Monday, December 30, 2013

Michael's Tiramisu Italian Dessert

This coffee was a gift from a friend. It is from Michael's in Fort Lauderdale, FL. While I have not been to their store their website seems to have a rather impressive list of coffee at very reasonable prices! Odd that their website does not mention a retail location, but Google Maps brings up two.

Michael's Tiramisu Italian Dessert is a moderately sweet tasting coffee. It definitely brings to mind a tiramisu flavor and not in an overwhelming way. I'm usually hesitant to purchase flavored coffee, but will give one a go, unless it's hazelnut. Sorry hazelnut fans! The bag I received was already ground which is why the photo does not show beans.

This coffee would be good for those that like a sweet taste to finish a meal or to start their day. What is somewhat disappointing about Michael's Tiramisu Italian Dessert is the slight sweetness gives way to a overly-mild coffee flavor. It seems to achieve the sweet tiramisu flavor, some of the flavorful bitterness of the coffee was taken away.

At times I do like flavored coffee, most often at night. But having caffeine late in the evening keeps me up way too late, so it's a very rare indulgence. This spring I'm heading down to South Florida for a conference. I plan to check out some of the other offerings that Michael's has.

Bottom Line Rating:2.5+/5

Monday, December 23, 2013

Barnie's Global Blend

I have previously mentioned Barnie's Global Blend in my Catch-Up Post. Here's what I had to say about it then:

Barnie's Global Blend
If I remember this correctly this is a little more pricey than the Barnie's Blend with maybe a little more complex flavor.
Now that it's time to revisit it, I should also give it a little better review. I would agree with myself and say it does have a complex flavor. What seems interesting is varying the amount of grinds rather significantly changes the flavor of the coffee, more so than others. Just a tad more grinds or tad less water results in a much stronger brew. Changing the other way mellows out the brew and becomes too watered down. As a result, you may need to play with the ratios before getting a good cup.

It's a good looking and tasting coffee. It has a middle-of-the-road coffee flavor. If you looked up coffee in a dictionary this coffee would be front-and-center. That probably also accurately describes the taste. Nothing spectacular, but nothing offensive. There's nothing all that incredibly special about Barnie's Global Blend, but much in the same way, there is nothing bad about it. I'm glad that I revisited Barnie's Global Blend and would probably give it another go.

Note: I tried to peel off the price so you could read the label, not to hide the cost. If I recall $10.99 or close to that.

This may seem like a low rating for a coffee I've had twice and would go back again, but it has good flavor and an enjoyable experience. That's why I gave it the +. Give it a go yourself! 

Bottom Line Rating:3.5+/5

Monday, December 16, 2013

Barnie's Santa's White Christmas

While I'm not much of a fan of flavored coffee, I do LOVE Santa's White Christmas. Barnie's has it available year-round, but to me it's a post-Thanksgiving through Christmas treat. They describe it as "flavored with coconut, nuts, sweet caramel, and vanilla." This is a good description, except I'm not sure what nuts nowhere near the assault that hazelnut coffee usually has. Some other holiday blends go the spice route, but this leans toward the sweetness of holiday indulgences. Since there is a slightly added sweetness, little or no sugar is needed. I'm not sure what the white dusting on the beans is, but it's a little sweet tasting, yes I licked one. My thought was some type of coconut, but that's probably incorrect.

Like other Barnie's coffee, Santa's White Christmas comes in a foil lined bag. Nothing notable about the packaging.

Yes, I highly recommend Santa's White Christmas! For me it's an absolute holiday must. I've been drinking Trader Joe's recently, it's closer than Barnie's, but definitely take the extra time to pick up some SWC!

Bottom Line Rating:4.5/5

Monday, November 25, 2013

Espresso Royale Verone

I was on a conference trip to the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign. While there I tried two different coffee shops. The first was Caffe Paradiso. This was more of a home grown Starbucks with lots of flavored, syrup-ed, and sugared up coffee. It was OK, if that's what you're looking for.

The second was Espresso Royale. This is a small-ish chain in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  The Illini are lucky that there are several in and around campus; I was at the Urbana location. They had their share of flavored coffee, sandwiches, and snacks, but their coffee was out-of-the-world! I even broke my no coffee after 5pm rule and had a cup right about that time. I was so impressed that I had to take some home. Now I wish I had bought more than one bag!

They pack their coffee in easy to transport (particularly on airplanes) foil zip bags. I'm usually not a dark roast fan, but this is what they had brewing when I went there. I decided to take home what I knew I liked. At home it's an even better experience!

Once ground there's a strong coffee aroma and the grounds have the typical oily feel of most dark roast beans. The coffee itself had such a full compliment of coffee flavor that I kept trying to find a reason NOT to like it; I was rather unsuccessful. Everything from the aroma, to the sip, and follow-through was a fantastic reminder that you are drinking a great coffee. The only slight downside is the MAJOR coffee breathe after imbibing a cup, or few. To my extreme surprise I have actually had a few cups with no sugar and no milk. Black coffee for me is an extreme rarity. Usually reserved for the days when we run out of milk and I need my caffeine hit to survive the day.

If you find yourself anywhere near an Espresso Royale I STRONGLY encourage you to try some. They also mail order if you're looking for a treat and are not local.

Bottom Line Rating:4.5/5 ***

*** The 1/2 point off is solely for the extreme coffee breathe. Honestly I've had to convince myself to hold off giving this a 5/5 because I still think there's a Holy Grail coffee out there that will knock my socks off and scream 5/5, even more than this coffee did. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trader Joe's Smooth and Mellow Blend

WOW! There's no other way to begin this review than with that word. My wife bought this coffee, a non-coffee drinker buying coffee can be dangerous. I was nervous to try it. House blends (particularly large chains) can be hit or miss, more often miss. But, WOW! Sure this is smooth and mellow, but every sip is a delicious complexity of coffee aroma, flavor, and aftertaste.

