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coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Arctos Coffee’s Northwest Decaf

I am…very behind on my Washington coffee roasters. I’ll admit it!

While in the past I’ve looked at Washington’s Olympia Coffee and Boon Boona Coffee, I’ve been primarily ordering from roasters all over the country. While there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, it’s caused me to fall behind on what’s going on in my own state. Well! There’s no time like the present to brush up on the local coffee scene.

I was given a bag of Arctos Coffee & Roasting Co. for my birthday, as well as one of their cute mugs. I was charmed by both their name and logo, which is a great way to start off the drink.

What are the best coffee roasters in Washington state? Let’s find out. If you’re eager to try more delicious decaf coffee, check out my ongoing Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series. I’ve reviewed coffee from multiple origins, including Colombia, Ethiopia, and Mexico.

Let’s see what I’ve been missing lately:

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coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Ruby Coffee Roasters’ Flume Seasonal Blend

Ruby Coffee Roasters is a roaster I’m thrilled to return to. Their coffee portfolio strikes the perfect balance between a quality cup and a romantic approach.

I fell in love with their Decaf Cauca earlier this year, a fruity and honeyed delight that hit high notes in every brewing method. Now they boast two new decaf coffees that promise more delicious mugs on the horizon. While the Decaf Aguacate sounds delectable, I honed in on the Flume Seasonal Blend partially for its flavor notes and partially for the brilliant site description.

This is the kind of coffee I would instantly recommend to those thinking of expanding their knowledge. It’s one thing to understand coffee can hit a whole ‘nother level. It’s another thing to know.

If you’re a regular (or occasional!) decaf drinker that wants to broaden your tastes, check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere review series. I recently reviewed the fantastic Slow Jamz from Deadstock Coffee, as well as a highly anticipated Sugarcane Decaf from Merit Coffee Co.

How are coffee beans blended? Which decaf coffee is the best for you? Let’s see how Ruby Coffee Roasters continues to bring the quality:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Ruby Coffee Roasters’ Flume Seasonal Blend”
deadstock coffee slow jamz banner
coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Deadstock Coffee’s Slow Jamz

Sometimes you taste a coffee so good it makes you grin.

That’s the power of carefully grown, freshly roasted beans. Not that I don’t have a fondness for stale grocery coffee tins (those got me through stressful periods), but single-origin bags are an intensive experience. Each one is pure joy. I feel nothing but glee when I get my box in my mail (sometimes outfitted with a unique design) and opening it up. I love admiring the design of the bag from the comfort of my kitchen, studying it from every angle and analyzing what stands out.

Inhaling that first scent, trying out my first cup (I always start with a pourover), experimenting with recipes…it’s a journey. Every time.

Coffee is for everyone. Not only that, everyone stands to benefit from a coffee model that’s actually fair trade and sustainable. If you want to know more about what qualifies as single-origin or specialty coffee (and those that come close), check out this post by Third Wave Coffee Roasters. If you could use some recommendations for specialty grade decaf coffee and single-origin decaf coffee, check out my directory.

Now that that’s out of the way…

…let’s take a look at Deadstock Coffee’s Slow Jamz and why it brought a smile to my face:

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coffee

A New Coffee Certification Is In Town

Keeping track of coffee certifications isn’t easy. The brew already has a thousand and one details swirling around every purchase, from origin to bean variety to altitude.

The complex web of certifications have already come under fire a few times lately, such as the USDA admitting they might have to completely rehaul their organic certification due to a lack of compliance and oversight. That isn’t to say these labels are completely untrustworthy, but rather, it’s our duty as customers to be extra diligent about what we buy. Just because something says it’s sustainable doesn’t mean it actually is. As such, this detailed article on a new coffee certification had me feeling a glimmer of hope.

Not only is the Jaguar Friendly program a mutually beneficial partnership between farmer and animal, they go into great detail in how the certification actually works. Coffee farms under this certification have to dedicate certain areas of land to the jaguar’s territory, including planting trees in certain locations and focusing on shade-grown coffee to reduce the need for expensive methods of cultivation. The goal is to reduce dangerous encounters and the worst-case scenario of killing an already threatened species.

Consider looking for this label on your next bag of coffee beans. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes, and this is a very forward-thinking initiative, indeed.

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:

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sparrows coffee
coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Sparrows Coffee Decaf La Serrania

I just love good packaging design. Some believe it to be a secondary detail to the coffee, but to me, they’re two sides of the same coin.

You eat with your eyes first, as the saying goes. Packaging design has a tall order standing out from the rest of the competition while ticking off the basics of communication design: the who, what and why. Coffee packaging, whether ground or whole, has a common list of must-have details to get customers involved at a glance. Origin, decaffeination method, roast level, roast date, flavor notes…just to name a few. Some go the extra mile and list off altitude, processing method and the coffee bean variety.

Sparrows Coffee‘s splashy design is a great starting point, but how does the coffee itself stack up? If you want to start trying out specialty decaf coffee (and the occasional wholesale variety) yourself, check out my directory to get started with today’s best American coffee roasters. I recently reviewed the sweet and fruity Ruby Coffee Roasters’ Decaf Cauca, as well as the earthy Kuma Coffee’s Peru San Ignacio Decaf.

