Archives

Finding PTs in KC

Name: Black Dog Coffeehouse
Location: 12815 West 87th St. Parkway, Lenexa, KS
Roasters: PT’s Coffee Roasting Company

Rating: 3

Despite several recent trips to Kansas City, I have yet to manage a pilgrimage to Topeka to visit the highly reputable P.T.’s Coffee Roasting facilities and café. The trip to Topeka from Kansas City is much farther that you might think when casually viewing a map, especially when your time is not your own.

Much more depressing than not being able to make this trip, however, has turned out to be the realization that almost no cafe in the greater Kansas City area uses this roaster’s spectacular coffees.  In fact, it’s easier to mail order P.T.’s coffee to my house, halfway across the country, than it is to find a café in a city just an hour and a half from where it’s roasted. Pardon my squiggles, but this is seriously @#%$@# up.

My denial and outrage eventually came through for me. After considerable effort, I discovered Black Dog Coffeehouse, which technically resides in Lenexa, Kansas, a considerable ways outside the heart of Kansas City. Black Dog proudly serves PT’s coffee, and, as far as I can tell, is the only café in the Greater Kansas City area to do so.

Despite being located in a strip mall, Black Dog coffee does its best to counteract its sterile suburban surroundings by embodying its coffeehouse moniker. The inside is dark despite a plethora of windows and the outdoor seating off to the side seems to be used more for smoking than actual outdoor enjoyment, which makes sense when you consider the uncertainties of Kansas City weather (Auntie Em, Auntie Em). The chalkboard menus hang high over the bar and a series of wooden tables and couches off to one corner seemed near full to capacity with students.

For espresso, Black Dog uses P.T.’s La Bella Vita blend, which they pull on a two group Nuova Simonelli that I was unable to identify. I sadly have never had a shot of of this blend so I’m giving my first impressions. I noted brown sugar and tart stone fruit as well as some tea-like floral notes. It was a chewy, slightly grainy shot but had a thick crema and was easy going down (3).

When it comes to drip, Black Dog seems to be trying to please all of the people all of the time. Of course, this smorgasbord is likely needed to sufficiently one up its chain shop competitors (after all, in the midwest, more is always better). I counted five airpots with coffee brewed on their Fetco. Three of these – a dark roasted Sumatra, a dark roasted house blend, and a flavored coffee – were never under consideration. Ultimately, I decided against the medium-roast Costa Rica, which I imagine was probably quite good, in favor of the lighter roasted Rwanda.

The Rwanda was a lovely, clean coffee with bright citrus acidity and notes of lemongrass, but the flavor was somewhat lost in stale airpot that left me really wanting to taste this coffee’s full potential (3).

It’s worth noting for all you seekers of good coffee, that Lenexa is not exactly close to downtown Kansas City. In other words, only the more committed tourist would probably make their way out this far for a cup of coffee. Besides, there are some equally compelling options closer in (such as the Roasterie and some soon to be blogged about locations). You can always mail order the PT’s for later.

Still, there are a good number of hotels down in Overland Park and Leawood. If you happen to be staying there, or if you happen to actually live in the area, then Black Dog is certainly a stop worth considering.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Movin’ On Up

UPDATE (10/19/10): Luna Espresso is now closed.

Name: Luna Espresso
Location: 1593 1st Avenue, New York, NY
Roasters: Caffe Pronto

Rating: 3+

My most recent trip to New York, a few months ago now, was a short one, and didn’t leave a lot of time for coffee exploration. Despite being left red-eyed from my flight, I did manage to cram in an excellent lunch at 11 Madison Park. Unfortunately the coffee service consisted of a single origin, French Pressed, La Colombe coffee, which was not on par with the quality of the food. The waiter graciously took it back, replacing it with coffee cocktail from Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide, which, if you’ve never had one, tastes uncannily like an iced cappuccino despite not containing a lick of coffee or coffee liquor (Other drinks sound worth trying as well based on this report on the Huffington Post). My exchange with the waiter led to a short conversation where I was let in on the fact that the coffee service was being reconfigured. As luck would have it, I visited 11 Madison Park a couple of months too early to experience their recently announced, quite-up-to-par-sounding Intelligenstia-stocked, multiple-brew-option laden, table-side coffee cart.

