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!

Kahiwa Fazenda California—an experience that defies description

For the past seven years, I’ve worked in Lahti, Finland. The city could be called the wintersports capital of the country, and has hosted several major sporting events over the decades, including the Nordic World Ski Championships (seven times). I don’t think there are that many beautiful buildings or historic places to see in the city, but the legendary ski jump stadium is definitely worth checking out.

One place I think every coffee-loving visitor should go to is Kahiwa Coffee Roasters, the artisan roastery located in the Niemi harbor. It’s funny: I live less than 10 minutes away from the company, and yet I had never visited them, until recently.

It was a very pleasant visit. The huge Giesen roaster was still warm, and there were several boxes full of freshly roasted beans from different continents. One of their coffee experts was kind enough to show me around and answer my questions about their products. I decided to make a series of reviews of Kahiwa coffees.

The first one of the several products I got is this: Fazenda California, an excellent coffee I’d had many times before. It is Obata Natural from Paraná, Brazil. The roast level is 4/5. As for the flavor profile, the company provides the following description: dark chocolate, fudge and almonds.

Briefly, Fazenda California is just fantastic. At the same time, it’s so unique and so different from anything else, that it took me two bags to figure out a way to describe it.

Let me try to put it into words.

The bouquet is mouthwatering. The fudge and almonds are the most prominent aromas. There’s also a hint of sweet and nutty woodiness that reminds me of classic American burley pipe tobacco.

What about the actual taste? The fudge and almonds are the two main flavors. But this is exactly where it gets so great, and so hard to describe. In my opinion, there is a fudge-like softness not only to the taste, but also to the mouthfeel. Put it like this: Imagine a coffee that felt ”watery” in your mouth. Next, try to imagine the opposite end of the mouthfeel spectrum. How would you describe it? In Finnish we would probably say that the liquid feels ”thick.” Now, Fazenda California is not like that, but it’s definitely closer to that end of the spectrum. There’s this creaminess that ”melts” in your mouth, in a way. It feels almost like a creamy soup. My wife said it reminded her of zenzai (善哉), the Japanese red bean dessert soup. And yet it’s definitely not soup, but coffee, par excellence. It’s sweet, but not overly so. It’s very ”coffee-like,” tobaccoey even. And yet it’s not too robust, but quite sophisticated. I don’t know if a taste can be described as ”soft,” but that’s the best adjective I can come up with.

The chocolate is there as well, but stays in the background. That particular flavor can be described as ”dark” chocolate, as the company does. To me, however, it isn’t like the really dark and strong chocolate flavor that you would expect from, say, a Pascucci or Pellini espresso. Rather, the chocolate provides a nice, soft undertone, and lets the fudge/almond thing be the star of the show.

As you can probably tell, Fazenda California from Kahiwa Coffee Roasters defies description. You’ll have to experience it yourself. I mean, you really have to. It’s very, very good.

A quick one: Kahiwa Brasilia Fazenda California

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As I needed a quick break, I decided to have a cup at Wine Cafe Olavi, located in the city center of Lahti. They use beans from the local coffee company, Kahiwa Coffee Roasters.

I ordered an espresso. The barista told me she made it from Kahiwa’s Brasilia Fazenda California.

Now I’m sitting here, amazed.

This is unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Initially, it feels smoother than almost any coffee I’ve known. Then you start to notice a gentle acidity, and an almost tobaccoey nuttiness. The finish is so long it’s almost unbelievable. There are so many things going on here, that it’s downright impossible to form an opinion about this based on one cup.

One thing is certain: Brasilia Fazenda California is definitely a very high quality product. I have to visit the roastery one of these days, and see what it’s all about!