Despite the sheer frequency with which I am "drinking coffee and grading papers" on Facebook, I'm not as much of a coffee snob as one might think. I do drink it black, as God intended (when asked how he liked his coffee, my grandfather would say "in a cup"), and I have a predilection for the darker roasts: I like my coffee to taste like it's been smoking Chesterfields waiting for me to get up.
This didn't stop me from offering to review a new roast/blend by my Facebook friend and fellow blogger Brian Gumm. I forget how it happened. I think he was razzing me about the Keurig and whatnot and the smack talk ended up with him sending me some free beans to try with the promise that I'd do a writeup.
Apparently I need a sign that says "Will write for coffee."
Because I totally will. I'm just saying.
Anyway, Brian sent me two: one is sort of a black and tan concept blending light roasted Costa Rican beans with darker roasted Brazilian which he calls "Americano Blend," the other just a roast of some Tanzanian Peaberry. I try the Americano Blend first. Once ground, the blend is actually lighter than I expected -- almost blond -- and the aroma is rich with just a hint of spice.
[More disclaimers: I'm just using the filter option on my Keurig, whereas a true aficionado would probably do a French press or a pour-over, and I'm using a blade grinder when everyone knows you're supposed to use a burr grinder. What a Philistine.]
The resulting brew is true to the sight and smell of the grind. The first few sips are light, even a little watery for my taste. As it cools a bit, however, richer flavor notes come out. There's the brightness and spice one normally associates with Latin American blends, along with the smoothness of a good Colombian, with just a smidge of earthiness I didn't expect.
Overall, it's lighter than I usually like, though I would enjoy this as an after-dinner coffee, with or without dessert (something fruity -- I'd want something with more bite to go with chocolate or custard-type desserts). Those who prefer lighter roasts would probably find this one delightful.
Next is the Tanzanian. First, it seems to be aptly named. I mean, I don't know Tanzania from a hole in the ground, but I know what peas look like, and the coffee beans really are pea-sized and round. The grind is rich and earthy with some hints of dark chocolate.
So is the brew. Unlike the Americano Blend, this is my, er, cup of tea. It's not terribly smoky, but it is robust with some bite to it. Some brightness comes through, like an unexpected sheen on a otherwise matte finish. This is a roast that I would drink for breakfast, or to wash down several chocolate eclairs. Because chocolate eclairs.
Overall, this was some good coffee. The beans are fair trade and organic, which I like, and the roasts have a lot going for them. Brian is thinking about a Tanzanian/Sumatran blend. I'd love a chance to review that one.