Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mugged: Traditional Roast [Gevalia]

Subject: Gevalia Kaffe 
Mugged: Traditional Roast
Rating: 4+ [see key]

While I am a strong advocate for roasters who go above and beyond to not only produce a fine product but also educate the masses on better coffee practices, I will concede that most folks do not seem interested in that yet. Sure, people are more and more treating their coffee like fine wine and craft beer, but most people still consider their big-name coffees something more akin to a brand of ketchup.

But to the credit of some coffee roasters who have long held a stigma of mediocre product in fancy packaging, there is a concerted effort to make better coffee available. Take Gevalia, a long-time producer of coffee from Sweden who is best known for their "buy our coffee online and we'll give you a free coffee maker" approach. While the old coffee-&-coffeepot method still rolls on, they seem to have additionally dove into the practice of selling their beans whole bean with more of an emphasis on quality.

Curious as to how this distantly roasted-&-packaged coffee held up under scrutiny, I accepted the offer to review a bag of their Traditional Roast whole bean. I brewed it in the usual three manners of drip, french press and siphon.

The drip sent out a cup brimming with notes of cocoa, sweet corn, sourpatch kids, tea with cream and rice pudding. The body was light, mellow and the overall flavors were tasty.

The french press held similar notes, with cocoa, honey, wheat, rice pudding, torte and cream amidst a medium body. Also a good cup though not as delicious as the first.

The siphon brewed a coffee with wheat, cocoa, corn chip, rice, cream and a hint of ginger. Also satisfying, though a bit too mellow in flavor potency.

To my chagrin, the only concerns I had about this coffee were that the flavors were a tad muted. But for a coffee coming from Gevalia, I was quite pleased (though since this one was sent right to me, I wonder if/how they manage to keep the coffee fresh with in-store bags). If you're in the market for a decent medium roast from a giant coffee roaster, give Gevali'a's Traditional Roast a try.

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

CC: Alaska Coffee Roasting Co.

Location: Fairbanks, AK
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key] 

When the sun does not shine for a good part of the winter, I would imagine that your morning cup of coffee would hold an even greater significance. Hence, it would make sense that Alaskans would be terribly picky about the quality of their brews, not wanting to settle for a coffee that can only offer sparkles of taste instead of an inferno of flavor. 
Thus I had heard that in the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks there lay a coffee roaster that made a quality cup of coffee. This roaster was aptly titled the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. I pulled into the strip mall housing the cafe and roastery one dreary morning, happy to walk in and find a cafe with warm wood and Alaskan-esque art creating a warm ambiance around a sea of wood seating. 
I ordered for myself a drip of their Ethiopian Harrar and an espresso of their Milan San Reno. The drip resounded with notes of fuji apple, buttered bisquit, walnut and a palatable sweetness; a hearty and pleasantly-piquant coffee. The espresso, pulled to a medium volume with a dark marbled crema, held notes of jalapeno, bittersweet cocoa, nutmeg, parsley and a little cream. The shots were tasty, though slightly unbalanced (a little too much spicy and bitter notes). The tea is free leaf. 
To put it mildly, I thought the ACRC did a pretty good job in delivering a splendid coffee experience. If you happen to be in Fairbanks, stop in at the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mugged: Costa Rica [Rev Coffee]

Mugged: Costa Rica Tarrazu Dota
Rating: 4+ [see key]

Georgia is another state that I have designs to see in the coming decade. At this point, I've only spent time in Atlanta but there's a lot more I'm fixing to do. Of course, one of those things of course is to visit some coffee venues; one of the said venues would be Rev Coffee Roasters in Smyrna. 

But in the interim, they sent me out a pound of coffee of their Costa Rica Tarrazu Dota to try. Per the regiment, I happily had it via drip, siphon and french press.

The drip produced notes of white zinfandel, honey, cornbread, basil, a bit of fig and some minor hay in a medium body. A sweet cup with a bit of sharpness.

The french press held flavors of honey, white zinfandel, bran, wheat cracker and some spinach. A bright cup with some minor sharp qualities.

The siphon demonstrated white zinfandel, honey, wheat, spinach, corn, bran and a little apple amidst a medium body. This was the smoothest of the three infusions. 

