Review: Chromatic Coffee Voyager Blend (San Jose, California)

Most of the time, when I buy coffee, I buy coffee that I haven’t tried before, so that I have stuff to write about for this blog. However, every now and then I’ll buy an old favorite, just to have an opportunity to simply enjoy the coffee without over-analyzing it. It’s sort of like when I choose to watch a movie I’ve already seen before – I enjoy the familiarity. Coffee is a seasonal crop, so there’s no guarantee that a particular varietal or blend will be the same from year to year, but especially in the case of espresso blends, I find that roasters tend to try and keep things pretty consistent. So, I was happy to order an old favorite, Chromatic Coffee’s Gamut Espresso Blend. I threw in a bag of this Voyager Blend while I was at it though, just to see what else they had to offer!

Whole bean: Chocolate malt.

V60: Smooth and pleasant. At a 2:45 extraction, I got a lot of chocolate flavor in the cup.

AeroPress: Completely different. Very light body in the cup with NO chocolate flavor whatsoever. Green apple? Bit tart like lemonade. Not bad, but not at all what I was expecting.

Chemex: This tasted just like Kit Kat bars! Chocolate with a touch of vanilla. Sweet and fun, to have these throwback flavors.

French press: This tasted like a chocolate malt shake, or Whoppers candy.

Summary: Chocolate and malt bomb, as long as you don’t use an AeroPress. I liked it best in the Chemex, but it also made fabulous cups for chocolate lovers in the French press and V60.

From the roaster: Cosmic, luminous, dense

This coffee is currently not available on Chromatic’s website. Here’s a link to their online store: Chromatic Coffee Online Store



Review: Redroaster Coffee Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aricha (Brighton, England)

I had the great luck and pleasure of being able to spend just over a week traveling in southern England earlier this year. One of my destinations on this trip was the seaside city of Brighton, and the weather really was idyllic during my visit: sunny, breezy, and comfortable. My sunglasses got a lot of use — not something I expected to happen in England!

There were several coffee shops that popped up on my radar to check out, but I was limited on time, so I chose to visit the Red Roaster Coffee House because of the good reputation of their beans, and it happened to be a short walk from the B&B where I was staying. Upon walking in, I felt immediately comfortable – it was an airy, spacious shop, with lovely round tables and antique looking coffee decor lining the walls (including some vintage equipment). I ordered a Colombian coffee made as a pourover, and it was delicious – a nice slightly minty, chocolaty bite prevailed in this brew. My only quibble was that they served the coffee to me in a glass (like the kind of glass that I would get at a pub). It looked attractive, but the coffee cooled down much more quickly when served in a glass vs. when served in a mug/thick ceramic. By the time I got to the end of my cup, it was quite cold.

I opted to get these Ethiopian beans as they were the freshest they had available. There actually was an issue with the stamped roast date; it was stamped as roasted on August 22, but according to the baristas, it was actually roasted on September 1. I opted to trust the baristas on this even though I was a bit nervous about this. I ended up doing the tasting on September 16, so I hope they were correct! The coffee seemed decently fresh, so I am inclined to trust them.

Whole bean: almond, amaretto, licorice, peach

V60: Bitter at the forefront – too long of a brew (at 3:20)? When I tasted it again 5 min later, the coffee had smoothed out some but it was still quite a punch to the face. Assertive. Thick. No fruit flavor; mostly tasted of black licorice.

AeroPress: DARK hot chocolate. So sweet and smooth! Shocking, especially compared to the V60 cup! Peach on finish.

Chemex: Caramel on the front. Amaretto on the finish.

French: I just wrote “complex” in my notes with no other details. I’m gonna guess it was pretty confounding.

Summary: I have had a lot of Ethiopian coffee over the past few years, both natural- and wet-processed. This coffee was unlike any other Ethiopian coffee I’d had before, with its unexpected flavors of licorice and stone fruit combined with almond/amaretto. It was a nice reminder to not just assume all Ethiopian coffees will fit a narrow flavor profile (berry sweetness for natural-processed; floral/citrus for washed varieties).

From the roaster: No flavor notes provided by the roaster.

Redroaster Coffee doesn’t appear to sell their beans online, but you can find them at their cafe in Brighton, England, or contact them about wholesale orders through their website.

Review: Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Kossa Geshe (Dallas, Texas)

I bought this bag from a Central Market location on the spur of the moment, on the eve of having a friend over for a coffee cupping. I always like throwing in a natural-process Ethiopian into a coffee cupping for its pronounced berry sweetness, and this bag sure didn’t disappoint.

(When writing up this review, I realized that I had never snapped a photo of the bag, and it’s now long gone, so I opted to insert a photo that I took outside of a cafe in Oxford, England instead. I think it fits.)

Whole bean: Berry sweetness galore.

French press: Smooth, thick-bodied brew with a strawberry flavor. I was wishing for a bit more flavor to the final product; perhaps it could use longer than the standard 4 minute extraction?

Chemex: I accidentally had the grinder too fine and this particular batch took 4:45 to extract (way longer than the 4:00 I shoot for). However, the longer extraction time didn’t seem to hurt the coffee any, as it was full of raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla flavors. Delicious!

AeroPress: Intense, bright flavors as a concentrate – I couldn’t handle it and needed to dilute the brew a bit. Once I did, the coffee revealed a nice depth with light fruit flavors.

V60: This was a surprise. The coffee brewed this way was SUPER fragrant and vibrant. Sweet, almost candy-esque. It most reminded me of the strawberry dessert topping on McDonald’s strawberry sundaes. I could see this being overly sweet for some – it was just too sweet for me. Not a bad coffee, but I couldn’t see myself drinking this on a regular basis; I’d have to be in a particular mood for a coffee THIS sweet and fruity.

Summary: Strong, strawberry sweetness dominates in these beans. I think it was best brewed in a Chemex for the balance between fruit and vanilla flavors. However, if strawberry candy/syrup flavors are your thing, this coffee brewed in an V60 will blow your mind.

From the roaster: Passionfruit, orange, grape

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Kossa Geshe (natural process)