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coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Topeca Coffee Roasters’ House Decaf

Something I love about ordering freshly roasted coffee are the pleasant surprises. It’s not just a delicious cup awaiting me: sometimes I get entirely new gifts.

I’ve opened up coffee packages and received little postcards. I’ve gotten stickers. Occasionally I get a handwritten note from the roasters, which always puts a huge smile on my face. The surprise this time around was a real conundrum, because the first clue I had concerning an addition to my purchase was how heavy the box was. Before we dive into that…

If you’re embarking on your own coffee journey and want to lay off the caffeine, check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series. I explore the brewing methods and flavor notes of a wide variety of origins, specialty roasters, and commodity-grade coffee. I also analyze packaging design and discuss elements like ethical sourcing and coffee culture.

Why is Colombian coffee so good? Much of it has to do with the history of the region. Let’s take a look at Topeca Coffee Roasters’ unique surprise below:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Topeca Coffee Roasters’ House Decaf”
coffee, industry news

The First Coffee Chain From A Coffee-Producing Nation?

A tall order to live up to, but more than possible. Kopikalayan is an Indonesian coffee chain with their sights set on becoming a global household name.

Their biggest difference? They don’t just distribute coffee, but source it from home.

The implications of major coffee corporations being located in the West is uncomfortable at best, damning at worst. Today’s biggest coffee producers by sheer volume are Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam, yet local coffee culture has struggled. It’s hard to develop an interest in coffee when most of it is exported to other countries, right?

This article is a lengthy read, but worth every second. It breaks down key details into why several Asian nations are seeing a boom in local coffee culture and consumption. The main factors are:

– Generational shifts (namely, Millennial and Gen Z)
– Rise of the middle-class
– Growing awareness of local businesses, inequity, and sustainability
– Online trends (particularly on Instagram and TikTok)
– Rise in homebrewing during the pandemic

While some of these trends are definitely in response to increased social isolation, most shifts were bound to happen. Awareness of our impact on the planet is going to keep increasing as climate change and social inequity continues to push our collective backs against the wall.

I’m very interested in seeing where Kopikalayan goes from here.

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coffee

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Rwanda Bean’s Amahoro Peace Decaf

This…is a very late review. It’s not for lack of wanting!

I’ve been curious about Rwanda Bean for quite some time. The roaster first caught my eye for being a lesser-known origin in a sea of Colombian and Brazilian coffees. It proceeded to hold my attention for being up front about their efforts to equalize pay for coffee farmers. Their site states each bag of coffee sold sees 50% going back into farmer pockets, alongside the ability to fund farmers’ health insurance through coffee subscriptions.

Now that is something I don’t usually see. Oftentimes roasters and roaster-cafe hybrids stick to generic buzzwords of transparency and the occasional certification. Over the years I’ve found myself increasingly disillusioned with the usual approach of the coffee industry, which means outliers stand out all the harder.

If you’re thinking of getting into single-origin decaf coffee — and decaf coffee in general — check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series. I’ve got Ethiopian, Mexican, Colombian, Brazilian, and Peruvian origins, just to name a few.

What does Rwandan coffee taste like? Let’s take a look:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Rwanda Bean’s Amahoro Peace Decaf”
update

Update For The New Year!

It’s been a while since I updated! I’m off to a pretty late start, but I have a lot of plans for this blog for the new year.

The goal of DragonsAndFlowers hasn’t changed all that much. It’s still going to be a repository of alcohol, coffee, and tea news and culture, with a smattering of reviews and thinkpieces tossed in. That said, I’m keen on updating more regularly: once or twice a week without fail. I’ve been working on a content buffer to make sure I’ll be getting out my thoughts on a more consistent basis.

