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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Bicycle Coffee Co’s Water Process Decaf

Roasters are between a serious rock and a hard place right now. Just look at all the sales and discounts going on.

If I’m not seeing a small roastery offering a large discount after signing up for their newsletter, I’m seeing a medium-sized roastery offering a free shipping and special sales code combo. While all businesses will dip into sales from time-to-time to incentivize new and repeat customers alike, these past several months have veered from canny to desperate. Which sounds preferable: maintaining the same prices and approach for a dwindling audience or offering a slew of discounts on a ‘some money is better than no money’ threshold?

As such, I want to try these discounted coffees for more than one reason: save myself some money while helping keep businesses afloat. Bicycle Coffee Co. is exemplary of this pandemic marketing savvy, with several discounts stacked on top of one another, and with charming packaging design, to boot. Better yet? They offer Mexican coffee, an origin I’ve been very eager to try. If you haven’t read my previous posts in the series, check out my directory for some insight into today’s best decaf specialty coffee.

Let’s see what this roastery has to offer:

Origin

Huzzah, I am finally trying out Mexican coffee! This bag hails from Al Tura in Mexico, using the Swiss Water decaffeination method. A big reason why this origin interests me so much is just how close to home it is. Hailing all the way from Kenya or Ethiopia is one thing, but this coffee origin is just a hop skip from the States. I grew up in California, too, which has a significant Mexican influence from cuisine to street names.

Speaking of California…

Roaster

Bicycle Coffee Co. is a family-owned Oakland-based roaster. They work in both specialty coffee as well as several deli-pastry cafe locations, including a store in Tokyo. Due to the pandemic they do door-to-door coffee and food delivery in their community. Their coffee portfolio includes classic espresso blends, several roast levels and, of course, your token decaf bag. Their coffee is sourced from Guatemala, Mexico and Central America, though Ethiopia shows up, too.

Packaging

When the casual paper bag meets geometric chic.

The front of this specialty decaf coffee bag is a little more muted, boasting the roaster’s charming gear logo and label, only to then dazzle the eye when you shift it around. The designs on display are both rustic and incredibly bold, like a cozy sweater you’d pull out of the closet for autumn. The soft tan compliments the bright orange and black nicely. It stands out pretty vibrantly compared to the bags I’ve collected so far.

The front has a claim for sustainable farming and local roasting, the former of which should always be verified due to frequent evidence to the contrary. The black and white sticker that closes the bag gives you the additional information you need: origin, decaffeination method and roast date. It’s a bag that’s effective, tidy and very memorable.

Aroma

Nutty and aromatic. Just how I like it. I’m a reminded a little of Boon Boona Coffee‘s decaf, if the scent was more like a handful of almonds instead of a handful of trail mix.

Brew Methods/Mouthfeel

I decided to get a little more experimental with this bag. Coffee is a meticulous science that rewards you for getting bold (or just rewatching another coffee brewing video on YouTube).

I descummed my pourover, which involves scooping off the crema after you pour. This is where a lot of the bitter chemicals rise up, which I normally don’t mind. It’s a very subtle difference you notice using this method, but with a coffee as mild as this one, I wondered if it would make a difference. As it turns out? It did.

Roast Profile

This is a medium-dark roast.

Flavor Notes

Nutty is the sole flavor note on the bag, and one I could sense right off the bat. I’ve done a little reading up on Mexican coffee varieties and this bag is fairly exemplary: a common consensus that ties this origin’s plethora of lots together is a tendency toward mild, earthy, and tea-like notes.

I can already see what they’re talking about. This is very much a gentle coffee, eschewing a medley of flavors in favor of a light, simple taste. There’s a little bit of a raisin aftertaste after the almond in the pourover and the French Press, with the Moka Pot exaggerating the tart notes significantly. If all you want is a solid coffee flavor that doesn’t get bitter, this is a decent bag. That’s not all you can expect, though. After descumming I noticed the coffee got a little more of a syrupy aftertaste.

It was a surprising development that bumped this coffee from ‘just okay’ to ‘better’. A little goes a long way, indeed.

Final Verdict

A decent enough bag of specialty coffee for a low price. Nothing I would really write home about, though.

Mild coffee has its time and place. Sometimes you’re not in the mood for a bombastic avalanche of flavors and want a hot drink just shy of tea. This one isn’t as mellow as Sightglass‘s Hunky Dory, still boasting a very light nutty flavor with just a hint of raisin. When you descum your brew, though, it swaps out the nuttiness for a slightly more syrupy feel. The Moka Pot is also pretty tart, making it an improved choice for coffee lovers who want stronger flavors in their brew. For me, though? It just doesn’t have the personality or complexity I prefer.

While I don’t think I’ll be getting this again, it was great to finally be introduced to fresh Mexican coffee. I’ll be reviewing another specialty decaf coffee bag from this country soon, so keep an eye out if you want to continue exploring this origin.

They’re still offering a 15% discount if you sign up for their newsletter, as well as free shipping. You can find Bicycle Coffee Co. at their site here.

If you enjoyed reading this and want more coffee news, check out:

Caffeine and alcohol can completely wreck your sleep patterns, especially in conjunction. Check out this five-minute TEDTalk on how you could be sleeping deeper by balancing out your diet a little.

Green or fluff? That’s a common concern of today’s buyer, overwhelmed with messages of environmentally-friendly actions and little proof. This is a big reason why the USDA is proposing increased oversight on its certification.

Coffee and tea are surprisingly similar. Wize takes this to a whole ‘nother level with their new (and more sustainable) coffee leaf tea, providing coffee farmers with additional income in today’s unsteady coffee harvest.

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