Review: Ceremony Coffee Roasters Destroyer Blend (Annapolis, Maryland)

If I wasn’t already a fan of Ceremony Coffee Roasters (I very much enjoyed their single-origin Guatemala Las Moritas!), the fun, nerdy, creative names for their coffee blends would have sealed the deal. Not all of their blends are available on their website at any given time, but so far I’ve seen blends called Mass Appeal, Synthesis, Thesis, and Antithesis, in addition to this one that I picked up called Destroyer. The bag lists it as intended for espresso OR medium coffee so I was curious how it would fare at home in both applications.

Sadly, once I got home, I discovered that my espresso machine was not working properly, so until I have a chance to troubleshoot and get things working again, I won’t be able to pull espresso shots at home. So, this review will be solely devoted to this blend tasted as coffee. Too bad, because I think it would have made some excellent doubleshots. 🙁 (Crossing fingers that I’ll have a chance to add an addendum to this post in the future!)

Whole bean: Simple, fresh, satisfying scent.

French press: This was a very balanced and delicious cup. I tasted vanilla and sugar sweetness for sure.

Chemex: Mouthwatering aroma and flavor of caramel. Lovely, lovely cup… delicate and sweet.

AeroPress: This was really tasty taken straight (still so sad I couldn’t taste this as true espresso!). Full of nutty, caramel flavor.

V60: This was less sweet than the other methods but still good. However, it suffered in comparison as it seemed less balanced and a bit bitter and edgy.

Summary: Blends are great for people that like sweet, balanced coffees that aren’t too dominated by any one flavor profile, and I think this is one of the best blends I’ve tasted in a long time. Particularly good if you like caramel! I hope to revisit this review someday to add in my thoughts when it’s pulled as espresso shots.

The Destroyer Blend is not currently on Ceremony’s website, but here’s a link to their online store:
Ceremony Coffee Roasters Online Store (Blends)

Review conducted 15-18 days post-roast.

Review: Two Guns Beach Blend (Manhattan Beach, California)

I picked up this bag from the Two Guns Espresso location in Manhattan Beach at the same time that I got a bag of the Two Guns Espresso Blend. Both of these bags are roasted by Dillanos Coffee Roasters in Washington. I don’t think it’s possible to buy Two Guns-branded beans online, but you can pick them up at their 3 locations around Southern California.

This bag, labeled Beach, states that the coffee is a certified fair-trade light roast from Guatemala, washed process. I can’t tell if it’s a single-origin or a blend, but I figure it is at least from multiple farms since most coffee companies would give further details if it was a single-origin coffee.

Whole bean: cocoa aroma with notes of juicy citrus.

V60: Very strong flavors of lemon pith and dark chocolate. I found this cup, brewed at a 3:05 extraction, to be acerbic and brash.

AeroPress: Much better! Smooth chocolate flavor with a hint of rose.

Chemex: Less harsh flavor than the V60 but still not my favorite brewing method for this coffee. It was on the quite bitter side of bittersweet chocolate.

French press: This was the smoothest cup with the most depth of flavor. Milk chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of orange all mingled to create a really sweet, delicious brew.

Summary: Definitely, DEFINITELY brew this coffee in an immersion method – AeroPress is good but French press is preferred. This blend (?) comes out rather harsh in a pourover method.

From the roaster: Light citrus aroma, cocoa and dried mango

You can purchase this coffee from Two Guns locations. For more info on the roaster, check out Dillanos Coffee Roasters.

Review conducted 14 days post-roast.

Review: Ceremony Coffee Roasters Guatemala Las Moritas (Annapolis, Maryland)

I have a Word document on my computer that’s just a list of coffee roasters that I want to check out when I have the time/money/opportunity. Ceremony Coffee Roasters has been on that list for probably about a year, and I am sure I would have gotten around to ordering online from them eventually, but I happily had the opportunity to pick up some of their beans while in Maryland earlier this autumn. In the About Us section of their website, they proclaim, “We strive to deliver the cup of coffee that changes someone’s life.” How can you not respect that kind of passion and zeal?

I suspect there is no intended connection between this roaster and the song “Ceremony” by Joy Division, but I’m making one in my head. Talk about life-changing!!

I took this photo at the Harbor Point location of Ceremony Coffee Roasters, and I actually got to taste a pourover of the Guatemala Las Moritas while in the shop (I don’t typically get to drink the same coffee that I buy beans of, for various reasons). I got slightly different results at home, which I go into more detail about in the V60 section.

Whole bean: I wrote in my notes: “heaven.” Rich, sweet, creamy and chocolaty aroma that had just a hint of cherry.

V60: Nice powdery finish to this cup. Chocolate and citrus flavors dominated, but it was overall a pretty subtle cup flavor-wise. The pourover cup I had of this coffee at the Harbor Point location in Baltimore was slightly less flavorful than what I brewed at home. Perhaps I brewed with a longer extraction time at home versus what I got at the coffee shop.

AeroPress: This tastes good brewed as a concentrate – nice and sweet and flavorful. When I added some water to the cup, the coffee became quite bland and disappointing, so I don’t recommend diluting the brew.

Chemex: Clean flavors. Enjoyable. Less personality than the Hario V60 cup.

French press: Sweet and tangy with strong notes of peaches.

Summary: This is a coffee that has two very different personalities depending on the brewing method. I like them all but your preferences may vary!

Pourover (Hario V60, Chemex): Results in a more traditional, darker-tasting coffee with a smoother finish.
Immersion (AeroPress, French press): Go for this if you enjoy the flavor complexity of light-roasted coffee.

This coffee is not currently available on the Ceremony website, but here is a link to the single-origin coffees on their online store:
Ceremony Coffee Roasters Online Store (Single-Origins)

Review conducted 9-11 days post-roast.

Review: Two Guns Espresso Blend (Manhattan Beach, California)

Credit goes to the Yelp app for helping me find the Two Guns Espresso cafe in Manhattan Beach! This coffee shop is located just minutes from LAX airport, and when I read that it is a shop founded by two New Zealanders, I hightailed it over to the shop as fast as I could. I fell in love with New Zealand on my trip to the North Island back in 2016, and the espresso culture there is truly world-class. I wish I had had the opportunity to sample more espresso than I did while I was there, but I was very taken with the coffee I had from Flight Coffee, both with the drinks I had in their “hangar” (cafe) and with the beans I brought home. Kiwis know their espresso, that’s for sure.

Two Guns has three locations sprinkled around the Los Angeles area. I was immediately charmed by their Manhattan Beach location – it was bright and modern with an eclectic vibe. I was particularly pleased that the espresso cups and saucers are this lovely shade of slate blue/grey… don’t know why I love this color so much, but it made me really happy to see something a little different than the standard white!

The espresso I had in the shop was chocolaty with a nice lively edge to it that definitely perked me up after my three-hour flight. I brought a bag home and had fun dialing the blend in for my grinder and machine.

Whole bean: The beans were a bit oily and smelled like Peet’s Major Dickason blend. It’s a bit darker of a roast than I’m used to but appropriate knowing it came from Washington.

Espresso: I liked this espresso pulled best as a normale shot. It took me a handful of shots to get the beans dialed in well; some shots came out rather harsh, one tasted like nail polish (!), but when it was good, it was pretty good – nice smoothness and a good amount of crema.

Favorite parameters: 17 grams in, 33 grams out, 200 degrees F, 29 second pour.

With milk: I don’t have any notes in my notebook about this espresso with milk, so I must not have made Shutterbug a drink with it. Oops! However, I can only imagine it’s really good with milk, as it’s the espresso used for the flat whites and such in the shops. There were a couple of shots I had during the tasting that I thought were harsh on their own but I think would stand up quite well with milk.

AeroPress: As a concentrate, this was strong and spicy. It was tasty just on its own but I preferred it with just a touch of additional water added as I felt it tasted more balanced. The coffee gives you a push out the door, instead of a punch in the face.

Summary: For straight espresso drinkers, I found this blend to be a bit finicky to get just right in the brewing, but when done right, it’s chocolaty and smooth. It’s a good “workhorse” espresso if your tastes run toward milk drinks.

From the roaster: Dark chocolate, candied pecan, hint of dried fruit

Two Guns’ beans are roasted by Dillanos Coffee Roasters (Sumner, Washington). As far as I can tell from poking around both companies’ sites, there’s no way to purchase the Two Guns Espresso Blend online, but you can get them at Two Guns’ shop locations.

Two Guns Espresso (home page)

Review conducted 18 days post-roast.