Robert Paulig Roastery Tuokio—smooth and simple, all day

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Here’s a nice coffee that I recently received from my friends: Tuokio is a filter coffee that is blended and roasted by Robert Paulig Roastery for Partioaitta, the outdoor store chain.

This coffee appears to be made with the outdoor enthusiast in mind: The presentation is classy, but there are no bells and whistles to speak of. The description on the label is short. It says that this coffee made of ”responsibly produced” beans from Brazil, Colombia and Kenya. The taste is said to be chocolatey and nutty. The roast level is 4/5. That’s all they say about it. Also, the coffee is pre-ground for ease of use.

I noticed that the grind size was perfect for the AeroPress, so that’s what I decided to use for brewing this coffee. I am not a big filter coffee guy, anyway.

However I chose to brew it, Tuokio was all about simple and straightforward, dark roasted Arabica. It certainly was nutty and chocolatey—medium dark chocolate with some natural sweetness. It was medium full-flavored, but not super nuanced. There was just enough bitterness to make it interesting for the black coffee man. However, the overall experience was quite smooth.

The blend was reminiscent of some of the Japanese grocery store coffees I’ve enjoyed in the past. I found myself thinking of the Marufuku Coffee blends I had last year. Perhaps Tuokio was slightly fuller in body, though. I also think that many Scandinavian ”dark roast” enthusiasts would appreciate the flavor profile.

Perhaps Tuokio is not a mindblowingly sophisticated blend, but then that’s not what it was made for. I found it to be a very nice all day blend that I could enjoy cup after cup while working, without thinking about it too much.

If that’s what you like, check it out! You can get it from the Partioaitta stores.

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.

Drop Coffee Roasters La Linda—black tea and jasmine

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are doing well!

Today, we were enjoying a slow New Years Day at home. As we took a little walk outside, we happened to meet our friends who live next door. They were kind enough to invite us over for a cup of coffee. As the ladies were enjoying their Japanese genmaicha, we guys concentrated on what we love so much: high quality coffee.

Man, what they offered me was truly high quality stuff: ”La Linda”, a Java varietal from Drop Coffee Roasters, Stockholm, Sweden. I got a peek at the label: ”Elegant cup with light-medium body. Notes of nutmeg, bergamot, black tea with a hint of jasmine.” Oh yes, the bag aroma was really amazing: somewhat fruity, maybe, but mainly herbal, even floral.

My friend is a very skilled pour-over man. It was a pleasure to watch him work his magic on the Hario setup. He revealed some of the details:

  • 6,5 g of coffee/100 g of water
  • water temperature: 95°C
  • blooming: 30 sec with 35 g of water
  • total brewing time: 4 min

The results were fantastic. In my opinion, the black tea and jasmine were the most prominent flavors. There was some bergamot and other spices as well. Also, when my friend made another pot with a slightly longer brewing time (5 min), a upper midrange sweetness appeared. Caramel, perhaps? I really liked it!

This was a very nice way to start the new coffee year! Thank you so much!

Today’s lesson:

  1. It’s amazing to have friends!
  2. It’s fantastic to have friends who know their coffee!
  3. Check out Drop Coffee Roasters! They really know their trade.

Lion Hazelnut Coffee—just in time for the holiday season!

Our dear friends in Kobe, Japan, were kind enough to send me this treat: ”Hazelnut Coffee” from Lion Coffee, the company based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Thank you so much!

As the name would suggest, ”Hazelnut Coffee” is topped with a hazelnut flavor. On their website, the company tells us that this is ”a special blend of International coffee beans with a predominant Hazelnut flavor and subtle background notes of coconut.” On the bag, they also state that they have used beans from Colombia and Brazil, and that this is ”100% Arabica coffee. Flavored with natural and artificial flavors.” Also, the roast is said to be ”Light-Medium”. Overall, the whole product is described as ”light” at 1/5. Whether this figure points to the roast level or strength, we don’t know.

As I opened the bag, I immediately noticed the added flavoring. The hazelnut aroma was really strong and sweet. Quite pleasant, actually! I did smell the coffee, too, obviously, but it was overpowered by the topping, to the extent that without reading the description on the label, it would have been impossible to identify the beans that have gone into this product.

The coffee was pre-ground (medium size), so I decided to brew this in my AeroPress (inverted, steel filter).

In the cup, too, the hazelnut flavoring was the main player. The actual coffee provided a nice, medium-light base for the topping, but it never took center stage. I could tell that the coffee had a toasted, slightly bitter feel to it—pretty nice!—, but because of the added flavoring, I couldn’t analyze it any further. It was apparent that in this coffee, the hazelnut thing was meant to be the star of the show. In this respect, the Lion approach seems to have been pretty different from that of, say, Galliano, whose flavorings are a lot more subtle. Here, the flavoring had a natural, nutty vibe to it, but there might have been a tiny hint of something artificial to it as well, something that made me think of those glycerol-like aromas I’ve smelled in my friend’s sweet vape juices. Maybe that was the coconut? Also, the mouthfeel might have been slightly goopier than that of your regural unflavored Arabica. But I didn’t mind! This was not supposed to be a natural coffee product anyway.

