Taylors Esperanza Coffee

Taylors Esperanza CoffeeThis is a big one for us as Judge Towers - it's our 200th coffee review, and if there's one thing we've learnt over the years of coffee supping, it's that the more you have, the harder it gets to distinguish between them. There aren't 200 different coffees out there really - despite what the packets may tell you. So we do feel for these marketing people (slightly) who have to think of new metaphors and waffle to try and make their brew stand out. Berries, nuts, notes, caramel et al - they're tried every trick in the book. But Taylors have come up with a new angle - it's not about the coffee, but who grows it, which in this case, is the laydeeez. Peruvian ladeeez in-fact. Which the cynic in me might think ah well, whatever. But on reading the blurb on Taylor's own website it's hard not to feel slightly touched by the whole thing and to want to go and give the folks at Taylors a pat on the back. The coffee itself, thankfully, is a great brew. Everyone who walked past when the packet was open could smell it, and wanted one - it's that aromatic. And yes - it does taste chocolaty as their blurb suggests and we would also add the word velvety. It's also an easy one to make right every time - basically you can't really go wrong with this one. So we suggest you go and get some. 9/10

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Average: 8.3 (3 votes)
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Rombouts Italian Style Espresso Dark Roast Coffee

rombouts-italian-style-espresso-dark-roast-coffee

This is everything you expect from an Italian espresso - dark, strong and a punch to the throat. To start with, this is a super fine grind, which means we're not just drinking infused coffee, but actual coffee grinds that have slipped through our caffetiere net. While this makes it strong, it does give it that slightly dry and grainy taste. The flavour though is pure Italian - like drinking a cup of charcoal from a forest fire at Lake Garda. However, if this is putting you off, don't let it. This stuff tastes fabulous. Strong and dusty it might be, but it slides down like oil on velvet. We should really try it in a machine rather than a plunger. But we cant - because we've already had the bleedin' lot. Don't know what it costs as Rombouts sent it to us a a little pressie - but it must be the cheaper end, as it's an industrial looking tin. 8/10

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Average: 7 (2 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

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Average: 9 (2 votes)
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Rombouts Cachet d'Or Coffee

Rombouts Cachet d'Or CoffeeAfter the sophistication of our last Rombouts taster, this one felt cheap because the tin was more agricultural and it only had a cheapo plastic lid. However we should not have been so quick to judge - this is a balls-out face smasher of a coffee. It's a dark roast and it's a super fine grind, the combination of which means we get something that could raise the dead. But don't let that frighten you - this is a very drinkable cup that despite its fine grind is easy to brew and delivered every time down to the bottom of the tin. We like it a lot. 9/10

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Average: 9 (5 votes)
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Rombouts Supremo d'Arabica Coffee

Rombouts Supremo d'Arabica CoffeeThis one claims to be the Champagne of the coffee world... a big bold claim. Well, the tin certainly looks the part, it's a golden precision engineered piece of tin that puts your average Europe foil block packaging to shame. Even the way the lid fits so perfectly is slightly erotic. It's a heavy tin too, seeming like there's more packed into this than normal. The coffee itself is pre-ground and it's of a super fine grind - which means you do have to treat it with a little respect when spooning it up as it's easy to pile it 6 inches high on even a teaspoon. The smell from the tin is pretty good too - we accidently left the lid off and walked out of the kitchen to pick up some cups and when we came back the whole room was flooded with gorgeousness. So onto the tasting - it doesn't disappoint - it looks appealing with a fine head and kicks as hard as a mule who's just missed his tax return deadline and been fined a bag of oats.  There's no fancy flavours in there - just a good nutty punch to the tonsils. We'll take some more of these. Its a 9/10

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Average: 9.3 (3 votes)
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Sainsburys Taste The Difference Colombian Coffee Beans

Sainsburys Taste The Difference Colombian Coffee BeansThe Judges have been off line for a while...what with things going tits-up around the office on a daily basis there just hasn’t been time for anything other than a quick slurp between catastrophes - coupled with the fact that there's not much left to review out there. But we happened to be in Sainsbury's and realised we’d made a massive cock up and there was an off-the-shelf bean we hadn’t done. This one is grey – the beans look as old and dusty as John Major’s underpants. But not ones to shy away from a challenge, we ground it down and brewed it up. It’s easy to make – every cup came out the same – a decent, deep flavoured brew with no aftertaste. We didn’t get much crema on the top from our caffetiere – it was a flat and insipid looking cup – but the taste made up for it. But there’s nothing fancy – no flowers or lemons have been anywhere near this one – which we might have expected for a Taste The Difference premium bean. To be honest we would just stick with our favoured Sainsbury’s standard Italian which is just as good but cheaper. So one point off for cost - 7/10 for this one.

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Average: 7.3 (3 votes)
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Taylors High Voltage Coffee

Taylors High Voltage CoffeeOur love affair with coffee all started with Taylors a few years back with their legendary Hot Lava Java which was the first strength 6 coffee we'd come across. But then a few others jumped on the strength 6 band wagon - so Taylors have hit back now with the first ever strength 7. From the get go when you open the packet you know this stuff is going to hurt - it's dark and pungent - you can almost feel the fumes rolling out over the top of the packet and onto the floor, killing everything in its path.  So we made the first cup with kid gloves – not wanting to overdo it and cause imminent heart failure to any of the four takers. The result:  its bark is worse than its bite. This is a really drinkable brew and actually really easy to get right - we tried plungers and filters and it all came out spot on. Our verdict then - we love it. Try it. Don't be put off by it's hard as nails packaging. It's a 9/10 - only really dropping 1 point as it doesn't have any unusual flavours in there - its just a regular brew. 

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Average: 9.7 (6 votes)
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DR Monte Alto Especial Coffee Beans

This coffee comes from the Dominican Republic - which is not somewhere that immediately springs to mind when you think of coffee. Dom. Rep. normally means coach loads of orange Brits swilling down gallons of all inclusive lager until they're ill, and then complaining when they get home of food poisoning when in-fact it was all self inflicted. But put that image aside for a moment because we now have a new one: as the producer of fragrant and punchy coffee. The raw beans are a very uniform and matt light brown - they're not oily in the least. To be honest they don't inspire confidence to look at. But once ground, these little fellas really let go and have delivered cup after cup of tangy and zesty coffee that perks up even the most dreary of board meetings on a wet Wednesday afternoon. They do them in nice double sized 450g bags too. If I were you I'd get on the link below and try some of this stuff and blow your Dom. Rep. misconceptions away. You can always complain about food poisoning later. 9/10

7.5
Average: 7.5 (2 votes)
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India Coffee Beans

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We’ve only ever had a few Indian coffees before and, to be honest, they normally aren’t that great. Terrible infact. But that’s not really surprising in a country which has devoted itself to tea production. They generally are Robusta based rather than Arabica which, if you don’t know what we’re talking about, means they are strong and harsh. This one claims to be of finest Arabica though – so somehow they’ve managed to find somewhere in India that has the right climate for a decent bean.  And yes – it’s true. This is one of the best coffees we’ve tasted in a while – even grinding it badly ourselves, we just couldn’t cock it up. It’s almost a 10 out of 10 – but we're taking one off just because it’s a "plain" coffee – there wasn’t much of a head on it, so it didn’t look anything special and there were no distinctive flavours in there other than coffee. No hints of fruit or nuts or anything complicated. The guy from India sent us this to try eight months ago but due to an administrative error, we’ve only just found it behind the dog food. It says on it best before Jan and so it's effectively stale - but it still rocks!  (9/10)

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9.33333
Average: 9.3 (3 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

5.5
Average: 5.5 (2 votes)
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