As for newer aspects: I plan on conducting a few interviews in the future deep-diving into issues and solutions in these industries. I’ve had some illuminating conversations with industry peers concerning:

  • environmental sustainability
  • fair trade
  • new technology
  • supply chain
  • marketing and design

I’m also going to be dipping into affiliate marketing and bolstering my portfolio. Specifically, I’ll be adding the following to my copywriting, content writing, and design service pages over the course of the year:

  • packaging illustration and design
  • e-books
  • infographics
  • proofreading
  • editing

I’m especially interested in getting more wine, craft beer, and tea reviews alongside my usual decaf coffee. They’ll likely get their own series name to keep things organized. To top things off, the overall blog design will get a new coat of paint. While I’m not sure if I’ll commit to an email newsletter just yet, it’s another element I’m deeply considering.

There’s a lot to do and I’m excited to share it all.

coffee

Check Out How This Nigerian Painter Uses Coffee To Paint Portraits

Coffee and fine art is a match made in delicious heaven. As a digital illustrator and traditional painter who drinks coffee on a daily basis? This news story made my week.

Ekene Ngige is a Nigerian traditional painter that accidentally discovered his favorite painting technique when he spilled coffee while chatting with peers. He fell in love with the color and texture, resulting in him creating a series of portraits made out of coffee. He doesn’t just mix it with water, either: he adds a gel paste to stick it together and get a more even coating.

In the wise words of Bob Ross? “There are no mistakes. Only happy accidents.”

I can relate so hard to this. Several times I’ve completed an illustration not through careful planning, but spontaneous surprises that took me by the nose. I loved browsing his portfolio and seeing how he captures the human condition through the art of java. He’s skillful at showing the beautiful mundanity of the African diaspora, crafting a playful technique that balances realism with poppy abstraction.

Check out his Instagram page to see more of his work.

beer

Did You Know You Can Recycle Beer Waste Into Flour, Animal Feed, And Pizza?

This is the kind of ingenuity that restores my faith in humanity. With so much bad news on the climate change front, this is one green development you won’t want to overlook.

ReGrained is a new food business looking to completely transform the way we look at making beer. They take the spent grain leftover from the brewing process and turn it into a slew of sustainable (and delicious) products. Flour, animal feed, and pre-made products like pasta are just a few of the creations that have come out. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of this before, don’t worry. Recycling beer waste is brand new technology that the creator himself stated should have caught on sooner.

This approach is not just novelty, either. The spent beer grain is stuffed full of essential proteins and fiber, with the article wrapping up with a taste test of ReGrained‘s pizza dough. Apparently it tastes similar to buckwheat, but with a quintessentially fermented tang. Sweet!

An interesting detail I want to point out is how the creator stresses the need for ongoing ingenuity. While he wants his technology to be more accessible, he also wants brewers to think up more unique ways to recycle materials and reduce harmful waste.

Looks like there’s hope for the planet and the art of nuance.

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coffee, review

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Onyx Coffee Lab’s Decaf La Serrania

It’s always good news when a favorite roaster brings in another decaf.

Being a strict decaf coffee drinker can leave you disappointed when browsing roasters. We often get the short end of the stick when it comes to portfolio variety. A token decaf bag is the standard (and still not always guaranteed). Two bags is a nice surprise! Three bags is very rare. Anything more than three might as well be a blue moon, and you should savor it just as much.

I check back with my favorite roasters every few months to see if they have anything new. While most roasters keep a consistent rotation of their default decaf bag, some shake things up by cycling in new ones a few times per year. Onyx Coffee Lab gives me plenty to love as a decaf drinker, keeping their portfolio dynamic with new decaf and half-caf options. While I still can’t drink the latter (yes, I’m that sensitive), I’m glad it exists.

If you’re as eager to try different kinds of decaf coffee as I am, check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series (which has a variety of specialty and non-specialty options). I recently took a look at a Washington coffee roaster that slipped my notice, as well as revisited another favorite roaster of mine.

Why is Colombian coffee so good and a regular favorite on my review lists? Let’s see why Onyx Coffee Lab and this origin have earned such a positive reputation:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Onyx Coffee Lab’s Decaf La Serrania”
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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:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Arctos Coffee’s Northwest Decaf”
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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”
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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:

Continue reading “Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Deadstock Coffee’s Slow Jamz”