Tag Archives: review

Cherry Hill Coffee

27 Sep

In late August, James Calder got in contact with me to share some coffees from Cherry Hill Coffee (or @Mmm_Cherry_Hill on the twitter machine). I was surprised I had not heard of this Canadian roaster until now, this is a big operation! It has a flashy website and equally flashy looking coffee bags and merch. But when I headed to the Post Office to pick up the package James sent, I was still surprised to see such a large box. Inside was:

Cherry Hill Care Package

Cherry Hill Care Package

It was nice to see a Canadian Coffee Roaster so established.

James sent along some info…

“Cherry Hill Coffee originated from humble beginnings in 1986. Starting out as a small downtown Kelowna storefront coffee shop over 25 years ago Cherry Hill coffee now roasts 200,000 lbs for independent cafe’s, ski resorts, golf courses and restaurants across western Canada. Cherry Hill Coffee has 12 employees working out of our a 6500 sq ft roasting facility/espresso bar/lab. With a focus on quality organic coffee we considers ourselves genuine and passionate coffee folks, doing our thing the old fashioned way in the mountains of BC.”

Cupping four coffees at a time.

Cupping four coffees at a time.

The following afternoon I spent a few hours sorting through everything and cupping all the coffees. I had to narrow down what I thought were the best coffees, and then make some decisions as to what I thought I could get from each coffee.

The roasting profile used for most of these coffees seems to result in a relatively low acid coffee in the cup. For those of you who are long time readers, acidity is something I really look for in a coffee. Personally, I found these coffees were more suited to espresso brewing. Nevertheless, I made sure to give each one a chance.

The top two coffees James sent were the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe “Gedeo Worka” and the Espresso Milano light roast espresso blend. These are the two I’d like to explore in this post.

However, one other that deserves mention was a particularly surprising “Wine Barrel Aged Coffee“. Apparently they age green beans in an empty merlot barrel (from a local winery who just finished bottling) at the roastery for two weeks, turning it every day. The resulting french press coffee was heavily dominated by cassis and purple fruit. This was no every day coffee… It was certainly worth trying, but I wouldn’t want to roll out of bed with a hangover and try to gulp down a merlot infused coffee! Personally I found it to be a little overwhelming with cassis and purple sour-candy-like flavours.


Ethiopia Yirgacheffe “Gedeo Worka”

This coffee is produced in the Gedeo region of northern Yirgacheffe bordering on Sidamo. It is collected from area small farms and processed at the Worka cooperative. It is a natural process, Heirloom varietal coffee.

I found this was a pretty nice representation of a coffee from a region of Yirgacheffe near Sidamo. I found it had a very berry dominated profile with some nice citrus/ lemon and spice. I’m going to say straight-up that I found this was best on the French Press… the Pour Over methods didn’t do justice or emphasize the best aspects.

French Press

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe as a cappuccino.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe as a cappuccino.

It was in the French Press I found I was able to get the maximum sweetness from this coffee. It was brewed 24grams of coffee to 400mL water in a steel Frieling. The overall cup was dominated by a blueberry, spice and chocolate on nose, with lemon and berry on the palate. The finish was a mostly cocoa (almost a little dusty).
 Aroma  9 /10 
 Body  8+ /10
 Sweetness    8+ /10
 Acidity  8+ /10
 Finish  8 /10


I also thought it would be fun to play with this coffee as an espresso. For the most part I found this liked a medium dose in the range of 18.5 – 19.0g of coffee to 30-31g of water. On the E61 machine I found it was best with at 93 degrees Celsius in 26 seconds.

I was able to get some real nice baking spice notes, blueberry and lemon. This really worked well in 3-5oz of milk as a cappuccino or macchiato. All the best aspects cut through the milk: think baking blueberry pie and caramel.


“Espresso Milano”

This espresso blend was a bit of a throwback for me. Amidst all the single origin espressos and the lighter, brighter blends this one really holds true to the oldschool Italian blend. Thankfully, it’s a “Northern Italian inspiration”… meaning a lighter style roast.

This was a robust espresso, and leading into the fall season it was a welcome shift. I’ve included a short video working with the Espresso Milano blend, and below are my notes.




This, much like the Yirgacheffe listed above, was pulling well in the range of 19.0g of coffee to 30-32g of water. On the E61 machine I found it was best with at 93 degrees Celsius in 26 seconds.

This was a simple espresso. Nicely dominated by chocolate, cocoa, vanilla and a little spice/ cedar on the aromatics.
What can I say? This was a good workhorse espresso for everyday use.

In Milk 

In milk I found myself going a little finer on the grind as to get 28-30g of espresso from the same 19g of ground coffee in 26 seconds. This really boosted the sweet chocolate notes in milk. Again, this was a real throwback: I found notes of milk chocolate, vanilla, and malt. A 5oz cappuccino had a nice malted milkshake-like feel.


Big thanks to James for hooking me up.
Have a look out for “The Best of Coffee: September” coming in the next week!

