Review: Onyx Coffee Lab Colombia Eduardo Lizcano: Washed (Springdale, Arkansas)

Method Coffee has saved me on more than a couple of occasions when I have to be alert at a gig in downtown Dallas and I am running short on sleep. They also have an interesting rotating selection of roasters, and on my most recent visit, they were featuring beans from Onyx Coffee Lab.

Note the penultimate step in the brewing instructions. Don’t mind if I do.

I chose to put on one of my “perfect albums” (albums you can listen to from start to finish without skipping a track) —Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia by the Dandy Warhols.

Whole bean: cherry, like tart cherry pie.

V60: At a 3:15 extraction, there was an enticing aroma of red fruit (raspberry, I think) and caramelized sugar. The flavor was like a strong burst of lemon on the front, before it mellows into a more gentle flavor of hibiscus and fruit punch. This is definitely the brightest Colombian coffee I’ve ever tasted! Not flavors I’m used to for coffees from this country, for sure.

AeroPress: Same impressions as the V60 cup – intense at the front before it mellows into a fruity concoction, but somehow even more intense in this method.

Chemex: I underextracted this cup slightly (final brew time was 3:35), but the final product was much smoother than the previous cups. No one flavor stood out, but it was sweet.

French press: A richer, sweeter version of the Chemex cup. I distinctly tasted brown sugar here. I like it!

Summary: A bit of a confounding coffee with a whirlwind of tasting notes, but my favorite method was in the french press, for its comforting brown sugar sweetness and rich mouthfeel.

From the roaster: candied lemon, brown sugar, mouthwatering, tart cherry

As of press time, this coffee is no longer available on their website, but here’s a link to Onyx’s store:

Onyx Coffee Lab Online Store

Review conducted 8-9 days post-roast.

Review: Brown Coffee Co. Candy Factory (San Antonio, Texas)

I’m long overdue in checking out Brown Coffee Company, as they’re pretty well known in Texas and nationwide. Interesting name, isn’t it… I have no clue why the founder(s) chose the name Brown (perhaps it’s the last name of one of the people that started the company?), but in my head, I always think of the name choice as a slightly tongue-in-cheek choice. Imagine a home roaster serving a dinner guest coffee.

Guest: Wow, this coffee is so good! What kind of coffee is it?
Roaster: It’s brown.
Guest: Ha ha. Fine, then don’t tell me!

When I visited the website, I saw they had a particular blend called Candy Factory that changes seasonally, and it sounded delicious, so despite the high price tag ($25/12 oz), I went for it. This evidently is not a coffee they roast to order, as I placed my order on May 29 and I got a bag that was marked roasted May 24. Shipping took a bit longer than expected, so I wasn’t able to open the bag until June 6 (day 14 after roasting). This is a bit later than I’m used to, but I don’t think the coffee suffered for it.

Whole bean: Full of a really creamy, bright, fragrant scent. Wow. Lots of personality here!

V60: I made this with a 3:10 extraction time, and it was a really interesting cup. Deliciously sweet, with flavors of hibiscus and tangerine, with a lovely powdery finish.

AeroPress: Very bright, verging on sour. I was puckering my mouth drinking this. Strong like a lemon drop. Once I added a little additional water to the coffee, it tamed the flavor some, though it was still lively and bright. Who needs orange juice when you’ve got this eye-opener around?

Chemex: Super fragrant and juicy cup that tasted of orange and vanilla.

French press: This was an aberration – it was the most savory cup, almost to the point of being salty! Thick, full-bodied coffee that tasted juicy and rather plush, if that makes sense.

Summary: This coffee is expensive, but if you enjoy bright, fruit-forward, lively flavors, you’ll really love this coffee. I like it best in the pourover methods (V60 and Chemex), with the V60 winning my vote for the lovely complexity.

From the roaster: Dried fruits and boozy fruit jam.

Brown Coffee Co. Candy Factory

Review conducted 14 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: Patriot Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido (Lakeland, Florida)

From time to time, I get contacted by coffee companies who are interested in introducing me to their products, and I get pretty excited if it is a craft coffee company doing the talking. Such was the case when I got an email from Patriot Coffee Roasters, out of Lakeland, Florida. Take a look at their “About” page; I think you’ll clearly see the passion and dedication that is present in every word!

I had no idea what kind of coffee would be coming to my door (single-origin? blend?), as I don’t typically dictate gifts, but I was thrilled to open the box from Patriot to find this Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido. I love Ethiopian coffee, and the previous time I had tried an Idido coffee (from Novel Coffee Roasters), I was very impressed, so I couldn’t wait to crack this bag open.

Whole bean: hint of fruit in the aroma – raspberry? This almost smelled like perfume, in the best possible way. Definitely could smell hibiscus. My mouth was watering.

