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 ”Emozioni 100% Arabica”—surprisingly nice!

One day, I had to quickly get some pre-ground Italian coffee. I walked into my local supermarket and noticed this: Segafredo Emozioni 100% Arabica. Since I hadn’t tried it before, I decided to give it a go.

On the package, Segafredo tells us that Emozioni is (obviously) a ”100% Arabica blend with a vivid fragrance.” We are also told that the roast level is ”medium”. The ”sensory profile” is described thus:

  • Aroma 4/5
  • Intensity 4/5
  • Body 3/5
  • Persistency 5/5

As I always do with Italian blends, I brewed Emozioni using my Bialetti Moka pot.

Both the body and the intesity were medium. The flavor profile was quite simple and straightforward, but not monochromatic. In my opinion, there were two main notes:

  • medium dark, semi-sweet chocolate
  • a sour, cigar-like quality

Both of these aspects worked very well together, with the slightly smoky cigar-like thing taking the lead role.

As expected, Emozioni didn’t exactly knock my socks off. After all, it’s a mass produced grocery store blend. Even so, I found it to be a perfectly enjoyable all day espresso made in the true Italian style. If I ever run out of higher quality coffee, I can see myself buying it again.

Oh, one last note: While I rarely use any additives in my coffee, I must say that Emozioni worked quite well as a foundation for oat milk café au lait. The moderate intensity was subdued nicely by the oat milk, but it was still strong enough not to feel weak or diluted. I imagine that this blend would provide a nice base for a caffè latte as well.

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.

Lavazza ”Qualità Oro”—the best grocery store espresso?

This is one of the blends that I have wanted to try for a long time: Qualità Oro from the Italian coffee giant, Lavazza.

According to the company, Qualità Oro is ”[a] unique combination of 6 varieties of Arabica beans from amongst the finest of Central and South America, expertly crafted and perfectly blended. The perfect symphony for a superior taste every time, since 1956.” They also state that the roasting is ”medium”, and the intensity is 5/10. As for ”aromatic notes”, the company gives ”fruit” and ”flowers”.

If I understand correctly, the blend is only available pre-ground. As Lavazza states, it is ”neither too fine nor too coarse, and designed to guarantee a perfect espresso every time.” They also claim that it is ”ideal for the Moka pot.” Oh, yes please! (You don’t have to guess which coffee maker I chose for brewing this blend!)

I found the bouquet to be rich and very pleasant. It made me think of dried fruits, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla.

On the other hand, the mouthfeel was relatively creamy and quite smooth. The rich intensity and the medium full body made themselves manifest a few seconds after the first sip. Nice!

Flavor-wise, Qualità Oro was uniform, but not monochromatic by any means. On the one hand, the blend was pleasantly acidic, medium robust and intense. On the other hand, however, the semi-sweet notes of dried fruits, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla were all there in the flavor as well. I’m not sure I detected the ”flowers”, though, but who cares? For a powerful floral experience, you could always get some Crema e Gusto from the same company!

In my opinion, Lavazza Qualità Oro may be one of the best espresso blends available in a Finnish supermarket. In my opinion, it would be the perfect choice for those occasions when you’re traveling, for instance, and cannot find high quality artisan coffees. I will certainly be getting some more!

Lavazza ”Espresso Italiano Classico”—good enough for the price

So you want to make some Italian coffee, but there are no good coffee shops around? OK, you walk into the local supermarket, and see bags of Lavazza Espresso Italiano Classico. But is it good?

Here’s what I think.

It’s OK. Obviously, it is not the most flavorful espresso on the market. But what can you expect? It’s a mass produced blend that is sold in regular grocery stores. It also costs less than half of the price of better Italian espressos.

Lavazza does not provide much information on Espresso Italiano Classico. They only tell us that it is

  • a straight Arabica blend
  • roasted ”light”
  • aromatic and velvety.

They also say that the intensity is 5/10—whatever that means.

Since we are talking about a ”classic” Italian espresso blend, I just had to try making it in my Bialetti Moka pot.

Initially, it felt very smooth and pleasant in the mouth. Then, after two of three seconds, I was hit by the ”intensity”. It was somewhat acidic, and it had this piercing vibe to it which made me think of Illy espressos. But then, after another three seconds or so, it calmed down considerably. The finish was extremely well-rounded and mild—perhaps you could call it ”velvety”—, almost to the point where I couldn’t really detect the flavors anymore.

So yes, Espresso Italiano Classico seems to do exactly what Lavazza suggests. It is a decent Italian style espresso for anyone on a budget. I probably will not buy it anymore, but I do think that it is good enough for the price.

E’s World Coffee ”Four . . . .”—The Perfect Morning Blend

This is my fourth blend from E’s World Coffee (Anchorage, AK). Coincidentally, it is also called Four . . . . On the company website, the product is described as follows:

Crafted for it’s floral aromas. This blend is a superb mix of Central and South American coffees roasted at a full city roast. It boasts, a complex range of flavors (black tea, dried fruit, brown sugar, hazelnut and milk chocolate). While having a medium overall body and delightful tastes with every sip.

The blend is roasted ”Blackish”. This is the lightest roast offered by the company. In my opinion, it is quite similar in darkness to many good Italian espresso blends. For a compact explanation of ”full city roast”, check out this article.

Since this coffee was created for the pour over/filter category, I did what I usually do: I used my AeroPress (several different recipes).

The mouthfeel was very similar to the one in the darker Three Head: extremely smooth and milky.

