Review: Avoca Coffee Roasters Misty Valley (Fort Worth, Texas)

A recent trip to Denton gave me time to visit Shift Coffee, which has featured interesting roasters in the past like Kuma and Chocolate Fish. This particular visit, they were featuring bags from local Fort Worth roaster Avoca, so I opted for Misty Valley, which is a blend of two Ethiopian coffees (Yirgacheffe and Gedio). The only other time I’ve seen an Ethiopian blend was when I reviewed Tweed’s Staycation Blend (which I rather liked) so I was curious how this would fare.

Whole bean: Creamy, raspberry, sweet like candy. Reminded me a lot of strawberry Starburst!

French press: No fruit flavor in this cup. Quite thick; almost dark roast in character.

Chemex: Cocoa was the dominant flavor here but it was delicate and smooth, with just a hint of brightness on the finish.

AeroPress: The sweet flavor of chocolate plus raspberries.

V60: Rather harsh – I accidentally brewed this at a slightly higher temperature than normal (205 degrees F; I normally brew at 200 degrees F) because I wasn’t paying attention to my kettle. Mind that you don’t heat your water to this level.

Summary: The aroma of the whole beans promised more fruit flavor than I actually got in the cup, so I was a tad bit disappointed to not get a berry bomb, but this is a good coffee for people that enjoy a nice balanced profile to their Ethiopian coffee. It is heavy on the cocoa flavor. Try it in a Chemex (for cocoa flavor) or in an AeroPress (for chocolate-covered raspberries).

From the roaster: Floral aroma with blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and cocoa flavors; balanced with a pleasant acidity and creamy mouthfeel.

Avoca Coffee Roasters Misty Valley

Review conducted 7-9 days post-roast.

Review: La Colombe Panama Ironman VI Geisha (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Earlier this summer, I visited the District of Columbia and while there, visited a La Colombe coffee shop for the first time. I’ve reviewed La Colombe coffees before (their Nizza espresso and their single-origin Colombia San Roque), and while neither were exactly to my personal taste, both were exactly what they said they were; their tasting notes don’t lie. So, at the cafe, when I saw this bag of Panama Ironman VI Geisha, I was curious to see if the tasting notes matched up as well as it has in the past with this brand. Plus, I hadn’t had much if any craft coffee for almost two weeks prior to this so it didn’t feel like too much of a splurge to pay the premium that I did for these Geisha beans.

Whole bean: Bright, sweet, fresh aromas. It reminded me of a light, refreshing white wine, like a pinot grigio.

V60: Strong notes of grapefruit in this with a nice (but sweet) complexity.

AeroPress: I had this as a concentrate – no need to dilute with additional water if you like the tart taste of grapefruit and nectarines. This was the most tart of the four cups.

Chemex: Creamy and complex cup that tasted of nectarine and citrus, but sweeter than the AeroPress result.

French press: By far, this was my favorite method for these beans. Layers upon layers of rich flavor here — creamy vanilla and sweet floral notes with nectarine and sugar. Very enjoyable!!

Summary: I really like Panamanian geisha coffee, and this bag is no exception. Try it in a french press and experience a vibrant, multi-layered flavor bomb.

From the roaster: White peach, blood orange, apricot

This coffee is not currently available on La Colombe’s website, but here is a link to their online store:

La Colombe Coffee Roasters Store

Review conducted 10-11 days post-roast.

Review: Has Bean Coffee Malawi Msese Wetmill (Stafford, England)

I had a whirlwind trip earlier this summer to the north of England, and I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Manchester. As a fan of bands like the Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, the Stone Roses, and James, the city of Manchester is a place I had long wanted to visit, and it surpassed all of my expectations. I hope to return someday to explore it further!

