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coffee@home: Stumptown Decaf


Beans: Decaf House
Stumptown (via Four Barrel Coffee)
Rating: 4

When it rains, it pours. That seems to fit the weather around here this past week – that and (relatively) frigid temperatures.  Of course, what I had in mind with that cliche remark wasn’t weather, but decaf coffee. Recently, I’ve found the two best decafs I’ve ever had.

I wrote last week about the wonders of Intelligentsia’s decaf Black Cat. This week it’s the lovely Decaf House from Stumptown that I picked up over at Four Barrel Coffee.  Stumptown’s decaf isn’t all that different than Intelligentsia’s in it’s ability to capture gorgeous, bitter, dark chocolate, but a shot of this stuff wraps that dark chocolate around a piece of sweet, juicy grapefruit. It’s a bit trickier to pull, but when done right, it has that notable, citrussy kick.

Of course, I’m raving about the potential for this coffee as an espresso. I’ve also been really enjoying it as an Americano. As a French Press, however, like the Black Cat, it’s good, but much closer to a 3. And of course, while it is amazing, my amazement is still tempered by the fact that it is a decaf. I’m simply saying that this is one of the best decaf coffees I’ve ever had (and for the record, I do slightly prefer the Black Cat, primarily for its stability and consistency). Pair it up against most regular coffees, especially those in the lighter roast range, and this coffee is inevitably going to seem a little flat.

I’m left wondering what it is that makes these two decaf coffees so good. Please add your comments on this below.  I’m curious whether it has to do with the heavier reliance on Central American beans rather than the Indonesian beans so plentiful in other decafs.  I’m thinking in particular of my positive experience with the Mexican Zaragoza coffee from Counter Culture I tried earlier this year, which was better than the norm, but had a peppery edge that held it back compared to the Black Cat and House blends. Of course, it’s not surprising that the three best decafs I’ve have this past year have hailed from three such superstar roasters. Perhaps it simply takes that much roasting, (blending) and sourcing expertise to turn out quality decaf coffee.

Making me both nervous and excited is the fact that Four Barrel will soon roasting their own coffee. When I went in the other day to purchase a second bag of decaf, the roaster was moving, but not yet roasting. I guess I’ll have to wait and see whether this change will give me cause for decaf celebration (adding another good option to my list) or whether I’ll simply be more frequently mail ordering my decaf coffee.

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