Review: Novel Coffee Roasters Guatemala Chimaltenango (Dallas, Texas)

I’ve only had Novel Coffee once before (their Ethiopia Idido) but enjoyed it very much, so when I visited Trio Craft Coffee recently and saw fresh bags of this Guatemala Chimaltenango on their shelves, I snapped one up faster than you can say “chemex.”

Whole bean: Bright, lively aroma. HONEY. Really, really strong scent of raw honey. Hint of apple as well, but the overwhelming character of this was honey.

V60: Considering the sweet scent of the beans, this was a surprisingly savory coffee. Hints of cocoa and kelp. Smooth but not very sweet in the cup. 3:30 extraction.

AeroPress: As a concentrate, this had a rich body with the flavor of red apple peels and lemon. Upon adding a bit of water, the lemon flavor dissipated and it became a more generic “coffee” flavor.

Chemex: 4:00 extraction. Very similar to the V60 cup; delicate brew with a hint of kelp. Not very sweet.

French press: Medium-bodied with apple flavor and a hint of kelp.

Summary: This wasn’t a bad coffee, but to me, it was a case of unmet expectations. Since the beans smelled SO sweet and honey-esque, I was expecting something rather different in the cup than I got. Granted, I think most coffees smell different ground vs. brewed, but when you smell raw honey and get kelp? Yeah, not exactly what I was after.

From the roaster: Lively apple, nougat, amber honey

Novel Coffee Roasters Online Store

Review: Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Guatemala Xejuyu Chimaltenango (Dallas, Texas)

Considering the fact that Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters is based in Dallas, I suppose it’s a bit ironic that I picked up this bag in Tyler at the same time that I got the bag of Porch Culture Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural, but hey, when fresh coffee calls, I answer!

Whole bean: Aromas of butter, kelp, and plum. The kelp note was especially surprising to me – it was like a whiff of nori sheets, as if I was about to make sushi rolls. Once ground, the beans smelled sweeter and had a tart stone fruit character to them.

V60: I made this twice; the first extraction, at 3:00, was bitter on the front but improved slightly as it cooled. There was a lot of flavor in this coffee – vanilla, plus the butter, kelp, and plum I smelled earlier. However, it was still too bitter for my taste. The second extraction, at 2:45, was better but still did not result in a cup that I would deem sweet.

AeroPress: Not bad. A little perky/piquant of a brew. I drank this without adding water, and it was okay – I didn’t really feel like diluting this would have improved it, but the acidity was tempered when I drank it along with my breakfast.

Chemex: Big difference! At 3:50 extraction, this brew method resulted in a smooth and sweet cup of coffee that was reminiscent of Nilla wafers.

French press: Also resulted in a smooth and sweet cup, which tasted like vanilla pudding. Luscious.

Summary: I felt this coffee was the most delicious when brewed in the Chemex. It was also good in a French press, but it was just starting to push the boundaries of decadence for my taste!

From the roaster: Baked apple, vanilla

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Guatemala Xejuyu Chimaltenango

(I forgot to snap a picture of the bag before I threw it away, so this MoMa mug will have to do!)

Review: Heart Coffee Roasters Kenya Muranga (Portland, Oregon)

It’s nearly Monday afternoon where I live, but I hope you’re all having a bunch of happy mondays wherever you are! Another week beginning, another Heart coffee to review.

Whole bean: This has a light and slightly tannic aroma that smells like sliced apples – not as tart as something like a Granny Smith; maybe more like a Gala or Pink Lady.

French press: Full-bodied, thick brew which tasted a bit tart and strongly of apples. The flavor was not as sweet as its aroma.

Chemex: Compared to the french press cup, this cup was more tart and light in character. The finish was like lemonade – it made me pucker a little but it wasn’t unpleasantly tart. The flavor overall was pretty subtle.

AeroPress: The concentrate carried the flavor of apples along with a slightly dry but rich finish.

V60: Light body, eerily reminiscent of oolong tea with a hint of apple flavor.

Summary: Okay, clearly this coffee has the apple flavor printed on the bag, though I wasn’t able to identify it as honeycrisp in particular. This seems like a great coffee for the colder months of the year; December and its falling temperatures makes me think of apple cider, and this coffee fits the bill. No one brew method stood out to me as “the best,” but I would probably stick to making this in either the press pot or the AeroPress; I like the heavier body for this coffee.

