Artisan Café Muchagara – AA—sweet rhubarb pie, just like mom made it

Wow. Just wow. Here’s another winner from the great Artisan Café, Helsinki.

Muchagara – AA.

This is what the roaster says about it:

In my estimation Muchagara – AA is roasted medium light, around 2/5. It also says ”Filter” on the label. Since I’m not a pour-over guy, really, I decided to brew it in my AeroPress. (Of course, I had to try it in my Moka pot, too!)

When I got this bag, I had high expectations, and for a good reason: the last product I got from Artisan Café – Red Guji – was probably one of the greatest coffees I had ever tasted.

As I opened the blue bag, I went: ”Berries, just like Red Guji. Oh wait, not berries. I’m smelling rhubarb. Rhubarb and baking spices.” This is pretty much the picture I had in my head as I was enjoying this coffee. The mouthfeel was very juicy. The taste was very fruity, in the rhubarb way. On the other hand, the spiciness made me think of cinnamon. These two aspects worked extremely well together. The whole thing reminded me of the traditional Scandinavian style sweet rhubarb pie my mom used to make when I was a kid.

I absolutely loved this coffee. I found myself brewing a cup after another.

Artisan Café produces some of the best coffees I have known. Granted, their products are not cheap. But they are worth every dime. So, if you happen to be in Helsinki, do yourself a favor and pay them a visit. You will not be disappointed.

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Kahwe Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Dark Roast—truly excellent!

A couple of days ago, I received an exciting package: Mr. Joel Marttala, the master coffee roaster of Kahwe roastery (Tampere, Finland) was kind enough to send me some of their Guatemala Bella Elizabeth to try. Thank you so much!

Bella Elizabeth is a blend of washed Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Pache from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. According to the company website, the blend is available in several different roasts. Mine was roasted dark (4/5). As it says on the label (my translation), this version has soft and lightly toasted flavors, with hints of caramel and dried fruits. They also tell us that the mouthfeel is ”thick.”

Now that sounds amazing.

And yes, that’s exactly what Guatemala Bella Elizabeth is like, too. I brewed it in my Moka pot and tried the AeroPress as well. Both gave me excellent results. The mouthfeel was slightly ”thick” and syrupy. Yummy. The sweet flavors of caramel and dried (or stewed?) fruits were quite prominent. But then there was also a cigar-like quality which was both sour and bitter. It balanced out the flavor profile nicely. When I say ”bitter,” I don’t mean that the blend tasted harsh. Oh no, not at all. The whole experience was very smooth. These three aspects—the caramel, the fruits, and the cigar—were present in equal proportion, and they worked extremely well together.

Let me put it like this: If Guatemala Bella Elizabeth was the only coffee I could have for the rest of my life, I would be a happy man indeed. I will have to head to the Kahwe website and get the lighter roasted versions as well.

If you haven’t already, you should check out Kahwe. Mr. Marttala really knows his craft. Thanks again!

Paulig Origins Blend Guatemala—very nice!

OK, here’s the last blend from the Origins Blend series by Paulig: Guatemala.

As all of my readers must know by now, all the blends in this series are made of 100% Arabicas, roasted medium dark (3/5), and pre-ground for coffee makers or French press.

I brewed it in my French press, following the method I explained in my recent review.

Obviously, Guatemala is made of Guatemalan coffee, but also—as the Paulig website tells us—”aromatic Colombian beans.” That’s all we get to know about the ingredients. The company calls the blend ”delicately fruity” and ”softly milk chocolatey.” Again, that sounds like something I would really enjoy!

And lo, that is exactly what you get. The body is kind of ”medium,” but also kind of juicy. The flavor profile is all about fresh cut ”yellow” fruits, mixed with semi sweet milk chocolate. Very pleasant, actually.

To me, Guatemala is a lot better than some of the other blends in the Origins Blend series. My only caveat is that the flavors are a little muted. Now, all of the flavors promised in the bag description are there, but the overall feel could be bolder, in my opinion. And I don’t mean ”bolder” in the way that ”dark roasted coffee” can be bold. I mean that I really like the flavors, and that’s why I would like to get more of them out of this. Having said that, with Guatemala this is not as big of a problem as in some of the other Origins Blends.

So, if you like a medium roasted, fruity and chocolatey coffee that is readily available (at least in Finland, that is), you might want to check this out!

Paulig Origins Blend Tanzania—Seriously?

This is the third blend from the Origins Blend series by Paulig: Tanzania.

Like all the other blends in the series, Tanzania is made of 100% Arabicas, roasted medium dark (3/5), and pre-ground for coffee makers or French press.

I brewed it in my French press, following the method I explained in my recent review.

It goes without saying that Tanzania is made of Tanzanian beans. That’s all the company tells us about the ingredients. In the bag description they call this coffee fresh, nuanced and berry-like. The Paulig website elaborates: there is plenty of flavor and aromas of red berries. OK, that sounds like something I would really like!

Uh oh.

The bag aroma was… well, it smelled like coffee. That all I could say about it, really.

If I was struggling to come up with a proper review of Paulig Colombia, writing this one was even harder. Even after several cups, I just couldn’t taste the things they promised. To me, this blend was not fresh or nuanced, but rather dull. Also, in my opinion, there was no berry flavor to it. Zero. It’s not like it tasted bad, really, but it wasn’t very good, either. Just… grocery store coffee—which this is, obviously.

Mind you, I don’t want to be hard on Paulig. I’d LOVE to support our local businesses. But I just don’t understand how even the biggest coffee company in a small country like Finland can afford to make blends like this, while the Swedish competition is cranking out far better products and selling them for similar prices. An historical blender like Paulig should know better. In my opinion.

