My favorite part about reviewing coffee is coming into contact with family roasting companies that have been around for generations. When I’m able to review or buy coffee from a shop that has been around for decades, passing recipes and roasting techniques down as they go, I know I’m in for a treat. Mills Coffee is one such company, having been founded by Thomas Mills in 1860. The roasting company is currently being run by fourth and fifth generation Mills who recently launched TheQueenBean.com, their online retailer that sells their signature roasts and blends.
After Thomas Mills emigrated to the United States in 1860 from Scotland he opened Mills Teas and Butter. Eventually he decided to expand to include his new favorite beverage: coffee. In the late 1800s Thomas began roasting his own beans, beginning a tradition that would continue for over a century. Today, Mills Coffee is run by Susan and her brother David. David took on the role of master roaster while Susan handles financial and creative dimensions of the company. Susan’s son Dave now works in the family business, being an all around go-to man and stepping in to roast when David is away. Her daughter Nicole handles online retail through their new website. Mills Coffee is a family company through-and-throug and they carefully select their coffees from high quality, sustainable, eco-friendly, socially-conscious environments. One of the places they get their beans is La Cotorra farm, located in a remote portion of the Dominican Republic. They helped La Cotorra get out of a tight financial spot, simultaneously contributing to the local DR community.
Their online store is easy to navigate, with coffees in the $20/lb range (upwards with shipping). The “coffee 101” and “about” sections of their website are fine, though they don’t give nearly as much information as the handout they included with my coffee. Their story is fascinating to read, and I think it would benefit them greatly to include it on their website. Additionally, the art on their shopping portion of the website is a bit much and doesn’t tell me a lot about the coffee, besides the name. The rest of the website has a lighthearted yet still professional feel, while the art seemed to stick out as being not entirely cohesive with the rest of the site. Perhaps determining a consistent theme and then departing from that according to the specifics of each coffee would help. Ordering coffee is a breeze, though the descriptions of their roasts and blends are hit and miss. Some are great – offering flavor profiles and specifics about where the coffee was grown. Others are more general and could use some more details about what makes that coffee unique. I’m probably a bit oversensitive here: I really like to know what coffee I’m getting and where it came from. It could be that this simply isn’t as big of a deal to the average consumer. Overall, I’m excited that they decided to open up an online store this year, and I think Mills Coffee is taking steps in the right direction.
Mills Coffee sent me two coffees: their Dominican and El Salvador roasts. I ended up enjoying the Dominican more, but both brought interesting flavor profiles to the table.
The Dominican is a lighter roast with strong, earthy notes and mild acidity. Brewing it in my v60 created an expected clean cup of coffee, and I found the aftertaste to be almost sweet. The flavor is strong and present throughout each sip, never wavering. It reminded me of a macadamia nut – smooth, yet bold all at once. It kept me coming back for more, and the steadiness of each cup increased my trust in this coffee.
The El Salvador, conversely, is more citrusy/chocolatey in flavor. It reminded me almost of a chocolate covered peanut, which is welcome to be sure. My only qualm with this coffee was that each sip finished extremely dry. While it wasn’t inherently bad, I found myself desiring no more than one cup in a sitting, followed by a glass of water.
I absolutely recommend buying Mills Coffee. Their family origins and their passion to make a great product is evident. Their coffee is delicious, and their website is a very capable medium to purchase from. My experience with them has only been positive, and it is evident that they really do care about the quality of their roasts.
The Coffee Guy
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