The Pact Advent Calendar – Day 9

Hah! Bet you thought I’d forg….oh. Wow. When did it become 1am?  Damn. Guess I am actually late as technically it’s now day 10.  Oh well, I’m posting it anyway before I go to bed.

Hello Planalto my old friend.

This was one of my semi-regular orders when I was a Pact subscriber because it’s rather a nice coffee whether you make it with hot water or hot milk.  It’s smooth, chocolatey and all in all just really nice to drink.  If you like your coffee more on the chocolate/malty side rather than fruity, you can’t go wrong with this one and I think Pact pretty much always have it in stock!

Not much more to say, a really lovely coffee this one, nice to have it again!

The Pact Advent Calendar – Day 8

Send help.

I genuinely might need an intervention at this point to stop listening to the Moana soundtrack.  Oh god, why did nobody tell me this thing was like crack for your ears? Seriously, best Disney soundtrack in years.

Ahem. Right. Coffee!  Let’s see what Day 8 has for us.  Again, I forgot to take a picture of the shot this time round. I’m sorry, but it was 10am when I did this one and I just really wanted my first coffee of the day!

So after yesterday’s disappointment, we’re right back on track. Seriously, Pact, I’m loving this calendar so far. This one was nice, slightly fruity, apricot notes came through VERY strongly when you have a sniff of the grounds, though somewhat more muted when made into a drink it was still really lovely from first sip to last and one I’d happily buy again.

Also the shot had what has to be the crema-iest crema I think I’ve seen in a while, it was seriously like silk.  Lovely stuff all round, a big thumbs up from me and another tick in the Like column (Also, I love the name. Not a thing I’d change with this one).

Current stats!

  • Like – 6
  • Meh – 2
  • Dislike – 0

TTFN.

Fire Station Coffee – An Update

So as readers of the blog may remember, I had a lovely Ethiopian coffee from this particular roaster but was unhappy about the customer service, specifically about the lack of feedback I got from them when I had questions about my order. I’d chalked it up as, sadly, just one of those things and moved on.

So you can imagine my surprise when, just over a week or so ago, I got a very nice message on Facebook from Jacqui at Fire Station Coffee, apologising for the breakdown in communications and saying that they’d sent me a bag of their new season Colombian beans as an apology!

Unlike the last bag, which was three weeks past roasting when it got to me, this one was a mere three days old.  Yay!

I asked Jacqui about the roasting schedule, whether they had a specific day they roasted on, and so on, and this is the response I got –

We do not currently have a strict roasting schedule – being such a small operation at current, it can fluctuate depending on the time of year and demand. But our roaster does generally roast on a Monday and Tuesday, and will collate her orders together as our Roasters batch size is 7kg. If our demand increases Amelia may roast again later in the week.

Which is fair enough! So it’s possible that with the lot I got, there just hadn’t been a great demand for it. So that’s fine, it still tasted delicious.

Sadly (Sorry Jacqui!) I can’t say the same for the Colombian coffee. I couldn’t even tell you what it is, there’s some undercurrent, some flavour note in a lot of Colombian coffees that I just don’t like.  I’ve tried this as a flat white, where it’s perfectly decent, but nothing to write home about, but as an americano it’s very strong and just…man, it makes me want to screw my face up thinking about it.  Not a fan, really not a fan.

But I still appreciate the gesture a whole lot.  They didn’t need to do that, and it was lovely of them to make the effort to make good with a first time customer.  Top marks, Jacqui and Fire Station coffee.

Also, psst, if you look at their website (which I’ve linked above), they’re doing a 20% off all their coffee in the run up to Christmas! Give’em a looksee! They’re not doing the lovely Ethiopian coffee anymore but you can choose between Rwanda, Brazil and Colombia instead.

Also, for a second, I totally thought that “Santa’s Grotto” was the name for a Christmassy blend of coffee. I was slightly disappointed. 🙂

TTFN.

The Pact Advent Calendar – Day 6

Day 6!  And it’s another Colombian coffee!  Have I mentioned I don’t get on with a lot of Colombian coffees? Oh, I have?  Several times?  Well, I’m gonna keep mentioning it!

 

 

I went in to today with not the highest of hopes, honestly. My track record with the aforementioned Colombian coffees hasn’t really been good, that said the previous one in this calendar was nice, so maybe…?

Yep! I’m pleased to be able to report that this one adds another tally to the ‘Like’ column (which for those keeping score is currently 5 Likes to 1 Meh). It’s a slightly sharper, more acidic coffee, but not unpleasantly so. I’ve had some that have been so sharp it’s made me screw my face up with the last few gulps, this is not one of those.

For me the predominant tasting note was raisin, you can really smell it the moment you open the bag, and it made a perfectly lovely cup but, as I said, definitely a smidge more on the acidic side! I don’t think I’d buy this one again myself, but it was a nice way to start the day.  I’ll be curious to see what my friend makes of it.

