Review: Counter Culture Hologram Espresso (Durham, North Carolina)

I’m excited to check another roaster off of my coffee bucket list. Counter Culture is a major player in the specialty coffee world. Unlike Stumptown, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, etc., they do not seem to run their own cafes; they instead seem to focus their efforts on the roasting and on their training centers (sprinkled across the country). If you want a drink made with Counter Culture beans but don’t want to order the beans to make it yourself, you’ll have to find an independent coffee shop that brews it.

Hologram is their signature espresso blend, formerly known as Rustico. It touts itself as fruity, milk chocolate, and syrupy, and the blend of beans includes Peruvian and natural-processed Ethiopians so I expected a fair bit of blueberry flavor. The scent from the whole beans proved me right – strong blueberry notes.

Dialing in a new espresso bean on a grinder is always an adventure. I tried my first shots 6 days post roast. For the first two shots, my grind was too coarse, and the shots poured much too fast… but they were still decently drinkable, if rather fruity. It wasn’t until I started updosing the amount of grounds more and tightening the grind that the pour rate started looking better and I got a bit of tiger striping.

Best shot (this time around): 21 grams at 201 degrees F. At 200, the shot was very fruity, but as I raised the temperature, I got more bittersweet cocoa flavors and less blueberry. There was a slightly funky/earthy note to the end of the cup. This shot REALLY stood up well in milk – the cocoa and fruit flavors really cut through the drink.

Interesting note about water:

I typically use Nestle Pure Life, but I ran out between the first and second espresso tasting and I had to pick up a bottle of Ozarka. Now, if you’re wondering why I don’t just use tap water, it’s because our tap water is quite hard, and espresso machines are susceptible to a lot of damage from hard water scale. My particular machine does not lend itself well to descaling at home, so I am opting to use the softest water I can buy that still tastes good in the machine.

I’ve tested the water softness and pH of Nestle Pure Life, Ozarka, Crystal Geyser, and the Brita water we keep around for drinking. The Nestle Pure Life was my top choice because the water is at 3 grains hardness. Ozarka is at nearly 0 grains hardness, but having water that is too soft and low in minerals can actually taste worse in espresso.

Anyway, I pulled a shot of espresso on day 8 with the Ozarka in the boiler, same weight and temperature as the best shot from day 6. The pour rate looked right, the colors looked great… but then I tasted it. It tasted like cherry cough syrup. I couldn’t spit it out fast enough! What was pleasantly chocolaty and fruity two days back was this time full of artificial cherry flavor and a medicinal aftertaste. Yuck. I raised the temperature up to 203 in hopes of getting chocolate back in the shot, and it was a little better, but still undrinkable in my opinion. It’s possible that something else changed in the interim, but my guess is that our local version of Ozarka just isn’t going to cut it in my machine for flavor.

I next tried the beans in an AeroPress in the inverted method. It was fruity with a bit more depth than a single-origin natural Ethiopian, but I still got a predominantly blueberry flavor from these beans.

Summary: As an espresso, this is a little more fruit-forward than I prefer, but it was complex and interesting. Stands up really well in milk drinks! If you like natural-processed Ethiopian coffees, this will suit you perfectly brewed as coffee.

From the roaster: Fruity, milk chocolate, syrupy

Counter Culture Hologram Espresso

Review: Coffee del Rey Guatemala Huehuetenango (Plano, Texas)

Coffee del Rey is a VERY local roaster to me, located less than 10 miles from my house. It is a company that operates on a similar business model to TOMS. For every pound of coffee sold, they provide a pack of non-GMO heritage fruit/vegetable seeds in partnership with training from other organizations to start community gardens in developing countries, to help the people there grow their own food for consumption and as a way to support themselves.

