coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Keia & Martyn’s

Keia & Martyn’s, Portland, OR
Light(?) Roast, Colombia Nilson Yunda
Tasting Notes: Sugar, chocolate cookie, dried fruit

Oh boy. Oh boy. I’m excited for this one. First off, look at this packaging:

Absolutely cute as fuck. And compact, too!

But moreover, this coffee has a bit of lore to it, which has particular interest to me. Martyn is Martyn Leaper, of the band the Minders. I don’t know the Minders, but I am familiar with who they are connected to: the Elephant 6 Collective. These were a group of musicians who created some of my favorite bands–Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and Apples in Stereo to name a few. (Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control, and Beulah to name more.)

To grab this coffee on a whim because it had cute packaging, only to find out that one of the roasters was a part of a highly influential recording collective, is pretty cool! Sadly, it appears that Martyn recently had a heart attack and is recovering from heart surgery. I hope he makes a full recovery!

I can’t find much information on Keia, unfortunately, though having a Black woman as a roaster bodes well for the equity of the beans, I think. I’m always leery about fair trade when it’s just a bunch of squirrely looking white guys running the roastery, you know? She has even set up an awesome Equity Pricing model for purchases. Super great.

Yeah yeah Josh, but how’s the coffee taste?

Pretty good! First sip was a blast of bright, floral notes, followed by a rounded out roasty flavor aftertaste. I’m fairly sure the beans are a light roast, which explains the floralness of it, but they may be more of a light-medium. I don’t really get any of the tasting notes, but that’s unsurprising for me. (I’m bad at tasting notes.) Perhaps the floral aspect I’m tasting is more along the “dried fruit” route, but I swear it has a bit more of an almost lavendery-esque taste to it. I thought the floral punch would stick around but subsequent sips are much more mellow.

Overall, great pro-social justice coffee roaster with a nice, pleasant flavored cup of coffee. And the Minders are a good band too! 7/10

coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Courier

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

Courier Coffee, Portland, OR
Light(?) Roast, Organic Congo
Tasting Notes: None officially

I’ve told this (mundane) story several times, but Courier Coffee was the first place I ever had a cup of coffee. Prior to them, I hated coffee. (I still did when I got my first cup.) My dad would brew a big pot of coffee every morning and pour it into a 32 or 64oz plastic gas station mug to take with him to work. Every morning I endured the horrible smell of Folgers.

Then, in 2007 or 08, I can’t remember, I traveled/moved to Portland and got a cup of coffee with a friend, who took me to Courier. I don’t remember who this friend was now. I barely remember where we were! It’s funny visiting a city and going to a location and then later moving there and really understanding where that location is now. Like, I had another friend who lived on 60th and Glisan, and I still pass by those apartment and feel a disconnect between them now, and them when I was visiting.

Anyway, Courier was and still is a little hole in the wall coffee shop. It opened in 2006 and is going strong and I believe that address on the beans is Joel’s house? I’m not sure, because the Courier coffee shop is on the other side of the river, and Google Maps points that address to a house on Hawthorne. I don’t know. This coffee is from Kivu, in the Congo. There are a lot of coffee farms in Kivu and there’s even a coffee called Kivu made by Kroger, which cannot be a good coffee.

One of the things I love about Courier is the DIY attitude. The handwritten description, the blurry stamp. It’s lovely. But it also leaves out a few bits of information, like the roast level and any info about how the coffee was harvested. I think one can assume that it’s all as ethical as can be, but it’s always good to have a blurb somewhere, you know?

This coffee is tangy! Bright and fruity. I think it’s a light roast, the seam on the underside of the bean is very light, almost white, which makes me think it wasn’t roasted long. My recent bout with covid made coffee taste like seaweed for a couple days (apparently the taste/smell issues with covid can impact your umami taste more than the others), but this does not taste like seaweed at all. It has an earthy undertone to it and a slight ashy aftertaste, but the dominant taste is tangy citrusy fruit. It’s not my preferred coffee taste, to be honest, but it’s not bad either. I think I may cut this one with milk in the future, to see if that mellows out the tang at all.

Overall, a bright, fruity, tangy taste with some earthy, ashy aftertaste. Not bad, especially if you enjoy tangy coffee, but it’s not my preferred go-to. 6/10

coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Groundwork

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

Groundwork Coffee, Los Angeles/Portland
Light Roast, Organic Colombia
Tasting Notes: Tangerine, Milk Chocolate

Groundwork Coffee began as a shop at Venice Beach, California, but now has two roasteries: one in LA and one here in Portland. So, despite the HQ being a state away, I still feel like I’m buying locally roasted beans, which is nice. The beans come from AMUCC, a woman’s co-op of coffee growers in Popayan. If there’s one thing I love about the coffee scene these days, it’s how hard some roasters are trying to work with local co-ops and growers and not exploit them. If buying these beans helps put decent money into the pockets of women in Colombia, I’m all for it.

First off: I upped my Bean Grams, from 15g to 20g. Groundwork suggests 1tbsp of grounds per 6oz of water. That’s 15g per 177ml, roughly. Doubling that (30g to 354ml) would actually be around the amount of liquid that one of my coffee mugs can hold, but 30g seems like too much for me. A tablespoon holds about 60mg of caffeine, and I only want to hit around 100mg. I ain’t no caffeine fiend.

The increase in grounds did improve the flavor though. It’s a much richer cup. What struck me first was how ashy the first sip was, and how each subsequent sip was more mellow. It was never ashy enough to be gross, but it was pronounced. Then came a floral, almost tangy taste (I guess that’s where the tangerine comes in), bold but not overpowering. That was the dominant flavor for me. I’d say it’s a better cup than the Two Dad’s beans, but as I mentioned in that review, I was measuring my beans incorrectly and generally getting weaker cups as a result. But I would say that I think I prefer light roasts over medium, overall.

That said, I do kind of wish this cup had a little bit more of a roasty flavor to it. The other tasting note, milk chocolate, I didn’t really get, but I’ve said before that I’m not great at tasting notes.

I bought these beans at Market of Choice for like $10.50 (on sale), which is a steal for organic, locally roasted beans. So it was worth it.

Overall: a bright, floral, slightly tangy cup of coffee. I liked it! 8/10