Review: ManLao River Coffee Munroe Butterfly Espresso (Kunming, Yunnan, China)

This is the second bag I had the pleasure of trying from ManLao River Coffee; for more details about them and about the coffee industry in China, check out my previous post.

ManLao River’s description of their Munroe Butterly Espresso sums up their goal with this espresso blend better than I could, so I’ll just quote it verbatim:

A personally selected Italian-style specialty coffee espresso blend from our head roaster, Ahrire. This coffee has been selected to appreal (sic) to lovers of traditional espresso based drinks. We strive for a richness and the balance of texture, while also allowing the subtle toffee and apple pie sweetness to combine with hints of Yunnan tea. To create a complex layered flavour, the coffee uses a blend of premium local Yunnan coffees and imported Colombian coffees.

This coffee had to travel quite a distance to get to me, so it was outside the typical 2-3 week post-roast window in which I usually test coffees. However, I was very impressed with the outrageous amount of crema that was present, even after more than a month had passed since roasting!

Whole bean: The beans were very evenly roasted, with a rich dark color to them. Not oily at all, which is a major plus in my book!

Espresso: As mentioned before, even though the beans were more than a month old, there was a lot of crema present in these shots. I hadn’t actually read the product description prior to doing this tasting but I could tell straightaway that the roaster of these beans was going for an Italian-style espresso in flavor. It took a little while for me to dial in the grind, but the resulting shots were nutty and dark. Temperatures on the higher end (207-208 degrees Fahrenheit) brought out some odd flavors, but if you keep the temperature between 200-204 degrees Fahrenheit, it shows these beans off at their best (in my opinion).

Favorite parameters for these beans: 18 grams in, 50-57 grams out, 200-204 degrees F, 25-30 second pour. These beans are pretty forgiving, so you don’t need to be concerned about hitting extremely exact numbers.

With milk: When I added steamed milk to shots of the Munroe Butterfly, it resulted in a beautiful toffee and caramel sweetness in the cup, with just a hint of a flavor much like black tea. The flavor stood up well even with up to 10 ounces of milk added for a latte. If milk drinks are your thing, these beans seem to be designed for them.

AeroPress: The coffee concentrate produced by the AeroPress had a delicious flavor of toasted marshmallow with a thick, syrupy texture.

French press: Similar result as with the AeroPress, but just less thick.

Summary: This espresso blend is particularly good with milk added, as the milk coaxes out both sweetness and a slightly smoky tea-like bite from the shots. It’s also really tasty brewed in a French press, as that method brings out the flavor of toasted marshmallows. Recommended for anyone that likes a more “traditional” espresso flavor profile.

From the roaster: black tea, toffee, deep cocoa, white chocolate

ManLao River Coffee Munroe Butterfly Espresso

Review conducted 33-38 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.

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