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!

Kahwe Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Light Roast—another amazing mélange of flavors

So you’re looking for a light roasted coffee with lots of flavor and complexity? Look no further.

This is Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Light Roast from Kahwe.

Bella Elisabeth is a blend of washed Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Pache from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. At roast level 1/5, this particular offering is the lightest version offered by Kahwe. On the label the company says that it’s acidic and multifaceted, with hints of black tea, and the fruitiness of coffee berries, red apple and guava.

As I first opened the bag and ground the beans, I knew I was going to like this a lot.

I doesn’t really matter whether you brew this in the moka pot of the AeroPress. Either way, it offers you quite a mélange of flavors. I detected the following:

  • black tea (not quite as pronouced as in the 3/5 version)
  • caramel
  • fresh, sweet, red apples (the first coffee I’ve ever had that makes you think of apples!)
  • red berries
  • baking spices (cinnamon, maybe?)
  • some milk chocolate or nougat
  • a small hint of licorice in the finish

Now, this may sound like a lot. However, all of these flavors have their own place. They are like siblings who live together in the same house, in perfect harmony. None of them overpowers the others, but everyone of them brings something different to the table. In other words, on the one hand, the flavor profile is really complex, and yet on the other hand, it’s very uniform.

Add to that the mouthfeel: so juicy it’s almost unbelieveable.

I probably don’t have to tell you that I like this blend very, very much.

So like I say, if you’re looking for a light roasted coffee with lots of flavor, look no further. Get yourself some Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Light Roast from Kahwe. It is just amazing.

Kahwe Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Medium Roast—full flavored and dry

Next up: Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Medium Roast from Kahwe.

I recently reviewed—and loved!—the dark roasted (4/5) version of this coffee. As I mentioned then, Bella Elisabeth is a blend of washed Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Pache from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. This particular version was roasted medium (3/5). On the label they say that the flavor is acidic and multifaceted, with hints of black tea, and the fruitiness of guava and raisins.

I found myself thinking that there were two sides to this version of the blend. On the one hand, there was a herbal or leaf-like side to it, which made me think of fermented, unflavored black tea—English Breakfast Tea from Nordqvist came to mind. This aspect was very prominent. It brought a certain dryness to the overall flavor profile. On the other hand, though, there was a caramelly side to it, too, the same one that was more apparent in the dark roasted version. I personally did not detect the fruity or raisinlike flavors, but that didn’t bother me at all. I really enjoyed the slightly drier and full flavored feel that this version had.

In my opinion, this medium roasted version of Bella Elisabeth was not quite as spectacular as the dark roasted one (which was just amazing!). But that’s just a matter of personal preference. Like its darker sibling, this was a high quality product. So, if you like your coffee full flavored and dry, Guatemala Bella Elisabeth Medium Roast is your choice. Get it from Kahwe!

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 Elisabeth to try. Thank you so much!

Bella Elisabeth 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 Elisabeth 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 Elisabeth 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!