UPDATE: Its worth starting out by saying that the tests in this review are too flawed for it to be valid. While the tastes were all mine, I don’t think I’d put much validity into this article. Check this article out for more on my thinking here.
Before I deleted my old web site (still kicking myself for that!), I wrote about some new coffee beans that I bought for my espresso machine. I spent years drinking the Lavazza Rossa beans (even back to the 1990’s) and thinking they were awesome, but wanted to try something different. I started with Lavazza Crema E Aroma (here on referred to as Lavazza CEA), which is a billion times better than the red stuff. It changed my perception of what espresso could be. I always thought that I loved espresso for its authentic coffee taste (we had a roaster in the shopping strip close to my home when I was a child). Turns out I like the complex tastes you get from the more mellow, but intensely flavoured beans – darker roasts. After getting through a kilo of the Crema E Aroma in a month… pretty much on my own, I sought to find alternatives. I love CEA, but only as espresso. It loses all of its intensity when used in a milk drink (like latte). I placed an order at Amazon for two Canadian beans and, while I waited for delivery, got a pound of Ethical Bean Lush from my local supermarket. Lush is a medium dark roast, absolutely delicious, but like CEA, loses its sparkle when used in a milky drink. I think they’re both incredibly low in acidity, and that stops the flavour cutting through milk. Just a theory of mine, and could be way off base.
So, that Amazon order. I bought a pound of Jumping Bean Espresso (a light roast), and a pound of Muskoka Wood-Roasted Espresso (medium dark). Both are Canadian, Jumping Bean is local. Well, I was incredibly disappointed with both. The Muskoka was pretty much undrinkable for me. The aroma was amazing, and the name made it sound amazing. But it tasted like Hills (possibly the worst non-instant coffee I’ve ever tasted), with a blackcurrant aftertaste that lingered and rotted my stomach for hours. The Jumping Bean was just blah. I managed to finish the Jumping Bean by mixing it with half of the Muskoka. Not great, but at least drinkable. I went back to Lavazza CEA, and got through another kilo in next to no time (the remainder of the Muskoka is still rattling around the cupboard somewhere). I was unprepared for the end of that bag, and had to get something local again. I went back to trusty old Lavazza Rossa. Oh dear. Apparently my taste has been affected forever. Rossa, my go to for absolutely years, suddenly tasted really bland. Oh, what have I done?
I’ll tell you what I’ve done. I’ve ordered fresh beans from idrinkcoffee in Toronto (where I got my Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine, and a few other things).
I ordered two beans that get really great reviews, and seem to be to my taste (Daterra Farms Sweet Collection and Daterra Farms Espresso Yellow), along with a bean that I think will appeal to my wife who has not shared my enthusiasm for the medium dark roasts I’ve loved so far – Sumatran Mandheling. I know she like Sumatra from Starbucks, and I’m assuming this will be similar.
Like a child getting close to Christmas, I’ve been unable to wait to start this new coffee, and have put my Lavazza Rossa to one side until I get through it. Yes, that’s bad. Yes, I’ll pay for it down the road when I have to use the Lavazza, and it’s all stale, but that’s it. What can you do with impulse?
So, I started with the Sweet Collection, which everyone at idrinkcoffee seems to like. Well, what can I say? This takes espresso to a whole new level of complexity for me (and I thought Lush and Lavazza CEA were both complex). There are so many different undertones here that compliment each other perfectly, in this intense but mellow drink. I can’t afford to drink this all the time. It’s not insanely expensive, but a pound costs about the same as a kilo of Lavazza CEA, so the difference is pretty significant, and since I can get through a pound in under two weeks (on my own), this will be an expensive discovery. I’ll wait until the weekend to comment more on what flavours I’m getting, but I just love how it changes through the course of the drink. It’s thick and velvety, has an incredible crema, and is just amazing. I wonder if I started with the wrong blend? I’m not sure it can get any better, which means its downhill from here.