With my missed opportunity behind me, I focused instead on Luna Espresso, which opened a few months ago on the corner of 83rd and 1st, ironically, in a space previously occupied by a Dunkin’ Donuts. Luna is a spectacularly welcome addition to New York’s coffee scene, which is thriving in mid-to-lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, but had barely touched anything north of the 50’s. In full disclosure, I have a serious personal stake in Luna’s success since its close proximity to my wife’s family will make for happier visits in the future. Plus, Luna’s survival will only bode well for wholesale clients of quality roasters in these yet unexplored parts of Manhattan.

Luna’s coffee comes from Caffe Pronto Coffee Roasters out of Annapolis, whose coffee I’ve had previously only at Brew Ha Ha in Philadelphia, and that was some time ago.  But Caffe Pronto seems like a welcome addition to the New York scene given how New York’s newest cafes are sometimes a bit dominated by the specialty coffee roaster trifecta – Intelligentsia, Counter Culture and Stumptown (not to be confused with the Bunn Trifecta). Not that I’m complaining about the prevalence of so many good coffees in such a small geographic area, but I see no harm in standing up for a little specialty coffee variety in a town this big.

Luna’s basic set up is one that should please anybody who is into coffee. Barista’s pull shots of Caffe Pronto’s Sweet Cheeks espresso blend on their La Marzocco GB/5. And the shop carries at least 2-3 different single origin coffees which they brew to order on one of their two Clover machines. You can also order a cup of one of Caffe Pronto’s blends brewed on their Fetco or a cup of cold-brewed iced coffee.

My very short shot of the Sweet Cheeks blend was flavorful, with notes of cocoa, cherry, and pear. It wasn’t particularly sweet and exhibited some charcoal notes in the finish, but had a pleasing, thick and chewy body with a well-balanced acidity (3+).

My cup of the Guatemala, brewed on the Clover, was a really nice, well-rounded Guatemala with a lot of chocolate and subtle fruit (3). The Sumatra Lintong, though, was the coffee that grabbed my attention. This naturally processed Sumatra was uncharacteristically fruity – think strawberries balanced out with some heavier jam and dried fruit sweetness – and possessed almost nothing of the herbal/cedar/musty notes you usually find in coffees from Sumatra (3+).

When it comes to decor, Luna isn’t quite as cutting edge as many of New York’s finest. The owners have spruced things up a bit with some aluminum navy chairs and benefit greatly from the surplus of natural light that comes from having a corner location. The space, however, does feel a bit empty and retains some structural and decorative vestiges that I’d like to attribute to the former occupant.

All in all, Luna should make Upper East Siders with less ambitious coffee tastes happy enough, even despite their denial around the demise of Dunkin’ Donuts. At the same time, Luna provides a coffee choice compelling enough for true seekers to stay local. They can save the $4.50 they would have spent in subway fare on a second cup of coffee (…other people would consider doing this, right?).

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Coffee in Kentuckiana

Name: Sunergos Coffee
Location: 2122 South Preston Street, Louisville, KY
Roasters: Sunergos Coffee

Rating: 3+

I didn’t have a lot of hope for finding good coffee when I visited Louisville a few weeks back. I was there for a wedding and something of a family reunion so my coffee shop sleuthing hours were limited to the early weekend mornings. That excluded one downtown location, and the rest of my good coffee candidate list came up a bit shorter than I would have liked. Not that any of this was a surprise, mind you. I have a deeply cynical attitude about obtaining quality food in Midwestern states. My attitude may be unfounded, especially these days, but is deeply embedded in my years of growing up in a small, Midwestern town where exotic cuisine was (and probably still is) equated with Taco Bell.

Enter Sunergos Coffee, a location that came to me through a helpful tweet that I can sadly no longer find. Not that I had high hopes for Sunergos either, given their beguiling name and the lack of information available about their coffee on their website, which happens to be under construction. I’ve found in past reconnaissance work that “website under construction” is often an unintended euphemism for closed. Nevertheless, I headed towards Sunergos’ supposed location, just east of I-95, right next to a warehouse district and not too far from the University of Louisville. I noticed the slightest touch of Bohemia – an art gallery in a former barber shop, I think it was – that spruced up an otherwise working class neighborhood. Then I found it. Sunergos sits right next to an old school bakery (which happens to have some pretty delicious donuts).

Inside, I was struck by the glowing blue, 2 group Astoria Rapallo espresso machine, which I don’t think is necessarily the greatest machine but which does look nice. It also fits with the vintage look of the shop . Next to the machine sat a pretty spectacular antique grinder, which the baristas still use. I was so far enjoying the aesthetic but still wondered about the coffee.

