Robert Rothschild Premium Dark Coffee

Robert Rothschild Premium Dark Coffee

This coffee came from TK Maxx – buried amongst the racks of tacky gifts and oversized knickers.

The packet of this stuff oozes quality – it's got words like “Rothschild” and “gourmet” on the front of the packet. It looks nice. We were sucked in. But read the back of the packet and you discover this “Rothschild” bloke knocks this stuff out in Florida. Now, anyone who’s anyone knows that you can’t get a decent cup of coffee in America – and this stuff proves the point – it’s only 90% coffee. The other 10% is finely ground polyurethane - presumably left over TK Maxx plastic bags. The first batch we made at normal strength – which nearly finished us. Only when we toned it down could we actually drink enough of the stuff to give it a fair and honest chance. And it’s bloody awful. Bear in mind - this stuff is their PREMIUM coffee - which begs the question what the f*'k do they put in their standard version? Presumably just un-cut iron filings.Whatever you do, don’t buy this stuff. You will regret it. If you're in TK Maxx just go and get yourself a nice pair of cheap ski gloves instead. 1/10

10 votes
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Chat Noir Dessert Coffee

Chat Noir Dessert CoffeeThis one came from a country more normally associated with its stongs bottled beers - Belgium. Its a two faced little thing - one size is Chat Noir, the other Zwarte Kat, depending on which side of Belgium you come from. 

We didn't even realise they made coffee in Belgium - we've all heard of French, Italian and Viennese roasts, but Belgian? Well, here it is - we picked it up in Spa, right down in the south east of Belgium. Apparently it comes from that area - Liege - and was quaffed by the local miners before they started their days work. Bearing in mind Belgium's idea of beer is to brew it to double the strength we Brits are used to, we were expecting this to blow our faces off. But in fact it was just about right for us Judges. Strong but not burnt and fairly easy to make. We've even tried it in a stove top pot which normally ups the anti from a cafetiere - but it still tasted great. Today we even had the last cup that's been sitting in a pre-opened packet for the last three months and it still hit the spot. It's definitely a dessert coffee - strong and heavy - and probably not for all tastes, but we loved it. It's enough for us to start looking for a job down a mine. 9/10

9 votes
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Roundsquare Roastery House Blend Coffee Beans

Roundsquare Roastery House Blend Coffee Beans

This is the only offering from Roundsquare Roastery - and to be honest just calling it House Blend doesn't really get you fired up for anything spectacular. And so it proved.

It's fine - but that's all we can say. If anything, this has been a tad over roasted - the first cup we made was ashy and harsh. But for the second cup we toned it down a bit and it came out pretty fine. But there's just no depth of flavour in there. We couldn't find any chocolate or caramel in there - there was just nothing to stand it apart from the run of the mill stuff. These guys are really suppliers to the trade - and if I'd had this coffee in a shop I'd sure I'd be more than happy - I suspect this really comes into its own when pushed through a proper espresso machine - but in our lowly French Press it was just left lacking and so only gets a 6/10



366 votes
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Brown Bear Christmas Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Christmas Coffee BeansWhenever we see the word "Christmas" on a coffee it normally means steer well clear. The word normally implies the most horrible concoction of herbs and spices has been cut into the coffee in the name of Christmas cheer.

Cloves, nutmeg, chicory... we've had - and been repulsed - by it all. Thank God the folks at Brown Bear have decided to steer clear of all this Yuletide Mumbo Jumbo - and instead concentrate on the packaging. This comes in a lovely "Illy" style tin - pressure sealed so that when we opened it the smell of those dark beans just exploded in our faces. And dark they are! As the blurb on the tin says, this is not a coffee for the boring. The beans genuinely do glisten and look good enough to eat. And yes, they are smokey - this one has been well and truly roasted on an open fire. It's strong and punchy, and a doddle to make. We never over or under did it - it always seemed to come out right. This really would go down well with a rich slice of fruit cake. Hang on - is this cynical Judge coming over all festive?! Not quite - but good try Brown Bear. This would make a good present for a coffee drinker - but be warned. They will grimace when they see it - you will just have to explain to them quickly - there's no cloves or nutmeg - it's fine! Its a 9/10.

34 votes
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Brown Bear Sweet Brazil Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Sweet Brazil Coffee BeansThese Brazil beans are big and dusty - they look like they've been bleached out in the sun. Once ground they are very light in colour and that made us nervous. This one looked weak.

