My first experience with Stumptown beans came years ago during a trip to Portland, Oregon for an audition. Those who know me know that I have a habit of cutting out coffee/caffeinated beverages for a couple of weeks prior to an important audition, so the first cup of coffee I have after the audition is over is typically HEAVENLY. I imagine I look something like Michael Scott as I approach my first cup:
(Coffee would totally look like Jim Halpert if it was in human form, right?)
Anyway, I took the MAX light rail to the nearest Stumptown location I could find at the earliest possible opportunity, and I chose to get a latte to go that day. As I’m drinking it, instead of getting feelings of YES, I had feelings of ????. Keep in mind that at the time, I mostly drank milk drinks and typically favored medium-dark roast coffee that had chocolate/nut flavors. Stumptown was quite confusing for someone that wasn’t prepared for it – I kept sipping the latte trying to pinpoint what I was tasting. I kept thinking plum sauce, which is NOT what I was expecting. I didn’t like it, yet I kept drinking trying to figure out what I didn’t like about it. Before I knew it, my drink was gone and I was left even more confused! Was it “good”? What happened??
I’ve only had Stumptown coffee a couple of times since that time 5-6 years ago, so when my friend Julee brought me a bag of Hair Bender, I was ready to experience it anew.
Brew parameters: 199 degrees F, 19 g in a double basket, 30 sec shot.
I was jumping up and down with anticipation because the aroma coming from the bag was so buttery and spicy and rich. As a straight espresso shot, I was floored. It had such a sweet, almost candied flavor to it, with a thick and ridiculously decadent crema. The finish was refreshing and had a little heat/spice – the warmth at the back of my throat reminded me of brandy. So good! Complex and layered and rich but not cloying.
Interestingly, the same shot at 198F was unbalanced in flavor and at 200F was bitter to my taste. Perhaps this is a fairly unforgiving blend that needs to have the temperature JUST RIGHT for espresso nirvana… or maybe I just lucked out.
With milk: No plum sauce this time! I didn’t taste any discernible fruit flavors but overall the cup seemed “fruity” to me, compared to something like the Dunn Bros. which was more smoky. The milk muted the slight brashness of the brandy notes and made for a smooth, well-rounded cup.
Summary: I love this espresso! It takes some patience but whooo is it good when you coax the flavors out.
From the roaster: Tasting notes: Cherry, Toffee, Fudge