The Coffee Detective

January 22, 2010

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In bothbiscotti’s posts so far, I’ve reviewed single-origin coffees; not specific brands or crops, just coffees that came entirely from one of the world’s main coffee growing regions.  So far, I’ve sampled coffee fromColombia andIndonesia, and I’ll continue this plan until I’ve hit all the major regions.


But let’s mix it up a little, right?


Last week I had a birthday.  And since I’ve started writingbiscotti for ROASTe, several of my friends gave me as gifts….[wait for it]…..coffee.  The brand names are irrelevant, but I do want to explain that one of them is a flavored coffee and the other is a dark roast.


Let’s take the flavored one first.  Chocolate Cream. Mmmmm….   While I do drink my coffee black and unsweetened, in every other area of my diet, it’s just the opposite.  I’ve a damned big sweet tooth, and while I love-LOVE-LoVE the strong flavor of a bold coffee, flavored coffees are not anathema to me.  (I actually feel a little preemptively defensive saying that; like real “coffee purists” have to loathe flavored coffee or, I dunno, yourlicense cred gets taken away by the Arabica Police or something.)  The Chocolate Cream did not taste sickly-sweet or heavily processed.  Nothing too fake or phony about it.  But it didn’t have any…..depth.  It wasn’t bitter (bold), buttery, earthy, nutty, or any of the more exotic coffee terms.  It was just very flat.  I guess the proper coffee term I’d give it is –mild.


I tried to find out the origin of the beans in the Chocolate Cream, but that information was unavailable – from both the packaging and the staff at the coffee shop.  (Probably an indicator that it wasn’t exactly premium; although in its defense the packaging did declare it ‘organic.’)


The next day, I tried the other coffee.  It’s packaging was more descriptive.  It was an ‘espresso dark roast,’ and there was also the (marketing...or legit?) phrase ‘fresh roasted coffee.’  The side of the bag had text about ‘commitment to quality,’ and stated that this brand’s coffees are ‘hand-selected’ and deep-roasted African Arabica coffees…from the premiere coffee growing regions of Africa.’  Can you guess where my attention focused in that description?  “Regions.”  Hmm…, so there is some verification on the quality of this second coffee’s beans, but also an indicator that it came from regionS.  Meaning – it can’t be single-origin!  I’m bloody Angela Freakin Lansbury when it comes to coffee now! Murder She Wrote reference.  Actually, maybe not so much.  The back of the bag revealed this company’s goal is to select/roast/serve the finest coffee in Kenya.  OK, so it was single-origin.


But actually, that makes sense.  This coffee (I’m drinkin’ it right now) was immediately recognizable as having a more complex palate than the Chocolate Cream.  While not as super bold as the Colombian from two weeks ago, it could not be called bargain basement.  It was, like, Macy’s level, whereas the Colombian was more Bergdorf’s.


Alright, that’s it for me this week.  Next week, I’m think I’m gonna get all ninja on your asses and buy & try a French Press.


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