Kirjalan kahvipaahtimo ”Louhi”—a lot of flavor!

Last week, on my way to Northern Finland, I drove through the historic city of Mikkeli. I’d been hearing good things about Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo, the local artisan roastery, so I wanted to see what the hype was all about.

I found the Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo coffee shop in a beautiful, peaceful area close to the city center. There was a relaxing, retroish vibe to the place. The interior was beautifully designed, and yet kind of homely. The owner was kind enough to answer my questions about their products. She even offered me a cup of their new coffee to try before buying. I wish I’d had more time to sit down and try out a couple of blends!

Anyway, I purchased two of their products. This is the first one: Louhi, a medium roasted organic filter coffee. As many of you might notice, the product is named after the ”wicked queen of the land known as Pohjola in Finnish and Karelian mythology” (Wikipedia). Even the package reminded me of classic Finnish design.

Even so, the product itself is made of organic coffee from Sidamo, Ethiopia. The roast is medium, 3/6 on the Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo scale. On the label, they describe the flavor profile as multidimensional—fruity and citrusy on the one hand, nutty and herbal on the other.

This is a very apt description. Having ground the beans, I got an aroma that was fruity (think of fresh and dried fruits), nutty, and somewhat herbal.

As I always do with filter coffees, I prepared Louhi in my AeroPress.

Let me try to describe the taste in terms of color: In my opinion, the high end of the flavor spectrum was yellow and light green; it was dominated by fresh fruits and herbs. The midrange, however, was orange and light brown; it was reminiscent of dried fruits, nuts (hazelnuts?) and Digestive crackers. In my opinion, these were the main notes. Even the mouthfeel was creamy and solid (cf. the good fats found in nuts and Digestive crackers!). In other words, the nice, fruity piquancy was accompanied by the somewhat bitter herbality, and the moderately sweet taste of dried fruits, nuts, and crackers. Despite this multidimensionality, the overall flavor was very much ”together”.

To sum up, Louhi from Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo is a very nice, medium-bodied and flavorful filter coffee that you can enjoy on any occasion. Try it! You might like it. I certainly did!

Paulig Presidentti Gold Label—Finnish grocery store coffee at its best

A while ago, I was asked to write reviews of two blends by Paulig, Presidentti kahvi and Presidentti Gold Label. As you can tell from my first review, I was positively surprised by the regular Presidentti. This time, I’ll say a couple of words about the Gold Label version.

First, the packaging is pretty classy. One gets the impression that Gold Label is the high-end version of the traditional Presidentti. Whether or not this is a correct interpretation, the coffee itself is pretty good.

On the package, it says that this is an ”aromatic coffee blend, finalized with best beans of the season [sic] from East Africa. Fruity flavoured Ethiopian beans together with lighter roast bring out the nuanced taste of this 100 % Arabica coffee in its full glory.” The company has also added the familiar graph, which can be interpreted as follows:

  • Body: 2/5
  • Acidity: 4/5
  • Flavor: 4/5

The bag note was rich and pleasant: dried fruits, medium dark milk chocolate, and some nuttiness. The aroma reminded me of the regular Presidentti, but it was a little darker. That said, it didn’t smell ”darker” in the way that a darker roast would. Granted, Gold Label is roasted slightly darker (2/5 on the Paulig scale) than the original Presidentti (1/5). Here, however, the ”darkness” made me think of dried fruits as opposed to fresh ones.

I decided to brew it in my AeroPress, using the inverted method I know best.

The flavor profile was predictable but pleasant. It was a harmonious mélange of both fresh and dried fruits, medium dark milk chocolate, and nuttiness. It was full flavored, but medium-mild in strength. It had a rich, natural sweetness to it, and yet it was robust enough to work in any situation. Moreover, there was a substantial amount of acidity. Even so, it did not feel sharp or harsh in the mouth. Instead, the acidity was quite soft and pleasant.

