Review – PT’s Kenya Thiriku (Top Auction Lot)

04.27

PT’s Coffee – Kenya Thiriku (Top Auction Lot)
12oz Whole Bean – $20.25
Topeka, Kansas
www.ptscoffee.com

In January, I had the pleasure of trying PT’s Coffee for the first time. I ordered a bag of their Panama Elida Estate from GoCoffeeGo, and was completely blown away by it—which you can read about here. After such a great first impression, I looked forward to the next offering I would have the pleasure of trying from this midwest-based roaster.

When I finally stopped traveling long enough for the guy’s at PT’s to send me something new to try, this Kenya Thiriku was their homepage headliner. A few weeks ago, I excitedly received a bag of the Kenya along with some of their Burundi Kayanza Gatare (Lot 3). While the Burundi was a really nice coffee, with notes of smooth white chocolate mixed with a citrusy sweetness, the Thiriku was my favorite of the two.

Aroma: The aroma flowing from the Chemex as I buried my nose in it was refreshing and alarmingly sweet like cherry Jolly Rancher candy with a citrus twist. As the cherry vapor left the carafe, it evolved into a tart and accurately noted ruby red grapefruit.

Taste: This coffee celebrated its introduction to my mouth with very bright and sweet grapefruit characteristics. The body held up surprisingly well for a Chemex-made coffee and met my palette with a smooth honey mouthfeel. As the citrus mellowed, it shifted into a sweet caramel and salted nut finish that lingered pleasantly on the tongue.

Once again PT’s delivered an exceptional coffee that I woke each morning eager to brew. Unfortunately, the Kenya Thiriku is no longer available and the Burundi Kayanza Gatare has taken it’s place on the homepage. Sorry for the delayed review, which means the missed opportunity to try it yourself, but I doubt you’d be disappointed with another offering from PT’s. I’ve got my eye on their Costa Rica Finca Cerra Paldo as well as the Panama Carmen Estate—or just ask them for their recommendation on twitter.

posted by on 04.27.2011, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Review – PT’s Panama Elida Estate

01.11

PT’s Coffee – Panama Elida Estate Natural
1lb Whole Bean – $17.84
Topeka, Kansas
www.ptscoffee.com

I had a lot of fantastic coffee last year—from some of the best roasters in the world—and this coffee ranks high among them.

Since returning from a trip to Scandinavia last fall, where I first tasted the coveted Hacienda la Esmeralda as well as a cup of the winning coffee from this year’s Nordic Roasting Champion—I had been continually underwhelmed by much of the coffee I’ve had since. The coffee hasn’t been bad by any means, however it dulled in comparison. I was beginning to think I had raised the bar so high, it would be hard to recapture that feeling of awe from an incredible cup of coffee.

However, this selection put things back into perspective. From the moment I opened the bag of PT’s Panama Elida Estate, I felt like a kid in a candy shoppe.

Aroma: The aroma was so sweet and potent, it quickly overtook my studio. Lemon wafers, syrup smothered waffles, and sugar cane filled the air, while the essence of macadamia and hazelnut took my mind someplace exotic. While my first pot was brewing, I took a moment to bask in the the sweet haze when the combined fragrances struck me as one—Crunch Berries. This coffee smelled like a box of my favorite childhood cereal, it was splendid.

Taste: While enjoying my first sip, I looked out at the morning sun reflecting on the melting snow, and smiled. This coffee tastes as brilliant as it smells. A deliciously sweet and juicy mouthfeel is highlighted with a pleasant lemon zest, while hints of pineapple, chocolate and hazelnut fade into a smooth, woody finish.

Sip after sip, this coffee is fantastic. I definitely look forward to my next shipment from Kansas. Hat’s off to the guys at PT’s.

**The above review was also recently chosen as a Member Pick of the Week at GoCoffeeGo. While PT’s is now sold out of their Elida Estate for the year you can check out more of their offerings and order them at GoCoffeeGo.

posted by on 01.11.2011, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Review – Great Lakes Coffee: Brazil

02.01

Great Lakes Coffee: Fair Trade Organic Brazil
Whole Bean – $12.98/lb
Bloomfield Hills, MI
www.greatlakescoffee.com

Bean: These tiny beans give off a powerful scent as strong as the summer air. Cherries, butterflies, and swing sets in the park fill my head as soon as I opened the bag. A consistent but alternating hue to the beans creates a nice colorful depth, but leaves me with questions of this single origin roast quality.

Aroma: I close my eyes and find myself strolling through urban gardens of Rio de Janeiro. A bright explosion of floral consumes my senses, drawing my attention from the littered streets and the shaking tangas of Mardi Gras, to a place full of exotic flowers I’ve never known. A smoothness without any distinguishable peaks vying for attention dance from my cup. The arrangement works in harmony to produce a beautiful and enjoyable experience, much as a well designed bouquet would be seen as a whole and not a sum of its parts.

Taste: A medium to darker body—like those sun-kissed by the excess exposure Brazilian swim suits provide—carries itself in a surprisingly mellow fashion across the tongue. There’s a slight acidic sting that hits the back of your throat like the chill of a cold winter day, but this adds excitement to a mild mannered entrance. After the spark of this celebration ignites, it rolls into an incredibly rich and full bodied finish that leaves you feeling like you’ve just found the baby in the King Cake.

posted by on 02.01.2010, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Watch Black Gold

01.21

I recently watched Black Gold, a documentary about the global coffee trade and it left me feeling enlighted and guilty as hell. Anyone who drinks coffee should see it(while remembering most documentaries show a specific perspective). It focuses on a co-op in Ethiopia and highlights the staggering facts regarding coffee trade and the ridiculously low pay farmers get for their coffee. Even with Fair Trade certification, the contrast in price is obscene.

