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coffee@home: Belle Espresso

Beans: Belle Espresso
Roaster: Klatch Roasters

Rating:
4-

I ordered two different coffees from Go Coffee Go on the same day. The first to arrive, in just 2 days, was my order of Belle Espresso from Klatch Roasters. A pretty good turn around time, although not entirely surprising given that Klatch is located in Southern California while my other coffee hailed from Denver.

You may know this company better by its former name (and former packaging/logos) Coffee Klatch. If that’s still not ringing a bell, this the roasting operation run by Mike and Heather Perry, best known for the awards they garnered at the 2007 World Barista Championship, when their espresso blend won the title of World’s Best Espresso and Heather Perry placed second in the competition (still, the highest that an American has ever placed).

I visited both of the Klatch coffeehouses almost two years ago now (a third cafe is scheduled to open this month). At the time, I was happy with the coffee but disappointed by the cafes. I had high expectations given the collective roasting and barista accolades this father/daughter team has earned.  I never did get around to trying any of the coffee at home, which is probably the better venue to explore this roaster’s product, unless Klatch has improved the customer experience in the shops (which is quite possible given this lapse of time).

In ordering, I debated between the Belle espresso and the World’s Best Espresso. While the latter has a pretty stellar reputation, I figured such high marks combined with the inevitable changes to the formula that must have happened since 2007 (due to the seasonality of any coffee) wasn’t the kind of complexity in expectations I felt up to analyzing. Not that the Belle espresso has done poorly in the past. In 2006, this blend earned a more than respectable 94 on coffee review, a point the packaging still proudly displays (even though the beans used in this blend have long-since changed as well). In the end, I went with the Belle, mostly because I was in the mood for the richer, more luscious profile promised in the blurb by Go Coffee Go’s Professor Peaberry (and which I also read about on the Coffee Geek Boards).

The challenge with espresso is that shipping can sometimes be too fast. As a general rule, you should let espresso rest at least 4-5 days after roasting. It typically peaks in performance in the 5-9 day range.  Ignoring this rule, I can often get passable, if slightly sharp and gassy tasting, shots. The Belle espresso on day three, however, was noticeably burnt tasting and heavy on char, which had me worried. The lesson here is that you shouldn’t even think of firing off a shot of Belle before day 5.

By that point, this espresso was coming into its own. The worst of the roasty qualities had nearly faded, yielding instead to a rich and creamy semisweet chocolate and caramel profile, just as promised. It grew better and the flavor peaked around days 7-9, but I found it still performing admirably several days longer than that.  My notes also included and hint of berry, mint, cream, and a thick but still clean mouthfeel. This is not a bright espresso but neither is it heavy or smokey. It’s simply a very fine specimen of this breed of darker, sweeter, chocolate-centric espressos.

The Belle works well alone or in milk, exhibiting just enough nuance to keep things interesting while sticking to a fairly safe and comforting range of flavors. My limited experience with it as a french press produced a decent enough cup of coffee, but I’d keep to brewing it as espresso. The Belle won’t wow the espresso explorer with novel tastes, but it isn’t designed to. This espresso is a crowd pleaser and made this crowd of one quite happy.

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