Now, coffee wasn’t the cornerstone of my visit by any means, but I knew I couldn’t leave without bringing home something from a local roaster. However, despite the fact that Manchester is not lacking for coffee shops (I found 5 or 6 independent cafes within an easy walk of each other in the city center, not even including “chain” coffee shops), the beans that were available for sale were largely not fresh enough for my liking… most were a month or more post-roast. This bag of Has Bean Coffee was dated 13 days post roast, I believe, so I snapped it up, knowing that it was the freshest I was likely to find! Stafford is not terribly close to Manchester (around 60 miles away), but considering where I had flown from (Dallas!), yes, I considered Stafford to be “locally roasted” relative to Manchester. I picked up these beans from North Tea Power, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Whole bean: Even before I opened the bag, I had to giggle at the clever brand name. Plus, in all my years of drinking coffee, I had never tried a coffee from Malawi before! I liked this company already. Once I opened the bag, the beans smelled sugary and light.

French press: Thick, tangy, but not sour. Nice body to the brew, with a lovely smooth finish. Satisfying to drink. It gets more complex as it sits and cools, obtaining a note of tropical fruit.

Chemex: Nice spicy finish. Clean taste – not many layers to this cup, but it was pleasingly straightforward and simple. Very easy to drink, with a taste of brown sugar.

AeroPress: Similar in flavor to the French press cup. The kiwi flavor really comes out in this method.

V60: Sweetest of the four cups. Sugary and light-bodied coffee. There was a bit of a floral note on the finish.

Summary: This was a nice, complex, multi-dimensional coffee that is lovely brewed any way you can get it, but I think I liked it best in the Hario V60 for its sweetness. However, it has its merits in all four of my usual brewing methods.

From the roaster: Floral, kiwi, chocolate milk

Has Bean Coffee Malawi Msese Wetmill

Review conducted 18 days post-roast.

Review: Cuvée Coffee Guatemala Hunapu (Austin, Texas)

Cuvée Coffee is regularly featured at my local Whole Foods market, but I don’t buy it very often because the beans aren’t often on the shelf within two weeks of the roast date (which is a common situation when you buy coffee at retail outlets like markets). However, I lucked out recently when I spotted this bag of their Guatemala Hunapu, and I realized it had been a LONG time since I had reviewed any Cuvée (the last time was their Decaf Spicewood 71, back in May 2015!). So, into my basket went this bag.

Whole bean: White sugar, cherries.

V60: Strong and nutty. There was a bit of flavor like almond skin. A tad overwhelming taken black – I expected more sweetness, given the sweet aroma of the beans.

AeroPress: Very thick and smooth brew with a bit of floral character. Not very sweet.

Chemex: Much better in my view vs. the V60 cup. Something about this method took away the strong bite. Sugary and light-bodied coffee but very smooth flavor like marzipan. Bit of cherry on the finish.

French press: Best of the four in my view. Fudgy, sweet, floral, nutty. Tasted like almond butter with some complexity, and it only got better as it cooled.

Espresso: On a hunch, I tried these beans as a single-origin espresso. I only pulled four shots or so, but it produced a really promising result that convinced me that these beans would be great in this method. Even over 2 weeks post-roast, there was an outrageous amount of crema, and the espresso tasted sweet and smooth. Delicious stuff.

Summary: Taken as a coffee, I like this brewed in a French press best, with the Chemex a close second. Works arguably even better as a single-origin espresso!

From the roaster: Nutty, orange zest, dried cherry

Cuvée Coffee Guatemala Hunapu

Review conducted 12 days post-roast (coffee), 16 days post-roast (espresso).

Review: BeanFruit Coffee Company Ethiopia Kochere (Jackson, Mississippi)

BeanFruit Coffee Company wasn’t even on my radar until the middle of 2016, but I was so impressed with their coffee that two of their roasts took 1st and 3rd place in my Best of 2016 list. I had to wait some months before I had time to order from them as a normal customer, but I finally got my chance in May. May? Isn’t it July now? Yeah… I got a bit behind on the review-writing, but this is why I jot down copious notes!

Fun fact: Apparently I was order #4000! That felt good. 🙂

I ordered two bags, and this Ethiopia Kochere was the first that I opened.

Whole bean: Sweet, delicate aroma of black tea.

V60: Complex, sweet, floral notes. Much more complex than the smell of the whole beans would have indicated. I got honeydew in this cup!

