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!

Arvid Nordquist Molto—big & bold!

If you like your coffee dark, big, bold, intense, pungent and full-bodied, ”Molto” from Arvid Nordquist would be a good choice.

Nordquist markets ”Molto” as an espresso in the Italian style. It is made of 100% organic Arabicas from South and Central America, Indonesia and Eastern Africa. The company describes the blend as ”balanced and gentle with notes of cacao.” They also say that it has a ”sweet aroma of almonds that develops into an intense dark flavour with discreet hints of licorice root.” On the bag, you can also find the usual ”Nordquist” categories:

  • Roasting: Espresso (10/10)
  • Acidity: Discrete (4,5/10)
  • Spiciness: Sweet (5/10)
  • Body: Rich (6,5/10)
  • Fruitiness: Berry Like (5,5/10)
  • Nut Chocolate: Roasted Almonds (5,5/10)

OK, what did I think of it?

Was it balanced? In my opinion, yes. Gentle? In a way, yes. There was no harshness whatsoever. Rich? Absolutely. Sweet? Maybe a little. At least it was not as earthy as some ”real” (read: Italian) espresso blends. That would be understanable: there is no Robusta in this. What about the licorice root or the ”Berry Like” quality? At least I didn’t detect them. Also, for me the ”Roasted Almonds” thing was almost nonexistent.

I kept saying to myself: ”Dark, bitter chocolate. That’s all I can think of.”

All things considered, I don’t think ”Molto” is very similar to most Italian espressos—there is no Robusta in it, and it is roasted a lot darker. Actually, in my opinion, the darkness of the roast covers up many of the nuances that the company talks about. This makes ”Molto” a pretty staightforward and ”one note” type of blend. But that’s fine. If that’s what you want in your cup, try it! You might like it!

Kahwe Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Light Roast—another amazing mélange of flavors

So you’re looking for a light roasted coffee with lots of flavor and complexity? Look no further.

This is Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Light Roast from Kahwe.

Bella Elisabeth is a blend of washed Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Pache from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. At roast level 1/5, this particular offering is the lightest version offered by Kahwe. On the label the company says that it’s acidic and multifaceted, with hints of black tea, and the fruitiness of coffee berries, red apple and guava.

As I first opened the bag and ground the beans, I knew I was going to like this a lot.

I doesn’t really matter whether you brew this in the moka pot of the AeroPress. Either way, it offers you quite a mélange of flavors. I detected the following:

  • black tea (not quite as pronouced as in the 3/5 version)
  • caramel
  • fresh, sweet, red apples (the first coffee I’ve ever had that makes you think of apples!)
  • red berries
  • baking spices (cinnamon, maybe?)
  • some milk chocolate or nougat
  • a small hint of licorice in the finish

Now, this may sound like a lot. However, all of these flavors have their own place. They are like siblings who live together in the same house, in perfect harmony. None of them overpowers the others, but everyone of them brings something different to the table. In other words, on the one hand, the flavor profile is really complex, and yet on the other hand, it’s very uniform.

Add to that the mouthfeel: so juicy it’s almost unbelieveable.

I probably don’t have to tell you that I like this blend very, very much.

So like I say, if you’re looking for a light roasted coffee with lots of flavor, look no further. Get yourself some Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Light Roast from Kahwe. It is just amazing.

Kahwe Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Medium Roast—full flavored and dry

Next up: Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Medium Roast from Kahwe.

I recently reviewed—and loved!—the dark roasted (4/5) version of this coffee. As I mentioned then, Bella Elisabeth is a blend of washed Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Pache from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. This particular version was roasted medium (3/5). On the label they say that the flavor is acidic and multifaceted, with hints of black tea, and the fruitiness of guava and raisins.

I found myself thinking that there were two sides to this version of the blend. On the one hand, there was a herbal or leaf-like side to it, which made me think of fermented, unflavored black tea—English Breakfast Tea from Nordqvist came to mind. This aspect was very prominent. It brought a certain dryness to the overall flavor profile. On the other hand, though, there was a caramelly side to it, too, the same one that was more apparent in the dark roasted version. I personally did not detect the fruity or raisinlike flavors, but that didn’t bother me at all. I really enjoyed the slightly drier and full flavored feel that this version had.

