Coffee Travels: Axum Coffee & Roastery

If you’ve read My Coffee History, you might already be aware of Axum Coffee and the role they played introducing me to pour-over. Until I discovered their shop in downtown Winter Garden, I only drank lattes and other espresso-based drinks. Axum was my gateway into brewed coffee.

Where my journey into brewed coffee bloomed…

This was many years ago, and I had stopped visiting Winter Garden for coffee, favoring shorter drives to Tampa instead. Since then, Axum has grown to three cafes and a roastery. They’ve been roasting for two years now on a beautiful Probat, and I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to check it out.

One of my goals with Coffee Travels is to spend time in cafes with friends and family, enjoy a good fika together with excellent coffee and conversation. My wife’s cousin was in Orlando for one day, so we used that as an excuse to cart her over to Winter Garden for lunch and coffee.

We started our visit at the main cafe on Plant Street, catching a relatively quiet moment after the lunch rush. I tried their cold brew, opting for still coffee over ice, and it was just what I needed after a hot lunch on a hot day. My wife’s cousin went for an iced americano, while my wife sipped one of their sweet lattes.

The pastry case was stocked with all sorts of delicious goodies, and we picked out a couple mini-cheesecake bites to share. No photos, however, since they didn’t last long enough for me to get out the camera!

Spending quality time in a coffee shop can be challenging when you have two young boys. I spent half the time playing with our 3-year-old in the cute kid’s area: a small table with a toy espresso machine and other cafe-related toys.

The other half of our visit had me carrying our 10-month-old in and out of the shop trying to keep him occupied so that my wife could have a nice visit with her cousin. That’s life with little ones, of course, and all you can do is take turns.

I didn’t mind giving up my time in the cafe, knowing that I would soon get my time at the roastery…

Axum Roastery, 426 W. Plant St. Winter Garden, FL 34787

Axum Coffee‘s roastery is a few blocks down the street from their main cafe, tucked inside the Plant Street Market, an indoor market filled with artisan vendors. Imagine an indoor farmers market featuring all the best local, organic and craft businesses, with a coffee roaster on one end and a brewery on the other.

I love the smart use of limited space, a compact cafe built around the roaster itself. If I didn’t have family waiting, I could easily spend an hour hanging out at the bar, talking coffee and watching the Probat crank out batch after batch.

For old times sake, I ordered a pour-over of their Ethiopia Guji (along with a bag of beans to take home) and enjoyed the tea-like aroma of apricot and white grape. It was a nice coffee, a bit lighter in flavor than most of the Ethiopian coffees I brew at home.

It was nice getting back to Axum after so many years away, and it gave me a great place to start this revamped Coffee Travels series. I’m looking forward to many more cafe visits in the near future, wondering where I’ll go next…

Bean Box, August
Light Roast Sampler

Before my visit to Bean Box earlier this year, I don’t think I had noticed that they offer more than one style of monthly subscription. I was always on the standard assortment, the “Bean Box Choice”, which usually featured two single origins and two blends, with a range of roast levels across the board. It’s a great option for trying everything the Seattle coffee scene has to offer, but inevitably I would wind up with a sample or two that were too dark for my taste.

I made the best of it, usually throwing it in the Hario Mizudashi for a small cold brew, but once I learned of their other box options, I had to try something more my style:

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Bean Box Light Roast Sampler – August, 2016

This is my first box since updating my subscription preferences, and they really went all out on high-end delicate roasts. Bluebeard and Ladro are among my all time favorite Seattle area roasters, so right away I was excited to get brewing!

I started with the Ethiopia Aricha Misty Valley from Bluebeard, using it for the Saturday morning Chemex I usually brew for the family. Despite getting distracted and pushing the extraction too long, it maintained that fruity aroma that I expected from Misty Valley.

My next Chemex brew was the Nicaragua from Zoka. It started with a beautiful, delicate fragrance, and I maintained a more aggressive pour trying to avoid over extraction, but I felt the water was actually too hot at 205ºF, and this might perform really well in a slow-drip cold brew.