AeroPress: BRIGHT (I wrote this in all caps in my notes) and sweet. I did add a little additional water to this after brewing to smooth out the flavor a little, and it brought out some floral notes.

Chemex: The perfume to this cup was super sweet, and had a sugary taste. Not much fruit or floral character to this – I mostly tasted the caramelized sugar top of a creme brulee.

French press: Not as sweet as the Chemex cup but it had a lot of richness. This cup also had notes of honeydew but seemed less balanced in flavor than the V60 cup.

Summary: I enjoy really complex coffees that make you stop and ponder what it is that you’re tasting, and this coffee is definitely one that does that! I liked it best in the pourover methods (V60, Chemex), with the V60 edging out the Chemex for the sheer range of flavor. But, if you’re a sweetness addict, this coffee in a Chemex is a stunner.

From the roaster: Sweet, white peach, melon, floral

I procrastinated on publishing this review for so long that this particular coffee is no longer being sold, but try any of BeanFruit’s African coffees. You won’t regret it; they are all delicious!!

BeanFruit Coffee Company Online Store

Review conducted 3 days post-roast.

Mini review: Slightly Coffee Roasters Guatemala Chochajau (Eugene, Oregon)

When Slightly Coffee’s head roaster, Joe (yes, that really is his name! How appropriate, right?), sent me the sample of his excellent Ethiopia Torea Village, he also included a small bag of this Guatemala Chochajau. It was a bit too small of a quantity for me to do a full battery of tests in my usual brewing methods (Hario V60, AeroPress, Chemex, French press) so I opted to skip the Chemex and to just try the coffee in the other three methods.

Whole bean: There was just the barest hint of oil on these lovely medium-roast beans. The beans smelled nutty with a hint of cocoa. I was reminded of Nutella.

French press: Tangy, rich, delicious cup that had a great balance of tangerine complexity and milk chocolate sweetness.

AeroPress: A really sweet, thick, fudgy cup of coffee. Decadent!

V60: A much more mild cup than the other methods. Clean, light-bodied brew that tasted of semi-sweet chocolate with walnut on the finish.

Summary: This is a really pleasing Guatemalan coffee that should appeal to just about everybody! The rich sweetness of nutty chocolate with the hint of complexity and brightness from the tangerine really tastes great straight out of the French press. However, if citrus isn’t really your thing (but chocolate and nuts are), try this coffee in one of the other brewing methods.

From the roaster: Flowers and spice, everything nice

Slightly Coffee Roasters Guatemala Chochajau

Review conducted 4 days post-roast.

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.

 

Review: Roseline Coffee Ecuador Rosa Encarnacion (Portland, Oregon)

I’ve reviewed Roseline coffees multiple times before, and I think of all the coffee companies I’ve done repeat reviews for, Roseline is among the most consistently stellar (others I would include in that category are Klatch and Heart). I’ve gotten their beans in retail shops located both in Dallas and in their hometown of Portland, but I broke with tradition and ordered a couple of bags from them online, thanks to an Instagram ad they put out featuring this coffee I’m about to review. Congrats, guys, your social media ads work!

This particular bag called out to me because I have a friend that adores rose-flavored anything, and it listed rosewater in its flavor notes, so game on. I figured I would give her some of these beans as a gift if they were as rosy as I thought they might be. 

Whole bean: Very bright scent – floral, kind of astringent. Loud. I had an image in my head of furniture and fashion from the 1970s.

Yep. That pattern is about right! (And no, this is NOT my house!)

V60: At a 3:30 extraction, this cup was very floral. I could taste petals and stems, as if someone had thrown a small bouquet of flowers in a Vitamix. A bit too much for me – it was so bright, I felt like I needed shades!

AeroPress: Bright with flavors of lemon and stone fruit along with flowers. I wrote in my notes that both this and the V60 cup were more pleasant with pumpkin bread, but really, what isn’t more pleasant with pumpkin bread?

Chemex: This was a drastic change in flavor. Smooth, sweet and mildly nutty like cashews. Way more approachable vs. the Secret Garden Smoothie that was the V60 cup!

