Monday, October 28, 2013

Mugged: Washed Yirgacheffe [Bird Rock]

Subject: Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
Coffee Mugged: Washed Yirgacheffe
Rating [see key]: 6+

Of all the coffee roasters in the nation, few exist in a climate as pleasant as Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Gorgeous San Diego is one of the few places in the nation that I made it to long ago, prior to Bird Rock's inception in fact, and for years I've watched and yearned for the beautiful weather and delicious coffee of SoCal.

Recently I was blessed with getting Bird Rock's coffee sent east to my coffee station. The beans were their Washed Yirgacheffee, sourced from the Kochere region of Ethiopia (currently a highly-praised geography). I sampled the beans via pourover, french press and siphon.

The pourover trumpeted out emphatic notes of chocolate, sweet honeydew, Twix, fresh corn, a bit of wheat cracker and tickle of lettuce within a light/medium body.

The french press sang a similar tune, with flavors of rich chocolate chip cookie, caramel, corn on the cob, wheat and a bit of blackberry all in a smooth, luscious infusion.

The siphon finished out strong, showing up with chocolate, caramel, blueberry, lemon cake and touch of fig in a voluptuous body.

This was a tremendous coffee with really rich sweet notes and a pleasant brightneess all held up solidly throughout. And to top it off, this is a coffee that one could sip while watching a Padre's game, as Bird Rock is one of the few quality operations to actually have a presence in a MLB stadium. All in all, whether you're in lovely San Diego or to the far east, give Bird Rock a go.

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

Thrillist Coffee Roaster Ranking

Check out this Thrillist Coffee Roaster ranking of 11 top US roasters as voted upon by "super-serious coffee nerds." It looks like it was a pretty solid consensus and I was happy to be a part of the nerds contributing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mugged: Unsweetened Tea [Herbal Mist]

Subject: Herbal Mist Teas
Tea Mugged: Unsweetened Tea
Rating [see key]: 4+

Unsweetened iced tea often suffers a poor reputation. For many, the idea draws an image of bland black tea usually needing the sweetening of a lemon or sugar packet; something folks get at a diner when they don't want a soda and they seek something a little more sassy than water. And sadly that same dull iced tea is probably the exact same concoction one would get at the diner down the street.

Such is the wide road of coffee and tea, slandered with poor representation by the many facets of the food industry. Despite the work that many coffeehouses and tea shops employ in helping folks understand how a quality, whole leaf tea fresh brewed and then iced makes for such a better tea than other more common options, it seems the world has a long way to go in practice and philosophy.

Thus, one can only imagine the popular opinion of prepackaged unsweetened ice tea. Most of the time, it's impossible to find outside of specialty shops or large markets, as I've been too many a gas station where I was unwilling to try the coffee and an exhaustive search of their fridges yielded no unsweetened options. Alas, for the few prepackaged unsweetened iced teas that exist, they don't seem to attract a whole lot of buzz.

This all brings us to Herbal Mist's Unsweetened Iced Tea, made with yerba mate. Recently they sent me out a few bottles to try out and having had varying experiences with yerba mate, I was curious how it would all play out as a prepackaged brewed tea. After chilling, I consumed the bottles over the course of two weeks (there were only three bottles, so it was spaced appx one every four days). The flavor was nothing cosmically different from your standard bottled iced tea; notes of cola, green spinach, some light apple with a smooth profile. The tea proved none too bitter (as strong bitterness can be a problem with yerba mate) and while it was not as vibrant and multifaceted as a freshly brewed iced tea, it was still a pleasant and flavorful iced tea.

Therefore, if you seek an unsweetened iced tea on-the-go and you're fortunate enough to have options, grab an Herbal Mist Unsweetened Tea.  

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

CC: Jersey Java

Subject: Jersey Java and Tea
Location: Haddonfield, NJ
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Haddonfield contains tons of rich history, ranging from it's gorgeous colonial architecture to the discovery of the first almost complete dinosaur in 1858. And with the manner in which New Jersey constantly seems to wreck and redevelop, the town has fortunately maintained a picturesque stratigraphy of the past few centuries.

In regards to coffee history, for as long as I can remember, the town has always had a local coffee spot on Haddon Avenue, just outside the main street. In elder days it was called 3 Bean, but for the past five years it has been known as Jersey Java and Tea. The building itself is a gorgeous single-level establishment with a fantastic patio, huge bay windows and a cute fireplace, but Jersey Java has also made excellent use of the space, equipping it with a fancy array of furniture and color.

The coffee comes from Square One Coffee out of Lancaster, a roaster becoming more common in the regional coffeehouses. In my most recent trip, I ordered an espresso (I believe it was a custom blend) and a drip of Burundi Teka. The espresso, pulled short with a light brown crema, distributed notes of ginger, beef bullion, birch beer, a little sage and some pipe tobacco, proving to be hearty, bright and a touch sour; overall not a bad pull. The drip blasted out blueberry, caramel, slight minestrone and nutmeg amidst a medium body, proving to be a lusciously rich and juicy coffee. 

Jersey Java has certainly been a coffeehouse growing in forward progression, having developed greatly in quality through the past five years. As one of the only good coffee spots of the southern portion of NJ, definitely make a stop in when you're in the area.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Mugged: Crosshatch and Colombia [Path Coffee Roasters]

Subject: Path Coffee Roasters
Coffees Mugged and Rating [see key]:
- Crosshatch 5+ (1st batch), 4+ (2nd batch, from 2014 update)
- Finca Potosi, Colombia 4+

*Updated 1/30/14* (below original post)

Once a land full of mediocre coffee productions, the land north of New York City is now really beginning to blossom not only with good coffeehouses, but with good coffee roasters. One new entity to the area is Path Coffee Roasters, located in Port Chester, NY along the sea near the Connecticut border. Working what looks like some great coffee, they offered to send me some to take for a spin, which I did via my pourover, french press and siphon.

The first up was from a farm in Colombia called Finca Potosi. The pourover produced notes of cherry cola, corn on the cob, a little curry, fried green beans, pears and a little toffee; an overall smooth and tasty coffee. The french press came out a little fuller and heavier-bodied, smacking of merlot, collard greens, lemonade, beef bullion and poundcake. The siphon, more akin in flavor to the drip, delivered cherry cola, corn, cooked cabbage, some toffee and a little curry. All in all, a coffee with some noticeable deep spice, a slightly thick body and some rich sweet flavors.

Next up was their Crosshatch, a blend of South American and African coffees. The pourover rocketed in with sultry notes of chocolate, rice krispy treats, figs, little butter, portobello and nougat amid a perfect medium body. The french press continued with additional rich chocolate and also fig, pear skin, honey, romaine lettuce and slight cantaloupe. The siphon sealed the deal with chocolate, cracker, honey, dates, white wine and a little thyme. All together, the Crosshatch blend proved exceptionally rich and full of flavorful facets throughout.

Based on these two coffees, Path had me yearning to try out more of their coffees. If you happen to be looking for some coffee for home and/or work, or you hit a coffee joint slinging their coffee, check out the fine joe of Path Coffee Roasters.

Update 1/30/14
Path sent out another batch of their Crosshatch blend. While the coffee still held a lot of the same characteristics, it definitely sampled a bit heavier. Still existing were the great flavors of rich chocolate, pear, toffee and butter, albeit many of them more muted. Some of the new reoccurring notes were of malt and slight hints of pipe tobacco, making for a smokier profile, darker hue and more subtle a sweetness. While still good, this batch of Crosshatch lacked a bit of luster that the first batch had, and hence I would rate a 4+.

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