Then I noticed the more promising details. A roaster was housed in the back of the cafe behind a glass wall, which promised fresh-roasted coffee.  The menu included micro-lot coffee options (decent green) brewed via either Chemex or Hario V60 (premium brewing options), three choices of regularly Fetco-brewed coffee (lots of brewed coffee options), and a single origin espresso in addition to their blend (multiple espresso options). Furthermore, the collection of cups resting on the espresso machine and hanging from the unusual, made-of-sticks “mug tree” included souvenir mugs from some of the country’s best roasters. At that point, I found myself liking Sunergos if for no other reason than that they understood the concept of good coffee.

On my first visit, I opted for the Costa Rica San Janillo. On my second visit, I chose the Nicaragua La Manita. I had both coffees made via the V60 since I wanted something brewed to order and the Chemex was too much coffee for one person.  The Costa Rica was a nice, bright coffee with a buttery mouthfeel and notes of chocolate and kaffir lime (3+).  I liked it quite a bit, but remember liking the Nicaragua slightly more (4-?). I remember the latter being more complex and a bit lighter and sweeter. Perhaps better made. It turns out, however, that drinking it while getting lost on the way to the airport isn’t the best environment in which to evaluate coffee.

I tried both Sunergos’ espresso blend and the Harrar single origin espresso. The Harrar exhibited some classic blueberry notes and a nice syrupy mouthfeel but lacked depth and body and otherwise served as a good example of how single origin espressos can be interesting without being particularly good (3-). I liked the blend, however, which, at the hands of my barista, produced a long, slightly thin shot with not a lot of crema, but a very layered espresso. My list of tasting notes included toasted bread, pear, apple, grape and tobacco on the finish (3+).

But I feel compelled to spend a few minutes commenting on Sunergos’ insides, which struck me, when I first entered the shop, as a typical college town coffeehouse. The furniture is mismatch vintage and the lighting was an antiques fixtures showroom. But the designers weren’t simply trying to save a few bucks or make their environment something akin to a frat house by stocking it with second hand furniture. The furniture is  too nice and too deliberately placed.

My next thought was that Sunergos was reveling in the sort of irony carefully crafted by hipsters pilfering far away places and past decades for styles they can reclaim as their own. But that’s when I realized how location matters. Certainly there is a sense of irony to be found in Sungergos’ decorating scheme, but it isn’t the callous and unconnected sort brandished by someone who might open a similarly designed cafe in the Bay Area. Instead, it is the deeply sad sort. The contents of Sunergos could have been collected from the houses around it. The decoration scheme here pays homage too without mocking its firmly midwestern, working class surroundings.

(Update: A second Sunergos location recently opened up at 306 West Woodlawn in Belmont Beechmont.)

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Looking for D.C. Area Coffee?

Having visited only two cafes in the greater Washington, D.C. area, I’m hardly in a place to dispense with anything but hasty generalizations about the D.C. coffee scene. If I did have to dabble in such fallacies, however, I’d comment on the fact that coffee in D.C., like much of the rest of the country, seems to be improving rapidly. At the same time, that progress is tempered by the fact that this good coffee comes mostly from roasters outside the D.C. area. The two exceptions are Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, which is still difficult to find, and Caffe Pronto, which is out of Annapolis.

But since I don’t have more to share about cafes I’ve visited, I thought I’d share some insight into many of those I wish I had time to explore. Adding to the maps section of this blog, I give you this mostly speculative coffee treasure hunt of the Washington, D.C. area, which you can also access through the coffee map tab above.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

coffee@home: Apollo Espresso

Beans: Apollo Espresso
Roaster: Counter Culture Coffee

Rating:
4-

A prominent gap in this blog’s coffee coverage is the absence of reviews for Counter Culture Coffee’s two signature espresso blends: the brighter, zestier Aficionado and the darker, sweeter Toscano. I’ve written about each from time to time during east coast cafe visits (since you can rarely find Counter Culture west of the most east cafes), but always hesitated when considering whether to bring a bag of one of these two coffees home. While I’ve always been perfectly happy with espresso made from either blend, I’ve never found myself as excited about these blends as I am with some of Counter Culture’s single origin beans.

My issue may be that I’m something of new school espresso-drinker with a palate formed on some of the best that America has to offer. Although I appreciate traditional approaches and the skill required to achieve them, I’d much rather my palate be challenged (and hopefully pleased) rather than simply pleased by something entirely familiar. While the Aficionado and Toscano blends do change seasonally (as all blends do to some degree), the goal of these blends is still to maintain a somewhat updated take on an old world profile. Enter the Apollo espresso.

