merit coffee
coffee

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Merit Coffee Co.’s Sugarcane Decaf

This decaf coffee was a long time coming.

I keep a list of American roasters that offer decaf in their line-up. Why? Because even now, many don’t prioritize decaffeinating their beans. It’s a combination of a few factors. Coffee is already a very intensive process. You have the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of coffee on the producer end. Then there’s processing the beans using methods ranging from natural to wet. Then you have to store them, ship them, then roast them before they even reach the consumer.

Decaffeination is just another step in a pile of them. As much as it pains me to say, I can understand why the already strained coffee production line-up opts out.

Merit Coffee Co. is one of the first roasters I ever wrote down in my list, catching my eye with their elegant packaging design and their commitment to high-quality, single-origin coffee. While they only have one decaf bag to their name, it’s one I was eager to try for its lovely sounding flavor profile. They’re one of the more expensive single-origin decaf bags I’ve had to buy, too, and that’s on top of details like shipping and sales tax.

Was it worth it? Let’s take a look:

Origin

This single-origin decaf coffee is produced with the ethyl acetate method — also known as the sugarcane method — and hails from my very favorite origin of Colombia. Castillo and catacurra are the coffee bean varieties this time around. Unlike castillo, catacurra is a very sensitive Arabica variety that needs a more delicate hand than usual to offer good yields.

It’s interesting I was still able to get this bag despite it being on my list for well over a year. That uncertainty is what you sign up for when you buy specialty (or near specialty) grade coffee most of the time: it’s not always available! Harvests only produce so much and even repeat harvests in the same location can taste different depending on the climate.

Roaster

Merit Coffee Co. is a Texas based wholesale roaster that’s been around for about seven years. Their coffee portfolio is predominantly from South America, including Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. They make special note on their site about their custom designed roasting equipment, ensuring every bag is made to their precise specifications. Despite being wholesale and partnering with giants like Hulu and Whole Foods, they stress a community-centered approach when it comes to connecting with customers and training their staff.

They also offer an instant coffee (a coffee type that’s really been increasing in popularity due to the pandemic) and a slew of quaint merchandise. Their blog is updated every few months with farmer profiles and informative articles.

Packaging Design

Bold, elegant, and with a memorable logo, this is a decaf coffee bag I’m proud to have in my growing collection.

Their blue-and-gold layout reminds me fondly of PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. There’s a subtle ornate inlay giving the bag a nice shimmer, keeping the eye traveling naturally without taking attention off the logo or the bold pink sticker. While the front of the bag states the flavor notes and bean types, the back of the bag explores the values of Merit Coffee Co. — their commitment to delicious coffee that’s fairly priced, consistently roasted, and communicated properly across the supply chain.

More easily said than done, but if nothing else, this is a good reminder to the end consumer what they should be looking for in a coffee brand.

Can I just say how much I love packaging design that covers every inch of the bag, too? It’s fun seeing so many different sides to it…literally!

Aroma

This is a delightful bag from the very start. It’s sweet and fruity, downright fresh, and I couldn’t stop breathing it in. I could already catch the strawberry and vanilla notes on the front of the bag. This would make a mean potpourri.

Roast Level/Mouthfeel

Roast levels have to be one of the rarer details in coffee packaging. This one seems to be a light-medium roast, judging by the color and aroma, and the mouthfeel wavers between creamy and silky smooth.

Flavor Notes

God, this coffee tastes good. I really know how to pick them.

The strawberry bursts out of the pourover, fruity and juicy without being too sour. The French Press isn’t fit to be outdone, bringing out some mild cloves with a very full and heavy body. The Moka pot is the creamiest and still remains surprisingly sweet despite espresso‘s tendency toward smoky or tart kicks.

This is a powerhouse decaf and one you’ll get a strong cup out of no matter the brewing method at your disposal.

If you have more than one? Even better! For those that want to add less sugar to their coffee while still enjoying a sweet flavor, this is the ideal bag to complement your diet.

Final Verdict

I’m so glad I revisited the older entries on my list. It’s always worth double-checking to see if a roaster still has a coffee you want, because you never know if it’s still available.

This is a sweet, tasty bag that shows up on all fronts, bringing out different sides in the brewing methods without too much acidity or bitterness. As much as I love chocolate or caramel-like flavor notes, it’s nice to try a bag that leans toward fruity and baking spices. Just to shake things up a little! It’s hard to pick a favorite brewing method for how delicious it was across the board. I’ll have to say the Moka pot, if only for the pleasant woah! response it got out of me.

There’s no ambiguity here: I would love to drink this coffee again. Until then, I’ve got a sweet memory to look back on (and an even sweeter bag).

This is one of the best single-origin decaf coffee bags I’ve had in a while. You can find Merit Coffee Co. at their site here.

If you want to catch up on your coffee-related news, check out:

Thinking of giving home roasting a try? Be careful what you buy. Nesco Home Coffee Roasters recently had to recall their line-up of beginner friendly home roasting equipment, citing multiple incidents of melted parts and smoke problems.

Novelty doesn’t automatically mean quality. This London cafe is selling a charcoal latte, a trendy idea that’s actually a big health risk.

Hawaiian coffee, also known as Kona coffee, is an origin that’s been in high demand for years. Unfortunately, it’s had serious issues with quality control and is seeing a multi-million dollar lawsuit as a result.

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