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

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Brightening up one of the darker days of my life: Caramelo from @cafetoriaroastery. They call it a "[d]elicious & rounded espresso blend. Tropical fruits. Milk Chocolate. Like a great dessert!" As always with Cafetoria bag descriptions, this is spot on. The bag aroma is very sweet and rich, not unlike El Molino from Kaffa, which I reviewed a while ago. Here, however, all the goodness you get in the aroma is translated into the actual taste, too. This is one of the things Cafetoria does better than many other roasteries, and one of the reasons why I love them so much. You get exactly what you expect. A blend of Latin American Arabicas (100%), Caramelo has a lot going on: Bright, fruity sweetness, without being particularly citrusy. Definitely vanilla. And yes, milk chocolate, too. But make no mistake, this is not only a dessert blend. It's coffee-y (is that a word?) and robust enough to enjoy any time of the day. If you want an espresso of an exceptional quality, look no further. Caramelo will easily take its place on my list of top 10 coffees of 2018. Fantastic stuff. #cafetoriaroastery #cafetoria #caramelo #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

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Cafetoria Gran Palomar Espresso

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Gran Palomar Espresso Organico from @cafetoriaroastery. As the name suggests, this is the espresso roast version of Gran Palomar (the golden bag) from the same company. In the bag description, Cafetoria promises "a hint of sweet chocolate, nuts and marzipan." I won't object. It's all there, especially in the finish. Overall, though, the taste is not nearly as complex or sophisticated as in the lighter version. If I had to choose, I'd probably prefer the golden one. However, if you want a very good, high quality, straightforward espresso that you don't have to think about so much, this is the deal. #cafetoriaroastery #cafetoria #granpalomarespressoorganico #fairtradecoffee #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

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Cafetoria Malawi

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Malawi Single Origin Espresso from @cafetoriaroastery. This is the first time I beg to disagree a little with a Cafetoria pouch description. They say: "Mature red berries & chocolate tones, delicate citrus aftertaste." Now, all of that is there for sure, but for me the citrusy piquancy dominates the whole experience from start to finish. Mind you, this is actually pretty pleasant, even for a guy like me, who doesn't necessarily prefer acidity in a coffee. The berry & chocolate thing takes the back seat, though, even to the point where these flavors are mostly detectable in the finish—which is very nice, BTW. All in all, I personally would probably like this even more if the acidity stayed more in the background. However, this is most definitely a high quality 100% Arabica, just as you would expect from this particular roastery. Recommended! #cafetoriaroastery #cafetoria #MalawiSingleOriginEspresso #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

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Cafetoria Irmas Pereira

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Irmas Pereira from @cafetoriaroastery. This is a lightly roasted blend of Brazilian coffees (Bourbon, Catuai, Acaia, Mundo Novo). Opening the bag, you are blown away by the aroma: Think of maple syrup, almonds and nuts. Add to that a generous helping of liquorice. Mouth watering sweetness, like something very candy-like and sticky. In the final product, the nutty feel is still there, as well as some of the syrup. Surprisingly, though, all of this takes a back seat to a very distinctive, citrusy acidity. Normally, I wouldn't care for that, but here it works quite well. The mouth feel is full, the finish long and sweet. Everything about this blend screams: quality! Very, very nice. #cafetoriaroastery #cafetoria #irmaspereira #bialettimoka #coffeereviews

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Cafetoria Espresso 7