Reviews of coffee shops and roasters in Jamaica.

Hayman Coffee Review

Hayman Coffee is a London roaster that currently offers four coffees for purchase on their website: Jamaica Blue Mountain, Hawaii Kona, Panama Geisha, and their Award-Winning Brazilian coffee. When they asked me to review their coffee, I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant. A cursory glance at their website showed me that they offer Nescafe coffee pods as a purchasing option. I’ve wrote extensively about how I think coffee pods should die, and (in my experience) when a company offers them as a way to experience their product, what they’re really saying is “our coffee isn’t that good.”

Not only did Hayman prove me dead wrong, but they impressed me with an elegance not often found in American specialty coffee.

The Snapshot

Hayman Coffee is based in London, England and has been around since 2014. On their website they don’t say a ton about themselves, electing to instead educate customers on what Third Wave Coffee and specialty coffee is, and why that matters. I actually appreciate this; some companies get so caught up in “their story” that they tend to forget how they fit into the larger coffee community. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for Hayman.

Hayman Coffee’s selections are few in number, but great in price. As noted above, they offer just four coffees for purchase. As of the writing of this review, three of these four are available as whole bean, ground, and coffee pods. Notably, their Award-Winning Brazilian is only available in pods. You can purchase their Jamaica, Kona, and Panama Geisha in two sizes: 85g/3oz or 190g/6.7oz. Prices vary by coffee, but generally speaking its $35-$40 for the 85g size, and $50-$60 for the 190g size.

Keep in mind that a standard bag of coffee contains about 12oz, or roughly 340g of beans. A 12oz bag of Stumptown’s Hair Bender costs $15, while a higher-end specialty coffee like Onyx’s El Salvador Finca Santa Rosa Honey is $22.50 for a 12oz bag. You could buy two bags of Onyx beans and pay less money than for one 6.7oz portion of Hayman’s Jamaica Blue Mountain beans. That’s a huge gap, and it means most people wouldn’t be able to afford buying Hayman’s products regularly.

Hayman does score points in the presentation department. The coffees they sent me were packed in nice little boxes complete with cards outlining specifics about each coffee (growing altitude, tasting notes, etc). The coffees themselves were in inflated plastic tubes, likely filled with nitrogen (as this helps coffee stay fresh longer). I really enjoyed the elegant presentation, and it helped establish the kind of company Hayman is in my mind.

Hayman set a high bar for themselves to live up to; a premium look and price better come with a premium product. So how does their coffee taste?

The Coffee

I was sent Hayman’s Hawaii Kona and Jamaica Blue Mountain for this review, and in my tests both coffees completely lived up to the specialty standard. With that being said, they were not the kind of coffees that I would pay $60 for. I enjoyed both coffees, but I likely won’t be purchasing more for my weekly habit.

I brewed both coffees using a variety of methods, but focused mostly on the Hario v60, Chemex, and Clever. Here’s the breakdown:

Hawaii Kona

Elevation: 550-700m

Processing: Wet

Acidity: Low/Med

Aroma Notes: Sweet, smooth, balanced.

Tasting Notes: Cereal; Malt, Cocoa; Chocolate, Nutty; Almond.

Review: Because of previous experiences with Hawaiian coffees not living up to the hype, I expected to hate this coffee. I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. It had the earthy, buttery, and chocolatey notes that I would expect from an island coffee, but it also had some muddy malt notes that weren’t as pleasant. It’s a washed coffee, so any more exotic flavors were probably muted in processing – still, it’s a balanced cup with low/medium acidity that’s pleasant to sip on.

Purchase Link for Hawaii Kona

Jamaica Blue Mountain

Elevation: 900-1700m

Processing: Wet

Acidity: Med/High

Aroma Notes: Sweet, nutty

Tasting Notes: Nutty; Hazelnut/Walnut, Brown Spice; Clove

Review: This was a delicious coffee. It had pleasant acidity, and while there were no fruit/berry notes, the acidity worked well with more nutty/brown spice flavors. Brewing in the Hario v60 brought out some really interesting light floral notes which were especially noticeable closer to the roasting date. I preferred a 1:16.5 brew ratio to get great clarity out of this coffee.

Purchase Link for Jamaica Blue Mountain

Both of these coffees are from well known islands that have adapted over time to meet tourist demands for coffee. Today, you can find both Kona beans and Jamaican beans that run the gambit from terrible to absolutely incredible. I’m happy to say that the beans Hayman sent me are closer to the “incredible” side of that spectrum.

Of the two coffees I tried I much preferred the Jamaica Blue Mountain. As a fan of higher acidity, this coffee spoke my love language. It had some subtle floral notes every once in a while, but was dominated primarily by a beautiful mix of nut and sweet spice flavors. This coffee was delicious in both the Clever and Hario v60, but I only ever experienced floral notes when brewing with the v60.

The Hawaii Kona coffee was good, but it wasn’t great. It did completely exceed my expectations, however, and for that I was happy. With deeper, chocolate flavors to compliment smooth, balanced aromatics, I was never disappointed when brewing this coffee. I preferred this in a Clever – letting the beans steep a little gave some complexity to otherwise flatter flavors.