Presidentti Gold Label might be one of the best Finnish coffees I’ve purchased in a supermarket. In my opinion, it encapsulates everything that most Finns seem to like about their coffee, and makes it even better. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it became one of my favorite blends, it certainly was enjoyable. If you want to experience Finnish grocery store coffee at its best, get some Presidentti Gold Label from Paulig!

Jacobs Krönung—the middle-of-the-road grocery store blend

The other day, I had to get some coffee to brew in my hotel room. I only had my AeroPress with me, so it had to be a pre-ground blend. Jacobs products seemed to be available in every supermarket. Since I’d never had their coffees (!), I decided to get a pack of Krönung.

On the bag, there was virtually no information on the ingredients.

At first, I didn’t think much of this blend. It was… just coffee. After a couple of cups, however, I started to detect different nuances. The flavor profile was dominated by a nice nuttiness and accompanied by a pleasant bitterness. There was some acidity as well, but not much. Overall, the coffee was pretty well-rounded. It was on the dry side, but it had just enough natural sweetness to make it work in any situation.

Just as I expected, Jacobs Krönung was little more than a middle-of-the-road grocery store blend. But if you only need a pick-me-up in the morning, it does the trick reasonably well. I probably will not buy it again, but I’m happy I tried it!

Paulig Classic—a nice morning cup

How to make better coffee when traveling? My suggestion: Try to avoid the coffee makers you find in hotel rooms. Instead, throw your AeroPress in the bag, and you’re good to go!

On my trips, I like to buy whatever coffee is available in supermarkets. It’s kind of fun to see what the locals drink.

Last week, I spent some time in the beautiful city of Riga, Latvia. At one supermarket, the shelves were filled with regular Swedish and Finnish blends—you know, brands like Löfbergs and Paulig. Especially, Paulig Classic seemed to be everywhere in Latvia. I could be wrong, but I’m assuming this blend is not available in Finland (?), the home country of Paulig. At least I had never even seen it before. So, I immediately wanted to try it!

The bag description was quite short:

Paulig Classic is a sophisticated coffee blend, roasted from the finest Latin American coffee qualities. The taste is long and harmonious and you can find a round and nutty aroma from it.

This seems like a pretty accurate description!

While there was no further information on the ingredients (other than ”100% Arabica”), Classic felt like a blend of (mostly?) Colombian coffees. It was very nutty and slightly bitter. I don’t mean that it was harsh in any way. Quite the contrary, the acidity was low, and the flavor profile was well-balanced. In my opinion, the combination of nuttiness and bitterness made Classic a good choice for the morning cup. In this sense, it reminded me of another Scandinavian grocery store blend that I’ve liked in the past, Gran Dia from Arvid Nordquist.

I liked Classic more than many other Paulig products. Obviously, it is not a super high quality blend, but perfectly enjoyable nonetheless!

Paulig Presidentti kahvi—a classic for a reason

One of my readers suggested I review this classic coffee: Presidentti kahvi from Paulig, the Finnish coffee giant. Along with Paulig Juhla Mokka, this blend has been the epitome of Finnish coffee culture for decades. As such, it deserves to be looked at with special attention.

Already as a little kid, I learned to associate coffee with Presidentti kahvi. I remember my father joking about it. As a Lutheran pastor, he used much of his time cycling around our small country village, wearing his clerical frock coat, visiting his congregants. As the custom had it, every time pastor came visiting, people made coffee for him. So, my dad ended up drinking gallons of coffee every day, to the point where his doctor told him that there would be fatal consequences if he didn’t stop. In spite of his stomach problems, dad loved Finnish coffee. Even as he came home from work, he often went to the kitchen and mumbled to himself, imitating one of his beloved congregants: ”Would the reverend like to have some coffee?” To which he replied: ”Oh, yes please!” And then he would pull out his pack of Presidentti kahvi, and start brewing.

