Review: Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters Barking Dog Espresso Blend (Dallas, Texas)

Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters is a Dallas-area roaster that’s been on my radar for a while (since before the first Dallas Coffee Day in 2015), but I somehow had not gotten around to reviewing their beans until now. My local Whole Foods had fresh bags of this Barking Dog Espresso Blend in stock and the description sounded right up my alley for an espresso.

Whole bean: sweet chocolate aroma. Smells like a candy bar.

Espresso: I made six shots with this bag before settling on what I think was my optimum shot (which, oddly enough, was the first shot I pulled!). This espresso seems designed for normale shots; I tried it as a ristretto and all I wrote in my notes was “BLECHHH.” I’m going to guess I didn’t like that. But at a 1:2 espresso:water ratio, the shots largely came out smooth and sweet. This espresso seems to smooth out as it sits.

Favorite parameters: 16 grams in (though honestly it seemed a bit skimpy for a double basket… but it tasted better vs. when I put in more grounds), 39 grams out, 200 degrees F, 30 second shot.

With milk: Forgot to have my faithful latte tester Shutterbug try this out, but as the shots were nice and chocolaty and sweet, I can’t see how this could possibly be anything but tasty with steamed milk.

AeroPress: The concentrate was quite strong – dark chocolate flavor abounded. Once I added a bit of water, it became quite smooth but bland. So, don’t add extra water!

Summary: This espresso does live up to its packaging! It’s a good no-nonsense espresso that would serve as a nice base for building milk drinks.

From the roaster: Chocolate, caramel, sweet, mellow finish

Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters Barking Dog Espresso Blend

Review conducted 11-12 days post-roast.

Review: Weekend Coffee Roasters Mexico Organic Altura Finca San Carlos (San Jose, California)

I was recently contacted by the nice people at Weekend Coffee Company, based out of Northern California. I like that they’re a family-owned company, and they received the “Editors Choice” award in the 2017 Metro “Best of Silicon Valley” issue. At this time, they’re an online-only business (they don’t operate a storefront/brick-and-mortar coffee shop), but they do have limited hours available for customer pickup if you’re in the Bay Area.

Their normal practice is to ship beans within two days of roasting and they do make note of the roasting dates on the bag. Comforting to know that they take freshness seriously, as should anyone who is passionate about their coffee! They have a good selection of blends and single-origins on their website.

(Side note: Is anyone else reminded of the band Weezer when you look at the font that Weekend Coffee Roasters is using? Maybe it’s a subtle way of saying “our coffee rocks”…!)

Whole bean: Smelt from the bag, I detected the scent of vanilla wafer cookies. Ground, the beans smelled like plum and almonds.

French press: Extremely smooth cup, almost to the point of dullness (not in flavor, but in acidity). Murky. Slightly grassy aroma.

Chemex: Really clean flavor and body to this cup that had a hint of gingerbread. It had a bit of what most people would interpret as “bitterness” on the finish but it smoothed out as it cooled, revealing more flavors like almond and amaretto. Would be quite nice with cream added.

AeroPress: Thick and robust brew that tasted of dark chocolate and almonds. I didn’t add any additional water than what was used for brewing.

V60: I made this at a 3:25 extraction and it produced a smoother cup than the Chemex, with a classic “coffee” aroma and flavor.

Summary: I haven’t had much experience with Mexican coffee but this is a surprisingly layered one if you choose to brew in a Chemex. I’m a black coffee drinker and my tastes run to the complex side so if you are like me, I’d say try this in a Chemex. If you like “simpler” black coffee, it’s really good in the AeroPress and Hario V60. Like most coffees I’ve had from Mexico, it’s a crowd pleasing brew that would also suit for people that add cream and sugar to their coffee. I’d personally not brew this in a French press as I think the other methods showed off the flavor of these beans better.

From the roaster: White grape, chocolate, cinnamon

Weekend Coffee Roasters Certified Organic Mexico Altura Finca San Carlos

Review conducted 7 days post-roast.

Disclaimer: I received this product gratis in exchange for a fair and honest review. Even though I received this for free, I treat and test it the same way as if I had paid for it out of my own pocket.

Review: Conscious Coffees Organic Sanitas Decaf (Boulder, Colorado)

Decaf coffee is something I rarely seek out, but this bag happened to catch my eye during a recent trip to Denver. I was at Pigtrain Coffee at Denver’s Union Station and this was the freshest coffee there so it was a no-brainer, even though I usually think “what’s the point” about decaf… but I know I have at least a few readers that would appreciate more decaf tastings! This one’s for you guys.

Whole bean: Sesame, red bean. This was unexpected!

French press: This had a rather reddish hue in the cup. It tasted strongly of chocolate truffles… thick and one-dimensional in flavor but quite a pleasant dimension!

Chemex: Not bad, but it doesn’t taste like much… I had a hard time dialing in the grind for this bag and I brewed this batch for a whopping 5:40 (instead of my usual 4:00!) but even then, the coffee was on the bland side. Points for being forgiving though?

AeroPress: Fudgy, decadent, and sweet.

V60: Bland and a bit sharp on the finish. Not my favorite.