The New York Times introduced Apollo a while back, reporting on the fluctuating nature of the Apollo blend. The beans comprising it may change frequently over the course of weeks or months, leading to an entirely different product – a frequently fluctuating profile. Not that the philosophy behind Apollo is entirely new. The formula and flavors of Intelligentsia Coffee‘s Black Cat changes quite dramatically quite often and Ritual Coffee simply renames their seasonal espresso every month or two to reflect the overhauled formula.

What’s important about the Apollo, though, is  not that the philosophy behind it is novel to the industry, but that with it, Counter Culture is breaking with their own self-imposed sense of tradition. Counter Culture is throwing caution to the wind and approaching espresso with new found culinary creativity, and in so doing completely disregarding Georgio Milos’ recent ranting about how espresso is “supposed” to taste (and that American espresso rarely achieves such an ideal – not that it wants to). I’d argue that it’s Counter Culture, because of their embrace of traditional espresso profiles, even more so than James Hoffman (as Sprudge suggests), who is playing the role of Tevya.

Of course, maybe I should be more like Georgio Milos. After all, frequently changing espressos blends make coffee blogging something of a Sisyphean task. I could probably devote a whole blog to the changing profile of Black Cat or the constantly emerging espresso blends from Ritual (will those folks ever run out of names?). Fortunately for me, even if I can’t manage to keep up with each iteration, I can hopefully capture some of the culinary ingenuity and sense of taste that goes into a constantly changing blend like Apollo.

What I found in pulling shots was a light espresso consistent with the name and vision. I pulled my shots differently than recommended (16 g at 30-32 seconds) – which tasted heavily of grapes and grape candy. My notes also included chocolate, sassafras, caramel and desert wine. The lightweight, velvety mouthfeel was very pleasurable, and the shot top-heavy in a way that isn’t sour or out of balance. In the end, I found it be a very refreshing, fruity, sweet, if somewhat simple, blend that also worked quite well as filter coffee. Whether you’ve liked Counter Culture’s espressos in the past or not, I recommend you give this one a try.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Peregrine Espresso for a Seeking Man

Name: Peregrine Espresso
Location: 660 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, D.C.
Roasters: Counter Culture Coffee

Rating: 3+

Look around the internet, and you’ll quickly determine that the coffee mantle in Washington D.C.’s post-Murky era appears to have been passed to two institutions: Chinatown Coffee and Tea and Peregrine Espresso. In my post on Chinatown Coffee, I mentioned how Nick Cho influenced that shop. It turns out, his presence is felt at Peregrine as well. One of Peregrine’s owners, Ryan Jenson, used to work for Murky Coffee, and Peregrine occupies the former Capital Hill Murky Coffee location that the IRS closed back in 2008.

This location, which actually resides on 7th street despite the technical address, turns out to be a good one. You’ll find it only a few short skips from the Eastern Market Metro station along a strip of Pennsylvania Avenue just Southeast of the Capitol (which is obvious by the address for those who actually get the DC address system). Just up the street from Peregrine, you’ll find the The Good Stuff Eatery/We The Pizza, which is run by the (seemingly) talented, but (seemingly) childish, Spike Mendelsohn, of Top Chef’s 4th season. Right next to Peregrine, actually on Pennsylvania, but seemingly under-patronized by comparison, is a Le Pan Quotidien.

At this location of Peregrine (a second Peregrine will soon be opening at 1718 14th Street NW), you have a couple of seating options. The relatively tiny space houses a handful of blond wooden tables surrounded by mostly white walls accented with splashes of snappy, apple green and accessorized by matte black menus, coffee equipment and coffee bags. There is also pastry case filled with some pretty amazing stuff (I highly recommend the egg filled brioche for breakfast). You can also sit at one of the six or so tables on the tiny patio, which works great during those small windows in D.C. that require neither heating, shelter or air conditioning.

Like Murky before it, Peregrine is a Counter Culture account. Since I never visited Murky, I can’t say which one did it better, but Peregrine certainly does a swell job and no wonder. Three of Peregrine’s baristas took first, third and fourth at last year’s Mid-Atlantic Barista Competition, and one, Jeremy Sterner, went on to place in the semi-finals in the 2010 United States Barista Championship.Of course, the owner himself is a former Southeast Regional Barista champion and former Counter Culture employee. So it’s probably no surprise then that Counter Culture turned to Peregrine, as one of three shops in the country to pilot the Apollo espresso, their new seasonal espresso blend (NYT).

