Frukt Coffee Roasters Espresso El Naranjo—berries and spices from Guatemala

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This was the first time I got to try a Frukt Coffee Roasters product. Frukt are a company based in Turku, Finland, where I was born. Also—just a fun fact for me—, they are located right next to the Arts Academy where I used to study, and where I also met my Wife many years ago. I will have to pay them a visit!

Anyway, Espresso El Naranjo belongs to the Fun line of Frukt coffees. On the company website, the coffee is introduced thus:

This fun coffee comes from Julio Cano, a second -generation coffee producer based in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. This coffee is Caturra variety grown at Julios farm El Naranjo at 1750 meters above sea level.

After the picking is done the coffee cherries are manually de-pulped and then fermented in special buckets for 48 – 50 hours. After the fermentation the coffee is fully washed and sun dried on patio for 12 days.

On the label, Frukt offer the following tasting notes: ”Prune, hazelnut, creamy”.

To my eye, the beans were ”organic” in appearance. That is to say, they were beautifully nonuniform in shape. The roast level appeared to be medium, approximately 3/5.

The ground coffee smelled fantastic. It had this sharp and sweet aroma of bitter almods and chocolate, maybe even some berries. Just the way I like it!

Since Espresso El Naranjo is (obviously) an espresso blend, I decided to brew it in my Bialetti Moka pot.

I was apparent from the first sip: The mouthfeel was definitely creamy.

Flavor-wise, Espresso El Naranjo was not quite as almondy as I expected. Yes, there was a certain nuttiness to it, but more than that, it was acidic, almost berry-like. At the same time, there was a spiciness that was reminiscent of cinnamon and pine needles. By the time I got to the finish, the nutty flavors came to the forefront as well. The long and sweet finish made me think of hazelnuts and burley pipe tobacco.

All in all, I really liked Espresso El Naranjo. I think it’s a very good espresso that offers you some of the best aspects of Guatemalan coffee, plus some very pleasant spiciness. You can get it straight from Frukt Coffee Roasters, or from Coffea, the great coffee shop in Jyväskylä. I will certainly try to get some more!

 

Lehmus Roastery Myllysaari Light Roast—fruity, herbal… and excellent!

 

davThis one is going to be a strong candidate for my top 10 coffees of the year.

Myllysaari Light Roast from Lehmus Roastery. On the label, the blend is described as follows: Etiopia, [that’s how you spell it in Finnish] Anderacha, Sheka, Limu, Guji, Keffa Bourbon, natural, 1700–1900 m.a.s.l”. They also say that the roast level is 2/5, whereas the body is 2,5/5. The roastery suggests that the blend is especially suitable for filter machines and AeroPress.

Of course, I decided to go with AeroPress.

The second I opened the bag, I knew I was going to love it. It had an aroma of fresh cut (yellow?) stonefruits. At the same time, there was this herbal aroma that made me think of a very light green color, mixed with a lot of white, and just a touch of light gray.

Both of these aspects were there in the taste as well. The flavor was naturally fruity and sweet, but not too sweet. It was herbal and hoppy, but not dry, hay-like, or bitter. Also, the sweet milk chocolate flavor that I usually associate with flavor profiles like this was absent, which made the blend unpredictable in a good way. The mouthfeel was solid and creamy—as you would expect from a Lehmus Roastery product!—, but light and juicy at the same time.

Oh yes, I liked it a lot.

If you’re one of those people who have thought that light roasted coffee is acidic and nasty by default (as many traditional Finnish blends are!), and that therefore it is better to stick to ”dark roast” blends, think again! Myllysaari Light Roast from Lehmus Roastery is an excellent example of how pleasant a high quality light roasted Ethiopian can be. It’s pure bliss!

Lehmus Roastery Kanava Half City Roast—an excellent all day blend

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This is an excellent blend: Kanava Half City Roast from Lehmus Roastery, the award winning coffee company in Lappeenranta, Finland.

According to the roastery, Kanava is a blend of washed Caturra, Colombia, and Castillo Arabica from Colombia. Both the roast level and body are said to be 2,5/5. They also say that this blend is suitable to filter coffee makers and the AeroPress. Can you guess which one I opted for? The AeroPress, of course.

First, the bouquet. I detected (in no particular order)

  • vanilla
  • some chocolate
  • nuts
  • dried fruits (figs/raisins?)
  • burley tobacco

The mouthfeel was classic Lehmus. It was creamy, syrupy, and rich. And, yet it was kind of light at the same time. I just loved it.

What about the flavor profile? At first I went: ”OK, another solid middle-of-the-road blend.” But then I started to notice how complex it actually was. I detected the following (again, in no particular order):

  • vanilla
  • some chocolate
  • nuts
  • dried fruits
  • the soft acidity of fresh fruits (apples?)
  • toasted burley or dark fired kentucky tobacco

None of these flavors overpowered the others. Rather, they worked together in perfect harmony. Also, despite the multifaceted nature of the flavor profile, at no point did the blend feel too ”busy”. Actually, the overall experience was medium light and rather simple.

Like I said, Kanava from Lehmus Roastery is an excellent blend. It would work perfectly on any occasion. You owe it to yourself to check it out!

Paulig Juhla Mokka—The Finnish classic

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This is the coffee review that many of my readers have been waiting for.

This is also the review that will make others roll their eyes.

What is it about? Juhla mokka, blended and roasted by the Finnish coffee giant Paulig.

This is the blend that has been considered THE Finnish coffee for decades. Every Finn knows it. Many also think that it is the best coffee around. You can read about the history of the blend on the company website (in Finnish).

On the package, Paulig tells us that this coffee is (my translation) a ”fine and full-bodied” blend of 100% Arabicas from Central America, South America, and Africa. Nowadays the blend is available in several different forms and roasts, but the classic version of Juhla mokka is roasted light (1/5), and comes in these 500 g ”bricks”, pre-ground for filter use. The company describes the flavor profile thus:

  • Body: 2/5
  • Acidity: 4/5
  • Aroma: 4/5

As I opened the bag, the coffee smelled like a basic grocery store Arabica. The aroma was somewhat fruity, and there might have been a hint of chocolateyness as well. Quite pleasant, actually.

While the blend was pre-ground with the filter machine user in mind, the grind size seemed to be suitable for AeroPress as well. That’s why I decided to brew it using the latter. I also tried several different recipes.

Regardless of the AeroPress recipe, the flavor was dominated by a ”high”, sharp acidity. It was not reminiscent of fruits, berries, or anything else I could think of. It just tasted acidic. Now, normally I’m OK with some acidity, especially if the body is full enough to balance out the flavor profile. Here, however, the midrange was pretty weak. There might have been some nutty and chocolatey notes here and there, but they seemed muted and hard to detect. Overall, the coffee felt kind of weak (diluted, even?) and sharp at the same time.

Many Juhla mokka fans have asked me whether I like this blend or not. Well, let me put it this way: I do not actually hate it. That said, it’s kind of hard for me to understand why so many Finns love this coffee so much. Of course, to each their own, right? Right. In my humble opinion, however, there are better options out there. If you want to get a good, light roasted coffee that’s readily available in the local supermarket, I would suggest you try Gran Dia from Arvid Nordquist.

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!