Around this time of year we hear stories of people giving back to the less fortunate in their communities. Whether it’s Ebenezer Scrooge from a Christmas Carol forgiving debts, or your local church donating money to a worthy cause, there’s something about the Holiday season that propels people to give.
Last week, just before Christmas, I got the opportunity to interview Nathan Westwick from Wild Goose Coffee Roasters. I wanted to do an episode highlighting Wild Goose because they place a huge emphasis on giving back to their community – but not just during the Holidays.
Through their commitment and actions, the folks at Wild Goose remind us that we each have the power to positively influence those around us in practical ways at all times of the year – and what better time to be reminded, than this Holiday season?
Happy New Year! May your 2018 be filled with love, generosity, and excellent coffee!
Nearly two years ago I wrote a review on Puroast Coffee, and I wasn’t incredibly impressed. Puroast claims that their beans offer 70% less acid than traditional coffee, and 7 times more antioxidants. Back in 2015 I decided to take their health claims at face value, focusing my review instead upon the taste of the coffee – and it left a lot to be desired. I wrote, “The coffee was, in a word, tasteless. It lived up to Puroast’s promise in that it definitely was not acidic, but on the other hand it was also not…anything.” I didn’t hate their coffee, but I also didn’t recommend it based on the product I received and the brewing methods I used.
Then, about 10 days ago I received an email from Puroast asking for a follow-up review. I agreed, finding the prospect of reviewing the same coffee company again both compelling and a little strange. While I’ve never done this before, I’m always keen to offer coffee a second chance.
I’ve done my best to let this review stand on its own – I’d rather not spend time looking back and comparing Puroast’s 2017 product to that from two years ago. With that said, I will admit that I was more impressed with the company’s overall presentation and professionalism this time around. They’ve improved everything from the look of their website to their recommendations for brewing techniques/recipes. Last time I received a pre-ground bag of coffee and no instructions on how to brew it. This time I was given whole-bean coffee and brewing recommendations based on how Puroast baristas make the coffee in their flagship Miami coffee shop.
Puroast sells coffee that contains higher antioxidants and less acidity than your typical brew. These benefits, however, aren’t the focus for their company. As one representative told me, “The roast comes first and the wellness is simply a byproduct of roasting innovation and putting quality above everything else. It can truly be said that no one else roasts their coffee the way Puroast does.”
This is something I can appreciate.
With that said, Puroast definitely makes sure consumers know their coffee’s health benefits. They’re listed front and center on the coffee bags, as well as on the home page of their website. In fact, they have a whole section of their website dedicated to their coffee’s health benefits. This page includes the research done by Dr. Shibamoto from UC Davis – his findings revealed the benefits that Puroast’s roasting process has on their beans.
I’m glad that Puroast’s roasting process makes their beans healthy and potentially more easily consumed by people who are sensitive to acidic beverages. What I’m even more interested in is whether or not their roasting process can produce a great tasting cup of coffee.
This time around Puroast sent me their Espresso Roast to try. Although the bag I received did not have a roasting date on it, it did have a “best by” date of July 31st, 2018. I’m assuming they sent me freshly roasted coffee for this review, but if I was a consumer at a supermarket or resell location, I wouldn’t be able to tell for sure.
Puroast recommended that I brew their beans using a Greca/moka pot. A representative told me that this is the go-to brewing method used in their Miami coffee shop. As a big fan of the moka, I happily obliged.
Their recipe called for a fine ground size, and that the coffee grinds be left uncompressed (not packed down) in the moka filter basket. I found that for my moka pot about 21g of finely ground coffee was the perfect amount.
The thing with espresso roasts is that I expect them to have a darker, richer flavor when compared to roasts intended for filter brew methods. I knew ahead of time that Puroast’s coffee wouldn’t be acidic – that’s kinda their shtick. So in that case, I was looking for tasting notes like chocolate, hazelnut, caramel, or something similar. Unfortunately, I didn’t get those.
The Espresso Roast I received from Puroast was earthy, dark, and slightly bitter. It was distinctly espresso, but the kind of espresso I would expect from a standard second-wave coffee shop, like Peet’s or Caribou Coffee perhaps. It did not resemble specialty coffee.
That’s not to say that it was bad or undrinkable by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I enjoyed several cups, both black and combined with steamed milk to make a faux-latte. I found the coffee to be highly caffeinated – it was enjoyable to sip while burning through my email inbox and getting work to-do’s accomplished. It just isn’t what I expect from specialty coffee.
I actually think that’s okay, mostly because I’m not convinced that Puroast Coffee fits the mold of a specialty coffee company. They don’t sell a variety of single-origin roasts on their website, focusing instead on blends. They have sections of their online store dedicated to both flavored coffee roasts and K-Cup single serving pods. In short, they are selling to a completely different demographic than specialty coffee drinkers.
When compared to commodity-grade diner coffee, or even the more common roasts from big companies like Starbucks, I think Puroast has a great product that I would recommend. On the other hand, they don’t hold a candle to specialty coffee companies like Intelligentsia or Blue Bottle.
This is the first time that I’ve reviewed the same coffee company twice, and I must say that I began with more than a little trepidation. I’m happy to report that my opinion on Puroast has improved since our paths last crossed.
I still would not recommend their coffee to those who are interested in buying specialty beans to brew at home, and I would add that Puroast has a ways to go if they hope to become a third wave coffee producer. However, I think that the average person will find Puroast’s coffee to be rich, caffeinated, and more tasty than the big chains they may be used to. I agree that the moka pot is the best way to enjoy Puroast at home.
