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: Batdorf and Bronson Kenya AA Gatumbi (Atlanta, Georgia)

This is the second of two bags I picked up from the Batdorf and Bronson cafe in Atlanta (the first was their excellent Dancing Goats Blend). I’m always intrigued by Kenyan coffees as no two of them have ever been quite the same, so I was curious what awaited me in this bag.

Whole bean: The beans look to be a nice medium roast – a little darker than I’ve observed in the past from other roasters, but not “dark” by any means. The air was filled with a butterscotch sweetness when I broke the seal, and I was reminded of nougat from candy bars.

French press: The coffee smelled a bit plasticky right off the bat, but it faded after a minute. Upon my first sip, my tongue was flooded with the taste of chocolate truffles. Decadence in a mug!

Chemex: All I wrote here were the words “vanilla pudding.” Wow.

AeroPress: Vague flavor of toasted almond, but it was obscured by an unpleasant acidity. Adding a bit of water helped tame the acidity to manageable levels, but this wasn’t my favorite method for this coffee.

V60: This method had the most character, with flavors of peach and raw almond. Very nice!

Summary: If you like sweet chocolate and vanilla flavors, try this in a french press or a Chemex. If you like fruitier finishes, try this in a V60. I couldn’t choose a personal favorite – they are all so different but all very enjoyable!

From the roaster: Silky and sweet. Peach, molasses, butterscotch

This coffee is not currently available on their website, but here’s a link to Batdorf and Bronson’s online store

Review: Redroaster Coffee Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aricha (Brighton, England)

I had the great luck and pleasure of being able to spend just over a week traveling in southern England earlier this year. One of my destinations on this trip was the seaside city of Brighton, and the weather really was idyllic during my visit: sunny, breezy, and comfortable. My sunglasses got a lot of use — not something I expected to happen in England!

There were several coffee shops that popped up on my radar to check out, but I was limited on time, so I chose to visit the Red Roaster Coffee House because of the good reputation of their beans, and it happened to be a short walk from the B&B where I was staying. Upon walking in, I felt immediately comfortable – it was an airy, spacious shop, with lovely round tables and antique looking coffee decor lining the walls (including some vintage equipment). I ordered a Colombian coffee made as a pourover, and it was delicious – a nice slightly minty, chocolaty bite prevailed in this brew. My only quibble was that they served the coffee to me in a glass (like the kind of glass that I would get at a pub). It looked attractive, but the coffee cooled down much more quickly when served in a glass vs. when served in a mug/thick ceramic. By the time I got to the end of my cup, it was quite cold.

I opted to get these Ethiopian beans as they were the freshest they had available. There actually was an issue with the stamped roast date; it was stamped as roasted on August 22, but according to the baristas, it was actually roasted on September 1. I opted to trust the baristas on this even though I was a bit nervous about this. I ended up doing the tasting on September 16, so I hope they were correct! The coffee seemed decently fresh, so I am inclined to trust them.

Whole bean: almond, amaretto, licorice, peach

V60: Bitter at the forefront – too long of a brew (at 3:20)? When I tasted it again 5 min later, the coffee had smoothed out some but it was still quite a punch to the face. Assertive. Thick. No fruit flavor; mostly tasted of black licorice.

AeroPress: DARK hot chocolate. So sweet and smooth! Shocking, especially compared to the V60 cup! Peach on finish.

Chemex: Caramel on the front. Amaretto on the finish.

French: I just wrote “complex” in my notes with no other details. I’m gonna guess it was pretty confounding.

Summary: I have had a lot of Ethiopian coffee over the past few years, both natural- and wet-processed. This coffee was unlike any other Ethiopian coffee I’d had before, with its unexpected flavors of licorice and stone fruit combined with almond/amaretto. It was a nice reminder to not just assume all Ethiopian coffees will fit a narrow flavor profile (berry sweetness for natural-processed; floral/citrus for washed varieties).

From the roaster: No flavor notes provided by the roaster.

Redroaster Coffee doesn’t appear to sell their beans online, but you can find them at their cafe in Brighton, England, or contact them about wholesale orders through their website.

Review: Caffe Vita East Timor Hatuhei (Seattle, Washington)

On my recent trip to New York City, I told myself that I needed to limit my coffee purchasing to just two bags of coffee, and they needed to both be roasters which were new to me. Birch Coffee’s Emma Espresso was the first, and this bag from Caffe Vita is the other. Now, I’ve actually had Caffe Vita before, so I feel like I am cheating just a tiny bit from my resolve. I had a cup from a storefront across the street from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon, and I had another cup at a corner cafe on a different trip to Portland. Both cups struck me as being on the darker side than I usually drink, and darker than I typically get from ubiquitous roasters like Heart and Stumptown. Is this bad? Not necessarily. I decided it warranted further investigation.

