Review: Blue Bottle Coffee Giant Steps (Oakland, California)

James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle, is a former professional clarinet player, and I’ve always appreciated the occasional musical references thrown into the names and descriptions of his company’s coffees (for instance, the “Brahmsian” characteristics of Blue Bottle’s Hayes Valley Espresso). This particular blend was named after John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and Blue Bottle’s site describes this as their darkest blend.

Whole bean: Strong medium roast. There’s just the barest hint of oil on these beans – an occasional slick spot, not a consistent sheen.

French press: This tasted of cedar and earthy, rich chocolate. Not very sweet. This should please darker roast fans. As this coffee cools, it smooths and sweetens into a plush, dark-chocolate flavored cup.

Chemex: Strong chocolate flavor with the most amount of sweetness of any of the brew methods.

V60: Dark chocolate with a clean and thin mouthfeel.

Espresso: Given my good results with trying Blue Bottle’s Bella Donovan as espresso, I was curious to do the same with Giant Steps. It took a few tries, but on the fourth pass I got what I felt to be my best shot from the bag. It had a fine flavor balance and nice texture. I think I ultimately prefer these beans brewed as coffee, but it made a decent espresso.

Favorite parameters for this blend: 203 degrees Fahrenheit, 18 grams in, 40 grams out, 22 seconds from first pour.

With milk: I can’t say I had a particular preference of this espresso with milk or without – both were perfectly drinkable!

Summary: This is a blend meant for consistency and comfort, and I liked it best brewed in a Chemex for the way it brought out the sweet chocolaty flavors in the coffee.

From the roaster: cocoa, toasted marshmallow, graham cracker

Blue Bottle Coffee Giant Steps

Review conducted 5-9 days post-roast.

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