In my opinion, this medium roasted version of Bella Elisabeth was not quite as spectacular as the dark roasted one (which was just amazing!). But that’s just a matter of personal preference. Like its darker sibling, this was a high quality product. So, if you like your coffee full flavored and dry, Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Medium Roast is your choice. Get it from Kahwe!

Lucaffé Classic—the quintessential espresso

Oh wow. I’m in love.

I’ve wanted to try Lucaffé blends for a long time. For some reason I never got around to ordering them. Until now.

The first one I got is this: Lucaffé Classic. I seems to me that this is their flagship blend. It’s made of 80% Arabicas and 20% Robusta.

This blend is so great that I’m at a loss for words. But let me at least try.

It’s

  • pungent
  • big
  • bold
  • masculine
  • full flavored
  • smooth
  • a lot of dark chocolate
  • some vanilla
  • cigar-like
  • earthy
  • bitter
  • savory, and yet
  • naturally sweet
  • even some raisins or figs (in the finish).

Lucaffé Classic is the quintessential Italian espresso, just made better than most—oh wait, it’s right up there with my beloved Pascucci blends. If that’s what you like, you’ve got to try this. In Finland, you can get Lucaffé products from the good folks at Crema. Their Helsinki store is great, and also their online service is fantastic. Now, go go go!

Drop Coffee Roasters Samaichacha—fresh fruits and milk chocolate

Our friends moved back from Stockholm, Sweden, and brought us this: Samaichacha from Drop Coffee Roasters. Thank you so much!

Samaichacha is all about washed Caturra from Bolivia. On the label, the roastery provides the following information: ”A medium bodied cup, notes of crunchy pink apple and milk chocolate, with a floral hint. A lasting aftertaste and mouthfeel reminding of mature red wine.” The roast is medium-light at around 2/5.

As I ground the beans, I got a mouthwatering aroma of milk chocolate and fresh fruits, which made me think of some of the fantastic products from Turun Kahvipaahtimo.

I tried brewing the coffee in both my AeroPress (inverted, steel filter) and moka pot. Either way, I got a beautiful combination of juicy fruitiness (not as in the chewing gum, but in real fresh cut fruits) and milk chocolate. The fruitiness was always there, but the chocolate thing balanced it out nicely, and brought some nice higher midrange body to the flavor. Honestly, I didn’t detect any actual wine-like flavor, but the long finish did remind me of the way a good Merlot feels in the mouth.

Samaichacha is definitely a high quality product, no doubt about it. I really enjoyed it, especially in the morning. I guess I’ll have to crash at my brother’s place in Stockholm, and get some more!

Esplanad Espresso Blend—pure Italy!

If you want very good espresso, try this: Esplanad Espresso Blend from Café Esplanad, the legendary café/bakery/roastery in downtown Helsinki, Finland.

This blend brought back many fond memories from twenty years ago, when me and my Wife were studying in Helsinki. On Sundays, we would often go to Café Esplanad, to enjoy the great tea and coffee, and the huge (around 9″?!) cinnamon rolls.

Esplanad tells us that their Espresso Blend is a ”Classic espresso roast” that’s made from 50% Brazilian, 40% Colombian, and 10% Indian beans. The company also offers the following ”flavour notes:” roasted walnuts, dark chocolate.

Now, I’m not sure about this, but I would assume that the 10% Indian is Robusta. The remaining 90% must be a blend of different Arabicas. The bag note, the bouquet, and the actual flavor profile are very similar to those in Pascucci Golden Sack—which, by the way, is 10% Robusta and 90% Arabicas. This is great, especially if you consider the fact that nowadays many ”espresso” blends made in different countries do not actually seem to resemble real Italian espressos at all. For example, in my opinion, many Scandinavian ”espressos” are roasted way too dark. This one was different, though: the presentation, the roast (around 3/5), the aroma, and the flavors were pure Italy. Very nice!

At first, though, it took me some head-scrathing to figure out what this blend was about. As I opened the bag and brewed this in my moka pot, the basic flavor profile was very much like in any basic Italian espresso. At the same time, however, I detected a funny sidenote. Cardboard? Really? At other times, there was also a piercing, dark note which reminded me of raw rubber. I’m pretty sure this was the robusta. Strange as it may sound, I actually liked it quite a bit.