Time-lapse of brewing with my Hario v60.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that Hayman sells quality specialty coffee. The beans spoke for themselves – I enjoyed every cup I brewed. They’ve also nailed presentation: their packaging was pristine and their brand just gives off a premium vibe. Where they fail, however, is with the price.

I don’t have any insights as to what kind of profit Hayman makes on their coffee – I know that great beans from Hawaii and Jamaica can’t be cheap to import, and I imagine that’s one factor for raising the price. Still, charging $60 for 190g of coffee is just too much for too little. If I’m the type of person who would pay a premium for great beans (and I am), I’d much rather purchase a couple bags of 12oz beans for $40-$50.

I recommend trying Hayman Coffee if – and only if – you have some extra money to burn. They roast and sell high quality coffee that I really enjoyed drinking. I think you’ll like it too, even if your wallet doesn’t.


Take a trip to Jamaica with Reggie’s Roast

When I reached out to Reggie’s Roast to do a review of their coffee, I honestly wasn’t expecting to get a response back. When I did, I got really excited – this is the first coffee I’ve ever received straight from a grower! As far as I’m concerned, the less time it takes for coffee to get from the ground to my cup, the better.

Right: Coffee fields at Reggie’s Roast. Bottom Left: Reggie himself

There’s nothing like fresh coffee, and I was very excited to be getting just that from Reggie’s Roast.

Reggie’s Roast is both Farmer and Roaster – we own and operate two farms in the Blue Mountain Coffee growing region of Jamaica where the coffee is processed under strict guidelines in compliance with the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board’s standards, then exported to our roasting facility in Linden, New Jersey where it is meticulously prepared and shipped as fresh as possible for your palate’s pleasure…we ONLY roast when you order!

When I received the coffee, I was blown away. Not only did RR send me three bags of coffee, the packaged was personalized as well! A note from Reggie himself, a pamphlet about the company, and a pen were all included in the package. On top of that, Reggie wrote in his note “All are ground to French Press (I read about the single cup press you use).” That is, he took the time to read up about me and my blog! Before the coffee bags were even opened I was sold on the service alone.

I was sent three different blends of Reggie’s Roast: GOLD 100% Jamaica, the Blue Mountain Irie Blend, and the Rasta Blend. Each was delicious, and I found I enjoyed each in a different way.

The GOLD 100% Jamaica coffee is Reggie’s Roast signature product. On their website they hail it as “one of the rarest arabicas in the world. Excellent body with an intense aroma.” They are spot on regarding the aroma. It is one of the most delicious smelling coffees that my nose has ever witnessed! Cracking the bag open immediately filled the entire room with the golden smell. I tried the coffee both in my aeropress and in my french press. I definitely prefer it in my french press – the taste is indeed mild and slightly sweet and I found it fit better in a cup of pressed coffee. The word that hits me must about this coffee is “solid.” The taste is unrelenting and bold, yet the coffee itself is definitely mild. It’s the perfect morning coffee, providing a strong foundation to start off your day.

Reggie’s Blue Mountain Irie Blend stuck out to me the least of the three coffees – but that’s not to say it was bad by any means. In fact, I rather enjoyed it in both espresso form (through my aeropress) and as french press coffee. It smells slightly less solid than the 100% GOLD, yet definitely smells smoother out of the two. The same can be said of taste: while the 100% GOLD could be analogous to a foundation, the Blue Mountain Irie Blend is the tile or hardwood laid on that foundation. This coffee would be the perfect lunch brew – not too heavy, but still delicious.

The final coffee that Reggie sent me is the Rasta Blend. Complete with red, yellow, and green label, this coffee stuck out to me the most out of the three. The Reggie’s Roast website says the Rasta Blend is “our tribute to Jamaica’s own Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley…” I’ve always found Bob Marley’s music to be incredibly versatile: it can cheer me up when I’m having a bad day and it can also be the perfect complement to a beautiful, sunny, spring afternoon. Versatile is definitely the word I would use to describe this coffee. It smells the sweetest out of the three, and it was delicious as black coffee, french press with cream, cubano shots, a mocha, and a straight Americano. It has a beautiful taste full of flavor and electricity. My favorite drink using the Rasta Blend was definitely the mocha. The chocolate went perfect with the already original flavor and provided the perfect balance. I’ll definitely be purchasing another bag of this in the near future!

I am extremely impressed with Reggie’s Roast. As a reviewer, they treated me with respect and definitely honored me with their personal interaction. I highly recommend their coffee (especially the Rasta Blend!).

Their mission statement?

Socially Responsible Company committed to the Fair and Dignified Treatment of our Partners; whilst ensuring that those we serve receive a Truly Valued Product!!

You can find Reggie’s Roast on their website, twitter, and facebook.
Website: http://www.reggiesroast.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReggiesRoastCoffee
Twitter: http://twitter.com/reggiesroast

The Coffee Guy