Revisited: Kahiwa Galeh Natural

One year ago, I reviewed Galeh from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Lahti, Finland.

If you read my review, you can tell that I liked it a lot.

I wanted to see if I still liked it as much as I did last year. So, as I happened to visit the Kahiwa coffee shop recently, I decided to pick up a new bag of Galeh.

The product seems to be pretty much as I remember it. It is all about naturally processed Heirloom from Ethiopia.

The company appears to have changed a couple of things, however. Not only has the packaging changed, but also the name has been revised, with the addition of the adjective ”Natural”. Tasting notes are slightly different as well. Last year, they said that the coffee tasted like rowanberry, rosehip, and nougat—which it did. This time, however, the notes read as follows (my translation): ”Raspberry, nougat, jamlike”. Lastly, whereas the roast level used to be 2/5, it is now 1/5. In any case, the roast is very light.

What was it like, then? Oh, it was very, very good! My comments from last year still hold true:

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).

If you like light roasted Ethiopian, you owe it to yourself to check out Galeh Natural. You can get it from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters!

Kahiwa El Jardín—like a good chardonnay

During the recent COVID-19 closure, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters moved their roastery to the Lahti city center. As the lockdown restrictions were eased, they opened the new facility, complete with a cool new cafe and wine bar. The other day, I went to see the place, and to buy some beans as well.

After showing me around, the CEO, Mr. Joonas Reinikainen introduced me to their new product: El Jardín. The first thing I noticed was that the company had replaced the brown paper bags with matte black ones with cool labels on them. On this particular label it said that El Jardín is hydro-honey processed Castillo from Colombia, roasted 2/5 on the Kahiwa scale. The tasting notes were listed as follows: Guava, grapefruit, hibiscus.

Now, I have no idea what guava and hibiscus taste or smell like! I do know that the one is a fruit and the other is a flower of some sort. Despite my obvious lack of knowledge in this area, I could easily tell that the ground beans had a ”high”, fruity, and floral aroma to it. However, the floral notes were a lot lighter and more refined than the familiar Robusta florality that you get with good Italian espressos. It was apparent that this was going to have a pretty sophisticated flavor profile.

I brewed El Jardín in my AeroPress (inverted, paper filter). The bouquet was quite similar to the aroma of the ground beans. In the mouth, the coffee felt light and juicy, but there was a little hint of creaminess too. The body was pretty light as well, but by no means hollow. In my opinion, the ”high” notes of grapefruit dominated the flavor profile. Even then, there were other fruity flavors to fill up some of the midrange—perhaps that was the guava? The floral notes became apparent in the finish. In the aftertaste, I think I might have detected some of the more familiar ”Colombian” flavors as well, such as nuttiness, and even a hint of chocolate, but I’m not 100% sure about it. Overall, the coffee was on the dry side of the flavor spectrum, but the fruity flavors gave it just enough natural sweetness to make it interesting.

To sum up, El Jardín is a very good, well-balanced, and surprisingly fruity Colombian. Now that I think of it, it is a lot like a good chardonnay. Get yourself some from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, and see what you think!

Kahiwa Capricornio—a big espresso from Brazil

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Capricornio is a big, full-bodied espresso from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Lahti, Finland.

The description on the label is quite brief. The company only states that this is a smooth Brazilian coffee with low acidity. The beans are grown in an altitude of 600 m. They are honey processed, and roasted dark (4+/5). As for tasting notes, they say this: nuts, caramel, and mocha brownies.

It was obvious that I would brew this in my Bialetti Moka, exclusively.

Right off the bat, it was clear that this was not supposed to be a super multifaceted coffee. While the flavor profile was not exactly monochromatic, it was simple, bold, and masculine. Sometimes that’s exactly what is called for! In my opinion, the midrange nuttiness was the main player. In the baritone section, I detected the pleasant sourness of cigar leaf. There might have been some brownie-like flavors, and a hint of caramelly sweetness as well, but overall, Capricornio was more on the dry side.

If that’s what you like, you should check it out! You can get Capricornio from the Kahiwa website!

Kahiwa Galeh Washed—like mom’s rhubarb pie

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Here’s another interesting coffee from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Lahti, Finland.

