Muki ”Muki-kahvi”—”Scandinavian” coffee made better!

Last week, I made my first visit to Muki (Finnish for ”mug”), Helsinki, the cool brick and mortar store that specializes in high quality coffee, tea, chocolate, and other related delicacies. They offer a nice selection of interesting coffees, ranging from classic Italian espressos to the exquisite products of several Finnish micro roasteries.

As for me, I wanted to try the coffees blended and roasted for Muki by Holmen Coffee, the Helsinki based artisan roastery. The man in charge, Ari-Matti, was kind enough to offer me both of these blends to try. Thank you so much!

The first one is this: Muki-kahvi. Now, on the label, there is little information on the ingredients. The Muki website, too, only reveals that this is a dark roasted (level 4/5) ”city coffee”. That’s kind of cool. I mean, let the product speak for itself!

Since I was told that this coffee was made with the regular coffee machine user in mind, I decided to try it in my AeroPress. I generally don’t use a coffee machine anyway. Oh, as you can probably guess, I used my favorite AeroPress recipe for brewing.

First off, the mouthfeel of Muki-kahvi was quite light and juicy. Even so, the body was not weak by any means. Perhaps ”medium” would be the word to describe it.

The flavor profile was quite interesting. Admittedly, after the first sip I went: ”OK, this is like… regular coffee.” But after a couple of cups, I started to get it. The juiciness of the mouthfeel made me think of (red?) berries. Surprisingly, though, there were no berry flavors to be detected. Instead, I got

  • nutty bitterness
  • caramel
  • dried fruits

These midrange flavors, mixed with some ”soft” acidity made for a very pleasant combination. On the one hand, Muki-kahvi was pleasantly bitter, which made it a good choice for my morning cup. On the other hand, the blend had enough natural sweetness to balance out the bitterness. This resulted in a flavor profile that was robust enough, yet quite soft and pleasant.

Apparently, Muki-kahvi was not created to knock your socks off with exotic flavors. Instead, its purpose appears to be to satisfy the regular coffee lover on any occasion. This is exactly what it does, and it does it really well. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes the classic Finnish or Swedish grocery store blends but wishes to have something better.

Pay a visit to Muki and get yourself some Muki-kahvi! In addition to the cool brick and mortar store, the good folks at Muki have recently opened their new web store, too. Check them out!

E’s World Coffee ”Two Group”—the epitome of DARK roasted coffee

If you read my last review, you could tell that I loved the dark roasted One Grouphead blend sent to me by Mr. Earnest Rawlins, the award winning roast master of E’s World Coffee (Anchorage, AK). My second blend from E’s World is this: Two Group. On the company website, the blend is described as follows:

A blend of South and Central American coffee focusing on the nuttiness and cacao characteristics of the beans. Making a bold, full bodied blend of hazelnut, caramel, vanilla and dark sweet chocolate. Best enjoyed as an espresso, but never limited.

On the bag, the roast level was categorized as ”Blackest”—the darkest roast made by E’s World Coffee. Indeed, the beans were very dark and oily.

As usual, I brewed the coffee in my Bialetti Moka pot.

In the bouquet I detected dark chocolate, molasses, some cinnamon, and perhaps a tinge of hyacinth-like florality. The aroma was absolutely mouthwatering. Somehow, it made me think of Christmas. It also made me anticipate a flavor profile that’s both bold and well-behaved.

So, how did it taste? Two Group was more dark chocolate forward than the slightly lighter One Grouphead. That said, it was no chocolate bomb. The chocolatey aspect was balanced out by a very pleasant spicy piquancy that made me think of pine needles. Add to that the midrange sweetness of molasses, and a higher vanilla note in the finish, and you get the picture.

Again, the mouthfeel was extremely smooth and creamy. The big, bold flavors were always there, but instead of being in your face, they were polite enough to come in after the pleasant introduction made by the mouthfeel.

In Two Group, Mr. Rawlins has created a true masterpiece. It is both dark, bold, and potent AND very well-behaved, and sophisticated. While I usually seem to gravitate towards lighter roasted coffee, Two Group certainly made me reconsider my position about dark roasted coffee. It must be one of the most pleasant black blends I’ve had to date. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

If you like very dark roasted espresso, you have to try Two Group. Do yourself a favor and order some from E’s World Coffee!

E’s World Coffee ”One Grouphead”—the most enjoyable dark roasted coffee I’ve had

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 ”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!

Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo ”Aino”—”Rustic” is the word

Here’s another filter coffee I recently got from Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo (Mikkeli, Finland). The bag description reads as follows (my rough translation):

AINO—light roasted coffee

The AINO coffee grows in the Southern parts of Rwanda. Among the coffees of Eastern Africa, Rwandan coffees are often the softest [roundest?], sweetest, and the most florally nuanced.

Additionally, the company tells us that the roast level is 2/6.

Since Aino is sold as a filter coffee, I brewed it in my AeroPress. (You knew it! I used my favorite inverted recipe!) The bouquet was interesting. I detected

  • red berries
  • some fresh fruits
  • nuts
  • a little something that made think of a farm house, even a stable

I kind of liked the rustic, organic aroma.

But what did it taste like? Briefly, it was quite good. Like Louhi, the other Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo product I reviewed a few days ago, Aino was pretty full-flavored, without being overpowering. At the same time, though, it felt juicier and more acidic in the mouth than the creamy Louhi.

I’ll have to admit that I was hard-pressed to find the essence of this coffee—the ”thing”, if you will. Granted, I detected several different flavors like berries, fresh fruits, nuts and… I wanted to say ”earth”, but I’m not sure that’s the right word. Let’s just say Aino was earthier and less sweet than Louhi. While all of these flavors were there, I couldn’t quite figure out whether they wanted worked together or not. Mind you, the coffee did NOT taste bad. Not at all! Actually, Aino was a relatively enjoyable middle-of-the-road filter coffee on the rustic end of the flavor spectrum. That said, it was probably not created to knock your socks off, or make you go ”wow”. To me, it was ”just coffee”—but in the positive sense.

Take that for what you will. As for me, I am looking forward to trying the other Kirjalan Kahvipaahtimo blends!

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!