Dillanos Coffee Review : Coffee Giveaway

Dillanos Coffee Review

Dillanos Coffee

Dillanos Coffee Roasters began in 1992, and is based in Sumner, Washington. What began as a single coffee cart, has blossomed into a national, specialty coffee brand. From time to time over the past year, I’ve found a little surprise in my mailbox, a bag or two of Dillanos coffee. I have enjoyed each of their coffees, so it was only natural that I would reach out to them when looking for a roaster to help me celebrate reaching 20,000 Facebook fans. Not only did they heartily agree to provide 20 prizes to my readers, they have also provided a limited time discount to all of your, and they also sent me another bag of coffee to try.

Ending on October 1st, CoffeeNate visitors who use coupon code COFFEENATE at Dillanos.com, will enjoy an extra 20% discount!

Dillanos Coffee Review

Dillanos Coffee Review

dillanos coupon codeDillanos sent me a bag of their Kikai Peaberry coffee, which is part of their DCR line. A peaberry, refers to the shape of the coffee “bean”. Most coffee cherries produce two halves of a coffee bean, but a peaberry is a single piece. See the image, and you will notice the football shaped beans. The DCR line from Dillanos is comprised of limited, seasonal offerings, which have all been wonderful. While the coffee was complimentary, they never stipulated that it would be in exchange for a review, let alone a positive one.

The Kikai Peaberry is a light-medium roasted coffee from central Kenya. The coffee is processed via the washed method. I brewed this coffee via french press, as well as syphon. There wasn’t a greatly discernible difference between the two brewing methods. I always taste the coffee before reading the tasting notes provided by the roasting company. Sometimes my findings are similar, and other times not so much. This is a situation where my own tastes differed, which isn’t bad, but does demonstrate that much of the tasting of coffee is subjective. The tasting notes indicate “Grapefruit, Mandarin Orange, Golden Raisin, Juicy Body”. My personal experience was lemon zest and apricot, with a buttery mouth feel. The finish lingered on the tongue, and was just slightly tart.

In any event, this was an excellent coffee, which I would gladly drink each day. Some coffees are nice for a change of pace, but I would tire of them over an extended period of time. This coffee would retain its place in my daily regimen for quite some time.

I should also mention that I really love the fact that the roasted on date is stamped on the bag, as well as the name of the person who roasted the coffee. Not only does this indicate just how fresh your beans are, but also gives a nice touch to the product.

Dillanos Coffee Review

Giveaway Time!

If you’re reading this after October 1, 2014, you may disregard the rest of this post.

20 winners will enjoy a bag of Dillanos coffee, absolutely free of charge. No shipping, no gimmicks! You can join the giveaway here, or on my Facebook page. It only takes seconds to enter.


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Shearwater Coffee Review : #coffee @ShearwaterCR

Shearwater Coffee Review

Shearwater Coffee Review : Ehiopia & Colombia

I recently received two packages of coffee from Shearwater Coffee Roasters. They sent their Quinchia, a medium roast Colombian, and Homacho Waeno, a light roasted Ethiopian Sidama. Shearwater Coffee Roasters currently offers 11 different USDA organic certified, specialty coffees. They carry single origin, such as these, as well as blends and decaf. They are located in Trumbull, CT. While all of their coffee is certified organic, most of their offerings are also fair trade certified. They roast with a Diedrich IR-12, which uses less energy than other conventional roasters.

While both of these coffees were great, I preferred the Colombian. The roast profile gave the coffee more depth, than compared to the Ethiopian. Mind you, I love a bright, light-roasted coffee, I just happened to prefer the Colombian between these two particular samples. The Ethiopian beans were smaller than average size (pictured below), and some of the beans were still encased with chaff. My grinder, not sure if by design or chance, holds the chaff inside. Once the coffee is ground, I removed the receptacle carefully, leaving the chaff inside of the grinder. When I gave it a couple of thumps, the chaff was released.

Shearwater coffee review 2

Overall, both coffees were pleasing to taste, and I would be content with these for my daily drinking brew. The aroma of the coffees was fabulous, with the Ethiopian possessing a notable, soft fruitiness, as opposed to the heavy floral characteristics of the Colombian. Both of these aromas translated in the cup as well. The only negative to the Ethiopian, was a detectable grassy taste, which could very well dissipate with more rest. It was soft and bright at the same time, with citrus and a hint of brown sugar. The Colombian was mellow, yet complex for a single origin. The flavor notes of black cherry and red wine were pervasive, but not overpowering.

At about 15-16 dollars per 12 oz. package, these coffees are reasonably priced for ethically traded, organic certified, specialty coffees.

To check out the offerings at Shearwater coffee, visit their website: http://www.shearwatercoffeeroasters.com

Shearwater Coffee Review

The coffee for this review was provided at no cost, but with no requirement for a review, positive or negative. This review was not sponsored by Shearwater Coffee Roasters, and no compensation was received for its publication.

