Tag Archives: coffee review

Allann Bros Coffee: Evolution in Motion


Allann Bros Coffee was founded in 1972 in Ashland, Oregon – just north of the California/Oregon border. Like most of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon has a broad coffee culture with a brew-thirsty population. To fill this demand, it’s not uncommon to see coffeehouses come and go with some frequency. When a coffee shop, cafe, or roaster sticks around for any length of time, it generally means they have rapport with people in the area, and a great product. It’s important to keep this in mind when I say that Allann Bros has been in business for over 40 years – that’s no small task. My first question was how they managed to accomplish this. The answer? Evolution.

Allann Bros coffee bags

The Snapshot

Allann Bros. has undergone some serious changes and image overhauls since their founding. As best I can tell, the overarching spirit of the company has stayed the same while employees, coffees, and even growers/farms have changed. That’s fine – and I imagine just about any coffee company with Allann Bros. longevity has experienced similar changes. Coffee, after all, is a very different today than it was 40 years ago – at least in the minds of consumers.

If Allann Bros’ recent blog posts are any indication, the most recent changes to the company have likely been the most massive. The most recent post – from July 27th – has this to say:

For over a decade, Allan Bros has worked diligently to keep the price of our specialty coffee in check. As a commodity, coffee often undergoes significant price changes… often on a daily basis! Since 2008, we have absorbed much of the cost in serving fantastic coffee. As we approach the end of 2015, we have had to make changes to some of our cost structures, including adjusting pricing to be in line with acquiring and roasting some of the world’s finest green beans. While we regret that this can result in a negative reaction, please be assured that we work tirelessly to keep prices down, without sacrificing quality.

Read: “Prices are probably going to go up, but that’s because we’re changing who and where we’re buying beans from. In the end, it will mean better coffee.”

Personally, this is great news to me. Allann Bros clearly has a customer base that is accustomed to paying a certain amount of money for a drink, or a bag of coffee. These new changes may mean losing those customers that simply want cheap coffee. The fact that Allann Bros cares more about putting out a great product than keeping it at a specific price point speaks volumes to me. So, how does that product taste?

The Coffee

Allann Bros Coffee sent me two blends: “Phoenix and the Turtle,” a medium roast, and “Maestro’s Blend,” a dark roast. My thoughts on each are below.

Phoenix and the TurtlePhoenix and the Turtle
I’ll be upfront and honest: I did not enjoy this coffee very much. I
brewed several cups in my Chemex, and found the end taste to be very bitter, albeit with a slightly pleasant aftertaste. While Allann Bros claims this blend to be a medium roast, I found it to be far closer to a dark roast, and the taste profile backs this up. I found cocoa notes to be fairly clear, but besides that I largely found the taste to be smoky and earthy.

Phoenix and the Turtle had a mild mouthfeel, and reminded me more of smoking a smooth cigar than drinking a cup of coffee. The smoky, bitter taste combined with a smooth finish may have gone better late at night than first-thing in the morning.

Maestro’s Blendmaestros
After finding that I didn’t enjoy The Phoenix and the Turtle as much as I thought I would, I was sure I would hate the Maestro’s Blend. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m not a huge fan of dark roasts. This coffee, however, won me over in the end.

I brewed this blend in a variety of methods including my stovetop Moka pot, my Aeropress and a large French-Press. I found the end-results to be largely the same, but the methods that didn’t use the paper filter yielded a less bitter product.

The coffee was tangy, which is fairly uncharacteristic for a dark roast. While it was bitter on the back of my tongue, I found it to be a fairly mild taste at first sip. This shifting taste of mild to bitter, combined with the tangy spiciness made me want to take another sip…and another…then pour another cup. I found myself checking the bag to make sure this was indeed a dark roast, and not some imposter.

Final Thoughts

Allann Bros Coffee surprised me. I expected to find a Peet’s Coffee knockoff with a rich history and a shallow product. Instead, I found something in mid-evolution. I found a coffee company that isn’t afraid to grow and change. And, even better, I found that they can put out a truly intriguing product that I enjoyed. While Phoenix and the Turtle may not have been my favorite blend, Maestro’s Blend was absolutley something I would consider Specialty Coffee. It was roasted by folks who love the craft and have been doing it for decades, and the final result was a cup that I kept coming back for; it made me want to try their Single Origin roasts to see what else they can do.

If you’re interested in trying coffee that tends to be roasted on the darker side (at least in my experience), I would certainly recommend giving Allann Bros a shot. Based on their blog post from earlier this year, I’m excited to see where the company is going. If the small glimpse of their products is any indication, they’re headed in the right direction.