V60: This made a smooth cup with a hint of the perfume-like flavor I smelled in the whole bean form. Sweet but muted. This would make a great cup for newbies to Ethiopian coffee.

AeroPress: Very intense flavor, rich and satisfying. It was almost prismatic, the layers of fruit and floral flavor. Wowza.

Chemex: Delicate, like fruit tea. Sweet and fragrant. This had a whispery quality to it which I reveled in. If the AeroPress cup reminded me of Freddie Mercury’s intensity, this Chemex cup was more reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens’s hushed vocals.

French press: Richer flavor, but I felt this was unbalanced. Muddy texture and overall a less satisfying cup vs. the paper-filtered methods.

Summary: This coffee is delicious, and I rank it as the first real standout coffee I’ve had in 2017. I wouldn’t recommend it in a french press, but it makes a great cup when you use filtered methods. My personal favorite was the coffee that was made in the Chemex, because I really enjoy the subtle nuances of this origin, but it made very enjoyable cups in the Hario V60 and the AeroPress as well, depending on your tastes. Thanks to Patriot Coffee Roasters for the introduction – I’ll definitely be ordering from you guys again!

When I was writing up this review, I came across this entry on Patriot’s own blog regarding their cupping of this coffee. We agree that the french press doesn’t showcase these beans to their full potential, but they unanimously agreed that the AeroPress was the clear winner here. Potato, po-tah-to, if you ask me – it’s hard to get a bad cup of coffee with these beans!

From the roaster: stewed berries, hibiscus, nectarine, caramel sweetness, syrupy body

Patriot Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido

Review conducted at 6 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: Lift Coffee Ethiopia Kochere (Riverside, California)

Here is another selection from Craft Coffee. This coffee reminded me a lot of the Three Ships Konga Ethiopia Yirgacheffe that I reviewed back in March. Both are natural-processed Ethiopian heirloom varietals, and the beans are quite lightly roasted and smaller than typically seen.

Whole beans: Bright, juicy berry aroma. It smells like a mix of tart blueberries and raspberries. Once the beans were ground, they got super sweet and it smelled like blueberry muffins. Yum!

French press: Once the slight plasticky scent that I find common to natural-processed Ethiopian coffees dissipated, I tasted a lot of cocoa powder and raspberry. A little tart and bright, but the most dominant flavor was the rich depth of cocoa. Very juicy cup.

Chemex: Very little cocoa in this – it had a thin body that smelled like raspberries. It also had a hint of floral character. I could definitely taste the hibiscus.

AeroPress: I got even more cocoa in this cup than in the french press cup. This had very little if any fruit character to it. Very smooth, but I felt it was a bit dull compared to the other methods.

V60: This cup struck a nice balance between the Chemex and french press cups with a cleaner, drier finish.

Summary: Lively, bright coffee with lots of red berry flavor. My favorite of this batch was the french press rendition, as I thought the dichotomy between the cocoa and the raspberry notes was very nice. The Chemex cup was also delicious!

Notes from the roaster: Floral scents of hibiscus reveal bittersweet flavors of raw cocoa and ripe gooseberries.

This coffee is not currently offered online.

Lift Coffee Roasters

Review: Victrola Ethiopia Yirgacheffe “YIRGZ” (Seattle, Washington)

My first experience with Victrola’s beans was their Kenya Nyeri Tambaya Peaberry, which was NOT a favorite of mine, but I have heard enough good things about this roaster that I decided that I needed to pick up a different bag of theirs while in Seattle. I am fond of washed Ethiopian coffees, so I decided to give their YIRGZ a try.

This is a little different than a typical Ethiopia Yirgacheffe due to the YIRGZ classification; the “Z” stands for zero defect. The beans are sorted three times for color, size, and density to separate the most exceptional beans from the rest of the crop. Washed (or wet-process) Ethiopian beans have a reputation for being very floral and sweet.

The scent of the whole beans reminded me of ground almonds and amaretto syrup. Ground, it brought out a slight cherry aroma.

V60: Definitely floral (jasmine?) and fragrant. Had a little sour note on the aftertaste, but not unpleasant. Tangy and bright.

AeroPress: Smooth and full-bodied with a little bit of floral character. This was my favorite for its personality – sweet but not shy!

Chemex: The coffee smelled like iced tea. The flavor was very clean, but all of the subtle fruity notes were stripped away in this method. As it cooled, it started to smell like asian pears, but the taste seemed almost watered down to me compared to the richness of the AeroPress cup.

French press: This cup had more tannins and was less sweet than the previous cups. It was okay, but I got too much tea-like flavor and not enough fruit/floral notes.

Summary: I like this much better than the last coffee I tried from Victrola. The AeroPress cup was my favorite for the lovely balance between the rich mouthfeel and the bright, flowery flavors.

From the roaster: Ginger, cherry, hibiscus, lemongrass.

Victrola Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Yirgacheffe YIRGZ