La Torrefazione Silver Monkey—milk chocolate and dark berries!

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Here’s a blend that I liked very much: Silver Monkey, roasted by Kaffa Roastery, Helsinki, for the coffee shop chain La Torrefazione.

Silver Monkey is all about washed Red Bourbon from Nyamalinda, Rwanda. At 3/5, the roast level is around medium. On the label, the flavor profile is described as follows: ”Intense, deep and complex, with currants and plum notes, this coffee will carry you right to the heart of the Rwanda rainforest, the home of the Silver Monkey.” They also say this:

  • Fruitiness: 3/5
  • Body: 4/5

I just loved the aroma of the ground beans: milk chocolate and dark (red?) berries. I felt that this coffee would work perfectly in the moka pot, so that’s the gadget I decided to use.

In my opinion, the flavor profile was not super multifaceted, but it was definitely complex enough to keep me interested. The two aspects that I had detected earlier in the aroma were apparent in the flavor as well:

  1. the natural sweetness of milk chocolate (in the midrange)
  2. the softly acidic berry-like notes (in the upper register, but also kind of dark at the same time)

The mouthfeel was kind of ”medium”: not exaclty juicy, but not too creamy, either. Very pleasant.

All in all, I liked Silver Monkey quite a bit. I think you would do well to check out La Torrefazione and Kaffa Roastery!

La Torrefazione El Armadillo—syrupy but sharp

IMG_20191118_090827Here’s another one from La Torrefazione, the Finnish coffee shop chain. As was the case with Pachamama, which I reviewed a while ago, El Armadillo is blended and roasted for La Torrefazione by Kaffa Roastery, Helsinki.

El Armadillo is a blend of washed Caturra and Bourbon from Finca la Bolsa, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The roast level is 3/5. On the label, the company calls this coffee ”syrupy and smooth”. They also say this:

  • fruitiness: 3/5
  • body: 4/5

As usual, I tried brewing this coffee in both the AeroPress and the Bialetti Moka.

With the AeroPress, I couldn’t quite find the essence of this coffee. Even if I tried several different recipes, it was hard for me to say what it was supposed to be about.

In my opinion, El Armadillo worked better with the moka pot. Both the bouquet and the room note were caramelly and sweet, like brown sugar. Very pleasant. However, I found the actual taste to be kind of nondescript. I did notice that the mouthfeel was full and syrupy—which was great. But rather that being ”smooth”, I found the overall experience to be quite acidic and sharp. I’m not saying it was bad by any means. I just didn’t enjoy it very much.

This was a little baffling for me. I mean, I usually like everything that comes from Huehuetenango. For instance, last year I absolutely fell in love with the Finca Bella Elisabeth coffees I got from Kahwe. For some strange reason, this one didn’t do it for me.

La Torrefazione Pachamama—the fruity Colombian

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Next up: Pachamama from La Torrefazione, the great Finnish chain of coffee shops. Actually, this coffee is blended and roasted for La Torrefazione by Kaffa Roastery, Helsinki.Pachamama is a blend of washed Caturra and Castillo from San Lorenzo Colombia. The roast level is 3/5. The company gives us the following tasting notes: ”Tones of cherry and pecan, a complex acidity and a chocolatey finish will complete this sustainable experience.” They also say:

  • fruitiness: 3/5
  • body: 4/5

First, I tried brewing this in my moka pot. I got a pleasant acidity of fresh cut fruits, something like kiwi. The other thing I noticed was the midrange nuttiness. Only then did I look at the label on the bag. According to the company, it was not supposed to taste like fruits, but cherry. OK! Be that as it may, I found the flavor profile to be a delightful combination of two different aspects, fruit or berry-like high-end, and the nuttiness in the middle. The mouthfeel was nice and juicy.After several cups, I decided to this it in the AeroPress, too. I used my favorite inverted method, only this time with a paper filter. All of the fruitiness/berriness was there, but this time a delicious milk chocolate flavor was added to the nutty midrange. I started to recognize some of the familiar characteristic of many Colombian coffees. Maybe the chocolateyness of the midrange was emphasized due to the fact that the paper filter tends to tame that high-end sharpness somewhat, who knows?If you happen to visit Helsinki, be sure to check out La Torrefazione and Kaffa Roastery. They really know their trade!

Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Casa—the Italian powerhouse

I love Italian coffee. I’ve always had a special affinity for Segafredo Zanetti products. In 2010, as I was just starting to get into coffee, their classic Intermezzo was the first espresso blend I truly fell in love with. Soon after that, I tried their Espresso Casa. I remember liking it a lot, but the huge caffeine kick was the one thing that really stuck in my mind.