While I found this coffee a little sharp in some infusions and teensy bit underwhelming, it did indeed prove delicious and a nice coffee for a mellow afternoon. If you're in the market for a good Costa Rican, give Rev Coffee a swirl.

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

Monday, March 05, 2012

CC: Flying Squirrel

Location: Talkeetna, AK
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key] 

I find great joy in finding and exploring new places, especially if that new place holds some serious character. Places like the Bay Area (San Fran) and Bozeman, MT with their unique magic set my heart ablaze and my mind into hyperdrive.

But of all of the places I've been in the States, one the most interesting has to be Talkeetna, Alaska. Built as a railroad hub (the town only in the past decade got a paved road leading to it from the highway), the town has served as a place for fishermen and mountain climbers to set up a base of operations since the early 1900s. Much of the beautifully quaint town is historic and also offers grand places to eat such as the Talkeetna Roadhouse (there I had the most amazing breakfast) and the West Rib Cafe and Pub.

To complete any gem of a town, one needs a good coffeehouse. Sadly, there was no place trumpeted by locals or coffee geeks, but upon some further research, it seemed that the Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe right outside town was my best bet for a good cup. Serving K-Bay Coffee from Homer, a coffee I had yet to sample, I had my fingers crossed that it would be worth my time. I made my way over, pulling off the the access road into their unpaved parking lot and beheld the log cabin that is the cafe. Inside, there's a massive kitchen as well as a healthy seating area full of random tables, a vaulted ceiling, paper lanterns and warm colors. 

I ordered an espresso of their espresso blend (I failed to get a name) and a drip infusion of a blend mixed of a K-Bay coffee and a Silverhook coffee (also no specific name that I found). The drip produced a cup with a heavy body, dotted with notes of minestrone, romaine, tea biscuit, clove and vanilla. The brew was a bit too dark and a tad stale, but overall it was tasty. 

The espresso, pulled short/medium with a brownish crema, held flavors of bitter cocoa, fig bar, ginger, basil and a bit of lemon on the back end. Also a fairly palatable extraction, but not too stellar. It should also be noted that they sell alcohol and have a gorgeous ever-changing menu.

While the town of Talkeetna blew me away with its character, I found the Flying Squirrel to be less impressive in regards to their coffee and espresso (the food I had was top notch). All that seems needed for stellar would be just a little more attention to detail with the espresso and maybe a different coffee (on the lighter side) for the drip. Nonetheless, still glide into Flying Squirrel if you're passing through for a decent cup.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mugged: El Salvador [Kifu Coffee]

Mugged: El Salvador Santa Rita Natural
Rating: 4+ [see key]

How a coffee is processed after harvest has a huge impact on what you end up drinking. Yes, this statement is obvious and elementary to most people reading this, but it seems a lot of people still remain oblivious to it. Yet for the still small recognition it gets, it really exemplifies the huge role that the farmers play in making great coffee. Stellar beans come from back-breaking work and lots of thorough processing.

One of the older methods of processing coffee that today has flared up in popularity is the dry process, which allows the cherry to dry on the bean, resulting in the bean absorbing much more of the fruit then in other methods like the wet fermentation or machine-assisted wet processing. Recently I was able to try out one of Kifu Coffee's dry processed coffees, this one from El Salvador, a coffee reputed to have lots of apple. I sampled it via drip, siphon and french press.

The drip produced a cup with grapefruit, nutmeg, corn on the cob, shredded wheat, a little hickory and some earthiness amidst a medium body. A bright and smooth coffee that proved fairly delicious. 

The french press held less brightness, with less flavor of grapefruit but still similar tastes of corn on the cob, nutmeg, shredded wheat, powdered sugar and hickory amidst a medium body. This cup proved also delicious though not as wonderful as the drip. 

The siphon proved in the middle of the other two infusions, with a bright flavor more resembling a tea of rose petals, although corn and grapefruit still appeared in addition to sugar, nutmeg and a little smokiness within a medium body. Overall good. 

Kifu's El Salvador proved to be a spiffy dry processed coffee, though I never really found the brightness to be like an apple (more tart then most apples I've had). Aside from some minor over-piquant notes and some light smokiness (it didn't seem to fit), I would heartily recommend this coffee.

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