First impressions: Segafredo ”Decacrèm”

Let’s be honest. I do not drink coffee for the caffeine. In my 13 years as a regular coffee consumer, I have never managed to develop a ”vitamin C” addiction. (You can read my testimony here.) Having said that, I am of the opinion that caffeine is an integral part of the whole experience of enjoying coffee. That’s why I’ve never been a huge fan of decaf products.

But hey, I don’t want to be narrow-minded! Since I recently found this new (to me) decaf blend, I decided to add it to my list of Italian grocery store coffees. So, without further ado, here are my first impressions of Segafredo Decacrèm.

At first glance, this was exactly like any Italian supermarket espresso. That is to say,

  • it was roasted ”medium”
  • it was pre-ground for macchinetta
  • it came in a small vacuum sealed ”brick”

On the pack, the company gave the following information:

  • Aroma: 3/5
  • Intensity: 3/5
  • Body: 3/5
  • Persistency: 4/5

Sounds about right to me! Flavor-wise, Decacrèm was definitely in the same ballpark with its sibling blends. It was a 100% Arabica blend with a nice acidic edge to it. Even so, the overall experience was quite ”soft” and semi-creamy. The flavor profile was surprisingly reminiscent of Bravo ο Κλασικός, the Greek grocery store blend I enjoyed recently: it had this dryish vibe of medium dark unsweetened cocoa powder, and yet it also reminded me of dried fruits. To me, the longish finish was the best part.

I found it hard to determine whether the decaf process had altered the flavor. I think it had. While Decacrèm was by no means weak in body, it might have felt somewhat ”hollow”. That said, it was not the hollowness of those cheap Bellarom blends people buy from Lidl. The body was just lighter than expected.

It was actually quite nice to have one more cup of Italian coffee after dinner without having to lose my sleep. If that sounds appealing to you, you might want to get some Decacrèm and see for yourself.

Segafredo ”Emozioni 100% Arabica”—surprisingly nice!

One day, I had to quickly get some pre-ground Italian coffee. I walked into my local supermarket and noticed this: Segafredo Emozioni 100% Arabica. Since I hadn’t tried it before, I decided to give it a go.

On the package, Segafredo tells us that Emozioni is (obviously) a ”100% Arabica blend with a vivid fragrance.” We are also told that the roast level is ”medium”. The ”sensory profile” is described thus:

  • Aroma 4/5
  • Intensity 4/5
  • Body 3/5
  • Persistency 5/5

As I always do with Italian blends, I brewed Emozioni using my Bialetti Moka pot.

Both the body and the intesity were medium. The flavor profile was quite simple and straightforward, but not monochromatic. In my opinion, there were two main notes:

  • medium dark, semi-sweet chocolate
  • a sour, cigar-like quality

Both of these aspects worked very well together, with the slightly smoky cigar-like thing taking the lead role.

As expected, Emozioni didn’t exactly knock my socks off. After all, it’s a mass produced grocery store blend. Even so, I found it to be a perfectly enjoyable all day espresso made in the true Italian style. If I ever run out of higher quality coffee, I can see myself buying it again.

Oh, one last note: While I rarely use any additives in my coffee, I must say that Emozioni worked quite well as a foundation for oat milk café au lait. The moderate intensity was subdued nicely by the oat milk, but it was still strong enough not to feel weak or diluted. I imagine that this blend would provide a nice base for a caffè latte as well.

Lavazza ”Qualità Oro”—the best grocery store espresso?

This is one of the blends that I have wanted to try for a long time: Qualità Oro from the Italian coffee giant, Lavazza.

According to the company, Qualità Oro is ”[a] unique combination of 6 varieties of Arabica beans from amongst the finest of Central and South America, expertly crafted and perfectly blended. The perfect symphony for a superior taste every time, since 1956.” They also state that the roasting is ”medium”, and the intensity is 5/10. As for ”aromatic notes”, the company gives ”fruit” and ”flowers”.

If I understand correctly, the blend is only available pre-ground. As Lavazza states, it is ”neither too fine nor too coarse, and designed to guarantee a perfect espresso every time.” They also claim that it is ”ideal for the Moka pot.” Oh, yes please! (You don’t have to guess which coffee maker I chose for brewing this blend!)

I found the bouquet to be rich and very pleasant. It made me think of dried fruits, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla.

On the other hand, the mouthfeel was relatively creamy and quite smooth. The rich intensity and the medium full body made themselves manifest a few seconds after the first sip. Nice!

Flavor-wise, Qualità Oro was uniform, but not monochromatic by any means. On the one hand, the blend was pleasantly acidic, medium robust and intense. On the other hand, however, the semi-sweet notes of dried fruits, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla were all there in the flavor as well. I’m not sure I detected the ”flowers”, though, but who cares? For a powerful floral experience, you could always get some Crema e Gusto from the same company!

In my opinion, Lavazza Qualità Oro may be one of the best espresso blends available in a Finnish supermarket. In my opinion, it would be the perfect choice for those occasions when you’re traveling, for instance, and cannot find high quality artisan coffees. I will certainly be getting some more!