French press: This cup was the most complex of the bunch, with an aroma of fruit punch in addition to layers of macadamia nuts and flowers.

Summary: This is a coffee that reveals very different personalities depending on the brewing method. I liked the complexity of it in a French press, and I also enjoyed how delicate it was in the Chemex, but the Secret Garden Smoothie that resulted from the Hario V60 was just a little much! A hint of flowery flavor is nice, but this felt unbalanced.

From the roaster: Plum, rosewater, macadamia nut

I am behind on posting reviews, so again, this coffee is no longer available on the Roseline website, but here’s a link to their online store: Roseline Coffee Roasters Online Store

Review conducted 7 days post-roast.

Review: Klatch Coffee Panama Altieri Washed Geisha (Rancho Cucamonga, California)

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a fan of Klatch. I don’t order from them very often, simply because there are so many great roasters out there to try, but I’ve never had a cup of Klatch Coffee that I didn’t like. Some of their roasts have been among my favorite cups of coffee EVER.

I recently got an email alert that Klatch was offering a sale on Geisha coffee, and it took me approximately 0.02 seconds to click the link to start browsing! The price of this coffee has been reduced from $39.95 to $29.95 for 8 ounces… it’s still expensive, clearly, but I thought it would be worth a try. Klatch has clear notes about roast dates for coffees this special – this Panama Geisha is only roasted on Mondays, and I have a feeling it won’t be offered for very much longer. I ordered this coffee the week of May 1, and at the time they were also offering a Panama Altieri Natural Geisha, but that’s no longer on the site. Jump on this ASAP if you want to try it.

Whole bean: Mild nutty fragrance that smelled like macadamia nuts and cashews, with a subtle note of tropical fruit. Papaya?

V60: This had a really mild but pleasant aroma, like just catching the barest whiff of perfume. Whispers of caramel and melon. This cup brewed for 2:30, and I think it could have used a finer grind for a bit more extraction, because the final brew tasted a bit bland and watered down to my palate. Not bad, but I was hoping for more flavor, especially for this expensive of a coffee!

AeroPress: Now HERE is the flavor I was wanting. Don’t you dare dilute this with any additional water! This brew was sugary, with notes of nectarine, and it tasted terrifically vibrant and alive.

Chemex: This method produced a coffee that was even more mild than the V60 cup. It had a hint of floral aroma, and it was sweet, but rather bland and plain. I don’t think I particularly care for this coffee in filtered pourover methods. With that said, I served this brew on a couple of occasions to Shutterbug (who usually drinks coffee with milk and sugar added) and he was able to enjoy this coffee with just a bit of sugar added (no milk). It is quite smooth.

Yes, I probably committed some kind of crime letting someone add sugar to a Geisha coffee, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right?

French press: Smooth, sweet, with lovely body and a delicious tangy finish. It reminded me a bit of nougat and brown sugar with a touch of tangerine. This was my second favorite method after the AeroPress.

Summary: $60/lb + shipping is quite the splurge for coffee, and I don’t think too many of my readers would be crazy enough to do this, but if this coffee sounds appealing to you, I’d encourage you to act now before it’s gone. I loved this coffee in the AeroPress, as it really brought out exciting flavors, but other methods produce smoother, more balanced cups. You won’t get a bad cup of coffee with this stuff. Is it worth the cost? I’d say for an occasional treat, yes.

From the roaster: “It offers a sweet fusion of melon, floral and raspberry aromatics. An enchanting sense of sweet floral aromatics. The flavors in the cup bring out notes of cantaloupe, peach, sugar cane, marshmallow, and a beautiful finish of floral nectar.”

Klatch Panama Altieri Washed Geisha

Review conducted at 4 days post-roast.

Review: Quills Coffee Ecuador La Papaya (Louisville, Kentucky)

I’m always on the lookout for new coffee roasters to try, and this one came across my radar thanks to my friend Chloé’s recommendation. Quills is based in Louisville, Kentucky, and they have 4 cafes nationwide (2 in Kentucky, and 2 in Indiana).