Whole bean: The bag itself, once opened, has a pretty strong smell of plastic (perhaps it’s something to do with the inner coating?). However, the beans were rather fruity, like peaches and cherries.

V60: Toasty and milk chocolaty flavors at the start, but on the finish, this brew tasted like nail polish smells. Terribly astringent. I don’t know what it was about this, but it tasted like chemicals and rubbing alcohol. Not my favorite! Surprisingly though, when I came back to this cup after it had cooled down, it smelled JUST like french vanilla ice cream.

AeroPress: Slightly burnt tasting when consumed straight; I had to add water. Once the water was added, it was a pleasant, if slightly generic tasting coffee.

Chemex: Same notes as the V60 method, but even more objectionable. Something about the pourover method must just bring out notes in this coffee that overpower the cup and make it smell/taste strange.

French press: This was the best method for this coffee, in my opinion. The coffee had a nice deep toasty flavor that was accented by a slight hint of nectarine.

Summary: Coffee from this region of the world is not my personal favorite and I don’t drink much of it, so take my opinion for what it’s worth ($0.02?), but I think this particular bean is best suited to being brewed in a french press. Back when I used to drink Sumatran coffee more regularly, the french press was my favorite brewing method for that bean, and I do think it coaxes out the best flavors for beans similar to it. This coffee is fruitier than most Sumatrans, but it shares many of the same characteristics in the cup.

From the roaster: Maplewood, toffee, marionberry, black tea

Caffe Vita East Timor Hatuhei

Review: Roseline Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Gera (Portland, Oregon)

I know I bring them up a lot on this blog, but I have to give props to Houndstooth Coffee in Dallas for continuing to offer an intriguing rotating selection of roasters in addition to their house roaster (Tweed). On a recent visit, I was delighted to see bags of Roseline Coffee! I have reviewed Roseline’s Catapult Blend before and enjoyed it very much (once I figured out that it was an espresso blend), so it wasn’t a hard decision for me to grab this bag of their Ethiopia Gera.

This funny exchange happened at the shop:

Me: “Awesome! You guys have Roseline!”
Barista: “Whoa, you know Roseline?! And you pronounced it correctly!”
Me: …… “How else would you pronounce it?”
Barista: “We’ve had people saying Ross-lynn, Rose-lynn…”
Me:
tn_aTumP2D

The barista I chatted with said that she was particularly excited about this Ethiopia Gera, which made me look forward to trying it even more!

Whole bean: Light, nutty aroma.

French press: This was a plush, radiant coffee that had a really delicate and smooth flavor. A little nutty, a little sweet, a little juicy. It whispers and caresses the palate. Absolutely lovely. I was dumbfounded.

Chemex: Tea-like body but juicy. So refined! Not hugely different from the french press version, but perhaps a bit brighter in flavor. I enjoyed this a lot.

AeroPress: This rendition was the most bright/acidic of the four when consumed straight, but it wasn’t unpleasant – just a little louder than the other brews. Adding just a touch of water to the concentrate smoothed and sweetened it out.

V60: Peachy, silky and sweet. Damn good.

Summary: This is the first coffee I’ve had in 2016 that really blew me away. I love the delicate balance of flavors and how it just shimmers in the mouth, like you’re holding a gossamer ball of light on your tongue. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, so if you’re used to coffee slapping you awake in the morning, this will seem really mild-mannered and polite in comparison. But, for those times when you want to sit and contemplate the beauty inherent in things that are fleeting (which for me is a lot of the time!), this coffee fits the bill.

From the roaster: peach, chestnut, oolong tea

I am heartbroken to say that this coffee is not currently available on Roseline’s website. I feel like such a tease.

(Edited 4/14/16: It’s up! Roseline Coffee Ethiopia Gera)

Roseline Coffee Online Store

Review: Ascension Rwanda Cyimbili Gold (Dallas, Texas)

This bag was a sweet gift from my friends Julee and Brian. Thanks to one of my favorite couples! 🙂

Ascension has a pretty strong local presence here in Dallas, and their Peruvian Silk blend made it into my top 10 list for 2015. I’m always happy to review a bag of their beans.

Whole bean: Strong berry aroma. Very sweet fragrance that was an amalgam of red wine and honey.

French press: Awesome rich blackberry flavor with a thick body in the cup. Enjoyable. I wrote down “Pinot Noir” in my notes, but that isn’t a great descriptor since not all Pinot Noirs taste the same.