I admire Coffee del Rey’s drive to make the world a better place, but honestly, the main reason I like buying from them is because I like their coffee! I have personally purchased probably about 15 pounds of coffee from this company so far. Most of that has been their Ethiopia Harrar, a natural-processed bean that smells like blueberries. I’ve also enjoyed their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (citrusy and floral) and their Bolivia Organic (butterscotch and toast). This Guatemala Huehuetenango is new to me.

Upon opening the bag, I sniffed the whole beans (3 days post roast), and they had a subtle scent like cherry and almond. Nothing overwhelming, but pleasant. Once I ground up the beans and started brewing, it was very clear that these beans were extremely fresh because they started degassing like crazy. I should have taken a video… the grounds bubbled up and moved violently up and down like lava. (IT’S ALIVE!!)

V60: This took me 3 tries to get the extraction rate right because my normal grind setting wouldn’t cut it for some reason. I had to go much finer than usual on my Baratza Virtuoso (usually 14, for this: 9). The eventual result smelled like liquefied rose petals with a bit of toffee on the finish as it cooled. Kind of shocking!

Aeropress: Oooh. This still smelled and tasted like roses, but there was a definite note of toasted marshmallow here. Very sweet. Rich and not bitter. I ended up drinking the whole cup!

Chemex: I took a deep breath of the aroma from the Chemex before I poured a cup, and it had a warm glow that for some reason reminded me of matches… the way that matches smell when they are lit? Not like smoke, exactly, just the glow. The taste was a bit bitter right off the bat, but I let it cool for about one minute and the bitterness dissipated. It was sweet, with a scent of graham crackers and toasted marshmallow. As I let it cool, there was bit of milk chocolate in the finish. I enjoyed it as is, but just for fun, I did put a little bit of chocolate syrup in the coffee (no milk). S’mores, intensified!!!

French press: Syrupy body but not that flavorful. Kind of sour. Perhaps I needed to steep it longer than 4 minutes, or change the grind size, but I wasn’t as impressed with this method.

Summary: The finer the grind, the more this coffee smells like roses. But in a relatively coarse method like a Chemex, you can get s’mores. Both the Aeropress and the Chemex made delicious cups but I probably would go for this in a Chemex most often.

Coffee del Rey typically roasts on Tuesdays, but they have also started roasting other days of the week as needed. If you have something specific you want to try, I would recommend contacting them so that you can buy it as freshly as possible. I enjoy trying new things though, so I usually just go in and ask what’s freshest that day.

From the roaster: This Guatemala has subtle nuanced flavors of a syrupy, carmelly cocoa with hints of tobacco and lemony citrus. The lingering finish is pleasant and light.

Coffee del Rey Guatemala Huehuetenango

Edited to add: After I published this review, I got a tip to try these beans as a single-origin espresso. CHOCOLATE BOMB!!! If you like chocolaty espressos (and I do), this makes a delicious shot.

Some general rules to follow to get GREAT coffee at home

Coffee is a daily ritual for many of us, myself included (obviously!). It might surprise some people to know that I typically don’t drink very much coffee each day; each morning I’ll have 8-12 oz of a brewed coffee or a double espresso if I’m pulling espresso shots. That’s about it. If I’m drinking such a small quantity, I want it to be GREAT. Life is too short for bad coffee!

For anyone that is a beginner at home coffee and would like to know some general rules to follow for maximum coffee quality, I present the following:

1) For optimum flavor, you must buy whole beans and grind them directly before brewing.

Coffee loses its best flavor and aromas within 15 minutes of grinding. Yes, that quickly! It’s certainly tempting to buy pre-ground coffee at the store, but the difference between pre-ground and freshly ground is astonishing. Do yourself a favor and get a grinder.

2) For optimum flavor, your coffee beans need to have a ROAST date (not a BEST BY date) within 15 days.

