Review: West Oak Coffee Milk and Honey Blend (Denton, Texas)

Every time I visit Denton, Texas, I marvel at how much it’s changed since I was doing graduate work at the University of North Texas in the early 2000s. Denton has always had a counterculture vibe, with people taking pride in their differences and individuality, but the city has grown in the last 15 years and I am now finding all sorts of cool little eateries, record shops, boutiques, and coffee bars that weren’t here back when I was a student. Makes me a bit jealous, to be honest!

West Oak Coffee Bar is located in the Square (downtown Denton), which is also home to the fantastic Recycled Books and Records (I’ve spent many a pretty penny here — their classical vinyl selection is AMAZING) and Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream (Gah, I’m getting nostalgic). West Oak is one of the only places I know of in Texas that has Intelligentsia coffee on rotation, and I’ve purchased several bags of their Black Cat Classic here (all very fresh). On my most recent trip, they were featuring several different origins of their own house-roasted coffee. I opted to go with this Milk and Honey Blend due to its freshness (and really, doesn’t milk + honey sound good?).

Whole bean: Sweet chocolate and blueberry aroma.

V60: Rich mouthfeel to this medium-bodied coffee. There is a chocolatier a few miles from me called Sublime Chocolate that sells a dark chocolate bar with dried blueberries. This coffee tasted just like that. What a wonderful flavor to this brew!!

AeroPress: Buttery, semi-sweet chocolate notes. This was really delicious as a concentrate – no need to add additional water.

Chemex: This coffee had a mild, smooth flavor like milk chocolate. There was just a hint of berry brightness to it that was interesting but not obvious. Tasty and approachable. I feel like this particular method would be how I would brew this for a crowd.

French press: This had a bit of a chalky mouthfeel. The overall flavor was of semi-sweet chocolate but the overall flavor profile was unbalanced and a bit harsh. Not recommended this way.

Summary: I would absolutely recommend this coffee to anyone that might be looking to dip their toe into the waters of craft coffee but isn’t sure where to start. Blends often are more approachable than single origins, and this coffee is no exception. It has a lovely chocolaty flavor to it with just enough berry/fruit flavor to pique your interest and keep you wanting to drink more, without verging into sour/off-putting flavors for the uninitiated. My personal favorite brew method for this was in the Hario V60, because it brought out the berry flavor the most, but it’s also quite good in an AeroPress and Chemex.

For added feedback, I took multiple batches of this coffee to share with colleagues at a multi-week gig. I think I brought in this coffee (brewed in a Chemex) three times during that run, and of the coffees I brought for them to taste, this one seemed to win the most hearts. Granted, since the other option was pre-ground Folgers, I think my friends were already inclined to like whatever I provided, but this really did seem to be the most crowd-pleasing of the beans!

From the roaster: Buttery, honey, velvety, balanced

West Oak Coffee Milk and Honey Blend 

Review conducted 7 days post-roast.

P. S. – I stole the photo of the coffee bag from the West Oak website. I usually take photos of the bags myself, but I must have thrown my bag away before I had a chance to take the photo – these beans went FAST. Which, really, is a good thing!

P. S. #2 – In looking at the West Oak website, I realized that this is their espresso blend!! I never got a chance to try this as an espresso because the beans disappeared so quickly, but if I have a chance to get my hands on more, I’ll do so and update this review later. Just goes to show though that you don’t need to limit yourself to just brewing espresso beans as espresso… they can be good in multiple methods.

Review: Flight Coffee Kenya Rutuma (Wellington, New Zealand)

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to the North Island of New Zealand. What a heartbreakingly beautiful country (and I know I didn’t even come close to seeing even 10% of its beauty!). About half of my trip was spent in the capital city of Wellington. Wellington is an incredible city – it reminded me of all the best aspects of San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Denver, along with a openness and friendliness that is uniquely Kiwi. This city is particularly known for its motion picture industry (Peter Jackson, of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fame, has his Weta Workshop based here), its food scene, and its craft coffee scene. New Zealand’s craft coffee scene is comparatively young in the world, and unlike many other places, is centered around espresso and espresso-based drinks. I won’t get into the debate regarding whether it was the Kiwis or the Aussies who can lay claim to inventing the flat white, but rest assured that New Zealanders really know how to make an exceptional one. It’s actually rather difficult to find pourover coffee in New Zealand (compared to, say, Portland, Oregon), but you can find excellent espresso just about everywhere, from airports to food trucks to all kinds of restaurants.