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Like Coffee? : The First Steps Towards Loving Coffee

Like Coffee?

So, you like coffee?

We learned the difference between “like” and “love” in junior high (at least we thought we did). You walked your sweaty-palmed self to the object of your affection, and s/he proceeded to stomp your guts out. Hopefully, your story ended better than mine. The point being, there are millions of people who “LIKE” coffee, but they don’t love it. They may think it’s love, but really they’re just fooling themselves and it’s puppy love. So how does one develop a deeper understanding of the coffee world? Just like everything else, you can learn through trial and error, or my personal favorite, learn from the mistakes that others have made!

Taking the First Step

If you’re already a specialty coffee connoisseur, then this message isn’t for you, but it may come in handy when you want to point someone to an introduction to better coffee. If, however, you’re currently drinking grocery store coffee, or subjecting yourself to $5 coffee drinks, this message is made especially for you. If you’re the latter, you probably do not realize that you are spending almost $2000/year. If you’re the former, do you realize that you are drinking a rancid beverage? The first step is admitting your need of help. Even if you think you are perfectly happy with your current situation, there is always room to improve upon it.

It’s All in the Grind

Most people don’t know that the coffee grinder is actually the most important element to brewing a perfect cup of coffee. Sure, you must start with great beans, and you need to have a decent brewer, but those things will be all for nothing, if you don’t have a suitable grinder. The popular home coffee grinder is a cylindrical looking appliance, with blender looking blades at the bottom. If you are currently using one of these, then you are needlessly drinking a poorly brewed beverage. All home brewing folks need a reliable, burr grinder. Why? There is only a percentage of the coffee bean that is soluble, and an even smaller percentage that you want in your cup. For this reason, each brewing method requires a specific, uniform coarseness of the coffee grounds. The blades on the cheapo models cannot possibly be made to create a uniform grind. A poorly ground batch of coffee will see many fines (coffee dust), as well as chunks, leading to too much of the fine particles being dissolved, as well as not enough of the chunkier pieces. Conversely, a properly ground batch of coffee for your brewing method, will result in the optimal amount of the coffee being dissolved into the beverage (extraction).

If you are going to brew regular coffee (non-espresso), then the most economical grinder that I can confidently recommend is the Baratza Encore ($129). To most of you, this may seem like a huge price to pay, but there are grinders that cost thousands! You will also realize an overall savings by having a well constructed grinder that lasts for years, allowing you to brew better coffee at home than in most coffee shops. Additionally, you will also be able to save on the brewer, as most people think that the bulk of their budget should be spent on the brewer. This is simply not the case. If you have $150 for your overall coffee equipment budget, I will tell you to get the grinder and recommend a $20 brewer. If you are strapped for cash, but you don’t mind a bit of an arm workout, I can recommend a $40 manual grinder, The Porlex. This grinder is a great choice for non-espresso folks, and its sturdy construction makes it a great travel grinder too.

Choosing the Right Coffee Maker

There are probably hundreds of different ways to make coffee, but most people opt for the automatic drip coffee maker. While not producing the optimal beverage, it is easy to use. The drawbacks to the auto-drip are internal cleaning/descaling, which is vital to maintain the internal parts as well as providing the best possible taste. Also, many of these brewers do not sufficiently heat the water to attain proper extraction. Personally, I stay away from any brewing system that is enclosed. If I can’t see that the parts are clean, then there is always a nagging voice in my head that is telling me that it’s dirty. Another advantage of manual brewing options, is the level of control over the entire process. I know how hot the water is, I know the equipment is properly cleaned, and I know how long the water is in contact with the ground coffee.

Here are a few options of coffee brewers that are perfect for the beginner, not requiring a great amount of learning, while only requiring a small amount of time and effort.

  • The French Press – This brewer has been around for a long, long time, and with good reason. Even the most snobbiest of coffee snobs will brew via French Press. The ease of use, repeatability, and the tasty beverages it produces make it an excellent choice. (CoffeeNate’s French Press Tutorial) The press that I use is stainless steel, but aside from the durability, I really love the single piece filter of this press. Most French Presses use a filter screen, which is held in place between two plates at the bottom of the plunger. The con to this is the tendency for the coffee grounds to get stuck between these plates, often requiring disassembling to properly clean. My press, the Bodum Columbia, costs about $79. That is nearly double the price of a quality glass press pot, but it was well worth the investment to me. The single piece filter makes cleanup a breeze, plus my kids were constantly breaking the glass ones. I spent $79 on the Bodum Columbia, and $200 on the cheaper glass ones. 😛
  • Moka Pot – Also known as a ‘stove top espresso maker’, this brewer makes a powerful cup of coffee. If you don’t enjoy the concentrated beverage, simply add hot water to taste. You can also add hot milk. The nice thing about the Moka Pot, is that you don’t need to bother with measuring the amount of coffee you use (although it will help with consistency and reduce waste). You simply fill the chamber that holds the coffee, put it on the stove, and when it’s full, you’re ready to enjoy. (CoffeeNate’s Moka Pot tutorial)
  • Chemex – This method is rather easy to use, but will require a couple of tries before you achieve your desired results. Once you get it down, it will be second nature, and you won’t even think about it. This brewer looks like a glass pitcher with a glass funnel attached to the top. A filter sits inside of the funnel, and you simply pour the hot water onto the coffee. This method typically uses a paper filter, so the resulting brew will be quite a bit smoother than the previous methods mentioned. A brewer that uses a metal filter will allow much more flavor to enter the cup, while the paper will trap it. Which is better? It’s subjective, but I tend to prefer the metal filters. I sue a KONE filter for my Chemex, and I works fabulously. (CoffeeNate’s Chemex tutorial)
  • V60 – This method is another pourover style brewer, and is perfect for brewing single cups of coffee. At about $17, the price is also right. The style is similar to the Chemex, except you only get the funnel portion. You can use the paper cone filters, or use a metal KONE.

