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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: La Colombe’s Luna Azul

It’s kind of tough to advertise flavor notes, isn’t it? We just have so much variety in our tastebuds.

I’m sensitive to complex flavors myself. I adore being able to get several notes in one cup and can even find myself disappointed if a drink is straightforward (not even bad, just…simple). I also have a massive sweet tooth. The science behind our tongue is a fascinating subject, involving subtle taste receptors located in different areas of the muscle to sort bitter from savory and sweet from salty. That doesn’t stop some people from having overpowering or underwhelming tastebuds, granting them sometimes contradictory experiences with the same product.

Diversity is one of the many beauties of the human condition…so imagine my shock when my mother tried La Colombe’s Luna Azul without knowing its flavor notes and nailed every single one. I had to double-check my phone to make sure I was reading it right! While I’ve long since accepted I can try out a new coffee and not quite get the flavors it was promising, La Colombe has clearly narrowed down its beans’ personality to a razor edge. If you haven’t read my previous specialty decaf reviews, check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series.

Let’s see what makes this coffee special:

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Help, this coffee is so bitter! — Coffee with the Queen

It’s the holiday season and, if you are anything like us, that means coffee! Lots and lots of coffee. Coffee at home, coffee at the office, coffee with friends and loved ones. Good coffee, okay coffee, and bad coffee… that, dear readers, is where we start today, with those painful-to-swallow (though sometimes vital) undesirably bitter cups of coffee.

Help, this coffee is so bitter! — Coffee with the Queen

It’s the omnipresent conundrum! How do you take out the harsh taste and leave nothing but the good stuff?

One of the most common complaints I hear is how bitter coffee can be. Even from regular drinkers. It’s not all that surprising, since the most affordable and accessible coffee is often the stale, low-quality products at the grocery store. Should one get their hands on a freshly roasted specialty bag, it can still be lessened by burning the beans with scalding water or leaving the grind on the counter for hours. While I love adding whole milk and brown sugar, it’s not needed to keep your cup balanced.

It’s only once I started drinking freshly roasted and freshly ground coffee that I started drinking black cups willingly. For me and my sweet tooth? That’s huge. If you struggle with bitter or stale cups, I can vouch for the tips listed in this post. That is, save for adding a pinch of salt. I’ve never tried that and now I’m curious…

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Looking For Roasters? The 2021 Good Food Awards Are Coming Up

I’ve taken a look at several coffee roasters this year in my decaf specialty coffee review series Decaf, Decaf Everywhere. Despite this, I’ve only scratched the surface!

The United States is home to thousands of coffee roasters. Some work in wholesale and provide the selection you see while shopping for the month’s groceries. Others are small-batch microroasteries who are strictly local. The 2021 Good Food Awards is here to help you narrow things down a little while you browse for your next pick-me-up: they’re judging today’s American coffee roasters on quality, sustainability, and social impact.

I’m thrilled to see some of my personal favorites here, like Onyx Coffee Lab and PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. There are also several on the list I’ve been planning on checking out, like Mr. Espresso, Bird Rock Coffee and Peach Coffee Roasters. This year’s coffee selection has a wider range of origins compared to the past (though it really is no surprise Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, reigns supreme). The final verdict will be announced live on January 22nd, if you feel like tuning in.

While I’ll be making a holiday tier list soon to help promote my favorite decaf coffee roasters, this is a useful resource to start whittling down your gift list.

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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. Huerta Del Rio Decaf

Do you blank out when asked about your favorite coffee origin? It’s all right. I did, too.

It’s a common enough reaction when your cheap coffee bag advertises its convenience or its smoothness more than where it comes from. Whether or not origin is worth knowing about is another source of contention depending on the kind of drinker you are. More casual drinkers might dip into a cafe once in a while. Others may brew daily for a morning caffeine boost. Yet more might use coffee as a warm and cozy pick-me-up, not unlike a mug of tea.

No matter where you land on the coffee aficionado scale, this is a topic you’ll want to brush up on. Learning about coffee origins and what, precisely, they offer each harvest has been one of the most enjoyable and illuminating parts of my journey. What makes Mexican coffee special? We’re going to get another showcase on what this origin, and region, have to offer with PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. If you haven’t read my previous reviews, check out my directory for all things specialty decaf coffee.

