Manthano Coffee 2016 in Review

img_01972016 was a pretty great year with regard to coffee. In fact, I tasted right at about 100 different coffees! So many of them were fantastic! Below, however, I have listed my top five favorites (not in order). Not only did I taste great coffee, I also learned a lot on this journey throughout the world of coffee.

Manthano Coffee’s Favorite Five of 2016

The one of Onyx Coffee Lab and Methodical Coffee were both sent to me in exchange for a review. However, the ones from Airship Coffee, Yellow Brick Coffee, and Steadfast Coffee were all received through Angels’ Cup. Although it is unlikely that you’d be able to purchase these same exact coffees now, all five of these roasters are fantastic! You should definitely check them all out!

Highlights from 2016

2016 really was a fun year! Not only did I taste some wonderful coffees, but I was able to visit some great coffee shops (Bold Bean, Revelator, Crema, Steadfast, Blueprint, Sump, Brick & Mortar, Trade & Lore, The Coffee Fox, Collective Espresso, and surely some others that I can’t remember). On top of this, I have had many opportunities to learn more about latte art, coffee production, coffee roasting, and customer service from both experience and from friends and mentors. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings!

Top Five Visited Pages on Manthano Coffee:

  1. How to Brew Coffee with an AeroPress
  2. How to Improve Your Coffee Tasting Skills: Coffee Cupping
  3. What You Need to Know about Letting Coffee Bloom
  4. How to Clean a Baratza Encore
  5. How to Brew Coffee with a Hario V60

Manthano Coffee’s 2017 Goals

  • Gain more followers
  • Post more consistently
  • Review more coffee shops
  • Review coffee products
  • Drink more coffee

Thanks for a great year! As always, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or shoot me a message from the Contact page. And, if you have not already, definitely check out @ManthanoCoffee on Instagram!

Methodical Coffee: Kenya, Murang’a County

img_5292

Methodical Coffee is a coffee shop and roasting company located in Greenville, SC. It is owned by David Baker, Will Shurtz, and Marco Suarez, each of whom play a different role within the company: Baker deals with operations; Shurtz is the “roaster and coffee leader;” and Suarez is in charge of design and aesthetics. Although I have yet to visit Methodical’s café, I’ve heard that it is clear that they are strong in all of these areas. I’ve also heard, around the coffee world, that Will Shurtz is one of the few people that can really pull off the man bun.

Opening in February 2015, it was not until July 2016 that Methodical joined the roasting world. From hearing about Shurtz’s coffee knowledge, and after tasting their coffee, it was definitely a good idea.

Coffee Notes

For this review, we will be looking at Methodical Coffee’s Kenya, Murang’a County coffee. Before noting the specific details about this coffee, I must say that Methodical’s bags are absolutely wonderful! Not only are they stunning, they also include extremely helpful information: location, varietals, roast date, tasting notes, and even the name of the artist who designed the beautiful bag (Annie Koelle).

As you may have already noticed, Methodical’s bags do not include any indication of the roast level. This is, of course, a more recent trend within the specialty coffee world. Truly, the reality of a roast level is that it is essentially nebulous and subjective. Light, medium, and dark roasts, or whatever else they might be called, mean something different to every roaster, and every consumer for that matter. Ideally, each roaster would roast each specific bean to its best possible profile, and then the consumer would simply trust that reality and find what they like best. Some, however, like the NCA, have offered basic roast guides in hopes to better standardize roasting language across the industry; but it’s quite a daunting task.

Now, specifically regarding this Kenya, Murang’a County coffee, Methodical offers quite a bit of very helpful information. It is made up of both SL 28 and SL 34 varieties and grown at 1900 masl. It is a fully washed processed coffee, processed at Gondo Wet Mill of New Kiriti Farmers Cooperative Society, where it went through an intensive selection process, after being delivered to the wet mill on the exact same day that it was picked. After the cherries are carefully separated, prior to pulping, the ripe cherries undergo the wet processing method, whereby the Kananahu stream’s clean water is utilized. After all of this, as well as being pulped and going through the fermentation process, they are sun dried and then sent to a dry mill for dry milling.