Now, I personally never crave for anything sweet, ever. I drink coffee for the coffee flavor. That’s why I usually prefer unflavored, natural coffee products. However, sometimes it is fun to try a ”dessert” coffee with an added topping. Even though the company describes Hazelnut Coffee as ”tropical”, ”A wonderful taste of the [Hawaiian] islands”, I found it to be very suitable to the cold, Scandinavian Christmas season as well.

In my opinion, Lion Hazelnut Coffee would be a great option for anyone who likes to add sugar or other sweeteners to his/her coffee. It could also work well for anyone who is just getting into coffee, and who is not accustomed to strong coffee flavors just yet. For instance, my good Wife is more of a tea person, but she absolutely loved this blend.

Give Hazelnut Coffee a try! I think you might like it!

Ogawa Coffee (小川珈琲) Blend 3 Original—the quintessential Japanese coffee

I recently received this coffee as a gift from a Japanese friend who lives in Kyoto: ”Blend 3 Original” from Ogawa Coffee (小川珈琲).

On the bag, the Kyoto based company states this (my translation): ”A mild/mellow aroma and a light taste.” ”A blend that makes the best use of the characteristics of coffee beans from three areas, Central America, South America and Southeastern Asia.” In addition to this, the company indicates that the beans come from Brazil, Indonesia and ”other [places]”. They also provide a nice graph, which can be interpreted as follows (1 = weak, 5 = strong):

  • aroma: 3/5
  • bitterness: 3/5
  • acidity: 3/5
  • richness/body: 2/5

The coffee comes pre-ground.

In my estimation, the roast was dark, around 3,5/5. The grind size seemed perfect for the AeroPress, so I decided to use that particular device for brewing.

Now, this is coffee with a capital C. Blend 3 Original is nutty, chocolatey, bold and dark. At the same time, there’s nothing too pronounced or ”in your face” to it. Rather, it is an extremely smooth, mellow and well-balanced blend, and yet it is full-bodied enough to satisfy the black coffee enthusiast. Granted, it did not have all the different nuances to make me go wow. Instead, it gently woke me up in the morning, and helped me concentrate on my writing during the day. It was one the most comforting blends I’ve ever tried.

You know, it’s a little like those Japanese cars that are sold here in Europe. Take your regular Toyota Corolla, for example: It might not be like the most expensive, high-end Audi or BMW, but it does exactly what it was made for, and it does it really well. I actually think that’s kind of cool. (I’m a die hard Toyota fan.) In a similar fashion, Blend 3 Original is not like the most spectacular gourmet coffee out there, but it does the thing it’s trying to do really well. For me, it just hit the spot every single time.

In my opinion, Blend 3 Original is the quintessential Japanese coffee—exactly what you would expect from a great Japanese company like Ogawa Coffee. It is the perfect example of what an all-around, middle of the road coffee blend should taste and feel like. I only wish the big European coffee companies we able to create something as good.

If you happen to find it, try it out!

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.

Marufuku Coffee (丸福珈琲店) ”Marufuku Coffee”—dark and very mild

Here’s another great blend I received as a gift from our dear friends in Japan: ”Marufuku Coffee” from 丸福珈琲店 (Marufuku Coffee Shop), Osaka.

On the can it says that this is (my translation) the Marufuku Coffee Shop ”quality blend coffee” or ”carefully produced blend coffee”. They also call it ”regular coffee”. While I’m not 100% sure about this, it seems like this is Marufuku’s flagship blend.

Just like its sister product, ”Shōwa Kyunen Blend” which I recently reviewed, ”Marufuku Coffee” is made of beans from Brazil, Colombia and ”other places”. Also the grind size is said to be the same, medium fine.

Indeed, as I opened the can, ”Marufuku Coffee” looked exactly like ”Shōwa Kyunen Blend”. The grind size was identical, and the roast seemed similar: dark, approximately 4/5. Even the aroma was almost the same.

Flavorwise, too, the two blends were very similar: Dark roasted regular coffee with a toasted, slightly smoky flavor and aroma. However, there were some minor differences as well. Whereas ”Shōwa Kyunen Blend” was nutty and bean-like, this one was nutty and dark chocolatey. Also, ”Marufuku Coffee” was even milder and smoother than ”Shōwa Kyunen Blend”. It had a sort of diluted feel to it. In this it reminded me of a good Americano.

In my opinion, ”Marufuku Coffee” is a very good every day all day type of blend. While it probably isn’t potent enough to satisfy the hard core espresso lover, it would be the perfect choice for anyone who wants to get into dark roasted coffee but is not accustomed to the bitter or burnt flavors that you get with many dark roast blends. If you can get ”Marufuku Coffee”, I highly recommend you try it!

芦田さんご一家、本当にありがとうございました! (Ashida Family, thank you so much!)