Go to the supermarket and look for a bag of whole bean coffee (that in itself is hard to do at some stores!). Look for a date on the bag. Most mass-market coffees will have a “best by” date of several months to a year out. These are lies. Coffee is food, and the clock starts ticking the moment it is roasted. I’ve seen roasters printed a “best by” date anywhere from two months to a year after the day it was roasted. Recently I spotted coffee that had a “best by” date of January 11, 2015 (this was in April 2015). This means that bag of coffee could have been up to 15 months old!!!

For most coffees, you’ll get the best flavor within the first two weeks after it’s been roasted, with a drop off in flavor in the third week. This still applies whether you keep the coffee in the original bag, move it into an airtight container, etc. NEVER keep coffee in the refrigerator. Freezing coffee is a controversial topic which I discuss more in depth here.

Let’s say that the grocery store is your only option and all the beans on the shelf are months old. Does this mean they won’t have any flavor? No. Grinding whole beans at home directly before brewing will still be much better than pre-ground bags, even if the whole beans are several months old. But for the best possible flavor, try and buy beans that are as fresh as possible.

Here in North Texas, I’ve had decent luck finding fresh (<2 week old) coffee at Whole Foods. I typically mail-order beans directly from roasters or visit local coffee shops to get beans, though.

3) Is your coffee bitter?  Make sure you aren’t using boiling water. Coffee likes water between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you use an automatic drip machine, this might be hard if not impossible to change, since the machine is preset. If you use a manual method, though (like a french press), don’t use your water from a rolling boil – let it cool for about 30 seconds before starting to brew.

4) Is your coffee too strong? Don’t be tempted to use a smaller quantity of grounds when brewing.

This will lead to bitter coffee because the grounds will get overextracted. Use the “right” amount of coffee (usually 2 tbsps per 6-8 oz of water) and add water at the end if you want to dilute it.

5) Keep your equipment clean.

Coffee has oils and oils go rancid. Does your coffeepot smell like fish? Wash that sucker.

You don’t have to spend a lot in order to get a great cup of coffee. A simple grinder, fresh beans, and a little attention to detail will yield a great start to your morning (or afternoon, or whenever you’re enjoying your java)!

Review: Cuvée Decaf Spicewood 71 (Spicewood, Texas)

Is there a decaf coffee out there worth drinking? My search has just begun, but I am pretty confident I’ve found one. I love being surprised by a coffee!

Cuvée Coffee is a craft coffee company based out of Spicewood, TX (also known as the home of Willie Nelson), about 40 minutes northwest of Austin. Their decaf appears to be a blend of Colombian beans. I couldn’t find information on how Cuvée decaffeinates these beans (water process? methyl chloride?).  The whole beans smelled to me like chocolate-covered cherry cordials and pistachios. Lots of pistachios.

French press: This was my first tasting of this coffee. It brewed up a bit pale in color with a red tint. Extremely smooth, but hollow tasting. Loved the texture of the coffee but it was missing a core to its flavor. At this point, I decided to add just a tiny pinch of salt to my cup (probably about 1/16 tsp of kosher salt to a 12 oz cup) and it really improved the coffee! I don’t make a habit of salting my coffee, but it makes sense that if a coffee is a bit bland, a little salt can bring out the flavors, just like it does with food. The addition brought out some of the acidity and the cup was much better balanced in flavor. Very nice if you’re looking for a rich cup.

V60: Deep, dark brown color – not really red. Gentle aroma. No real flavor to report. I added a pinch of salt to this too, but it didn’t really make a difference – I thought this cup was too thin and bland. Next!

Chemex: WOW. This surprised the heck out of me. This method knocked my socks off!! A lovely, bright acidity with some sweetness. It tasted like lemon meringue pie filling with toasted marshmallow. Considering how relatively flavorless the press and V60 were, I was floored at how flavorful this was. I couldn’t tell this was decaf.

AeroPress: This was a blend in flavors of sorts between the Chemex and french press. Nice balance of the rich depth and the bright notes, but for me there was not as much WOW factor as the Chemex. A very very pleasant cup to drink though.

