Decaffeinating coffee is an intensive and expensive undertaking. Only a few places around the world decaffeinate coffee and the process wreaks havoc on a coffee’s flavors and aromas. To complicate matters, demand for decaf is low while the final sale price is typically the same as it is for an equivalent caliber, caffeinated cousin. Thus, it is rarely economically feasible or culinarily desirable to decaffeinate quality, unblended coffees, which tend to come in smaller batches and otherwise require the power of blending to mask the horrors that decaffeination can create.
Nevertheless, I have had a few quality single origin decafs as of late. I never did formally taste or write about the very nice Four Barrel Kenya decaf I picked up at Modern Coffee before the holiday. I couldn’t get that coffee to work well as espresso but it made a very nice drip. It didn’t scream Kenya, but had some nice, juicy acidity that you don’t ordinarily find in a decaf. Another very good one was this bag of Ethiopia Sidamo Decaf that I picked up at Kéan Coffee’s Tustin store over the holiday.
My tasting notes for this coffee included chocolate, white sugar, apple, raisin, banana and yeasty bread (but pleasantly so). It was nicely bright with lime-like acidity and a clean, yet thick mouthfeel. It was remarkably well-balanced for a decaf. Also important – this coffee has stamina. It traveled with me east and then back west, and I’ll be damned if this coffee didn’t continue to shine well past when it should have.
For the first part of my trip, I brewed it largely via French Press and in a Moka Pot. It worked well both ways and my preference merely depended upon my mood. After returning home, and long after it should have worked well, I was able to pull several fairly successful shots. They weren’t exceptional, mind you, but were more than merely drinkable. The shots worked even better when transformed into an Americano or used in something with milk. But I preferred this coffee as an aeropress, which produced a bright and juicy cup of coffee at least as good as some high quality caffeinated coffees (we’re talking 3+ range here). Although I haven’t tasted the caffeinated version of this coffee, I’d probably take issue with the claim that it as “equally impressive” as its non-decaf form, like Kean’s website proclaims. Still, it’s a great coffee if you’re looking for decaf.