Archive | March, 2011

First Look – Social Coffee & Tea Company

25 Mar

I’ve been lucky enough to chat with Steve over at Social Coffee Company, which is a top notch Canadian coffee roaster sourcing some excellent coffees. You can catch them on the twitter machine: @SocialCoffeeCo

In the past, I’ve sampled one of their best selling espresso blends “Peoples Daily”, and with great pleasure.

After shooting a few emails back and forth, this time we decided to do two Single Origin espressos. Boy was I excited!


First look: shiny!

I pulled them out of the box, and was happy to see a roast date printed in the bag, as well as some more detailed information about the coffees.

"Bolivia Cima del Jaguar" & "Honduras Finca Fernanez COE#4"

"Bolivia Cima del Jaguar" Direct Trade & "Honduras Finca Fernanez COE#4"

I have to admit I was genuinely exited about both, but I couldn’t resist opening the Cup of Excellent #4 first. Here is a detail shot of the beans:

Testing the Honduras Finca Fernanez COE#4 first.

Testing the Honduras Finca Fernanez COE#4 first.

And lastly, after pulling a few shots I dialled it in fairly tight, getting lots of brightness, berry, stone fruit and candy!

More details will follow in it’s full review, but here is a snap of the Honduras Finca Fernanez in the cup:

Honduras Finca Fernanez in the cup.

Honduras Finca Fernanez in the cup.

That’s all for now!
Full review of each coffee will be up soon.

Have a good weekend!

– Matt

Metropolis Redline Espresso

15 Mar

This coffee was a blast to work with. Last week I posted a preview which detailed my contact with Metropolis as well as photos of the coffee beans, and the first few pulls. You can click to check that out.

Metropolis 'fancy' bag with a roast date!

Redline 'fancy' bag with roast date!

I also post throughout the week on my twitter account @MattCReynolds, that includes some of my extra thoughts, extra photos and more. That said, lets get down to the coffee.


The Redline Espresso came highly recommended to me, and also won in a poll earlier on the website.

This espresso was pretty versatile and forgiving, which I suspect is one of the big pluses of this for home use.  However, I do find it peaks at 94degrees Celsius. The dose worked consistently well at 19.0 grams, with a final liquid weight of ~32-33 grams. Total shot length of ~30-32seconds was ideal. Keep reading for details.


Straight Shot

This was a tasty shot at any point in the day, and was a really balanced espresso. Even in the mornings when I had my brain turned off I was consistently pleased by the roundness and sweetness. I worked on this from 92-94degrees Celsius, and as I said I’m saying it peaks at 94. Nevertheless, here are my notes.

@ 94 degrees Celsius: almond, marzipan, chocolaty notes, raspberry notes in the background and a smoky finish. Nice balance all around, good medium to low acid and round. Again, I personally preferred it at this temp.

92 degrees Celsius: chocolatey, some jam-like notes, and a little brightness, hints of spice. I did find it lost some of the balance at a lower temperature, however.

I was pleased to be able to continually find things in the cup through the week, constantly keeping me on my toes. The biggest plus of this coffee was its versatility, balance and big body.

Redline as a 6oz Cappuccino

Redline as a 6oz Cappuccino

In Milk

Built as a 6oz cappuccino, I found a lot of the same characteristics that I found in the straight espresso. Again I was finding some almond notes, a butteriness and the chocolate seemed to push a little more towards dark chocolate. The body and balance still worked its way through the milk.


The biggest surprise as an americano was the big body held up in 6oz of hot water. I was really pleased with the characteristics it brought to the table. Notes included the big body, a nice sweetness, almond and some spice. It was a little dryer as an americano, but still had that nice balance.


Straight: sweet, big body, classic, and home-barista friendly 9/10
In Milk: presented much of the characteristics as straight, no surprises 8.5/10
Americano: great body for an americano 8.75/ 10

Home baristas, this one is a blast to work with. It will work well straight, in milk, or as an americano. The body and roundness is an easy crowd pleaser. In-cafe use would be interesting as well, and pulling at different temperatures could highlight different notes.

