Caffi Etiopia Natural—Just. Amazing.

Here’s the product that every Finnish coffee enthusiast has been talking about: ”Etiopia Natural” from Caffi, the artisan roastery based in Lahti, Finland.

It’s funny. It’s only a 10 minute walk from my house to the Caffi roastery, and yet I had tried only one of their blends (which was very good by the way).

But here we go! A multiple-award-winning product, Etiopia Natural is a gourmet coffee of an extremely high quality. On the label, the company states that it has nuances of kiwifruit and jasmin, and that there are hints of berry and citrus in the finish. They say that the mouthfeel is balanced and pleasantly rounded.

I would totally agree.

I brewed it in the AeroPress, using my favorite inverted method and the steel filter. The flavor profile was very complex and multifaceted, with all the flavors the company promises. The mouthfeel was light and extremely juicy. Put it like this: If a classic Arabica/Robusta espresso were a good French brandy, Etiopia Natural would be the best IPA you can get from your local artisan brewery. It was very fruity, almost hoppy.

As I was sampling Etiopia Natural, my daily coffee intake nearly tripled. I just wanted to have another cup. And then another. It’s that good.

Having said that, I agree with my friend who suggested that if you need a quick pick-me-up in the morning, Etiopia Natural might not be the best choice. Yes, in my opinion, too, a coffee this nuanced would be best enjoyed with a high quality dessert.

Etiopia Natural truly lives up to all the hype. It is very, very good. You can get all Caffi products from their stores or online. Do yourself a favor and check them out!

Rost & Co. Honduras Filter—Exactly what they promise

As you may have noticed, I have recently tried several blends from Rost & Co., the artisan roastery based in Helsinki, Finland. This is the last one I got for now: Honduras Filter.

On the bag the company offers the following information:

  • Origin: Honduras, Ocotepeque, Co-op Cocafelol.
  • Altitude: 1100–1750 meters.
  • Processing: washed.

As for the tasting notes, they state (again, my translation): Nutty, soft, cocoa-like.

That’s it! That is exactly what you get. I would say the nuttiness is probably the main player. It is accompanied by a pleasant, soft acidity and a hint of cocoa, or maybe even some milk chocolate. Flavor-wise, this blend is pretty simple and straightforward, but in a good way. Overall, it is well-rounded and medium-mild.

In my opinion, Honduras Filter would be an excellent blend to have first thing in the morning. It paired extremely well with my daily breakfast pancake.

Check it out! You can get this blend and other Rost & Co. products from Kaffecentralen.

Rost & Co. Piriste Filter—delicate choral lyricism

Today I’ve got a new coffee review for you, and the coffee which I will be reviewing is this: ”Piriste Filter” from Rost & Co.

On the bag, the company describes the product thus (my translation): ”Soft, balanced, round.” The ingredients are listed as follows (the country names are in Finnish):

20% Etiopia Yirgacheffe

20% Brasilia Daterra

40% Kolumbia Cundinamarca

I would add that the roast seemed to be medium, around 3/5.

In my opinion, ”soft, balanced, round” is a very fitting description of this blend. The mouthfeel was kind of creamy—a lot like the other Rost & Co. blends I’ve tried—, but also kind of juicy. The flavor profile was pretty multifaceted: On the one hand, there was some nuttiness. On the other hand, however, I got a soft, fruity and berry-like acidity as well. In my opinion, all of these elements were there in equal proportion. It was as if none of them had the courage to take the spotlight, but all of the them decided to stay further the back on the stage instead. It was like a choir where every singer was faithfully singing their part, softly, I would add, but no one had been appointed soloist. Therefore the music sounded—I mean the coffee tasted—complex, but a little subdued.

That’s fine! Sometimes, instead of listening to a powerful Italian tenor (my beloved Pascucci Golden Sack!), you just want to enjoy soft and delicate choral lyricism. If that’s what you want in a coffee, ”Piriste” is for you! While it didn’t exactly ”wow” me, I liked it quite a bit.

Check it out! Along with other Rost & Co. blends, you can get it from Kaffecentralen.

Rost & Co. Krafti Espresso—a good, standard espresso with lots of R!

It has been an amazingly hectic two months for me. I haven’t been able to take the time to post all the coffee reviews I have in store. But today I can finally share my impressions of the blend I’ve been enjoying lately.