As for the flavors, I couldn’t have articulated it better; everything E’s World promised was there. Just like their other blends, Four . . . . provided (sorry for repeating myself!) a wonderful mélange of flavors. This time, however, the point was not to distiguish individual flavors from the whole profile. Instead, the blend was all about… well, the blend, or the collaboration of the flavors.

In my opinion, Four . . . . is the perfect morning coffee. It is moderately complex, yet simple enough to work well in those early hours when your palate has not woken up yet. It is a delicious midrange-forward mixture that will not force you to think too much. It is medium robust, yet mild enough not to punch you in the face. It provides everything I want in my morning cup. Truly excellent!

Now, show some love to E’s World Coffee and order some of their fantastic blends! You will be happy you did!

Lastly, I want to offer my gratitude to the master roaster Earnest Rawlins and his good wife for giving me the opportunity to taste these great coffees. Thank you!

E’s World Coffee ”Three Head”—solid American coffee… and more!

Oh, this is great: Another generous package from E’s World Coffee (Anchorage, Alaska)! This time, the award winning master roaster Earnest Rawlings and his wife sent me two of their lighter roasted coffees. As some of you may remember, I absolutely loved the previous two blends I got from them. One Grouphead and Two Group easily made my list of Top 10 Coffees of 2020. Naturally, I was pretty excited to receive some of their other products. Thank you so much!

So, here’s the first one: Three Head. On their website, E’s World describe this coffee as follows:

A blend of Central American coffee crafted to delight the taste buds. The flavors of cocoa and roasted almonds, hazelnut and brown sugar with medium body, rich flavor and smooth follow through. This #3, was blended for manual brewing, auto drip, French press, pour overs and Cold brew. It absolutely shines using the auto drip method. Enjoyed to be brewed as a good rounded, cup of coffee. (No milk or sugar necessary) 😉

Briefly, this is exactly what you get.

I should also mention that the blend is categorized ”Black”. As I’ve mentioned earlier, E’s World Coffee products come in four degrees of roast: ”Blackish”, ”Black”, ”Blacker”, and ”Blackest”. So, Three Head is the second lightest roast offered by the company. Even so, it is quite dark indeed.

Since I don’t really use the auto-drip machine, I tried brewing the coffee in my AeroPress. Here’s what I found out:

Yes, the body was medium. The mouthfeel was very smooth and milky.

What about the flavor? Initially, I thought that Three Head is just solid black coffee in the American style. While it was very enjoyable, it felt a lot like a straightforward all day blend—not unlike some products by Seattle’s Best Coffee or Starbucks (without the ”Starbucks note”, of course). After a couple of cups, however, I started to realize how complex it actually was. Three Head offered a wonderful mélange of flavors: roasted almonds, nuts, some cocoa, and perhaps a hint of bitter chocolate—talk about ”Central American” flavors! There might have been a tiny hint on vanilla and baking spices as well.

In this way, Three Head was a lot like some medium to dark roasted filter coffees made by my favorite Japanese coffee companies. It actually reminded me of Blend 3 Original by Ogawa Coffee (小川珈琲). (Both blends are numbered ”three”!) If you ask me, Three Head might be a big hit among Japanese lovers of solid black coffee.

I loved every single cup!

Now, hurry up to the E’s World Coffee website and order some Three Head! You will be sure to feel their love for excellent coffee!

My top 10 coffees of 2020

In 2020, I got to enjoy at least 73 different coffee blends or single origin coffees from 12 different countries and 33 companies. Now it’s time to wrap up the year by listing the very best products!

While I had the opportunity to try all kinds of coffees, all of the products that made my top 10 list were unflavored high-end coffees. That said, I included one flavored coffee and one grocery store blend into the ”Honorable Mentions” category.

Like last year, the products were so different from each other that it wouldn’t have been fair to compare them with each other. Therefore, instead of ranking the coffees, I organized them into three categories according to the approximate roast level (dark, medium, and light). Of course, the darkness of a roast is a subjective matter. It is also probably not the best way to categorize coffee products. Obviously, there are so many other factors that affect the flavors. However, I wasn’t able to come up with a better way to list the coffees. So, in each of the three categories, I presented the coffees in alphabetical order according to the company name. The resulting list can be thought of as a pool of excellent coffees. You can pick any product you want and end up enjoying a truly memorable experience.

I used two different brewing methods. Espresso coffees were brewed in my three cup Bialetti Moka pot. On the other hand, the coffees that were intended for other brewing methods I prepared in my AeroPress, with my favorite inverted method and a paper filter. I used no additives.

So, here we go. My top 10 coffees of 2020:

Dark roast:

Medium roast:

Light roast:

You could not go wrong with any of these coffees. Unfortunately, some of these products might already be out of stock. If that is the case, you could check out any product from these great roasteries. They really know what they do.

Lastly, there were three blends that did not make the top 10 list but still deserve to be mentioned.

Honorable mentions:

  • Hamwi Café Classic—the best flavored coffee (cardamom) (United Arab Emirates)
  • Loumidis Papagalos (ΛΟΥΜΙΔΗΣ ΠΑΠΑΓΑΛΟΣ)—the best Greek grocery store coffee (Greece)
  • Paulig Presidentti Gold Label—the best Finnish grocery store coffee (Finland)

Special thanks to everyone at Cafetoria Roastery, E’s World Coffee, Kahwe, Mokafina, Muki, and Rob Beans Coffee for making this possible!

Now it’s time for me to take a small break and enjoy some great blends I recently received from the USA. I’ll be back in early January to tell you about them!

Happy New Year!