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!

Robert Paulig Roastery Tuokio—smooth and simple, all day

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Here’s a nice coffee that I recently received from my friends: Tuokio is a filter coffee that is blended and roasted by Robert Paulig Roastery for Partioaitta, the outdoor store chain.

This coffee appears to be made with the outdoor enthusiast in mind: The presentation is classy, but there are no bells and whistles to speak of. The description on the label is short. It says that this coffee made of ”responsibly produced” beans from Brazil, Colombia and Kenya. The taste is said to be chocolatey and nutty. The roast level is 4/5. That’s all they say about it. Also, the coffee is pre-ground for ease of use.

I noticed that the grind size was perfect for the AeroPress, so that’s what I decided to use for brewing this coffee. I am not a big filter coffee guy, anyway.

However I chose to brew it, Tuokio was all about simple and straightforward, dark roasted Arabica. It certainly was nutty and chocolatey—medium dark chocolate with some natural sweetness. It was medium full-flavored, but not super nuanced. There was just enough bitterness to make it interesting for the black coffee man. However, the overall experience was quite smooth.

The blend was reminiscent of some of the Japanese grocery store coffees I’ve enjoyed in the past. I found myself thinking of the Marufuku Coffee blends I had last year. Perhaps Tuokio was slightly fuller in body, though. I also think that many Scandinavian ”dark roast” enthusiasts would appreciate the flavor profile.

Perhaps Tuokio is not a mindblowingly sophisticated blend, but then that’s not what it was made for. I found it to be a very nice all day blend that I could enjoy cup after cup while working, without thinking about it too much.

If that’s what you like, check it out! You can get it from the Partioaitta stores.

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!

Top 10 coffees of 2019!

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This is my last post for this year: the Black Coffee Journal top 10 coffees of 2019!

During the past year, I finally managed to get better acquainted with some of our local Finnish artisan roasteries. I did get to enjoy at least 74 different coffee blends or single origin coffee products from 9 different countries and 28 companies, but our domestic roasteries swept the board. Their offerings were just so good! That said, two blends from abroad made the ”honorable mentions” section.

Just like last year, all of the products that made my top 10 list were high-end coffees with no detectable added flavoring. This time, however, they were so different from each other that it wouldn’t have been fair to try to compare them with each other. Therefore, instead of ranking the coffees, I decided to organize them into three categories according to the approximate roast level (light, medium and dark) and present them in alphabetical order according to the company name. The resulting list can be best thought of as a pool of fantastic coffees, from which you can pick any product you want and end up enjoying a truly memorable experience.

One last thing before we get to the actual list: I used two different methods to brew these coffees. The ones that were intended for espresso were brewed in my three cup Bialetti Moka. Those that were intended for other brewing methods I prepared in my AeroPress, with one of my favorite inverted methods and a steel filter. Also, I enjoyed all of them straight, with no additives.

So here’s my top 10:

Light

Medium

Dark

Honorable mentions

  • Ogawa Coffee (小川珈琲) Blend 3 Original (the best grocery store coffee, Japan)
  • Pascucci Colombia (the all-around morning blend, Italy)

You could not go wrong with any of these coffees. Also, you would do well to check out any products that these great roasteries provide. They really know their stuff!

Extra special thanks to everyone at Cafetoria Roastery, Kaamos kahvipaahtimo, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Kahwe and Turun kahvipaahtimo! Also, many thanks to all of my friends who gave me all kinds of coffees to try!

I’ve already got some fantastic coffees in store for 2020. I can’t wait to tell you about them!

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!

Cafetoria Finca la Flor—naturally fruity, juicy and delicious

Next up: Cafetoria Roastery ”Finca la Flor”, the ”Vibrating & Emotional” coffee that’s made of Bourbon, Typica Organic beans from Huabal, Peru. The roast is ”medium”, 2/5. As for the flavor profile, the coffee masters at Cafetoria offer the following description: ”Candy, red berry, apricot, grapefruit, strawberry, sparkling acidity.”

Now, that sounds very accurate. Brewed in my AeroPress (inverted, steel filter), Finca la Flor was extremely fruity indeed. Very juicy. In the cup, it even looked like pink grapefruit juice! All the flavors they mention were there. However, none of them got to sing the coloratura soprano part, if you will. Instead, the voices were kind of soft and natural. Together they achieved a beautiful choral sound. OK, perhaps the grapefruit sung a short solo or two, accompanied by the apricot and the berries. Also, even if the flavor profile was mostly about fruity and berry-like flavors, Finca la Flor was not overly delicate or sweet. I even detected I bit of hoppiness here and there, which probably added to the acidic feel. And while this acidity was ”sparkling” indeed, it felt kind of soft as well. Very, very pleasant.

