onyx coffee lab coffee bag

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Onyx Coffee Lab’s Decaf Colombia Huila

One of the first things to accept concerning specialty coffee is that you might not get every flavor note listed on the bag. Seems odd, right? It’s one of the primary reasons why you buy in the first place.

The thing is…there are just too many variables for something as subtle as coffee. Your own unique tastebuds are a huge factor in what you taste or don’t, for starters. The freshness of the roast and grind is another, literally grounded in the science behind flavor chemicals. Then there are the unique brewing methods, up to and including whether you use filtered water! As such, I’ve learned not to be entirely disappointed if I miss out on one or two of the coffee’s features. Maybe I won’t give it a round of applause, but I won’t necessarily deem it a failure, either.

So we transition into Onyx Coffee Lab and their specialty decaf variety, advertising an impressive medley of flavors that include apple, brown sugar, almond and dark chocolate. Even better? They boast some of the most beautiful packaging I’ve ever seen. If you’ve missed my previous decaf coffee reviews, check out my breakdown of Sightglass Coffee’s Hunky Dory or Counter Culture Coffee’s Decaf Kuichi.

You’re going to love this one:

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Coffee On Wheels: Innovative Ideas For Hard Times

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Coffee on wheels has been a trend in Europe for a while. Thanks to this former real estate manager, it’s a trend starting to catch on elsewhere. This entrepreneur turned his coffee business into an on-the-go deal, inspired by mobile coffee shops in Europe. He went through the painstaking process of converting his car to house coffee equipment and now goes around neighborhoods making fresh lattes and mochas, practically at people’s doorstep. It’s a flexible and convenient approach to coffee I would love to see myself one day.

Like the ice cream truck, but for adults! (Though I do love ice cream)

The pandemic has driven an unforgiving heel into the already flimsy global coffee industry. Indeed, I can’t entirely blame this curveball for much of what we’re seeing now. The weak foundation of underpaid farmers, convoluted supply chains and rapidly developing climate change couldn’t do anything but further buckle under a dangerous virus. Neat ideas like mobile cafes could be a great way to change how we engage with our daily staple. A way to reduce space. Improve accessibility. Stay flexible.

Even if we’re lucky to return back to normal…normal wasn’t exactly good to begin with.

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Sightglass Coffee’s Hunky Dory

Is that the cutest name or what?

We’re already at the fourth entry in the Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series. That’s more than enough beans to start feeling the differences in quality. What caught my eye with this one (aside from the roaster’s adorable naming conventions) was the promise of a bergamot flavor note. For those that don’t know, that’s the tea leaf that gives Earl Grey its distinctive flavor. My tea cabinet is a pretty impressive creation, so this was something I had to check out for myself.

Does Hunky Dory truly live up to its title? Let’s take a look at this charming little bag and what it has to offer to both coffee lovers and tea fanatics. If you’re new to the series, check out my previous posts on Counter Culture Coffee’s Slow Motion or Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town.

Without further ado!

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How To Get Your Pourover Brew Tasting Perfect

I love learning new techniques. Makes me twice as excited to make a cup of joe in the morning.

The pourover is one of the most user-friendly ways of brewing coffee at home. That doesn’t mean it still can’t be improved! The Perfect Daily Grind has a great five-minute read on how to improve your pourover technique. They go into the scientifics behind blooming, stress the need for filtered water and explore different pour methods. Some of the most common problems facing pourover users are incompatible filters or the wrong water temperature. You don’t want to burn all the flavor out of your beans, right?

I’ve used my pourover dozens of times since I got it a few months back, so I can safely say I’m improving. For instance, I can literally see the difference between using hot water and boiling water. Hot water lifts a delicious, amber crema from the coffee, clinging together even as you keep pouring. Boiling water, on the other hand, results in a more bubbly crema with a weaker color. When I’m spending anywhere between $15 to $22 on a bag of coffee, I’ll be damned if I don’t pull the best possible extraction.

french press banner

From Part-Time Barista To Making Coffee At Home: My Homebrewing Coffee Journey (Part Two)

The coffee journey never ends. Anyone who pretends to know all there is about this ancient bean is a liar…and an unsuccessful one, at that.

At-home coffee. Homebrew coffee. Making coffee at home. Whatever you happen to call it, this method has taken a front seat for many in the wake of the coronavirus. Myself included! After many a year deprioritizing this beloved fascination in favor of more immediate concerns, I’ve since purchased a manual coffee grinder, a French press and some decaf beans to start my homebrewing coffee journey. Not content with just a few options on the table, I’ve decided to try out the pourover, as well. You can find the first part of the series here.

How are all these different brew methods faring? Let me count the ways.

I recently got my Hario pourover and Malita filters from Seattle Coffee Gear (as you can likely see, they’re my go-to for online coffee supplies). I bought my French Press off of Amazon, however…and let me say, I do not generally recommend this. It’s best to buy your coffee supplies from either a specialty supplier or the original business, as the site is loaded with fake sellers that either sell knock-offs or used versions that slipped quality control. Fortunately for me, my French Press arrived in mint condition.

My very first personal French Press coffee, though…wasn’t great.

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coffee equipment and coffee supplies

From Part-Time Barista To Making Coffee At Home: My Homebrewing Coffee Journey

A former barista and longtime coffee lover just now starting a homebrewing coffee journey? It’s more likely than you think.