Summary: After I finished the tasting and looked closely at the tasting notes, I was shocked as nothing I smelled or tasted in the cup had anything to do with buttercream or caramel or citrus, but I did enjoy the depth of chocolate flavor in the immersion methods. I liked this decaf in a french press and in the AeroPress and it would be a good one to try, preferably complimented by a nice chocolate dessert of some sort!

From the roaster: Buttercream, caramel, light citrus

Conscious Coffees Organic Sanitas Decaf

Review conducted 10 days post-roast.

Review: Avoca Coffee Roasters Misty Valley (Fort Worth, Texas)

A recent trip to Denton gave me time to visit Shift Coffee, which has featured interesting roasters in the past like Kuma and Chocolate Fish. This particular visit, they were featuring bags from local Fort Worth roaster Avoca, so I opted for Misty Valley, which is a blend of two Ethiopian coffees (Yirgacheffe and Gedio). The only other time I’ve seen an Ethiopian blend was when I reviewed Tweed’s Staycation Blend (which I rather liked) so I was curious how this would fare.

Whole bean: Creamy, raspberry, sweet like candy. Reminded me a lot of strawberry Starburst!

French press: No fruit flavor in this cup. Quite thick; almost dark roast in character.

Chemex: Cocoa was the dominant flavor here but it was delicate and smooth, with just a hint of brightness on the finish.

AeroPress: The sweet flavor of chocolate plus raspberries.

V60: Rather harsh – I accidentally brewed this at a slightly higher temperature than normal (205 degrees F; I normally brew at 200 degrees F) because I wasn’t paying attention to my kettle. Mind that you don’t heat your water to this level.

Summary: The aroma of the whole beans promised more fruit flavor than I actually got in the cup, so I was a tad bit disappointed to not get a berry bomb, but this is a good coffee for people that enjoy a nice balanced profile to their Ethiopian coffee. It is heavy on the cocoa flavor. Try it in a Chemex (for cocoa flavor) or in an AeroPress (for chocolate-covered raspberries).

From the roaster: Floral aroma with blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and cocoa flavors; balanced with a pleasant acidity and creamy mouthfeel.

Avoca Coffee Roasters Misty Valley

Review conducted 7-9 days post-roast.

Thoughts on Ride’s “Pulsar”

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about Ride’s new single “Pulsar” since its surprise release last week. 

(Via Google) 

pul·sar <ˈpəlˌsär/>

noun: ASTRONOMY

a celestial object, thought to be a rapidly rotating neutron star, that emits regular pulses of radio waves and other electromagnetic radiation at rates of up to one thousand pulses per second.

Much like pulsars send out waves of radiation into the universe, musicians emit waves of sound into their surrounding atmosphere. There is little guarantee that their music will be heard, and of those that do hear it, there is no guarantee anyone will comprehend it, much like the people who first encountered pulsars didn’t quite realize what they were seeing. 

These days, music can live far beyond the lifespan of its creators and reach a much larger audience thanks to things like sheet music and audio/video recording, but there is something undeniably special and lucky about being alive at the exact right time and place to experience music coming into existence, much like the luck of being in the exact right situation to witness celestial events. Even if your gaze is trained in the right direction, if your mind is not open to new experiences, you may miss out on the magic being born right before your eyes. The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival. Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps in Paris (and the riot that followed). Beethoven’s 9th. 

Ride has straddled the line for me between popular music and art music for some time. Simplicity is deceptively difficult, and these guys are masters at crafting a pop song that feels natural and inevitable, like it has always existed (Twisterella, Cali, Vapour Trail). But, it’s the complexity and the unexpected twists and turns of tracks like Seagull, Nowhere, Drive Blind, and more recently, Weather Diaries and Integration Tape that are what really intrigue me about this band. I wasn’t aware at first that the band had attended art school, and it was only relatively recently that I learned more about the depth and breadth of their artistic and musical knowledge. But even as a kid, I could sense that there was something different in this music that attracted me, something I responded to before I could even articulate what it was. I may not have fully understood what I was witnessing in the musical landscape back in the 1990s, but I certainly haven’t taken my eyes and ears off it since. 

My first listen of “Pulsar” was, sadly, on my iPhone speaker – I was too impatient to wait the six hours or so until I was home from work. I liked the track, but didn’t have any real thoughts about it other than “what a gorgeous fuzzy racket!!” It wasn’t until I heard it turned up loud on better equipment that I grew to love the track, and reading drummer Laurence Colbert’s comments on his Facebook page about the inspiration for the song really gave me an appreciation for its complexity. 

Like an onion, “Pulsar” is multi-layered sonically and lyrically. I already interpret it in multiple ways, and I’m sure more ideas will reveal themselves in time as my perspective grows and changes, but what a wonderful metaphor this track is for the band. In a crowded field of stars, it’s easy to miss the glowing, vibrant energy of this group. You have to know where to look and be open to hearing something new. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the lucky ones to be living in the right time and space to witness the pulsar that is Ride, live. And while the finished product is a full band (+ Erol Alkan) effort, I think there’s something beautifully poetic about the fact that the genesis of this song came from Loz, the literal pulse and heartbeat of this group.

Transmission received, guys. And it’s a stunner. 

Ride – Pulsar (YouTube)