Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mugged: Kenya AA [John Hancock]

Subject: John Hancock Coffee
Coffee Mugged: Kenya AA, Roast Level 1
Rating [see key]: 4+

Roasting stands as one of the great final hurdles to a coffee. If roasted correctly, a good coffee will display its natural character with clarity and gumption; if roasted poorly, the flavors will be under-extracted or completely cloaked by burnt, bitter oils. Hence, like most things that take a lot of skills, most people leave all the details of roasting to the hands of skilled professionals.

But a few coffee roasters are letting the customers of all skill levels run the show. The only change to the game is that when someone orders a coffee, the purchaser chooses whether sir/madam wants their coffee roasted light, medium or dark. One coffee entity to champion this method is John Hancock Coffee, an online roaster that specializes in customization, both of coffee to come as light or as dark as you wish, but also in customization of some elements of packaging. To try it out, Hancock asked me to pick a coffee and a roast level, to which I picked their Kenya AA roasted light (Roast Level 1).

The coffee arrived in a white packaging, with the standard label (no need to customize packaging for me). The beans were their lightest roast, but definitely were closer to second crack in color/form. As far as infusing the beans, I sampled the coffee via pourover, french press and siphon. The pourover radiated notes of raspberry jam, light cheddar, blue corn, malt and oats in a medium body, coming off sweet and thick. The french press proved a bit lighter, with notes of oats, blue corn, some cocoa, wheat and light jam. The siphon also held notes of cocoa, blue corn, wheaty cereal and milk with a nice, creamy medium body. All in all, a flavorful coffee with a noticeable wheaty aftertaste.

Thus, while my Kenya was fairly delicious, I must say I don't know if I trust myself to regularly pick the roast level of a coffee I've never met prior. Much like I don't want to be in charge of telling a Michelin chef how to cook my scallops, I usually would rather skilled professionals take the burden of figuring out how to best roast my coffee (unless I'm roasting at home, which is another conversation). But for people who like to take the reigns and run the whole show, check out John Hancock Coffee.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.   

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