Flight Coffee was a frequent name on “best coffee in Wellington”/”best flat white in Wellington” lists, and there was no way that I could leave New Zealand without doing some flat white research. When I visited Flight Coffee’s cafe (also known as the Hangar), I couldn’t resist ordering their Flight of the Flat White (three flat whites all made with a different espresso) and the barista asked, “Are you sure you can handle drinking three of these?” I accepted the challenge… and I would say I drank about 2 1/4 of the 3 drinks. Pretty good effort from me, I think, especially considering that I hadn’t had any coffee in two weeks prior to this day!

From left to right: Flat whites made with Flight Coffee’s Bomber blend (their house espresso), Ethiopia Gutiti (my favorite of these three – tasted like raspberry vanilla cake!), and Colombia La Reforma. I don’t typically go for single-origin espresso with milk drinks but this may make me change my tune.

I wanted to pick up some of the Bomber blend to experiment with at home, but none of the beans available were quite in my freshness window. These Kenyan beans, however, were only 3 days post-roast, and I figured it would be nice to try these as pourover back at home.

Whole bean: Buttery aroma. The beans were quite light in color, and tasted much like red fruit, particularly cherries; tart and sweet.

V60: This cup practically glowed in my mouth. The flavor was like brown sugar and cherry pie filling. It was a lovely balance of tart and sweet tastes.

AeroPress: Nice bright tartness on the front that mellowed to a rich sweetness of berries and stone fruit (cherries, plum).

Chemex: Powdery texture on the finish. Not overly fruity, but sweet and light.

French press: A lot was going on in this cup… it was impossible to pinpoint any one flavor note that stood out, but it was a complex brew that kept me drinking until the very last drop was gone. I tasted pretty much everything that I had tasted in my other cups, though!

Summary: I didn’t get to do quite as much coffee research in New Zealand as I would have liked, but I can easily believe that Flight Coffee is among the very best roasters in the country. They’ve made me want to experiment more with single-origin espressos, and though NZ isn’t known for drip/pourover coffee, I really enjoyed this Kenya Rutuma in the V60 and AeroPress. If my travels ever take me back to Wellington, I’ll definitely be stopping in again.

From the roaster: Red currant, blackberry, and green apple.

Flight Coffee Kenya Rutuma

And, as a little bonus, here is a pic of Wellington at sunrise! My view on my first morning there, from the Te Ahumairangi Hill Lookout.

Review: Birch Coffee Emma’s Espresso (Long Island City, New York)

The end of June saw me taking a very short trip (24 hours) to New York City for a concert (Stone Roses at Madison Square Garden). While there, I naturally had to pick up some coffee! I was limited to what I could find within walking distance of Midtown, but luckily for me, there were plenty of options. I snagged this bag of Birch Espresso at one of their shop locations.

As sometimes happens, when I went to the checkout, I had the following exchange with the barista.

Barista: Do you need your beans ground?
Me (slightly horrified): Oh, definitely not! Doesn’t that hurt to have to even offer??
Barista:
yes_agreement

Grind your beans right before brewing, kids.

Whole bean: aromas of milk chocolate and red fruit (bing cherry, raspberry).

Espresso: It took me some time to get a handle on this espresso. The faster pours got me buttery and red wine flavors, but as I tightened up the grind, it revealed chocolaty flavors. It was particularly good as a ristretto shot.

Favorite parameters: 17g in, 19g out, 201 degrees F, 30 sec pull. Syrupy texture and milk chocolate flavor with a cheery, bright finish. Very nice!