– Matt


Bullet Espresso by Reunion Island

3 Feb

This is the second time I’ve reviews this coffee. The first batch I received wasn’t as fresh as I had hoped, so Adam at Reunion Island Coffee sent me over 3 brand new fresh bags!
Excellent really.

Bullet Espresso in the Cup.

Bullet Espresso in the Cup.

Right off the top I have to say this is a pretty classic smelling/ tasting blend. I’m willing to bet it’s Brazil based with some accents.

Working with this espresso was moderately easy.
However, I found it peaked at about a 94°C temperature and with a pretty standard ~18gram dose.

Via the Reunion Island site the notes are, “this espresso offers a full body and smooth finish, with notes of chocolate and black currant.” I’d like to agree with this for the most part, however I did find a little extra in some cases. Let’s break it down:

Straight Shot
My notes were: aromatics of cinnamon and berry (raspberry/blackberry). Tasting chocolate, syrup/ toffee and slightly smoky. I also found like a cherry play in the cup rather than what they called blackberry. There was a pretty good sweetness, and a medium-high acidity.

In Milk
As a 6oz cappuccino, I found it to be nice and sweet with that acidity cutting through the milk really well. A lot more of the chocolate components were noticeable.

As an americano I found it highlighted some of the notes I wasn’t very fussy about. It works, but it’s nothing special.

Straight: Pretty good, 8/10
In Milk: Good, 8.5/10
Americano: Okay, 7/ 10

Total 100 point score of 85/100.

Bullet as a 6oz Cappuccino.

Bullet as a 6oz Cappuccino.

Final thoughts: This would really be a great shop blend for most of the milk drinks and the occasional straight shot. A local place “Coffee and Company” pulls this on a regular basis and I’ve had some pretty good shots from there.

I would [guess] this was designed to cut through milk with some small highlights (cherry/smokiness). Love it in milk, and enjoy it as a straight shot  every once in a while.

Good classic blend. I was a lot more impressed with Reunion Island’s newer Cannonball. However, this lands a respectable 85/100.


What is your favorite ‘classic blend’? And where is it pulled (shop and location)?

Have a good weekend,

– Matt

Cannonball Organic Espresso by Reunion Island

29 Jan

Adam over at Reunion Island Coffee hooked me up with 3 bags of Cannonball Organic Espresso blend at the beginning of this week to put their newest espresso blend “Cannonball Organic” through rigorous testing.

Cannonball Organic Espresso

Cannonball Organic Espresso

I was really, really excited to have enough coffee to try whatever I felt like and do the first in-depth review (formally) for this site.

So, naturally, I took his advice when he advised this pulled better at higher temperature because of the “coffees from the Jinotega region of Nicaragua, northwestern Sumatra and Sidamo in Ethiopia” noted from the Reunion Island website.

This only acted as a starting point however, and I took the time to pull straight shots of this from 93°C  to 96°C. On top of this, I experimented with different doses and grind settings on the Mazzer.

The results were… well… interesting. I was really impressed by this coffee, but not without the frustration of dialling this one in (grind, temperature, dose).

Because this is a really delicate coffee and doesn’t have a traditional Brazil base, it was somewhat finicky. I was nearly discouraged by they first few shots, but keep going. I brewed one at 94°, the 95°, then 96°… and BAM. Berries! And lots of it.

I found this one to be excellent at a really specific parameter, and that is 96°C with a ~20 gram dose and a grind size to accommodate for a ~28-30 second pull. Not exactly cafe friendly for here in Newfoundland where they just “lock and load” (but that’s another story).

So this was a pretty delicious blend as a straight shot, I was impressed. Tasting notes were similar to what’s listed on the Reunion Island site, except I hardly found any orange.

Cannonball in the cup. Double shot, with some tiger mottling.

Cannonball in the cup. Double shot, with some tiger mottling.

Straight Shot
My notes were: loads of berry components, some stone fruit and a nice syrupy body. Floral components in the aroma and hints of chocolate all around*. Fairly sweet, but balanced by an apple-like acidity.
[*all around meaning in the cup and on the aroma]

In Milk
When I turned this into a 6oz cappuccino, I found it to be nice and sweet and a lot more of the chocolate components were noticeable.  The more delicate notes became muted however.

The americano was interesting. When I pulled the shot into ~7oz of hot water, I found it to open up a little. I found some cinnamon components, earthiness, and a certain dryness. Definitely a winner on this front.

Whew! We are almost at the end here. My final numbers for this are going to be as follows….
Straight: Great, 8.5/10
In Milk: Decent, 7.5/10
Americano: Great as well, 9/ 10

Total 100 point score of 90/100.
I was pretty impressed with this coffee, and therefore I corrected this up a little to 90/100.

If you are going to try and do this up, just be more careful with your brew time/ temp/ dose and treat it right!
When it’s on, it’s really on! Berries, stone fruit, and some jam-like notes. You’ll know if you hit the spot.


– Matt