”Krafti Espresso” from Rost & Co. is a blend of 60% India Robusta Kaapi Royale and 40% Guatemala Acatenango. Right off the bat, this particular recipe sounds very appealing to me. On the bag, it says that the blend is (in my translation) ”strong” and ”rich” with ”notes of cocoa.” In my estimation, the roast is medium dark.

Now, a year ago, I might have been extremely enthusiastic about this blend. ”Krafti” is a very good, solid Robusta forward espresso that reminds me of many good Italian blends. As you could expect from a blend that contains as much as 60% of Robusta, the familiar earthiness from the big R is the main player. However, this earthiness is accompanied by some delicious notes of pine needles (”Flores,” the excellent straight Robusta by Cafetoria keeps coming to mind—check it out, I love it!) and vanilla. The blend is quite full flavored, but it doesn’t fatigue the palate. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth.

At the same time, though, I cannot help thinking that the flavor profile is a little on the nondescript side—and I don’t mean quality-wise. I am getting a lot of those quintessential espresso qualities, but nothing that would just jump out to me like, ”Hey, this is this thing!” if you see what I mean. Mind you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this blend—as I say, I’ve enjoyed it—, but nothing particularly memorable about it either.

In this sense, ”Krafti Espresso” is a bit like ”Peru Espresso,” the other Rost & Co. blend I tried a while ago: it’s a solid blend that does what it was made to do. It’s just that maybe making you go ”WOW” isn’t one of those things.

But hey, try it if you can! It is good! You can get it from Kaffecentralen.

Rost & Co. Peru Espresso—a basic espresso with lots of flavor

For quite some time now, I’ve been thinking of checking out some coffees by Rost & Co., the artisan roastery located in Helsinki, Finland. Recently, on one of my trips to the Helsinki university library (one of my favorite places!), I briefly visited Kaffecentralen, the great coffee shop in the very center of the city, and got four of their products. So, here we go!

The first one I tried was this: Peru Espresso. There was not a lot of information about the coffee on the bag, but they say this much:

  • origin: Peru, Cajamarca Co-Op Sol & Cafe
  • altitude: 1500–2050 m
  • processing: washed

I would add that the roast seemed to be medium-dark or dark, maybe around 3,5 on the scale of 5 (?).

As for tasting notes, the company states the following (my translation): balanced, notes of licorice and almond.

Very well, that’s precisely what this coffee tasted like when I brewed it in my Bialetti moka pot. On top of that, I got a delicious flavor of dark, bitter chocolate. It wasn’t very prominent, but did create a nice interplay with the licorice. At times, I also detected a slightly toasted, tobaccoey flavor. Having said that, in my opinion, Peru Espresso didn’t have the most complex flavor profile. On the one hand, it was quite flavorful and intense indeed. On the other hand, however, it was pretty straightforward. The mouthfeel was on the creamy side and quite smooth.

For me, Peru Espresso by Rost & Co. was a pretty basic espresso that offered some interesting flavors. While it didn’t knock my socks off, I did enjoy it. I especially found it pleasant after a big meal. So yeah, if you want a solid, dark and smooth espresso with lots of flavor, but one that you don’t need to think about so much, check it out! Like I say, you can get it from Kaffecentralen!

Home roasted Tanzanian coffee!

The other day, I got a message from one of my Finnish friends, Eero Halme. He had received some green coffee beans from Tanzania and was roasting them at home. He asked me if I’d like to get a sample. Oh yes, please!

A couple of days later, the mailman brought me a package that said: Bongo Kahawa, 100% Arabica, harvested: April 2019 in Kagera, Tanzania. The beans were small and beautiful. Eero had been kind enough to roast my sample (”Harri Huovinen edition”!) on the lighter side, at about 1–2 on the scale of 5.

As I ground the beans, I got some very nice odors of aromatic wood, some spiciness reminiscent of light cigar leaf, maybe a hint of red berries, and—believe it or not—beef jerky (!).

From the get-go, it was apparent that this was going to be a very savory coffee. Indeed, the overall flavour was on the dry side. Perhaps fortunately, the beef jerky took the back seat, while the aromatic woodiness and the cigar leaf were the main players. There was also a woody, dryish flavor which made me think of pencil shavings. The berries were nowhere to be found, but I did detect a tiny hint of vanilla in the background. I found it quite pleasant!

