Nine Month Recap

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve taken a break from reviewing. It involves a long business trip and catching a bug. While I’m home now, I’m still not well, and my sense of taste is thoroughly misaligned.
So instead I’m going to make some lists. I mean, why not? Lists are fun … and they might even be useful.
Going back over the last 9 months of reviews, these were my favorite coffees:

I heartily recommend every one of them. These are the crème de la crème, the coffees that have spoiled me rotten for most of this year.
Now that we’ve covered the best, let’s take a look at the worst…

Some of my readers may remember I had challenged a dozen leading coffee maker manufacturers to prove to me their machines could make a better cup of coffee than my little 49¢ cup top filter. These companies were:

  • Black & Decker
  • Braun
  • Bunn
  • Cuisinart
  • DeLonghi
  • Farberware
  • Hamilton Beach
  • KitchenAid
  • Krups
  • Mr. Coffee
  • Sunbeam
  • West Bend

Not a single one of them wanted to answer the challenge. None. Why? Because none wanted their machines to be showed up by a dime store piece of plastic. None of them wanted to admit it’s the coffee, not the coffee maker, that makes good coffee.
That being said, there is one amazing little device I did discover this year: The Java Wand. If there is one coffee maker that could make a better tasting cup of coffee that my little 49¢ wonder, it would be a coffee press. The Java Wand is a coffee press at the end of a straw. And, no, it does not burn your lips off. Check it out.
So my coffee loving friends, that’s my recap. After I get to feeling better, and can taste properly again, I’ve got several yummy looking coffees all lined up and ready to be reviewed.
Thanks for reading! And thanks for coming back!

Thou Shalt Not Twice-Brew Coffee

There’s a guy at work — let’s just call him Bob — yes, Bob is at it again — who likes his coffee strong.

“What’s wrong with that?” you ask. “Is not strong coffee a good thing?”

“Yes,” I reply, “but not the way Bob does it.”

Bob makes a pot of office coffee which, as usual, is far too weak. But instead of trying to remedy this sad situation by making a pot using more coffee, he takes the coffee he just made and…

I hope you’re ready for this. It’s quite shocking. It may make some of my more sensitive readers burst into tears.

Bob takes that pot of too-weak coffee, and he pours it back into the coffee maker to run it through again.

Through the same used grinds, even!

This is like trying to make a better car by forcing it through the factory line twice. This does not work. Instead of producing an improved twice-manufactured car, you end up with a gnarled piece of junk.

It’s the same with coffee. Bob has taken coffee which was bad to begin with, and in an attempt to make it better, has turned it into something utterly vile.

If you see Bob do this, immediately roll up a newspaper and smack him! It’s a sin against coffee!

Thou shalt not twice-brew coffee.

Thou Shalt Not Attempt to Reanimate Dead Coffee

There’s a guy at work — let’s just call him Bob — yes, Bob, the bastard is at it again — who has a frugal streak in him. While in most circumstances this is fine, as generally speaking less is more, but in this case it is not.
Most definitely not.
Bob is conscientious enough to brew a new pot when he discovers the coffee is gone. Points for Bob! However, Bob’s frugal nature tells him to not remove the old grinds from the coffee pot. No. Instead he adds a couple scoops of fresh grinds right on top of the old ones, and then makes the coffee with that.
Frugal conscientious Bob is attempting to reanimate dead coffee.
No, Bob! No! Bad! Bad Bob!
Thou shalt not attempt to reanimate dead coffee!

Is it truly his frugal nature which prompts him to commit this sin? Or laziness? Or just plain ignorance? Does Bob think that coffee tastes so awful anyway that doing this will make no difference? Or are all the taste buds in Bob’s mouth as dead as the coffee he’s trying to reanimate?
Regardless, what he’s doing is a sin against coffee — and the result is horrid, putrid zombie coffee from Hell.
If you see Bob do this, immediately roll up a newspaper and smack him.
Bob must be stopped!

Country Morning Coffee: Columbia

This is an actual scan of the package. Country Morning Coffee – Colombia Roast. It’s such a fresh, small batch roast that each bag is hand labeled with a Sharpie.
Right up front, let me tell you this: It’s wonderful! This is a light-hearted, lovingly roasted bean with a sparkling pure flavor, sprite and sweet, with just enough dark undertones to give it some depth. The aftertaste is pure magic. It’s the most consummate example I have had of a Colombia roast.
I could quite easily drink this coffee all day long, everyday, for 11 days straight.
The woman behind Country Morning Coffee is Elizabeth Wolf. From her website: “I roast my coffees in small 20 lb batches with a gas powered, drum coffee roaster. Small batch roasting and straightforward technology give me more control over the roasting process. Many variables, including the weather can affect how a batch of beans will roast. Small batch roasting allows me to give every roast the meticulous attention they require. After every batch is completed I taste it, guaranteeing our customers the delicious coffee they have come to love.”
Her company motto: “Fresh Coffee is Happy Coffee.”
All I can add to that is: Groovy!

Thou Shalt Not Steal The Heart Of The Coffee

You have a co-worker — let’s just call him Bob — he comes into the office early, and sees someone had just started a pot of coffee maybe two minutes before him. He stands there, waiting a few seconds, then thinks … I’m in a hurry.
Bob pulls the pot out from under the dribbling coffee stream, and fills his coffee cup from what there is in the pot, then puts the pot back under the stream. He walks away, whistling, with an extra strong cup of coffee to start his day.
Bob just stole the heart of the coffee. The rest of it is going to taste like crap.
Don’t do that, Bob! It’s a sin! You have sinned against coffee!
Bad, Bob! Bad! No no!
If you see Bob do this, roll up a newspaper and smack him.

Barres Brothers Sumatra Mandheling

It’s noon as I write this. A city disaster siren just went off outside my window, moaning a very loud message of doom. Thumping and crying out of my computer’s speakers is an old Pink Floyd song called Mudmen.
And I’m drinking my second large mug of Barres Brothers Sumatra Mandheling.
Life is so good. There are challenges and sorrows, sure. There are disappointments. Things more often than not go ways other than we’d like them to go.
But if you strive for excellence, you will receive it. Not always in big ways, but definitely in small ones. Like a really excellent cup of coffee that you can savor and let it flood your soul with energy and focus, bringing a sense of both peace and gratitude. Gratitude that you’re actually alive, aware, in this time and place. Right now. Right here.
Berres Brothers says of this coffee that it’s “Intensely powerful, joyfully rejuvenating. Indonesian beans create this strong, earth richness accented with”
With what? I don’t know. It cuts off right there. It must be a printing error.
I will personally vouch for it being “intensely powerful” as that is exactly what it is. This is a powerful coffee, not overbold like a dark roast, but powerful in its brown robustness, its winey notes mixed with earthy toasty beans. There’s a spike of acidity, so I wouldn’t drink this one all day long. A good mid-morning or lunchtime coffee, enough to give you that sharp kick that helps you over the hump of the day, making your afternoon enjoyable and lucid.
Berres Brothers does it again. This coffee is another in their long line of groovy brews.
Oh, and that disaster siren, it was a test, only a test.