From the roaster: Butterscotch, blackcurrant, honeycrisp

Heart Kenya Muranga

Review: Klatch Colombia Huila Agustino Forest (Upland, California)

Klatch ranks among my favorite coffee roasters, but I don’t order from them very often because there are just so many roasters I want to try. However, once news broke of their “Overall Champion” award in the Golden Bean Roaster Competition for their Golden Bean Espresso Competition Blend, I knew I had to at least order some of that (that review is forthcoming!), so I threw in this additional bag just because I could.

Whole bean: The aroma was a little creamy, like nougat. After I ground the beans, they opened up to reveal tangerine and cocoa. Ambrosial.

V60: Great depth to this cup. The predominant flavor was of cocoa powder, and it was a little buttery with a nice bit of citrus acidity on the finish to keep it interesting to the palate.

AeroPress: Thick and syrupy as a concentrate. I drank it straight because the dark chocolate + plum flavors in the cup were really gorgeous. It definitely leaned more to the plummy side vs. the chocolate side.

Chemex: Crowd-pleasing cup. I would be comfortable serving this to just about anyone. Notes of cocoa and toffee, not too thick or thin in body.

French press: Slightly syrupy, with a nice medium body. Dark chocolate with a tangerine finish. A slightly more intense version of the V60 cup, which was good in this case.

Summary: There’s something so subtle but lovely about a great cup of Colombian coffee. It isn’t as flashy and colorful as a natural-processed Ethiopian, but it’s not as brooding and dark in character as some Papua New Guinea coffees… it strikes a terrific balance. The french press cup was my personal favorite, but I wouldn’t turn down any of these cups.

From the roaster: This coffee offers a consistent tangerine and lemon-lime acidity. It also provides a well balanced combination of bright red apples with sweet amaretto body, giving a memorable and refreshing finish.

Klatch Colombia Huila Agustino Forest

Review: Quasar Coffee Rwanda Kibuye Valley (Chicago, Illinois)

I kind of take for granted these days that pretty much all companies will have websites. It was a surprise when in the process of writing this review, I could barely find any hint of an online presence for Quasar Coffee Roasters, outside of a sparse Instagram feed and a Twitter account (both of which link to the company website, the fascinating 404 Not Found). However, I did glean that whoever runs the Twitter account (which I assume is the founder of Quasar) is a hip-hop fan.

What I do know of Quasar Coffee is that it’s a small operation based out of Chicago. They may not be big, but they are apparently good enough to get on Craft Coffee’s radar!

Whole bean: A little bit earthy and nutty. I couldn’t really put my finger on what I was smelling, but it wasn’t very strong in any case.

French press: Sweet flavors reminiscent of toffee and peach. As it cooled, I was reminded of hazelnuts and fresh cream. It almost was like I added some sort of non-dairy flavored creamer to my coffee, but without all the artificial flavors and weird chemicals.

Chemex: I did not dig this. It smells a bit like cough syrup. Tart on the finish with a medicinal taste.

AeroPress: Toasty and a little sweet with minimal fruit. This was pleasant but less interesting to me than the french press cup.

V60: The ground coffee had a vegetal scent to it that I found odd. Once it was brewed, it tasted like celery. No thank you!

Summary: I only really liked this coffee prepared one way (in the French press). It isn’t something I’d probably take the trouble to seek out again though, and it’s just as well, since I don’t think I could order any more of this coffee even if I wanted to (except perhaps through Craft Coffee).

Notes from Craft Coffee: A body resembling Darjeeling tea evokes flavors of juicy white peach and crisp Gala apple.

From the roaster: None

Quasar’s website currently goes nowhere but I’ll link to its Twitter page: Quasar Coffee Twitter

Review: Ascension Peruvian Silk Blend (Dallas, Texas)

I don’t visit too many coffee shops in Dallas regularly, but Ascension is one of my favorites when I do go out for a cup. You can taste the great care that they put into their craft in every drink you receive at their cafe. They feature various roasters from time to time (I had my first taste of Intelligentsia’s Black Cat here in the form of an americano), but they seem to be especially known for their own roasts. I happened to come across a three-day old bag of this Peruvian Silk blend at the 75/Lovers Ln Central Market, so I decided that this would be my first bag of Ascension that I would brew at home. Based on this experience, it will definitely not be the last. Yum!!

