Another day, another decaf. This one caught my eye for a few reasons.
Chocolate is a pretty common flavor note in the coffee world. Why not? Cocoa plants undergo just as complex a cultivation process as coffee cherries, with similar flavors and colors, to boot. One of the most popular cafe drinks — the iconic mocha — blend these two worlds together for an unforgettable combo. American roasters today have some pretty mean competition at the best of times, so they often get more specific when heralding what makes their beans special. Instead of just chocolate (usually) you get milk chocolate, dark chocolate or, in this instance, white chocolate.
What’s a good decaf coffee you can try? That’s what we’re here to find out. Let’s take a look at Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town decaf beans and see if it lives up to its promise. If you missed the first part of the Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series, check out my review of Counter Culture Coffee’s Slow Motion here. It’s tasty stuff.
Without further ado!
I bought this alongside Counter Culture Coffee over on Seattle Coffee Gear because I didn’t feel like making several purchases in one go (it’s also boasted as a staff favorite). Flash forward to me ordering from individual roasters these past few weeks anyway out of sheer excitement. What can I say, I’m very flexible when my back’s against the wall.
This is a Peruvian bag from the San Ignacio, Cajamarca region, using a wet-caffeinated and Royal Water decaffeination method. If you’re curious how this works, check out this neat breakdown from Swiss Water.
While I’m focusing on Pacific Northwest roasters for the most part, I couldn’t resist taking a look at this Brooklyn-based business. Partners Coffee Roasters were founded in 2012 and boast an entirely biodegradable line-up. They have coffee partners spanning from Colombia to Ethiopia, with an emphasis on avoiding one-time consumable waste products in delivery. The things we take for granted, huh? Good decaf coffee isn’t just the beans itself, but what goes into making them.
You’re greeted with a striking green right off the bat, topped off with a splash of blue and yellow. It’s both a bold and relaxed look, primarily for the dominant cool colors. Partners Coffee Roasters also offers an interesting texture to the sensory experience: unlike thinner and more papery coffee bags, this packaging is thick and quite smooth. It feels almost like cardstock. Lastly, it’s a squat bag, eschewing the iconic rectangle for a striking square silhouette. The rest of the line-up is nigh-identical, leaving the design in-tact in favor of swapping out the color schemes.
For such a simple approach, this coffee packaging still manages to make a statement. I also love the name. It’s just a little spooky, which makes the more gentle and agreeable flavors a fun contrast in hindsight.
There’s nothing like the scent of roasted whole beans. This one smells wonderful, though it didn’t quite knock me off my feet as hard as Counter Culture Coffee’s Slow Motion. I hope I never recover.
Ghost Town‘s aroma is a little more subtle, coming off at first sniff as ye olde average roasted coffee. Spend a little more time with it, though, and you’ll get just a hint of that white chocolate. This is more pronounced when it’s ground. I wonder if the scent would be stronger with a fresher roast, as the bag I got was roasted two and a half weeks prior. General rule of thumb? The fresher, the better.
We’re working with the French Press and the pourover again. Flavor and mouthfeel is overall consistent between the two, though the French Press leans just a little on the creamy side. You get a little froth, too, which I was happy to see. If you’re not quite getting any in yours, try pouring your results in a slow, circular method.
I believe this is a medium roast, though I couldn’t find anything more specific on the site.
White chocolate is already a subtle and particular flavor, so I wasn’t surprised to find it at the bottom of the note list. That doesn’t mean it’s gone entirely.
Good decaf coffee should make your tongue sing. I could taste the golden raisin instantly, sharp and tangy without being sweet. This was followed up by a little malt, a flavor that also leans toward subtle (and is rarely found alone to begin with). It lingers on the tongue for quite some time, too, and pairs well with whole milk. The white chocolate is better brought out in the French Press than the pourover, though, and it’s far from pronounced. I wish I could’ve tasted more.
I’m even more eager to purchase a Moka pot and see if a more concentrated espresso can expose me to a whole new world…
Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town is a good decaf coffee whose packaging ends up a little more striking than the brew itself.
Now, I’m not about to put this up alongside grocery store instant coffee or anything. It’s still tasty enough to warrant a try, with a strong golden raisin flavor that’ll go down well for fans of tart notes. Despite an average aroma, there’s just enough of the malt to stand out, though white chocolate lags behind. A slight froth and lean toward a creamy texture lends it a few more points toward users of the French Press. Don’t worry, pourover fans…your time will come.
While I don’t think I’ll be buying this again — it’s a touch too plain for me — I don’t regret trying it out. If you’ve got a milder palette, this is a good decaf coffee to start with. For those that want something more robust or layered, you’re better off skipping this one.