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The coffee I was most excited about was the Limoncello from Ladro, as I’ve had this particular coffee once before. It was one of the samples in my 2nd or 3rd Bean Box delivery, almost 2 years ago, and it just blew me away. Hands down one of the most unique coffee experiences I’ve had (especially at home) and I was bummed to find them sold out before I could order a full size bag.

Could this year’s crop stand up to my rose-colored memories? Only a perfectly extracted cup will tell, and for that I turned to my comfort zone with a V60. Not that I executed a perfect extraction, of course, as my pour ran a little longer than expected, but it was still a unique cup. It had a pleasant acidity, really bright and awakening, but it mellowed into a nice brown sugar and cocoa finish. (I pulled out an old coffee journal to see if I recorded my previous experience, found it in December of 2014, but no notes, just specs. I need to get better at taking notes.)

Our final sample was a bright and fruity Guatemala Antigua Covadonga from Broadcast Coffee Roasters. I ran it through the Chemex in a hurry one morning and was surprised by the raspberry-like finish and acidity. I think it may be my favorite from this box, mostly because it is different than a lot of the coffee we’ve been drinking lately.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the selections in this month’s box, and I expect equally tasty samples in the other subscriptions Bean Box offers. In addition to this Light Roast box, and the Bean Box Choice I was previously enjoying, they offer Medium Roast, Dark Roast, Espresso and Decaf. Add to that all the one-time boxes such as Iced Coffee Sampler and larger World Coffee Tour and Seattle Coffee Tour and there really is a Bean Box for everyone.

(Ready to try Bean Box? You can save $5 off your first box with any of the links in this post.)

Coffee Travels:
Trilogy Coffee Roasting

If you follow me on the social medias, you may have seen me promoting a Kickstarter campaign recently for Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co. I hadn’t been to Deland in years and wasn’t aware of Trilogy until one of my coffee friends shared their campaign. I eagerly jumped on board, and since my wife and I are trying to do as much coffee touring as possible before the new baby arrives, I scheduled a visit on the first available Saturday.

Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co. is a small family company that started out roasting and selling coffee at farmers markets, growing the specialty coffee market in Deland until it could support a retail space. With one tiny room in an old house turned multi-retailer space, Trilogy setup the most efficient coffee bar I’ve seen thus far.

Behind the cashier, you can look to the left and see where your coffee starts, with a 1kg workhorse from Mill City Roasters that Trilogy owner Clay uses to crank out small yet consistent batches. Glance to the right and you have a well-appointed pour over bar complete with cold brew tap, everything you need close at hand without needing to take a single step. And of course, between these two sides of the space lies this beautiful Slayer:

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It’s truly an awesome sight, at least to a minimalist who appreciates a small space, but I’m sure the folks behind the counter look forward to their new shop. I got a peek at the outside of the building (pictured above) and can’t wait to visit once the build out is complete. With a new roaster on the way, Trilogy will be setup to handle increasing demand while also providing a real cafe space for their community.

During our brief visit, I enjoyed an espresso along with a flat white, and picked up some beans to take home, including a big bag for our next round of cold brew (more on that later…). The drinks were excellent, and I expect interest in specialty coffee will continue to grow in Deland as more people discover just how good coffee can taste.

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The people behind Trilogy are doing great work, and I look forward to seeing their vision come together in the new building. Until then, their current space is well worth a visit if you’re in the Deland area.

Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co.
Current shop (as of July 2016):
117 W Howry Ave
DeLand, FL 32720
Open Monday 7:30am–10am, Tuesday–Thursday 7:30am–6pm, Friday 7:30am–8pm, Saturday 8:30am–3pm

New location coming soon:
123 S Florida Ave
DeLand, FL 32720

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The Brew Log @ Crema.co

When I first introduced Crema.co and their fresh approach to a personalized coffee subscription, I was already pumped on the basic principles of the Brew List. If you haven’t read my earlier post, here is the gist: Crema.co is an online specialty coffee marketplace, offering a wide range of coffee from a growing list of specialty roasters. You select the coffees you want to receive, how frequently you want a new bag, and put them in order on your Brew List. It’s all pretty cool…

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Well now the folks at Crema.co have taken it up a few notches with a three part system designed to not only help you better understand your coffee preferences but to also provide recommendations based on your history and feedback. Instead of being a passive marketplace, Crema is now actively helping you find new coffees that fit your taste.

How does it work? First they added a simple ratings system, allowing you to give each coffee a thumbs up or thumbs down. At first I thought this was too simple, that the more common star-rating system would allow me to better give my impression of each coffee, but now that I’m using it I really dig the simplicity. You can start rating coffee from your first box, and the more coffees you try the more refined your results can be.

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Now here’s the cool part: they easily could have skipped the second step and gone right to the recommendations based on your ratings. Everything would work fine and their service would still be solid without needing to show you any part of the process. But instead of hiding behind the curtain, Crema.co created the Brew Log, a visual representation of the coffee you like that gives insight into why you like it.

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With a breakdown of flavor notes, roast profile, county of origin, even processing method, a user without any understanding of specialty coffee can start to learn what this whole industry is about. It’s usually easy for a casual coffee drinker to associate specific countries with their favorite coffee, but the Brew Log pools all available information and makes it easier to see beyond one point of data. Unless you’re like me and order so many Ethiopian coffees that your Top Picks look like this…

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Which brings us to the final piece of the puzzle: personalized recommendations. Along with the Top Picks shown above, Crema.co groups additional coffees according to your favorite Tasting Notes, Processing, Origin, Roast Level, and more! It’s a great system for organizing selections you may like best, and it makes updating your Brew List even easier. Which, in turn, means more awesome coffee arriving at your doorstep, such as this…

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Ethiopia Limu, Tencho Cooperative
Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, roasted June 20, 2016

This was one of my recent picks, and it didn’t last long in our house! As much as I was taken by natural Ethiopian coffees, I’m starting to really dig washed process for the added clarity and bright character. Sweet orange and a floral acidity came out in my best pour-over, and I think it would have made a lovely shaken iced coffee had I not used it up too quickly! Sometimes 12 oz. just isn’t enough.

I’m looking forward to many more awesome brews from my Crema.co subscription, and if you’re interested in trying it out, any of the links in this post are referral links that will give you $5 off your first box, so check it out!

My Visit to Bean Box

Last week I shared the highlights of our coffee tour around Seattle, and today I’m excited to share a behind-the-scenes look at one of my favorite coffee subscriptions: Bean Box.

Bean Box

 

Combining a passion for coffee and years of experience in software engineering, founders Matthew and Ryan created Bean Box to bring specialty coffee from local Seattle roasters to all the unfortunate souls (like me) who don’t get to live in that beautiful city. As a big fan of coffee and Seattle in particular, I was excited to take a tour of their headquarters, affectionately dubbed “The Beanery”.

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I first discovered Bean Box in late 2014, shortly after starting this blog, and back then I had a lot more time to write so I shared my samples each month (up until I had to take a break from blogging.) While I can’t claim to be their first customer, I joined fairly early as they only began shipping in September 2014. From humble beginnings sitting around a postal scale weighing beans into bags, their operation has grown to handle as many as 10 unique boxes every month, shipping all around the country and even halfway across the globe!

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Bean Box has the distinct privilege of sitting right in the thick of coffee culture, and they work with more than 20 specialty roasters who deliver beans fresh and ready for processing. The process of dividing up coffee into sample bags and packing them for shipment may sound simple, but they have it down to a science thanks to the programmer’s mindset that started the company. As my day-job involves a fair amount of custom software design, I was awed by the level of efficiency Bean Box has achieved.