Also, before offering my tasting notes, I will point out that this coffee was received only two days after roasting, which is absolutely exceptional!

Brew Method: Chemex; 50g Coffee; 512ml Water; 203F; Medium Grind; 4:30 Brew Time.

Analysis: Upon first glance, I do not see any obvious defects, and the beans appear to be quite light in color. One of the first things I thought of, when smelling the dry aroma, was one of those Orange & Creme Hard Candies (Creme Savers). On top of this, the dry and wet aroma brought strong notes of lemon and orange, as well as some honey, sugar cane, and maybe cinnamon. The flavor notes were quite similar, with juicy citrus notes. But it also had some darker sweet notes, like molasses or maple syrup. Most memorably, though, was the vibrant dark chocolate note in the aftertaste; it was absolutely wonderful! It was as if I were really eating dark chocolate, creamy and then a little drying afterwards. While it wasn’t the most complex cup I’ve had, it was exceptionally clean and exciting. It offered a nice medium+ body, a higher level of acidity and sweetness, and nearly zero bitterness. Very much enjoyed this coffee.

This coffee can be purchased from Methodical’s Website for $18.00. If you haven’t had this one, I would definitely suggest it!

I’ll end with a quote from their website and their bags: “There is a beautiful paradox in the simplicity of brewing coffee and the complexity of its mastery.”

img_5245

Brick and Mortar Coffee: Sumatra Jambi Kerinci

img_4678

Brick & Mortar Coffee, as mentioned in previous posts, is a specialty coffee roasting company, seeking to “move people toward greater coffee craftsmanship.” Brick and Mortar says, “Our love is people, our design is simple, our craft is coffee.” And whether you are visiting Brick & Mortar in Springfield, Missouri or tasting their coffee at home, it will be evident that they are very focused on these three things.

Coffee Notes

For this review, I’ll be making comments on Brick & Mortar’s Sumatra Jambi Kerinci. This coffee, containing various varietals, was grown at  1400 masl in “rich volcanic soil on the slopes of Mount Kerinci, in the Jambi province of Sumatra.” It underwent a hybrid coffee method of processing, called wet-hulled process. Then, after many more hands, ultimately helping get the green coffee beans to Brick & Mortar, it is then roasted to a Cinnamon Roast (397*F).

Brew Method: Chemex; 32g Coffee; 512ml Water; 203F; Medium Grind; 4:00 Brew Time. I was also able to brew this with a V60 as well as an AeroPress.

Analysis: Upon first glance, the beans are definitely a Cinnamon Roast. There were a few quakers in the jar, but overall they looked nice. I was super surprised by this Sumatran! Expecting the usual earthy notes, which were there, it also maintained a nice fruity flavor that brought with it an intense amount of sweetness. It is definitely a full-bodied coffee, alongside a medium-high level of acidity. It got sweeter as it cooled. Definitely Walnut, Grapefruit, Earth, and Lime in this coffee!

These beans can be purchased from their website for $20.00. Brick and Mortar Currently ships their coffees in 8oz glass jars, though they can also be ordered in bulk.

Thanks so much for the review beans, Brick and Mortar Coffee!

img_4689

Airship Coffee: Catimor – Guatemala

img_5066

Airship Coffee is a coffee roasting company located in Bentonville, Arkansas. As mentioned before, Airship Coffee has a goal of “blow[ing] people’s minds with coffee,” and “creat[ing] unique coffees that challenge people’s notion of what coffee can taste like.”

From what I can tell, they are definitely succeeding.

Moreover, Airship Coffee works directly with their farmers, seeking to use the best methods to bring about the best flavors. The Pacamara Natural – El Salvador is one of those coffees that benefited from an experimental processing method. Then, after working with their farmers, who then ship it to Airship in Arkansas, they roast those beans seeking “to coax the most out of the beans roasting to peak-aroma, the point where the bean is most fragrant.”

It is also noteworthy to recognize that I received this coffee quite quickly, and it also included a nice, hand-written note.