Puroast continues to fill a niche for those who’s stomachs may be sensitive to acidity. However, I agree that the quality of their product makes them a great option for anybody who might otherwise buy their coffee from a large chain.
Sometimes a coffee shop is just a coffee shop; they do one thing: make coffee and sell it. This isn’t a bad venture by any means – some people see coffee as another market with a demand, and they see a coffee shop as a way to make money and provide the supply. This is business, and often it works great. But sometimes a coffee company is more than a coffee company. Sometimes these coffee shops and roasters choose to interact with their community and with the world in a meaningful way that has the potential to make a difference in the lives of people that sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee.
When I typically write about coffee, I like to stress the importance of local coffee shops that are making a tangible difference in their city and community. The best coffee shops I’ve visited host events, sponsor local artists and musicians, and act as a destination location for those seeking a great conversation and those looking to get some work done alike. Cafes have been a part of the social bedrock from ancient times until today, and there’s nothing I appreciate more than a small business that steps up and takes this mantle on with vigor.
Caffe Dalí takes this notion of a coffee company that is more than a coffee company to the next level. And while they haven’t poured their heart into a local community in the form of a brick-and-mortar coffee shop, they are doing much, much more with the resources they have amassed.
Caffe Dalí sent me a number of pamphlets with phrases like “Can a Cup of Coffee Change a Life?” and “So good…it’s surreal!” While skeptical of the actual claims and message, I was intrigued. I navigated over to their website and found a host of material and links that made everything make more sense. Let’s start with their first big promise.
Caffe Dalí will directly impact the lives of the most innocent and the most vulnerable: Kids around the world who are orphans, infected with AIDS, and those young girls who have been sold into horrific sex trafficking industry. A minimum of 20% of all Caffe Dali’s profit will go directly toward rescuing these kids.
Along with this amazing pledge, Caffe Dalí uses phrases like “innovative marketing strategy” and “innovative business plan” to describe how they are getting their message to the world at large. Unfortunately, with the exception of the above quoted promise, Caffe Dalí doesn’t offer specifics as to how they plan to bring their good cause to the public at large. It is possible, however, to glean some specifics from a separate page on their website titled Opportunity.
Caffe Dalí has a host of opportunities for people and businesses in nearly every sector of life. Their overarching categories include restaurants, educational organizations, non-profits, and religious organizations (including churches, synagogues, and mosques). Essentially, if any of the above organizational structures want an alternative way of making money, Caffe Dalí is eager to step in and fill that gap by providing coffee, and help you set up a business plan to boot.
Their website appears a mile wide and an inch deep in some respects, but I think it’s due to their understanding that every business and every person has a unique situation. Nearly every page has a form to fill out in order to get in touch with them, and this availability makes me hopeful that they are focusing on less talk and more do.
So, what about the actual coffee? Is it any good?
Caffe Dalí sent me their “Apocalypto Blend” which is a mix of beans originating from Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Brazil. It’s a dark roast.
I brewed the Apocalypto Blend in my Hario v60, using my standard coffee:water ratio of 28:415grams. While brewing I noted that it had a nice bloom – a sign of freshness. My brew time was about 3 minutes when all was said and done.
Now I must put a disclaimer here: I’m not really a fan of dark roasts. It’s not that I think there is anything intrinsically wrong with them, I just prefer the flavors that tend to shine in lighter roasts. Knowing my predisposed feelings towards dark roasts, I went into tasting this coffee with as much of a blank slate in my mind as I could muster. I’ve had some pretty nasty dark roasted coffee before – but I’ve also had some pretty great ones. Clearing my head as I poured my first cup, I was ready for whatever Caffe Dalí had for me.
And you know what? Their Apocalypto Blend was pretty great. It had a somewhat nutty initial taste, with a light bitterness all the way through the taste. But this bitterness wasn’t the sharp, dirty bitterness that I find all too often in Starbucks brews. No, this was a back-of-the-tongue bitterness that had just a hint of the earthy tones that make dark roasts unique. I found this bitterness was much less noticeable when I paired the coffee with spicy or oily foods (like, say, a pepper jack cheese omelette and avocado).
The coffee is much more pleasant than a Starbucks dark roast, or really any 2nd Wave coffee. That being said, I think this coffee suffered from what so many blends do – it tries to do too much with too many types of coffee from various regions. We could debate the merits of single-origin vs. blended coffees all day, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the far side of blends – like when you mix too many paint colors and end up with a gross brown or a completely undesired gray. This coffee isn’t gross, but neither is it very different from other upper-level dark roasts. This is only a small ding, however, because these upper-level dark roasts are some of the best of that genre.
In all, I applaud Caffe Dalí for sending me a dark roast that I didn’t hate – and more than that – one that I actually found myself enjoying.
The one thing missing from Caffe Dalí big promises and hopeful verbiage is a page of success stories. They don’t list businesses or churches that have used Caffe Dalí to increase their profits, nor do they have any pictures of real people who are selling their product. Caffe Dalí has only been around since 2013, so it’s likely that they are still waiting on those success stories to roll in.
Based on what I’ve tasted, what I’ve read, and the information I’ve been given, I hope Caffe Dalí is successful. Lord knows, our world could use more coffee shops that are more than coffee shops.