Bean Box

I was fortunate enough to visit Seattle not long after they moved into a new space in Capitol Hill. The building was spacious, with a nicely designed workflow, and they even put in an espresso bar to help fuel their day. As we started our tour, Matthew told me the story of where he fell in love with coffee, at a quaint coffee bar in Fremont known as ETG (Espresso To Go), and how their shop was the birthplace of Bean Box.

While I didn’t make it to ETG during our trip, I have enjoyed their coffee in previous samplers under their roasting brand: Longshoreman’s Daughter. And the centerpiece of the coffee bar in The Beanery is a well-loved Astoria espresso machine, which served ETG for 20 years and brewed many of the very drinks that inspired Matthew and Ryan to get into coffee.

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Ryan, Matt (me), and Matthew in front of the espresso machine that started it all

If you haven’t tried Bean Box yet, click over to their website and give it a try. You can’t go wrong with the monthly sampler, and they make it super easy to order a full size bag of any coffee that you love. They also offer a handful of special boxes, and I recently tried the Iced Coffee Sampler, since we are such fans of cold brew here in Florida. (Guatemalan Reserve from Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie was the favorite in our house!) And because good coffee is meant to be shared, you can save $5 off your first Bean Box order via any of the referral links in this post.

Big thanks to Matthew, Ryan and everyone at Bean Box for the friendly welcome, excellent drinks and awesome tour! I look forward to more tasty beans from Seattle on my doorstep each month.

Coffee Travels: Seattle

I’d been wanting to get back to Seattle ever since I got into specialty coffee. Our 2010 vacation played a big part in my initial coffee journey, but I had never experienced the non-sugary-latte side of their expansive coffee scene. So last week my family spent a few days in the Emerald City, making our way through a wish-list of shops to visit while trying to find plenty of exciting things for our 2 year old to enjoy.

We didn’t hit every shop on my list, but I was able to enjoy a few awesome places, so long as our son was content to munch on a Rip van Wafel. I also enjoyed a visit to Bean Box and a tour of La Marzocco, but today I’m going to focus on our cafe experiences, starting with the home of the 2014 US Barista Champion, Cherry Street Coffee.

Just off the light rail that took us downtown every day, Cherry Street on Olive Way was an excellent spot to start our coffee tour. The people were friendly, the atmosphere lively, and the drinks were on point. I had a one & one, which is a single shot of espresso served alongside a macchiato, and I stole a few sips of my mom’s cold brew as well.

Cherry Street

We didn’t make it to any of Cherry Street’s other locations around town, but based on this experience I am sure they would not disappoint. They also had awesome granola, which helped our toddler stay occupied during stroller rides around town. And during his naptime one afternoon, I slipped away to visit another well known Seattle establishment…

Caffe Ladro

Just up the road from our hotel, Caffe Ladro at 400 Fairview Ave North had one of the coolest interiors I saw during this trip. Ladro Roasting was on my short list, as I’ve enjoyed some excellent coffees from them via Bean Box, and this bar was on the corner of a large building with a rather industrial design.

I enjoyed a washed Ethiopia Worka on drip, very clean and delicate, then moved on to a shakerato: their Fremont espresso blend brewed over sugar, then shaken with ice and poured into a clean glass with a thick foam on top. It was immensely refreshing on a hot afternoon!

Caffe Ladro

I wish I could have spent hours at that bar, trying every coffee they had. Ladro roasts some excellent coffee, and the cool interior begged me to stick around just to absorb all the good vibes, but I had to get back to family duties. Fortunately we were able to take the little guy cafe hopping the next day, so I decided to hit another Bean Box favorite: Herkimer Coffee.

Herkimer Coffee

Another short walk from the hotel, just around the other side of Lake Union, Herkimer Coffee hit me with another beautiful cafe space, and the coffee was delicious as well. I picked up a growler for our collection, and my wife and I shared a cold brew Colombia and an americano. The barista recently moved from Florida to Seattle for school, so we enjoyed the chance meeting of a fellow Floridian on the opposite corner of the country.