The Coffee Guy

Can Coffee Be A Sport’s Drink? My Review of Loco Coco

A refreshing blend of cold brew coffee and coconut water in a convenient grab and go bottle

Loco Coco is a unique product that mixes coconut water and cold brew coffee to produce a beverage unlike any you’ll find currently on the market. They’re currently on Kickstarter, and just passed their financial goal. You can find more information about them on their website.

While they certainly don’t advertise it only as a sport’s drink, the concept of using coffee to fuel up before, or after a workout intrigued me greatly. The folks over at Loco Coco provided me with samples of their two flagship products: Original, and Black. Before I get into those, let’s take a look at the two main ingredients.

The Snapshot

Coconut water has been touted as a miracle beverage, a great source of hydration, and a tasty post-workout drink by consumers and companies alike. Nearly 4 years ago NPR ran a fairly critical story about it, but that hasn’t stopped it from flying off store shelves.

While coffee is rarely advertised as a sport’s beverage, it shares key characteristics with energy drinks and pre-workout supplements – namely, caffeine. Caffeine is thought to be a dehydrator, yet the Army found that one 6oz cup per day has little impact on how our bodies hold onto water.

So, in theory, these two ingredients could be a killer combo. Most studies and research papers I found (like this one from Vanderbilt) showed that caffeine is one of the best ways to get a boost on physical performance; essentially you’re able to do more while feeling like you’re doing less. This, combined with the potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins found naturally in coconut water is a force to be trifled with. Regardless of your stance on coconut water’s miraculous qualities, the fact remains that it’s quite good for you.


My assessment is that Loco Coco is making a product that has all the markings of something that is as unique as it is healthy. But this is a coffee blog, and I’m all about taste. The next question on my mind: is it any good?

The Coffee

Loco Coco uses cold brew coffee presumably brewed in a Toddy based on their Kickstarter pictures. The only information given on their page refers to the coffee as “organic fair trade” which doesn’t give me much to go off of. This is understandable given that they may have to choose a variety of coffee roasters in order to scale their production to meet demand.

I was sent two versions of their product to review: Loco Coco Original and Loco Coco Black. I’ll be upfront: I liked them both, but I preferred Black. Here’s the breakdown.


Loco Coco Original

Their “original” beverage combines coconut water, cold brew coffee, coconut milk, and a pinch of pure cane sugar. This is a sweet beverage, more akin to something you might find from a big name coffee company appealing to the mass public’s palette. I certainly don’t count this against Loco Coco – after all, their goal is to appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

The coffee itself was heavily masked under the flavors of coconut water and coconut milk – but it was still present. I enjoyed the way all three flowed together to make something completely new, yet distinctly recognizable at the same time. The only thing I can compare this taste fusion to is caramel – sweet, rich, and slightly heavy. I didn’t hate it, but the coffee-lover in me wanted more. Thankfully, Loco Coco rose to the occasion in their other offering.

Loco Coco Black

I really enjoyed Black. It had the best parts of Loco Coco Original, and none of the drawbacks. The taste of fresh cold brew coffee shown through brightly, while at the same time accented with the crisp taste of coconut water. The coffee itself was somewhere between a light and medium roast, though the origins were hard to place.

Each sip made me nod in agreement with my taste buds, and when the bottle was finished I wanted another almost immediately. The aftertaste was bittersweet, yet with a soft edge that had to be the coconut water. I would far prefer this to something like Red Bull or Monster for a pre-workout beverage.

Final Thoughts

Loco Coco has already reached their $10,000 goal on Kickstarter, but I decided to back them anyways (if nothing else I’ll get some sweet gear!) It was an easy choice for me – I love coffee, and I enjoy coconut water. Loco Coco Black offers the best of each, and it’s a product I would really enjoy seeing on store shelves someday soon.

If you’re more into sweet things, you’ll love Loco Coco Original. According to their information page, Loco Coco is developing recipes for other sweet variations as well: Vanilla Chai, Cinnamon Bun, Mocha, and Chocolate Raspberry.


As of this writing their Kickstarter has a little more than two days until it’s complete. If you head over that way now, you can score a 4-pack of Coco Loco plus custom sunglasses for $50 – a small price to pay if you want to support some entrepreneurs who have developed a legitimately delicious product. Shipments start in October.

Can coffee and coconut water combine to make a sport’s drink? I think so. And if there’s anybody to tackle that question, it’s Loco Coco. Lord knows that they’ve made something tasty.