And so it proved - no matter how much we spooned this one up we couldn't get the kick we needed from it. What this coffee is, is light and refreshing. Now, that's not something we Judges crave in a coffee - if we want light and refreshing we'll knock up a big jug of Pimms. The flavour is definitely a bit nutty though - which is what they say on the packet too. So - most normal coffee drinkers I expect would love this one - it does exactly what it says on the tin, so we can't really fault the Brown Bear boys on it. But for us it's just too wimpy. 6/10

34 votes
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Brown Bear Real Colombia Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Real Colombia Coffee BeansWe've never found Colombian coffees to be that sophisticated - you always hope they're going to be amazing and give you a super buzz - but somehow they never do.

Especially when the Brown Bear marketing department were obviously so wired they forgot how to spell Colombia and also thought they were knocking back liquid toffee apples. So  we thought we were in for a Class A treat here. But, as always seems to be the case with Colombians - it's pretty mild - there's no danger of it keeping you awake at night. But it does have a subtle fruity taste that makes it slightly unusual and will send you back for more. Due to its light roast we tried to beef it up a bit - normally with a light roast you can spoon it up to your heart's content and it still won't go wrong. Not with this one though - the effect of loading up our plunger ended up with a much more bitter brew - with a metallic aftertaste we've not sampled since someone swapped the contents of our packet of Werthers for a load of copper washers. The conclusion then - accept this one for what it is - a slightly fruity and refreshing cup, and nothing more. So, one point off for our strength disappointment - it's a 6/10

35 votes
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Brown Bear Cub Espresso Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Cub Espresso Coffee BeansWe would always imagine an espresso blend to be strength 5 - yet this Brown Bear coffee is only a strength 3 - and it shows. Making it in the plunger resulted in no creamy head, that's for sure. Every cup came out the same - it's impossible to over do it. For us judges though it was lacking any novelty twists to the flavour - it's just plain straight coffee. In fact - it's pretty difficult to review - it's hard to think of a metaphor. You need something to hang your criticism or praise on - and this one just hasn't got any hooks. But it tastes fine enough and maybe deserves to be run through a high pressure Gaggia to get the most out of it. In the mean time its a 7/10

39 votes
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Brown Bear Breakfast Blend Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Breakfast Blend Coffee BeansThis is a strength one. Strength one! I really had no idea that these really existed - only in fairy tales. After 150 coffees reviewed, this is our first ever one-er. The Judges are renowned for liking their ball crushing coffee - so we approached this one somewhat nervously. Would we even be able to taste it? Would it just taste like a cup of tea? Well, first off, the folks at Brown Bear have under scored this - this is easily a mid ranger - we've had strength 4's that are weedier than this. In fact, this one is packed with flavour - to the point where we had to re-read the side of the packet just to be sure we were drinking the right thing. Maybe the clue is in the line that says this coffee contains Robusta beans - which are normally known for the higher caffeine content but harsher and generally nastier flavour. So if those beans are in there, then this coffee really is a paradox. We spooned it up the wring the maximum strength out of it - for two cups we used 5 spoons - which would normally be over the top, but it just made this coffee taste better. But it does have a peak - at 6 spoons it was overcome by a metallic aftertaste. Still - this is actually a great coffee and ideal for those that don't drink too often or those obsessed with strength, as it has a good interesting flavour, is easy to make and will do you proud. Unfortunately it can't score higher than an 8 - as it still is only a strength 1, and we'd never live it down. 8/10

28 votes
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Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee Beans

Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee BeansThese beans are pale, large and dusty. Not that unlike the contents of the Judge's underpants. Visually though, if you ever had a pet guinea pig and looked in its hutch a week later, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had a Golden Goose that had been busy laying Blue Mountain coffee. We've had this stuff before - of the Jamaican variety - which is one of the ponciest coffees known to man and generally only bought by toffs in Nottinghill. We're presuming this is the same variety but grown somewhere less salubrious. It's a mild roast - we couldn't over cook this no matter how hard we tried. If there was a taste to label this with it would be nutty, and the harder you brew it, the nuttier it gets. The packet mentions "maltyness" which is a fair comment (for once). It's like it's been cut with a spoon of Milo. It does tend to get a little dry on the tongue if you get a bit heavy handed with this one. We slurped the whole pack down in a few days though -so it's an 8/10

31 votes
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Coffee Real Brazil

I've never been a fan of liquid prunes early in the morning, but that's what this coffee promises. Not only that, but served over a bed of nuts. Despite all this bad-boy fruit name dropping - this is actually a nice coffee to slurp down. I made one for an unsuspecting guest yesterday afternoon and spooned it up big time. He was last seen driving at 120mph down the hard shoulder of the M3 before. So, it can deliver on punch. The only thing we'd say is it can be a bit dry tasting. Not a real thirst quencher. No real extraordinary flavours showed through to us - which seems pretty typical of a Brazilian. (7/10)

4 votes
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