Fun fact – they are partnering up with Alabama-based artisan popsicle company Steel City Pops and opening a joint cafe/popsicle shop in Louisville later this year. Lucky Kentucky!! I adore these popsicles…

When I was trying to decide what coffees to purchase from the Quills website, I paused for a moment when I saw the price of this Ecuador La Papaya ($25 for 12 ounces??) but hey, life is short… Plus, I managed to make use of a coupon code for a 20% discount so that helped assuage any guilt I might have felt for the cost.

Whole bean: Can something smell pink? All I could think when I smelled these beans were various shades of pink. Pink lemonade. Magenta. It was vibrant, it was sweet, it smelled LOUD, if that makes sense. So intriguing.

V60: I ground these on the fine side and the extraction time ended up being 4:05, which is longer than I usually do for this method, but the coffee didn’t seem to suffer for it. In fact, it was delicious… very smooth, sweet aroma and flavor that was mostly of hibiscus. I loved this.

AeroPress: Drinkable straight, though it did make my eyes bug out of my head with its intensity!! It’s better with a bit of water added after brewing. Vanilla was the dominant flavor.

Chemex: Floral, subtle flavors and scents. Gorgeous in the cup! If magenta was a flavor, I tasted magenta in this coffee. A little less sweet than the V60 cup, but only just.

French press: Powdery, pleasant cup but less fruity than the other methods.

Summary: This coffee is a stunner brewed in pourover methods. I really appreciated the vibrancy of the flavors! I don’t know what it was about this coffee that made me think pink, but it was intensely, strongly, unabashedly pink. I absolutely loved it.

From the roaster: tangy pomegranate, strawberries and cream, berry jam

Quills Coffee Ecuador La Papaya

Review conducted 7 days post-roast.

Review: Anthology Coffee Burundi Nyangwe Bourbon (Detroit, Michigan)

On my recent trip to Michigan (where I picked up bags from Astro Coffee of Andytown and George Howell beans), I had hoped to find beans from a local Michigan roaster. Sadly, I arrived in Detroit just slightly too late to pick up any coffee from Anthology Coffee’s location… on Saturdays, their shop closes at 4 pm, and I arrived at the store at 4:03 pm. This pretty much sums up my reaction:

Happily though, the magic of the US Postal Service allowed me to get my hands on beans from this Michigan roaster anyway. This was the first of two bags that I ordered.

First off: what are bourbon beans? Don’t get excited, there’s no bourbon in these beans, nor are they aged in bourbon barrels. Rather, Bourbon refers to a particular family of coffee bean. Most people know that there are two main kinds of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta. Within the Arabica category, there are categories such as (but not limited to) Geisha, Typica, and Bourbon. The name Bourbon has to do with this varietal’s cultivation on the island of Bourbon (now known as Réunion) in the Indian Ocean, rather than from any use of the spirit. Sorry, Maker’s Mark fans!

Whole bean: Very bright aroma, that smelled like a vaguely floral perfume. This does not smell like a typical coffee, that’s for sure!

French press: Smooth mouthfeel gave way to a bright flavor full of green grape, white wine, and vanilla. There was also a hint of paper towel/pulp aroma in this cup, which was perplexing to me as a french press uses no paper filters. Weird!

Chemex: Even though I know Bourbon coffees have nothing to do with bourbon the alcoholic spirit, this particular brewing method did produce a coffee that tasted downright boozy to me. It was rather astringent in character. Not my favorite.

AeroPress: Smooth and easy to drink without any additional water added, with an aroma and flavor of spearmint.

V60: This cup had the darkest depth of flavor of the four methods. Toast and vanilla. Very easy to drink, if a bit simpler in character than the others.

Summary: I enjoyed the complexity of flavors best from the coffee brewed in the french press, though the papery taste was distracting. The V60 cup was less complex but pleasant to drink.

From the roaster: No tasting notes provided

Anthology Coffee Burundi Nyangwe Bourbon

Review conducted 4 days post-roast.