I would hazard a guess that Paradise Coffee Roasters, based in Ramsey, Minnesota was founded by some individuals desperate to get away from a long Minnesotan winter. The Jimmy Buffetesque packaging isn’t one I’d necessarily gravitate towards, especially when the coffee is called Romance, but a 94 point score on Coffee Review is hard to ignore. Besides, filling my cart at ROASTe with coffees from roasters based in Minnesota and Wisconsin was sure to get me some props from my Upper Midwestern relatives.
But in all seriousness, this coffee really is a delight. It blends a Sumatra Blue Batak with a naturally processed Ethiopia Sidamo Amaro. The concept is brilliant really. By taking the signature earthy elements of a coffee from Java and the more fruity elements of a coffee from Yemen, the folks at Paradise have deconstructed the classic mocha java blend.
The result is a blend that highlights the better elements of an intense Sumatra while not letting that particular coffee overwhelm. The fruitiness and bright acidity of the Ethiopian keep the herbal, earthy and roasted red pepper elements in check. These two contrasting coffees manage to play off one other surprisingly well in the cup.
I was busy scribbling down tasting notes for this coffee, which is usually a good sign. They included: cut grass, sage, earth, cedar, red pepper, semisweet chocolate, cherry, red berries, and apple. The light roast yields a coffee with a tea-like body but which has a syrupy mouthfeel and a surprisingly heavy finish. What’s so good about this coffee is the beguiling complexity of it. The dry aroma of the bean had me shouting out Sumatra, but the dry grounds come out incredibly fruity. In the cup, its one of those coffees that dances around in your mouth. Perfectly pleasant, but never quite settling down.
For brewing it, I would recommend a French Press or a non-paper filter method. I also had good luck using a gold cone filter in an Abid Clever Coffee Dripper. Something about the paper plays up the more herbal and cedar elements of the Sumatra and throws off the balance by obscuring the sweet fruit. And it’s probably not worth experimenting with this blend as espresso. My experience, not surprisingly, was that it was far too bright and imbalanced. I would, however, be curious to see what could be done with it as espresso by taking it to a darker roast.
Overall, what I found so refreshing about this coffee was the way that it challenged my preconceptions. I didn’t know much about this roaster and have been pretty dismissive of Indonesian coffees as of late. This coffee, however, is simply delightful. I found myself eagerly anticipating the opportunity to brew a cup each morning. That to me, is the ultimate high mark.