Paulig Origins Blend Colombia—nothing to write home about

Here’s the second blend from the Origins Blend series by Paulig: Colombia.

Like all the other Origins Blend offerings, Colombia is made of 100% Arabicas, roasted medium dark (3/5), and pre-ground for coffee makers or French press.

I brewed it in my French press, following the method I explained in my last review.

As you would expect, Colombia is made of Colombian Arabicas. That’s all the company tells us about the ingredients. As far as the flavor is concerned, they call it ”balanced and nutty.”

The bag aroma was quite pleasant. When I opened the bag, I immediately got the familiar sweet nuttiness of Colombian coffee.

When I first tasted Colombia, I thought it would be a tough blend to review. I really had to strain myself to tease out the flavors. After several cups, I had to conclude that there was not a lot of flavor to find. Yes, there was some nuttiness. You could tell that it was Colombian coffee. But that was about it. Yes, it was balanced, too, at least in the sense that nothing really stood out. Was it bad? No, no. It’s just that, in my opinion, there was nothing to write home about, either.

If you want to get good Colombian coffee, get yourself some Pascucci Colombia. Now that is a great, flavorful and medium bodied blend. In Finland, you can get it from your local Ciao! Caffé shop.

Paulig Origins Blend Indonesia—a decent blend from the supermarket

I went to the local supermarket and found these: The Origins Blend series from Paulig, sold in these little 75 g (2.64 oz) ”Trial size” bags.

All of the blends in the Origins series are 100% Arabicas. Each one is named after the country of origin of the primary ingredient: Indonesia, Colombia, Tanzania and Guatemala. Also, each blend is roasted medium dark (3/5), and pre-ground for coffee makers or French press.

That being the case, I decided to let my Moka pot rest for a while (sob), and use my French press instead. I also decided to brew all of these blends following the same method. It’s very simple:

  • boil some water
  • add 14 g (0.49 oz) of ground coffee in the preheated FP glass carafe
  • after the water has cooled down for one minute, pour 200 g (7.05 oz) of it on top of the grounds
  • place the plunger on top, but don’t press just yet
  • let stand for 3 min 45 sec
  • remove the plunger
  • take a spoon and remove excess coffee grounds from the surface
  • insert the plunger and press
  • pour the coffee in a cup and enjoy

I tried Indonesia first. Obviously, it’s made of Indonesian beans, but has some South American in it too. That’s all the company tells us about the ingredients. They call it ”intense & spicy,” with flavors of wild berries, rich fruityness and hints of spices.

In my opinion, the overall flavor was on the darker side. The berries were definitely there. I detected some spice as well. On the other hand—just as promised—there was also a fruity aspect to it. While all of these aspects were apparent in the flavor profile, none of them was particularly pronounced. Take the berriness, for instance: With some other coffees you can say something like ”This tastes like raspberries.” But with Indonesia it was actually quite hard to say what the ”berries” were like. Similarly, the fruitiness did remind me of fresh cut fruits, but whether they tasted like stonefruits or something else, it was hard to tell. It’s like all the flavors were there, but the whole thing tasted kind of muted. Only the spiciness was a bit easier to understand. It didn’t taste peppery per se, but closer to that than, say, cinnamon or other baking spices.

The blend was pretty low in acidity, which was nice. The body was medium at most.

My final verdict? Paulig Indonesia may not be a gourmet coffee blend, but it is better than many other Finnish grocery store coffees. However, if I had to get a solid medium dark Arabica from the supermarket, I would certainly opt for a Swedish blend, say Reko from Arvid Nordquist, or Jubileum or Kharisma from Löfbergs.

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.

Lehmus Roastery Sammonlahti—dark, creamy and excellent

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One of my good colleagues hooked me up with this: Sammonlahti from Lehmus Roastery. 

Lehmus is a roastery located in the city of Lappeenranta, southeastern Finland. They have received many awards, such as ”The best roastery in Finland” in 2017 and 2018.

According to the label, Sammonlahti is an espresso blend of washed Robusta from Uganda, and wet hulled Tim-Tim/Caturra Arabica from Sumatra, Indonesia. The roast level is 5/5, and is called ”Italian roast.” The company also describes this as a full-flavored blend at 5/5.

As I opened the bag, I was a little surprised. Unlike many real Italian espresso blends, the beans were really dark and oily, and made me think of some Starbucks products. However, the bag aroma wasn’t like Starbucks at all. It reminded me of pine needles, or the traditional Finnish Christmas tree. Interesting!

I brewed this in my trusty old Bialetti Moka pot. The bouquet was very nice: like a dark, strong arabica/robusta blend mixed with some pine needles.

In my opinion, the body or mouthfeel was medium full. I just loved this part. It felt so creamy and smooth, syrupy, even.

What about the taste, then? This was a big, strong and powerful blend with many savory flavors, such as tar and pine needles. The tar was actually very prominent, but not to the point where the flavor reminded you of creosote (which I like a lot in a coffee, by the way). On the other hand, there were some sweeter elements to this blend as well: molasses, even a small hint of dark chocolate. These two aspects, the savoriness and sweetness were in perfect balance. The tar/pine thing stayed in the forefront, but was balanced out nicely by the molasses-like feel.

Nowadays, I usually don’t reach for really dark roasted coffee as much as I used to. That’s why I was surprised how much I liked this blend. Yes, it was super dark, but not harsh or bitter at all. Instead, it was full bodied, creamy, smooth, and very flavorful. I highly recommend you try Sammonlahti from Lehmus Roastery. It is truly an excellent product.