But after the beans had been exposed to air for a while, the ”cardboard” and ”rubber” flavors dissipated completely. After this, the blend was all about the familiar aromas and flavors of the best Italian coffees: dark chocolate, confectionery and almonds. These different aspects were in perfect balance. The overall experience was naturally sweet, bitter and almondy at the same time, just like my beloved Golden Sack.

All in all, Esplanad Espresso Blend is a delightful espresso in the classic Italian style. It is probably not the most unique coffee blend on the planet, or something that would knock your socks off. But what it does, it does really well. I can highly recommend it to anyone!

Kahiwa Galeh—light roasted excellence

I’ve been traveling a lot this week. Every time I’ve come back home, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a cup or two of this: Galeh from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters. Oh, what a treat.

Galeh is all about natural Heirloom from the Limu Kossa farm in Ethiopia. The roast is light at 2/5. As for tasting notes, the company provides the following description: rowanberry, rosehip and nougat.

I couldn’t agree more. As I’ve said before, I generally don’t eat berries, let alone rowanberries or rosehip. But I remember trying to taste those as a kid. If I remember correctly, this is exactly what rowanberry and rosehip tasted like. Be that as it may, I can say this: Galeh has two different aspects to it. On the one hand, there is this ”soft,” slightly nutty and sweet nougat flavor (yes, it’s definitely nougat, not milk chocolate). On the other hand, there is the acidic flavor of some kind of red berries. These two aspects work together perfectly. The finish is medium long and nougaty. Absolutely delicious.

As far as the strength and body are concerned, Galeh is on the lighter side. At the same time, though, there is nothing weak about it. It is light enough to be a good breakfast coffee (macchinetta or even AeroPress), but full-bodied enough to satisfy the hard core espresso man after a big meal (macchinetta/espresso).

That’s it, really. Galeh is probably not the most complex or multifaceted coffee I’ve had, but it certainly is an excellent product that I think every light roast enthusiast should try. I enjoyed every sip of it. Highly recommended!

Lehmus Roastery Lauritsala—an amazing mélange of flavors

During the past week, I’ve been having some really amazing coffee. After I finished my bag of Sammonlahti from Lehmus Roastery, I opened this: Lauritsala from the same company.

Lauritsala is a blend of Monsooned Malabar, S-795/Kent Arabica natural from India, and wet hulled Tim-Tim/Caturra Arabica from Sumatra, Indonesia. The roast level is 4/5, and is called ”French Roast.” Lehmus describes this as a pretty full-flavored blend at 4,5/5.

Let’s get this straight: I liked it very much.

At first, however, this blend really made me think. The bag aroma was pleasant, and yet it took me several days to put my finger on what it was reminding me of.

On the label it was suggested that Lauritsala would be especially suitable for filter and French press. So I tried it in my new drip coffee maker. The result was perfectly OK: a cup of high quality, dark roasted Arabica coffee. However, I still couldn’t quite figure out what this blend was about. After that I brewed it in my AeroPress (one of the inverted methods), with the same result. (Lately, I have not been a big fan of French press coffee, so I decided to leave that contraption on the shelf.)

After a little hesitation, I decided to put the blend into my trusty Bialetti moka pot, with a finer grind size. It was like a light bulb went on. Suddenly all the different aromas and flavors appeared.

Just. Amazing.

Picture yourself standing in the beginning of a beautiful forest path in mid-September. After the rain, you can smell wood, roots, turning leaves, some delicious mushrooms. Next, try to imagine mixing all that with a generous helping of molasses.

Quite a mélange of aromas and flavors.

In this sense, Lauritsala was not unlike Sammonlahti: there were several savory elements to it, and then also the sweeter, molasses-like aspect. In this blend, though, the rootiness was more prominent than the molasses. The mouthfeel was very similar in both blends: creamy and smooth, with no harshness at all.

What more can I say? Just like its darker sibling, Lauritsala is an extremely high quality blend, only more complex.

Get it from Lehmus Roastery. You owe it to yourself.