another cup, and then another, and…

Cafetoria has it in stock! Get yourself some today!

Cafetoria Mitad del Corazon—like a quality red wine

davHere’s another fantastic product from Cafetoria Roastery: Mitad del Corazon, an organic coffee whose origin is in La Coipa, Peru. The roast is dark (3/5).

As I always do with ”espresso” coffees, I brewed this in my Bialetti Moka pot. Here’s what I thought about it.

This coffee is exactly what the company promises on the label. You get ”[o]ak, Porto wine, figs”. It is ”creamy”, and has ”profound acidity”.

Now, in many coffees, acidity seems like a separate feature along with the flavors. In Mitad del Corazon, however, the acidity is an intergral part of what you’re tasting. It is very much like semi dry red wine with a full body. I was reminded of some pinot noirs I’ve enjoyed in the past. I definitely got the dried figs, and some leather as well. Lastly, there was the tiniest hint of caramel in the (very creamy) finish.

Mitad del Corazon is one of those coffees that leave you speechless—hence, the short review. Briefly, I just absolutely loved it.

Do yourself a favor, visit Cafetoria, and get yourself some!

Cafetoria Espresso 7 (new version)—probably the best ”Italian” espresso I’ve had


Recently, as I happened to be in Helsinki, I went to get some beans from the Cafetoria Roastery coffee shop. I was really happy to meet their founder and master roaster, Ivan Ore, who is not only a great coffee professional, but a true gentleman, as well. Ivan was kind enough to show me some of their new products. One of them was this new version of Espresso 7, Cafetoria’s take on the classic Italian Arabica/Robusta espresso blend. Now, I had had—and loved—Espresso 7 before, but Ivan suggested I try the new incarnation. He told me that he is constantly experimenting with their blends, trying to make them even better. Since I love everything about Italian coffee, I was happy to grab a bag!

On the label it says that Espresso 7 is made of seven different beans from Brazil, Nicaragua, Rwanda, El Salvador, Ivory Coast, India, and Cameroon. 70% of the blend is Arabica, the remaining 30% is Robusta. Sounds pretty Italian to me!

They also say that the blend is roasted the Italian way. On the Cafetoria scale, the roast level is dark at 4/5. Of course, every manufacturer has its own scale of darkness. To me, the roast looks pretty ”medium”, or 3/5 on the scale that many Italian manufacturers seem to use. My point is, many non-Italian ”espresso” blends are a lot darker than this. But I don’t think a true espresso has to be super dark. I’d rather have my espresso roasted like this!

As for the flavor, the company states that there is ”a great roundness” to this coffee, and ”notes of cocoa, hazelnuts, dried berries and toast: Like in Italy!”

Of course, I just had to brew this coffee in my trusty Bialetti moka pot. As I did so, I found out that the bouquet was absolutely mouthwatering. I detected

  • hazelnuts
  • molasses
  • dried fruits
  • some of that floral, hyacinth-like quality of Robusta
  • baking cocoa

From the very first sip, it was clear: The body was full, and the mouthfeel was extremely creamy. At the same time, it didn’t feel (as we would say in Finnish) ”thick”. Exactly the way I like it!

The flavor was no less than amazing. Espresso 7 was very much like genuine Italian Arabica/Robusta espresso blends, only better than most of them. All the familiar elements were there, but it was more well-balanced, well-behaved and sophisticated than most Italian offerings. There was absolutely no harshness to speak of.

The flavor profile was super complex. All of the qualities I detected in the bouquet were there in the flavor as well. It was nutty, sweet (molasses, brown sugar, dried fruits), and floral. It also had this cocoa-like texture, and there was a hint of something toasted as well. Despite its complexity, however, Espresso 7 never felt too ”busy” or all over the place. Instead, it offered me a beautiful mélange of flavors, all of which worked together in perfect harmony.

To sum up, it is safe to say that Espresso 7 from Cafetoria is one of the best ”Italian” espressos I’ve ever had. Period. It could even be the very best. I know, that is quite a statement, coming from someone who loves Italian cuisine more than anything. But I really mean it. It’s that good.

Ladies and gentlemen, please, show some love to Cafetoria! Get yourself some Espresso 7, or any of their fantastic coffees. They really deserve it.

Top 10 coffees of 2019!


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:




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!

Cafetoria Gran Palomar Espresso—extremely delicious and flavorful

Here’s my review of ”Gran Palomar Espresso”, the fantastic espresso blend I recently received from my favorite Finnish roastery, Cafetoria.

Now, Gran Palomar is a blend of Caturra, Catimor, and Gesha from the Palomar Cooperative, Canchamayo, Peru. Previously, I had had the lighter roasted version, the ”regular” Gran Palomar—having said that, there’s nothing regular to that particular blend: it’s one of the most delicious and flavorful coffees I’ve ever had!

But this one is the darker, ”Espresso roast” version of the same blend.

On the bag, Cafetoria states: ”We sense: Chocolate, nuts, honey. The flavour and aroma of the Andes.” Absolutely! That’s precisely what I sense, too. I would also say: almonds! What is more—and this is hard to explain—, as I tried to tease out all the different flavors, I had a feeling that this is the sort of coffee that could have some natural sweetness of dried fruits to it as well. I only didn’t detect any at first. However, by the time I got to the (looong) finish, it hit me: fried figs! I knew it. Just perfect!