Summary: Chemex makes this coffee into a rock star. It was also good (if more muted) in the AeroPress. If you make it in a french press, add a little salt. Don’t use a V60 unless you want no flavor.

From the roaster: Herbacious with hints of lemon. A cola-like body, and notes of tea as it cools.

Cuvée Coffee Decaf Spicewood 71

Review: Three Ships Nicaragua Los Cipreses de Loma Fria (Virginia Beach, Virginia)

I almost didn’t write up a review for this coffee, but I decided it would be a golden opportunity to try a little experiment with home roasting. If nothing else, I will have this bag of beans to thank for helping me dip my toe into the waters of roasting coffee beans at home!

I’ve reviewed Three Ships coffee before; I very much enjoyed their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (see that review here). When I spotted these beans, I decided that I wanted to give them a try since I have never had Nicaraguan coffee before and I wanted to try something new. I did notice that the beans were roasted two weeks prior and that made me a little uneasy, as I prefer to buy beans no more than a week old, but I figured it was worth a shot anyway.

The roaster’s tasting notes included Meyer lemon, honey, and creamy cashew. The Yirgacheffe I had from Three Ships pretty much punched me in the nose with berry aroma, so I was really surprised that I barely smelled ANYTHING upon opening this bag. The smell of the beans was really faint. I could understand that this Central American coffee was probably more delicate than a natural-processed African coffee, but it was worrisome that I couldn’t smell much. Once I ground the beans, I got a faint whiff of nuts, and for some reason, Now-And-Later candies. Again, though, it was very faint.

V60: This reminded me of the Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters El Salvador that had a flavor like black tea, but it was very bland with no inviting aroma to draw you in.

Aeropress: Smooth but bland. The best I could say was that it wasn’t offensive, but I was looking for these Meyer lemon/cashew/honey flavors (or really, ANY flavors) and I just wasn’t getting them at all.

Chemex: This tastes like campfire ash. I was taken back to camping trips with my Girl Scout troop, sitting around the campfire and breathing in smoke. That’s what this coffee tasted like. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like camping.

I didn’t even bother brewing this coffee in a french press at this point because I was so done with it. I was reluctant to review it though because I thought maybe I had gotten a stale bag and it wouldn’t be fair to say bad things about a bean that wasn’t fresh. My thought was that if I saw this bean again somewhere, but fresher, I might pick it up and try again.

Then, I talked with a friend who bought a Nicaraguan coffee that had strong chocolaty flavors. I was totally confused because there was NO chocolate present in the beans I bought. Granted, not all coffees from the same country will taste the same, and various processing methods will affect the flavor, but that got me wondering if adjusting the roast level would make me like the beans better at all. I’ve never roasted beans before, but I had heard and read about doing so in a cast-iron skillet, so I figured now was as good a time as any, since I would have gotten rid of the beans otherwise.

There are other webpages out there devoted to teaching people how to roast beans in a cast-iron skillet, so I won’t bother getting into the details. I didn’t even truly roast since these beans were already roasted; I just wanted to take them a little darker. I saved a small dish of the original beans to be able to compare them against the final product.


Here’s how they looked side by side after I was done. The beans on the left, the “before,” were quite dry in appearance. The beans on the right, the “after,” had a very slight sheen but were not what I could consider oily. The sheen could have been from the seasoning on my cast-iron skillet, though.


After I let the beans cool, I put them back into the original bag. They smelled a bit like tobacco, but once I ground them up the aroma was much more pleasing – I could smell spicy cocoa. Now we’re getting somewhere!!

V60: This smelled much better to me – it smelled like coffee instead of tea, and it said, “drink me!” The flavor wasn’t much to write about, but it wasn’t unpleasant – there were slight toasty cocoa flavors. I think the additional roasting probably erased any origin flavor characteristics and now I’m tasting a more generic “coffee” flavor, but in this case I am pleased for that, since I really didn’t care for the coffee as it was originally.