With milk: I have stopped drinking milk and things like lattes altogether so I’ll be depending on Shutterbug’s opinion for this category. His comments: “Very good! It’s… milky.” I think that’s actually a compliment, in that the espresso + milk doesn’t taste weird to him. That definitely happens sometimes in this house…

AeroPress: This tasted much like the espresso when brewed as a concentrate. However, once I added a bit of water, it toned down the brightness and made for a rich, flavorful, multi-dimensional coffee that kept me sipping. I actually ended up using my last beans from this bag in this method and was sorry when they were gone; I would have enjoyed having this again!

Summary: A good multitasking espresso bean, whether you’re drinking it straight or with milk. Particularly tasty when pulled ristretto.

Birch Coffee Emma’s Espresso

Review: Corvus Coffee Peru Satipo Finca Tasta (Denver, Colorado)

This is the second coffee I’ve tried from Corvus; the first was their Everyman Espresso, which had nice chocolate and blueberry notes. Thanks to Method Coffee in Dallas for having fresh bags in stock!

One thing I noticed last time but didn’t mention is that Corvus seems to employ unusually long bags to package their beans. Because I have multiple beans at any given time at my house, I keep the coffee in its original bag so that I don’t mix them up or forget what I am drinking. I will typically use a long-handled coffee scoop to transfer the beans from the bag to my scale for weighing and brewing. However, the height of Corvus Coffee’s bags is significantly higher than average, and my coffee scoop just isn’t long enough to reach the beans without my arm having to go halfway into the bag. It’s a minor annoyance, since I can just pour the beans out instead, but if I were able to change the length of their bags, I’d ask them to shorten them by just a few inches (or to glue the bendy-tab thingie a few inches lower so that we could cut the inches off ourselves).

tn_IMG_4656

(A comparison of the length of Corvus Coffee’s bags next to bags from Chromatic Coffee and Roseline Coffee.)

Whole bean: Bright, robust scent with a creamy finish. Ground, I smelled yellow cake and cinnamon.

V60: Nice bright flavor on the front, but there was a strange cardboard flavor on the finish. However, the brew got creamier and sweeter as it cooled.

AeroPress: This was my favorite of the bunch. Thick, rich, spicy coffee that was bright but smooth on the tongue. I drank this as a concentrate (no additional water added) because I really loved the warm cinnamon flavor along with the citrusy notes.

Chemex: Dark chocolate. Overall it was a bit dry on the finish, and not very complex.

French press: This cup smelled just like a Creamsicle (orange and cream)! Creamy mouthfeel, but not very sweet. It had a taste of tart mandarin orange on the finish.

Summary: I particularly enjoyed this coffee made in an AeroPress, as I felt that method brought out the most interesting and lively flavors. The French press was a close second.

From the roaster: Creamy orange, cinnamon, buttery, ripe blood orange, almond brickle

Corvus Peru Satipo Finca Tasta

Review: Roseline Coffee Colombia San Jose de Inza (Portland, Oregon)

Since I had just reviewed a Colombian coffee from Cultivar, I wasn’t intending to pick up another Colombian coffee for a while, but on a recent visit to Houndstooth, this was the freshest coffee available, so I acquiesced. There are worse things in life than repeating an origin two weeks in a row!

Whole bean: cocoa powder, blackberries and raspberries.

French press: Semisweet chocolate and strawberries. It really did taste and smell like chocolate-covered strawberries!

Chemex: I brewed this a bit long (4:19) but the end result was pleasant, if sort of generic in flavor. There was very little fruit.

AeroPress: The flavor was like bittersweet chocolate, and it had a grassy finish. Once I added water, the grassy note disappeared and it morphed into milk chocolate with a really sweet, fudgy finish that tasted exactly like the Jelly Belly chocolate pudding-flavored jelly beans.

V60: Brewed on the faster end (2:35), the coffee was just “fine” – I wrote nondescript in my notes. However, at 3:30 extraction, it had a buttery flavor with just a hint of cherry cordial to it.

