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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Olympia Coffee’s Decaf Asterisk

A big reason I write these reviews is because I want to get the good word out. According to HubSpot, a solid 60% of customers find reviews to be either trustworthy or very trustworthy. What better way to show a business your appreciation aside from your dollar?

You can’t love what you don’t know about, but today’s overwhelming competition can make even that common sense a little tricky. There are so many roasters in this country that, even years working in and around coffee, I’ve only just scratched the surface of American roasters. That includes ones in my own state! This wonderful decaf coffee list on Sprudge clued me into a few local roasteries that haven’t blipped on my radar, including Olympia Coffee. The flavor notes, as well as the packaging design, captured my interest instantly.

What makes Olympia Coffee‘s Decaf Asterisk special? We’ll take a look up close at the power word-of-mouth brings. If you haven’t read other entries in my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series, you can get your start here.

Let’s take a look:

Origin

This is a Colombian coffee from San Sebastian. It’s interesting hitting that limbo of having gotten more familiar with a country’s offerings and still having much to learn. At this point I’ve tried coffee from the NariƱo, Huila and San Sebastian regions. If someone asks me, “What does Colombian coffee taste like?”, I’d answer…so many things. Its complexity is what keeps me coming back for more.

This specialty coffee is decaffeinated using the sugarcane process, which is very apt considering the flavor notes of the bag. If you want to learn a little more about how decaffeination works, check out this three-minute video from Mental Floss.

Roaster

Olympia Coffee is a Washington-based roaster. They originally began as a wholesale business, eventually adding cafes and a local delivery model so they could become more involved in their community. They’ve since won several awards, competing in the Northwest Brewers Cup multiple times and winning the Best Of Olympia back in 2012. They also won Micro Roaster Of The Year in 2013, which is an award I’ve been keeping up with to keep track of quality decaf coffee.

It’s a lot of positive first impressions with Olympia Coffee. The packaging is yet another wonderful detail.

Packaging

This is such a beautiful bag! I sat for a moment just slowly rotating it back and forth to admire the work put into it.

Illustrative approaches hit home. The delicate, old-fashioned inkwork blossoms from the bottom up, with a pocket of white space at the top of the bag to help the composition breathe. The flowers, leaves and stems hearken to encyclopedic illustrations in old textbooks; the kind that remind you just how old and complex the world really is. There is more than enough information to keep your eyes scrolling, too, informing you about both the decaffeination process and Olympia Coffee‘s particular values.

I couldn’t help but think of Redwall, as well. A visual hallmark of that book series were the scratchy inkwork chapter headers, illustrating a character or a scene from the chapter you’re about to dive into. Olympia Coffee keeps the same packaging for all their varieties and swaps out the stickers, from the bright blue of Asterisk to the berry pink of the Buna Boka. Dainty monochrome paired with a poppy bold and tightly organized information: it’s the perfect contrast and a packaging design job very well done.

Aroma

Counter Culture Coffee finally has some competition for the best-smelling decaf coffee around. Decaf Asterisk was so aromatic it was practically oozing out of the bag.

All coffee smells good, of course. When I encounter beans that smell good and like a specific food? That’s when I have something noteworthy. Before I even popped it open I could whiff a delightful sweetness through the paper, just south of sugary. Doubly so when I peeled back the seal and got to see the glorious beans up close. There’s a subtle toastiness underneath it all, to boot, and it’s the perfect compliment. It smells just like a freshly baked cookie.

Roast Level

The decaf coffee bag doesn’t specify, but judging by the flavor and the color of the beans it’s a light-medium roast. Maybe a medium.

Brewing Methods/Mouthfeel

The pourover is a smooth and light affair, fitting what smells and feels like a light-medium roast level. The French Press is a touch oily and the Moka pot is quintessentially creamy.

Flavor Notes

Come ye, all those with a sweet tooth! The bag is bold right off the bat, boasting milk chocolate, caramel and marshmallow notes. Sweet, not quite sugary. Just how I like it.

I’m thrilled to say it’s more than met expectations (which I try to keep a little lax to begin with). The French Press is sweet and light, with its signature creaminess complimenting the caramel and milk chocolate nicely. I’m fine with a little bitterness myself, but too much turns me off. I want flavor, not the sensation that I just chugged liquid dirt. The pourover is similar, with a thinner mouthfeel and a little less of the chocolate, and the Moka pot is a rich delight. Just a round of applause for all brewing methods.

I’ll go easy on the marshmallow as an actual flavor note, since that’s really just squishy sugar. All in all, sweet and lovely.

Final Verdict

Everything about Olympia Coffee‘s Decaf Asterisk delighted me.

This specialty decaf coffee smells incredible in every stage: before you’ve opened the bag, when you open the bag, when you grind the beans. The aroma is as toasty and sweet as a pastry shop, with that scent translating nicely to the final flavor notes. The sweetness is prominent in both the pourover and the French Press, though the latter has the additional benefit of a creamier, more oily mouthfeel. Even when I use a little milk and sugar the bag’s flavor peeks through. I love it.

If you want to start drinking coffee black without scrunching your nose, grab the Decaf Asterisk pronto. It’s the perfect bag for drinkers with a sweet tooth or those who just can’t stand bitterness. If you prefer fruity or nutty notes, though, this might not be the bag for you. As for me…I’m going to savor every last drop and hope they add a second decaf bag to their roster.

You can find Olympia Coffee at their site here.

Need more coffee reviews or news? Check out:

National Coffee Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t businesses who could use your help. Check out my brief list of fundraisers and newly opened cafes you can support with your dollar.

Freshly roasted coffee can sometimes be…too fresh. This great piece by Sprudge takes a look at the science behind the roasted bean and how giving your bag a few days to sit can improve flavor and mouthfeel.

Do you use the Instant Pot for your quick and easy recipes? The creators have now made the Instant Pod, a coffee maker designed to compete with the Keurig.

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