Recently, I noticed Espresso Casa was available at my local supermarket. I wanted to find out whether I would still feel the same way about it. I was kind of suspecting that now, after all these years of drinking coffee, it would feel like any regular espresso blend.

Man, was I wrong.

First, it was delicious. Of course, Espresso Casa is not gourmet coffee. But it was really good. The Arabicas were nutty and slightly sweet. The Robustas were earthy and bitter, but not overly so. They were slighlty floral and vanilla-like, but not so much as in, say, Lavazza Crema e Gusto. The whole thing was reminiscent of Intermezzo, but it was not as earthy and dry. It was full flavored, but very creamy and smooth. All the different flavors were in perfect balance.

Man, it was almost as good as my beloved Pascucci Golden Sack.

Secondly, the caffeine. Oh boy, the caffeine. I’d like to think that I have a pretty high tolerance for caffeine. Even then, two moka pots of this after a big breakfast made my head spin like no other blend.

If you want some hair on your chest, this is the deal.

I really like Espresso Casa. In my opinion, it is one of the best Italian espresso blends you can find in your local supermarket. That said, I don’t think I could have it every day. It is just too strong in the caffeine department. But if you need a quick pick-me-up in the morning, or if you want to feel like Marlon Brando, this is the perfect choice.

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.

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!

Rost & Co. Krafti Espresso—a good, standard espresso with lots of R!

It has been an amazingly hectic two months for me. I haven’t been able to take the time to post all the coffee reviews I have in store. But today I can finally share my impressions of the blend I’ve been enjoying lately.

”Krafti Espresso” from Rost & Co. is a blend of 60% India Robusta Kaapi Royale and 40% Guatemala Acatenango. Right off the bat, this particular recipe sounds very appealing to me. On the bag, it says that the blend is (in my translation) ”strong” and ”rich” with ”notes of cocoa.” In my estimation, the roast is medium dark.

Now, a year ago, I might have been extremely enthusiastic about this blend. ”Krafti” is a very good, solid Robusta forward espresso that reminds me of many good Italian blends. As you could expect from a blend that contains as much as 60% of Robusta, the familiar earthiness from the big R is the main player. However, this earthiness is accompanied by some delicious notes of pine needles (”Flores,” the excellent straight Robusta by Cafetoria keeps coming to mind—check it out, I love it!) and vanilla. The blend is quite full flavored, but it doesn’t fatigue the palate. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth.

At the same time, though, I cannot help thinking that the flavor profile is a little on the nondescript side—and I don’t mean quality-wise. I am getting a lot of those quintessential espresso qualities, but nothing that would just jump out to me like, ”Hey, this is this thing!” if you see what I mean. Mind you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this blend—as I say, I’ve enjoyed it—, but nothing particularly memorable about it either.

In this sense, ”Krafti Espresso” is a bit like ”Peru Espresso,” the other Rost & Co. blend I tried a while ago: it’s a solid blend that does what it was made to do. It’s just that maybe making you go ”WOW” isn’t one of those things.

But hey, try it if you can! It is good! You can get it from Kaffecentralen.

Rost & Co. Peru Espresso—a basic espresso with lots of flavor

For quite some time now, I’ve been thinking of checking out some coffees by Rost & Co., the artisan roastery located in Helsinki, Finland. Recently, on one of my trips to the Helsinki university library (one of my favorite places!), I briefly visited Kaffecentralen, the great coffee shop in the very center of the city, and got four of their products. So, here we go!

The first one I tried was this: Peru Espresso. There was not a lot of information about the coffee on the bag, but they say this much:

  • origin: Peru, Cajamarca Co-Op Sol & Cafe
  • altitude: 1500–2050 m
  • processing: washed

I would add that the roast seemed to be medium-dark or dark, maybe around 3,5 on the scale of 5 (?).

As for tasting notes, the company states the following (my translation): balanced, notes of licorice and almond.

Very well, that’s precisely what this coffee tasted like when I brewed it in my Bialetti moka pot. On top of that, I got a delicious flavor of dark, bitter chocolate. It wasn’t very prominent, but did create a nice interplay with the licorice. At times, I also detected a slightly toasted, tobaccoey flavor. Having said that, in my opinion, Peru Espresso didn’t have the most complex flavor profile. On the one hand, it was quite flavorful and intense indeed. On the other hand, however, it was pretty straightforward. The mouthfeel was on the creamy side and quite smooth.

For me, Peru Espresso by Rost & Co. was a pretty basic espresso that offered some interesting flavors. While it didn’t knock my socks off, I did enjoy it. I especially found it pleasant after a big meal. So yeah, if you want a solid, dark and smooth espresso with lots of flavor, but one that you don’t need to think about so much, check it out! Like I say, you can get it from Kaffecentralen!