Aeropress: Still smooth but a little more lively than I expected. This could be very nice indeed with a bit of sugar.

Chemex: Acidic, with a bit of black pepper on the finish. Oddly, this smelled like Legos to me. What is it about this coffee in a Chemex that is bringing back childhood memories? Unlike camping, I enjoyed Legos, but I never really wanted to eat them.

French press: I can’t compare this to the original roast but my altered roast had a nice heavy mouthfeel, but a bit of a bite to the finish.

Summary: This particular bag was not to my taste, but roasting it a little deeper made it more enjoyable. I do not plan to do this sort of thing regularly, though!

For anyone at Three Ships that may come across this page: I hope you’ll forgive me for what I did to your beans. Next time I will be sure to buy a FRESH bag.

From the roaster: We taste Meyer lemon, honey, and creamy cashew.

Three Ships Coffee

Review: Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Amaro Gayo (Sacramento, California)

Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters is a roaster and coffee bar from Sacramento, California. As soon as I heard the name, I immediately knew this company was either founded by a Kiwi or by people that have a love affair with the country of New Zealand. Chocolate fish are a type of confection found in New Zealand – it’s a chocolate-covered marshmallow in the shape of a fish. They’re typically given to children as a reward for a job well done.

chocolate fish

A Google image search for “chocolate fish” will net MANY more photos of chocolate fish with their poor heads bitten off.

The beans I got were approximately 11 days post roast, picked up at a coffee shop in Denton. I try and buy coffee that was roasted within the past week, and consume it within three weeks of the roast date, but I made an exception for these beans since I was so curious to try them.

Upon opening the bag, the blueberry aroma was pretty strong, along with a sweetened cocoa powder scent. It was pretty much what I expected for a natural-processed Ethiopian bean. They smelled the same after grinding, but with a bit more of a breakfast cereal note – think Crunch Berries?

In all of these preparations, the bloom was fairly inactive, which showed that the beans were nearing the end of their freshness window. There was still degassing, but I know I’ll need to drink up my supply quickly. There was a rich reddish-brown color to this coffee (mostly in the Chemex, V60, and Aeropress; less so in the french press). I have found that regardless of prep method, natural-processed Ethiopian coffees have a slight plasticky taste when freshly brewed, but that flavor dissipates as the coffee cools a bit to reveal more flavors.

V60: Nice flavors of bittersweet cocoa and tart blueberry. Made my mouth pucker, but not unpleasantly. Nice balance of depth and brightness. Musically, I would liken this to a woodwind quintet.

Aeropress: Oily, heavier cup. A little lemony and fruity. Complex and strong; assertive all the way around. Tastes like the Stravinsky Octet.

Chemex: A very clean and light-bodied cup with less chocolate and much more berry flavor. This is a flute choir.

French press: Heaviest in texture of the four. Nice depth of flavor! More dark chocolate and less fruit in this cup. A little muddy tasting (to clarify: it doesn’t literally taste like mud, it is the least filtered of the four methods so I was tasting a bit of grit and coffee sludge), but enjoyable. This tastes like a brass quintet.

Summary: I like this coffee. I went through a period of about 6 months where I was almost exclusively drinking natural-processed Ethiopians, so I personally am more interested in other flavor profiles now, but this coffee is delicious for anyone that enjoys blueberry/cocoa notes. Today I think I actually enjoyed the french press the most, but they were all eminently drinkable.

From the roaster: Thick body, chocolaty, dried banana and blueberry, sweet rich chocolate aftertaste, very clean and consistent

Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters Amaro Gayo Natural

Coffee snobbery (Or, Don’t Judge Me Bro)

The best cup of coffee is the one you like best.

Let me repeat this: The BEST cup of coffee is the one YOU like best.

