Roast Reviews brought to you by coffee connoisseurs Beth & George
As soon as we saw the tagline, “Coffee was meant to be enjoyed outside,” we knew we’d like Loam Coffee of Portland, Oregon. Loam is named after the particular type of fertile soil found in the Pacific Northwest, where the roasters enjoy “‘epic’ trail conditions” as mountain bikers when they’re not busy at company HQ. Mountain biking isn’t just a casual hobby for the Loam team – it’s a way of life that goes hand-in-hand with their need for coffee sustenance. In need of on-the-go brewing methods, Minipresso is an obvious choice for Loam lovers, too.
George & Beth were joined by fellow espresso enthusiasts and longtime friends, Greg and Emily, to taste Loam Coffee’s Fire Hydrant roast. ‘Enthusiasts’ might be an understatement for Greg, a gearhead engineer and owner of a high-end Italian espresso machine, and Emily, a former graphic designer turned grad student who survives on coffee. They examined the small Nanopresso parts and taught themselves how to pull espresso like pros. Describing their tasting experience, however, proved a bit more challenging! With a product as high-quality and delicious as Loam Coffee, their anxiety faded away. Full disclosure: We did not enjoy our espresso tasting outside (this time around) as it was a sweltering July day.
Fire Hydrant (Guama Danta Reserve)
Origin: A blend of Lempiras, Caturra, and Catuai varietals of Arabica beans. Coffee beans grown on 87 farms in the Comayagua region of Honduras; roasted and packed in Portland, Oregon.
First-time espresso taster Emily made us chuckle when she said the coffee beans smelled like “chocolate and raisins with a hint of dirt.” Greg chose the more appealing “earthy” to describe the beans and picked up on the fact it was a lighter roast immediately. Once ground, George sniffed out hints of bitter cacao, cinnamon, or gingerbread. The earthiness made more of an impression on Beth, who breathed in the summery scent of woody, green stems of fresh-cut flowers, and… marshmallows. S’mores, anyone?
In our eagerness to pour espresso for our guests, we experienced a few gaffes. Emily received a less-than-perfect shot, but she also chose to have an ice cube in her cup, which may have added to the calming, mellow feelings she described to us. She detected cocoa and raisin notes accompanied by a more elusive, sweet taste of caramel popcorn. Greg said Fire Hydrant appeared to be a “cowboy roast” with the chaff still on the beans, accounting for the earthier notes and mild taste. He had us pour two shots, just in case, and the second proved to be the winner with a rich, dark color and thick crema floating on top.
Intrigued by the hand-held machine, Greg took a turn with the Nanopresso and poured George a shot with a “beautiful, thick crema that clings to the side of the cup like the head of a beer.” George marveled over the smooth, roasted caramel flavors with a slight bitter finish – the earthiness all but disappeared for him. He took the Nanopresso helm again and poured Beth an espresso topped with cinnamon-swirl crema, one straight out of a glossy magazine ad. She picked up flavors of dried fruit and warm spices, like ginger – yet she was surprised to see “candied limes” listed as one of Loam’s official tasting notes! Added Beth, “I can taste the sunshine – by that I mean, you can imagine the sun’s rays ripening the coffee fruit. It’s the kind of feeling I get when drinking a Mediterranean-made red wine.”