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: 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. Cottonwood Espresso (San Antonio, Texas)

I ordered this bag of the Brown Cottonwood Espresso at the same time that I ordered their Candy Factory. The Candy Factory was roasted May 24, but the Cottonwood must have been roasted to order because it was roasted May 30 (I ordered May 29). There was a bit of delay in the shipping, but it was fine in this case since the beans showed up in plenty of time and I did this tasting on about day 10, which is right around where I like to be for espresso testing.

Whole bean: I forgot to write anything down for this… sorry! I don’t think anything stood out particularly, which is good. The beans must have looked and smelled fine.

Espresso: I had a hard time personally with this espresso, as I was hoping to get a balanced shot with sweetness and smoothness. Frustratingly, I never quite got what it was I was looking for, though I did get some interesting flavors… chocolate, spicy chiles, lemon. No matter how much I varied the temperature (and I tried shots from 197-206 degrees F), the shots all came out awfully bright for my taste.

With milk: I don’t drink milk anymore so Shutterbug has become my tester in this regard. He liked the latte I made him using the Cottonwood espresso, saying that there was a good amount of coffee flavor to it, so perhaps this is an espresso that is designed to be consumed with milk vs. straight.

AeroPress: Now THIS I really liked. The brew that resulted from this method was deliciously rich like chocolate and marshmallow, yet not boring. It tasted a lot like Nutella and s’mores. I wish I could have gotten this flavor in a straight espresso shot!

Summary: Good with milk, but I found this particular blend to be too bright as straight espresso. It does make a decadent cup in the AeroPress, though. I think this is worth investigating how it brews as coffee!

From the roaster: Cottonwood Espresso. Rich, sweet, deep and fruited with chocolate rasberry (sic) notes that explode in the mouth with succulent crema. It gives your palate what it’s looking for: a classic expression of espresso in the American style. At its best, Cottonwood represents the very best of the world’s major coffee growing regions (12oz/340g bag).

Brown Coffee Co. Cottonwood Espresso

Review conducted 10 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: Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Kossa Geshe (Dallas, Texas)

I bought this bag from a Central Market location on the spur of the moment, on the eve of having a friend over for a coffee cupping. I always like throwing in a natural-process Ethiopian into a coffee cupping for its pronounced berry sweetness, and this bag sure didn’t disappoint.

(When writing up this review, I realized that I had never snapped a photo of the bag, and it’s now long gone, so I opted to insert a photo that I took outside of a cafe in Oxford, England instead. I think it fits.)

Whole bean: Berry sweetness galore.

French press: Smooth, thick-bodied brew with a strawberry flavor. I was wishing for a bit more flavor to the final product; perhaps it could use longer than the standard 4 minute extraction?

Chemex: I accidentally had the grinder too fine and this particular batch took 4:45 to extract (way longer than the 4:00 I shoot for). However, the longer extraction time didn’t seem to hurt the coffee any, as it was full of raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla flavors. Delicious!

AeroPress: Intense, bright flavors as a concentrate – I couldn’t handle it and needed to dilute the brew a bit. Once I did, the coffee revealed a nice depth with light fruit flavors.

V60: This was a surprise. The coffee brewed this way was SUPER fragrant and vibrant. Sweet, almost candy-esque. It most reminded me of the strawberry dessert topping on McDonald’s strawberry sundaes. I could see this being overly sweet for some – it was just too sweet for me. Not a bad coffee, but I couldn’t see myself drinking this on a regular basis; I’d have to be in a particular mood for a coffee THIS sweet and fruity.

Summary: Strong, strawberry sweetness dominates in these beans. I think it was best brewed in a Chemex for the balance between fruit and vanilla flavors. However, if strawberry candy/syrup flavors are your thing, this coffee brewed in an V60 will blow your mind.

From the roaster: Passionfruit, orange, grape

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Kossa Geshe (natural process)

Review: BeanFruit Coffee Co. Kenya Nyeri Chinga Peaberry (Jackson, Mississippi)

I had not heard of BeanFruit Coffee Company until very recently, but upon investigating, I discovered I was clearly behind the times, as they are a 2015 Good Food Award recipient, and they have had their coffees rated at 90+ points on both Coffee Review and The Espresso Vein. When people think of great cities for coffee in the USA, cities like Portland, Oregon come to mind… I doubt too many people think of Jackson, Mississippi! However, I’ve discovered over time that great coffee can be found where you least expect it, and I was eager to try these beans, especially once I caught a whiff of the heavenly fragrance coming from this bag.

Whole bean: Wow!! The whole and ground beans smelled bright and punchy – this is not a shy coffee bean. Sweet smell of juicy nectarine.

V60: Complex, mysterious cup. I taste the nectarine that I smelled in the whole bean form but it also has a syrupy flavor with a hint of black pepper. Loved this! Medium-bodied result with a dry finish. When doing tastings, I normally will brew the usual 12 oz and drink just as much as it takes for me to get my notes down, but for this tasting, I opted to drink all of the coffee I brewed, just because I liked it so much.

AeroPress: WOW. The concentrate blew me away. Nectarine, raspberry, and vanilla. Sweet as pie and smooth as silk.