Thank you so much, Eero! It was truly a great experience. Good luck with your roasting!

Arvid Nordquist Molto—big & bold!

If you like your coffee dark, big, bold, intense, pungent and full-bodied, ”Molto” from Arvid Nordquist would be a good choice.

Nordquist markets ”Molto” as an espresso in the Italian style. It is made of 100% organic Arabicas from South and Central America, Indonesia and Eastern Africa. The company describes the blend as ”balanced and gentle with notes of cacao.” They also say that it has a ”sweet aroma of almonds that develops into an intense dark flavour with discreet hints of licorice root.” On the bag, you can also find the usual ”Nordquist” categories:

  • Roasting: Espresso (10/10)
  • Acidity: Discrete (4,5/10)
  • Spiciness: Sweet (5/10)
  • Body: Rich (6,5/10)
  • Fruitiness: Berry Like (5,5/10)
  • Nut Chocolate: Roasted Almonds (5,5/10)

OK, what did I think of it?

Was it balanced? In my opinion, yes. Gentle? In a way, yes. There was no harshness whatsoever. Rich? Absolutely. Sweet? Maybe a little. At least it was not as earthy as some ”real” (read: Italian) espresso blends. That would be understanable: there is no Robusta in this. What about the licorice root or the ”Berry Like” quality? At least I didn’t detect them. Also, for me the ”Roasted Almonds” thing was almost nonexistent.

I kept saying to myself: ”Dark, bitter chocolate. That’s all I can think of.”

All things considered, I don’t think ”Molto” is very similar to most Italian espressos—there is no Robusta in it, and it is roasted a lot darker. Actually, in my opinion, the darkness of the roast covers up many of the nuances that the company talks about. This makes ”Molto” a pretty staightforward and ”one note” type of blend. But that’s fine. If that’s what you want in your cup, try it! You might like it!

Arvid Nordquist Amigas—”Starbucks” without the ”Starbucks note”

Since I’ve always enjoyed Swedish coffee, I decided to check out the Arvid Nordquist blends that I hadn’t had yet—or at least the ones that are available at my local supermarket.

The first one was this: Amigas.

The bag description is mostly about the people who produce the coffee. Nordquist tells us, for example, that depending on supply, at least 50% of this coffee is produced by women, who otherwise are often left with limited possibilities in the rural areas of the countries where coffee is produced. That’s all very good.

The company doesn’t provide a lot of information about the ingredients. They only say that Amigas is made of ”100% quality Arabica beans.” On their website they add that the Arabicas are from Peru.

Nordquist calls this blend (my translation) extra dark, powerful and balanced. As for the flavor profile, they say the following:

  • Roasting: Extra Dark (9/10)
  • Acidity: Pleasant (6/10)
  • Spiciness: Chocolate (5/10)
  • Body: Balanced (7,5/10)
  • Fruitiness: Sweet Citrus (8/10)
  • Nut Chocolate: Marzipan (6/10)

OK, that sounds pretty accurate.

The overall feel was classic Nordquist: bold, really bold. This is the one thing I like about their approach. Unlike some Finnish coffee companies, Nordquist has the guts to be what they are. It’s like: ”These are the flavors we want you to taste. Take it or leave it.” Whatever the roast level, there is nothing subdued about their blends.

On the other hand, Amigas was not quite as multifaceted as, say, Reko by the same company. The roasting (really dark!) seemed to cover some of the nuances that probably would have been there otherwise. For instance, the chocolate and marzipan were detectable, but they remained in the back seat, while the dark intensity took the wheel. The same was true of the ”sweet citrus” thing: yes, the overall feel was somewhat acidic, but without reading the bag description, I wouldn’t have thought it actually tasted like citrus.

However, I never got the impression that Amigas was roasted this dark in order to cover up the lesser quality of the beans (which unfortunately seems to be what some coffee companies on this side of the Gulf of Bothnia tend to do). The quality seemed perfectly fine.

All in all, Amigas was just like the other Arvid Nordquist blends: it was not exactly gourmet coffee, but at the same time, it was almost up there with your Espresso House or Starbucks products. Actually, it was a lot like many dark roasted Starbucks blends, only without the ”Starbucks note.” If that’s what you like, try it!

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!