This was a pleasure, rock solid blend offering a step up from some of the more classic styles.

Total 100 point score of 90/100.

First Look – Metropolis Redline Espresso

10 Mar

I’ve been chatting off and on with the guys at Metropolis on the twitter machine: @MtropolisCoffee. They are a small batch artisan roaster down in Chicago.

The Redline Espresso is a really popular blend and has been suggested by numerous people around the web and on twitter. Unfortunately this tasting has not been as interactive as some of the others (as far as dialogue with metropolis itself or having names/ contacts), but nevertheless they have been awesome.

Here are the first look photos:

Fresh Metropolis with roast date!

Fresh Metropolis with roast date!

Roasted Redline, bean close-up.

Roasted Redline, bean close-up.

Taking the Redline!

Taking the Redline!

Stay tuned, full details and notes will be up soon.

– Matt

George Howell “Addis Ketema” Yirgacheffe

8 Mar

Last week I posted a preview of this coffee, detailing my communications with George Howell and Doug Sparks. If you have not had a chance to check that out, click here to see the preview.

Great looking product, one of the 'prettiest' bags I've seen.

Great looking product, one of the 'prettiest' bags I've seen.

This espresso is definitely of the new-school philosophy: a light roast which George Howell Coffee describes as a “Northern Italian Espresso Roast”. Generally – and I say generally to avoid causing problems – the trend is the lightest roasts in Italy are in the North and get progressively darker as you travel South (GENERALLY).

Personally, I was relieved to see this arrive last week, as it was finally a break from the wintry deep flavoured espressos (syrupy, molasses, etc) I have recently been sampling.

A few words before I begin: This is a very delicate cup, and incredibly complex. My initial reaction was to conclude too early, not investigating all aspects of this. Honestly, this has been crazy interesting and thanks to a dialogue with other cafes like @MercuryEspresso via twitter I’ve be able to crack this special Single Origin espresso open as much as possible.

I started at the baseline with this espresso (94 degrees Celsius, 19grams) and did some guess work on the grind. My results were decent, but I was temped to raise the temperature, especially given the light roast…. Well, the answer was no, it didn’t work. This is a great example of generalizations not always applying. Believe it or not, by taste I needed to lower the temperature.

Turns out I was finding the best flavours at 92 – 93 degrees Celsius. The dose seemed to work best at ~18.5 grams, with a final liquid weight of ~30-31 grams and total shot length of ~25-27 seconds was ideal. Keep reading for details.

Pulling a 18.5 gram double @ 93C

Pulling a 18.5 gram double @ 92C

Straight Shot

I actually have to split this up into two temperatures, because the results were different.
@ 92 degrees Celsius: honey sweetness, brightness, citrus: lemon & orange, some ginger-like pepperiness, and vanilla notes. This was more mellow in the cup, and I personally preferred at this temp.
93 degrees Celsius:
lemon rind, springy lemon acidity, ginger, floral aromas and a little bit of a woody/ spice taste.

It is important to note the fact that it lacked a little on depth, given this was a Single Origin espresso. It was complex, but followed the same profile through the cup (personally I’m indifferent). However, the delicate cup and interesting brightness and flavour profile was intense. The next interesting discovery was a very different profile in milk.

In Milk

Personally, I nearly concluded this was purely a delicate, desert-like espresso and would fall apart in milk, becoming muted. Boy was I bias again, and shocked once I made a cappuccino.

Pulling 18.4 grams solid to 30.5 grams liquid and adding 110grams of milk (~6oz total volume cappuccino) I found a different flavour. First sips I was indifferent, but it opened up into a creamy fruit and dulled some of the citrus I initially found as straight espresso. It was easy to find, but I had a hard time placing it exactly: it was a stone fruit play intersecting between cherry and peach (which @MercuryEspresso described it as strawberry for reference).