 

Coffee Notes

For this review, I am looking at Airship Coffee’s Catimor – Guatemala. It comes from Monte Nuevo, Guatemala and is made up of the Catimor variety. It is a fully washed processed coffee, grown at 1800masl. Airship Coffee’s website says, “This coffee is produced by two brothers Chepe and Nilton Perez in Guatemala’s Acatenango region. Monte Nuevo is one of the highest farms in the region. This combination of high elevation and shade produces a denser bean and a slower ripening time resulting in a sweeter cup with marked acidity which shows in this catimor.”

Brew Method: Chemex; 32g Coffee; 512ml Water; 203F; Medium Grind; 4:30 Brew Time. I was also able to brew this with a V60 as well as an AeroPress.

Analysis: Upon first sight, these beans look to be about a City roast. After grinding, the dry aroma smelled of toffee, caramel, vanilla, and peach. I was having a hard time getting the cantaloupe note while the grounds were dry, but after adding water, it smelled predominately like cantaloupe. Wet aroma notes also included toffee and caramel, as well as some minor notes of vanilla, peach, and maybe nectarine. The flavor notes, then, continued to maintain the toffee, caramel, and cantaloupe notes, but it also brought along a nice vanilla flavor, especially as it cooled down. This Guatemalan was also quite sweet and complex, with hardly any bitterness. It had a medium+ body and a relatively high level of acidity.

This coffee can be purchased from Airship Coffee’s website for $12.00, which includes a 250g bag. Although the Pacamara Natural – El Salvador was my favorite, this Catimor – Guatemala is fantastic as well. Check them out!

Thanks again for the review beans, Airship Coffee! I greatly enjoyed them!

img_5063

Airship Coffee: Pacamara Natural – El Salvador

img_4945

Airship Coffee is a coffee roasting company located in Bentonville, Arkansas. According to their website, “Airship Coffee was born under a lime tree in the mountains of Honduras.” From then on their ambition has been to “blow people’s minds with coffee,” and “to create unique coffees that challenge people’s notion of what coffee can taste like.”

Airship Coffee works directly with their farmers to bring about the best beans possible. This sometimes means using different, experimental processing methods to enhance a coffee’s flavor profile. Then, once Airship Coffee receives the green coffee beans, they seek to “use [their] roasters to coax the most out of the beans roasting to peak-aroma, the point where the bean is most fragrant.”

Also, on top of a quick delivery and elegant bags, Airship Coffee included a hand-written note! In an age where more and more people purchase things online, with slim to zero human interaction, it is personal touches like this that are meaningful.

Coffee Notes

For this review, I will be looking specifically at Airship Coffee’s Pacamara Natural from El Salvador. This sun-dried, natural processed coffee specifically comes from Calera, El Salvador, at an altitude of 1700 masl. It is a Pacamara variety, which is, according to Airship Coffee’s website, “an intraspecific hybrid developed out of a breeding program housed at El Salvador’s Institute for Coffee Research that started back in the 1958.” This variety’s parents are the Pacas and the Maragogipe, which are both mutations: Pacas from the Bourbon variety and Maragogipe from Typica.

Brew Method: Chemex; 32g Coffee; 512ml Water; 200F; Medium Grind; 4:30 Brew Time. I was also able to brew this with a V60 as well as an AeroPress.

Analysis: At first glance, the beans are clearly a natural processed coffee, considering the appearance and lack of chaff. The roast seems quite even, probably a City roast. The aroma and flavor notes scream raspberry, as well as a sweet-smelling note that reminds me of a strawberry flavored Fruit Roll-Up. The aroma also brings along a little vanilla and maybe a little apple. The flavor, though, brings out this nice green apple note, alongside the already present raspberry, and maybe a little black cherry. It is complex and super sweet, has high acidity, about a medium+ body that is quite creamy, and nearly zero bitterness. There also seems to be a minor toffee-like note after the coffee cools down. Honestly, this natural processed El Salvador is absolutely wonderful!

This coffee is available on Airship Coffee’s website for $14.00, which will get you a 250g bag. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one! As their website says, “It’s all in the cup. Give it a go and delight your mouth.”