Obviously, I really really like coffee. I take it very seriously, and I spend way more time and energy on it than the average person. Yes, this means I have my preferences, but I don’t think that this means that my opinions are any better than someone else’s. I attended a coffee cupping several years ago back when I was firmly in my Indonesian coffee kick, and all the coffees present at the tasting were from Central America, including one Gesha (at around $50/half lb, it was quite the special guest!). None of the coffees that day were really to my taste at the time; when the cupping instructor asked me what I thought, I truthfully said that while I could taste the raspberries and lemon curd and whatever other flavors were present, it wasn’t really my thing. He asked what I liked, and I told him I was drinking a lot of Sumatran coffee. I remember him sniffing somewhat derisively and saying that Sumatras were overrated and the beneficiary of a great marketing campaign. Way to make me feel small, dude (and on my birthday, as well!).

It’s true that I have grown to appreciate Central American coffees a lot since then, and if I attended the exact same tasting today, I probably would enjoy everything much more. However, I didn’t come to this place in my palate because this man made me feel bad about myself. I wish he had understood that anyone that would take the time to drive 1.5 hours to a coffee cupping on a Saturday morning WANTS to learn more about coffee, and that it wasn’t necessary to insult me. Perhaps he didn’t mean to come off demeaning, but to me, that attitude is coffee snobbery at its worst.

When people find out how weirdly obsessed with coffee I am, they tend to say things like, “You probably think I’m terrible for liking Starbucks/Folgers/gas station coffee.” This makes me sad, as I would NEVER want to make people feel bad for liking something. If you invite me over to your home and offer me coffee, I will gladly drink it in the spirit it is given… with love and hospitality! Coffee should be inclusive, not exclusive. Wine circles say to drink what you like, and like what you drink. If someone wants to broaden their palate, wonderful! But, if someone has found what they think is their ultimate favorite coffee? Enjoy. Life is too short to worry about what someone else thinks of your choices.

My Coffee Journey (Or, Don’t Be a Coffee Bigot)

When I started drinking coffee, it basically came in two varieties: hot and iced. I cared not a whit about how the coffee tasted, because it was going to be drowned in milk and sugar anyway! I always liked the smell of coffee, but thought it was too bitter on its own to be consumed black. How times change…

Age 7(ish): Taster’s Choice instant made with heated milk and plenty of sugar (no water).

High school: I discover Starbucks frappuccinos and vanilla lattes.

College/Grad school/More Grad school: For some reason, I don’t really remember drinking coffee in college. I certainly didn’t have a coffee machine in my apartment. Most of my coffee experience at this time was limited to occasionally going out for Starbucks, Peet’s, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, or Biggby Coffee.

2006: Shutterbug and I received an automatic drip machine as a wedding present, and I start making coffee at home with Peet’s beans from the grocery store and a blade grinder.

2007ish: I get a french press and a Capresso Infinity grinder.

2013ish: I get an Aeropress from my cousin as a Christmas present and discover I really like the cleaner flavors (vs. the french press). I start drinking coffee black.

2014: I get a Baratza Virtuoso grinder and start acquiring more pourover methods and accessories, in addition to my first espresso machine (Gaggia Classic Coffee).

2015: See the “Geek corner” page for a rundown of my current state of coffee insanity.

There are a lot of things I learned along the way re: how to get the most out of your coffee experience, but the most confusing is probably the flavor profiles of blends (which is what you’ll typically get at coffee shops – House Blend) vs. single-origins (coffee all from one country, often from one particular farm). Once I learned that coffee is grown in various places around the globe and that it tastes different depending on where it is grown (among other factors), I wanted to know what I could expect. I was (and am) trying to figure out, “What do African coffees taste like? What do Central American coffees taste like?” I feel now that I might be asking the wrong questions.

To get a handle on the general differences between coffee regions, I’m going to borrow Alton Brown’s coffee classifications:

Hawaii/Central America: Bright, snappy. Pop music!

East Africa/Yemen: Brooding, but still catchy. Beethoven on a good day.

