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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…

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:

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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:

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Five Fundraisers And New Businesses To Support On National Coffee Day

Coffee tastes even better when it’s paired with a good cause. In fact, it’s pretty rare I see a bag, can, or bottle without a supplementary positive.

Eco-friendly initiatives. Paper recycling. Supporting women-owned farms. It’s so common it can be a little overwhelming at times (and according to the commonly cited USDA, these promises can even be unreliable). It helps to go straight to the source by supporting a smaller business with less middleman and smokescreens. People who live close by. People you can see.

We have newly founded black-owned businesses, we have charities, we have fundraisers. Take a look at the list below and put your money toward a good cause:

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blk & bold coffee bag

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: BLK & Bold’s Coffee-Ish

I’ve been wanting to buy from this brand for a hot minute.

Black-owned businesses have seen a significant boost in sales these past few months, with the coffee and tea industry no different. BLK & Bold was a name that came up frequently: I knew I’d have to exercise some patience when it was among the first names to crop up in the search bar. Cue me checking back several times over the past month and a half to see their if decaf coffee was available. Good things come to those who wait, right?

(I also bought one of their decaf teas, which I’ll be reviewing in an adjacent series to this one.)

After a rather rough week, I was delighted when I finally got my package in the mail (doubly so for how large the bag is in comparison to others I’ve bought). Does BLK & Bold live up to its hype? We’re going to find out with another specialty decaf coffee review below. If you’ve missed my previous posts, check out my review of another black-owned coffee business for Boon Boona Coffee’s decaf.

Let’s take a look:

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Certified Or Not? USDA Updating Its Regulations For Coffee Brands

It’s difficult to figure out which brands are legitimately organic and which aren’t. That’s the point.

It’s hard to demand better when you don’t even know where to start, right? The coffee industry’s supply chain has long since danced on a thin line between necessary and highly convoluted, with many today calling for ‘snipping the links’ to improve transparency. This could mean farmers also operating as roasters. This could mean importers receiving less money. It’s a lot of talk with not much action…but the USDA has had about enough.

Short for the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA is a well-known organic label on many specialty coffee brands. So well-known, in fact, it’s starting to lose meaning entirely. New standards are now being implemented to better manage a severe lack of oversight on ethical and eco-friendly farming standards in the coffee industry. Inconsistent implementation, misinterpreting the rules and a lack of consequences for those that shirk responsibility are cited as common issues with the label.

You can never ask too many questions. Do you often look into organic labels when buying a product? If so, do you go the extra mile to see if they’re legit?

boon boona coffee

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Boon Boona Coffee’s Decaf

I’ve been wanting to try Ethiopian coffee for a while. I mean, it’s the birthplace of coffee and all that.

Every time I search for a decaf coffee bag I take my time reading about every little detail. The goals of the roasters bringing this bag to my shelf. The benefits for the farmers toiling away behind-the-scenes, often unseen as the backbone of the industry at large (aside from a few candid photographs). It’s a lot to think about before clicking that purchase button, but it’s important. Boon Boona Coffee ticks off several of those high points for me: it’s a local roaster, a black-owned business and an Ethiopian origin all in one.

Let’s take a look at Boon Boona Coffee‘s specialty decaf variety and how it stacks up against all the coffee reviewed so far. If you’ve missed out on my previous posts, check out my recent review of Onyx Coffee Lab’s Decaf Colombia Huila or Sightglass Coffee’s Hunky Dory.

It’s time to dip into the world of classic Ethiopian coffee:

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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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