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: Roseline Coffee Colombia El Ventilador (Portland, Oregon)

I ordered this bag at the same time I ordered the Roseline Ecuador Rosa Encarnacion, and I knew that as bright and divisive as the Rosa Encarnacion was, this Colombian coffee was likely to be completely different. I tend to gravitate toward Colombian coffees when I want something tasty and interesting but not too outside the box. I am used to tasting citrus and honey flavors in my Colombians, so I hoped this roast would fit the bill.

Whole bean: Sugar. Butter cookie. Marzipan. Delicious tangy scent like clover honey. Wow!

French press: This was sweet and rich with an undeniable note of citrus (tangelo).

Chemex: All I wrote in my notes here was the word “bright.” I had a little difficulty with the grind size and had to make this coffee twice (I guessed too coarse of a grind). I’m going to guess that this was not my favorite brew method.

AeroPress: Really thick and tangy brew that tasted strongly of both citrus and honey. I tried adding water but it immediately became bland, even with just a touch of it. Stick to drinking this as a concentrate.

V60: With an extraction time of 3:30, this had the least amount of citrus flavor, which is good if you’re not into that. It spoke mostly of brown sugar and had a pleasant bitterness to the finish, which would go extremely well with a sweet treat.

Summary: If you like citrus and honey, this is the coffee for you. It was lively and delicious with varying levels of those two flavors depending on the brew method.

From the roaster: Panela, butter cookie, and citrus

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 at 4-6 days post-roast.

Review: Cultivar Coffee Guatemala Diamante (Dallas, Texas)

Ahhh, Cultivar. Over the past couple of years (since I’ve started this blog), I’ve gotten to know quite a few Dallas-Fort Worth area roasters, and Cultivar is consistently one of my very favorites. I don’t drink coffee from them as often as you’d think, since I’m constantly buying coffee from various places around the country (and world!), but they have yet to disappoint. In fact, the very first bag I had from this roaster landed in my Best of 2015 list for its gorgeous plum, chocolate, and spicy sweetness, and the next bag was very memorable as well for its notes of nectarine and creme brulee. I couldn’t wait to crack open this bag of their Guatemala Diamante!

Whole bean: Fresh and clean aroma. Pear, sweet chocolate, cashew.

V60: At an extraction time of 2:20, the coffee had a pleasant, powdery finish. Chocolaty flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

AeroPress. Marzipan. This was awesome!! I enjoyed this as a concentrate – no need to dilute this with water. If I had more of this coffee, I think it would be worth exploring pulling it as a single-origin espresso. Perhaps next time…

Chemex: Bit tangy of a result – I had a hard time pinpointing specific flavors, but it was definitely brighter in the cup than any other method.

French press: This made a really rich, oily cup of coffee, but it didn’t taste “dark” or over-roasted. In fact, compared to the V60 and AeroPress cups, I felt it was a bit lacking in flavor.

Summary: I like Guatemalan coffee for its sweet, nutty characteristics, and getting a cup that tasted like marzipan was pretty freaking delicious. Definitely try this brewed in an AeroPress! It was also very nice, if a little less distinctive, brewed in the V60.

From the roaster: Pear, hazelnut, chocolate

Cultivar Coffee Guatemala Diamante

Review conducted 6 days post-roast.

Review: Stumptown Coffee Roasters Sleigh Ride (Portland, Oregon)

I almost never buy “holiday blends,” but this bag was a nice surprise at a Whole Foods location in Phoenix during the Christmas holidays. Impressively, it was only 4 days off roast when I bought it! That’s exceptionally fresh coffee for retail, especially considering that the nearest Stumptown roasting facility is in Los Angeles. I had to laugh a little when I saw the name of this blend, because for a freelance orchestral musician, there’s just about no other piece that evokes December and holiday craziness better than Leroy Anderson’s classic. Shaq conducting the Boston Pops in this piece is traditional viewing for me every year – I dare you to not grin while watching.

Whole bean: Scent of bittersweet chocolate and a hint of orange filled the room when I opened this bag.

V60: Light-bodied cup that tasted of chocolate but with a pleasant bite to the finish (not overly sweet). I wrote in my notes, “really good with vanilla ice cream.” Take that as you will. 😉

AeroPress: Hint of black cherry along with chocolate. Overall flavor is a bit edgy, not very sweet.

Chemex: Sesame seeds?? This cup smelled like tahini paste. Weirdly savory and confounding flavor – what a left turn from the whole bean and the other methods. And yes, my Chemex was clean…

French press: Smooth scent and flavor of dark chocolate with a bit of powdery brightness on the finish. This was my favorite method for these beans.

Summary: For a blend, I was surprised at the flavor variation produced by the different methods. I think brewing it in a French press produces the best cup, as I like the comforting richness and fuller body of this method (it reminds me a little bit of hot cocoa!), and it seems to feel right for wintertime. However, if you like a “cleaner” cup, try it in a V60. And have a nice dessert with it!

From the roaster: Sleigh Ride will bring warmth and joy to your holidays. This cup will take you on a journey with rich notes of chocolate and cherry accented by a touch of marzipan and baking spice to evoke aromas that remind us of holiday celebrations.

I undoubtedly got this bag of Sleigh Ride at the tail end of its availability (right before Christmas), and it’s not on the Stumptown website. However, here’s a link to their current coffees for sale. I can personally vouch for their Hair Bender!

Stumptown Coffee Online Store

Review: Sterling Coffee Roasters Guatemala Los Carillos (Portland, Oregon)

I had expected that I would have a streak of five reviews concentrating on Portland-area coffee roasters, but that expanded to seven once I decided to get two additional bags of Sterling Coffee Roasters’ beans. This is the last in the series; the next bag will likely be something local as I plan to attend the sold-out Dallas Coffee Day this Sunday!

Whole beans: These beans gave off a milk chocolate, vanilla bean, and chocolate milkshake aroma. Very inviting.

V60: Nope. This cup was astringent and dry – not pleasant, especially considering the sweet aroma of the beans. Plain water tasted super sweet after drinking this.

AeroPress: There was a bit of marshmallow and some lemon flavor in this concentrate. Adding water made me think of s’mores, and made it a very smooth cup.

Chemex: Clean, light, marshmallow scent and flavor on the finish.

French press: Sweet and full-bodied! This cup was most like a chocolate milkshake.

Espresso: Sterling’s website stated that they pull this as a single-origin espresso in their shops, and that it is best consumed as a straight espresso because the flavor has a tendency to get lost in milk. I only pulled a few shots before I ran out of beans, but I managed to hit their suggested parameters, and the shot was decently tasty but not as good as their Blendo Stupendo in my opinion. As a straight shot, the Guatemala Los Carillos has a somewhat generic chocolate flavor with a note of lemon. Not my favorite flavor combination. Even with a small amount of milk (about 4 oz of milk added to my 2 oz of espresso), the coffee flavor really was muted.

Summary: Based on my previous experience with Guatemalan beans, I had expected that I would enjoy this brewed in a Chemex the most, but while it was delicious in a Chemex, I actually think I preferred this particular bag of beans in the French press, as it brought out the chocolate/vanilla flavor the most. I had limited experience with this as an espresso but from what I did experience, I think this is best served as a coffee. I will say that Sterling is 3 for 3 in impressing me with their beans!

From the roaster: Look for a delicate vanilla bean fragrance when ground, and a cup that smacks of dried Mediterranean fruit, marzipan, and that sublime cocoa flavor so characteristic of Guatemala coffee. Light roasted for drip and press.

Sterling Coffee Roasters Guatemala Los Carillos