Let’s take a few steps back. My priorities were already being shuffled around long before the pandemic stepped in and shook us for all our loose change. From moving to a new apartment to figuring out a career shift, my desire to have an omnipresent home cafe in the corner of my kitchen was a lovely dream, but just that. A distant dream of making coffee at home, constantly pushed onto the back burner and growing ever loftier with every new excuse. If I wanted to enjoy a good cup, there was always a great cafe (or three) just a walk away. I live in the heart of Washington: throw a stone.

These days it’s too risky to even go to the low-activity cafes or roasteries, on top of everyone’s wallets being burned out. Now that things are both more stable and entirely unstable for me, my love for coffee has been resuscitated beyond said coffeehouse trips (and endless poring through coffee industry reports). It’s time to save money in the long run and create a homebrewing coffee set-up, at my own pace and with my preferences front and center.

While living with my mother I’d bounced between using her little red Keurig and her French Press (buying specialty beans had also been low-priority). After I moved, my roommate also happened to have a Keurig on standby. One collecting dust, at that. I’d proceed to use it a few times a week with grocery store coffee staples like Peet’s and Signature Select, giving me another coveted taste of the homebrewing experience (as well as a reminder of why I don’t want to rely on unsustainable coffee pods in the future).

One day my roommate was cleaning up the place and asked if I wanted to sell her Keurig, flicking on the lightbulb in my head that I have a prime opportunity to finally, at long last, upgrade.

Don’t let my procrastination turn you away: putting together your own coffee corner is a ton of fun. I’m going to share my homebrewing coffee journey in this ongoing series, from the equipment I’ve bought to the beans I’m grinding. I’ll also share recipes I’m trying out, homebrewing coffee resources and my thoughts on coffee culture. If you have a coffee set-up you’ve been thinking of starting, or just enjoy the thrill of the journey, read on.

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child coloring

Explore Coffee From The Comfort Of Home: Loring’s Roasting Coloring Book

As an illustrator and a coffee enthusiast, I appreciate this on several levels.

Loring, a coffee roaster manufacturer based in California, recently crafted a coffee roasting coloring book to keep people occupied during the pandemic. Not only is it a good way to keep children occupied when phone time’s up, it’s a neat look into the ins-and-outs of roasting facilities. It’s stuffed with all sorts of lineart illustrations, from the beans to the machines. It’s currently available for download on their website and can be perfect for digital painting or filling in with marker. If you’re in need of a little therapy, look no further.

Painting is one of my most reliable forms of calming down and cooling off. Has been for most of my life. Something I love about this idea is not just the clever way of keeping people in touch with their local coffee businesses, but the unabashed appreciation of fun. Miserable news circulates more consistently than the air we breathe: inviting people’s artistic spirit is a pitch-perfect idea that will leave a positive impact.

Miss Going Out To Cafes? Perfect Your Inner Barista With This Useful Home Brewing List

Being a coffee lover can be expensive. When you’re not trying to find the best beans, you’re carving out space in your kitchen for all the short-term and long-term equipment you’ll need to make a cup that sparkles.

I’m still on the search for a burr grinder and an espresso maker (that can also do drip), but until I find that elusive perfect deal, I’m reading up on other people’s home brewing habits. The Daily Beast just published a short-and-sweet piece on how to get started becoming a home coffee brewing master. They simplify the complex process by looking at affordable French Presses, waxing philosophical about the benefits of weighing your grounds and even showing off a reusable Keurig brand.

Not all of these equipment combinations will drill holes into your wallet, either, and you might just stick with them once the coronavirus has slowed down enough to open cafes back up. Remember: coffee is all about what suits your tastes, lifestyle and budget. Not what some self-proclaimed espresso guru with a ten-inch beard thinks is more ‘real’.

fancy cup of coffee

An elegant coffee maker made out of gold, silver and diamonds. Sound like a recipe for good coffee?

Of course not. Doesn’t stop elitism from making the usual rounds.

A new coffee maker has emerged recently, crafted out of the finest materials money can buy. The company Royal Paris claims to bring customers back to an older time where coffee was more appreciated, offering a decadent experience that results in the best cup of coffee. Fortunately for me, I’m too keenly aware of the history of coffee growing, roasting and distribution to succumb to the hype. Sure is pretty, though!

It’s easy to overlook this story as yet more pomp and puffery from the idle elite meant to incite outrage. Last I checked, the very history of coffee itself doesn’t revolve around gilded cups, but a humble, communal experience thousands of years old! Nonetheless, stories like these should concern cafe owners and roasters. This carefully packaged artful elitism is a major issue that keeps the coffee industry from achieving great things.

When left unchecked, these mentalities rot the craft from the inside out.

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roasted coffee beans

A cup of coffee made without a single bean.

Sound like something you’d want to try? I took a look at this interesting scientific development earlier on LinkedIn, but I have a few more thoughts on the matter.

Beanless coffee is a (kind of) modern development currently being polished by today’s best scientists. This technique is similar to chicory — a method that involves brewing roots instead of beans — but whittles down the ingredients even further. Everything from the flavor to the way the brew sits on your tongue is meant to replicate traditional coffee near-flawlessly. On one hand, it’s fascinating how science can break down what we consume to its barest components. On the other hand, environmental concerns are cited as a major reason to continue this research.

Beanless coffee could help…as long as the industry’s priorities are kept straight.

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