Lavazza ”Espresso Italiano Classico”—good enough for the price

So you want to make some Italian coffee, but there are no good coffee shops around? OK, you walk into the local supermarket, and see bags of Lavazza Espresso Italiano Classico. But is it good?

Here’s what I think.

It’s OK. Obviously, it is not the most flavorful espresso on the market. But what can you expect? It’s a mass produced blend that is sold in regular grocery stores. It also costs less than half of the price of better Italian espressos.

Lavazza does not provide much information on Espresso Italiano Classico. They only tell us that it is

  • a straight Arabica blend
  • roasted ”light”
  • aromatic and velvety.

They also say that the intensity is 5/10—whatever that means.

Since we are talking about a ”classic” Italian espresso blend, I just had to try making it in my Bialetti Moka pot.

Initially, it felt very smooth and pleasant in the mouth. Then, after two of three seconds, I was hit by the ”intensity”. It was somewhat acidic, and it had this piercing vibe to it which made me think of Illy espressos. But then, after another three seconds or so, it calmed down considerably. The finish was extremely well-rounded and mild—perhaps you could call it ”velvety”—, almost to the point where I couldn’t really detect the flavors anymore.

So yes, Espresso Italiano Classico seems to do exactly what Lavazza suggests. It is a decent Italian style espresso for anyone on a budget. I probably will not buy it anymore, but I do think that it is good enough for the price.

My top 10 coffees of 2020

In 2020, I got to enjoy at least 73 different coffee blends or single origin coffees from 12 different countries and 33 companies. Now it’s time to wrap up the year by listing the very best products!

While I had the opportunity to try all kinds of coffees, all of the products that made my top 10 list were unflavored high-end coffees. That said, I included one flavored coffee and one grocery store blend into the ”Honorable Mentions” category.

Like last year, the products were so different from each other that it wouldn’t have been fair to compare them with each other. Therefore, instead of ranking the coffees, I organized them into three categories according to the approximate roast level (dark, medium, and light). Of course, the darkness of a roast is a subjective matter. It is also probably not the best way to categorize coffee products. Obviously, there are so many other factors that affect the flavors. However, I wasn’t able to come up with a better way to list the coffees. So, in each of the three categories, I presented the coffees in alphabetical order according to the company name. The resulting list can be thought of as a pool of excellent coffees. You can pick any product you want and end up enjoying a truly memorable experience.

I used two different brewing methods. Espresso coffees were brewed in my three cup Bialetti Moka pot. On the other hand, the coffees that were intended for other brewing methods I prepared in my AeroPress, with my favorite inverted method and a paper filter. I used no additives.

So, here we go. My top 10 coffees of 2020:

Dark roast:

Medium roast:

Light roast:

You could not go wrong with any of these coffees. Unfortunately, some of these products might already be out of stock. If that is the case, you could check out any product from these great roasteries. They really know what they do.

Lastly, there were three blends that did not make the top 10 list but still deserve to be mentioned.

Honorable mentions:

  • Hamwi Café Classic—the best flavored coffee (cardamom) (United Arab Emirates)
  • Loumidis Papagalos (ΛΟΥΜΙΔΗΣ ΠΑΠΑΓΑΛΟΣ)—the best Greek grocery store coffee (Greece)
  • Paulig Presidentti Gold Label—the best Finnish grocery store coffee (Finland)

Special thanks to everyone at Cafetoria Roastery, E’s World Coffee, Kahwe, Mokafina, Muki, and Rob Beans Coffee for making this possible!

Now it’s time for me to take a small break and enjoy some great blends I recently received from the USA. I’ll be back in early January to tell you about them!

Happy New Year!

Revisited: Pascucci ”Golden Sack”—My All-time Favorite Coffee

This has always been my number one favorite coffee blend: Golden Sack by Caffè Pascucci Torrefazione S.p.A (Monte Cerignone, Italy). It is a classic Italian espresso blend of 90% Arabicas and 10% Robusta.

The other day, I wanted to see if I still loved it as much as I have in the past. So I took the 7 minute walk to my favorite coffee shop, the local Ciao! Caffé, and purchased a 1000 g bag.

While Golden Sack is an espresso blend, it obviously works equally well when made using a moka pot. Of course, I am a Bialetti moka pot man through and through.

So, what did I think of it? Briefly, I thought it was fantastic.

I detected

  • dark chocolate
  • almonds
  • a hint of marzipan
  • toasted bitterness
  • a drop of cream

All the flavors were in perfect balance; Golden Sack offered the ideal mélange of the classic flavors one would expect from a high quality Italian espresso. While it was big, strong, and bold, it was also ”medium” enough so as not to punch you in the face. The mouthfeel was quite smooth, but it also had just enough of an edge to make you feel you’re having a true espresso. Exactly the way I like it.

Is Golden Sack the best coffee blend on the planet? Probably not. That said, it is everything I love about coffee. It just hits the spot every time, every day, year after year. It is truly my desert island coffee.

So, here are my instructions for you:

  1. Hurry up to your local Ciao! Caffé or Pascucci coffee shop.
  2. Get a bag of Golden Sack.
  3. Enjoy the true Italian espresso experience!