Sumatra/Indonesia: Just plain funk. No way around it.

These summaries are a good place to start, but as I’m tasting more varietals and roasters, I’m discovering so many more subtleties. It’s not as simple as just saying all African coffees taste a certain way, any more than I could say that Herman’s Hermits and Led Zeppelin sound the same because they’re both from Britain.

I used to think I didn’t like Central American coffees. I thought they were too much like orange juice, too sour, too “bright.” I leaned toward Sumatran/Indonesian coffees back in the french press days, but after exploring those fairly thoroughly I decided I was bored and wanted a change. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with liking coffees from a certain region, but I think personally I was too quick to dismiss an entire AMAZING region of the world because I had one or two coffees that weren’t to my taste. Even coffees from the same country, sourced from different areas, can taste very different, as I am discovering.

What have I learned from all this? While there might be similarities, don’t expect all coffees from one country (or region) to taste the same. Be open to new flavors. Realize that your tastes may evolve and don’t be surprised if you find yourself changing your mind. There is so much variety out there waiting to be discovered, and we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of joy because of preconceived notions.

And we don’t have to limit this exploration to just coffee… 🙂


Mini review: Stumptown Guatemala Finca El Injerto Bourbon (Portland, Oregon)

Got a little sample of this lovely Guatemala Injerto from an equally lovely friend yesterday! I may choose to do a full review of these beans someday, as I definitely liked what I tasted (when brewed in a Chemex) and would be curious how it would taste in other applications. Generally speaking, I enjoy the citrus notes of Central American coffees, and the Chemex produces a light, sweet but slightly dry cup (comparable perhaps to a dry Riesling or Pinot Grigio?).

This cup had a toasty flavor at the start. As it cooled, I tasted lemon/orange notes along with buttery richness, like I was eating a buttered piece of toast with orange marmalade. It was rich but not heavy, and because it left my mouth slightly dry (like some wines), I kept wanting to drink more. No doubt that’s all part of Stumptown’s nefarious (but delicious) plan!

From the roaster: Navel orange, butter, transparent

Stumptown Coffee

Review: Pergamino Cafe, Finca Loma Verde (Medellin, Colombia)

These beans were an unexpected and very welcome gift from a student and her family! Colombian coffee beans are some of the most common and well-known coffee beans out there (Juan Valdez, anyone?), but I am pretty certain that I have never had Colombian coffee of this freshness level and quality before. I was fascinated to learn that despite coffee being such an important crop in Colombia, Colombians don’t even rank in the top 50 for coffee consumed per capita. The “third wave” of coffee that’s been so popular in the USA for the last decade or so has only just started in Colombia, and Pergamino Cafe appears to be at the forefront there, selling their own locally roasted beans as well as ones from other regions. Click here for more info on Pergamino Cafe…

The beans smelled delicious right off the bat. They were definitely unique compared to any other coffee I had experienced before, in that the whole beans had notes of red wine and pinenuts. Once I ground the beans, I smelled Teddy Grahams along with the other scents.

French press: Overwhelming flavor of pinenut and hazelnut. Very earthy, thick brew with just a bit of acidity to liven things up.

Aeropress: Smoother, but not as much personality as the FP version. No fruit or acidity, just nutty flavor.

V60: This cup was thin compared to the others, probably because the filter caught most of the coffee oils. It was very slightly bitter at the start, but as it cooled, it rounded out and smelled “like coffee” — I didn’t smell nuts, or chocolate, or anything other than true, honest-to-goodness coffee aroma. Just lovely simplicity in a cup.

Summary: If you like your coffee honest and uncomplicated, Colombian coffee certainly fits the bill! Would go great with milk. Naturally sweet so it really wouldn’t need much (if any) sugar in my opinion!

From the roaster: This coffee is characterized by its sweetness and smoothness. It has notes of chocolate and caramel and its acid tones are reminiscent of yellow fruits.

Pergamino Cafe