Chemex: The fruit was muted by this method but it also amplified the vanilla flavor. The coffee also had a cream flavor to it with a hint of lemon on the finish which brightened it up and woke up my palate. So, so good. The brew smelled just like clover honey as it cooled.

French Press: Compared to the AeroPress and Chemex cups, the French Press cup was less sweet and complex; it wasn’t a bad cup by any means, but I was definitely more blown away by having it brewed in the other methods. Still, it was definitely better than a lot of other coffees I’ve had!

Summary: This coffee is a stunner. I am so impressed with the depth and range of flavors! For the sweetest result, go for it in an AeroPress (fruitier) or a Chemex (vanilla-ier). But really, I doubt it’s possible to make a bad cup with these beans. Absolutely lovely.

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. And honestly, I loved this coffee so much that BeanFruit will definitely be making a repeat customer out of me!

From the roaster: Vibrant, sweet melon, nectarine, complex

BeanFruit Coffee Company Kenya Nyeri Chinga Peaberry

 

Review: Roseline Coffee Kenya Othaya Peaberry (Portland, Oregon)

I went back to Houndstooth Coffee in Dallas recently to see if they had any more bags of the Roseline Ethiopia Limu Gera I reviewed. They did not, but they did have this Kenyan coffee that sounded delicious. I try not to get swayed too much by roasters’ tasting notes (in fact, I try not to read them at all if I can help it) but I looooooove the flavor combination of lemon and raspberry, so it’s like this coffee knew just what to say to get me to hand over my credit card.

Whole bean: I’ll be darned. To my nose, these beans did smell like lemon pound cake and raspberry jam.

V60: A creamy and rich aroma wafted from this cup. The flavor was hard to pin down and didn’t finish sweet – it actually had a little bit of a cardboard/paper flavor. Hmm. I didn’t do anything differently than normal (I used bleached Hario filters and rinsed them thoroughly with hot water before brewing), so I don’t think the papery taste would have come from the filter.

AeroPress: The concentrate was DELICIOUS. I actually wrote that word in all caps in my review notebook as well! The flavor was complex and joyous. My mouth was so happy – there were flavors of rose, cream, lemon, and vanilla in this coffee. I didn’t add any water to this concentrate because I felt like it would be a crime.

Chemex: Lovely, lovely cup. Full bodied and full flavored. Creamy and sweet with a lingering complexity. For some reason, all I could think of when I drank this was the opening to Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe. Fellow musicians will understand that a flutist comparing a coffee to this masterwork by Ravel is a pretty big deal.

French press: Bright and lemony. I wasn’t as impressed with the coffee in this method for some reason. It wasn’t bad, but it lacked the balance that it had in other methods.

Summary: Compared to the Roseline Ethiopia Gera, this coffee is brighter, sunnier, and more extroverted. I really adored it brewed in an AeroPress and in the Chemex.

From the roaster: lemon curd, raspberry tart

Roseline Coffee Kenya Othaya Peaberry

Review: Corvus Everyman Seasonal Espresso Blend (Denver, Colorado)

On a recent visit to Method Coffee in Dallas, they had fresh bags of this in stock, so I decided to check them out. I had not previously heard of Corvus, but the independent DFW area coffee shops that I frequent have not steered me wrong yet!

Poking around their Mission page, I learned that Corvus prefers to work directly with private farms instead of relying on certifications like fair trade, organic, etc. They roast in the Nordic style, which to me basically means they roast only as much as needed to bring out the natural flavors of the coffee, as opposed to roasting until the coffee tastes like the roasting process. Heart would be another roaster I’d put in this category.

Whole bean: Creamy scent with notes of berries.

Espresso: This espresso had a lot of bright berry acidity. It reminded me a lot of the Commonwealth Ontology Espresso in flavor – chocolate and blueberry/raspberry notes. It was very nice pulled as a straight shot if you like a bright, sweet espresso that packs a punch.

Favorite parameters: 18 g in, 35 g out, 202 degrees F, 23 second extraction

With milk: This blend seemed a little less special once milk was added since it muted the berry notes, but it made a decent latte.

Other preparations: I had a hunch that I would like this blend prepared as coffee instead of espresso, and I was right! This was excellent brewed in a Chemex: chocolaty and lively due to the blueberry flavor. Lovely depth and sweetness. It was also very good in a french press.

Summary: A tasty espresso consumed straight if you like berry notes; good with milk. Particularly good brewed as coffee!

From the roaster: Dried berry, Cacao sweetness, supple. Currently made up of coffees from Peru and Ethiopia.

Corvus Everyman Seasonal Espresso Blend

Review: Porch Culture Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural (Tyler, Texas)

Music is my mood-altering substance of choice, even moreso than coffee. It encompasses nearly every waking moment of my day… I am constantly listening to music, making music, imagining and striving for an unattainable perfection in music. The kind of music I gravitate to depends on my mood, the time of day, and what I have going on. Sometimes I want something familiar, with no surprises. Sometimes I need a shot in the arm to get me moving. Sometimes I want to hear a piece of music that demands my full attention and will not let me multitask.

