Andy Mossack reviews four bags of coffee beans supplied by Coffee Friend.
Coffee is one of life’s great mysteries. It’s remarkable how a little bean can create such division among even the closest of friends. The sheer volume of varieties, flavours, blends and brands have become so synonymous with fashion and trend, the taste is almost an afterthought.
Nespresso may have started it all by making coffee a sexy art form but for me, it will always be taste first, however enticing a new machine or pod might sound.
Coffee Friend might just provide the voice of reason.
Founded in 2010 by Aurimas Vainauskas and Vytautas Alekna, two life-long buddies from Lithuania whose mutual love for the little roasted bean prompted them to go into business together. First importing Japanese coffee filters and then moving on to coffee machines and beans. Today they operate as an international retailer for everything coffee-related and customise it for the specific needs of that local marketplace. From sourcing sustainable producers to covering every aspect of the coffee experience. From picker to packet and everything in between.
As something of a coffee nerd, I have favourite brands I know will always give me the taste and strength I prefer. But I’m always willing to try new sources that just might turn out to be even better. So, I put four Coffee Friend bean blends through their paces in a coffee drink-off that played havoc with my sleep patterns but gave me an indulgent fortnight of caffeinated heaven.
My four bean blends came in 1kg bags comprising two from the high-quality Caprissimo range: Espresso (beans from Brazil and India) and Fragrante (beans from Brazil), and two from the Parallel range: 17-degree Asian blend (beans from India and Papua New Guinea), and 36-degree American blend (beans from El Salvador and Brazil).
All of them had impressive information on each bag. Clear provenance, what type of bean and roast profile and what type of drink they would be suitable for.
My least favourite was Caprissimo Fragrante, blended with 80% arabica and 20% robusta. Not because it tasted bad, far from it. It was just not strong enough for my taste. Coffee Friend’s tasting notes told me “the aroma is marked by the sweetness of peanut butter and chocolate candies.” That being said, I think this would appeal to lovers of all-day coffee who don’t want it too strong.
Next in line was Caprissimo Espresso, 60% arabica and 40% robusta. Certainly dialling up on the strength meter, this one was getting closer but still no cigar. The tasting notes highlighted “an aroma marked by the sweetness of wild berries, while in its flavour, notes of roasted nuts and dark rye bread are unveiled.”
Coming a very close second by a hair’s breadth was the Parallel 36 American blend. A proper feast of flavour for me using 100% arabica beans and no other added flavours. The tasting notes here were “peanut butter, chocolate, wood, and a noticeably rich aroma.” No argument from me on that one. A robust and consistent coffee hit with plenty of flavour.
However, top of the pile was Parallel 17 Asian blend from India and Papua New Guinea. Characterized by “sweet notes of cocoa, complemented by aromas of cloves and dried fruit,” this was right on the money for me. Strong and flavoursome with a great crema, I enjoyed each and every cupful.
My journey through the world’s coffee-producing countries was eventful and ultimately very satisfying. Full marks to Coffee Friend for such an extensive range. It is rare to find a retailer with such an in-depth grasp of its sector with plenty of supporting information on its website to back it all up.
You might not like your coffee as rich and robust as me, but have a waltz around online and no doubt you’ll find a perfect fit for your palate.
Tell me more about buying coffee from Coffee Friend
Coffee Friend 166 College Road, Harrow, England, HA1 1BH
T: +44 1202029699 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caprissimo Fragrante 1k bag £20.90 Caprissimo Espresso 1k bag £19.90
Parallel 36 American 1k bag £29 Parallel 17 Asian 1k bag £29
Coffee Friend supplies all types of coffee from beans to instant, machines, cups and accessories as well as teas from loose leaf to instant.