Off-Topic Plug: CoffeeNate readers can enjoy a 1 year subscription to Hallmark eCards for just $10 (20% savings)! Just use coupon code ECARDS2OFF at checkout. I’m always sending eCards, because they are much cheaper than traditional cards, but much more personal than saying “Happy Birthday” on my friends’ Facebook profiles (along with 500 other people). This 20% offer expires on March 31st, but even at $12, I’ve found this to be a good value.

You NEED Good Coffee

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#Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain #Coffee Review


Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain Review

Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain Review

I recently received a surprise package from Starbucks. I opened the box to find an mysterious black box inside. I was intrigued to say the least. When I opened this second box, I discovered a gleaming bag of Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. I didn’t even know that Starbucks had JBM coffee, and I was excited to give it a try. No matter what my previous experiences have been with Starbucks’ coffee, I can easily detach myself and be objective. Every coffee is different, and it is possible for a company to have an exceptional coffee, while also having less than stellar coffee. The Starbucks JBM retails for $30 for an 8 ounce bag, which is slightly north of the average price of JBM, but still reasonable if it is high quality.
Here is what Starbucks has to say about this coffee… [Read more…]

Say No To Bad #Coffee

just say no to bad coffee

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I get coffee sent to me all of the time.  I’ve been really fortunate that the great majority of these coffees have been exceptional. I’m really impressed at the number of coffee roasters that do an amazing job. Companies obviously hope that I like their stuff, and feel obliged to blog about it.  I don’t think they entertain the thought of what will happen if I do not like it.  In the past, I’ve just ignored coffees that were bad and have not shared them with you.  I didn’t want to hurt feelings, or seem disrespectful.  On the other hand, I think it is more important to let the chips fall where they may, and be honest with my visitors.  So here goes nothin’…

Here are a couple of shipments of coffee that I did not really enjoy.  This doesn’t mean that these companies don’t have some quality coffees, but the ones they chose to send to me were less than stellar.

  1. Newhall Coffee
    First up, is Newhall Coffee.  A long time ago, they shipped me a monstrous number of coffees from their California Blends.  Whoever is in charge of shipping coffee to bloggers and reviewers really needs to learn a couple of things.  First, never ship preground coffee to anyone who really cares about coffee.  I tried a cup of each of the blends, and was less than impressed by the bland, thin, and even at times revolting flavors.  Their website says they hand pick the top %1 of beans, but that was definitely not reflective in these blends.
  2. CoffeeAM
    I received some coffees from CoffeeAM recently.  These coffees were not in the poor state that the Newhall coffees were, but they were decidedly underwhelming.  I tasted the Costa Rican Reserve, Kenyan, and Sumatra Black Satin.  None of the coffees were terrible, but they didn’t excite me either.  The worst of the three was the Sumatran.  I like a Sumatran to be roasted full city, but this was charred.  It also left me with an upset stomach with each cup.  The Costa Rican was palatable, but nothing spectacular.  I’ve had Costa Rican coffees that were exceptional, but this wasn’t one of them.  I am tempted to order some Ethiopian Sidama from them, before I make my final determination about this company.  Perhaps I just got a series of coffees that I personally don’t like.

A couple of suggestions of where to buy coffee online are:

GoCoffeeGo.com –  These guys have a collection of coffees from the best roasters in North America, all in one spot!  They have frequent deals, and they make it easy to try new stuff with one easy checkout process.

Camano Island Coffee – This company has a few amazing coffees.  They could have more, but I’ve only had a few of them and I loved all of them.  Most notably was the Papua New Guinea.  A company built on sustainable practices.  Check out my full review of Camano Island Coffee Roasters.

What do you think?!

What do you think about bad coffee?  Is bad coffee better than no coffee?  Do you drink coffee for its medicinal properties, or for the total experience?  I drink it for the total experience, and will opt for water when faced with the choice between bad coffee, or no coffee.  How about you?

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