Galeh Washed is all about organic, washed Heirloom from Limu Kossa, Ethiopia. It is roasted dark (4/5), and—as the company states on the label—in a way that makes it suitable for both filter coffee and espresso. They also say that it tastes like ”cacao nibs”, dates, and rhubarb.

I tried brewing this in my AeroPress (one of those inverted methods, paper filter), as well as in the three cup Bialetti Moka.

In my opinion, the AeroPress brought out two major aspects: First, there was the cocoa thing, and secondly… something herbal. I was wondering whether this was supposed to be the rhubarb flavor, but even after several cups, all I could think of was herbs of some sort. Now, I really liked it! (Cf. my review of another lovely Ethiopian, Lehmus Roastery Myllysaari.) But I didn’t really detect anything that tasted like rhubarb.

However, as soon as I tried Galeh Washed in my Bialetti, everything changed. Now, the overall experience was more acidic, in a pleasant way. Moreover, what used to taste like herbs, felt very much like rhubarb. To be honest, I didn’t get the ”dates”, but perhaps the full midrange, and the natural sweetness might be taken as date-like. The whole thing made me think of my mom’s rhubarb pie!

Perhaps Galeh Washed was not quite as mindblowing as the ”regular”, lighter roasted Galeh. (I just love that one!) But like any other Kahiwa offering, it is certainly worth checking out. I think I might have to grab another bag!

Kahiwa Finca Canalaj—a very nice Guatemalan for filter coffee lovers

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Next, I’ll be reviewing a couple of coffees from our local roastery, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, Lahti, Finland.

The first one is this: Finca Canalaj, made of washed Caturra from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Only seeing the name ”Huehuetenango” on a bag makes me want to try it. I have always liked coffees that come from this source!

On the label, Kahiwa tell us that the roast is on the lighter side, 2/5. They also promise us notes of milk chocolate and red berries.

Since Finca Canalaj is intended for filter use, I decided to brew it in my AeroPress.

Indeed, the flavor profile seemed to have these two aspects: On the one hand, I detected a light (milk) chocolatey flavor. On the other hand, there was this delicious acidity, that was slightly reminiscent of red berries, but—in my opinion—not only that. At times I also thought I tasted fresh cut fruit, perhaps something like yellow stonefruits. Even then, the experience was not overly chocolatey or berry-like/fruity. It tasted like coffee, with a capital C. On top of this, (I know I keep repeating myself!) I’m sure that I detected it again with this coffee: a hint of that nutty and toasted flavor of burley tobacco. Very pleasant!

In sum, I would say that Finca Canalaj is a delicious, medium bodied Guatemalan with enough chocolateyness and fruitiness to keep you interested. While it was not quite as exquisite as some other Guatemalan coffees I’ve tried, I can honestly say that it was a high quality all-day coffee that can be recommend to anyone. Get yours from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters!

Oh, and by the way: Kahiwa have just upgraded their packaging, so you will now get your beans in these great looking black bags with really cool labels. Check them out!

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!

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!

Kahiwa Finca Bella Elizabeth—”Medium” is the word

A couple of days ago, I visited Kahvila Kariranta, the beautiful and famous cafe in the Lahti harbor. As I was waiting for the great espresso they made me from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters beans, I noticed this on the shelf: Finca Bella Elizabeth, another coffee from Kahiwa. I was told the company makes this exclusively for Kahvila Kariranta. Of course I had to get a bag and try it out.

Finca Bella Elizabeth is straight washed Catuai from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The roast level is 3/5. The company tells us it tastes like milk chocolate and apricots. The beans are pre-ground for filter use.

Since I’m not a pour-over guy, I decided to try it with my AeroPress, one of the inverted methods. It seemed to work just fine.

To be honest, I was struggling a little to figure out what Finca Bella Elizabeth was all about. It seemed so… middle of the road. But then it dawned on me: that’s exactly what this coffee is about.

This is not to say that it is a poor product. Quite the contrary. It certainly is an excellent coffee. The quality is very good. It’s just that it doesn’t seem to have the same character that some other Kahiwa products have, you know, a quality that makes it stand out from the others. It is very ”medium” on all levels.

Having said that, there are many things going on, three, to be exact:

  • milk chocolate
  • nuttiness
  • fruityness (fresh yellow fruits?)