Whole beans: Mild aroma.

V60: Toasted marshmallow led to pear and vanilla flavors. Lovely!

AeroPress: I ended up drinking this in its concentrated form. This coffee started really sweet and morphed into a bold, spicy acidity – sort of like when you have a taste of a really good apple pie. The first flavor was of buttery sweetness, and as you savor, cinnamon apple takes over. The finish had a hint of green grape.

Chemex: Extremely smooth… less flavorful overall than the V60 and AeroPress cups but this was a cup that made me go back for seconds. Such a nice balance of caramel and fruit flavors.

French press: Wow, vanilla!!! At the risk of being cliche, this cup was as smooth as silk. The body was so rich, it was like I had added cream (though I hadn’t). This coffee had fewer flavor notes in it than the other methods but the vanilla flavor was ridiculously delicious.

Espresso: I pulled several shots of this just to see what would happen. It was like an even more concentrated version of what I got with the AeroPress, but with more lemony, bright characteristics. The cinnamon apple was definitely there but the shot was overpowered by acidity verging on sourness, at a variety of temperatures. Not my favorite flavor profile in an espresso – I think I’ll personally stick to this as a coffee. However, I could definitely see the appeal for people that prefer bright, fruity shots.

Summary: I would love to drink this coffee alongside a dessert: pie, ice cream, cake. Though I didn’t care for this blend as an espresso, all four pourover/immersion cups of this coffee were delicious to the point where I can’t choose a favorite. I would definitely buy this again and again!

This particular coffee is not currently offered online, but it is available at the Central Market location in Dallas and the Ascension shop in the Design District if you’re local to Dallas.

Ascension Coffee Online Store

Review: Coal Creek Coffee Company Burundi Dukorere Ikawa (Laramie, Wyoming)

Coal Creek Coffee Company is based out of Laramie, WY. I had not heard of this roaster before Alison sent me this bag, but upon visiting their website, I am already inclined to like them for a couple of reasons. One, they have blends with amusing names like Gods Must Be Crazy (which sounds delicious!!) and Troublemaker. Two, they sell bags in 8 oz sizes, which is nice for people like me that rotate between a lot of different coffees.

They have the following quote front and center on their homepage:

You are not a serious coffee drinker if
you are still buying your beans from the supermarket.

I feel admonished, and I don’t even buy my beans from the supermarket (well, except for an occasional trek to Whole Foods in an emergency, and I only buy fresh local roasts)! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Wow, they really do take their coffee seriously.

Note: This coffee was almost six weeks old when I did this tasting, so the flavor profile I’m tasting today will likely be different vs. experiencing it fresh.

Whole beans: The bag, once opened, had a muted scent to it, but after I ground some of the beans, the general aroma was a bit like gingerbread. Not very strong, though.

V60: My first impression of this cup was that it was slightly bitter, but it rounded out after a minute with a nice creamy finish. It didn’t have much in the way of flavor/aroma, though. It just smells “like coffee.”

AeroPress: Same as V60 with a slightly thicker consistency. Tastes like coffee.

Chemex: The cup smelled just slightly like marshmallows, but again, it tasted like coffee.

French press: This cup was thick with a slightly dry, powdery finish. There might have been a faint taste of Whoppers (the malt-ball candy, not the burgers!), but it was extremely subtle.

Summary: At the time of this tasting, this coffee tasted pretty generic. I got little to no flavor other than “coffee,” but I suspect some of that was due to the fact that the coffee is six weeks old. I am very willing to try this roaster again to find out, though! Coffee that tastes “like coffee” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think that was what this roaster was going for with these beans. I think I’ll have to try the Gods Must Be Crazy blend when it comes time to try this roaster again — with a name like that, I can’t resist!

From the roaster: A bright coffee with flavors of raisins, cooked apple, and malt. Medium-light body.

Coal Creek Coffee Company Burundi Dukorere Ikawa