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