Espresso at Peregrine is prepared on a sizeable four group La Marzocco GB/5. Unfortunately, my shot of Apollo appeared to be prepared by a barista in training.  It was very light and delicate, both in flavor and in texture, which I’d describe as pillowy. The crema was a bit thin, but not as much as it appears in that my very delayed photograph below. I found it heavy on the citrus and floral (daisy?), with some candy-like sweetness but the shot held an acrid edge that spoke of pull quality and not potential, especially given my experience with this espresso (to be reported on soon). Given their reputation, I can only imagine that my still quite good shot was something of an anomaly (3+) and that the norm is much better.

Filter coffee consists of a happy, yet highly functional setup consisting of Fetco-brewed carafes of rotating coffees during the mornings for the customer on the go, and a Melitta pour over station operating throughout the day for customers with a little more time to linger. I like the way that Peregrine’s website cleverly refers to this as providing both macro- and micro-brewing options (I may just have to start using that).  The menu lists a handful of Counter Culture coffees to chose from for the micro-brew.

Unfortunately, my first pick – the Yirgacheffe – was freshly out of stock. I opted instead for the Guatemala Los Gemelos microlot. My cup had some really nice, green apple acidity and an overall fruity character, supported by deep tobacco notes. I thought the papery taste of the brew method came through a bit strong for me and I was struggling to find a bit more depth and complexity in the coffee, even though I still enjoyed it quite a bit (3+).

In the end, Peregrine fell short of my expectations and probably of their true potential. Somewhat frustratedly, I can only rate things as I experienced them, but I do so with ample reservations. It’s quite likely that your experiences with this cafe have been or will be far better. Certainly Peregrine goes for depth over breadth compared to a shop like Chinatown. They use only a single roaster and one brew-to-order method, but they likely know their coffee better, certainly have some pretty top talent and still offer a heck of a lot of choices. Fortunately, there can be more than one. Both shops say good things about where D.C. coffee is going.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Chinatown Coffee and Tea

Name: Chinatown Coffee and Tea
Location: 475 H Street Northwest, Washington, D.C.
Roasters: Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea and rotating guest coffees

Rating: 4-

Good coffee in the Washington D.C. area used to be synonymous with the name Murky Coffee. Sadly, I never did make it to Murky before the IRS closed the Capital Hill location in February 2008 due to several tens of thousands of dollars being owed to them in back taxes. The main branch of Murky Coffee out in Arlington closed a little later in May that same year. Given my love of coffee exploration, not being able to add Murky to my list is something of a missed opportunity. Then again, one somewhat infamous incident leaves me wondering exactly what it was that I missed.

But never fear, former Murky owner, Nick Cho, is alive and well. In addition to maintaining a very entertaining, provocative and informative twitter feed, he is part-owner of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, whose coffee I really wanted to try during my short visit to D.C. I had been under the mistaken impression that none of their wholesale accounts sits close to a Metro stop. It turns out that at least one Dolcezza location is right off Dupont Circle, which I didn’t discover until after I returned. It turns out that Nick Cho’s influence also extends to a new wave of D.C. cafes, such as Chinatown Coffee and Tea, where he was hired as a consultant in its design and build out. You can find this cafe right off the red line in…well…Chinatown, which is super convenient if you happen to be doing any business or sightseeing in the general northeast Capital-mall area.

In fact, Chinatown Coffee was the perfect spot for me to visit during my recent trip to D.C. This shop’s long slim profile with one brick wall is naturally cool seeming even minus the wonderful air-conditioning, which is a definite must when traveling to D.C. in August. More importantly, the coffee selection is great and the coffee itself very good. If that’s not enough the pastry selection was good and they’ve recently added a beer menu, which works a lot better when you aren’t there in the morning.

I noted two important aspects of Chinatown’s coffee menu about which readers of this blog should be aware. First is that they offer coffee from multiple roasters. Or at least they do so on days other than the one on which they expect new shipments to arrive (it seems its best to avoid Thursdays if you want roaster variety). The menu is driven by Intelligentsia as is noted on the website, but Chinatown Coffee also regularly features coffees from other roasters (something not mentioned on the website). During my visit, or at least around my visit, one could expect to be able to buy and be served coffees from Novo and Counter Culture.