Mokkamestarit ”Costa Rica La Pastora Anaerobic”—Scandinavian lingonberry pie!

As I was buying this single estate coffee, the roastery had just ran out of labels for it. But no worries, I can tell you what it is: Costa Rica La Pastora Anaerobic by Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co., Tampere, Finland.

Now this one was unique! As I opened the bag, I immediately knew that I was going to get something different. On the one hand, the bag aroma made me think of semi-sweet crackers—Digestives, perhaps, or maybe even gingerbread cookies. On the other hand, however, there was this high, piercing note that reminded me of lingonberries. The whole thing smelled like a traditional Scandinavian lingonberry pie.

As always, I used both the Moka pot and the AeroPress.

The mouthfeel was silky smooth. The body was somewhere between medium or medium-full.

The flavors matched the bag aroma. In the middle of the flavor spectrum, Costa Rica had a ”brown” flavor of sweet and savory Digestive pie crust that had a hint of gingerbread to it as well. In the upper register, there was this ”red” acidity of lingonberries. In the spicing department, I detected some vanilla and light baking cocoa.

Now I think I know the reason why Mokkamestarit ran out of labels for Costa Rica La Pastora Anaerobic. It is very, very good. While it was unlike any other coffee I remember tasting, I found it to be extremely enjoyable!

Mokkamestarit ”Guatemala Huehetenango”—flavorful & solid

Here’s another offering from Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co., Tampere, Finland: Guatemala Huehuetenango. It is made of washed and sundried Catuai, Caturra and Paches. The roast level is 3/5.

The company describes this product as fruity. Supposedly, there are notes of melon in the aroma. They also state that the coffee is moderately acidic, and that it provides a fresh finish.

As always, I used both the Moka pot and the AeroPress for brewing. Either way, the mouthfeel was semi-creamy, and the body was medium full.

The flavor profile was not exactly monochromatic, but not super nuanced either. While I was unable to detect the melon-like aromas, I did get some fruity and fresh flavors. On the other hand, there was also quite a bit of nuttiness that had a nice, bitter edge to it. I found myself thinking of bitter almonds. These two aspects—the high, fruity flavors, and the midrange nuttiness—worked so well together that most of the time I didn’t even think about them as distinct from each other. Instead, I just enjoyed the ”one” solid, medium-full flavor.

In sum, Guatemala Huehuetenango was a nice experience. To be honest, it did not blow me away like Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko did, but I liked it quite a bit nonetheless. It is very good! I think you should give it a try. Check out Mokkamestarit, and get yourself some!

Mokkamestarit ”Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko”—’S Wonderful

The other day, I got the opportunity to visit the famous Mokkamestarit Coffee Roasting Co., Tampere, Finland.

This is one of the coffees I purchased: Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko. It is made of washed Heirloom from Kochere district, Ethiopia. The roast is light (1/5). On the label, the aroma is described as being reminiscent of nutmeg and apricot. They also mention it has a tea-like quality. The acidity is said to be grape-like.

The aroma of the ground beans was amazing. It reminded me of fresh fruits and berries. It also had a caramelly nuttiness to it.

I decided to start with my AeroPress. Before I noticed, my coffee grinder was almost empty. It was that good. Luckily, I had just enough coffee left to make one last cup in the moka pot. That way, it tasted even better!

The mouthfeel was creamy, perhaps even oily. It felt as if the coffee ”melted” and spread all over my mouth. For a brief moment, it also left a nice coating on my palate. Fantastic!

The flavor profile consisted of two main parts: The high end of the spectrum was dominated by the acidity of fresh fruits, and perhaps some berries. On the other hand, the midrange was all about the naturally sweet, caramelly nuttiness. While these two aspects were easily distinguishable, they matched each other so well. It was like the perfect marriage between the two. In addition to this, there might have been a hint of vanilla as well.

Oh yes! I liked this. A lot.

You owe it to yourself to check out Etiopia Yirgacheffe Reko from Mokkamestarit. It is truly wonderful.

Lehmus Roastery ”Kettu-kahvi” dark roast—Recommended!

This is the third offering from the Lehmus Roastery series of seasonal coffees. Just like the other Kettu-kahvi products (Finnish for ”fox coffee”), this one is made of naturally processed Yellow Bourbon Arabica from Fazenda I.P., Brazil. It is also the darkest of the Kettu batch, 4/5 on the Lehmus scale.

On the label, the coffee is described as full-bodied. Other than that, we are only told that whereas the dark roast lends the coffee ”softness”, the natural processing makes it slightly sweet.

As usual, I used both the AeroPress and my trusty old Bialetti Moka.

Either way, the mouthfeel was relatively creamy and very pleasant. The flavor profile was naturally sweet, but also somewhat bitter and spicy. The main notes were medium dark chocolate and roasted almonds. In the finish, there was also a wonderful hint of raisins or dried figs. All the flavors were in perfect balance, and none of them overpowered the others. While this coffee did not offer the most unique flavor profile I have ever experienced, I found it to be very pleasant nonetheless.

There is no question about it. Just like its lighter siblings, the dark roasted version of Kettu-kahvi is an excellent product. I think you might like it a lot! Be sure to get yourself some from Lehmus Roastery!