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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counter culture coffee decaf kuichi

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Counter Culture Coffee’s Decaf Kuichi

I’ve done it! I’ve found the current heavyweight of specialty decaf coffee.

Wisdom grows with options: the more you have to compare, the pickier you get. It’s why I would hesitate to buy yet another cherry red jacket when I already have two in my closet. It’s why I skim past the proverbial flood of cereal boxes for my tried-and-true Honey Bunches Of Oats (at least, the generic version). While I’ve had a lot of coffee in my life, ordering freshly roasted specialty bags is still a newer reality for me. Good decaf coffee is known, sure, but not on the level I would’ve liked.

I’m coming up on five bags now and I can safely say, without a doubt, I’ve found a real winner. If you’re new to this series, I review decaf coffee in all its beautiful complexity: flavor notes, brewing methods, packaging, you name it! If you’re too busy for a five-minute read, check out my Final Verdict at the bottom summarizing my thoughts. You can find my previous decaf coffee reviews on Counter Culture Coffee’s Slow Motion and Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town.

Let’s get started on why the Decaf Kuichi is my current favorite:

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partners coffee roasters

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town

Another day, another decaf. This one caught my eye for a few reasons.

Chocolate is a pretty common flavor note in the coffee world. Why not? Cocoa plants undergo just as complex a cultivation process as coffee cherries, with similar flavors and colors, to boot. One of the most popular cafe drinks — the iconic mocha — blend these two worlds together for an unforgettable combo. American roasters today have some pretty mean competition at the best of times, so they often get more specific when heralding what makes their beans special. Instead of just chocolate (usually) you get milk chocolate, dark chocolate or, in this instance, white chocolate.

What’s a good decaf coffee you can try? That’s what we’re here to find out. Let’s take a look at Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town decaf beans and see if it lives up to its promise. If you missed the first part of the Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series, check out my review of Counter Culture Coffee’s Slow Motion here. It’s tasty stuff.

Without further ado!

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Third-wave, gourmet, and artisan coffee — learn which labels are legit. — Coffee with the Queen

A quick glance through the coffee aisle of your local market shows the many ways to describe coffee, and many likely sound interesting but are they all legitimate indicators of quality? Today we are going to cover three often-used, seldom-described coffee labels: third wave, artisan, and gourmet.

Third-wave, gourmet, and artisan coffee — learn which labels are legit. — Coffee with the Queen

A fancy label does not a fancy product make. This is the vice of the average consumer, faced with a thousand different products all desperately screeching for attention. Coffee is a particularly tough nut to crack, in this regard.

This post cites several sources on its way to narrow down common terms in the coffee sphere, from the borderline meaningless ‘gourmet’ to the increasingly common ‘third-wave’. Check out their last post on the definition of specialty coffee and all the work that goes into achieving the title.

What is Specialty Coffee? — Coffee with the Queen

You’ve seen the descriptor. You may have even drank it but unless you are an obsessive coffee buff, you likely don’t really know what Specialty Coffee is. Specialty Coffee is a globally recognized coffee grade that signifies coffee quality, cleanliness, and uniqueness. To qualify as a Specialty Coffee…

What is Specialty Coffee? — Coffee with the Queen

A helpful and concise post on the definition of specialty coffee, which is a little more rigorous than an oversaturated market might suggest. Even several years after working as a barista and being trained by roasters, I’m still learning just how subtle a single cup of coffee can be depending on what seems like infinite factors. Growing conditions, bean type, amount of defects, aroma, body…the list is quite happy to go on.

Arabica coffee is the cream of the crop, but recent news suggests the less-popular Robusta might have an edge on the competition. A big part of this has to do with its more resilient nature in shifting weather conditions, compared to its more sensitive cousin. It also has a lot of potential for subtle flavor varieties; supporters insist it simply needs to be judged on its own standards, rather than constantly be compared to a different bean with different needs.

Supplement your lunch coffee with some additional coffee knowledge.

Growing Confidence From The Ground Up: Building Trust In The Coffee Industry

Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It can, however, be lost overnight.

The coffee industry has been coming face-to-face with trust issues in the past few months alone. Green Mountain Keurigs, an easily recognizable grocery store coffee brand, has been hit with a customer lawsuit citing dishonest marketing practices. News reports having been honing in on how farmers are left out of coffee buying and distribution conversations. Studies have cropped up finding consumers disillusioned with green labels, despite environmental certifications coming in many varieties and requiring a lot of work to obtain. Starbucks, the titular coffee behemoth, has been cagey concerning details on how much the corporation has been paying farmers.

All this information is overwhelming…and rightfully so. Whether you are a distributor, roaster or cafe owner, you literally cannot afford not to build trust.

Buyers can sniff dishonesty a mile away. Keeping tight lips may seem wise in the short-term, but in the long-term can and will affect everyone up and down the coffee line. There is no quick answer when it comes to building trust, either. Not when you have to cultivate the individuality of the people you work with and the people you hope to buy from your business. There are, however, obvious pitfalls that should be avoided moving forward.

Let’s take a look.

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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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a photo of the rwandan landscape

How often do you think about where your ethically sourced coffee comes from?

Not what the ‘ethically traded’ label says or the origin claim stated by the company…but where it really comes from. If you’re rubbing the back of your neck or avoiding eye contact with your screen, rest assured this is a common problem.

Not just among consumers, but among companies and businesses that work in direct trade with coffee farmers. In our whirlwind day-to-day, thinking about just where our goods come from and at what cost can feel like a tall order (pardon the pun). You’re just trying to get through the workweek in one piece! When it comes to positive change, however…now is always the best time for it. From grower to roaster to customer, the journey of coffee is a winding one. One we can neglect on our way to get the most convenient cup.

An ‘ethical trade’ label on a box or recycling claim on a lid isn’t enough. Several troubling developments concerning coffee sustainability and ethical trading have cropped up these past few weeks, showing that green sentiments are often only skin deep. One story analyzing coffee culture in Rwanda — or rather, the lack thereof — speaks to the real disconnect the West has with the rest of the world. Farmers are caught in such a chokehold between consistent production rates and high costs they’re not even able to taste their own creations. To the Western ear, this is completely surreal…

…and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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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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cup of tea

There’s a lot of bad news out there. It makes stories like these all the more important.

A coffee shop was recently founded in Georgia by a musician who wanted a way to reach out to those struggling with mental illness. This is a truly bright spot on an otherwise miserable news circuit.

Coffee and tea isn’t just about roasting the rarest specialty coffee or the most esteemed harvesting technique. It’s about why we make it. The impact we leave on people, from harvested bean to espresso shot.

I chose to focus on coffee and tea because of the ongoing influence these drinks leave on my life. They’ve been a great source of pleasure and contentment, giving my itchy fingers something warm to cradle on a cold night. Back when I consumed caffeine coffee or tea sometimes was the only thing keeping me awake! Even now just the act of brewing has a way of grounding my mind and helping me focus on my work. As someone who is mentally ill, this tool has been indispensable for keeping me moving forward.

This cafe sounds like a truly lovely place to relax. On top of providing delicious food and drink Waller’s Coffee Shop hosts live music, weekend wellness events and open mic sessions. With coffee and tea industries having a mainstream reputation for elitist attitudes — and the physical cafe struggling for relevance in a digital era — I hope this sets a trend for others to follow.

To embrace both technique and the human heart at the core of it all.