Let’s dive in:

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coffee

This Cafe Wants You To Try A Charcoal Latte. Don’t.

Do I even need to get any more specific?

Food Insider recently posted a video on a London cafe offering an innovative ‘charcoal latte’ designed for people who don’t want to drink decaf. Because, you know…decaf coffee doesn’t exist. They proceed to compare it with their recent matcha and turmeric latte offerings, two vastly superior and safer options that don’t involve you consuming ashy remains.

To put things in perspective, I won’t even eat toast that’s too burnt. …Yeah. Now imagine a cup full of the stuff.

This is more than just a gross idea. Did you know charcoal can alter your hormone levels and affect the validity of hormonal birth control? How about the fact it can block up your intestinal tract if you consume too much? I thought cafes shunning COVID-19 safety protocol were dangerous, but this might just take the cake. The prettiest latte art in the world doesn’t hide the fact that you’re drinking the burnt detritus of what was actually food, once upon a time.

(and if you want to detoxify your body, take solace in the fact your liver is already doing that)

Now, yes, activated charcoal pills are recommended by doctors in rare cases for overdoses. This, though, is just too much to be chugging weekly. Pretty latte art and twee glass mason jars won’t hide the fact this is an actual health hazard being marketed as a hip new idea to unsuspecting customers.

My favorite part of this whole mess has to be the relief that a charcoal latte didn’t taste like charcoal. When the tagline of your product could be confused for an Onion headline, you’ve messed up.

coffee, industry news

The Classic Coffee Cup Gets A Clever Makeover

The coffee cup is an iconic staple of day-to-day life. It’s also loaded with unsustainable bells and whistles that create a lot of waste every year.

Just how much waste? According to a study by The Guardian, the UK alone tosses over 2.5 billion paper coffee cups every year. Even worse, a mere one out of every four hundred cups is actually recycled. That means towering landfills, worsening air quality, and, of course, the omnipresent threat of irreversible climate change. Being presented with yearly figures like these makes sustainability conversations feel like a useless loop. It’s all a lot of positive fluff with little to actually show for it.

This redesign to the classic coffee cup has a few thoughts on the matter. Fast Company shared an interview with the creators of this Kickstarter-backed coffee cup, hearkening to Chinese takeout and origami in its lid-free and sleeve-free design. It’s easy to fold and unfold, without fear of spilling, and cuts into the dismal statistics left by wasteful coffee culture.

One of my favorite details are the lovely animal-focused prints by Alexis Kandra, chosen specifically to keep buyers mindful of the very environment they’re supporting. Now that’s mindful packaging design.

alcohol, beer, industry news

No More Mystery! Craft Beer Explained

Craft beer isn’t the easiest to jump into for newcomers. Not when you can go for what’s familiar and just grab a Budweiser on your way to the checkout.

Never fear! This brief breakdown by CStore Decisions explains craft beer at its most simple, stressing its focus on small batches and unique flavors. Now, these breweries don’t exactly have to be tiny. A craft brewery can still create up to six million barrels and still qualify as craft beer, with the best known examples being Blue Moon and Samuel Adams. I’m a fan of both brands myself (and I can’t recommend the Samuel Adams Brick Red hard enough).

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, check out local craft breweries in your state. You might be surprised at some of the neat flavors you find.

American craft beer is at an interesting crossroads lately. There’s a spike in interest, and subsequently a spike in sales, but also pervasive problems in marketing and shipping that could see individual businesses struggling. I’ve got a lengthy guide coming up soon, tackling these issues one-by-one from my perspective as both a copywriter and a longtime beer lover. Until then, I’m going to go browse the Schilling Hard Cider catalog and get myself a treat for April. Their Grapefruit And Chill is just splendid.

What are you drinking lately?

coffee, industry news

Like Hawaiian Coffee? You’ve Probably Been Ripped Off

The coffee origin topic is a seed that sprouts a thousand branches. Fair pay. Quality beans. Environmentally sustainable farming techniques.

Kona coffee, a rare and famed Hawaiian origin, has been struggling with an image problem for years. Every time I’ve searched for it I would see countless advertisements insisting just how much more authentic they are than the competition. Little bit of a red flag, right? This ‘hidden in plain sight’ issue has finally reached a head: Daily Coffee News has posted a report on the staggering $13 million lawsuit targeting several roasters and wholesalers for false advertising.

A lot of Hawaiian coffee on the market barely has any Kona beans. Some have none at all. Today’s coffee businesses are well aware, using sly marketing campaigns that actively bank on consumers having little to no clue what goes into coffee sourcing, much less why it’s even important. Several cash settlements have already been made, though the issue is ongoing and is including such industry titans like Safeway and Wal-Mart. Expect to hear more about this.

Coffee origins aren’t just a series of trendy buzzwords to be recited at a party. They give us a bigger picture on what we’re buying, as well as who we’re supporting…or rather, not supporting. I want to support the delicious and unique coffee that comes from Hawaii, not exploitative tactics that bolster big business at the expense of local farmers.