When was the last time you listened to music without doing something else (like driving, or playing with your smartphone, or eating at a restaurant, or jogging)? I love having a soundtrack to my daily life, but sometimes, the music needs to take center stage and I become a supporting character to it, and not vice versa. I think this is one reason I (and I daresay others) really enjoy listening to vinyl records. Records and turntables are bulky, they’re not portable, they’re not convenient… they won’t go where you go. Don’t get me wrong – I have an iPod (my 5th gen classic is still kicking, 10 years later!!), I use my iPhone for music, I have CDs… but the inherent inconvenience of vinyl makes listening to music a special event, and that is sometimes exactly what I need, and what the music itself deserves.

Case in point: I have a gorgeous remastered limited edition Mobile Fidelity pressing of Ryan Adams’ “Love Is Hell” album. I’ve listened to it about twice since getting it last year because it is the sort of album that stops you in your tracks and DEMANDS your full attention. It is not content to be background music – especially not with the incredible sound quality. I don’t put it on unless I know I have an hour free to devote to immersing myself in the world that he creates. Next to hearing a live performance, vinyl is my favorite way to listen (really listen) to music.

How does this apply to coffee? Well, I’ve found that different methods of brewing will amplify and dampen different aspects of the coffee beans, much like raising and lowering treble/bass levels. Some brewing methods result in a coffee that will slip easily into the background, and some methods will bring a richness to the fore that will make it impossible for you to focus on anything else.

I have had a lot of natural-processed Ethiopian coffee over the past few years, and I have a pretty good idea of what to expect when I see one for sale. This bag was no exception, so it really became more of a question of how to best enjoy this coffee, as opposed to “will I enjoy this coffee?”

Whole bean: Bright aromas of mixed berry (raspberry, blueberry) jam.

French press: Not my favorite; this cup had a plasticky aroma. I have come to expect this though from naturally-processed Ethiopian coffees so it wasn’t a surprise.

Chemex: Despite setting this on slightly too fine of a grind (total extraction time was 4:40), this made a smooth cup of coffee that tasted like a combination of milk chocolate and red berries. I enjoyed this very much; the french press cup was harsher tasting in comparison.

AeroPress: Smooth and fuller-bodied than the Chemex cup. I didn’t need to add any water to this. There was a slightly powdery finish to this coffee. It was perhaps a little heavier in texture than the Chemex cup, but they were both appealing in the same ways (smoothness, flavors). The AeroPress is of course a lot quicker to prepare, so that might be the way to go if you’re only making one cup and are impatient!

V60: This method created a cup that was rather muted in flavor. After the lively yet smooth and pleasant Chemex and AeroPress cups, this was not what I was expecting. If the cups were music, the V60 cup was like listening to music through crappy headphones.

Summary: Stick to brewing these beans in an AeroPress (if you’re brewing a single cup) or a Chemex (if you are brewing for multiple people… or for one if you are REALLY thirsty) for the best, most balanced flavors.

From the roaster: Wild berry. Sweet pastry. Buttery.

Porch Culture Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural

Review: Counter Culture Ethiopia Kochere Birhanu Zerihun Organic (Durham, North Carolina)

This coffee’s name sure is a mouthful! It thankfully is a lot easier to drink than it is to pronounce. I picked this box up in a mad rush at Houndstooth Coffee in Dallas, which has become one of my go-to places when I want to grab something great to review. I had about 3 minutes to get in and get out, so I scanned the selections, checked the date on this box, paid, and ran out of there to get to my gig. The barista was helpful, but didn’t try and engage me in a ton of small talk or anything – I think he could sense that I was a woman on a mission!

Whole bean: This definitely smelled like a blueberry-flavored baked good… Blueberry scone, perhaps. Once ground, there was also a cherry note to the beans.

French press: Sweet blueberry scent. Plenty of fruit flavor with a thick body and a lot of depth. Not a lot of acid – pretty smooth. I brewed this for my usual 4 minutes and felt that a little longer steeping time might bring out a bit more flavor.

Chemex: The aroma coming from the carafe was sooo beautiful – it smelled like blueberry syrup and vanilla ice cream. It was actually very reminiscent of the Heart Kenya Kiangoi I reviewed earlier this fall, except with blueberry instead of cranberry/pineapple. This cup was quite creamy and smooth, and the blueberry flavor got a little stronger as the cup cooled, but overall the dominant flavor was of cream. Delicious.

AeroPress: As a concentrate, this tasted like berries and leaves – there was a grassy note to this cup. I added just a little bit of water and the grass note was muted to create a nice cup, but this wasn’t my favorite preparation.

V60: Brightest cup in flavor – the most blueberry and the least body, surprisingly (I would have expected that to be the Chemex, but once again, coffee has surprises in store for me).

Summary: This is one of the best natural-processed Ethiopian coffees I’ve ever had. It doesn’t have any of the plasticky flavor/aroma that I find common among this type of coffee, and the creamy, sweet brew that resulted from the Chemex was just magical. I can’t wait to brew more. In fact, why the heck am I waiting?!

From the roaster: Juicy, raspberry, strawberry

Counter Culture Ethiopia Kochere Birhanu Zerihun Organic