The packaging describes it as having "full yet subtle flavors." This is quite an accurate description. I generally don't like to repeat coffee, just because I like to try new ones, but this is one that I am very likely to repeat. If you're looking for something complex, this will disappoint, but if you want a flavorful coffee to drink multiple cups and always enjoy each sip, then this is what you want!

Bottom Line Rating:4.5/5

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trader Joe's Organic Ethiopian

I generally gravitate toward medium dark roast coffee, so Trader Joe's Organic Ethiopian was an easy decision to purchase. Being organic and fair trade is a nice bonus in my book. The coffee itself is tasty, but not overly memorable. The beans have a nice color and aroma to them, but the coffee itself didn't tickle my taste buds as much as I was hoping for.

There isn't anything wrong with this coffee, it just didn't have any standout properties. Rather mild acidity, for a medium roast, decent aftertaste, but the aroma of the beans made me think it should have been a better coffee than it produced. I played with the water/bean ratio a bit to see if I could improve it, not much luck. If you're looking for a simple, easily drinkable coffee, with good flavor and minimal aftertaste, then this is for you.

Bottom Line Rating:3/5

Monday, November 4, 2013

Trader Joe's Maragogype

Previously I reviewed the Trader Joe's Italian Roast. Going from that to the medium roast Maragogype I thought there was going to be a big drop in the flavor profile. I was mistaken! The TJ Maragogype has a great flavor, more mild than the Italian Roast, but that was expected. It is a good tasting coffee that is enjoyable through every sip.

What is notable about the beans are their large size. This is a characteristic of the Maragogype bean. It grinds easily and brews consistently with other medium roast coffees. There's no strong acidic after taste, but still flavorful.

My 3.5 rating shouldn't deter you from trying it. Just because I wasn't as stellar about this compared to some others, it's still a solid medium roast with minimal acidity and very little bitterness. I would classify it as a friendly coffee, not overly offensive to the dark or mild preferences of coffee drinkers.

Bottom Line Rating:3.5/5

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trader Joe's Italian Roast

I'm generally not a fan of dark roast coffee, it brings to mind the nasty stuff they serve at Starbucks. So venturing to a dark roast bean takes some determination on my part. I'm continuing with the Trader Joe's beans, as it's the only good place here in Gainesville, FL to get halfway decent beans. Despite my reservations, this is an absolutely delicious cup of coffee! It is a solid dark roast, as evidence by the DARK beans.

I get nervous about making a strong cup of dark beans, but even with a good solid helping this is still a great cup of coffee. There is a complexity and gentle bitterness (if those two words can go together) that makes each sip a cornucopia of flavors. The packaging is typical for TJ and the price was reasonable.

For anyone who is a lover of dark roast coffee this is an absolute must try. Despite my glowing recommendation, I'm still solid with a 4 out of 5. This is probably only because I'm not a big fan of the dark roasts.

Bottom Line Rating:4/5

Saturday, October 12, 2013

On the road

Found a great coffee place in Urbana, IL. Enjoying a cup of verone right now. Drink up!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trader Joe's Colombia Supremo

Back-to-back reviews! No, I didn't drink 14oz of beans worth of coffee in 24 hours. This review has been on simmer for a while.  I was a little hesitant to try the TJ Colombia Supremo, generally because I'm not too much of a fan of Colombian coffee. To me Colombian coffee is very 'safe,' nothing too bold, yet having bite and after taste that reminds you that you're drinking coffee, in a bad way.

The Trader Joe's Colombia Supremo is a GREAT coffee and none of the above! In fact I found the after taste a pleasant reminder that you're drinking a great coffee. What I also found intriguing was that the more beans I added, the more complex the flavors were, without getting overly bitter. I was so impressed by this coffee that I was going to buy the larger can at TJ. This is where I have to knock Trader Joe's a bit. The 14 oz. can is $6.99, while a 28 oz. can is $13.99. Two 14 oz. cans are actually one cent less than the same amount in a single larger can. What happened to saving money in bulk?

While it is described as a medium roast. I would place this more toward a medium dark roast. It almost seems like this and the TJ Honduran Organic Fair Trade should've been swapped medium/medium dark. Sweet and rich is a perfect description for this coffee. So sweet that I put only a few grains of sugar in and a few times no sugar at all. This is a great go-to coffee for some exciting flavor and wonderful drink-ability.

Bottom Line Rating:4.5/5

Monday, September 2, 2013

Trader Joe's Honduran Organic Fair Trade

Sorry for the long delay in reviews. Don't worry I have been drinking and enjoying coffee! Trader Joe's seems to be phasing out most of their peaberry coffees, at least the TJ by me. If you really enjoy the peaberry get them while you still can! Up today is Trader Joe's Honduran Organic Fair Trade.

I've jumped back to the Medium Dark Roast coffees. The TJ Honduran Organic has a full rich flavor. A good all around coffee flavor. Nothing too intense and not too mellow. I was expecting a little bit more bite for a medium dark roast. I would describe this closer to a medium roast with a tiny bit more flair.

The can describes it as 'smooth and well balanced.' This is probably a good way to describe it. It is a coffee that I would buy again, but only as a filler if nothing new or more exciting was in stock. It's worth the money and worth a taste.

Bottom Line Rating:4/5