Summary: I think I tend to prefer my Colombian coffees in immersion methods, and this one is no exception. French press = chocolate-covered strawberries. Delightful! But if you want a thick, fudgy, sweet experience, brew this in an AeroPress, add a little water, and try not to drop your jaw too much… you might get coffee all over your lap.

From the roaster: Cacao nibs and berry preserves

Roseline Coffee Colombia San Jose de Inza

Review: Porch Culture Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural (Tyler, Texas)

Music is my mood-altering substance of choice, even moreso than coffee. It encompasses nearly every waking moment of my day… I am constantly listening to music, making music, imagining and striving for an unattainable perfection in music. The kind of music I gravitate to depends on my mood, the time of day, and what I have going on. Sometimes I want something familiar, with no surprises. Sometimes I need a shot in the arm to get me moving. Sometimes I want to hear a piece of music that demands my full attention and will not let me multitask.

When was the last time you listened to music without doing something else (like driving, or playing with your smartphone, or eating at a restaurant, or jogging)? I love having a soundtrack to my daily life, but sometimes, the music needs to take center stage and I become a supporting character to it, and not vice versa. I think this is one reason I (and I daresay others) really enjoy listening to vinyl records. Records and turntables are bulky, they’re not portable, they’re not convenient… they won’t go where you go. Don’t get me wrong – I have an iPod (my 5th gen classic is still kicking, 10 years later!!), I use my iPhone for music, I have CDs… but the inherent inconvenience of vinyl makes listening to music a special event, and that is sometimes exactly what I need, and what the music itself deserves.

Case in point: I have a gorgeous remastered limited edition Mobile Fidelity pressing of Ryan Adams’ “Love Is Hell” album. I’ve listened to it about twice since getting it last year because it is the sort of album that stops you in your tracks and DEMANDS your full attention. It is not content to be background music – especially not with the incredible sound quality. I don’t put it on unless I know I have an hour free to devote to immersing myself in the world that he creates. Next to hearing a live performance, vinyl is my favorite way to listen (really listen) to music.

How does this apply to coffee? Well, I’ve found that different methods of brewing will amplify and dampen different aspects of the coffee beans, much like raising and lowering treble/bass levels. Some brewing methods result in a coffee that will slip easily into the background, and some methods will bring a richness to the fore that will make it impossible for you to focus on anything else.

I have had a lot of natural-processed Ethiopian coffee over the past few years, and I have a pretty good idea of what to expect when I see one for sale. This bag was no exception, so it really became more of a question of how to best enjoy this coffee, as opposed to “will I enjoy this coffee?”

Whole bean: Bright aromas of mixed berry (raspberry, blueberry) jam.

French press: Not my favorite; this cup had a plasticky aroma. I have come to expect this though from naturally-processed Ethiopian coffees so it wasn’t a surprise.

Chemex: Despite setting this on slightly too fine of a grind (total extraction time was 4:40), this made a smooth cup of coffee that tasted like a combination of milk chocolate and red berries. I enjoyed this very much; the french press cup was harsher tasting in comparison.

AeroPress: Smooth and fuller-bodied than the Chemex cup. I didn’t need to add any water to this. There was a slightly powdery finish to this coffee. It was perhaps a little heavier in texture than the Chemex cup, but they were both appealing in the same ways (smoothness, flavors). The AeroPress is of course a lot quicker to prepare, so that might be the way to go if you’re only making one cup and are impatient!

V60: This method created a cup that was rather muted in flavor. After the lively yet smooth and pleasant Chemex and AeroPress cups, this was not what I was expecting. If the cups were music, the V60 cup was like listening to music through crappy headphones.

Summary: Stick to brewing these beans in an AeroPress (if you’re brewing a single cup) or a Chemex (if you are brewing for multiple people… or for one if you are REALLY thirsty) for the best, most balanced flavors.

From the roaster: Wild berry. Sweet pastry. Buttery.

