In search of…coffee!

Like most people on the planet, my day starts with a good cup of coffee.  On average, I have at least 3 cups of coffee a day or more.  I’m not unusual, just an average coffee drinker.

Not your typical coffee drinker

Once upon a younger me, I drank massive amounts of coffee (and caffeine).  A typical day would be a couple of quad mochas, 3-5 cups of coffee, chocolate covered espresso beans and a few Dr. Peppers.  I was drinking so much caffeine my ears were ringing.

I was then diagnosed with some minor health issues where caffeine was a no-no and so, I had to go decaf.  Show of hands: how many people had a headache for three weeks?  Were tired for six weeks?  Yeah, this guy, ouchtown, population me.

I suffered through to get healthy though, and now this means I have to often go without any decent flavored coffee that I deem strong or flavorful enough.

Strong enough?  Flavorful enough?

Badge of honor
As I’ve grown older (I’d say wiser, but, we all know that’s a lie), I’ve become a coffee snob and I’ll admit I love being one.  I mean, life is short, why drink bad coffee?  If I want bad coffee, I can hit any cafe or diner across our great nation and get an OK cuppa Joe. The general effort in coffee at these establishments is make it strong and caffeinated. Flavor, well that’s what creamers are for.

But beware asking for decaf.  They’ll stare at you as if you are an alien from a foreign planet.  Even so, quite often you get a fresh cup brewed up, since they don’t keep it flowing like they do for regular coffee.

The biggest challenge as a decaf drinker is finding my favorite roast in decaf form: dark.  I drink my coffee black and I want to the taste to be bold, strong, and interesting.  Sadly, most decaf coffees you can buy in most grocery chains are “medium” roast.  I air quote that because medium is a stretch a lot of the time and I’m left having to add double the scoops to get coffee brewed strong enough.  Yeah, you probably wouldn’t want me to make you a cup of coffee.

I’ve had a few lucky finds out on the mainstream aisles of stores.  Dunkin’ Donuts decaf is pretty strong, decent flavor and pretty easy to find these days at your Safeways or Krogers.  Peet’s Coffee out of Portland is not as easily found in all stores, but at least in the Northwest, it is readily available enough.  My next batch of coffee is in fact, Peet’s.

Travel challenge accepted!

I decided to challenge myself to find good local roasters who make a decaf blend.  Once we were out of the Puget Sound area and on the coast, coffee roasters are fewer in number than breweries (which are everywhere in the Northwest, even the smaller coastal towns have them).  So, when we begin to plan our exploration of our new stops, I start looking for roasters.  I will be blogging about my finds as we travel, so check back for more coffee nerdgasms.

We’ve made two coastal stops thus far, and I found two local roasters that made a decaf roast.  Here are my reviews of Long Beach Coffee Roasters and Sleepy Monk.

Long Beach Coffee Roasters

Long Beach Coffee Roasters Brazil
Even though I drink decaf,  it is a critical part of my morning. I’ll make coffee before feeding three cats that are eyeing my like a prized cut of meat. So, I offer to you today, a review of Long Beach Coffee Roasters decaf Brazil.

Long Beach Coffee Roasters is located in Long Beach, WA (not the California long beach).  Long Beach is a small town located at the the southwestern coast of Washington State and was thenorthern most point that the Lewis and Clark expedition made it to when they finally arrived at the Pacific.

So, as I’ve mentioned, it is hard to find really good decaf. Most roasters only do one, possibly two lines of decaf. Most of the time this equates to a simple medium roast. This is OK…it serves the purpose, but I’m always on the hunt.

In the case of Long Beach Coffee Roasters, theirs ends up being in the medium roast category. It had some subtle, nutty flavors which made it interesting. It also gained high marks for not being too acidic. What I thought it lacked though, was deep body and a strong coffee backbone that I look for in a coffee. I like a strong flavor profile, rich, dark, almost sensuous in its experience.

As a snob of many sorts, coffee being one of them, I found LBCR to be a decent, middle of the road coffee. Kudos to the roasters, as the coffee is still infinitely better than most chains out there. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good and decent cuppa Joe and I’d HAPPILY drink it again. Ultimately, I rate this a bit lower because I’d of rather liked to have a bit of a stronger cup of flavor. Sure I’m biased…but isn’t the the goal of a review in the first place?

Sleepy Monk

Sleepy Monk Columbian Dark
OK…Sleepy Monk, which is a PHENOMENAL name for a coffee roaster by the way, is located in Cannon Beach, OR. Stop in if you are into coffee snobbery as I am!

Coastal towns are interesting. They are small, kind of offbeat and different. I like this aspect as we travel down the west coast…we are loving the vibe we are finding. Cannon Beach is no different. It is a lovely little seaside community on the northern Oregon coast. Situated on US 101 along some of the most beautiful coastline imaginable, Cannon Beach is your quintessential coastal, tourist hot spot. The food is amazing, the beach is wonderful, you can access Haystack and enjoy all the northwest has to offer across the spectrum of natural surroundings, food, beer, wine and….COFFEE!

Sleepy Monk is a small roaster in Cannon Beach. What sets them aside from so many others is two factors, IMHO: 1) they are an organic roaster and 2) they have a dark roast decaf!

We rolled into Cannon Beach and the first thing I needed was a coffee. We Googled and found Sleepy Monk. We stopped in because we saw they had a dark roast decaf. I’m always excited when I see that a roaster has a dark roast. They are somewhat rare, and often “dark” isn’t really representative. That isn’t the case with SM.

I first sampled their drip of the Colombian Dark Roast. It was quite flavorful, robust and had a slightly acidic backbone that most darker roasts have. This pleased my palate and thus, I purchased a pound of coffee, pre-ground, for my future morning infusion of black gold.

The coffee itself has the strength of flavor you’d expect from a dark roast, without going overly bitter or taste bud destroying. It has, for lack of a better word, a warmth about it. Now, you’d think that most coffee purveyors would just grind your coffee for “drip.” Not Sleepy Monk…they actually ask you HOW you brew your coffee. Is it a cone shaped filter or flat? I mean…who’d have thought that was an important question. Well my friends, in this case, it was definitely a good question.

I have a standard Mr. Coffee 5 cup brewer with a flat basket (not terribly snobby, but, I live in an RV and size and ease matter). The grind I got from SM is a very fluffy and light grind and it makes a DELICIOUS cuppa Joe: dark without being overbearing, hints of nuttiness, tones of bittersweet chocolate. All rolling into a great cup of coffee that leaves you wanting more.

So in a nutshell, if you are in Cannon Beach and looking for a good cup of coffee, check out Sleepy Monk. I’ll warn you…expect a line…we’ve driven past a couple of times, and there is a line about 15-20 people deep. This is always a good indicator of good coffee!

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