As the brand name would suggest, Presidentti kahvi (Finnish for ”President coffee”, or ”presidential coffee”) has been regarded as Paulig’s premium coffee blend. It is made of 100% Arabica coffees from Central America, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and roasted light, 1/5 on the Paulig scale. The company describes the flavor profile as berry-like, freshly acidic, and subtle. They also provide a graph that can be interpreted as follows:

  • Body: 2/5
  • Acidity: 4/5
  • Aroma: 2/5

Nowadays, the blend is readily available in beans, too, but since I wanted to get as close to the traditional ”Finnish” coffee experience as possible, I decided to buy it pre-ground, in the familiar vacuum sealed, hard ”brick”.

As I opened the package, I was greeted by a wonderful aroma: fresh fruits, berries, and some milk chocolate.

The coffee in my package was pretty coarse, which made it suitable for my (other) favorite brewing method: AeroPress. Having made a couple of cups using the inverted method I know best, I can offer the following report:

Flavor-wise, Presidentti kahvi was rather mild, yet quite flavorful. As expected, it was pretty adicic, but I found the acidity to be quite ”soft” and pleasant. I detected the following flavors:

  • fresh fruits
  • berries
  • milk chocolate
  • cinnamon
  • some nutty bitterness here and there

None of these flavors overpowered the others; the balance was so on point. Oh, and by the way, I’m almost certain that the empty cup smelled like the delicious combination I used to crave for as a little kid: milk chocolate and licorice. Quite pleasant, indeed!

I must admit that I am pleasantly surprised. As some of you may know, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Paulig coffees. But there is a good reason for the near-legendary status Presidentti kahvi has gained over the decades. The quality is surprisingly high for a mass produced, pre-ground grocery store coffee. The blend offers a very amicable flavor profile that is suitable for any occasion. I truly enjoyed every single cup.

Wow. I’ll have to tell my dad.

If you want to get a true Finnish coffee experience, this is the deal!

Kahiwa El Jardín—like a good chardonnay

During the recent COVID-19 closure, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters moved their roastery to the Lahti city center. As the lockdown restrictions were eased, they opened the new facility, complete with a cool new cafe and wine bar. The other day, I went to see the place, and to buy some beans as well.

After showing me around, the CEO, Mr. Joonas Reinikainen introduced me to their new product: El Jardín. The first thing I noticed was that the company had replaced the brown paper bags with matte black ones with cool labels on them. On this particular label it said that El Jardín is hydro-honey processed Castillo from Colombia, roasted 2/5 on the Kahiwa scale. The tasting notes were listed as follows: Guava, grapefruit, hibiscus.

Now, I have no idea what guava and hibiscus taste or smell like! I do know that the one is a fruit and the other is a flower of some sort. Despite my obvious lack of knowledge in this area, I could easily tell that the ground beans had a ”high”, fruity, and floral aroma to it. However, the floral notes were a lot lighter and more refined than the familiar Robusta florality that you get with good Italian espressos. It was apparent that this was going to have a pretty sophisticated flavor profile.

I brewed El Jardín in my AeroPress (inverted, paper filter). The bouquet was quite similar to the aroma of the ground beans. In the mouth, the coffee felt light and juicy, but there was a little hint of creaminess too. The body was pretty light as well, but by no means hollow. In my opinion, the ”high” notes of grapefruit dominated the flavor profile. Even then, there were other fruity flavors to fill up some of the midrange—perhaps that was the guava? The floral notes became apparent in the finish. In the aftertaste, I think I might have detected some of the more familiar ”Colombian” flavors as well, such as nuttiness, and even a hint of chocolate, but I’m not 100% sure about it. Overall, the coffee was on the dry side of the flavor spectrum, but the fruity flavors gave it just enough natural sweetness to make it interesting.

To sum up, El Jardín is a very good, well-balanced, and surprisingly fruity Colombian. Now that I think of it, it is a lot like a good chardonnay. Get yourself some from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, and see what you think!

Record Coffee Co. Maustetyttöjen kahvi—”Finnish” coffee, only a lot better!