Slate Coffee

On our last day in town, we finally made the trek up to Ballard to check out Slate, a name nearly famous in specialty coffee circles. I had heard a lot about Slate ever since they burst on the scene just 3 years ago, and I was lucky enough to sample some of their coffee via Bean Box, so stepping into their minimalist coffee bar I thought to myself, “finally.”

From the casual table-style service featuring a simple drink menu, to the design of their bar with a cut out showcasing the beautiful 2-group Slayer, there was strong attention to detail in every corner. I had a pour-over Ethiopia, smooth and complex, followed by a 4oz espresso and milk served in a delicate wine glass.

Slate Coffee

I dig how their menu classifies drinks as “espresso and milk” in various sizes, rather than listing them as latte, cappuccino, etc. Wanting the deepest espresso flavor, I went with the smallest option, and it was rich and velvety, really highlighting the Slayer’s signature long extraction. I also stole a few sips from my wife’s iced coffee, prepared in the Japanese iced coffee method before being shaken over ice for an elegant presentation.

Slate Coffee

And that was about it for our Seattle coffee tour, just a handful of quality shops when time would allow. Check back next week for a detailed look at my visit to Bean Box, followed by our other big coffee stop: La Marzocco!

Coffee Travels: The Lab Tampa

I’ll admit, it was my wife’s idea.

As I got deeper into my coffee hobby, I focused so much on home brewing that I stopped going out and visiting the awesome shops in our own backyard. With another baby on the way, my wife wanted to get out of the house “while we still can” and coffee-touring is one of our favorite things to do together. After enjoying a private cupping at Zeal Coffee Roasters last month (my reward for supporting their previous crowd-funding effort), not only was I pumped to start writing again, I couldn’t wait to check out their new project: The Lab Tampa.

The Lab Tampa

Located just a stone’s throw from downtown in the North Hyde Park neighborhood, The Lab is a collaboration between Zeal Coffee Roasters and Blind Tiger Cafe, and I loved it from the moment I spotted their logo on the huge barn door. The interior is setup as a spacious open concept. I was greeted by a sleek espresso and pour-over bar up front, with the back half of the space holding the 5 kilo Ambex and sacks of green coffee.

The Lab Tampa

We stopped by during their soft opening, and I believe they are aiming for this weekend as the official grand opening. The concept is pretty cool, with two roasters sharing the workspace, plenty of room for classes and workshops, and a slimmed down cafe menu focused on quality. It really hit my sweet spot, putting so much focus on the coffee itself. They’ve even shifted to smaller drink sizes to really hone the customer’s senses on what matters most. (This is for glass and ceramic, at least. I think they still offer larger to-go cups for those who want a lot more milk in their lattes.)

The Lab Tampa The Lab Tampa

Visiting late on a Sunday afternoon before the public really knows they’re open, I was able to chat for awhile with Peter, the owner and roaster at Zeal. He and his wholesale account manager, Jason, did most of the build out themselves, so it’s been a crazy couple months of sweat and hard labor fueled by a passion to bring people the best coffee possible.

I started with an Ethiopia Sidamo grade 3, which smelled like blueberry muffins during the cupping, but hit me with all kinds of complexity when served as an espresso. Then my wife and I both enjoyed a cortado using a blend Peter’s been working on. It was well balanced and reminded me how much I love a good cortado, with all that great coffee presence compared to a larger drink. We picked up some beans from their retail shelf, and I’ll definitely be back for a growler of cold brew next time I’m in Tampa.

The Lab Tampa

Watch for their grand opening soon, and stop by for some excellent coffee and cool atmosphere.

