coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Skaut

Skaut Coffee Roasters, Portland, OR
Hawk’s Nest – Medium Roast, Guatemala Single Origin
Tasting Notes: Smooth, Balanced, Nutty
Method: Pour over

The Look

My first impressions of Skaut is the blurb on the back. For a moment I thought, Is this a New York roasting company? But no, of course not, it’s local. The story is just about Hawk’s Nest, New York, which is fine, I suppose. It means almost nothing to me, as it is little more than a blurb about a place and not indicative of the coffee itself. It’s fine!

I wasn’t super impressed with the roast date, being nearly a month ago. That indicates to me that people aren’t buying these as much as other brands. Doesn’t mean too much though, as there are a lot of different brands to purchase from.

The thing that got me, though, was the glaringly obvious error or wrong label on the front of the package. You’ll notice that it says this is a 3lb bag. It’s not. It’s a 12oz bag. I weighed the beans myself because I thought I was going crazy. (To be fair, it is a perfect 340g, so good work on that weight.) I do think the fact that it said 3lbs influenced my decision to buy it, for a excellent price-to-pound ratio. What can I say, it was early, and my frontal lobe hadn’t fully activated.

I just now noticed that the edge of the label is camouflage, which is really not my thing, but whatever.

The Info

The Skaut website kind of annoys me. I want to learn more about the people making the coffee and their About page says “Meet the Makers,” but then you don’t actually meet the makers. They just talk about the coffee story. There’s just little blurbs at the bottom. Again with the blurbs!

But then! I did a little digging and found that you can pick up the beans at Pips & Bounce. Pips & Bounce? Why would you pick up coffee beans at a ping pong place featured on Shark Tank?

That’s when it clicked: the founder of Skaut is Eugene Jung, aka one-half of the duo that started Pips & Bounce. So, perhaps the lack of bios on the Skaut About page is because Eugene doesn’t want to draw too much attention to himself and his Shark Tank fame.

That said, I would still like to know a LOT more about the whole setup. Where do they roast? Inside Pips & Bounce? How do they get their beans? “Guatemala Single Origin” could mean so many things. Are they part of a coop? What’s the deal, bro?

I was able to find a bit of information about the coffee cultivation process, which is nice, but I want to know about the people growing it. I want to make sure that the coffee is ethically obtained. Just add some more blurbs, dude, about the people growing your coffee for you.

I did also find that Skaut has only been around for around three years, in its current incarnation at least. So they’re pushing and fighting their way for a stake in the wide variety of very excellent roasters in Portland. Good luck!

The Taste

Taste-wise, it has the nutty and smooth profile it says it does. It’s easy to drink and not trying anything bold or fruity or tangy. It’s veering slightly into ash tastes for me, but thankfully not enough to be put off by it. I suspect future cups won’t feature that as much. I might try brewing with the French press next time, as I bet this will lend itself better to an immersion brew, though that might also release more of the ashy taste.

Overall, a pleasant cup with some warm nutty notes, if a little ashy. I wish it was a 3lb bag for the same price. Oh well. 6/10

coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Happy Cup

Hey, let’s review some coffee beans, why not?

Happy Cup, Portland, OR
Medium Roast, Single Origin (Guatemala)
Tasting Notes: Cherry cordial, hazelnut butter, rosewater, vanilla

Happy Cup is awesome. It is a roaster here in Portland which employs people with developmental disabilities, at a competitive wave. I don’t know what else to say about that other than it’s awesome.

These beans are sufficiently roasty for a medium roast, without being ashy or sour. (I think fixing my grind helped this though.) Otherwise, pretty mellow with some fruity notes. I didn’t taste vanilla but I did get an umami flavor in there at one point, which I enjoyed. Happy Cup has never really wowed me with its beans but they’ve never been terrible, either.

Look, if you live in Portland and you like coffee, buy a bag of Happy Cup beans every once in a while. Make it part of your rotation.

Thanks Alix for my beans!

Overall, a nice, middle of the road bag of beans that you should absolutely buy so you can help support people with developmental disabilities. 6/10

coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Two Dads

Hey, let’s review some coffee beans, why not?

Two Dads Coffee Co., Portland, OR
Medium Roast, Guatemala Single Origin
Notes: Caramel, Roasted Almond
Brewing Method: Pour over

I purchased these beans, as I often do, at Market of Choice, a local market in the vein of a Whole Foods or New Seasons. Fancy white people store, in other words. In terms of roasts, I prefer a light roast when available, and I tend to shy away from dark roasts. Mediums I will pick up if there’s nothing lighter within my budget.

Whenever possible, I like to purchase from local roasters, ideally at their place of business, but that doesn’t always work out. Also, this is petty as hell but if I buy beans at a local coffeeshop and they don’t give me a free cup of coffee, I stop buying there. I know! I’ll even buy their beans at a store. Coffeeshops, you gotta give bean buyers a free cup of coffee!

Two Dads is, well, two dads. One from Guatemala, one from the Pacific Northwest. They seem to roast only medium and dark roasts, at least according to their website. I love the bag with all the doodles and I love the story of how these two men started their roasting business. Lovely to read a story of people finding love and passion in their work.

Anyway, I finished off this bag today. They certainly have a roasty flavor typical of darker roasts, which made it difficult for me to figure out a good grounds to water ratio. The bag says 1.5 tbsp (or around 22g) per 5oz (150ml) of water.

I brew a way weaker cup than that–15g to 300ml. At the time, honest to god, I thought I was brewing to their specifications, but again, I am dumb with math. (I even had to remind myself just now, again, that one gram is equal to one milliliter [of water at least].) I don’t have any more beans to redo with the proper ratio, but it’s okay, as I think the cups I brewed were just fine.

The roast of it comes through the most for me. I’ve always been bad at tasting notes, but I can see where one might get a roasted almond flavor. It brewed very much on the line of ashyness, though, something that I was fighting with every morning. It felt like I had to have my pour over game perfect or else it the taste would be a little bitter or ashy. I always drink my coffee black but I think this is the type of coffee you should pair with cream and/or sugar.

Overall, not a bad cup of coffee, but perhaps a bit too dark on the roast for my liking. 7/10