Strength 4 Coffee

The Judge's reviews of Strength 4 coffees. Check them out here, leave your own comments and rate them out of 10.

Lavazza Intenso Coffee

Lavazza Intenso CoffeeThis is our second sampling from the new Lavazza range - and it's the top strength number fiver. As with all Lavazzas, it's based on Robusta beans which makes which in this case are darkly roasted - so this one was never going to be for the feint hearted. They suggest nuts and chocolate on the packet - but let's face it, there's none of that here. This is just a good old fashioned hard hitting coffee for those who like a pick me up so strong it would even get Pete Doherty out of bed before 9am. Strong though it may be - it's not harsh and there's no metallic after taste which is so often the case with the dark, Robusta roasts. We like it, so it's 8/10

29 votes
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Lavazza Vivace Coffee

Lavazza Vivace Coffee

It’s been a long while since there’s been a different Lavazza on the shelf – they’ve always stuck with their classic branding over the years which, let’s face it, has always been pretty damn cool. There must have been a shake up over at Lavazza HQ  - a new director trying to make his mark – because on our local Sainsbury’s shelf there’s three new retro styled packets of the stuff. Even their marketing geeks have got in on the action – claiming ‘notes of dried fruits’ – a phrase which the Mr Cool Lavazza himself would probably have choked on. Anyway, here’s our first one - it’s the mid strength one of the three and, as to be expected, there’s no bloody fruit in there. Instead of which there’s a packet of small Italian fists waiting to jump out and punch you in the throat. Which, for sure, they do. This stuff kicks arse like a good Italian should, except when their at home being good to their mummies that is. It’s a super fine espresso grind through – we had to decant slowly from our caffetiere to avoid getting a mouthful of 2-stroke Lambretta tail pipe dust. Strong and grainy like a John Holmes classic - it’s 8/10 from us. 

20 votes
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Rombouts Cristal d’Arôme Coffee

Rombouts Cristal d’Arôme CoffeeThe first few cups we had out of this tin didn't really go down too well. It just felt very harsh and over roasted - and more like a cheap Robusta type coffee. But then we realised our mistake - in our slapdash behaviour of getting the thing made, we weren't really brewing it up for long enough. When we finally had time to leave one soaking for a full three minutes the difference was notable - the tough-on-the-throat ashtray taste was replaces by a mellow - but still thumpingly strong - brew that looked great in the cup too. We really gulped it down and wanted another, it was that smooth to the taste. And with no tacky aftertaste on the finish this one is a real winner. 8/10

8 votes
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Brown Bear La Vida Coffee Beans

Brown Bear La Vida Coffee BeansThis claims to be a complex blend of Latin beans – but what does that mean? Is that just sales talk for “a mish mash of all the beans we had left over in one big bucket”?  Who knows – but whatever it is, it does us alright. It’s strong without being over-strong, which matches its strength 4 rating and every cup we made came out a good, solid brew. There’s certainly nothing fancy about this one – no quirky little tastes – like the multiple types of nuts they claim on the packet - and no head on it when it came out of our caffetiere – the words “flat white” must have been invented for this one. But all these quibbles are only because we are such a bunch of snobs we expect something a little but fancy these days – and this one is just a plain and simple good strong coffee. Buy it and you can’t go wrong. 7/10

11 votes
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Hype Espresso No 9 Coffee

Hype Espresso No 9 CoffeeThe beans from this one look stunning - a uniform, glistening dark brown. It just makes you wish coffee beans were immediately edible as these look like little nuggets of chocolate. Once we'd ground these down though - these wolves in sheep's clothing showed their true colours: a real bunch of hard cases. The first cup we made with our usual five spoons was ball-crushingly strong and made our eyeballs stand out on stalks for a while. That's a feeling we don't mind normally - but there was a slight ashy undercurrent with this one. So we toned it down just a little bit for the second cup - and to be honest it didn't make any difference. Hype claim this coffee is not as strong as their No. 17 Espresso. Je-SUS. This is a strong, no holds barred after dinner coffee. We enjoyed it, but a couple of points off for what we think is a slight over-roasting. (7/10)

9 votes
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Hype House Blend Coffee

Hype House Blend CoffeeYou would expect the words "House Blend" to mean "All the stuff left in the bottom of the bag after we made everything else". Looking at the beans give's the same impression too - pale, dry and dusty. But hang on a minute - this one exceeds it's "house blend" labeling - this coffee has a real twang to it - and not only that, it's easy to make. We spooned it up big time for the second cup and it still was as mellow as hell. The only thing we did notice was a slightly metallic bite to it when we made the much stronger cup - so lets just say this one has a ceiling that you don't want to go over - but it's a pretty high ceiling. We could happily glug this stuff all day long without any complaint. An easy 8/10.

30 votes
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Hype Pure Mexican Coffee

Hype Pure Mexican CoffeeMexico is not a big name in coffee for your average coffee drinker in the UK - but we've tried a few here at Judge Towers and their coffees are always firmly at one end of the scale: the top. That's not to say there's anything really noteworthy about this coffee though - it's not full of fluffy flavours and hints of elderberry. Hype reckon that this coffee is a cut above your average Mexican - so maybe we've been spoilt by only ever having good 'uns. We didn't get the fruity notes they claim - but maybe it's just too subtle for our agricultural tastes. But it suited us fine anyway - strong and dark and a doddle to make. We only got a two cups each out of our tester bag, but they were both identical. A solid 8/10.

15 votes
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York Coffee Emporium Ebor Blend

York Coffee Emporium Ebor Blend

This coffee from the York Coffee Emporium claims to be a strength 4 - but when we brewed it up it didn't really hit us that hard. Read our review here.

This is a mild tasting coffee – slightly flowery even. We're not sure where their whiff of tangerines came as mentioned on the packet - or what an earth a moccha hit is meant to be. We didn't get either of these. Our only real gripe with it is that we couldn’t really crank it up to the ball-crushing strength that we were after – no matter how many spoons we ladled into it, it remained as mellow as hell. This shouldn’t put you off though – if you’re a normal coffee drinker then you’ll surely love this stuff. A wholesome 7/10 from us.

8 votes
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York Coffee Emporium Sumatran Gegarang Coffee

York Coffee Emporium Sumatran Gegarang CoffeeA light and dusty coffee where the beans are tough as old boots. Nearly smashed our grinder to bits. Read our review here...

The first thing we noticed with this one is the beans are big, dusty and hard as nails. A bit like the mother in law. Arf. By which we mean even though we ground these things to hell and back, there were still chunks floating around in our grinder. Still, we persevered and ground them to dust in the end. This coffee is a nice and light tasting one – it looks  light in the cup too. We did have a tendency to overdo it though just to try and wring a bit more taste out of it. But it didn’t really work – it hits a peak and then it tends to just overload on a metallic aftertaste. Even so, it’s still tasty and does have a bit of a twang – slightly citrus but not overkill.  It’s quirky enough to give to anyone and should raise a smile at your dinner party. 8/10

9 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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