All of these flavors are there in equal proportion. None of them overpowers the others. And this is where it gets hard to explain: In my opinion, these three flavors do not really meld together to form a unified whole, but they are not separated far from each other, either. They just kind of are there, if that makes sense. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps it’s just that I would prefer one or the other: a simple, monochromatic flavor profile, or a complex one. For example, if I wanted to have something similar, a coffee that was fruity and chocolatey at the same time, I would probably opt for Kenya Mlima from Turun Kahvipaahtimo. In that particular coffee, the two different aspects are separated further apart, and thus feel more pronounced. In Finca Bella Elizabeth, however, all the different flavors seemed to be quite close to each other, and thus a little subdued, in a way.

The mouthfeel was nice and juicy, though, and yet there was enough nuttiness to make it feel more ”medium” than ”high.”

I think Finca Bella Elizabeth would be a good choice for those moments when you want to have a good cup of coffee, but do not have the time to think about all the different flavors in it. If that’s what you want in a coffee, get Finca Bella Elizabeth from Kahvila Kariranta!

Kahiwa La Sorpresa AA—Surprise!

The next Kahiwa Coffee Roasters offering I got to try was this: La Sorpresa AA, Barrel Aged Coffee. This is a blend of washed Catuaí and Caturra from Jinotega, Nicaragua. As the name would suggest, the beans have been aged in whiskey barrels. The roast level is 3 out of 5. As for tasting notes, the company provides the following description (my translation): milk chocolate, cranberry, silky.

Talk about una sorpresa! I was really surprised by this blend. I was expecting to have a heavily flavored coffee blend, something like the espressos from Caffè Galliano that have an additional topping of vanilla, or some other flavoring. (By the way, I like the those very much!) In La Sorpresa, however, the additional whiskey aroma was a lot more subdued—no, make that ”sophisticated.” Yes, it was there right from the start, but at no point was it overpowering. Even before I ground the beans it was clear: La Sorpresa is all about pure coffee, with just a little something extra from the whiskey barrel.

So, what was that coffee aroma like, then? Another surprise! As I opened the bag, I was instantly reminded of the fantastic Red Guji I got two months ago from Artisan Café: red berries and chocolate mixed together, and yet kind of separated at the same time. Truly amazing. Both of these qualities were there in the end product as well.

OK, the flavor, then. They say: cranberries. Now, I never eat berries, so I really don’t even know what cranberries taste like. But La Sorpresa definitely reminded me of red berries. Most of the time, I found myself thinking of fresh, ripe cherries. I even got a hint of strawberries here and there. Even if I don’t like actual berries, I’d be more than happy to have my berries in this form, blended by Kahiwa!

What about the milk chocolate? It was less pronounced than the berries, but it was there, on the opposite end of the flavor spectrum. And yes, it was definitely milk chocolate, not the darker variant. Not too sweet, but not bitter, either.

The added whiskey flavor was really interesting. It was barely noticeable, but it was there all the time as well, adding some body to the overall flavor. It was as if it acted as a bridge between the berries and the chocolate. Let me put it like this: If La Sorpresa was a string quartet, the berry thing would be the violins. The milk chocolate would be the cello, and the whiskey flavor would be the viola.

As you can probably tell, I’m really struggling to find the right words to describe Kahiwa coffees. (I don’t think I’d do a better job in my own language!) That’s how great they are. I’ll say it again: you will have to experience them yourself. Go to www.kahiwacoffee.fi and get some La Sorpresa AA. You will not be disappointed.

Kahiwa Espresso Sorocabana—SO SMOOTH!

Just a quick one:

As I happened to be in the neighborhood, I decided to have a double espresso at Kahvila Kariranta, the beautiful, well known cafe in the Lahti harbor.

Last time I visited, their espressos were made from Paulig beans. This time, however, they had many different coffees from one of my favorite companies, the local Kahiwa Coffee Roasters.

Apparently the Kahiwa coffee artisans are very good at describing their flavor profiles: Espresso Sorocabana (honey processed Bourbon and Catuai) was exactly what they promised on the label: nutty, caramelly, and brownie-like. I also detected a hint of the same tobaccoey quality that I enjoyed in their Fazenda California. But the main thing was this: Espresso Sorocabana was SO smooth I almost couldn’t believe it. Excellent!

If you happen to be in Lahti, do yourself a favor and visit Kahvila Kariranta, and try it yourself!