It’s that time again! I had fun recalling the last 12 months of coffee adventures, though I realized that my coffee consumption was down from this time last year. In 2015, I was generally aiming to write two bean reviews a week, but I found that schedule to be unsustainable; in 2016, I was pretty lucky to get one review a week done, not counting the periods of hiatus I took for travel and tea. Still, I count myself fortunate to have had some incredible coffees this past year, and here are my personal favorite selections from 2016.
Favorite espresso: James Coffee Company Night Owl Espresso Blend
This particular coffee was an unexpected surprise that I encountered on my travels to San Diego, and the flavor of the Americano that I had in that Lexus car dealership (of all places!!) will never leave me. Even though I couldn’t quite recreate that flavor at home, I got pretty close, and this espresso is an exceptionally delicious one both straight and in milk. I was impressed enough with James’ coffee that I went the extra mile and bought one of their T-shirts (which is rare for me)!
Favorite coffee: BeanFruit Coffee Co. Kenya Nyeri Chinga Peaberry
Unlike last year, I chose not to categorize my coffee selections into “everyday” and “splurge.” It just didn’t seem necessary to make that distinction this year. This probably made it even harder to choose a favorite, and I waffled quite a bit between my top two on my list, but ultimately BeanFruit’s coffee won out. BeanFruit was a new discovery for me this year, and I was pretty unprepared for the explosions of pleasure that hit my mouth on the first sip of their coffee, and I was REALLY unprepared for the fact that it just kept getting better and better. This is a roaster to watch, people.
Favorite coffee drink that I didn’t make myself: Flight Coffee flat white, made with their Ethiopia Gutiti single-origin espresso
A new category this year. I basically created this category solely to be able to talk about this particular flat white I had in New Zealand. This is terribly unfair to visitors of this blog, as 99.9% of you don’t live in New Zealand and will probably not have the joy of visiting Flight Coffee’s “hangar” (cafe) in Wellington to experience this drink, but it was a revelation. I love Ethiopian coffee (both washed and natural-process), but I don’t tend to make it as espresso because 1) I find it too intense and bright to consume straight, and 2) it’s often fruity (particularly the berry sweetness of the natural-process Ethiopians), and I thought that fruit + milk would taste weird. Well, I have been proven wrong. If I remember correctly, this particular coffee bean’s notes were purple grape, passionfruit, and Christmas cake, and I was astounded at just how good it was with the few ounces of milk of the flat white. It was sweet, lively but not off-putting, and incredibly interesting to the palate. I don’t know what Christmas cake is, but I definitely tasted a fruity flavor like raspberries mixed with the addicting aroma and taste of vanilla and butter cake. What an enchanting cup. I can still taste it. I talk about this flat white a bit more in my review of Flight Coffee’s Kenya Rutuma (with pictures).
These are the coffee beans (that I brewed myself) that gave me the most pleasure in 2016.
Full top ten list, 2016 (in reverse order):
10. The Missing Bean Unbirthday Blend (AeroPress)
9. Tweed Foxtrot Blend (V60)
8. Evocation Micro-Coffee Roasters Peru Cajamarca (french press)
7. Madcap Ecuador Pepe Azul (french press)
6. Batdorf and Bronson Dancing Goats Blend (espresso)
5. Roseline Kenya Othaya (AeroPress, Chemex)
4. James Coffee Company Night Owl Espresso Blend (espresso)
3. BeanFruit Ethiopia Sidama Guji (Chemex)
2. Roseline Coffee Ethiopia Gera (french press)
1. BeanFruit Kenya Nyeri Chinga Peaberry (AeroPress)