Chemex: This cup was quite fragrant. Deliciously sweet, fruity aroma. The blackberry flavor in the cup was both tart and sweet with a dry finish. It brought back memories of a summer I spent in Maine, and having the experience of picking and eating fresh blackberries straight off the bushes.

AeroPress: I wasn’t a fan of this cup. Initially, I thought this cup smelled like bug spray! Thankfully, the smell went away quickly but I didn’t find much about this cup to like. It was too strong and overwhelming to drink as a concentrate, but when I added water, it tasted bland.

V60: Ho-hum in the cup. Not sweet. This ended up a little bit metallic tasting, so I tried again with a slightly finer grind. The second time, I got a bit of toasted marshmallow and peach flavor in the coffee but it was a bit bitter as well, even at only a 2:45 extraction time.

Summary: A blackberry-heavy coffee that tasted best to me in a french press, but I think it would also be delicious brewed in a Chemex and served slightly sweetened over ice – sort of like blackberry iced tea but in coffee form.

From the roaster: Blackberry, peach, smooth body

This coffee is not currently available online.

Ascension Coffee Roasters Online Store

Review: Commonwealth Coffee Panama Carmen Estate (Denver, Colorado)

I’ve had my eye on trying Commonwealth Coffee for a while, since I saw that Oak Lawn Coffee in Dallas carries their beans along with Heart Coffee (one of my favorite roasters). Commonwealth is a young company (it’s only been around for a little over two years), and when I read the “About Us” section on the company’s website, the word that kept coming into my head was “inclusive” (though it was not a word used). These guys do NOT sound like snobs, that’s for sure!

Whole bean: These smell awesome. Creamy and complex aroma.

V60: I admit, my very first impression immediately after brewing this cup was off-putting because it smelled to me like cherry cough syrup. However, that scent dissipated very quickly and there was no trace of that flavor in the cup (thank goodness)! This was a bright, deceptively smooth cup that was reminiscent of cherry limeade (but definitely weighted more toward lime than cherry). Rich, creamy finish.

AeroPress: Butterscotch sweetness and richness, plus bright lemon flavor. This was a satisfying cup that needed no additional water to dilute the concentrate – I was quite happy to drink this straight.

Chemex: This was a complex cup that had a dry finish reminiscent of a Bordeaux. Very nice!

French press: Of the four cups, I had the hardest time pinning down the flavors here. Delicious syrupy body with rich flavors of toffee, cherry, and rose. This cup really made me slow down and have to think about what it was I was drinking. Great if you’re already awake, but I don’t know that I would be able to handle this at 6:00 am on a weekday — it might be too complicated for my fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain to fully enjoy! I feel like this coffee would be a combination of the overtly chipper voice of morning-show radio DJs plus the thought-provoking content of NPR/public radio. Nothing wrong with either of these things, but I would have to be in the right mood to not be overwhelmed and/or irritated by the combination. 😉

Summary: A pleasantly complex bean that will please people that like bright flavors. I wasn’t able to pick out most of the flavors in the roaster’s notes, but I did enjoy this brewed in a French press. I’m looking forward to trying other offerings from Commonwealth in the future.

From the roaster: Peach jam, cinnamon, kaffir lime, vanilla ice cream

This coffee is not currently sold online.

Commonwealth Coffee Online Store

Review: Case Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Mogeyes (Ashland, Oregon)

This review covers my other bag that I received from Case Coffee Roasters in my recent shipment. I like a lot of different kinds of coffees, but I really do enjoy Ethiopian coffee so I was pretty excited to see what would come of this bag.

One detail I neglected to mention before is that Case’s bags are 10.5 ounces. Most coffee companies offer bags in either 12 ounce or 16 ounce sizes, but we are seeing more specialty roasters offering bags in smaller sizes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of these smaller bags are being carried by companies that offer free shipping.

Whole bean: Fruity scent that is reminiscent of mango. Ground, it smelled like pie crust.

V60: Sweet, moutherwatering aroma. Light to medium bodied. Mango. Floral aroma and flavor on the finish that reminded me of lilies.

AeroPress: Too strong to drink straight. This tasted like I had taken a mixed bouquet of flowers and spun it in a Vitamix. Once I added water, the flavor was much more subtle and delicate; nothing stood out in particular but it tasted like a sunny spring day. Delicate and pleasant. As it cooled, the coffee revealed a scent like grapefruit.

Chemex: Light brew with a little lemon flavor. Bright, lovely, and demure coffee. This drink curtesyed in my mouth!