Thanks for the review beans, Airship Coffee! I enjoyed every single cup!

img_5016

Brick and Mortar Coffee: Ethiopia Guji Hambela

img_4680

Brick and Mortar Coffee, located in Springfield, Missouri, is dedicated to the art and craft of specialty coffee. As mentioned in a previous post, Brick and Mortar says, “Our love is people, our design is simple, our craft is coffee.” Whether you are drinking coffee in their tasting room, or at your own home, you will be able to recognize that Brick and Mortar cares about all of these things.

Coffee Notes

For this review, I will be looking at Brick and Mortar’s Ethiopia Guji Hambela. According to their website, this Ethiopian coffee comes from the Hambela farm, which “is located in the fertile regional State, in Yirgacheffe/Guji zone, between the two districts Gede and Hambela, approximately 477 km (~297 miles) South of Addis Ababa (the Capital of Ethiopia), and 20 km (~12.5 miles) East of Dimtu Town (the capital of Hambela).”

This coffee is specifically the Heirloom varietal, grown at 1900-2200 meters, and was processed naturally. Brick & Mortar, then, received it and roasted it to a Cinnamon Roast (specifically 398*F).

Brew Method:  Chemex – 50g – Medium Grind (21 on a Baratza Encore) – 800ml Water – 201*F – 5min Brew Time. While this is the brew method being used for this review, I also tried this coffee with a V60 and an AeroPress.

Analysis: Upon first glance of the beans, these look to be about a Cinnamon roast. They were a few quakers in the sample that was sent, but I was able to pick them out easily. The dry aroma was beautiful; there were strong notes of a number of berries, like raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and cranberry. Wet aroma maintained them, but brought along some notes of dark chocolate and even a tad bit of earthiness. The flavor notes were more surprising though. They maintained a little berry—like raspberry, blueberry, and cranberry—and dark chocolate, but brought about some other notes of black tea and vanilla. Aftertaste tastes like black tea and a strong vanilla, more like bourbon than vanilla. A little bitter, a medium-light body, and medium+ acidity. Definitely a flavorful cup, but it is not the most complex.

These beans can be purchased from their website for $17.00. Brick and Mortar Currently ships their coffees in 8oz glass jars, though they can also be ordered in bulk.

Thanks so much for the review beans, Brick and Mortar Coffee!

img_4688

Café Grumpy: Deri Kochoha

IMG_4776Café Grumpy began in Brooklyn, New York in 2005, specifically in the Greenpoint neighborhood. It is a woman owned company, and now has a total of seven locations in New York City, not including their roastery. Café Grumpy is known for sourcing quality beans in a responsible and sustainable way, offering great customer service, and caring for the community.

In response to a question about the origin of Café Grumpy’s name, the owner, Caroline Bell, says, “The name was inspired by some bad customer service we received at a (since closed) coffee shop back in 2004 – as in this place is making us so grumpy it should be called cafe grumpy!” She then added that the logo was designed by her brother, who based the shape of the “grumpy face” on a coffee bean.

Also, as I’ve heard from the grapevine, if you are looking for a place to crash with you Macbook, you will be SOL (aside from the Greenpoint location), considering their strict “no laptop” policy.

Coffee Notes

This Ethiopian Coffee comes from multiple small producers in the Sidama Region, specifically from the Deri Kochoha washing station. It is a traditional washed processed coffee, specifically the heirloom variety, dried on raised beds, and was grown at 1800-2000 masl. Café Grumpy has been offering this coffee for just over 4 years now, so it is definitely a favorite. Also, I got this bag 3 days after the roast date, which is fantastic!

Brew Method: Chemex – 32g – Medium Grind (18 on a Baratza Encore) – 512ml Water – 203*F – 4min Brew Time. While this is the brew method being used for this review, I also tried this coffee with a V60, an AeroPress, and as a cold brew.

Analysis: The beans were roasted a little darker than I expected, considering the flavor notes on the bag, probably a City or City+. The roast was especially even: no quakers or other clearly visible defects. Strong notes of peach, and maybe ginger, honestly reminding me of a peaches and ginger tea. Dry aroma also smells like a chocolate covered raspberry. The brewed cup itself maintained a medium body and a medium+ sweetness and acidity. A tad bit of bitterness, but overall a pretty balanced cup. The flavor notes were peach, lemongrass, and raspberry, with maybe some caramel or toffee. When it cools down, the flavor turns more toward vanilla and bourbon.

