Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mugged: Jamaica Blue Mountain [Marley Coffee]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Marley Coffee
Coffee Mugged:
Jamaica Blue Mountain

Rating: 3+
[see key]

hough I can't say I know a lot about Bob Marley, I definitely did not peg him as a potential coffee farmer. Yet apparently, to carry on his dream, his son Rohan runs the coffee company Marley Coffee. While I'd never really heard of it prior, when the folks at offered to send me a pound or two to review, I felt the coffee sounded like something worth checking out.

The first of two coffees I sampled was their Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Always an expensive coffee due attention it garnered for little bitterness and smoothness (much of it goes to Japan), I was curious to give it a jab, as Jamaican Blues can be either decent or amazing (and rarely worth the big price tag).

Upon first interaction, the coffee had little aroma and seemed overall to be a little old. To test Marley's medium roast JBM, I sampled it via drip and french press (my siphon was out of commission).

The drip produced a coffee with notes of honey, baked pear, butter, granola, little grass, little soft pretzel and a little sunflower seed. Though the coffee did not prove as fresh as I would have hoped, it proved to be a good, mellow coffee.

The french press reaped granola, honey, little more of a tart pear, butter, tad darker in flavor, and a bit of vanilla and milk. This brew was a little heavier.

As it might seem obvious, I think had I ordered the coffee straight from Marley Coffee versus going through, I might have had fresher coffee. Thus, if you're looking for a fair Jamaican Blue Mountain, try Marley Coffee.

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

CC: Albina Press

What's does "CC" mean?

Albina Press
Location visited: Portland, OR
[Albina location]
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

Of my list of coffeehouses to visit, Albina Press of Portland has sat on there for a long time. I remember reading blog posts (like this) extolling the place for great use of Stumptown coffee and serving as a strong icon of Portland coffee.

Finally I made my visit a few months passed and I hit the cafe at a nice lull where there was no booming crowds. The cafe sits on a corner in North Portland surrounded by an open, residential atmosphere where one wouldn't mind having a home. Within, the Albina is quite large, with several sections throughout, all with nice wood floors and lots of light.

As for my coffee, I purchased a french press of Stumptown's Guatemala Finca El Injerto and an espresso of Hairbender. The Guatemalan produced a coffee brimming with honey, wheat grass, apple juice, black tea and a smidgen of rose (a deliciously smooth coffee). The espresso, pulled short with nice crema, held notes of lemon, strong tea, tobacco, caramel, raspberry, cocoa and sassafras (a well-extracted and tasty espresso). The tea was Yohalem-Ilsley Medicinal Teas and Stumptown.

Yet another cafe I would love to be in the neighborhood of. If in Portland, swing by Albina Press.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Product Review: Xpress


Company: Smartcup
3+ (translates to "good")

uite often I think of how to make travel with coffee easier. At one time, I remember packing a small suitcase of coffee paraphernalia for long trips, using many devices not designed for life on the road. But over the years, I've consolidated down my travel kit to a plastic conical pourover, filters and a portable grinder. And even though I'm not really in want, I'm always on my the lookout for a better kit.

Recently, I caught notice of the Xpress by Smartcup, a single-use french press that utilizes a normal disposable lid with a tulip-like filter that sits poised, ready to be pushed down by the accompanying, golf tee-like plunger. Following the easy directions (I did not add cream or sugar) that were very similar in method to a normal french press, I tried out the Xpress a couple of times and below I bare my thoughts.

The pro was that the filter worked pretty well, even when I removed the lid and poured the coffee into another cup (more on that below). The design allowed it to catch the majority of the grinds, leaving only a few to be caught in sipping.

The cons were double. The first was the overall design flaw that the grinds were stuck in the bottom, doomed to over-infuse your coffee. The second was that by the time the coffee was at the 3 minute mark, it was still too hot to safely drink; it took an additional couple minutes to be at a drinkable temperature and by then, the coffee was over-infused.

The only solution to the two cons was to pour the coffee into another cup at the 3 minute plunge time (to do so, I simply plunged as instructed, but then removed the lid, reinserted the plunger and carefully poured the hot coffee while keeping pressure on the plunger). While it was a little extra work, the Xpress did a good job in transfer.

Thus, I would have rated the Xpress lower had it not proved worthwhile as a disposable french press (i.e. as an all-in-one coffee brewer and cup, I do not recommend it). If you're looking for a portable means of infusing coffee only, give the Xpress a go.

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

Saturday, February 05, 2011

CC: Neptune Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Neptune Coffee
Location visited: Seattle, WA
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

Usually when I use the word neptune in a conversation, it relates to SpongeBob (make poses with me!), astronomy or reruns of Hercules. But now, I gladly add Neptune Coffee to that repertoire.

Yet another glorious example of Seattle coffee, Neptune exists on Greenwood in the company of many other coffee companies (quite the quality coffee consuming community). Their cafe contrasts with its black exterior and red name emblazoned like a newspaper masthead. As you mosey on closer, their large windows give preface to their soothing interior, complete with globe lights and a long row of tables.

When it came to my order, I obtained a french press (their infusion of choice) of Allie's Extreme Laser Blend and an espresso of their El Salvador. The french press lent flavors of molasses, pecan, maple syrup, a little grapefruit and grass as well as a tinge of smokiness (a good coffee, displaying a pleasant sweetness with a touch of darkness). The espresso, pulled short with good crema, held notes of hazelnut, dark cocoa, raspberry jam, corn and a little spearmint (a well-balanced shot that proved delicious). The tea is free leaf.

Clearly the folks at Neptune rule amicably over their coffee and purvey it well. Definitely make a stop if you're in detour range.