Well, I'm a bit salty that I've forgotten to post anything about the past few coffees. The intermittent roasts were just as tasty as the previous, but I didn't really keep any notes about them. I do know that one of the beans, I didn't have much luck with. I had a couple of decent brews, but for the most part they were lackluster, which could have been on me or the coffee, so I won't condemn the roast.
Last week, the final Wager 1.0 roast was sent out, which was either a single origin (Kenya, I believe), or their first espresso blend. I opted for espresso, and have been enjoying it so far. The first shots were very fruity, with blueberry undertones, a solid cherry baseline, and a bit of green apple tartness. The blend is pretty tolerant of temp, and I've liked it best at a higher brew temp, which mutes the fruity high notes a little and brings out a more caramel-like body. It gets lost in a lot of milk, so I've been making mostly straight shots or very short drinks, like cortados. It is damn amazing in a shakerato though (espresso shaken with ice, a little water, and a tiny touch of sugar, until foamy and cold, strained into a glass), as the fruity bouquet just explodes, and while the body is a little thin, the sweetness perseveres. It's too easy to go overboard with sugar though, so a simple syrup might be a good substitute, but honey works best.
And yes, I couldn't help myself but sign up for Wager 2.0. This time around, most of the First Forty have re-applied, along with an extra fifty invitees. So, I'd guess we're somewhere around eighty strong now, and the Handsome boys have their work cut out. The very first roast came out this week: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Dernaye Amaro Gayo Now, I love me some Ethiopian coffees, and there's a special place in my heart (and cup) for Amaro Gayo, and I've been really excited to get a lovely, sweet, fruity cup from these beans. Problem is, I haven't got it yet. There are telltale signs of dry-processing (super fruity dry grounds, slightly uneven roast level...oh, and quakers*), so the cherry bomb should be there, but I've only managed to squeeze out either slightly bitter or slightly sour cups. I'm toeing the line at where this cup should blow me away, but I can't get there. I'll play more with brewing parameters this week, probably drop my temps a little bit, maybe break out the vac pot. I can't think of a reason that this roast eludes me, as the roast seems right, the usual sights and smells are there, it's just a finicky bean or something.
*While I understand dry-processing tends to include a higher amount of defects, quakers included, I can't believe how many I've had to pick out of my bag at this point. Handsome should probably employ better QC when bagging a higher risk bean like this. It could be they were swamped by the greater amount of bags to send, but 5 quakers in the first 25 grams is ridiculous to me. I hope mine was just a bad bag or something.
Like Steve, I opted for the espresso blend as the final 1.0 roast instead of the SO and was really pleased with the sweetness of this blend. I even ended up using it to brew up some coffee this morning as I had packed away all my coffee for a trip and only had some espresso out and it made a mighty fine Chemex / Kone cup.
Unlike Steve, I didn't re-up for the 2.0 wager, not because I wasn't happy with the coffee but simply because I spent the money on a roaster temp logger instead of coffee. I also really need to be roasting my greens and working on my roasts, but I was glad to get in on the 1.0 wager.
Just got back from vacation, from the land of streetcars, hobos and Mary Jane, San Francisco! The coffee was great, mostly, but I've totally been neglecting my Handsome beans in the mean time.
Last delivery was the same El Salvador from before, Siberia estate. Honestly not a huge fan of this one, even the new roast. Dunno why. I did finally nail down the delicious juicy cherry that was the Amaro Gayo; I just had to tweak my vac pot brews a bit. It was still a bit bitey, and a tad muddy, chalked up to the processing I'd imagine. Still, very tasty in the end.
Last week's roast was a Kenya Ruthagati. It's in the freezer for now, while I kill the El Salv, but I'm salivating at the potential. I had more than a few delicious Kenyan brews in SF, just to pump myself up. I've heard mixed things about Kenyan crops this year, but generally awesome things about the roasts being put out by specialty shops. I'll thaw this Kenya tomorrow, probably have a cup in the afternoon, and really get down to playing with it by Friday. Results to come!
And Handsome is live! Check out their site for their brand new shop, and check out their Tumblr post regarding the launch. Notable: $4 flat rate shipping! They may be priced a bit like Intelly, but damn, it's hard to beat flat rate!
Presumably they're keeping the site info clean, in line with their "less pretentious" approach to coffee. I agree though, I'm a little surprised at the display, considering Intelligentsia's site. Perhaps they're relying too heavily on reputation at this point - it might be hard to draw in new snobby (in the kindest sense) customers with rather generic info. Still, the beans have been speaking for themselves, and Handsome has been getting some pretty great feedback.
As for the Ruthagati, I remember it being juicy, at times a little jammy (rounder, and sweeter, with decreased acidity), with the tiniest hint of spice (clove, maybe). It was, frankly, the best Kenyan I've had this year, when I brewed it right. I know my brother didn't have much luck with it, for reasons unknown, but feedback on Twitter has been pretty favorable. As an aside, I'm surprised it's a part of their current espresso offering, as I really had no luck with it at all there. I wasn't blending, but the straight shots were incredibly sour, like an under-ripe cherry. I'm very intrigued now; too bad I'm nowhere near one of their accounts!
Thanks for the Kenya details. Sounds promising. As for the rest, I think there's a fine line between unpretentious and generic (apt description), and they're a touch to the wrong side of that line in my opinion. And this is coming from someone who considers himself merely an enthusiast. My snob quotient is pretty low. ;)
Posted Sat Oct 29, 2011, 12:48pm Subject: Re: Handsome Coffee Roasters
I have a problem.
Wager 2.0 finished up with a whisper, and almost felt like Handsome forgot about us - they didn't take to email and twitter to announce the end as usual. I have a feeling it's because they've been seriously busy with lots of events worldwide, as well as getting their retail space opened up and remodeled. So imagine my surprise when the next email correspondence was not just "thanks for playing, come visit us sometime!" No, it was bigger.
Presenting Handsome Wager 2012. A full year of Handsome, at what's actually a reasonable price. "Priced to break even", at just $35 per month, with discounts for larger 6- or 12-month bulk payments. At least 3 bags per month, which could be something like 2-3 pounds per month. It took me about 5 seconds to figure out I'd be saving about $10 per month if I opted in, compared to my typical mail-order habits, so I signed up. From the email: *A little over 3 shipments per month. *At least 4 bonus shipments (so 40 total) *First tastes of new coffees we get in from the farms *Tasting notes from this group will influence what we put on bags and the Web site *Some exclusive coffees we won't offer elsewhere. *All kinds of little contests, starting with a trip to our LA Coffee Bar opening (for real). *Training from anyone on staff when you are around *Etc, more, sign up now, limited-time offer, so on and so forth. We will make this rad.
Seriously though, a full year of Handsome. I really, really hope it stays as exciting as it's been, because this is a pretty big commitment for me. I'll do my best to post info here as well, since I believe many of the Wager bags will be current offerings on their site. First bags are supposed to get mailed out soon, I'm pumped!
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