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AJ Coffee Co--El Salvador Siberian Estate 100% Bourbon

I'd been meaning to try Jasonian's coffee ever since he opened his AJ Coffee Co. roasting website, but never got around to it until he approached me to sample it and post a review. The timing couldn't have been better. My roasting machine had just broken down. While I don't like to review gifts, I was in need of good coffee, so I placed an order for 2 bags, and he sent along a third bag gratis. I left it to Jason to choose the coffees.

The care that Jason takes in roasting his coffee is obvious. He talks a lot about roasting profiles--a sort of temperature surfing--and it shows. It's like nothing I've tasted before. The roasts are deep and complex, yet light and delicate. It's a fine balancing act, like surfing along the top of a wave, keeping a fine balance between a deeply developed, rich roast, without losing the delicate nuances and lighter notes. There's a frank roast smell to the beans, but the roast taste in the cup is light and never hides the more delicate flavors. This fine balance might not be to everyone's palate. My own tastes--in food, coffee, or anything else--tend toward highlighting the best parts of a bean, even if that leaves some defects intact. Even so, there's plenty of days in a year, and there's good reason to enjoy these unique coffees once in a while. While I favor lighter roasts, AJ Coffee's deep, complex roasts never cross the line into the dark & roasty.

The El Salvador Siberian Estate 100% Bourbon is my favorite. Light, sweet, fruity notes meld into deep, chocolate-like flavors, balanced against a slight but natural bitterness. The cup was great no matter what contraption it was brewed in. Long and slow brewing times were both excellent. I found it rewarding to increase the amount of beans in my cup. It seemed to never get bitter. While delicious straight, the sweet chocolate and floral flavors only improved as I slowly added my usual milk and sugar. This coffee is truly mouth watering. With each sip, new flavors tantalized my tongue, begging me to drink more.

The coffee comes packed in sealed & resealable, coated foil bags with a button for off-gassing. Depending on the coffee, the label includes notes about the coffee including the roasting date, composition if it's a blend, the estate it was grown on, awards the coffee received, brewing hints, etc.

Freshly roasted, small batch artisan coffee isn't cheap, and with many companies, the artisan label is merely a marketing ploy. Not so with AJ Coffee Co. Prices might be a dollar or two over the average for the category, but the care and experience that goes into roasting these beans puts them in the true artisan category.

Ratings (Clearly, I don't know how to rate things. If these were wines, a professional review would rate them 10-15 point higher.)
  • Price: Artisan coffee is never cheap, though this is on the less expensive side for true artisan coffee. Shipping cost is reasonable, but is factored in as part of the cost, lowering the score.
  • Quality: The care put into this coffee can't be beat.
  • Value: This is what artisan coffee is all about. The price may seem steep, but it's well worth the price for what you get. Since not everyone would agree, I won't push the rating too high.
  • Flavor: Outstanding and unique.
  • Aroma: A rich roast destroys the more volatile aroma compounds, but what remains is delicious.
  • Packaging: Nothing further could be done to improve the product, but more polished labels might look better.
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