That’s it for now, I’ll be back tomorrow with day seven.

TTFN.

The Pact Advent Calendar – Day 4

Moving on up! Your love keeps lifting me higher! Okay, cheesy lyrics aside, let’s get into day four.

So yeah! I’m pretty impressed so far.  For those keeping score we’re currently at “Like, Like, Meh” and this one is another for the “Like!” column.  Opening the bag, those floral, rich notes are immediately apparent and I will admit to spending slightly longer than usual just enjoying the scent. Yum. The grounds seemed to be a bit of a darker coffee than the ones before it as well.  It promises good things.

In the cup it’s really pleasant, I’ve gone back to making all these drinks with water as well, to ensure that I’m not skewing my opinions by mixing up the ways I’m preparing them.  It’s slightly more, well, sharp than the ones that have come before it, but not unpleasantly so, and I enjoyed it from the first mouthful to the last, with no last minute acidity lurking at the bottom of the cup.

You’re on a roll, Advent Calendar.  Keep it up!

The Pact Advent Calendar – Days 2 & 3

Right!  More days, more coffees, mo’money, mo’…wait. No. Sorry. Off on a tangent there. Let’s crack on with days 2 and 3 so that I can start the week all caught up and on the right days.

Day 2

Day two brings us a type of coffee that, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a good track record with.  I just dunno what it is, but a lot of Colombian varietals I find have a funny aftertaste that I just don’t get on with at all.  These days I tend to give them a very wide berth.

That said?  This one wasn’t half bad at all. I’m pleased to be able to say that the ‘Villa Rubiela’ coffee was surprisingly pleasant!  It had a lovely sweet aftertaste that lingers nicely in the mouth. I might have actually found a Colombian coffee I’d buy again. Gonna be sure to make a note of this one.

Day 3

Day three and this time we’re scooting off to Guatemala for the ‘Villaure’ coffee. One thing I immediately noticed with this one compared to the previous two was the aroma on opening the bag. I dunno if it’s just my imagination, but this one smelled much more potent than the other two.  The card says “plum tart” notes and I’d have to agree. It’s got a really rich, plummy scent when you open it up, it’s really lovely.

And again, seriously, there’s just something about the smell of fresh coffee. Tickles the pleasure center of your brain, at least it does for me!  I’m sure my long-suffering wife would inform me that “it smells like coffee” but I’ll kep trying! One day I’ll find one where she can tell the difference.

Anyway, this one I made with milk with the previous two were made with water. Just because I fancied a change, although that might not have been the best idea.  In milk this coffee was….okay.  It was nothing special, nothing particularly memorable, just smooth, pleasant and a bit forgettable. I might have done it an injustice by using it as the basis for a milk based drink, I think from now on I’ll stick with making each with water.

That’s it for days two and three, thanks very much for taking the time to read my thoughts.  We’ll be back tomorrow with day four.

The Pact Advent Calendar – Day One

Hello folks,

So this year I’ve got my hands on a Pact Coffee advent calendar.  Now Pact and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship, I’ve been an on again/off again customer of theirs since at least 2014 if not before. I can’t see anything beyond that as they only show my last twenty orders.

Now with Pact, you can rate the coffees with a like/dislike and my order history with Pact basically goes –

  • Like
  • Dislike
  • Like
  • Like
  • Dislike
  • Dislike
  • etc, etc,

It’s nothing about Pact as a company, they’re a damn good company to do business with, very responsive and with great customer support, but I just didn’t get on with the choices of coffee a lot of the time. In fact if you look at my history, it’s an even split, 50-50 likes and dislikes.

In the end I stopped ordering from them and instead embarked on my current adventure of working my way through as many UK based roasteries I can. That said, I keep an eye on what they’re doing so when they did advent calendars for the first time last year I was intrigued, but held off.  This year, though, I decided to take the plunge with a friend of mine and she ordered two of them for us.

Hey look, round pictures. Because Christmas.

Anyway, it’s a nice thing. The box is sturdy and well made, and the coffees are all contained in individual pouches within. They appear to be a medium-fine grind while the previous year they were all specifically ground for aeropress/drip/cafetiere.  Pact haven’t specified the exact grind this year but, as I said, they seem to make a perfectly fine espresso with no indication of under-extraction. My Barista Express certainly seems quite happy to use them to make espresso and so far they’ve been nice and tasty.

We’re going to do this one day at a time. This post will be the longest as we need to set a little background, the rest will be shorter, talking about each coffee in turn, showing you the package, the info card and giving my opinions.

Without further ado, let’s crack on with day one.  You can see the pictures of the packaging above.