The Coffee Guy

Coffee or Tea? The Answer is Green Alert.

Green Alert, a new proprietary blend of fair trade organic coffee and tea, keeps caffeine drinkers energetic all day.

When I first heard about Green Alert I was skeptical. Very, very skeptical. My love affair with coffee and my newfound appreciation for tea have rarely intersected, and I’ve never once considered mixing the two. Nonetheless, the idea piqued my interest and I reached out to them for a review sample.

I received both versions of the product that Green Alert is raising money on Kickstarter to get to market: Primal and Refresh. Primal is a mix of Wulu Green Tea and a darkly roasted Sumatran Coffee, while Refresh combines Moroccan Mint Tea with Ethiopian coffee – also roasted dark. I’m not the biggest fan of dark roasts in the first place, and combining that with loose-leaf tea just seemed like a horrible idea to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Snapshot

Lucas Rayala invented Green Alert the way all great things are invented: by messing around. One morning he decided to mix his morning coffee grounds with green tea in a French Press, and after a self-described “tentative sip” he was hooked. Even better – he didn’t experience the seemingly-inevitable afternoon caffeine crash, nor was he jittery throughout his workday.

He began experimenting with different coffees and various types of tea, inviting friends over to taste and give feedback. Pretty soon, he found some killer combos and wanted to share his findings.

On his company’s Kickstarter page, Lucas talks about why he believes Green Alert is so effective, but yields differing results from drinking coffee or tea independently. “When you combine coffee and green tea,” he writes, “you actually get more caffeine than your regular brew. Green tea also contains a substance called theanine. Caffeine and theanine are the key ingredients in typical energy drinks like Redbull, but Green Alert is made from organic, fair trade ingredients without any preservatives or additives — an energy drink you can feel good about drinking.”

An energy drink you can feel good about drinking.

He also goes on to talk about the antioxidants found in Green Alert, and the health benefits associated with both coffee and tea, including improved memory, lower cholesterol, and improved blood flow.

Green Alert

The Coffee, er Tea, er Whatever

I was able to try both the Primal and the Refresh blends. Because I’m just dipping my toe into the world of tea, I shared them with a close friend who’s been a tea drinker his entire life. Surprisingly, our notes were very close.

Lucas recommends brewing Green Alert at about 180ºF in a French Press with a 3.5 minute steep time. In our tests, we found that closer to 200ºF worked just as well and that you can play around with the steep time to taste.

I expected that while brewing Green Alert I would experience neither coffee nor tea – I figured that the smells and flavor profile would be a new beverage that I would either love or hate. Quite frankly, I expected to hate it.

The reality was exactly the opposite. While brewing, both the Primal and the Refresh smelled like you were simply brewing coffee and tea right next to each other. The Primal specifically gave off both the smell of fresh dark coffee, and the light freshness of green tea all at once, yet these odors complimented and danced around each other in a most pleasant way.

8682072828d8715d7575e24e4944e4ae_originalThe actual flavor of Green Alert was similar; while I expected a brand-new beverage that would perhaps have elements of coffee and tea, I found that both taste profiles were completely whole in my cup. I could taste the dark Sumatran – which was clearly roasted well – as well as the Wulu Green Tea all at once, and neither flavor crowded or influenced the other. I can’t express how surprised I was to discover this, and how happy it made me!

The Refresh was much the same. I’ve never been a big mint person, but I found the Moroccan Mint Tea to be as subtle as it was tasty, and a perfect compliment to Ethiopian dark roast. It was refreshing, crisp, and full of flavor.

I wasn’t able to test Green Alert using other brew methods, and I’m curious how a paper filter might impact the final taste results. Using an immersion brew method like the inverted Aeropress or the Clever Drip Brewer would be something worth looking into – though I suspect a big reason the French Press works so well is due to the nature of brewing tea. Nonetheless, I look forward to experimenting with Green Alert more – and perhaps that, more than anything, shows that I’m sold.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think my expectations have ever been proven more wrong than they were with Green Alert. On top of that, in no way was it an acquired taste. If you like coffee and you like tea, you’re going to like Green Alert – it’s as easy as that. Lucas Rayala and his team have seemingly done the impossible – they’ve managed to do both coffee and tea justice simultaneously. The result is a beverage that exceeds expectations and – according to their findings – leaves you without jitters or a crash.

I pledged money to Green Alert’s Kickstarter campaign, and I encourage you to as well. They are good people with a great product,   and they aren’t asking for much. As of this writing they have 16 days to go and have already reached almost 80% of their goal. I hope that you’ll help them get to 100%.

The Coffee Guy