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.

Review: Wrecking Ball Coffee Ethiopia Classic Yirgacheffe (San Francisco, California)

This is my first experience with Wrecking Ball Coffee. I had initially heard about them through this article on Sprudge, and found their approach to coffee interesting (iced cappuccinos?? I’m not big on iced drinks, but kudos to them for trying something new). Plus, I love that their house espresso blend is named “Pillow Fight“! Someday I will try that blend, but for this particular order, I wanted to go with a single-origin coffee.

Whole bean: Smells a lot like jasmine tea. Once ground, it became SUPER bright and fragrant. I was overwhelmed (in a good way).

V60: A rather flowery-smelling brew with flavors of green grape and dark chocolate.

AeroPress: The concentrate was quite strong, full of grassy/floral flavor. I added just a touch of water and it balanced the coffee for the better. The brew became a little chocolaty with a hint of lavender.

Chemex: For me, this method was the star of the show. Somehow, brewing this coffee in a Chemex made the resulting coffee completely different in character than in the other three methods. It was quite light in color and light-bodied. Ultra easy-drinking brew, with notes of caramel, shortbread, butter, and a hint of lavender. Delicate. Delicious.

French press: Intense aroma of almond and flowers. This was a flavor explosion in the mouth.

Summary: Get your hands on this coffee and brew it in a Chemex for a really superb flavor experience!

From the roaster: Floral, citrusy, clean, complex, balanced.

Wrecking Ball Coffee Ethiopia Classic Yirgacheffe

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: Coava Coffee Roasters El Salvador La Esperanza, Limited Edition (Portland, Oregon)

Coava (pronounced KOH-vuh) has made quite a reputation for itself in the Portland coffee scene. The word “coava” refers to green (unroasted) coffee beans. This company offers only single-origin coffees; no blends. I had the pleasure of visiting one of their cafes while in Portland and had a memorable cup of Guatemalan coffee while sitting at a gleaming wooden table enjoying a bit of afternoon sunshine. Bliss!

This limited edition La Esperanza is one of the bags I picked up at Barista at the same time I picked up the Roseline Catapult Espresso Blend. Bless the employee that didn’t make fun for me for asking for more details about “koh-AH-vuh,” but instead very gently corrected me by saying how much he liked KOH-vuh. Compassion and coffee!

Whole bean: Light, bright aromas of white wine and green grapes. Ground, it brought out a chocolate bar scent.

V60: This tasted pretty much like the beans smelled – like a cup of cocoa with the tartness of green grapes. This might sound like a weird combination, but it was actually quite interesting to my palate! I like it.

AeroPress: Tart and bright as a concentrate. Adding a bit of water made it smoother and easier to drink but the brew kept some complex dimension to it. This had a pretty dry finish.

Chemex: This method brought out a better balance between the cocoa + green grape flavors – less interesting perhaps but more accessible. Sweeter overall with a finishing note of golden raisins.

French press: This had the most notes of all of the methods – it had a wider range of the depth (cocoa) and the top notes (fruit). In musical terms, the V60 might be a piccolo + tuba; AeroPress – saxophone duet; Chemex – string quartet, French press – full orchestra. The flavor spun in my mouth like the last chord of a symphony.

Summary: This limited edition coffee from Coava was a nice place to start as my introduction to this roaster. I look forward to trying some of their other offerings soon! My personal favorite this day was the French press because I enjoyed the epic character of the flavor.

This coffee is not currently sold online.

Coava Coffee Roasters Home Page

Review: Kuma Coffee Guatemala Finca La Folie (Seattle, Washington)

Whenever I come across a roaster whom I’m not familiar with, I like looking at the “About” section of their website to get an idea of what makes them tick. Kuma Coffee’s story is interesting to me, as the founder is the son of American missionaries that moved to Kenya when he was a child. During that time in Kenya, he got to know and love African coffee. After moving back to the United States and working as a barista in Seattle for a number of years, he decided to start roasting as a hobby, which morphed into the business it is today.

I suppose it’s too bad I couldn’t try a Kenyan coffee from this roaster, since it sounds like that’s where the journey all started. Maybe next time!

Whole bean: Light tea-like fragrance with orange peel. Once ground, it smelled like cocoa powder with some citrus notes.

French press: This had a delicate aroma that was very inviting – it gently cajoles you into taking a sip! Cream/butter texture with a nice sweetness. It had a bit of orange flavor that wasn’t tart at all. The aftertaste was much like a refreshing white wine.

Chemex: The coffee mostly smelled like tea and the paper filter it passed through. I first wrote down “cardboard,” but realized after a few seconds that it was more “paper bag.” This was even considering I had rinsed the filter thoroughly. I have heard that bleached filters impart less of a papery taste than unbleached filters (which is what I currently use), so the next time I need to get filters, I’ll buy a pack of bleached ones to see if this claim is true. I haven’t been bothered by a “papery” taste in the past but in the last week or so, I’ve started noticing this more, so perhaps I’m getting sensitive to the odor/taste.

Back to the coffee! The brew made my mouth pucker, like I was eating tart grapes. The sweetness was definitely less pronounced in this cup vs. the french press cup.

AeroPress: I brewed this as a concentrate and then added water to cut the tart intensity a bit. Once I did that, sweet citrus flavors emerged. This cup rivals the french press cup in body, even through the AeroPress filter. It was slightly less flavorful though, probably due to the lower extraction time. The bags of Craft Coffee that I get come in 4 oz sizes, which leaves me JUST enough to do one round of tastings. If I had more of these beans, I would try this in the inverted method to let the beans steep longer.

V60: Light body with a dry finish. Less fruit and sweetness in this cup vs. the other methods.

Summary: Like other Guatemalan coffees I’ve had in the past, this was a light and citrusy cup. The French press method imparted the most flavor and body to this coffee, which I liked. I would also be curious about how this coffee would do in the inverted method in the AeroPress, as I think it would result in the best of both worlds – a nice clean, sludge-free cup with bright, interesting flavors.

From the roaster: Blood orange, pomelo, chocolate, green grape

Kuma Coffee Guatemala Finca La Folie

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