French press: The heavier body to this cup made for a vanilla-esque flavor and character in addition to the other flavors I noted in the previous cups. Beautiful.

Summary: All of these cups were very nice (just make sure you add water to the AeroPress brew!) and would be a lovely choice for anyone that enjoys washed Ethiopian coffees or prefers subtle, delicate coffee. Not a good choice for anyone that likes dark, assertive coffee or adds cream to their cup – I think that milk + flowers and grapefruit and mango would be weird…

From the roaster: Mango, peach, fresh

Case Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Mogeyes

Review: Quasar Coffee Rwanda Kibuye Valley (Chicago, Illinois)

I kind of take for granted these days that pretty much all companies will have websites. It was a surprise when in the process of writing this review, I could barely find any hint of an online presence for Quasar Coffee Roasters, outside of a sparse Instagram feed and a Twitter account (both of which link to the company website, the fascinating 404 Not Found). However, I did glean that whoever runs the Twitter account (which I assume is the founder of Quasar) is a hip-hop fan.

What I do know of Quasar Coffee is that it’s a small operation based out of Chicago. They may not be big, but they are apparently good enough to get on Craft Coffee’s radar!

Whole bean: A little bit earthy and nutty. I couldn’t really put my finger on what I was smelling, but it wasn’t very strong in any case.

French press: Sweet flavors reminiscent of toffee and peach. As it cooled, I was reminded of hazelnuts and fresh cream. It almost was like I added some sort of non-dairy flavored creamer to my coffee, but without all the artificial flavors and weird chemicals.

Chemex: I did not dig this. It smells a bit like cough syrup. Tart on the finish with a medicinal taste.

AeroPress: Toasty and a little sweet with minimal fruit. This was pleasant but less interesting to me than the french press cup.

V60: The ground coffee had a vegetal scent to it that I found odd. Once it was brewed, it tasted like celery. No thank you!

Summary: I only really liked this coffee prepared one way (in the French press). It isn’t something I’d probably take the trouble to seek out again though, and it’s just as well, since I don’t think I could order any more of this coffee even if I wanted to (except perhaps through Craft Coffee).

Notes from Craft Coffee: A body resembling Darjeeling tea evokes flavors of juicy white peach and crisp Gala apple.

From the roaster: None

Quasar’s website currently goes nowhere but I’ll link to its Twitter page: Quasar Coffee Twitter

Review: Publik Coffee Roasters El Salvador Calera Blanco (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Thanks again to my friend Alison for sending me this bag!

Publik Coffee Roasters took their name from the Dutch word for community, with the idea that coffee is something that brings people together. This bag did not have any tasting notes on it, so I went into this with no preconceived notions about what flavors and aromas I would smell (I would later get the info from the company’s website).

Whole beans: Delicate, shy aroma. Not very fragrant. Once ground, however, it definitely asserted itself. I smelled raisin, nectarine, and a whole lot of dark chocolate.

V60: As I was brewing this cup and the water was saturating the grounds, the kitchen started smelling like I was baking brownies. Once I tasted the cup, my immediate thought was, “this tastes almost exactly like chocolate milk.” Keep in mind, I hadn’t added ANYTHING to the coffee other than hot water. It wasn’t a very full-bodied cup, but the flavor was very intensely chocolaty. I couldn’t really taste anything other than chocolate… the fruit flavors I detected in the ground beans were not coming forth.

Just for kicks, I added a splash of whole milk. SO CHOCOLATY. I’m sorry I don’t have more descriptive words for this – what synonyms can there be for chocolate? I felt like I was drinking a glass of Nestle Quik (but less sweet).

AeroPress: Not a bad cup, but I didn’t detect anything particularly distinctive about this coffee brewed this way. It tasted like coffee. Smooth, but pretty one-dimensional. I didn’t even taste chocolate.

Chemex: Light, milk-chocolate flavor with just a hint of raisin.

French press: The most full-bodied of the bunch (not surprisingly), it tasted more like dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate, with a really creamy flavor. As it cooled, slight notes of nectarine and caramel started coming forth in the cup.

Summary: Here’s another coffee that will please chocolate fans. The V60 makes the coffee so sweet, you’d swear it was chocolate milk (especially if you actually add milk). The french press makes a richer, more complex chocolaty brew.

From the roaster: Aromas of cherry, cocoa powder, and nougat give way to flavors of dark chocolate and soft caramel in the cup. As it cools, the cup anchors in a juicy peach acidity and clover honey sweetness.

Publik El Salvador Calera Blanco