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coffee@home: Into the Blue Again

Beans: Misty Valley Ethiopian Yergacheffe and Peru Apram
Roaster: Blue Bottle Coffee Company
Rating: 3 and 3-

We all have our coffee first loves, but with coffee, you don’t have to make a lifelong commitment to a roaster and there’s really no stigma against cheating. You may get upset from time to time with the dirty dishes left in the sink, but your coffee is dependable. And, when it is time to move on, you won’t be left feeling like your coffee has ripped out your heart and stomped on it until you died.

So what is the right coffee-relationship analogy? It’s certainly not a traditional relationship yet I don’t think it resembles the philandering, lascivious guy in a bar, taking home the next new hot young thing merely for the thrill. I tend to think that it might resemble the on-again/off-again relationship of Jean Paul Satre and Simone de Beauvoir. I, for example, regularly find myself returning to my coffee first true love, Blue Bottle. Sometimes I find my love boiling over and we plunge headfirst into a newly rekindled relationship. At other times our true emotions remain bottled up. Perhaps the timing is just off or we push each others buttons rather than pulling one another close.

A little while back I thought I was headed for a rekindled affair as I drank a cup of Peru Del Norte at the Temescal Farmer’s Market. This bliss in a cup was sharp, edgy and bracing. Several people around me commented that the coffee was bitter as they added considerable quantities of milk and sugar, but as many at the farmer’s market do, they really misinterpreted it. It tasted like ever so slightly sweetened cocoa and was not meant to be a sugary, sweet milk chocolate.

Sadly, when I returned a few weeks later, eager to purchase some, I found that Blue Bottle’s supply had run dry. The del Norte was no more. This seemed to be my torch song. Earlier that same week, I missed my chance to get some of Intelligentsia’s, now legendary, El Salvador Finca Matalapa.

What Blue Bottle was able to offer was the Peru Apram. While they didn’t secretly replace my Peru Del Norte with Folger’s crystals, my experience was something akin to the confusion that occurred when producers switched Darrins in Betwitched. It wasn’t bad, but this was not my beautiful coffee. The Peru Apram was pungent and sharp with hints of white wine and fresh cut pine. It was richer and more earthy than I remember the del Norte being, a more medium to full bodied cup with a slightly grittier mouthfeel.

I also picked up a bag of the Misty Valley Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. The Misty Valley has a bright nose of intense fruit: blueberries, most prominently, but also green apple and pineapple. I also got notes of sherry and cocoa. The coffee was crisp and clean but had a slightly harsh, tanniny quality cutting through its otherwise luscious fruit that just didn’t settle right with me. I modified my brewed technique and water temperature just to see if I could dissipate it, but didn’t have any luck. Please let me know if you’ve faired any better.

Don’t get me wrong, both coffees were complex and interesting and certainly better than the norm. They were simply disappointing and somewhat sub-par for what I’ve come to expect from from Blue Bottle. But don’t worry my dear, I will be back.

[As an added bonus, check out these fantastically horrible Folgers commercials, including the 50′s verbally abusive husbands (1,2,3) who can’t make their own coffee, the 70′s Cathy-esque variety commercials where men still can’t make their own coffee and this 80′s cheesefest, starring Scott Bakula, where men apparently can finally make their own coffee, but only decaf and only while performing in a musical.]

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6 comments to coffee@home: Into the Blue Again

  • Ciao,

    I’ve been enjoying BB’s Misty Valley as straight espresso and in cappuccini. Because of all the variables that affect espresso shots, I’m inclined to blame any undesirable flavors on my barista fu rather than the beans. Of course the beans probably fluctuate in quality (crop to crop, or sack to sack) even before they reach the roaster. I have not yet tried Misty Valley from other roasters, so cannot make comparisons on that basis.

    Another BB single-origin that I like is Fazenda Jacaranda. BB describes the flavor as peanut-ty, which makes it easy to like. Actually the best cappa I made with it was a combo of Jacaranda and Misty Valley, one scoop of each in the grinder. Yummers!

    For a change of pace, I still dig their Yemen Sana’ani; it’s too harsh as straight espresso, but steamed milk transforms it to a startling degree. I don’t know if I’d enjoy these coffees more or less with other brewing methods.

    Happy Brewing,
    Wayne

  • UnRuly25

    I completely agree with you on the Misty Valley. I’m a big fan of BB, generally, but the Misty Valley has an aftertaste that reminds me of the way my compost basket smells.

    However, BB has a couple of other good single origins. Try Purosa Papua New Guinea, Ethiopian Yirgacheffee, and once in awhile you can find a good Ethipoian Sidamo.

  • I do like the PNG – very tasty. Thanks for the memory jog about BB’s other Ethiopians. It’s been a while since I’ve tried any of them.

    I still have never tried the Yemen, but I’ve heard some intriguing things about it. What do you think of it as a drip?

    I did try – which I’ll be writing about soon – De La Paz’s Misty Valley, which was very good.

  • Wow….I can’t believe I haven’t discovered this site until now! I’m going to bookmark you and thoroughly read through everything as soon as I can sit down for a few hours! Anyway, just thought I’d chime in on Misty Valley…albeit a bit late. I am highly underqualified but hey, I have tastebuds too, so what the heck. I would totally agree with unRuly’s comment about the aftertaste and the compost basket….but in my case, that’s a positive! In fact, thanks for that description so that when BB stops carrying Misty Valley (which they will), I can have them steer me to something that matches. I use a moka pot exclusively and am really enjoing the Misty Valley. I’m frustrated I can’t get any Yemen from them…..I feel like BB is my crack dealer – they get me hooked, then cut me off to flounder around trying bean after bean until I’m happy again. Sigh. Anyway, thanks again for this site……it’s a great resource!

  • Wow! That’s ambitious. I’ve heard good things about the Yemen but actually haven’t tried it before. Hopefully there will be a new crop sometime soon.

  • Kberg

    An honest review, blue bottle does have great coffee, especially espresso however they seem to promote various cold brew methods, you expect higher prices and quality, however there is a sense of loss of focus on some of their coffee, a bit too acidic or sour, or vinegary, yes this review is a few years later, but you get that feeling with blue bottle sometimes, I recall another review, I also question there serving of new orleans chicory, a bit too much chicory and if the cold brew is right the first time, balance, fair in contrast to sugary new orleans, then you notice the cold brew is too intense, overpowering in a way you can’t dilute , if you do its like water and orange soda, worse.

    Hate to say this three years later, that being said I find this to be one of the more focused blogs, its so easy to have success and advertise as a roaster/buyer.

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