The Lab Tampa
1703 West State Street
Tampa, FL 33606
Open Monday-Friday 7:00am-2:00pm & Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-3:00pm

Flight of Fancy 2

Remember last year, in the early days of this blog, when I spent a few nights cupping blind samples from Populace Coffee in hopes of winning an awesome grinder? It feels like another lifetime, at least to me, and I couldn’t be further from the cupping skills I practiced during the first Flight of Fancy contest.

So it’s safe to say, even writing this before the contest deadline, that I’m not going to win that grinder. I don’t have the time I once had, and a lot of my experience has started to fade. Like a musician who puts up their instrument, muscle memory and well-practiced skills slowly degrade, and I went into this second round of Populace Coffee‘s ambitious contest ill-prepared, if not completely without hope.

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And that was how I felt before I got my contest package in the mail and saw the total lack of tasting notes! No more apricot and brown sugar, this year we had to identify each coffee based on details from origin. Varietal, processing method, region, farm… altitude? Really? It hit me:

This is a contest for coffee professionals, and I am out of my league.

Last year I enjoyed a couple rounds of cupping, making copious notes, trying to nail down the four coffees from a field of eight possibilities. I learned something from the experience, primarily humility, but this time there were lessons to be learned before I even opened the first bag.

The ability to discern a coffee’s origin by appearance and cup profile is a skill only available to those who cup many different coffees on a regular basis. Despite my best hopes with this blog, I cup very little coffee, even struggling to brew much of the coffee I buy in a timely manner. No matter how many times I preached it early on, I simply do not taste many different coffees.

Lessons learned: taste more coffee, limit my brewing practice so that the coffee itself is the only variable, and focus more on attributes of the cup instead of looking for specific flavor notes. I have more to learn by making notes on acidity, body and aftertaste, more to understand about the character of coffee than whether it tastes like blueberries.

Now, on to the contest…

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It was the night before our answers were due, and I had to make a choice. Either I give up and forget about the contest, or I setup a cupping after dinner and give it my best shot. Thanks to encouragement from my always wonderful wife, I devoted 30 minutes to preparing and cupping the four samples, with no expectations or hopes of winning. I just wanted to have some fun tasting coffee, and after at least 20 minutes of slurping and making notes, I started to get a feel for what each coffee reminded me of.

This was the big surprise, and even if my guesses were all incorrect, I was pleased that the flavor profile of certain samples reminded me of a specific origin. I narrowed down two of the coffees quickly, pondered the third, and took a wild swing at the fourth, with two very different origins to choose from.

Despite my lack of practice or professional experience, I have strong memories of certain origins that I tend to drink often. One particular coffee may not be from Ethiopia, but I can say with conviction that it reminds me of Ethiopian coffee, and I am only lacking in more experience with other origins. The same handful of countries seem to pop up most often in my personal coffee room, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but this contest got me excited about trying a bigger variety of coffees from around the world.

I’m not concerned with the results of the contest this year, whether my guesses are correct or not. I already got the best reward: inspiration to keep exploring.

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Update: After the results were announced, sure enough, none of my guesses were correct… But get this, I was close! I identified the Ethiopian sample, but guessed the wrong one (there were two Ethiopian coffees to choose from). I swapped the Guatemala and Honduras, but as neighboring countries I’m proud that I was at least in the same geographic area. The only guess that was way off was a Colombia that I mistook for Kenya. What a fun exercise!

Bean Box: April 2015

Can you believe the SCAA Event starts one week from today? Man, to be in Seattle next week, especially since they are hosting the 2015 World Barista Championship! Is it too late to book a flight?

Well, this isn’t my year to attend, but at least there’s a little Seattle on my doorstep this week, courtesy of Bean Box. Each monthly delivery has ventured further outside the everyday, and April’s box is no exception, including samples from Java and the Congo. But let’s start with my personal favorite…

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This Ethiopia YirgZ from Ladro Roasting was excellent in unexpected ways. I hear Yirgacheffe, I start thinking fruit, but not every coffee from the region is going to taste like blueberries. The “Z” stands for Zero Defect, signifying the extra care taken while sorting the beans, and it comes through with clarity in the cup.