Porch Culture Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural

Review: Spella Caffe India Chikmagalur Peaberry (Portland, Oregon)

On my previous trip to Portland in September, Spella Caffe was on my shortlist of roasters/cafes to visit, but I ran out of time (and I had to cut myself off after acquiring six other bags of coffee!). Thankfully, I had another chance over the Thanksgiving holiday. Spella is a bit of an anomaly in the crowded PDX-coffee scene, in that it definitely leans more toward a traditional Italian-style espresso vs. the brighter, fruitier shots served in many third-wave coffee shops. Spella even pulls their shots on a lever-style manual espresso machine, rather than the semi-automatics common to most upscale cafes. The proprietor, Andrea Spella, roasts in small batches (eleven pounds at a time) for optimum quality control. Basically, all of these factors combined to make me very interested in trying their espresso beans.

Fate, however, had other plans for me, as when I visited the shop, they were out of espresso beans. My sister was outside the shop, and apparently she could tell exactly what was wrong when she saw the interaction between me and the woman behind the register as she watched through their plate-glass window.

“SPELLA!!!!!”

However, all was not lost, as they had a fresh batch of this India Peaberry on hand. The barista told me that this particular bean lent itself well to pourover methods, so I was intrigued enough to purchase it. I suppose I should have had an espresso shot in the shop, but I was in a bit of a rush, so I didn’t. Perhaps another time!

Whole bean: Earthy, buttery, and rich aroma. This isn’t a dark roast (the beans are medium at most, with no oily sheen), but it has a depth to it that I haven’t experienced in a while.

V60: If I was given a cup of this while blindfolded, I would have sworn it was a Sumatran coffee. It actually reminded me quite a lot of the “Eeyore coffee” I reviewed earlier in the year: a bit spicy like cloves, with a medium body.

AeroPress: The concentrate was full in body and tasted a bit like toasted marshmallow. However, the finish was brighter, like cranberry and star anise.

Chemex: This was a pleasant cup to drink; it was delicate and nutty, with a little bit of a buttery and spicy finish.

French press: Thick, satisfying, full-bodied and buttery cup. Smooth.

Summary: I haven’t explored a lot of coffees from this area of the world, but with winter coming, it almost seems like the right time to expand my horizons again. I used to drink a lot of Sumatran coffee before I got bored of it and decided to explore other regions, but this coffee (while not a Sumatran) reminded me of how good coffee from this general part of the world could be – it had very clean flavors and was meticulously roasted. I would recommend this either in a Chemex or a French press, depending on how you like your coffee (light/medium-bodied or full-bodied).

From the roaster: No tasting notes

Spella does not currently sell coffees online, but they are available in multiple retail outlets in Oregon.

Guide to Spella from Portland Food and Drink

Spella Caffe Home

Review: Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Panama Geisha La Milagrosa (Dallas, Texas)

Buckle your seat belts, coffee lovers — here comes another Geisha tasting! When I attended Dallas Coffee Day last Sunday, I stopped at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters’ booth first and my eye was immediately drawn to these beautiful canisters (there were three of them). Knowing that there were to be an insane amount of people attending the event, I basically went, “I WANT THAT” and snapped up a can before I lost my chance. Perhaps I freaked out for no reason, because when I passed by the booth again on my way out three hours later, they still had two cans on the table. Ah well. Better safe than sorry!

Coincidence: I paid $36 for 8 oz of this coffee and opened it on my 36th birthday. Happy birthday to me, indeed! 🙂

I don’t often get coffees in cans, so I had some funny moments while trying to figure out how to get into the can. I took off the top lid and puzzled over the black and white sticker. I thought I was supposed to peel it off and I almost did peel it off completely, but I then realized that it was just decorating a second lid I was supposed to pry off. Oops. Haha!

inner lid open

Whole bean: Milagroso/a in Spanish means miraculous or marvelous. This sounded like a good omen to me! The beans smelled like a fascinating dichotomy of Sara Lee Pound Cake and chinese restaurant tea. There was also a vague tropical fruit note that I couldn’t quite identify. However, when I ground the beans, the fragrance got super strong with lime, green apple, and sweet floral aromas emanating from the grinder bin!