I recently got my hands on this cool coffee: Maustetyttöjen kahvi, a signature blend created by Record Coffee Co. (Kuopio, Finland) for Maustetytöt (Finnish for ”Spice Girls”!), the pop duo, known for their retro beats and characteristically Finnish lyrics about misery, depression, even suicidal tendencies. The description on the coffee bag would be pretty hard to translate, but I will say that it’s pretty hilarious for anyone who has heard the duo’s songs.

But now, on to the coffee itself. The ingredients were listed on the label:

Etiopia Guji, Ambela, washed
Tansania AA Karatu Estate, washed
Kenia Siret Peaberry, washed

The coffee came pre-ground for filter use, so I decided to brew it in my AeroPress (my usual method: inverted, paper filter). In my estimation, the roast level was medium, around 2,5/5.

The second I opened the bag, I knew that this was going to be really, really good. The main notes were

  • honey
  • fruits, both fresh and dried
  • red (?) berries

The bouquet was equally amazing.

In the mouth, the coffee felt very creamy, like honey. It was somewhat acidic, in the best sense of the word. While the blend was on the mild side flavor-wise, it was still surprisingly flavorful and nuanced. Everything I had detected in the bag note and bouquet were there in the flavor profile as well (in this order):

  1. honey
  2. dried fruits
  3. fresh fruits
  4. a hint of fresh (red?) berries

On top of it all, there was this DELICIOUS high note that I couldn’t put my finger on. There was something familiar to it, but even after consuming the whole bag of coffee, I couldn’t tell what it was. Anyhow, I absolutely loved it.

Somewhat unexpectedly, I found myself comparing this blend to the most popular Finnish grocery store coffee, Paulig Juhla Mokka (read my review!). While the two blends are by no means similar, the flavor profile in this RCC offering was not unlike the one in the Finnish classic. It felt a bit like having a gourmet version of Juhla Mokka. Therefore, I like to think that Maustetyttöjen kahvi would appeal to people who love their traditional Finnish coffee, but want to have something better—in this case, a lot better.

Last time I checked, Maustetyttöjen kahvi was sold out. I’m not surprised at all. It was so good! Even if you couldn’t get your hands on this particular blend, I highly recommend you try other products from Record Coffee Co. I certainly will!

Café Liégeois Mano Mano Subtil—nuanced, yet simple and rustic

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This week, I’ve been enjoying Mano Mano Subtil from Café Liégeois, Belgium.

On the bag, the company tells us that that ”this blend includes, among other things, coffee from Bolivia” (my translation). That’s all they say about it, really. OK, there was the familiar graph, too. This time, it said this:

  • Rondeur: 10/14
  • Intensité: 9/14
  • Fruité: 13/14

The roast was medium dark, somewhere around 3–3,5/5. Right off the bat, it seemed to me that this coffee would work really well in the moka pot as well as the AeroPress. Again, I was right! Either way, the mouthfeel was very smooth and creamy, just like in the other Café Liégeois coffees I’ve had the pleasure of trying. This seems to be part of their trademark!

What about the flavor profile, then? At first, I was having a bit of a hard time articulating what Subtil tasted like. After several cups, however, I started to figure it out. I concluded that the main notes were medium dark milk chocolate flavor, and fresh fruits. But there was also a nice bitterness that seemed to come ”from within” the coffee, if that makes sense. What I’m trying to say is that Subtil felt smooth and slightly bitter at the same time. It was also somewhat nuanced, yet simple and rustic. I liked it!

Despite its name, Mano Mano Subtil from Café Liégeois might not offer you the most subtle flavors you can think of. Anyhow, I found it to be a pleasant all around blend that you can brew in any way you want, and enjoy any time of the day. I think it’s worth checking out! In Finland, you can get it from Kahvikaveri.

Café Liégeois Kivu—CREAMY!