In this way, Finca la Flor felt quite multidimensional, but kind of uniform at the same time. It was fruity and somewhat berry-like, but kind of… I don’t want to say ”robust”. Full? Honest? Let me put it like this: It was nuanced and sophisticated enough to work very well as a dessert coffee, but simple and straightforward enough to be enjoyed any time of the day. Actually, this is a quality I really like about many other Cafetoria products as well.

So, if you want to enjoy a naturally fruity and juicy coffee that is not too sweet, but not too acidic, either, you have got to try Finca la Flor from Cafetoria Roastery. It is extremely good!

Cafetoria Polar Lights—my new comfort blend!

Oops! I accidentally cut this baby open before taking the picture. I usually don’t do that. But now, when the good people at Cafetoria Roastery asked me to try some of their new coffees, I was so excited that I just could not resist taking a whiff of ”Polar Lights”.

Polar Lights is a new winter coffee from Cafetoria. It is a blend of Arabicas from Congo, Peru (Los Compadres), Rwanda and Ethiopia. In the description they say that it’s ”a gentle and vibrant coffee with ’funky notes’ dancing in your palate: cherry, berries, pineapple, chocolate. A perfect coffee to enlighten the dark and long Finnish Winter.”

The presentation is very beautiful. The roast is ”dark” at 2,5.

When I ground the beans, I got a mouthwatering aroma of almonds, marzipan and some berries.

The mouthfeel was very pleasant. It was somewhat creamy and solid, but had some juiciness to it as well.

The flavor profile was similarly twofold: On the one hand, it was really solid and uniform. On the other hand, however, there were all kinds of things going on: cherry-like berriness, fresh fruits, almonds, and some milk chocolate. In this way, the blend felt as if it didn’t necessarily require a lot of attention; it was really easy to enjoy while concentrating on my work. And yet it was nuanced enough to be interesting if I paused to tease out the different flavors. It really had the best of both worlds. Oh boy it was delicious.

With Polar Lights you will get exactly what they promise: It is a satisfying, comforting coffee blend that is perfect for these cold winter days.

I really liked it.

Everyone at Cafetoria, thank you so much!

And now, you coffee lovers out there, you owe it to yourself to check this out. The people at Cafetoria Roastery are very good at what they do.

Caffi Kenya AA Rungeto Kii—JUICY!

Here’s another fantastic coffee from Caffi, the artisan roastery in Lahti, Finland: Kenya AA Rungeto Kii.

As the name would suggest, the beans are from Kenya, from the Kii washing station, Rungeto coop, Kirinyaga region to be exact. On the label, the company tells us that the coffee is very juicy, with some flavors of redcurrant and pink grapefruit. They also say that the beans are roasted light in order to emphasize the extreme acidity of the coffee, and to retain the delicate, sweet juiciness.

That’s exactly what you get with this coffee.

Now, I used to think that calling a coffee acidic is the same as saying that it tastes sour, tangy or sharp. Later, I have learned that that doesn’t have to be the case. Kenya AA Rungeto Kii is the perfect example of this. This coffee is all about the delicious acidity of fresh cut fruits and red berries. It is well balanced, very soft and extremely juicy. In my opinion, the pink grapefruit flavor is in the forefront, but not overpowering by any means.

Just like Etiopia Natural, the award winning Caffi product I reviewed earlier this week, Kenya AA Rungeto Kii is so delicate and sophisticated that for most people it would probably work best as a dessert coffee. While it is not quite as multifaceted as Etiopia Natural, it is really, really delicious. I strongly recommend visiting the Caffi webstore today!

Caffi Etiopia Natural—Just. Amazing.

Here’s the product that every Finnish coffee enthusiast has been talking about: ”Etiopia Natural” from Caffi, the artisan roastery based in Lahti, Finland.

It’s funny. It’s only a 10 minute walk from my house to the Caffi roastery, and yet I had tried only one of their blends (which was very good by the way).

But here we go! A multiple-award-winning product, Etiopia Natural is a gourmet coffee of an extremely high quality. On the label, the company states that it has nuances of kiwifruit and jasmin, and that there are hints of berry and citrus in the finish. They say that the mouthfeel is balanced and pleasantly rounded.

I would totally agree.

I brewed it in the AeroPress, using my favorite inverted method and the steel filter. The flavor profile was very complex and multifaceted, with all the flavors the company promises. The mouthfeel was light and extremely juicy. Put it like this: If a classic Arabica/Robusta espresso were a good French brandy, Etiopia Natural would be the best IPA you can get from your local artisan brewery. It was very fruity, almost hoppy.

As I was sampling Etiopia Natural, my daily coffee intake nearly tripled. I just wanted to have another cup. And then another. It’s that good.

Having said that, I agree with my friend who suggested that if you need a quick pick-me-up in the morning, Etiopia Natural might not be the best choice. Yes, in my opinion, too, a coffee this nuanced would be best enjoyed with a high quality dessert.

Etiopia Natural truly lives up to all the hype. It is very, very good. You can get all Caffi products from their stores or online. Do yourself a favor and check them out!