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This is the kind of post one hopes never to have to write. These are two of a total number of three bags of coffee I recently ordered from Chromatic Coffee. The one missing was a Burundi Kayanza. That was the one I drank first and while I didn’t love it, it was serviceable. These two though are just terrible. Both are overroasted hopelessly, hollow on the midpalate and simultaneously ashy tasting and insipid. It is so hard for me to wrap my head around how a roaster could go from what I have been used to from Chromatic, to this. In reaching out to my fellow coffee afficionado Paul Willenberg, he opined that stuff like this happens occasionally when big changes occur. So I did my research here on IG and noticed that this was my first batch since Chromatic moved to their new facility…and that the roasters are no longer the old school Probats but newer more industrial looking machines. I suspect that is what the issue is, but in the end, it doesn’t matter…a quality drop like this should not happen to a roaster with this kind of track record. This is thus likely my last post about Chromatic and I can no longer recommend their coffees if this is what is now being shipped.
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Verve Coffee La Bolsa Pacamara is one of the most memorable coffees for me this year. For one thing, the Pacamara variety beans are ginormous. The coffee is super floral, herbaceous and spicy. Almost like what I would expect from a Yirgacheffe. The finish has a touch of salinity to it. Stunning coffee if you like it on the floral and savory side of things.
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Ritual El Pajal is terrific. It succeeds a bag of Hacienda Carmona and I like this even better than the HC. Very clean, sparkling citrus and dark chocolate. 100% Bourbon variety farmed at 1730m above sea level. One worth buying again when it is back. @ritualcoffee is always a real treat in the morning.
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Verve Amado Fernandez is a fine if slightly one dimensional coffee. I tasted mostly caramel, nuts and chocolate. Slightly lower on acidity than I typically like, but still very good. All in all, this still beats the pants off most coffees sold in the US (even among great roasters), but I have had better and I think I am beginning to understand that Honduras may not be my thing in coffee.
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Verve Chelchele is a fantastic coffee. Incredibly floral, earthy, nutty and wild…borderline animale. Makes a very pretty and interesting cup and is also great for making ice coffee on hot summer days like these. This is made from heirloom varieties and the beans are tiny as is typical for heirloom coffes of Yirgacheffe like this one. What is impressive is how Verve Coffee managed to roast this so that one can really taste nothing but the purity of these beans.
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Chromatic Guatemala El Socorro. I find this to have chocolate and nut flavors with a caramel finish. A bit lower on acid than I typically like and roasted a tad more than the Verve Guatemala of recent days. Still a delicious coffee, and one that REALLY benefits from being brewed by the Hario V60 over other methods based on my trials. @chromaticcoffee delivers yet again.
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Verve Guatemala La Candelaria. I have been drinking this for a few days now and it is, as people say proverbially, “the good stuff”. I had been thinking of trying Verve Coffee for some time, but every time when I was close to placing an order, I ended up going with Chromatic or Ritual instead. I am slightly bummed I did not give Verve a try sooner. This is a super bright coffee and the Verve tasting note of lemon shortbread is right on. This blend of Bourbon and Villa Sarchi varieties has a nice creaminess to it and nutty flavors on the finish. Lovely and based on this, I would say Verve just catapulted into a tie with Ritual and Chromatic for my favorite roasters in the US. They all manage to roast the coffees to perfection to show off the beans’ character.
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Ritual Organic Aramo is amazing stuff. I have no idea how Ritual Coffee gets these coffees so right every time…this lot has such an amazing floral and spice aroma…but it is no slouch in the taste department either. Tons of nuanced flavors and lovely, sparkling acidity. The more coffee I drink from Ritual, the more I think they might be the roaster I would choose if I could only buy from one…
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Slate Coffee Roasters Gedeb Chelchele. On a more positive note, this Ethiopian coffee delivers the goods. Pretty hazelnut, lavender and chocolate flavors and a smooth texture yet ample of acidity and tension. Slate Coffee clearly know what they are doing when it comes to roasting their beans.
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I have been experimenting with brewers lately. When I started making pour over coffee years ago, my favorite roasters (Counter Culture, Stumptown, Blue Bottle) seemed to all use the beehouse/bonmac and given that I was a novice, I decided to use that brewer accordingly. The beehouse does make a beautiful cup for sure. More recently, I have been enamored with coffees from other roasters (Ritual) who prefer the Hario V60. So I tested the two brewers side by side and I have come down on the side of Hario. The coffee takes a bit more care to get right, but I get citrus notes and more nuance more easily and it also brews a touch faster. There is no right or wrong, but for now, the Hario is my tool of choice.
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Chromatic Ethiopia Guji Sidama is exactly as good as one could hope for it to be. Chromatic Coffee just absolutely nailed the roast on this batch. I am not sure I get exactly the same tasting note as described on the packaging, but it is close. To me, there is chocolate, lavender and spice. Quite an earthy coffee, too. Amid all that complexity the coffee projects a smoothness and effortless power. My son had a sip and said unsolicitedly “I like this better than your last one. It is smoother and has more flavor.” One of the better African coffees in a while.
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I have been enjoying this Counter Culture Finca Belgravia for the last few days. One of the better coffees I have had from Counter Culture Coffee in a while. This one is all about the nutty caramel notes and juicy feel to it. Has good acidity and power. This one is a blend of Bourbon and Tabi beans and it is noticeable right away that the beans are very small (as in African heirloom small). Lovely stuff.
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Ritual Coffee El Angel La Casa. This is the third and final item from the most recent batch of coffees I ordered and this one falls smack dab in the middle of the prior two in terms of my preference. I find it more complex and charming than the La Pinona, but not quite as interesting as the Nelson Ramirez. But I find I can get a very nice cup from brewing this.
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Ritual Coffee Nelson Ramirez should – on paper – be a lesser coffee than the La Pinona the other day. In this case though, I like the underdog. While I am having a hard time tasting the components as I left the house this morning, it feels like the coffee is, as a whole, more complete and rounded out than the other Honduran. Really nice stuff and I can highly recommend this.
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