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On the border between Congo and Rwanda, the high plateaux bordering Lake Kivu are favourable to growing high-quality coffee. The altitude and the humid tropical climate, combined with the richness of the soil, give the grain a slight citrus taste, as well as beautiful persistence in the mouth.

This is how Café Liégeois (Belgium) describes Kivu, their dark roast (4/5?) coffee that comes from the Amka coop, Kivu region, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They are so right. This is exactly what you get with this coffee.

On the bag, the flavor profile is described further by a graph. It could be interpreted thus:

  • Rondeur: 9/14
  • Intensité: 8/14
  • Fruité: 13/14

As was the case with Café Liégeois’ Chiapas Mexico which I reviewed a couple of days ago, there was no information on the bag about suggested brewing methods. So again, I ended up brewing the coffee in my Bialetti Moka, and in the AeroPress (inverted, paper filter). Whichever method I chose, I really liked what I tasted.

Brewed in the moka pot, the bouquet was truly great. It smelled like chocolate, marzipan, cream and sugar, and fresh fruits. The mouthfeel was exceptionally creamy, too, perhaps even oily. I loved it! While the flavor profile was not super complex, it did have different aspects to it. I tasted pretty much all of the things I had detected in the bouquet; the chocolate, marzipan, cream and sugar, and fresh fruits were all there. But then, on top of that, there was the same extremely high note that I had detected eariler in Chiapas Mexico. As I was reviewing that blend, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. At the time, I thought it was kiwifruit. Now, however, after reading the Kivu bag description, I went: ”Yes, citrus!” In both Chiapas Mexico and Kivu, this citrusy tinge was barely noticeable. Even then, it added some personality to the flavor profiles.

Again, as could be expected, the AeroPress made the overall experience a little ”softer”. Having said that, the flavor profile was pretty much the same as in the moka version. The mouthfeel was almost equally creamy and pleasant.

Man, these Café Liégeois products are good! I really think you should check them out. In Finland, you can get them from Kahvikaveri.

Café Liégeois Chiapas Mexico—all day every day!

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This is Chiapas Mexico by Café Liégeois, Belgium. It is a medium roast (3/5?) coffee from—you guessed it—Chiapas, Mexico.

On the bag, there was not much information on the product, but the company does tell us this: ”Rich and complex, it reveals very fruity, exquisite aroma notes. Fair [trade?]. The perfect blend between flavor and solidarity.” Additionally, the flavor profile was described by a graph. It could be interpreted thus:

  • Rondeur: 9/14
  • Intensité: 9/14
  • Fruité: 13/14

Since there was no information about suggested brewing methods, I ended up brewing this coffee in the ways I know:

  1. in my good old Bialetti Moka, and
  2. in my trusty AeroPress (inverted, paper filter).

Either way, I really liked what I tasted.

In my opinion, the Moka pot brought the best out of this coffee. The bouquet was truly mouthwatering: it was tobaccoey, creamy, caramelly, and fruity. I could tell that this was going to taste pleasantly acidic—which it did.

There were two aspects to the flavor profile: On the one hand, Chiapas was relatively robust, with the flavors of tobacco, nuts, and some caramel. On the other hand, however, it made me think of yellow stonefruits (apricots?), maybe even some kiwifruit. These two aspects worked extremely well together. The end product was robust enough to wake me up in the morning, and yet sophisticated and delicate enough to work as a dessert coffee.

As could be expected, the AeroPress made the overall experience ”softer”, or more muted; the individual flavors were not quite as intense. Brewed this way, Chiapas seemed to be exactly what I like to have first thing in the morning: an honest, middle of the road Coffee, with no bells and whistles.

I found Chiapas Mexico from Café Liégeois to be a pleasant ”all day every day” type of coffee. Granted, it didn’t blow me away like some higher-end coffees would, but it did precisely what it was supposed to do. I will definitely order some more! In the meantime, I’ll be excited to try other blends from the same manufacturer!

In Finland, you can get Café Liégeois products from Kahvikaveri. Check them out!