18.4gram solid to 30.7gram liquid espresso, set-up for Cappuccino.

18.4gram solid to 30.7gram liquid espresso, set-up for Cappuccino.

...and with 112 grams of milk on top.

...and with 112 grams of milk on top.


This was personally one of the best americanos I have ever had. The extra water (5oz added by pulling a double over the top of hot water) really opened this coffee right up. I could find some more interesting notes including: honey, golden raisin and a lovely sweetness.


Straight: Sweet, bright, mellow, citrus, and even vanilla. Very complex, only lacking slightly in depth through the cup 9/10
In Milk: a totally new beast, offering creamy fruit and stone fruit play 9+/10
Americano: Spectacular 9.5/ 10

This was a great break from all the wintry blends. Single origin, very complex and has plenty of brightness and springy notes BUT surprisingly not overly acidic. It was very pleasing and had a very nice natural sweetness, especially at a lower temperature like 92 degrees Celsius. This was a very interesting espresso and a lot of fun, but personally it did fall down marginally on depth from the beginning to end as espresso. Again, totally different beast in milk offering creamy stone fruit. All in all, very exciting and pleasing.

Despite my bias towards Single Origin espresso, this one is an eye-opener. It land the highest score I have offered yet at an amazing 94 points. PLEASE treat this with respect, and if you are also indifferent towards S-O espresso give it a try.

Total 100 point score of 94/100.

Preview – George Howell “Addis Ketema” Yirgacheffe

3 Mar

I have been communicating with George Howell for the past 2 or 3 weeks now, working to set something up to try their Alchemy Seasonal Espresso. However, because of its seasonality I was told they were working on their next blend.

Fresh George Howell Coffee and a note from the roaster!

Fresh George Howell Coffee and a note from the roaster!

One of the best contacts I have had through all of this, on top of working at George Howell, is @DougSparks. He also is an avid twitter-er as well as a photographer (and you can click to see his flickr site).

Well, Doug was quick on the draw to send out a personal favourite of his, which he likes to pull when he gets the chance. With little more than that for details, a few days later the package arrives (express post mind you).

And the wait is over, I get to crack it open and see what he sent…

“Addis Ketema” Northern Italian Espresso Roast – Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

I was surprised to say the least! I have been blessed to be able to sample some new style espressos the past month or so, which has been a blast. Especially with spring coming, this was a sigh of relief from the wintry blends.

Anyway, I’ll save all the amazing details for the full post, which I’ll be working hard to produce this week and over the weekend.

If you didn’t notice in the first photo, take a second look. That is a personal note from Doug himself. Boy do I ever love the speciality coffee industry, and people who are passionate!

I’ve attached two more photos to keep you occupied.


A detail of the nice light roast
A detail of the nice light roast
Pulling an 18.5 gram shot @ 94C. Nice Striping!
Pulling an 18.5 gram shot @ 94C. Nice Striping!

Stay tuned for the full detail.

– Matt

First Impressions – Milk Temperature

1 Mar

So after hearing “Jimseven” (James Hoffmann) talking about the optimal milk temperature of a traditional 6oz cappuccino, I became inspired to investigate and actually determine where the “sweet-spot” was [pun intended!].

This morning, I stuck a thermometer into two separate 6oz cappuccinos I made, the same way I always do for myself.
[parameters are usually ~28-29grams of liquid espresso from ~19grams of coffee and ~110-115grams of milk]

NOTE: I want to be clear here, I make sure the milk is cooler at home than at the cafe (because people get angry when their coffee isn’t hot).

Right, so the usual temperature I use for myself by feeling it out with my hand kept landing at ~115°F.
Now that is much lower than I would expect to see in a cafe where the recommended is ~145°F.


Final drink temperature ~115°F

Final drink temperature ~115°F

Over the next week or two I plan to sample everywhere from 100°F to 140°F and then post my results.

Perhaps this could become a group effort, leave it in the comments if you have any suggestions, feedback or want to get involved with this.