Lavazza ”¡Tierra! Bio-organic”—At first: No. Then: YES!

Next up in my series of Italian grocery store coffees: Lavazza ¡Tierra! Bio-organic. This is a blend of 100% ”sustainably grown” Arabicas, ”roasted using authentic and traditional Italian roasting techniques” (6/10). The company describes the blend as ”[f]ull-bodied aromatic” with ”peculiar floral and fruity notes”. In my bag, the coffee was pre-ground in order for it to be ”[s]uitable for all filter coffee brewers”.

In all honesty, I did not think much of it at first.

The grind size was too small for my French press. I also found the flavor to be less than interesting.

The AeroPress succeeded better in bringing out the flavors. Even so, the blend seemed to be little more than a regular grocery store blend. ”Nothing to write home about,” I thought.

Finally, I just had to try ¡Tierra! Bio-organic in the Moka pot. I mean, despite the fact that it was made for filter coffee brewers, the grind size appeared to be perfect for the macchinetta. Lo and behold, my good old Bialetti brought the blend to life.

The mouthfeel was surprisingly creamy for a regular grocery store blend. Also, while the body was pretty full, it did not feel ”heavy” at all.

While the flavor profile was quite uniform, there were two aspects to it. On the one hand, the blend provided big and savory notes, with substantial acidity. It tasted almost salty. On the other hand, however, underneath the umami, the midrange was dominated by a naturally sweet almondy smoothness together with some medium dark cocoa. In my opinion, these two aspects worked together perfectly, with the almond/cocoa thing balancing out the savory upper register.

I enjoyed it quite a bit.

All in all, Lavazza ¡Tierra! Bio-organic must be one of the best ”organic” coffees I have ever found in a supermarket. Obviously, being a mass produced grocery store blend, it is nothing really spectacular. What it does offer you, however, is a solid, Italian coffee experience that you can enjoy at any time of the day. Just remember to brew it in a Moka pot!

Segafredo ”Intenso”—Intense? Yes, but…

This is Intenso, another Segafredo blend manufactured for the Italian espresso maker by Meira, the big Finnish coffee and spice company.

On the bag, we are told that this ”is an Italian-style, dark roast, organic coffee with a flavour reminiscent of the robust, dark and strong characteristics of Italian coffee.” The roast level is ”3”.

For brewing, I used both my Bialetti Moka pot and the French press.

Either way, the results were less than appealing.

Now, Intenso was pretty intense indeed. There was a healthy dose of acidity, and some bitterness as well. I immediately got the impression that this was going the be a very flavorful blend. Ironically, however, the actual flavors were hard to detect. To be more precise, there seemed to be none to speak of.

Everything in Intenso made me think of those cheap (actually, a lot cheaper) Bellarom blends they sell in Lidl.

If that’s what you like, you might consider trying it. As for me, I would rather get a pack of Lavazza Qualità Oro.

Segafredo ”Pausa”—a reasonably good ”Italian” blend

Here’s another grocery store coffee that I’ve wanted to try: Segafredo Zanetti Pausa. To be precise, this blend is manufactured for Segafredo by Meira, the traditional Finnish coffee and spice company. Since Pausa is not listed on the international Segafredo website, one wonders if it’s only made for a limited (Scandinavian?) market.

On the bag, there is some information on the product:

Segafredo Pausa is an Italian-style, dark roast coffee with a flavour reminiscent of the robust, dark and strong characteristics of Italian coffee.

We are also told that Pausa is ”[s]trong in taste”, and roasted ”very dark” (4). Judging by the images on the bag, the company appears to suggest that the blend is suitable for French press and auto drip machines.

Well, if it’s supposed to be an Italian-style blend, it should be tried in the Moka pot first!

Indeed, Pausa was similar to many Italian Arabica espresso blends. (It appeared to contain no Robusta.) While the mouthfeel was by no means harsh, the flavor profile was on the bitter and acidic side. I also detected the following notes:

  • semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • salted licorice—not unlike Moak Gusto Bar, but not quite as much
  • some smokiness
  • the tiniest hint of vanilla

The French press version was nice, but it offered no real surprises. In my opinion, it was ”just good coffee” with few nuances and little complexity. I definitely preferred the Moka pot version.

In summary, the Finnish made Segafredo Zanetti Pausa is a reasonably good, dark roasted, medium bodied Italian-style grocery store blend. While it is hardly ”gourmet”, there is nothing wrong with it, either. If there is no Lavazza Qualità Oro available, I can see myself buying it again.

