Review: Cultivar Coffee Guatemala Diamante (Dallas, Texas)

Ahhh, Cultivar. Over the past couple of years (since I’ve started this blog), I’ve gotten to know quite a few Dallas-Fort Worth area roasters, and Cultivar is consistently one of my very favorites. I don’t drink coffee from them as often as you’d think, since I’m constantly buying coffee from various places around the country (and world!), but they have yet to disappoint. In fact, the very first bag I had from this roaster landed in my Best of 2015 list for its gorgeous plum, chocolate, and spicy sweetness, and the next bag was very memorable as well for its notes of nectarine and creme brulee. I couldn’t wait to crack open this bag of their Guatemala Diamante!

Whole bean: Fresh and clean aroma. Pear, sweet chocolate, cashew.

V60: At an extraction time of 2:20, the coffee had a pleasant, powdery finish. Chocolaty flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

AeroPress. Marzipan. This was awesome!! I enjoyed this as a concentrate – no need to dilute this with water. If I had more of this coffee, I think it would be worth exploring pulling it as a single-origin espresso. Perhaps next time…

Chemex: Bit tangy of a result – I had a hard time pinpointing specific flavors, but it was definitely brighter in the cup than any other method.

French press: This made a really rich, oily cup of coffee, but it didn’t taste “dark” or over-roasted. In fact, compared to the V60 and AeroPress cups, I felt it was a bit lacking in flavor.

Summary: I like Guatemalan coffee for its sweet, nutty characteristics, and getting a cup that tasted like marzipan was pretty freaking delicious. Definitely try this brewed in an AeroPress! It was also very nice, if a little less distinctive, brewed in the V60.

From the roaster: Pear, hazelnut, chocolate

Cultivar Coffee Guatemala Diamante

Review conducted 6 days post-roast.

Review: West Oak Coffee Milk and Honey Blend (Denton, Texas)

Every time I visit Denton, Texas, I marvel at how much it’s changed since I was doing graduate work at the University of North Texas in the early 2000s. Denton has always had a counterculture vibe, with people taking pride in their differences and individuality, but the city has grown in the last 15 years and I am now finding all sorts of cool little eateries, record shops, boutiques, and coffee bars that weren’t here back when I was a student. Makes me a bit jealous, to be honest!

West Oak Coffee Bar is located in the Square (downtown Denton), which is also home to the fantastic Recycled Books and Records (I’ve spent many a pretty penny here — their classical vinyl selection is AMAZING) and Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream (Gah, I’m getting nostalgic). West Oak is one of the only places I know of in Texas that has Intelligentsia coffee on rotation, and I’ve purchased several bags of their Black Cat Classic here (all very fresh). On my most recent trip, they were featuring several different origins of their own house-roasted coffee. I opted to go with this Milk and Honey Blend due to its freshness (and really, doesn’t milk + honey sound good?).

Whole bean: Sweet chocolate and blueberry aroma.

V60: Rich mouthfeel to this medium-bodied coffee. There is a chocolatier a few miles from me called Sublime Chocolate that sells a dark chocolate bar with dried blueberries. This coffee tasted just like that. What a wonderful flavor to this brew!!

AeroPress: Buttery, semi-sweet chocolate notes. This was really delicious as a concentrate – no need to add additional water.

Chemex: This coffee had a mild, smooth flavor like milk chocolate. There was just a hint of berry brightness to it that was interesting but not obvious. Tasty and approachable. I feel like this particular method would be how I would brew this for a crowd.

French press: This had a bit of a chalky mouthfeel. The overall flavor was of semi-sweet chocolate but the overall flavor profile was unbalanced and a bit harsh. Not recommended this way.

Summary: I would absolutely recommend this coffee to anyone that might be looking to dip their toe into the waters of craft coffee but isn’t sure where to start. Blends often are more approachable than single origins, and this coffee is no exception. It has a lovely chocolaty flavor to it with just enough berry/fruit flavor to pique your interest and keep you wanting to drink more, without verging into sour/off-putting flavors for the uninitiated. My personal favorite brew method for this was in the Hario V60, because it brought out the berry flavor the most, but it’s also quite good in an AeroPress and Chemex.

For added feedback, I took multiple batches of this coffee to share with colleagues at a multi-week gig. I think I brought in this coffee (brewed in a Chemex) three times during that run, and of the coffees I brought for them to taste, this one seemed to win the most hearts. Granted, since the other option was pre-ground Folgers, I think my friends were already inclined to like whatever I provided, but this really did seem to be the most crowd-pleasing of the beans!

From the roaster: Buttery, honey, velvety, balanced

West Oak Coffee Milk and Honey Blend 

Review conducted 7 days post-roast.

P. S. – I stole the photo of the coffee bag from the West Oak website. I usually take photos of the bags myself, but I must have thrown my bag away before I had a chance to take the photo – these beans went FAST. Which, really, is a good thing!

P. S. #2 – In looking at the West Oak website, I realized that this is their espresso blend!! I never got a chance to try this as an espresso because the beans disappeared so quickly, but if I have a chance to get my hands on more, I’ll do so and update this review later. Just goes to show though that you don’t need to limit yourself to just brewing espresso beans as espresso… they can be good in multiple methods.

Review: George Howell Coffee Nicaragua Las Colinas (Boston, Massachusetts)

This was the second bag I recently picked up from Astro Coffee in Detroit (the first being the Andytown Colombia). I had never heard of George Howell Coffee before, but I liked the packaging and the beans were very fresh, so I decided to take a chance.

Once I finished my tasting and I started writing up this review, I realized that I must have been living under a rock, because George Howell is no stranger to the specialty coffee world. It’s worth reading his full story on the roaster’s website, but suffice to say, you don’t get a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Specialty Coffee Association of America just for making cortados. Hats off to you, sir.

Whole bean: Cherry, black tea, bright and refreshing, with a buttery aroma once ground.

French press: Smells like roses and tastes like black tea. Ultra smooth, but kind of hollow in flavor. This doesn’t really taste like coffee at all! This has a thicker texture to it than tea but if I was blindfolded, I might be fooled. Just out of curiosity, I added a splash of milk, but this ended up bringing out different flavors than I was expecting – the milk made the coffee taste more juicy, with notes of lemon and butter.

Chemex: The rose scent and flavor were more on the forefront with this brewing method. Complex, sweet, layered cup.

AeroPress: This had a lovely light, reddish-brown caramel color to it. Much lighter in color than a typical cup of coffee – I think the last time I saw a cup this color might have been the Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Panama La Milagrosa Geisha. Rich mouthfeel but unlike the OCCR Geisha, it wasn’t super flavorful, even as a concentrate.

V60: This was the best method for these beans, in my opinion. Rose, amaretto, chocolate. Smooth and sweet. This cup was a definite winner!

Summary: Lovely floral notes abound in this coffee. This is quite a light roast and may be strange for people that are used to their coffee tasting “like coffee,” but I really enjoyed it, particularly brewed in the Hario V60 due to the rich flavors and balanced nature of the cup.

From the roaster: Passionfruit, chocolate, black tea

George Howell Coffee Nicaragua Las Colinas

Review conducted at 7 days post-roast.