When I started actively trying to learn more about third-wave coffee (around 2014-2015), I had the internet, but I didn’t really have anyone specific to ask for advice regarding what origins or roasters I should try. I did a lot of browsing on sites like CoffeeGeek and HomeBarista to educate myself, not only on coffee beans, but on brew methods and techniques as well. However, it was exhausting and overwhelming sifting through so much information, and in hindsight, having some help guiding my purchases would have saved me a lot of time (and money).
Crema.co, which was founded in 2015, would have been perfect for me at that point in my coffee journey. If you already enjoy coffee but are also wanting to dive deeper into it, to be able to better pinpoint what you like and don’t like about certain roast levels and origins, Crema is for you. I learned my preferences the hard way, by buying whole bags of coffee (and sometimes ending up with bags that weren’t to my taste). Had I known there was a company that could help me narrow down the seemingly endless choices of coffees out there, I would have tried it in a heartbeat!
Crema.co is a subscription service, but in order to learn your coffee preferences, they offer a free sampler pack of beans. Each pack includes three different roasters, and each coffee is either a light, medium, or dark roast. After trying the coffees, you rate the coffees you received, and based on the information you send them, Crema will recommend coffees that they think you will love.
Each bag was clearly marked with the name of the roaster, the name of the blend, tasting notes, and roast level. This quantity of beans was enough for me to make two typical cups of coffee, so I opted to try each of these varieties in a Chemex and a French press, so we could taste them both in a pourover and an immersion method.
First up, the light roast: Camber Coffee Big Joy Blend
Whole bean: These beans had a candy-like sweetness to the aroma, with no visible oil on the surface of the beans. Definitely a light roast, through and through.
Chemex: Brewed this way, the coffee smelled like sugar syrup, black tea, and red grapes. It has a lovely balanced flavor to it. Definitely a coffee for people that enjoy fruity sweetness.
French press: Wow, this was a much more complex and layered cup in terms of flavor. Juicy, mouthwatering cup of coffee that had notes of wine to it.
Next up, the medium roast: Upper Left Roasters Peru Andino Blend
Whole bean: These didn’t look significantly darker than the Camber’s light roast, but they definitely smelled like a different coffee universe, much more like what I’m used to in medium roasts. These beans had a decadently sweet aroma akin to chocolate and Milky Way candy bars.
Chemex: Yup, candy bars all around. Nougat, milk chocolate, sweet sugary finish. This is a crowd-pleaser for sure!
French press: Rich body and creamy mouthfeel. Less sweet than the Chemex cup, and it had a hint of plum on the finish that added some complexity to the chocolaty sweetness of the coffee.
Last up, the dark roast: Dapper and Wise Tortoiseshell Blend
Whole bean: These beans are noticeably darker in color than the other two bags, and they have just the barest sheen of oil on the surface. They smell darkly roasted – I’m not getting notes of fruit or chocolate at this point, all I can smell is the roast level.
Chemex: Toasty, toffee-like flavor without the sugary sweetness.
French press: Smooth, toasty, rich flavor of “coffee.” Assertive but not burnt-tasting.
I liked the variety of selections that Crema chose to send me; it was truly a wide range of flavor from the light roast to the dark roast, and if I was new to specialty coffee, it would be a great starting point for me to narrow down my preferences. When you browse Crema’s coffee selections, they feature a button called “add to playlist,” and that’s exactly how this feels – Crema is like that DJ or music nerd friend who goes, “oh, you like X? You gotta check out Y, they’re gonna blow your mind!”
Part of the reason that I agreed to do this review of this sample pack is that the list of roasters that Crema works with is astonishingly good – these people pair with quality roasters and they’re committed to curating the best possible coffee experience for their customers. If you’re interested in learning more about craft coffee and want someone to guide you along the journey, so that you don’t waste time and money on beans that are not to your liking, give Crema a try!
- Free sample pack to dial in your tastes
- Coffee is roasted to order
- Sold in whole bean form, with some roasters offering pre-ground options
- Free shipping on subscription orders
- Subscriptions can be paused and altered in frequency whenever you wish
- “Buy Now” option also available for those who don’t want to commit to a subscription (with free shipping as well)
- All coffee roasters featured on Crema’s site are committed to ethical practices in their coffee sourcing, and their coffee farmers are paid at or above Fair Trade level prices
- Coffee subscriptions available for home or for work
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.