This coffee can be purchased from Café Grumpy’s website for $20.00.

Thanks for the review beans, Café Grumpy! Also, thanks for the pin! Loved them both!

IMG_4764

Brick and Mortar Coffee: Guatemala Chimaltenango El Rosario

IMG_4680Brick and Mortar Coffee, located in Springfield, Missouri, is dedicated to the art and craft of specialty coffee. As mentioned in the previous post, Brick and Mortar says, “Our love is people, our design is simple, our craft is coffee.” All of these things are evident, whether you are sitting inside their tasting room, or you are sipping on one of their coffees at home.

Coffee Notes

This second coffee from Brick and Mortar is from Guatemala. This coffee comes from a relative of the Perez family, specifically in the region of Chimaltenango at El Rosario, and is grown at about 1600 masl. It is a washed processed coffee, roasted to 401F, which is what Brick and Mortar calls the “New American Roast.” When I visited Brick and Mortar, this coffee was what they were running as their Single Origin Espresso. Also, it is true that this Guatemalan coffee is a part of their house blend, called Ampersand.

Brew Method: Chemex – 50g – Medium Grind (21 on a Baratza Encore) – 800ml Water – 203*F – 5:00min Brew Time. When I visited Brick and Mortar, during a trip to see some family, I was also able to try this as Espresso.

Analysis: This Guatemalan is particularly smooth and truly is an easy drinking coffee. There are heavy notes of chocolate and toffee, with some minor dried fruit notes, like cranberry, and there is maybe even a small hint of hibiscus in the dry and wet aroma. The aroma also seemed to hint at minor notes of honey and caramel. The flavor notes seemed to minimized some of the aroma notes, leaving this coffee tasting primarily like chocolate, toffee, and caramel. Minor bitterness that hits at the end, but overall a very balanced cup.

And, as mentioned above, I was able to try this as espresso, which helped bring out some of the natural sweetness. It maintained the chocolate and toffee notes, but also had a candied nut flavor to it that was quite pleasant, which lingered for quite a long aftertaste.

This coffee can be purchased on Brick and Mortar’s website for $14.00. And as mentioned last time, Brick and Mortar Currently ships their coffees in 8oz glass jars, though they can also be ordered in bulk.

Thanks again for the review beans, Brick and Mortar Coffee!

Brick and Mortar Coffee: Colombia Narino Fiesta

IMG_4119Springfield, Missouri, or “The Queen City of the Ozarks,” is known for many things. It is the home of Missouri State University, the Springfield Cardinals, and the always wonderful Askinosie Chocolate. It is said to be the birthplace of Route 66. And it is known for its tasty Cashew Chicken.

However, as a one-time student at Missouri State University–when I was just beginning to find the narrow path that leads to the pearly gates of the heavenly world of coffee–I know all too well the fact that the specialty coffee scene in Springfield has been lacking. Aside from The Coffee Ethic, of which I am especially grateful for, there wasn’t much.

Now, though, a half-decade after my time at Missouri State, Brick and Mortar Coffee has entered the scene and has been standing strong for just over two years. Brick and Mortar is a specialty coffee roasting company, seeking to “move people toward greater coffee craftsmanship.” Brick and Mortar says, “Our love is people, our design is simple, our craft is coffee.”

This love for people, simple design, and craft coffee is quite evident when visiting Brick and Mortar. When you walk inside, it is clear that this is not your average coffee shop. You won’t see a number of tables next to a number of outlets; rather, you will see one gigantic, and beautiful, community table, as well as a community-style bar, a space that they call a “Tasting Room.” This tasting room offers a limited menu with a changing selection of coffees. Alongside community seating, and a coffee-focused menu, you will also become quickly aware that this is also a roastery, where all that comes with roasting can be experienced from right inside the tasting room.

IMG_4686Coffee Notes

The coffee that I will be commenting on in this review, is Brick and Mortar’s Colombia Narino Fiesta. This coffee, being from the Narino region of Colombia, specifically from La Guamera farm, was grown at 1900-2250 masl. Brick and Mortar roasted this to 401F, what they call a “New American Roast.”

Brew Method: Chemex – 32g – Medium Grind (17 on a Baratza Encore) – 512ml Water – 203*F – 4:00min Brew Time. This was how it was brewed for this review, though I also tried it with a V60 and an AeroPress.

Analysis: Upon opening the bag, it was clear that this coffee is a natural processed coffee. Though I picked them out for my brew, there were a few quakers, but only a couple. After grinding the beans, the aroma smelled fruity, with notes of mango, blackcurrant, and lychee, reminding me of a Tropical Capri Sun. The aroma also had notes of chocolate and was a tad bit floral, with notes of hibiscus and maybe honeysuckle. Upon tasting it, the coffee was quite sweet. It was very smooth and maintained a medium body with a higher level of acidity, alongside barely any bitterness. Many of the aroma notes came through clearly in this coffee’s flavor; there was definitely mango, lychee, blackcurrant, and dark chocolate, as well as minor notes of maybe lime, pineapple, and lavender.

Now that I have had four fantastic coffees from Brick and Mortar Coffee, I will admit that this is probably my favorite one. These beans can be purchased from their website for $15.00. Brick and Mortar Currently ships their coffees in 8oz glass jars, though they can also be ordered in bulk.

Thanks so much for the review beans, Brick and Mortar Coffee!

Onyx Coffee Lab: Ethiopia Hambela Buku (Natural)

IMG_4658

Sadly, this is my last bag from Onyx Coffee Lab. I have so greatly enjoyed tasting each one of them. And, honestly, Onyx Coffee Lab has blown my mind. They truly are one of my favorite roasters (I know I’ve said this multiple times now, but I’m serious!). I love that their focus on aesthetics, whether their packaging or their cafés, does not hinder their focus on wonderfully roasted coffee. If you haven’t had any, definitely check them out.

Also, if you haven’t read any of the previous reviews, definitely check them out as well. Here are the previous reviews: Kenya Nyeri Barichu, Colombia La Plata, and Sugar Skull Blend.

Coffee Notes

According to their website, for the past three years, Onyx Coffee Lab has been traveling every year to Ethiopia, specifically visiting the Hambela estate in the Guji zone. With every visit, they have seen significant growth and improvement. This year’s coffee, now being fully organic, cupped extremely high, and Onyx Coffee Lab contracted both the natural and washed options from the Buku lots. For this review, I will only be commenting on the natural processed option.

Onyx Coffee Lab suggests that this natural processed Ethiopian should be “brew with any device that uses a paper filter. Thicker the filter the better in our opinion.” They suggest this because of the intricate complexity of this coffee, which shines through extremely well in something like a Chemex. Onyx Coffee Lab also suggests, when using a pour-over, to “add more turbulence and pour hard, as [this coffee] has a slow drain time.” Brewing this from both a Chemex and a V60, I found this to be spot on. They also acknowledge that it works great as a Single Origin Espresso (SOE), of which, sadly, I was unable to try.

Brew Method: Chemex – 50g – Medium Grind (21 on a Baratza Encore) – 800ml Water – 203*F – 5:00min Brew Time

Analysis: Intense strawberry and kiwi, like artificial fruit flavors, reminding me of some sort of strawberry-kiwi candy. As in, if Wrigley/Mars decided to make a strawberry-kiwi flavored Starburst, it would taste just like this coffee. Or, aside from the sourness of a warhead, it reminds you of one of those strawberry-kiwi flavored ones.

Anyhow, these strawberry and kiwi notes were prominent in both the actual flavor and the aroma. And, honestly, we had a difficult time getting past these intense notes. While we didn’t get much coconut milk, as the bag suggested, we did get lime, maybe lychee, and definitely cocoa as secondary notes.

In the end, this was definitely a tasty, clean coffee. It got sweeter as it cooled, and maintained a medium body with a higher level of acidity. It had a pleasant aftertaste, and though it was much more complex than a lot of coffees I’ve had, it did not seem to be as complex as the Kenyan that was also sent to me.

Nevertheless, this was a fantastic coffee, and it can be purchased from Onyx Coffee Lab’s website for $19.00.

Again, thanks for the review beans, Onyx Coffee Lab! It was such a pleasure!