Review: Commonwealth Ontology Espresso (Denver, Colorado)

Along with Houndstooth Coffee, Oak Lawn Coffee is one of my go-to places in Dallas for picking up high-quality, FRESH coffee beans. It’s a pity I live so far from both of these shops (30-40 minutes on a good day!). Thankfully, I was in the area for work and was able to pick up this bag from Commonwealth along with a bag of Tweed Foxtrot blend (review forthcoming).

Side note: The barista offered me a free drip coffee with the purchase of my beans, and even though it was 6:30 pm, I said yes. I mean, it’s free coffee! I got a to-go cup of their drip, and walked out of the shop. Before I even got to my car, I took a sip of the drip and turned around and walked right back into the shop, because I was delighted with the flavor in the cup (“What IS this??? This is DELICIOUS!!”). It was the Commonwealth Colombia Narino Carlos Munoz, and it was like creamy milk chocolate and tangerine and sweet fruit notes. So delicious… I hope they have it the next time I’m in the shop because this warrants further tasting.

Whole bean: Creamy, vaguely fruity aroma. Not much to talk about, actually… I have experienced beans that give off a lot more aroma than this, but I have also found that how coffee beans smell don’t necessarily equate to how they taste.

Espresso: I pulled these shots between 5-7 days post roast. Initially, I was unnerved by how light the streams were from my portafilter, because I was thinking the espresso was reaching its blonding point rather quickly! However, I soon realized that this espresso roast is a bit lighter than what I’m used to (especially after those Third Coast beans I pulled recently), so the lighter stream color was completely normal. This blend is a mix of the Colombia Carlos Munoz and an Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere, and in the cup, you can REALLY taste what the Ethiopian beans bring to the table. At 201 F, there was an intoxicating berry scent to the espresso and it was full of blackberry and chocolate flavor. Not bad at all! I usually go for more straight chocolate/caramel/toffee notes in espresso, but found the blackberry in this one very interesting. When I pulled shots at higher temperatures, the blackberry note disappeared, and I found that I really missed it. Back to 201 F then!

Favorite parameters for this blend: 18 g in, normale shot @ 25 seconds, 201 degrees F.

With milk: I’m off dairy for a little while, so I made Shutterbug my guinea pig on this. Based on a hunch I had, I opted to make him a honey latte instead of a plain one, because the combination of honey and blackberries is to die for (especially served on top of Greek yogurt). This was a hit!

AeroPress: I was underwhelmed by this coffee in an AeroPress. Straight out of the brewer, the coffee had a great mouthfeel, but it was a little unbalanced tasting – it had some chocolate and blueberry flavor but it also tasted like the stems from a blueberry plant. I added just a touch of water and while it made the coffee smoother, it also made it blander. The lack of balance and complexity was disappointing. Stick to pulling this as true espresso.

Summary: Nice espresso blend that definitely leans toward the fruitier side in flavor. Try it with honey in a latte – it is delicious!

From the roaster: Jasmine, plum, caramel, baker’s chocolate

Commonwealth Ontology Espresso

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