Exactly like its lighter, ”regular” sister blend, Gran Palomar Espresso is an extremely delicious and flavorful, high quality coffee blend. It is not earthy or bitter like many Robusta-forward Italian espressos. Rather, it is nuanced and sophisticated, and yet quite full-flavored.

I totally love it, and I strongly suggest that you hurry to the Cafetoria website or their great coffee shop (Runeberginkatu 31, Helsinki) and get yourself some!

Many thanks to Ivan, Levi and everyone else at Cafetoria! It was truly an honor to have the opportunity to check out these four fantastic coffees. I’m already planning my next trip to Helsinki, to stock up!

Cafetoria Finca la Flor—naturally fruity, juicy and delicious

Next up: Cafetoria Roastery ”Finca la Flor”, the ”Vibrating & Emotional” coffee that’s made of Bourbon, Typica Organic beans from Huabal, Peru. The roast is ”medium”, 2/5. As for the flavor profile, the coffee masters at Cafetoria offer the following description: ”Candy, red berry, apricot, grapefruit, strawberry, sparkling acidity.”

Now, that sounds very accurate. Brewed in my AeroPress (inverted, steel filter), Finca la Flor was extremely fruity indeed. Very juicy. In the cup, it even looked like pink grapefruit juice! All the flavors they mention were there. However, none of them got to sing the coloratura soprano part, if you will. Instead, the voices were kind of soft and natural. Together they achieved a beautiful choral sound. OK, perhaps the grapefruit sung a short solo or two, accompanied by the apricot and the berries. Also, even if the flavor profile was mostly about fruity and berry-like flavors, Finca la Flor was not overly delicate or sweet. I even detected I bit of hoppiness here and there, which probably added to the acidic feel. And while this acidity was ”sparkling” indeed, it felt kind of soft as well. Very, very pleasant.

In this way, Finca la Flor felt quite multidimensional, but kind of uniform at the same time. It was fruity and somewhat berry-like, but kind of… I don’t want to say ”robust”. Full? Honest? Let me put it like this: It was nuanced and sophisticated enough to work very well as a dessert coffee, but simple and straightforward enough to be enjoyed any time of the day. Actually, this is a quality I really like about many other Cafetoria products as well.

So, if you want to enjoy a naturally fruity and juicy coffee that is not too sweet, but not too acidic, either, you have got to try Finca la Flor from Cafetoria Roastery. It is extremely good!

Cafetoria Polar Lights—my new comfort blend!

Oops! I accidentally cut this baby open before taking the picture. I usually don’t do that. But now, when the good people at Cafetoria Roastery asked me to try some of their new coffees, I was so excited that I just could not resist taking a whiff of ”Polar Lights”.

Polar Lights is a new winter coffee from Cafetoria. It is a blend of Arabicas from Congo, Peru (Los Compadres), Rwanda and Ethiopia. In the description they say that it’s ”a gentle and vibrant coffee with ’funky notes’ dancing in your palate: cherry, berries, pineapple, chocolate. A perfect coffee to enlighten the dark and long Finnish Winter.”

The presentation is very beautiful. The roast is ”dark” at 2,5.

When I ground the beans, I got a mouthwatering aroma of almonds, marzipan and some berries.

The mouthfeel was very pleasant. It was somewhat creamy and solid, but had some juiciness to it as well.

The flavor profile was similarly twofold: On the one hand, it was really solid and uniform. On the other hand, however, there were all kinds of things going on: cherry-like berriness, fresh fruits, almonds, and some milk chocolate. In this way, the blend felt as if it didn’t necessarily require a lot of attention; it was really easy to enjoy while concentrating on my work. And yet it was nuanced enough to be interesting if I paused to tease out the different flavors. It really had the best of both worlds. Oh boy it was delicious.

With Polar Lights you will get exactly what they promise: It is a satisfying, comforting coffee blend that is perfect for these cold winter days.

I really liked it.

Everyone at Cafetoria, thank you so much!

And now, you coffee lovers out there, you owe it to yourself to check this out. The people at Cafetoria Roastery are very good at what they do.

What’s in store for 2019?


I can’t think of a better way to kick off 2019 than checking out some new (to me) products from one of my favorite Italian coffee companies, Caffè Pascucci Torrefazione. I’ve had an eye on these babies for a long time, and finally got around to purchasing them. They will be opened one after another in January and reviewed separatery.

Another favorite coffee company of mine is Cafetoria Roastery from Lohja, Finland. They produce some of the highest quality coffees I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. In my opinion, everyone should get to know them. Their products will be covered extensively.

I’m also planning on visiting two local artisan roasteries, whose products have received rave reviews not only here in Finland, but also internationally. It will be exciting to see what the hype is all about.

Also, and on a slightly different note, I’ve gotten several requests to give my opinion on some widely available grocery store coffees. So, in addition to reviewing higher quality products, I will be comparing a couple of inexpensive blends from the German supermarket chain Lidl, some of which are actually surprisingly OK for the price.

That’s just the beginning! If I can figure out a way to cover the high international shipping costs, I’ll also be looking at products from a couple of very interesting American roasteries.

Let’s go! Happy New Year!

Cafetoria Caramelo