Instead of a sweet, fruity flavor, the YirgZ hit me with bright floral notes and bitter chocolate. It was one of my favorite samples from Bean Box so far, and I may order a full bag next month (after my April Aeropress challenge) to see how it shines in a variety of brew methods.

Herkimer Coffee‘s Congo Muungano was another bright, refreshing brew, and despite it’s unique character I could picture it as an everyday coffee, the sort of bean I would drink pretty much anytime.

The Honolulu Blend from Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee was probably my least favorite, coming in a bit too dark and not as easy to work with. Although this is a blend, it does include Hawaiian coffee, and I have yet to taste a Hawaiian bean that wasn’t roasted beyond my preference.

Which brings me to the final sample from Fundamental Coffee Co, a dark and oily Java Gunung Biru. This was the last coffee I brewed from this month’s box, and I’m sure I let out a sigh when I opened the pack to see shiny beans.

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But timing is everything, and I had just read an article in the Specialty Coffee Chronicle which mentioned the limited taste preference of wine experts versus the broader range of flavors preferred by wine consumers. It challenged me to look for the good in this roast, to accept that some people enjoy a darker roast, and to not turn away from the unknown without fully tasting it.

It was interesting, definitely much darker than my current obsession, likely darker than anything I’ll ever choose to brew on a regular basis, but it wasn’t bad. There was no bitterness, no ashy, burnt flavor, just a lower overall tone in the flavor profile.

All in all, I continue to get just what I want from my monthly Bean Box subscription: a chance to try new things, a chance to learn, and of course, fond memories of Seattle and renewed hope that I’ll visit again soon.

Bean Box: March 2015

Did I not write about the previous month’s Bean Box selection? Wow, I guess not! This year continues to fly by, and already we’re a week and a half into March. Between my focus on roasting last week, and getting ready to head back to Houston this week, I haven’t spent much time enjoying coffee.

Or I should say, thanks to daylight savings time, I’m using coffee more than enjoying it. Not fun…

But at least there’s Bean Box for a little excursion to the northwest! I’ve already blown through the selection this month, but it’s worth mentioning a few things that stood out.

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First of all, thanks for the strawberry creme truffle from Seattle Chocolates! It was definitely the best truffle I’ve had so far, and it’s always a joy to see a new flavor when I open the box. Now that I’m quite a few months into my subscription, I’m seeing more familiar faces in the roaster selection, but it’s still exciting. Instead of “oh, who’s that?” I’m saying “mmm… wonder what Conduit has this month?”

My tasting of the March box was a bit scattered, but two samples really stuck with me. Since I mentioned Conduit already, I have to say I approached this sample with some reservation. Sumatra beans are usually roasted too dark for my taste, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I opened the bag, though, the roast was nice and even, not overly dark, and in the V60 it brought out a deep character that wasn’t covered up by the roast. I was pleasantly surprised, and that’s exactly what I hope for each month.

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My favorite, however, has to be the Bali Kintamani Natural from Seattle Coffee Works. This made a lovely pot in the Chemex, and the bright grapefruit notes really lingered after each sip. It’s nice to try coffee from some less common origins, and this was a great pick to balance out the other coffees this month. The other two selections did not get proper attention this time, as I brewed the blend from Tin Umbrella in a hurry one morning, and wasted the rich espresso from Seven on a batch brew because I ran out of time another morning. It’s been that kind of month.

One thing that caught my eye was the new bags. Bean Box now ships with one-way valves to help keep your beans fresher, and I applaud them for the added effort. Some individual samples in previous months have arrived more than a bit puffy as the beans released CO2 in the airtight package. The one-way valve allows CO2 to escape without letting oxygen back in, so the beans stay fresh while still being able to off-gas.

It’s been way too long since I was in Seattle, and there is rarely a day I don’t miss the city. Thanks, Bean Box, for sending a little bit of Seattle to Florida each month!