The second important feature is that Chinatown offers multiple brewing options of multiple coffees. You can, of course order, the standard, but rotating, Fetco-brewed coffee. While I was there, it was an Intelligentsia Guatemala. During my visit, Chinatown was also serving your choice of two iced coffees. But most important is the fact that you can order any coffee to be brewed-to-order, either via French Press or the Abid Clever Coffee Dripper. This particular dual method approach is a good one since it provides to easily repeatable, yet varied, brew choices.

My choices of brewed coffee were limited to Intelligentsia (boo-hoo for me, right!) so I ordered a Clever of the Kenya Thirkuni. Of course, this coffee may very well have been my choice even if other coffees from other roasters had been available. I had heard quite a few good things about this Kenya and there are simply so many good Kenyas out right now, it seems a shame to miss Intelligentsia’s take on this coffee. My tasting notes for this cup included melon, tangerine, and dark chocolate with some black current and light floral notes (hyacinth) in the finish. It had a surprisingly mellow acidity for a Kenya, which did emerge slowly  as it cooled. Overall, this was a very good cup of coffee despite the fact that I found the body a tad thin and the mouthfeel a little bit too oily (4-).

For espresso, Chinatown pulls shots of Black Cat on a LaMarzocco GB/5. They also pull shots of a rotating single origin espresso in addition to Black Cat decaf. The single origin hadn’t yet been dialed in on my visit and I was running out of time. Besides, I figured Black Cat was probably a better metric of Chinatown’s potential for espresso since they pull shots of it every day. My espresso was a little lacking in body for what I expect from this coffee and this machine, but had some really nice, crisp acidity with grapefruit notes and brown sugar sweetness (4-).

What’s tough about rating Chinatown Coffee and Tea is trying to interpret my own tolerance for innovation and progress, and how those factors intertwine with coffee quality. A year or two ago, Chinatown, with their two brew-to-order options made from your choice of coffees from multiple roasters (not to mention multiple espressos on good equipment), would have been headline news. These days, this more complicated model of coffee delivery is still more than what you expect to find in most shops, but not unheard of when reading about the opening of more serious shops (we’re talking about those not run by the roaster here). No doubt that Chinatown Coffee executes their setup smartly and efficiently and certainly deserves the moniker, “coffee destination.” Still, I left longing for something to make this visit one of those out-of-this-world experiences. Perhaps I’m thinking too hard. Maybe I should just forget it. After all, it’s Chinatown.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

coffee@home: Ritual Karimikui

Beans: Kenya Karimikui
Roaster: Ritual Coffee Roasters

Rating:
4-

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a cupping event for Home Barista members. As luck would have it, five of my seven top picks (out of 22 world class coffees) were not available in this country. Thankfully, at least one of these seven was a Bay Area coffee. I headed over to Ritual to drink a calibrating cup and to pick up a bag of the Karimikui for home.

If I had to describe this coffee with just one word, it would be “grapefruit.” Of course, I don’t actually eat much grapefruit so I couldn’t say much about pink or standard or which heirloom varietal this coffee’s flavor most evokes (the bag noted simply “pink grapefruit”). But don’t let the fact that you don’t like grapefruit stop you. I pretty much can’t stand grapefruit, but for some reason, I really liked this coffee. Be warned, though, a coffee this bright isn’t for everyone. There’s also the fact that it costs $28/pound (although Ritual actually sells this coffee in groovy, black half-pound bags for $14).

If there is one flaw with the coffee, I’d say the grapefruit goes a bit pithy in the aftertaste. The good news is that this coffee is a two for one. I did a double-take eight days past the roast date when this coffee transformed. The intensely bright acidity mellowed considerably and the grapefruit notes faded into the background, leaving sweet tangerine with a hint of currants.  I guess I just moved past my arbitrarily imposed one-word description.

For a brew method, I’d recommend a paper filter approach (clever, V60, etc.) for this coffee, although a siphon also works well. It has a beautiful viscous mouthfeel which worked all right in a french press but the other aspects of that brew method (or a gold cone in a clever) tend to obscure the more delicate flavors and aromas of this coffee.  And, of course, with acidity like this, any kind of intensifying brew method, such as espresso or aeropress, is more or less a no-starter, unless you like to pucker.

The bottom line is that I’d definitely recommend trying a cup of this coffee if your Ritual-slinging cafe happens still to have it in stock, even given that a cup (or bag) will fetch a higher price than its other Ritual coffee cousins.  Assuming you like what you taste, I’d definitely say it’s worth picking up a bag . Sometimes, I find Ritual’s higher priced coffees not quite worth the extra buck, but this one delivers, even at this steep price.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook