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This week brought an embarrassment of riches for my coffee pot. The mailman delivered a package from Rogers Family Coffee, who contacted us here at Talk About Coffee a few weeks back to ask if we’d be interested in reviewing some of their coffees. I never turn down a chance to try good coffee — and we’ve been fans of Rogers Coffees for some time now.
I listed them among my top 10 whole bean coffee choices not too long ago, and highlighted the company’s BIO compostable K-cup alternative recently. I also called out Fog Chaser Blend by San Francisco Bay Coffee Company, another Rogers Family Coffee member, as a particular favorite. (Ed. note: When my local supermarket stopped stocking it, my mother — notoriously leery of buying online — actually went online to buy some.) So, of course, I said we’d love to try some samples and write my honest opinion of any coffees they wanted to provide for tasting – and then I promptly forgot about it until this showed up at the back door earlier this week:
Inside the packing box, I found one 12-oz package each of four whole bean coffees from The Organic Coffee Co., a part of the Rogers coffee family: Breakfast Blend, Zen Blend, Java Love and Rainforest Blend. All four carry the USDA Organic label and, like all coffees from the Rogers Family, are sustainably grown and either fairly traded or grown on their own coffee farms. We’re always happy to drink coffees that are both economically and environmentally sustainable — and even more happy when the coffee tastes great.
First, let me introduce you to Rogers Family Coffee Company, one of the very few large-scale coffee roasters I like. Founded in 1979, Rogers Family Coffee is one of the few remaining family-owned macro coffee roasters. Over the years, the company has evolved a consciously just economic and environmental business model that pays fair prices to coffee growers and sources sustainably grown coffee. A lot of their coffees are grown on farms owned by the family in Central and South America, and all of their coffee is grown under a natural shade canopy. In addition,the Rogers Family funds initiatives to give back to the coffee growing communities where they do business. Check out their video to learn more about Rogers Family Coffee and why we like them so much.
So how do these four coffees rate? Here are my quick takes on each of the four coffee blends included in the box.
Cupping Notes: I ground each of the coffees fresh immediately before brewing and prepared them in a moka pot, my preferred coffee brewing method. Each coffee was sampled black first, and then with the addition of half-and-half, no sugar.
If you’re a an ultra-dark roast lover, Rainforest Blend is the coffee for you. The smooth blend of South American and Indonesian coffee is bold and nuanced at the same time, with subtle cocoa and walnut flavors hiding beneath a front of woodsy-lemony bite. While Rainforest is billed as a medium-dark roast, I’d say it trends closer to the smoky dark end of roasts, bringing out a faint, astringent edge that’s remniscent of wines aged in old oak casks. Unlike a lot of blends wih Indonesian beans, Rainforest Blend doesn’t sit heavy in your mouth. The flavor spreads smoothly, hitting each part of your tongue, then fades away, leaving behind a faint astringent reminder of your last sip. And if you need one more reason to love Rainforest Blend, it’s shade-grown under the forest canopy, making it environmentally positive. The Organic Coffee Co.’s Rainforest Blend is an ideal all-day coffee, and the perfect late-afternoon pick-me-up.
The label notes that Breakfast Blend is a combination of Central and South American beans. The aroma is rich and heady with a hint of a bright citrus edge. The beans appear to be a blend of medium and dark roast, with the darker beans dominating the mix. In the cup, Breakfast Blend is rich and bold, with muted brightness and an undertone of bittersweet chocolate. Adding cream blunts the brightness and brings out the chocolate even more. This one is a sipping coffee — it just gets better as it cools down and the chocolate notes become even more pronounced. Yup, I liked it.
The Rogers Family Coffee website describes Java Love as “an exotic and syrupy blend of Indonesian and Latin American coffees,” which sounds like it’s right up my alley. For starters, Java Love smells so good that I literally buried my nose in the bag and inhaled, then passed the bag around to my two sons — who have grown up in a roasting household — and had them take a good sniff. The aroma promised a bouquet of flavors: strawberry, almond, chocolate and an indefinable sweetness that stumped us all. In the cup, Java Love did not disappoint. First, the color. I enjoy my coffee in a heavy clear glass mug because I love to see the rich color and watch as my cream slowly settles into the brew. Java Love even looks syrupy, coating the inside of the mug with a dark gold glaze when it’s swirled or tilted. The brewed aroma is fruit-forward, hitting the nose with an incredibly jammy strawberry blast that almost overwhelms the coffee-ness of it. The first sip black fulfills the promise of strawberry flavor, layering it with cocoa and almond nuttiness. Cream reduces the fruity acidity, letting the cocoa notes shine. The body is pleasantly full, leaving behind mocha sweetness after you swallow. I really didn’t expect to like this as much as I do, but I could seriously drink this smooth, rich coffee every day.
The Organic Coffee Co. describes Zen Blend as “a perfect balance of Central American arabicas. Light and smooth for a meditative start to your day.” This offering from the Rogers family was voted Best Ground Coffee by Real Simple magazine, so I fully expected to like it. What I didn’t expect was how much I would like it. I tend to favor full-bodied Indonesian or bold, fruity African coffees and find most Central American coffees to be a little too timid and insipid — and usually a bit too acidic. Not a problem with the Zen Blend. This is not a case where “balanced” is a code word for “bland.” The flavors in the cup are nuanced, but definitely not timid. The first sip blossoms with the tangy sweetness of dried apricot. As the coffee cools, the flavor unfolds to offer up smooth chocolate flavor and an undertone of roasted pecan. Zen Blend is the perfect coffee for you if you’re typically bothered by the acids in coffee. It’s remarkably smooth and rich with almost no bitterness at all.
Disclosure: We received the coffees mentioned and the prize package offered for free in return for our honest review of them. No other compensation was offered, and we only recommend products we like and would buy again.
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