Silly me forgot to take a picture of the shot this time. Ah well, it was a bit late and I really wanted to actually try the coffee as I’d heard good things about this one from my friend who had already tried it. “Los Andes Honey” it’s called. I made this one with water, added a splash of milk and sugar and immediately noticed that the sweet, nutmeg notes on the info card were definitely evident.

It made very pleasant americano, no lingering acidity, a very pleasant cup all in all and one I’d think about buying a full bag of, I gotta say.  A really positive start all in all. So that’s day one down, let’s move on.  The next review will be days two and three together so I get all caught up.

24 to go because Pact, bless’em, even include one for Christmas day.

Review #6 – Eden Ethiopian Coffee

Hello folks, I’m back again with another review for you and this one is something a bit special. Without further ado, let’s get stuck in.

Today we’re going to be looking at Eden Ethiopian Coffee who were a lovely little find on my last visit to Camden Market in London.  They have a stall there selling both drinks and bags of coffee and they lure in business by roasting beans right there on the stall in a little pan.  You can smell them long before you see them and like a moth to a lightbulb I made a beeline for them the moment I caught a whiff of the beans.

And wow, I am so glad I did.

I’m fairly familiar with Ethiopian types of coffee, I regularly buy Yirgacheffe and occasionally Sidamo as well, but this time I spotted a bean that I wasn’t familiar with – Djimmah.  That’s what we’re going to be looking at today.

As with the Union coffee review, I can’t exactly talk about the online purchasing experience as I picked my beans up from the stall.  The folks working the stall were very knowledgable and friendly and I’d happily go back to purchase from them again.  They’ve recently relocated their stall in the Market and you can see further details about this on their twitter account here – Eden Ethiopian Coffee Twitter

eden coffee

The website takes a moment or two to load, but is very easy to navigate. Prices for their coffees range from £8-£8.50 for a 250g bag.  Currently they offer the following –

  • Djimmah
  • Eden House Blend
  • Sidamo
  • Yirgacheffe

You can get free shipping, or there is a flat rate of £5.40 if you need your coffee hit in a hurry.  They don’t specify the specific details of each shipping option, but I would imagine the free shipping will be by UK 2nd class post, so it’ll take a few days to get to you.

It’s also worth noting that the coffee is cheaper if you buy it in person at the stall. I paid £6 for my bag of Djimmah which is a very reasonable price indeed.

It’s a very simple bag, not air tight, so best to decant these into another container as soon as you can to keep them fresh.  I couldn’t get a very good shot of the beans in part due to the bag being very tall, so there was a lack of light, but also the light in my kitchen wasn’t very good on this particular day.

The first thing you’ll notice about this coffee is the smell. There’s a distinct spicy overtone.  Now the blurb on the back of the bag says that the coffee is more natural and “having a hint of a spicy flavour”.

I first tried this as a milk based drink and all I can see is that for me it was less “mild” spicy notes and more “A bellowing Randy Savage bursting into the room as he exhorts you to snap into a processed meat snack”, or “Kool-Aid man crashing through a wall and offering what appear to be glasses of his own blood”. Mild was not the word I would have used to descrbe it.

The spicy notes are immediately in attendance from the second you open the bag, to the moment you pull the shot to the first sip and yet to say that my brow was furrowed in confusion on the first mouthful wouldn’t be far from the truth. It really wasn’t what I expected it all.  I actually had to ask my wife to try it as well because at first I didn’t believe what I was tasting.  It’s so rich as to be almost chocolatey, with the spicy notes rolling over the tongue as you swallow and lingering very pleasantly afterward.  She had a taste and agreed it was almost like drinking chocolate rather than coffee!

I then tried it in my syphon filter, where it’s a very different affair entirely.  Below you can see a little gallery of the syphon process for those of you who aren’t familiar with this particular piece of coffee-making kit. You heat the water in the bulb at the bottom so that it rises up through the cloth filter and into your grounds.  Once that’s done you turn your heatsource down so that the liquid is just simmering for about a minute or so, then remove the heat and the coffee filters back into the bulb, leaving your grounds behind.

The syphon, I find, tends to bring out the brighter notes in coffee. In this instance that meant it amplified the spicy flavours to the point that they were almost overpowering on the first sip!  It’s a much stronger drink in the syphon, the coffee and spice notes drowning out any hint of the chocolate. It almost reminded me of wine, actually, that sort of quite potent flavour.  It’s not a bad drink by any stretch, but it is very, very different.  I’ve likely drunk as much of this in my syphon as I have with the Barista!

In summary, this is a really lovely, unique coffee with massively different characteristics depending on how you make it. I would NOT recommend you use it for espresso unless you’re going to put it in milk, I found it very bland when used to make an americano.  Filter or milk-based espresso drink is definitely the best way to enjoy it in my opinion.

Up next, the Brothers blend from Ozone Coffee.  That should be out in the next week or so.  Thanks for taking the time to read my latest review.