I’m excited to talk about this bag, so let’s go:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. Huerta Del Rio Decaf”
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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:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Bicycle Coffee Co’s Water Process Decaf”
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Surviving Winter: US Coffee Shop Owner Survey Finds Financial Worry, Adaptability — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

More than half (57%) of coffee shop owners and managers participating in a U.S. nationwide survey expressed worry that they will not be able to maintain enough revenue to survive…

Surviving Winter: US Coffee Shop Owner Survey Finds Financial Worry, Adaptability — Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Cafes are much beloved for their soothing atmosphere, delicious menus, and (usually) free Wi-Fi. The behind-the-scenes, though, is often pretty hectic.

Despite coffee being one of the most economically resilient global industries, this year hasn’t been kind. Daily Coffee News has a very insightful summary of a recent survey filled out by seventy coffee shop owners and managers. They reveal their thoughts on the convenience of technology, their fears for the future, and their current handling of the pandemic, among others. Many cafes have quickly adapted to online and local delivery, though I’m not thrilled to see just 84% require customers to wear masks.

All it takes is one sick person to start an outbreak, remember? One step forward, one step backwards…

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Know A Barista Who Needs Help? Go Fund Bean Has A New Fundraiser

If you’re a barista, or know someone who is, this is a post you’ll want to share.

The role of the barista is an often romanticized, and deeply unappreciated, position. It’s an average day when I’m seeing a viral video of yet another customer harassing a part-time worker over something or another. Hope is not all lost, thankfully: there’s a new grant going around called Go Fund Bean designed to help hourly barista workers. It’s going until November 15th in batches of $500 per person. That’s enough to pay off shared rent or put a dent in food bills.

(also, I absolutely adore their name)

Originally starting out as a humble tip jar, Go Fund Bean has since set their aspirations higher. Crowdfunding has been filling in the gaps left by federal aid nicely: these grants have come to fruition through the combined efforts of several businesses you may already know about, such as Seattle Coffee Gear, Torani and JNP Coffee. Priority is going to coffee workers who are in danger of losing housing, too. Good stuff, all in all.

If you know any hourly coffee workers, or are one yourself, please share! You could be giving someone a much-needed breather.

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Americans Still Love Their Coffee…Just Not In The Same Way

America is still a nation that runs on coffee. It’s just mostly at home.

This report from Daily Coffee News pretty much confirms what I’ve been seeing left and right these past several months. Homebrewing has become the cream of the crop, deemed both safer and cheaper in the long run. While cafes aren’t completely out of the picture, they estimated as much as 20% fewer Americans are visiting in-person. Larger roasters with e-commerce or wholesale grocery delivery on their side are also doing much better compared to their smaller peers.

There’s another important detail here, too, that anticipates how things may still change this year. Many Americans still crave sitting at a cafe, which could be good news…and bad news. This pandemic is still in full swing, with some states reporting record highs of hospitalized patients and schools still struggling to stay open for any period of time. How can coffee remain a source of comfort without being a hazard?

I miss cafes, too, but my homebrewing station has filled the gap quite nicely. In some ways? I like it even better. I can craft my drink to personal perfection, save money and enjoy the process at my own pace.

How about you? Have your coffee drinking habits changed in 2020?

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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:

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Can Freshly Roasted Coffee Be…Too Fresh?

Perish the thought! That was my immediate reaction at seeing the title of Sprudge‘s new article, but upon reading it, I’m having…more perishable thoughts.

Freshly roasted coffee is the de facto marketing tactic of today’s Western roasteries. It’s one of the first details mentioned before a plethora of attention grabbers, well before you learn about the unique soil climate of their origin or how the roastery is donating some of their proceeds to a local charity. Freshly roasted coffee tastes better, smells better, and that’s the end of it! …Or is it? This piece has a few thoughts on the matter and they’re all very compelling.

Several roasters have gathered around to discuss the literally delicious elements that build in coffee when it’s allowed to sit for a few days. This is a science, after all, and all that savory, tart, sweet goodness is a result of chemicals that are affected by the complex coffee process. Allowing coffee to ruminate in the bag (craftily designed to let CO2 escape, no less) gives the roasting process time to settle, grow, and change the bean. The roast profile also has a say in this, as dark roasts tend to deteriorate faster. That’s not to say you should let your bag sit in your shelf for months, though.

I usually receive my specialty coffee bags a few days after the printed date, so it’s funny reading this and seeing there might just be a benefit to not having a same-day purchase.