Arvid Nordquist ”Classic Franskrost”—Bitter Chocolate!

Here in Finland, Arvid Nordquist coffee is available in almost every supermarket. Having tasted many of the blends by the big Swedish coffee manufacturer, I find it easy to understand why they have gained such a popularity. They offer good quality for the price point.

Now, this is one of their blends that I had not tried before: Classic Franskrost. Obviously, the Swedish name refers to a classic French roast. Indeed, the roast is pretty dark. Even so, the beans are significantly lighter in color than some American dark roast blends I’ve had recently. The roast level appears to be somewhere between a classic Italian espresso and Freedom Fuel by Black Rifle Coffee Company or the fantastic Two Group by E’s World Coffee.

According to Nordquist, Classic Franskrost is a blend of Arabicas from Brazil, Colombia, Central America and Eastern Africa. They describe the aroma and flavor profile thus: ”A dark chocolate aroma. A powerful flavour full of nuance, with a hint of vanilla. A long aftertaste with balanced acidity.” The company also offers the following information:

  • Roasting: Extra dark (9/10)
  • Acidity: Light (5/10)
  • Spiciness: Vanilla (8/10)
  • Body: Powerful (8/10)
  • Fruitiness: Black currant (6/10)
  • Nut chocolate: Dark chocolate (10/10)

Since Nordquist implies that Classic Franskrost is suitable for all brewing methods, I started with (you guessed it!) my trusty Bialetti Moka pot, and then—inspired by the ”French” roast—I unearthed my good old French press. I used James Hoffmann’s Ultimate French Press Technique which, by the way, is your ticket to amazing coffee.

The moka pot brew was all about bitter chocolate. Try to imagine the flavor of an unsweetened, intense 75% dark chocolate bar, and you get the picture. While I also detected the vanilla, it was not quite as prominent as the company promises. To me, the black currant was nonexistent. Instead, I tasted the greenish sourness of a light wrapper cigar. Quite pleasant, actually.

As expected, the French press version was more well-behaved and subdued. Even so, the general flavor profile remained the same. Only the cigar-like flavor was harder to detect.

To sum up, Arvid Nordquist Classic Franskrost is a nice Scandinavian dark roasted blend that offers better quality than many other grocery store coffees. Honestly, I did not find it as nuanced as the company seems to suggest, but I wouldn’t describe it as a one-trick pony, either. I think it’s worth checking out. That said, if you want really great dark roasted coffee with lots of complexity, I would suggest you order some Two Group from E’s World Coffee instead.

Muki ”Töölö-kahvi”—both exquisite and rustic

Töölö-kahvi is the other blend I recently received from Muki, the Helsinki based gourmet coffee store. Like Muki-kahvi, their great everyday blend, Töölö-kahvi is blended and roasted for the company by Holmen Coffee, Helsinki.

Both the label and the Muki web shop site offer little information on the blend. Basically, we are just told that it is medium roasted coffee. But as I wrote earlier, I think that’s kind of cool. Let the product speak for itself!

I was told that this coffee would work well with the French press. Now, while I do own a French press, I prefer to use my AeroPress instead. So, as I always do, I ground the beans medium coarse, and followed my favorite AeroPress recipe.

First things first: I really enjoyed this blend. That said, it took me a couple of days to figure out how to articulate what it tasted like.

In my opinion, there were three levels to the flavor profile:

  1. The high end of the flavor spectrum was dominated by the pleasant acidity and natural sweetness of fresh, exotic fruits. If I try to describe the flavor in terms of color, it felt yellow and light green. This was the easy part.
  2. In the midrange, I detected a tiny hint of semi-sweet chocolate.
  3. Lastly, in the baritone department, there was this savory quality, which I couldn’t quite put my finger on at first. Ultimately, I decided that it was a bready, bakery-like flavor. More specifically, it made me think of sourdough, perhaps even Finnish rye bread.

Now, I’ll admit that this may sound like a funny combination. But let me tell you: I found it to be very, very pleasant. While the flavor profile was mostly fruity, on the one hand, and savory, on the other, there was just enough sweetness as well. Furthermore, it was both exquisite and rustic at the same time. Whether I tried to tease out the subtle flavors, or if I just enjoyed a cup while thinking about other things, Töölö-kahvi was enjoyable either way.

If that sounds like your cup of tea (coffee?), visit the Muki B&M store in Helsinki, or go to their web shop, and get some. I can highly recommend it!

Lastly, a big thank you to Muki and Holmen Coffee for some great coffees! I had a lot of fun reviewing them!

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.