Yes, the results of this little competition among an arbitrary collection of blends are in. To preview, none of the three challengers could beat my [recent] memory of PT's B-Ville House Drip, but the ranking I ended up with for them was not what I would have predicted.
I did end up using the Aeropress (plus DISK Fine) to evaluate each coffee for both round #1 at 5 days post-roast and round #2 at 11 days post-roast. My recipe was as follows: 17 g. of coffee ground fairly coarse and brewed using the inverted method with 210 g. of water (100 g. first, then a few stirs before adding the rest) and a 1:30 steep time prior to a 30-sec. plunge. On review days I had to space out the brewing sessions due to time constraints instead of cupping the coffees head-to-head or one after the other.
Here are the competitors again—this time in descending order from best to worst in my opinion—along with their official descriptions, my own reviews, and a few notes.
“Our direct trade House Blend combines Central and South American coffees to create the perfect blend for drinking all day long. It is an incredibly smooth coffee that has great balance with notes of sweet milk chocolate. The cup has a nice depth and complexity that rounds out with a brown sugar sweetness.”
My review: At three days post-roast this blend featured a little bit of that salted caramel thing that Brown Coffee's FVH Edlina has in spades. Otherwise, it was (and continued to be into week two) primarily a brown sugar monster. Smooth and tasty, with enough acidity to keep you interested but enough roast to mellow out the brighter edges. Enjoyed this most in the Clever and Aeropress (+ DISK Fine). Didn't waste a bean of it, which is pretty rare in this house. Recommended.
Notes: The champion! I'll be ordering this one again.
2a. Joe Bean Blend
“Caramel, warm, toasted nut, chocolate, orange zest.”
My review: Dark cherry and nut in the dry aroma, with chocolate and caramel notes coming in on the pour. Tastewise, an orangey acidity contributes a light tang to the finish. Decent body as the coffee cools. Could have been sweeter.
Notes: This one lost a step between the first and second rounds but was still much more to my liking than the Paradise Blend.
“Our surly, activist blend: a serious, polished coffee with a bold heart, rich character and spicy notes resembling sweet pipe tobacco and dark chocolate.”
My review: Not *that* surly! Freshly ground, this coffee did give off a certain spiciness, though, that carried into the cup. I enjoyed its chocolate, berry-toned wet aroma, which seemed to shift quite a bit. Fairly multidimensional for a dark roast. Nice but understated acidity. "Tobacco" showed up in the finish clear as day a few times.
Notes: Consistent as the beans aged. Also head and shoulders above the Paradise Blend, which as it turns out had about the same degree of roast from what I could tell.
“Paradise Blend coffee is our house blend, designed to be enjoyed by all. Brought to a Full-City roast, this coffee is medium-bodied, bright, and balanced. Its hints of roasted nuts, cocoa, coffee fruit, and sweet spices will delight a broad range of tastes.”
My review: Failed to impress. This coffee was definitely on the dark side for a "medium" with a little oil on the beans. In the cup, mostly chocolate notes. Low-acidity. Quick and not overly pleasant finish. After a few tries over 10 days or so, I gifted most of the bag to an acquaintance.
Notes: I see this coffee is temporarily out of stock. That's probably for the best.
So there you go! Hope this helps someone make a slightly more informed blend-related choice in the future.