October has come and gone, and we have a number of stellar coffees to recommend for your brewing pleasure.
For this month’s rating, we tasted some outstanding coffees, including ones that challenged the way we think about reviews and recommendations. At Roast Ratings, we have not been shy about reviewing big brand coffees or dark roasts – coffees that typically do not score well in reviews but have large consumer followings. When we review these coffees, we are sometimes surprised by finding a diamond in the rough (Dunkin Donuts Original, McCafe Decaf), but oftentimes the quality of the coffees just do not hold up to the standards of specialty coffee and they receive relatively low scores.
In this review, though, we encountered a few coffees that did not fit our normal mold. There were a some that were definitely dark roasts (in fact, one was even named, Darkness of Divinity), but they were also great representations of what the roaster was trying to create. They were coffees intended for a coffee drinker who enjoys milk or sugar in their coffee or for a coffee drinker who just enjoys dark roasts. While they suffered in our ratings when compared with dynamic light roasts, we could easily see how someone who enjoys their coffee with a bit of cream or sugar would really enjoy them.
This situation left us wondering – we want to be a resource for coffee lovers everywhere, whether you like your coffee with a bit of cream and sugar or whether you like for the coffee bean to do all the work. We will continue to ponder this quandary, but in the meantime, we decided to separate this description of our October reviews into three categories: Adventure Time, E for Everyone, and Traditional.
This category represents coffees that are for the adventurous coffee lover. If you enjoy fruity and juicy Kenyans or a clean Ethiopian with nice berry notes, you will love these coffees. They might cost a little extra, but they will deliver quite an experience for your money.
On the nose this coffee begins with lush brown sugar & spices. The body is medium and juicy, pairing nicely with stone-fruits and sweet, clean lemon flavors, as well as rich dried fruit tones. Sweet dark chocolate and caramel laced with baking spices anchors the brighter notes of this brew, leaving us with a long juicy peach glow riding that chocolate into the aftertaste. In three words this coffee is Fruity – Juicy – Baking Spices
Aromas drew us in with the sweetness of brown sugar, caramel & hints of fruit. The body was somewhere between medium & full, round & a little creamy. In the flavor balance it leans a little more towards its fruity acidity, underscored by sweetness that reminded us of brown sugar, honey and fruit nectar. In the lowest tones, there’s a lot of complexity coming across like gingerbread that lingers long in the finish with dark caramel tones. In three words this coffee was Complex – Round – Fruity
Surprisingly, the deepest characteristics of this coffee lie in the aroma, with deep creamy berry & sweet chocolate. From the moment you sip, it transforms into a juicy, tea-like experience. Sweet raspberry, lemon and cascara pair perfectly with honey & light caramel, only having just enough bitterness to balance these flavors harmoniously. Long & sweet, the finish shows off with brown sugar laced with floral notes. In three words this coffee is Berry – Light Body – Caramelly
Kicking off strong, this coffee smells like brown sugar & berries. Medium, round & juicy, its sparkling acidity puts on a show. Supporting the twinkly tones of raspberry & sweet, clean lemons are sweet caramel, cocoa, and rich baking spices, leaving you with a twist of bergamot & cedar as it slowly fades. In three words this coffee is Berry – Medium Body – Baking Spices
This coffee greets us with scents of fruit, caramel & chocolate. The body is juicy and clean, pairing well with the flavors of green apple & cane sugar. Maple, cinnamon & baking spices bring the lower notes of this brew, with a tart juicy glow and maple in the finish. In three words this coffee is Bright – Clean – Sweet
The nose on this coffee reminds us of maple with cinnamon spice. The body is medium, juicy & round with dominant flavors of nectarine and raspberry. Rounding out the flavor profile are sweet maple caramel and baking spices with hints of rich pipe tobacco. The aftertaste is long and a little sticky, mostly hanging on with that complex pipe tobacco note. In three words this coffee is Fruity – Juicy – Baking Spices
This coffee smells incredibly sweet, coming at you with caramel, maple & brown sugar. Full & Juicy, the first impressions of this coffee bring bright cherry & apple, slowly receding to expose depth and complexity of vanilla caramel, semisweet chocolate, rich maple & cola. As the short aftertaste begins, flavors shift towards leather and maple, lifting off cleanly from the palate. In three words this coffee is Caramelly – Juicy – Bright
Tempting from the top, brown sugar, lemon & baking spices aromas reel you in. The medium juicy body carries citrus rind and honey, with tons of chocolate to balance it into rich harmony. Dark chocolate carries well into the aftertaste, along with hints of oak & maple. In three words this coffee is Citrus – Juicy – Chocolatey
Aromas abound with sweet maple & bright tropical fruit- a great match for its medium juicy body. Snappy green apple is the first flavor to hit your palate, softening over time to reveal maple caramel & baking spices laced with floral notes. The finish has an apple glow mixed with cinnamon spice. In three words this coffee is Bright – Juicy – Baking Spices
E for Everyone
This category represents coffees that should appeal to just about everyone. It includes both blends and single origins whose characteristics emphasize balance. Many of these coffees also have rich, bold notes that can pair well with just a bit of milk or sugar. If you are looking to give a coffee to someone who you do not know their tastes, these coffees will almost always be a good choice.
First impression of the aroma makes us think of that lovely smell of baking bread. The body is round and smooth while in that zone between medium to full. The flavor makes us think of everything we love about warm apple pie- toasty, caramel & maple notes dance with juicy apple and cinnamon. The finish leaves us with some soft tannic tones and molasses. In three words this coffee is Balanced – Round – Sweet
The first greeting of this coffee shows its depth with aromas of caramel and baking bread while the full & sticky body set the tone for its experience. Dark malts & citrus dance atop baking spices & rich earth, finishing into a low glow of dark orange & molasses laced with herbs. In three words this coffee is Earthy – Full Body – Herbaceous
First impression on the nose is sweet raspberry wine, matching nicely with its body- full, round & juicy. Bold & complex this coffee isn’t short of flavors, ranging from raspberry & cherry to a savory earthiness with plenty of caramel & malty chocolate in between. The dark chocolatey finish hangs out like a cowboy grandpa, lingering with notes of pipe tobacco & leather. In three words this coffee is Fruity – Round – Savory
A candy land of smells alone, this blend brings cherry, berry, deep earth & sweetly browning bread. The body is full, round & smooth with mellow berries & pear sweetened with rich caramel, toasted malts & balancing earthiness. A soft tannic glow hangs in the aftertaste, complemented by earthy dark chocolate. In three words this coffee is Earthy – Full Body – Berry
This category represents coffees that may not score well on a cupping sheet or fit the taste profile of your local hipster coffee shop, but they will satisfy those who relish the smokey and chocolatey notes of what is often described as “strong” or “bold.” When combined with a bit of milk and/or sugar, these coffees become a great example of what many consumers associate with a “good coffee.”
Darkness of Divinity smells of smoky herbs and malt. Full bodied, bold & smooth, the flavor profile is darkly balanced- that maltiness changes to sweet chocolate and walnuts that carry all the way into the aftertaste. In three words this coffee is Bold – Chocolatey – Full Body