Review: Rook Coffee Roasters Costa Rica (Ocean, New Jersey)

I heard about Rook thanks to a tip from my friend Max. Founded in 2010, this relative newcomer to the specialty coffee world has gotten attention from sources ranging from The New York Times and PBS to BuzzFeed and Maxim. In addition to brewing their freshly roasted coffee in eight cafe locations and selling their beans online, Rook also operates a successful bottled cold-brew business, with both traditional and New Orleans style brews available.

Rook offers free shipping on their beans, which was a definite perk (the cost of shipping can really add up, especially if you order beans as often as I do!). What I wasn’t expecting was for the free shipping to be USPS Priority Mail. Very fast! I received the beans just two days after they were roasted. Excellent service.

I chose Rook’s Costa Rican beans because after my last experience with Costa Rican beans where I was a sobbing, emotional mess, I wanted to see if all Costa Rican beans affected me like that.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t cry this time. Phew!

Whole beans: The scent, especially when ground, was a whole lot of bing cherry. There was also a plasticky aroma to the beans that bothered me a little but I hoped it wouldn’t come across in the cup.

V60: Ooof. The whiff I got after brewing was a pretty strong plastic smell. Honestly, I was turned off but I made myself drink it. The coffee had a little bit of a bite on the aftertaste, like white pepper. Medium body with moderately low sweetness. I really wasn’t liking this much. At this point, I drank a little bit of seltzer water to cleanse my palate and I tried it again. This time, the coffee tasted a little creamier and sweeter but it was still not really a favorite. (For the record, I had not eaten anything prior to this tasting – I always eat breakfast after tastings, so I know the pepper I tasted was not due to food).

AeroPress: Big change. This brew was very smooth and pleasant to drink, even undiluted. I tasted marshmallows. I kind of wished there were some other flavors present to complement it, but it tasted good as it was.

Chemex: Overall, I felt like something was missing. The brew didn’t feel like it had much personality and it tasted hollow. You know how when you meet new people, that sometimes you just “click” with them and you feel at home right away, and sometimes it’s just awkward and uncomfortable, even after multiple meetings? If this coffee and I were having a conversation, it would have sounded like this:

Me: “Hi! It’s nice to meet you! My name is Margaret.”

Coffee: (mutters) “Hey.”

Me: “How is your day going?”

Coffee: (grunts, looks off into the distance)

Me: (trying to think of something to say that will establish some sort of common ground or connection) 
“Your wristwatch is pretty cool…”

Coffee: (stone-faced)

Agh! Get me out of here!!!

French press: Richest body of the four brews. It wasn’t unpleasant but it didn’t particularly win me over, either. One-dimensional and kind of dull, but inoffensive.

Summary: Man, I had a hard time getting to know this coffee. I am grateful that this one didn’t make me burst into tears, but this tasting made for a pretty awkward morning. I did actually like it in the AeroPress brewed as a concentrate, but I just felt like it had nothing to say to me brewed any other way. Maybe Costa Rican coffee and I are not meant to be BFFs.

From the roaster: Ripe cherry. Mild tangerine. Honey.

Rook Coffee Roasters Costa Rica

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.