While I believe direct trade is the best way forward, the number of roasters who acquire their coffee this way is limited, so Fair Trade is the best widespread option available until things change. Intelligentsia (one of my favorite roasters) has trademarked the term “direct trade” and pays their growers 25% more than Fair Trade prices. I’m willing to pay extra for good coffee, especially if I know it’s improving the lives of the farmers who work their asses off to give me something I love so much.

posted by on 01.21.2010, under Misc.

Mad Cap Michigan

01.19

MadCap Coffee December 2009 from Thomas Valdez on Vimeo.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a well shot video is worth a million. This is a great “review” of MadCapCoffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan, without a single thing being said it makes me want to visit. I’ve never seen this done before, but it’s definitely inspired me to use my Flip camera for something similar in the future.

Found on the Taste Blog

posted by on 01.19.2010, under Misc.

An open letter to Red Diamond

01.15

Dear Red Diamond,

This was meant to be a review, but I found your coffee unreviewable. I chose to reframe my efforts as an open letter to your company instead, which claims to be one of the three oldest coffee companies in the US. If this is true, I must know, how can you be so terrible at what you do?

Maybe you’ve grown content over all these years and swept aside all concerns of quality and reputation. Maybe you built your company on unbreakable contracts with diners, drive-ins and dives that continue to generate revenue, despite the poor quality of your product. Or maybe in light of the current economic conditions, you’ve cut back on expenses by collecting your beans from the remnants strewn among the putrid floors of international shipping warehouses. I could speculate all day.

The size and shape of your 100% Arabica beans can’t even maintain the illusion of consistency and their leather brown skins are speckled with leprosy. I should have known that paying the price of a medium coffee for an entire 12oz bag of beans would yield mediocre results; but I never imagined coffee could leave the same taste in my mouth as the morning after vomit from a night of heavy drinking.

I will however give you credit for infusing your roast with an aroma that could convince a child they had a mug of Swiss Miss hot cocoa in front of them. The sweet smell of caramel coated s’mores is endearing—enticing even—but as soon as said child takes his first unsuspecting gulp of nostalgic winter comfort, he’d be kicked in the mouth with a carbon footprint flavored beverage unworthy of the shadiest gas stations.

While you offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee of your product, for $2.99, it’s not worth the check you’d print my refund on. The only thing that would satisfy me is never having to taste your coffee again. I also exhort you to remove the distinction of “the south’s finest” from your bags; this title belongs to one of the other fine Birmingham based coffee roasters.

Thank you for ensuring that I truly appreciate every cup of coffee I have after yours.

posted by on 01.15.2010, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Review – Colombia* Starbucks VIA

12.28

Colombia Starbucks VIA
Single Serving Micro Ground – $Free
Seattle, WA
www.starbucks.com

Bean: Micro ground to a powder as fine as Colombia’s other well known pick-me-up.

Aroma: After deciding to mix with hot water instead of snorting, I hovered, wafted and inhaled a somewhat surprising aroma. It was subtle and earthy, comforting like Grandpa’s sweater, but much more pleasant than the Folger’s he consumed. There was a hint of brightness that occasionally poked through the soft undertones of Mexican chocolate, like oranges married with a ripe hamper full of dirty clothes. I was convinced enough to give this blasphemous convenience a fair chance.

Taste: Sipping from a mug surviving the days when Starbucks actually used them, I was immediately impressed by the smooth, low acidic taste presented by this magical concoction. The shock of burnt grinds never came and the lack of flavor that most Kuerig cups embody was trumped by, well, flavor. The delicate tinge of chili powder seasoned every mouthful of this liquid trail mix, highlighting the rich presence of walnuts. If only it provided the same protein and essential fatty acids, I’d have myself a meal.

However, after my enjoyable stroll through the peanut gallery subsided, a pungent aftertaste took hold. Flashbacks of an older brother stuffing dirty socks in my mouth leapt to the forefront of  my conscious. I was forced to drink more just to mask the unsettling memory.

Overall, I am thunderstuck (cool word huh?) by the texture and taste of this instant coffee, one whose marketing budget may rival Avatar’s. I would prefer a cup of this over a fresh one of Pike Place any day, but that’s not saying much.

*I tried the Italian Roast as well, barely making it through half the cup. It tasted, as I imagine a musket full of gunpowder would; sharp, abrasive, and capable of fueling rockets during a Chinese New Year.

posted by on 12.28.2009, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters

Review – Primavera: Peru Norte

12.17

primavera

Primavera: Peru Norte
12oz Whole Bean – $10.99
Birmingham, AL
www.primaveracoffee.com

Bean: A spirited, medium size bean with a creamy milk-chocolate hue. These could easily be substituted for semi-sweet chips in all of your holiday cookies. What could be better than a caffeinated peanut butter blossom?

Aroma: Once I brewed these medium roasted niblets, I was wrapped in a scent as soothing as a snuggie, and deliciously warm as a Cinnabon. A vanilla undertone smoothed things out like a bowl of grandmother’s cake batter waiting for me to taste the moment she wasn’t looking. I couldn’t wait to indulge.

Taste: My first sip was met with a light but vibrant cinnamon zest followed by lively hints of vanilla. The next taste enveloped my tongue like a cupcake, sprinkles and all, stuffed in my mouth. A well balanced flavor helps illuminate the quality of the beans and inspires daydreams of tomorrow’s cup.

There’s a low acidic creak in this medium bodied brew, but its no more severe than a sound eeked from beneath the floorboards of your childhood home—endearing and somewhat sentimental. A cup of this could tuck me in after dinner as easily as it lured me from bed this morning.

You can pick up a cup (or bag) of Primavera at my favorite cafe in Birmingham, Urban Standard.

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posted by on 12.17.2009, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters