When I was eight, I finally snatched a cup of coffee when no one was looking at a church pot-luck dinner. My first thought was, "Whoa! Why doesn't this stuff taste like it smells?" I put it up, thinking that I had been oh-so-wrong about coffee altogether, but half an hour later I sneaked another cup away (and after copious amounts of added sugar) I drank it all. By the time I was sixteen, I had learned to appreciate the deep flavor and was drinking the stuff with just a packet of sugar and a few drops of cream.
Now I love to explore new coffees and find new blends that are somehow even better than the last. My favorites this month come to me from The Organic Coffee Co, owned by Rogers Family Company (a producer of teas and coffees). And although they gave me these samples to try for free, there is nothing sugar-coated about my review. When I saw these coffees are awesome, I mean they are awesome.
First off, I just want to thank Rogers for sending me this coffee, and for being a "green" supplier. The push is hard these days to substitute quality for a cheaper overhead, and it is difficult to remain organic, green, kosher, fair-trade, etc., without having someone offer you a cheaper way of doing business. Those cheaper ways are rarely better for the consumer, so thanks for sticking to your values!
Now to get to the reviews! I was sent four bags of organic coffee to try - in the bean form. For those of you who have never tried bean form before, I strongly urge you to at least test it out in your kitchen using a blender, the flavor is amazing. I'll have a blog post later on next week about different grinding techniques and how you can grind beans in your home without purchasing a coffee grinder. I was sent the Stellar Brew, the Zen Blend, the French Roast and Hurricane Espresso. Below are my thoughts (and my family's thoughts) on them in no particular order.
This coffee is dark, smoky, and delicious. My husband's family is Puerto Rican, and although none of them have lived in Puerto Rico for over 50 years, they have kept up the cultural tradition of dropping by in the evening for a meal or a cup of coffee. Our family almost always has guests on the weekends, anywhere from church friends and extended family, to a new acquaintance or old friends. On these nights, only strong coffee will do, and this has been a favorite of ours for serving to our family. Everyone that has come to our house so far has this French Roast, and it goes great with the leche that my mother-in-law steams old-fashioned-style in a pot on the stove. I will warn - this has a strong coffee taste and really does taste "smoky" to boot. Smoky coffee isn't for everyone. Even I don't care to drink it straight, but I do love it with a bit of sugar and a slice of ham on the side. Yes, ham. I don't know why, but if I'm drinking dark, smoky coffee, my thoughts hit cowboys-on-the-range mode and I want pork, beans, and marshmallows... (Somewhere at some point, I probably had a smoky-type of coffee while camping out.) I recommend this coffee to anyone who has a fondness for a hot drink around a crackling fire, or thick bacon in the early dark of morning. That's when I drink it anyhow, it fits the mood to a tee and the coffee is always hot, smooth, and excellent.
Even as I write this I'm drinking a cup of the Stellar Brew. This is another dark blend, but not so dark that I save it for special occasions or to go with my breakfasts. This is my favorite "working" coffee. It's strong, with hints of smokiness, perfectly blended together to create a coffee that needs no cream or sugar - it's deliciously rich all on it's own. There is hardly any aftertaste to this coffee, and what is there is enticing enough to take another sip of my drink. I like to pour myself a cup of this when I'm sitting down to the computer for a long day of work, and it reminds me of the type of coffee I'd drink if I were in a snazzy café somewhere, working to my heart's content like the budding-author-artist-actress-wannabe I once was. It makes me feel young by reminding me of my youth, and yet makes me feel accomplished by fitting into my dreams of writer-drinking-coffee-at-a-desk-at-home. All that's missing is a large bay window and a turtleneck as I sip this smooth coffee down.
The Zen blend. What can I say about it that can possibly come close to what drinking it is actually like? It's rich, mellow, smooth, and tangy. Tangy? Yes, that is the word I would use to describe it. Somehow this blend incorporates a rich tang that manages to go down without any of the bitterness I would usually find accompanying a "tangy" coffee. This is a coffee that I love to have with brunch, and it goes just as well with a fried egg as it does with a cruller or fruit plate. The label describes it as being a "perfect balance of Central American coffees", which is true enough in my opinion, and this is one even my husband is able to drink without cream or sugar. (He is one of those that needs a healthy amount of either to get through any coffee, so the fact that he can drink it without really says something.) If you're planning on having the girls over, or just hosting friends for the morning or afternoon, this is the coffee I would serve. It appeals to just about everyone, is light enough to drink as a day-time coffee, and holds a flavor that is delicate and strong at the same time.
Oh how I wish I had an espresso machine. Although this coffee was delicious on it's own, I can only imagine how very intriguing it would have been if I had made an espresso with it. This is the type of coffee that makes you think of chocolate as soon as it hits your lips. I was lucky enough to have a chocolate bar in the house, and I sat back and consumed it while I drank my second cup. This is, in my opinion, a coffee for the evenings. It's dark, it's rich, it's strong, and yet I would not go so far as to call it "bold". Somehow, this coffee presents the attitude of relaxation. My favorite thing to do with this coffee is add some frothy milk and drizzle a bit of chocolate sauce across the top, then serve it with pastries or strawberries. The coffee bites, and the sweetness of the dessert smooths it back over to create the perfect after-supper feeling. This isn't a coffee I would drink black, not because it is too strong for me, but because I think some coffees are meant to be had in tandem with a bite of this or a pour of that. It makes an excellent social coffee, and I plan to serve it at my next evening gathering on the coffee bar.
Wish you could have some of these coffees for yourself? You can! We'll have a giveaway live from 6/22/2013 at 5 pm EST until midnight on 7/10/13 where one lucky winner will receive each of the four coffees above, complete with a Krups Fast Touch Grinder so they can grind these coffees at home and then drink to their heart's content! So come back tomorrow and make sure you get your entries in!