V60: At 3:15 extraction, this cup had an overwhelming complexity. As is my custom, I was listening to music while brewing and I actually had to go shut it off so I could focus on what I was tasting. Granny Smith apples. Butter. Just a little tartness on the finish, with a lovely medium body. I did not want to stop drinking this cup, which made me write, “Uh oh. I’m in BIG trouble with this coffee!” in my notes.

AeroPress: This coffee is lightly roasted, and it was evident in this cup, as the finished concentrate had the color of caramel sauce. Not the deep brown that most people think of when they think of coffee!

aeropress

This concentrate was a bit tart, with lots of personality. It smoothed out as I sipped it. Definite notes of green apple and butter. I didn’t end up adding any water to this, because it was great as it was and I didn’t want to water down the big flavors.

Chemex: Sadly, this cup for me was underwhelming. It had the lightest body (which was not unexpected since the Chemex filter is the thickest of the filters), but the flavor was pretty muted. It was close to chinese restaurant tea in flavor; the fruit was barely present. This had the least amount of personality of the four cups.

French press: Jasmine tea aroma and flavor on the front. Green grapes with a toffee-like finish (sugary, buttery). Rich mouthfeel with a hint of vanilla. Deliciously complex.

Summary: A nice birthday treat. Would I pay $72/lb for this coffee again? I liked it a lot, but I don’t think this is a coffee I would regularly purchase, no. It’s hard to justify that sort of price when there are other lovely coffees out there with similar flavor notes without such a high price tag. However, it was a very, VERY enjoyable cup, and I would certainly drink this again if offered! I think the french press version was my personal favorite, but it was awesome in a Hario V60 and AeroPress as well (if you like more Granny Smith apple flavor).

From the roaster: On the slopes surrounding Volcan Baru, this vibrant, floral, tea-like varietal displays heirloom flavors of the best African coffees although it is grown halfway around the world. This special lot comes from the Alto Jaramillo region of Boquete.

This coffee is not currently available online.

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters

Review: Eiland Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Sidamo Ardi (Richardson, Texas)

This past Sunday was the first annual Dallas Coffee Day, and by all accounts it was a smashing success. What a great event! Eight fantastic Dallas-area coffee roasters gathered to celebrate their shared collective passion for craft coffee and the steady elevation of coffee culture in Dallas/Fort Worth. There was such a friendly and welcoming vibe to the whole event. I suppose it’s not surprising that a large room of caffeinated people would be in a good mood, but there really was a terrific convivial feel to the whole day.

The featured roasters were (in alphabetical order):
Ascension Coffee Roasters
Avoca Coffee Roasters
Cultivar Coffee
Eiland Coffee Roasters
Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters
Novel Coffee Roasters
Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters
Tweed Coffee Roasters

I’ve been lucky enough to sample coffee from all of these roasters in some capacity (and I’ve even reviewed a number of them on the blog), EXCEPT for Eiland (same pronounciation as “island”), which is ironic since of all the roasters on this list, they are the closest to my house. Eiland (like all of the other roasters present) had small bags (8 oz) available for sale, so I bought this one after asking the helpful associate which he would recommend if I was just buying ONE bag.

Whole bean: Notes of berry and cocoa. There was a nice depth to this aroma. Ground, I smelled buttery richness. I’m already liking this.

French press: Mostly cocoa flavors with some toasty characteristics. Smooths a bit as it cools. Bold, strong flavor. As it sat, I got a rich, buttery mouthfeel in the cup.

Chemex: Yum. Smooth as silk!! This brew had less cocoa and more berry character but it was not overly fruity or tart. I was surprised at the rich mouthfeel in the cup considering the rather thick Chemex filter. Again, as the coffee cooled, I tasted and felt butter on the palate. Decadently delicious.

AeroPress: I drank this as a concentrate and felt it was pretty strong but pleasant. There was a slight tannic presence but it had a nice cocoa note and brightness of strawberry. More butter on the finish! I’m sensing a theme here.

V60: Bright, sharp scent to this cup, with a toasty, nutty flavor. Very little fruit in this cup but once again, in time I tasted a beautifully buttery finish.

Summary: Of the natural-processed Ethiopians I’ve tried thus far, this particular crop has some of the most emphasis on cocoa/chocolate flavors that I’ve encountered. Since I like berry brightness, I enjoyed the Chemex version of this most, but even that batch wouldn’t be a coffee I would classify as fruity or heavy in berry flavor. This coffee is good for people that like deep chocolaty flavors and buttery richness in their brew. Approachable, comforting, and delicious, with just a little hint of interesting character that keeps you thinking about drinking more!

From the roaster: Jam, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, buttery, medium body, strawberry-like acidity, natural (dry) process

Eiland Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Sidamo Ardi Natural Process

Review: Kickapoo Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido Cooperative (Viroqua, Wisconsin)

Kickapoo Coffee is another award-winning roaster featured in my most recent shipment from Craft Coffee. Like many roasters, their standard size is 12 oz, but instead of using bags, Kickapoo ships in cans. I did not receive a can since I got the sampler bag from Craft, but it looks like it would be a nice reusable vessel.

Kickapoo

In a way, I think it’s good I didn’t get a can, because my mind immediately drifted to this can in my fridge. I know they don’t really look alike, but I couldn’t stop thinking about hummus when I saw the Kickapoo can.

tahini

Sorry for drifting off topic! Back to coffee…

This particular Ethiopian bean is an heirloom variety, and the beans are smaller than typically seen. In addition, I think that the beans are possibly denser, because my usual grind settings are much too fine for these beans in a pourover setup – I only had 4 oz of beans to play with and I didn’t quite dial in the setting properly for either the V60 or Chemex methods, so I don’t think I achieved the full flavor potential of these beans.

Whole bean: A little nutty, with a bright berry scent – strawberry?

V60: I needed a slightly coarser grind because my (already coarser than usual) setting led to a 3:40 extraction time. The result was slightly bitter, but also had a buttery, juicy flavor with honey notes. The aroma was slightly like burnt toast or matches. Wish I could have tried again.

AeroPress: The concentrate was much too tangy and bright (and thick!) to drink straight. After I added some water, the dominant flavor was of strawberry-rhubarb pie. This particular cup seemed to flatten out in flavor as it cooled and the interesting flavors sort of faded so that it resulted in just a “nice” cup of coffee without much discernible personality.

Chemex: I guessed wrong here too on the grind, and I only got 530 grams of water in at the 4:00 minute mark (instead of my usual 700 grams of water), so I halted the brewing at that point rather than letting the coffee get overextracted. This cup was a bit sour, but there was a marshmallow scent and flavor to this cup along with bright strawberry.

French press: Best of the lot, with a great balance of butter, berry, and toast. I would definitely drink this again.

After I finished this tasting and sat down to start this review, I found that this particular varietal scored a whopping 94 points on Coffee Review in 2013. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know that in advance, but now I’m extra mad that I didn’t get the grind settings right! I find it interesting that Craft Coffee’s tasting notes didn’t really match up with Kickapoo’s, but we all taste different things! Craft says: “Nutty cashew flavor complements the subtle acidity of dried apricot and rhubarb,” while Kickapoo talks about flowers, cherry, and lemon. I got toast, butter, and strawberry. Are we drinking the same coffee?

Summary: I liked this best in the french press, but I would need another go at brewing this to see what the full potential is like in the pourover methods. You may need to coarsen up your grind a bit when brewing African heirloom varietals as pourover coffees.

From the roaster: Classic aromatics of spring flowers and tart cherry give way to a round, honeyed body and a clean, sparkling finish. Notes of spring flowers, red cherry, and lemon zest.

Kickapoo Coffee Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido